Pakistan’s ex-PM Sharif, daughter released for his wife’s funeral

Both Sharifs said they had broken no law and there was no proof the residences were purchased with money from corruption. (File/Reuters)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Pakistan’s ex-PM Sharif, daughter released for his wife’s funeral

  • The former premier and his daughter have been given parole for 12 hours but the government of Punjab province is considering an extension so they can attend the funeral on Friday
  • Both Sharifs said they had broken no law and there was no proof the residences were purchased with money from corruption

LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistani authorities on Wednesday temporarily released former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter from prison to attend funeral services for his wife, Kulsoom, who died of cancer the day before in London.
Video footage from Geo TV showed Sharif walking through Islamabad’s airport amid tight security to be flown to the eastern city of Lahore, near the family home.
The former premier and his daughter have been given parole for 12 hours but the government of Punjab province is considering an extension so they can attend the funeral on Friday. The body is due to be flown back from London on Thursday.
“Initially, we released them on parole for 12 hours but the application they have given to the Punjab government is for five days and we are considering it,” provincial law minister Muhammad Raja Basharat told Reuters.
Ousted as prime minister last year by the Supreme Court over some undeclared income, Nawaz Sharif was in London with Kulsoom this year when a separate anti-graft court handed him a 10-year jail term in absentia over the ownership of luxury flats in London in the 1990s.
Maryam Sharif, his daughter and presumed political heir, was sentenced to seven years in prison on related charges.
Both Sharifs said they had broken no law and there was no proof the residences were purchased with money from corruption.
The father and daughter left Kulsoom’s bedside to return to Pakistan to rally their followers ahead of a July 25 general election. Both were arrested on arrival and have been imprisoned since.
Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which had been in power for five years, lost to the party of former cricket star Imran Khan.
Khan on Tuesday extended condolences to the Sharif family.
Three-time-premier Sharif, who was removed from office in each of his elected terms, has maintained that his most recent ousting in July 2017 and subsequent conviction were part of a plot against him by the military and the judiciary.
The army has repeatedly denied any interference in politics, while the courts insist justice is carried out impartially.


New Zealanders give up guns after massacre, but some face blowback

A man looks at firearms on display at Gun City gunshop in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 19, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 sec ago
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New Zealanders give up guns after massacre, but some face blowback

  • Police said they did not have data available on the number of weapons handed in since Friday
CHRISCHURCH, New Zealand: New Zealanders have begun handing in weapons in response to government appeals following the Christchurch massacre, but the gesture has put some squarely in the social media firing line.
John Hart, a farmer in the North Island district of Masterton, decided to give his semi-automatic rifle to police after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday plans to tighten gun laws in light of the slaughter Friday of 50 Muslim worshippers.
She also encouraged owners to surrender unnecessary firearms after it emerged that the accused mosque attacker, Australia white nationalist Brenton Tarrant, had legally acquired the guns he used in the rampage.
Hart said it was an easy decision for him to hand in his semi-automatic and tweeted that “on the farm they are a useful tool in some circumstances, but my convenience doesn’t outweigh the risk of misuse. We don’t need these in our country.”
The tweet drew a barrage of derogatory messages to his Facebook account — most apparently from the US, where the pro-gun lobby is powerful and vociferous.
Hart deleted the messages but posted online: “A warm kia ora to all my new American Facebook friends.”
“I’m not familiar with your local customs, but I assume ‘Cuck’ is a traditional greeting,” he said of the insult, short for “cuckold’, frequently used by far-right extremists.
Hart told AFP many of the messages made inaccurate references to his sexuality.
“It was very sudden. It started about the time the US east coast was waking up. There seemed to have been a rallying call,” he said.
A more mild message, from Kaden Heaney asked: “What’s the point of giving up yalls personal guns? Yall do realize what happens to societies that give up their guns right? Evil people will get their hands on guns, knives, bombs or whatever they want to kill no matter what the intentions of good people are. Who will protect you.”
Christopher @offwhiteblogger said: “You did the right thing then; you clearly aren’t responsible enough to own a firearm.”
Police said they did not have data available on the number of weapons handed in since Friday.
But they issued a statement saying that “due to heightened security and the current environment, we would ask that people please call us first before attempting to surrender a firearm.”
A person calling himself Blackstone tweeted: “this is one of the easiest decisions I have ever made. Have owned a firearm for 31 years ... Once I realized that, the only way I could go forward with a clear conscience was to hand it into the police for destruction.”
Ardern has said that details of the government’s proposed law changes on gun ownership will be announced by next week, but she indicated that gun buybacks and a ban on some semi-automatic rifles were under consideration.
“As the Cabinet, we were absolutely unified and very clear: the terror attack in Christchurch on Friday was the worst act of terrorism on our shores, it was in fact one of the worst globally in recent times, it has exposed a range of weaknesses in New Zealand’s gun laws,” she said.
New Zealand police, meanwhile, were investigating a suspicious fire at a gun club in the far north of the country, but were not immediately linking it to the current gun debate.
There had also been a fire at the same club a year ago.