Pakistan PM hopeful Shehbaz vows to uphold constitution, ensure rule of law

Shehbaz Sharif, center, speaks with the media before attending a hearing outside the Supreme Court building in Islamabad, Pakistan, on April 7, 2022. (AFP)
Shehbaz Sharif, center, speaks with the media before attending a hearing outside the Supreme Court building in Islamabad, Pakistan, on April 7, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 10 April 2022

Pakistan PM hopeful Shehbaz vows to uphold constitution, ensure rule of law

Pakistan PM hopeful Shehbaz vows to uphold constitution, ensure rule of law
  • Khan this week dodged a no-trust vote and dissolved parliament, what was declared 'unconstitutional'
  • The premier was booted out early Sunday after 174 lawmakers expressed their lack of trust in him

ISLAMABAD: Shehbaz Sharif, the frontrunner as the next Pakistani prime minister, on Sunday vowed to uphold the constitution and ensure the rule of law in Pakistan as the country's parliament voted PM Imran Khan out, expressing its lack of confidence in him. 

Khan dodged a no-confidence vote and dissolved parliament last Sunday, but the country's top court ruled the steps were “unconstitutional” and reinstated the National Assembly.  

The former cricket star-turned-politician was eventually voted out late last night during a much-delayed session of parliament. In the 342-member lower house of parliament, 174 lawmakers favored the no-trust motion against him. 

“Now once again, the Pakistan of law and the constitution is born,” Shehbaz, brother of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, said in a speech after the vote. “We want to move forward and make Pakistan great again.” 

Shehbaz, the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, has been informally nominated by the opposition to be its candidate for the next prime minister. 

“We will not be revengeful. We will not do injustice to anyone,” the PM hopeful was quoted as saying by the state-run APP news agency. "We will not put the innocent people in jails, but the law will take its course." 

He said he did not want to be stuck up in the bitterness of the past and rather wished to move forward and make the country a great nation. 

The Pakistan parliament is scheduled to meet on Monday to vote for the new prime minister.  

Candidates for the post of prime minister can file their nomination papers by 11am local time (0600 GMT) on Sunday, said Ayaz Sadiq, who presided over the assembly session in the absence of the ruling party members and its designated speakers. 

As per rules, parliament can continue to function till the completion of its five-year tenure in August 2023, after which a general election is due within 60 days.  

The new prime minister can also immediately call a general election without having to wait until 2023. 

Khan lost his parliamentary majority in recent days after defections by lawmakers of his own party as well as his coalition partners. 

The opposition blamed him for the economic woes, foreign policy failures and poor governance in the country. 


Pakistan appoints Ashtar Ausaf Ali as new attorney general

Pakistan appoints Ashtar Ausaf Ali as new attorney general
Updated 07 May 2022

Pakistan appoints Ashtar Ausaf Ali as new attorney general

Pakistan appoints Ashtar Ausaf Ali as new attorney general
  • Ashtar Ausaf Alii had served as attorney general in 2016-18
  • Office was vacated by Khalid Jawed Khan who resigned following the ouster of ex-PM Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government on Saturday appointed senior Supreme Court advocate Ashtar Ausaf Ali as the country’s new attorney general.

The attorney general is the government’s primary lawyer in the Supreme Court and is responsible for advising it on legal matters.  

The office was vacated by Khalid Jawed Khan who resigned following the ouster of former prime minister Imran Khan via a vote of no-confidence on April 10.  

Law and Justice Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar confirmed Ali’s appointment to Arab News.

“It’s true,” he said in a text message.

Ali had served as special assistant to the prime minister on law and justice in 2015-16 and was Pakistan’s attorney general during the tenure of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — the brother of the current Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif — in 2016-18.

In 1998-99 and 2012-13 he was advocate general of Punjab and the province’s prosecutor general in 2011-12.

He had also served as adviser to the PM on human rights in 1999.


PM Sharif extends Eid greetings to Saudi crown prince

PM Sharif extends Eid greetings to Saudi crown prince
Updated 04 May 2022

PM Sharif extends Eid greetings to Saudi crown prince

PM Sharif extends Eid greetings to Saudi crown prince
  • Pakistani PM went on a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia last week
  • He thanked the crown prince for his generous hospitality

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday made a phone call to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to greet him on Eid Al-Fitr and express gratitude for the warm welcome extended by the Saudi authorities during his recent visit to the kingdom.

Sharif went on a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia on the invitation of the crown prince on Thursday. This was also his first foreign trip as prime minister after his immediate predecessor Imran Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote last month.

According to a joint statement issued after completion of his visit to the kingdom, the two sides discussed extending the term of a $3 billion Saudi deposit in Pakistan’s central bank.

“Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome and generous hospitality accorded by the Saudi leadership and the government during his recent visit to the Kingdom on 28-30 April 2022,” said an official statement released by the PM Office. “Recalling his interaction with the Crown Prince during the visit, the Prime Minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s desire to further strengthen the historic fraternal ties with Saudi Arabia and further elevate the strategic relationship between the two countries in all spheres.”

Sharif expressed his resolve to implement the decisions taken during his recent meeting with the Saudi crown prince.

He also conveyed his warm wishes and prayers as well as Eid greetings for King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the people of Saudi Arabia.

The crown prince reciprocated the Eid greetings and reaffirmed his desire to work together with Pakistan to diversify bilateral cooperation.

The two leaders agreed to further broaden and deepen the relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan for the mutual benefit of their people.


Government says it created 'sustainable ecosystem' for construction of low-cost housing units

Government says it created 'sustainable ecosystem' for construction of low-cost housing units
Updated 10 February 2022

Government says it created 'sustainable ecosystem' for construction of low-cost housing units

Government says it created 'sustainable ecosystem' for construction of low-cost housing units
  • PM Khan tells National Coordination Committee the government's house building scheme will help create 1.2 million jobs
  • The prime minister says over 70,000 housing projects worth Rs1.4 trillion had been approved in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has managed to create a "sustainable ecosystem" for the construction of low-cost housing units in the country, said a statement released by Prime Minister's Office on Thursday after a meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Housing, Construction and Development in Islamabad.

The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan who launched his administration's flagship Naya Pakistan Housing Program in April 2019 to provide shelter to financially vulnerable families.

Khan said over 70,000 housing projects worth Rs1.4 trillion had been approved in Pakistan, adding it would have an impact of Rs7.3 trillion on the construction industry and help create 1.2 million jobs.

"The meeting was briefed that for the very first time in the history of Pakistan a sustainable ecosystem for low-cost housing has been developed and implemented which has enabled the sector to achieve exponential growth," said the official statement. "The foreclosure law has been implemented in letter and spirit and long-term loans (of up to 20 years) with subsidized markup (as low as only 2 percent) are being given."

The statement added the meeting was also briefed about the transparent and automated system to receive and process applications which had resulted in targeting the needful lower- and middle-income classes.

"The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government has achieved huge milestones regarding the provision of low-cost housing to lower and middle-income classes," the prime minister told the participants of meeting. "Our government's biggest challenge was to change the elitist mindset of financial institutions and ensure facilitation of common people in getting loans."

He informed that applications worth Rs7 billion were received every week out of which Rs4 billion were approved and Rs2 billion disbursed, adding that it reflected that the system was working efficiently.

The statement maintained a total of 161,924 low-cost housing units had been approved, out of which 45,191 units were under construction and 20,898 units had been completed.

It said these numbers were significant since the construction sector "was in shambles" before the introduction of government subsidies, foreclosure law and low-cost housing scheme.

The prime minister also directed to complete the projects within their stipulated timeframes and emphasized to further improve the process of low-cost housing unit construction.


Pakistan introduces new rules for pilgrims traveling to Syria

Pakistan introduces new rules for pilgrims traveling to Syria
Updated 12 January 2022

Pakistan introduces new rules for pilgrims traveling to Syria

Pakistan introduces new rules for pilgrims traveling to Syria
  • Among the new rules are special approvals from the Pakistani and Syrian authorities
  • Every year, hundreds of Pakistanis travel to Iraq and Syria for pilgrimage

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government has issued new rules for pilgrims traveling to Syria, the Ministry of Religious Affairs announced on Thursday.

Every year, hundreds of Pakistanis visit Syria and Iraq for pilgrimage.

After months of travel suspensions over coronavirus fears, pilgrimage travel resumed in April last year. 

Among the new travel rules are special approvals from the Pakistani and Syrian authorities, including a no objection certificate (NOC).

“Before leaving for Syria, you must obtain a group visa from the Syrian Immigration Authority and obtain a NOC from the Pakistani Embassy in Damascus,” the ministry said in a notification.


Ayesha A Malik to become Pakistan's first-ever woman Supreme Court judge

Ayesha A Malik to become Pakistan's first-ever woman Supreme Court judge
Updated 07 January 2022

Ayesha A Malik to become Pakistan's first-ever woman Supreme Court judge

Ayesha A Malik to become Pakistan's first-ever woman Supreme Court judge
  • Judicial Com­mis­sion of Pakistan on Thursday approved elevation of Lahore High Court Justice Malik to the Supreme Court
  • Malik's elevation has been marred by controversy, with many within legal community arguing against her for reasons of seniority

ISLAMABAD: The Judicial Com­mis­sion of Pakistan (JCP) on Thursday approved the elevation of Lahore High Court Justice Ayesha A. Malik to the Supreme Court, making her the first woman judge in the country’s history to serve at the apex court.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed chaired the JCP meeting during which Malik's elevation was approved by a majority of five votes against four, Pakistani media reported. This is the second time that the JCP held a meeting to decide on Malik's elevation. A lack of consensus during a meeting last September had forced the commission to reject her elevation.

During that meeting, four members of the eight-member JCP had opposed the proposal to elevate Justice Malik – the fourth most senior judge of the LHC – while an equal number had supported the move. 

“At the time, the Supreme Court Bar Association President Abdul Latif Afridi had called a countrywide protest to express anger over, what the legal fraternity perceived was the disregard of the seniority principle in the appointment of judges to the apex court,” Dawn said. 

Indeed, Malik's elevation has been marred by controversy, with many within the legal community arguing against her promotion for reasons of seniority.

Earlier this week, the Women in Law Pakistan initiative issued a statement with respect to the seniority debate on Malik's appointment, saying the idea that seniority was a legal requirement was a “myth” and arguing that there was no such requirement in the law and constitution.

“At least 41 times judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court without them being most senior,” the initiative said. “There is, therefore, no such custom either. ‘Seniority’ is at best a mere demand of some members of the Bars at the moment and has no legal basis.”

The initiative made a reference to Article 175-A(3) of the Constitution which “speaks of seniority only in relation to the appointment of the Chief Justice of Pakistan,” adding that as per Article 177 (2) of the Constitution, to be eligible for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court, a person must be a citizen of Pakistan and have been a judge of the high court for five years or an advocate of the high court for 15 years.

“Absence of the words, ‘the most senior’ in Article 177 for appointment of Judges of the SC shows that seniority of a Judge in the High Court is not an essential condition for their appointment as a Judge of the SC.”