After six-year tenure, General Bajwa retires as Pakistan army chief today

After six-year tenure, General Bajwa retires as Pakistan army chief today
Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa arrives to attend the Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2019. (AFP/File)
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Updated 28 November 2022

After six-year tenure, General Bajwa retires as Pakistan army chief today

After six-year tenure, General Bajwa retires as Pakistan army chief today
  • Outgoing chief holds farewell meetings with PM Shehbaz Sharif, President Arif Alvi
  • Will pass baton to successor General Asim Munir at change of command ceremony

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa will be retiring today, Tuesday after completing a six-year tenure as head of Pakistan's all-powerful military, which has an outsized role in the governance and foreign policy of the nuclear-armed nation.

A change of command ceremony will be held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Tuesday morning during which Bajwa will pass the baton to his successor, General Asim Munir, who will become the 17th army chief of the country.

Ahead of the handing over, Bajwa on Monday held farewell meetings with PM Shehbaz Sharif and President Arif Alvi, in which both leaders lauded the outgoing officer's services for Pakistan, particularly in the areas of defense, security, and geo-economics.

“Under the leadership of General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the army demonstrated exemplary services in effectively dealing with various challenges, including the country’s exclusion from the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) Grey List, COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent flashfloods,” the PM office said in a statement. 

“You had the honor of leading the best army in the world.”

In an interview published in an international media outlet on Sunday, Bajwa reiterated the army’s resolve to remain apolitical and, in an apparent reference to former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, said that a campaign had been launched against the armed forces because it refused to intervene in politics. 

“Despite some criticism and undue vilification of the armed forces through mass propaganda and meticulously crafted false narratives, the institutional resolve to remain apolitical will remain steadfast,” the outgoing army chief said in the interview.

“I am certain that this political quarantine of the armed forces will auger well for Pakistan in the long term by fostering political stability and strengthening the army-to-people bond.”

The army has ruled Pakistan for almost half of its 75-year history either through coups or as an invisible guiding hand in politics.

Munir's appointment coincides with a dispute between the military and former premier Khan, who blames the army for playing a part in his ouster earlier this year and who has been leading anti-government protests since then.


After daylong proceedings, Islamabad court remands ex-PM Khan aide to police custody in sedition case

After daylong proceedings, Islamabad court remands ex-PM Khan aide to police custody in sedition case
Updated 28 January 2023

After daylong proceedings, Islamabad court remands ex-PM Khan aide to police custody in sedition case

After daylong proceedings, Islamabad court remands ex-PM Khan aide to police custody in sedition case
  • Chaudhry Fawad Hussain was accused of ‘threatening’ election commission officials before being arrested from Lahore
  • The court accepted his physical remand for two days, asking police to present him before a judicial magistrate on Monday

ISLAMABAD: After a daylong hearing, an Islamabad district court on Saturday remanded Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, a close aide to former prime minister Imran Khan, to police custody for two days for completion of investigation in a sedition case.
The development came only a day after Hussain was sent to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi on a 14-day judicial remand, making the police challenge the verdict and seek his physical remand.
Khan’s aide, who is also a former information minister, was arrested from Lahore on Wednesday after a complaint was filed against him by a senior official of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) who accused him of “threatening” members of the regulatory body, according to a complaint registered with an Islamabad police station.
“Two-day physical remand [of Chaudhry Fawad Hussain] is granted,” judicial magistrate Waqas Ahmad Raja announced at the conclusion of the court proceeding.
Earlier, a district and sessions court, Judge Tahir Mahmood Khan, accepted the plea submitted by the Islamabad Police on Saturday that challenged the judicial magistrate’s ruling of sending the former minister to Adiala Jail. The judge also rejected Hussain’s petition seeking a discharge from the sedition case on the complaint of ECP secretary Omar Hamid Khan.
The court directed the police to produce the arrested leader of ex-PM Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party before the judicial magistrate’s court for further proceedings into the plea.
The prosecution requested the court for Hussain’s seven-day physical remand, saying they had to take him to Lahore for a photogrammetry test to complete the investigation.
Hussain was presented in the district court amid tight security with his face covered with a black cloth. However, the judge expressed his displeasure over the covering of the accused’s face and reprimanded the investigation officer.
The prosecution said they needed to recover the accused’s mobile phone, laptop and other electronic devices for analysis. “We have to find out the mastermind behind his [Fawad Hussain] hateful statement against the election commission,” it argued.
Later, the police presented Hussain before judicial magistrate Waqas Ahmad Raja while seeking his physical remand for seven days to complete the investigation. However, he only gave them two days and while instructing them to present him before a judicial magistrate on Monday.
Hussain’s lawyer Dr. Babar Awan objected to the covering of his client’s face by the police during the proceedings and said he had not even been allowed to meet his legal team.
“The way he is brought to the court is a clear violation of human rights,” Awan said, adding the accused would be joining the investigation and there was no need to extend his physical remand for further investigation.
Hussain’s lawyer contended his client would not travel abroad. “He is healthy and here [to join the investigation],” he added.
Advocate Faisal Fareed, who is also the brother of the accused, informed the court that Hussain’s mobile phone and SIM card were still being used while requesting the court to get them blocked.
“We fear that Fawad could be subjected to torture,” he said. “And if it happens, it will be illegal.”
Taking to the rostrum in the fully packed courtroom, Hussain said he stood by everything he said while telling the court he would not back down.
“Denying freedom of expression is tantamount to ending democracy in Pakistan,” he said. “If you can’t handle criticism, you should not accept such positions.”


Pakistan to negotiate with Russia after US acknowledges right to buy discounted oil — finance minister

Pakistan to negotiate with Russia after US acknowledges right to buy discounted oil — finance minister
Updated 20 October 2022

Pakistan to negotiate with Russia after US acknowledges right to buy discounted oil — finance minister

Pakistan to negotiate with Russia after US acknowledges right to buy discounted oil — finance minister
  • The country is a net importer of petroleum products that has been striving to buy cheap Russian oil for months
  • The government is anticipating $1.5 billion from the Asian Development Bank that are likely to arrive next week

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s finance minister Ishaq Dar said on Thursday the United States had recognized his country’s right to buy discounted Russian oil, adding the government had instructed relevant officials to negotiate a favorable procurement deal with Moscow.

Dar recently returned from Washington where he spent a few days to attend the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings. During this period, he also interacted with senior US officials to discuss the economic situation of Pakistan in the wake of the recent floods.

“The US authorities have agreed and said they have no objection if [Pakistan] wants to buy [discounted Russian oil],” he told Aaj News television channel in an interview. “They are trying to bring a pricing mechanism within the next month in which G7 is playing a major role. It will suggest a price cap and stop nations from going over it while negotiating [a deal].”

Pakistan is a net importer of petroleum products that has been striving to buy cheap Russian oil for a while. The finance minister said it had now cleared the hurdle which stood in its way of achieving that objective.

He informed the government had asked relevant ministers to negotiate with Russia.

Asked about the country’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves, Dar said he was working with this team to identify the country’s financial needs and projections for the next 12 months to put in place all that was required to achieve them.

He also informed the government was anticipating to get $1.5 billion from the Asian Development Bank in the next week.

The finance minister reiterated that Pakistan’s national currency should not go beyond Rs200 against the US dollar while acknowledging that the greenback was smuggled to neighboring Afghanistan which needed to be prevented by the state.


In meeting with Saudi envoy, Pakistan president urges for steps to increase bilateral trade

In meeting with Saudi envoy, Pakistan president urges for steps to increase bilateral trade
Updated 30 September 2022

In meeting with Saudi envoy, Pakistan president urges for steps to increase bilateral trade

In meeting with Saudi envoy, Pakistan president urges for steps to increase bilateral trade
  • President Arif Alvi expresses gratitude for the Kingdom's support after deadly floods in Pakistan
  • The president also appreciates Saudi Arabia's role in OIC, highlighting Palestine and Kashmir issues

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia's Ambassador Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki on Friday met with Pakistan's President Arif Alvi, the presidency said, with the latter calling for effective steps to increase bilateral trade between the two brotherly countries. 

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial relations, with over 2.5 million Pakistanis living in the Kingdom who are one of the biggest sources of remittances to the South Asian nation.  

Both countries enjoy strong political, cultural and defence ties with each other, while the Kingdom has often helped Pakistan with economic aid in difficult times.  

"The current bilateral trade volume of $4.6 billion between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia needs to be further increased," President Alvi was quoted as saying in a statement issued from his office. 

"The current trade volume does not fully reflect the depth of the relationship between the two brotherly countries," he told the Saudi ambassador. 

The Pakistan president appreciated the Kingdom’s support in providing an air bridge for relief assistance to flood affectees in Pakistan. 

Saudi Arabia has so far dispatched at least 10 flights and 100 emergency relief trucks, carrying hundreds of tons of food items to flood-ravaged districts in Pakistan.  

The deadly floods have killed more than 1,600 people, affected 33 million and caused the South Asian country an estimated $30 billion in losses. 

President Alvi also appreciated Saudi Arabia's role in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), highlighting the issues of Palestine and Kashmir as well as matters relating to Afghanistan.


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.