Top Pak court to probe official’s death

Updated 23 January 2013
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Top Pak court to probe official’s death

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top judge ordered yesterday the Supreme Court to investigate the death of an official probing a corruption scandal involving the prime minister.
Kamran Faisal was found dead last Friday in a government hostel just days after the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf over the long-running graft scandal into so-called Rental Power Plants (RPPs).
According to the initial findings of an autopsy, Faisal committed suicide, but his family and some colleagues dispute that he killed himself.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who is hearing the corruption case, ordered another bench to probe Faisal’s death, following a report from the court’s registrar listing the doubts of his friends and family.
“The office is directed to place this case before another bench on Jan. 24 for further proceedings,” Chaudhry told the court.
He described Faisal’s death as “shocking” and said that his family, friends and colleagues were not satisfied with the current investigation, being carried out by police and a government-appointed commission. “His family members, colleagues, friends and the public at large have shown annoyance and grievances,” said Chaudhry, reading out the report submitted by the Supreme Court registrar.
“And according to them, they are not expecting free, fair and honest investigation because of the involvement of highly influential political and executive authorities of the country in the RPP scam,” said the judge.
The long-running probe into the prime minister and other officials relates to allegations of kickbacks during Ashraf’s tenure as minister for water and power.
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), for which Faisal worked, has suspended its probe into the scandal pending inquiries into the death.
NAB says Faisal, second in charge of the RPP probe, suffered from “mental stress” and “psychological issues”. He had asked to be taken off the case, but the Supreme Court refused a written request on Jan. 7 and ordered he be reinstated.
Faisal’s father, Abdul Hameed, told AFP on Monday that he believed his son was murdered.


Afghan leaders ‘optimistic’ over Taliban peace talks

Updated 24 June 2018
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Afghan leaders ‘optimistic’ over Taliban peace talks

  • The Taliban last week rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to extend the truce, but a government spokesman said on Saturday that the government was optimistic the militants were willing to engage in peace talks.
  • After ending the truce, the Taliban said its attacks against foreign troops and Afghans supporting them would continue.

KABUL: The Afghan government is confident of holding peace talks with Taliban militants despite a recent surge of attacks by insurgents, a palace spokesman said.

Shah Hussain Murtazawi said the announcement last week of a brief truce by the Taliban over Eid, the increasing movement of extremists and some field commanders to government-held areas, and a call for peace by the Imam of Makkah and the Saudi monarch were the basis of the government’s optimism.

The Taliban last week rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to extend the truce, but Murtazawi said on Saturday that the government was optimistic the militants were willing to engage in peace talks.

“A new chapter has been opened and the broad support for a cease-fire and an end to the war are the causes for our optimism,” he told Arab News.

“The fact that Taliban announced a truce and their commanders came into towns and celebrated Eid with government officials are positive signs that the extremists will be ready for talks with the government.”

However, no contact has been established with leaders of the group since the militants called off their truce, Murtazawi said.

After ending the truce, the Taliban said its attacks against foreign troops and Afghans supporting them would continue. Scores of Afghan troops have been killed in a spate of attacks, including assaults on military bases where the insurgents joined government forces to celebrate Eid.

Some tribal chiefs and local officials are calling for “safe zones” where extremists can hold initial talks with the government, according to a local official who refused to be named.