My ‘utmost effort’ to bring Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan to face jail – PM Khan

My ‘utmost effort’ to bring Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan to face jail – PM Khan
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that opposition leader Nawaz Sharif will serve the rest of his sentence in a regular prison when he returns. (AFP)
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Updated 18 October 2020

My ‘utmost effort’ to bring Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan to face jail – PM Khan

My ‘utmost effort’ to bring Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan to face jail – PM Khan
  • Prime minister addresses Tiger Force convention, responds to former premier’s comments blaming top army leaders for ousting his government
  • Sharif is in London on medical bail from a seven-year jail sentence, Khan says he will return to Pakistan to serve the rest of his sentence in a regular prison

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday lashed out at opposition leader Nawaz Sharif over his recent comments against the country’s military leadership, saying it would now be his “utmost effort” to bring the former prime minister back to Pakistan to face jail.

Khan was addressing a convention of the Tiger Force, a million-strong task force of young volunteers set up to facilitate official coronavirus relief efforts, which has been put to work in aid of other government departments.

At a protest rally in the eastern city of Gujranwala in the early hours of Saturday, Sharif, who addressed tens of thousands of people via video link from London, accused the army chief of “packing up” his government. The military has consistently denied meddling in politics.

Sharif’s second term as prime minister ended when his government was toppled in a military coup in 2000. He was prime minister for a third term from 2013 to 2017, when he was removed by the Supreme Court amid corruption revelations over his personal wealth.

He was subsequently convicted of graft but says the accusations are politically motivated. On Oct. 25 last year, Sharif was granted bail and got court clearance to leave the country for medical treatment in London.

“From today it will be my utmost effort that you (Sharif) be brought back to this country,” Khan said to a charged crowd. “And you will be kept in a regular jail, not a VIP jail … You come back and I’ll see how we keep you.”

Addressing Sharif’s remarks against the military, Khan referred to two separate attacks on military convoys this week, in which 20 people, including 13 soldiers, were killed. 

“Attacks are being carried out against our soldiers, our soldiers are sacrificing their lives,” he said.

“Why are they sacrificing their lives? It’s for us and this country. And this jackal (Sharif), who ran from here, is sitting there (in London) used this language against our army chief and the DG ISI (intelligence chief),” Khan said, as the crowd rang out in angry cheers.

“The opposition is going to see a different Imran Khan now,” the PM added, dismissing the Gujranwala rally as a “circus.”

Last month, nine major opposition parties formed the Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) to launch countrywide protests aimed at forcing Khan to resign and call early elections. The first rally was held in Gujranwala on Friday evening. Rallies are also planned for Karachi and Quetta later this month.

Sharif’s daughter and political heir-apparent, Maryam Nawaz, also addressed the gathering, saying no one should be allowed to oust the country’s democratically elected leaders.

“Governments should come through your vote,” she told thousands of people gathered at a stadium in Gujranwala, “and nobody else should have the right to dislodge an elected administration. You’ve to do the accountability, and if somebody else does this, then you should have to deal with them.

“When the vote is not honored, then the public has to suffer like you are suffering today. Imran Khan has been trumpeting about corruption, but you all will be shocked when stories of his corruption come out in the public.”

The Pakistan Muslim League vice president also criticized the prime minister for making repeated statements that his government and state institutions were on the same page, saying: “Let me remind you that it doesn’t take much time to turn over the page.”

The PDM rally was also attended by the top Pakistan People's Party leader, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who focused on rising inflation and criticized the government’s economic policies.

“People are worried, and the economy has nosedived,” he said. “Is this the change the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party promised? The change is that unemployment, inflation and poverty have hit a historic high today.”

He also alleged that a one-sided accountability drive was being carried out in the country.

“We want an end to corruption, equality of law and accountability. You can hold former presidents and prime ministers accountable, but there should also be accountability of judges and generals on corruption charges,” he maintained.

Maulana Fazlur Rahman of the Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam party and the president of the opposition PDM alliance also spoke on occasion, predicting a political change in the country in the foreseeable future.

“The days of fake rulers are numbered as all democratic forces of Pakistan have launched the movement,” he said. “The rulers will not be in power until December this year.”

“Our struggle will continue until the supremacy of the constitution and apology of the institutions,” he added.

“Countries are run through responsibility and commitment, not through confrontation, and we will achieve that target by making collective effort.”

The government formally announced that the opposition alliance could hold its gatherings at specifically designated spots. Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said the PTI administration had allowed the rallies as “protest is the right of every political party.”

Khan’s PTI party swept to power in August 2018 after defeating all major opposition parties. The opposition alliance says the party won a rigged election, which Khan’s government denies.

The next general election is scheduled for 2023.


Global virus death toll passes 1.5 million as nations plan for vaccine

Updated 04 December 2020

Global virus death toll passes 1.5 million as nations plan for vaccine

Global virus death toll passes 1.5 million as nations plan for vaccine
  • US registers record of more than 210,000 new Covid cases in 24 hours
  • UN chief warns that even if vaccines are quickly approved, the world would still be fighting the pandemic’s aftershocks

WASHINGTON: The world passed the grim milestone of 1.5 million coronavirus deaths on Thursday, as several nations planned to deliver much hoped-for vaccines early next year to break the cycle of lockdowns and restrictions.

The total number of cases worldwide jumped to 65,127,355, according to the John Hopkins University of Medicine's coronavirus monitoring center.

US President-elect Joe Biden said that on his first day in office he would ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days to help reduce transmission of the virus that is again surging in the country with the world’s highest number of deaths and infections.
“I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask — not forever,” Biden said in excerpts of an interview to be broadcast on CNN later Thursday.
But even as the latest positive news about a vaccine was announced, with the Moderna candidate showing it confers immunity for at least three months, several countries marked new Covid-19 records.
The US, for instance, posted an all-time high of more than 210,000 new cases in a 24-hour stretch to Thursday evening, meanwhile notching more than 2,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
And Italy registered 993 deaths, topping its previous record of 969 earlier in the year when it was the first European country to be affected by the pandemic.

To build trust in vaccines after they are approved, the 78-year-old Biden said he was willing to be vaccinated in public — following up on similar commitments from former US presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Biden also used the interview to say he had asked the government’s top infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci to join his Covid team and serve as a chief medical adviser.
But in a sign of the difficult work ahead, California announced new statewide bans on gatherings and non-essential activities, as hospitals in the nation’s most populous state face being overwhelmed.

The pandemic is showing little sign of slowing, with more than 10,000 new deaths recorded worldwide every day since November 24 — a rate never reached before, according to an AFP tally.
As the world tires of economically crippling restrictions, attention has turned to the race for a vaccine.
Britain on Wednesday became the first Western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine for general use, piling pressure on other countries to swiftly follow suit.
But Fauci said Britain “rushed” its approval process.
“In all fairness to so many of my UK friends, you know, they kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile,” he told CBS news.
He later walked back his comments, saying he had “a great deal of confidence in what the UK does both scientifically and from a regulator standpoint.”
Also on Thursday, a study showed that the Moderna vaccine, which was recently demonstrated to have 94 percent efficacy, causes the immune system to produce potent antibodies that endure for at least three months.
In anticipation of such vaccines being approved, France announced that its vaccinations will be free and begin in January for one million elderly in retirement homes, February for 14 million at-risk people and spring for the rest of the population.
France was also mourning the latest high-profile figure to succumb to Covid-19, former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who died at the age of 94.
Belgium’s government also said it intends to start vaccinating its most vulnerable in January.
But the raised hopes didn’t only garner the attention of governments — IBM said Thursday that hackers are targeting the Covid-19 vaccine supply chain.
The tech giant said it was “unclear” if a series of cyberattacks it uncovered against companies involved in the effort to distribute doses around the world had been successful.
IBM could not identify who was behind the attacks, but said that the precision of the operation signals “the potential hallmarks of nation-state tradecraft.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that even if vaccines are quickly approved, the world would still be fighting the pandemic’s aftershocks.
“Let’s not fool ourselves. A vaccine cannot undo damage that will stretch across years, even decades to come,” Guterres said while opening a special UN summit on the virus.
Guterres reiterated his call that vaccines be considered a “global public good” that are shared around the world.
More than 180 countries have joined Covax, a global collaboration initiative by the World Health Organization to work with manufacturers to distribute vaccines equitably.
A reminder of the pandemic’s society-altering effects came again Thursday with a landmark announcement from Warner Bros. studio, which said it will release its entire 2021 slate of movies on HBO Max streaming and in theaters simultaneously.
But some British football supporters were given a reminder of pre-pandemic days as Arsenal welcomed a crowd of 2,000 for Thursday’s Europa League win over Rapid Vienna.
It was the first time in 270 days that fans were back inside a Premier League ground.