Pakistan to suspend cellular services in Punjab, Balochistan during Sunday’s by-polls 

Pakistan to suspend cellular services in Punjab, Balochistan during Sunday’s by-polls 
Pakistan’s women wait in a queue to cast their ballots to vote at a polling station during national elections in Lahore on February 8, 2024. (AFP/File)
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Updated 20 April 2024
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Pakistan to suspend cellular services in Punjab, Balochistan during Sunday’s by-polls 

Pakistan to suspend cellular services in Punjab, Balochistan during Sunday’s by-polls 
  • Jailed ex-PM Imran Khan’s party terms the mobile service shutdown ‘illegal, unconstitutional and a plan to rig the results’
  • Pakistan’s national polls in Feb. were also marred by mobile service shutdown, result delays, leading to rigging allegations

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government announced on Saturday cellular services would remain suspended in parts of the Punjab and Balochistan provinces on April 21-22 on account of by-elections in 21 constituencies on Sunday, with the main opposition party calling the shutdown “unconstitutional and illegal.”
The by-polls on national and provincial assembly seats are the first major electoral exercise since the Feb. 8 national election in Pakistan, which were marred by a mobile service shutdown and result delays, leading to accusations that the vote was rigged and drawing concern from rights groups and foreign governments.
On Saturday, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), which regulates the Internet, said the decision to temporarily suspend cellular services in specific districts of Punjab and Balochistan was taken on the directions of the interior ministry.
“This decision has been taken to safeguard the integrity and security of the electoral process,” the regulator said in a statement on Saturday.
Sunday’s by-elections will be held on five National Assembly seats, 12 Punjab Assembly seats, and two seats each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies. They were left vacant due to postponement of polls or were vacated by lawmakers, who won multiple seats, in the Feb. 8 national election.
The PTA announcement came hours after the Punjab government requested the interior ministry to suspend mobile phone services during by-elections in Talagang, Chakwal, Kallar Kahar, Gujrat, Ali Pur Chatha, Zafarwal, Bhakkar, Kasur, Sheikhupura, Lahore, Sadiqabad, Kot Chutta and Dera Ghazi Khan.
“I have been directed to request that mobile Internet services may kindly be suspended on 21st April, 2024 for maintaining law and order situation and to avoid any untoward incident [in the aforementioned areas],” a section officer of the Punjab home department wrote in his letter to the interior ministry.
The developments came amid expectations of a fierce competition between candidates backed by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and rival political groups.
In a statement, the PTI termed the shutdown of mobile phone services in districts where by-polls were being held "unconstitutional and illegal." “The Internet shutdown is unconstitutional, illegal and shameful, and a plan to rig the results,” it said.
The party urged its supporters to come out in large numbers to cast their votes to thwart these plans.
Meanwhile, the federal government authorized the deployment of civil armed forces and Pakistan Army to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in peaceful conduct of by-polls.
In its code of conduct for the armed forces and civil armed forces on the polling day, the ECP said troops should not respond on their own to “an apparent irregularity” outside a polling station and bring the matter to the knowledge of the presiding officer for any necessary legal action.
The security forces were also directed not to “interfere in the counting process in any manner” and perform their duty outside the polling stations diligently, so that the counting process could be completed in a peaceful manner.


Authorities demolish part of ex-PM Khan party office in Islamabad over ‘violation’ of bylaws

Authorities demolish part of ex-PM Khan party office in Islamabad over ‘violation’ of bylaws
Updated 16 sec ago
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Authorities demolish part of ex-PM Khan party office in Islamabad over ‘violation’ of bylaws

Authorities demolish part of ex-PM Khan party office in Islamabad over ‘violation’ of bylaws
  • The Capital Development Authority staff reached the PTI Central Secretariat in G-8/4 sector and removed some structures from there
  • Members say the party was neither served a notice, nor granted the opportunity of a hearing, calling the operation ‘illegal and unlawful’

ISLAMABAD: Local authorities on Thursday razed part of an office of former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in Islamabad over what they said was a “violation” of building by-laws, prompting strong reaction from the party.
Officials and staff of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) reached the PTI Central Secretariat in the G-8/4 sector along with heavy machinery late on Thursday night.
They removed two shipping containers placed outside the building, a guard room and a fence, and later sealed the office for alleged violations of the bylaws.
“CDA operation over violations of building by-laws and to eliminate illegal constructions and encroachments,” the authority said on X. “Encroachments and illegal constructions on a plot by a political party in Sector G-8/4 are being removed.”
The operation began at around 11:30pm and the CDA said the plot was allotted to a person, Sartaj Ali.
Zulfikar Bukhari, a member of Khan’s PTI, the party was neither served a notice, nor granted the opportunity of a hearing.
“This is patently illegal and unlawful,” he said in a statement. “We don’t have time to file petition at this point of time. The Hon’ble CJ SCP [chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan] may consider this message as urgent application and direct Islamabad administration to refrain from causing such irreparable loss to the party.”
The PTI says it has been facing a state crackdown, especially after May 9, 2023, when riots broke out after Khan’s brief arrest on graft charges. The alleged crackdown has seen several senior PTI figures be arrested or driven underground.
Khan, who was ousted in a parliamentary no-trust vote in April, has been in jail since last August and convicted in multiple cases, however, his party stunned political pundits in Pakistan when candidates backed by it emerged as the largest group of elected lawmakers in the Feb. 8 national election.
Arguably Pakistan’s most popular politician, Khan says all cases against him are politically motivated and accuses the country’s powerful military and his rivals of trying to keep him out of politics, an allegation they deny.


Pakistan considers modifying passport policy for married and divorced women — official

Pakistan considers modifying passport policy for married and divorced women — official
Updated 24 May 2024
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Pakistan considers modifying passport policy for married and divorced women — official

Pakistan considers modifying passport policy for married and divorced women — official
  • The matter relates to the condition that a married woman’s passport will bear name of her husband and not her father
  • The move has highlighted contradictions between policies of national database registration and passports authorities

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government is considering modification of its passport policy regarding married and divorced women, a senior official said on Thursday, after a woman lawyer brought the issue to light this week.
The matter relates to the condition that a married woman’s passport would bear the name of her husband instead of her father. The move has highlighted contradictions between the policies of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and Directorate General Immigration & Passports (DGIP) that possess data of citizens across the country.
Khadija Bukhari, a lawyer whose petition in this regard is being heard by the Lahore High Court, this week told a private news channel the issue could cause inconvenience and distress for women who wanted to retain their father’s name on their identification documents, regardless of whether they were married or divorced.
However, Immigration and Passports Director-General Mustafa Jamal Kazi said it was a “legal requirement” for a married woman to have her husband’s name on her passport as the document was used internationally and must comply with international agreements, unlike NADRA-issued computerized national identity cards (CNICs) that were used only in Pakistan.
“These rules are driven through the act of parliament and secretary interior has constituted a committee under his chairmanship to solve this issue. The committee will look into the passport policy concerning the condition of a married woman’s passport bearing her husband’s name instead of her father’s name,” Kazi told Arab News.
“The committee was tasked with addressing discrepancies between the policies of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and the passport issuing authority regarding married women.”
Bukhari said she had her husband’s name included to her CNIC for their marriage to be registered with NADRA, but later decided to retain her father’s name in the second column of her CNIC.
“So, there was no problem with that. Once I went to the passport office when my passport expired, they said ‘we cannot renew your passport because your CNIC has not been updated’,” she told Arab News.
“By that it was meant that ‘you’re supposed to be wife of you cannot remain daughter of, if you want to get a passport. So first go back to NADRA, get your CNIC changed and reflect that you are wife of and then we will process your application’.”
Bukhari argued that if NADRA didn’t have a problem referring to her as “daughter of,” then why the passport authorities could not do it.
Immigration and Passports DG Kazi said the solution to this problem, which he also intended to present to the government committee, was to add another column to the passport to include the name of a woman’s ex-husband, who is the father of their children, in case of a divorce.
“We need all the detail in our database because for international verifications different countries send the data of Pakistani citizens to us and we need to verify from every aspect,” he said.
“Therefore, we need all the information and concealing facts can cause problems for them [women] at later stage.”


IMF, Pakistan make significant progress on new loan, IMF mission says

IMF, Pakistan make significant progress on new loan, IMF mission says
Updated 24 May 2024
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IMF, Pakistan make significant progress on new loan, IMF mission says

IMF, Pakistan make significant progress on new loan, IMF mission says
  • The IMF has opened discussions with Pakistan on a new loan program after Islamabad last month completed a short-term $3 billion program
  • An IMF team, led by mission chief Nathan Porter, concluded discussions with the authorities on Thursday after arriving in Pakistan on May 13

ISLAMABAD: An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission and Pakistan have made significant progress toward reaching a staff-level agreement for an extended fund facility, the global lender said on Friday.
The IMF has opened discussions with Pakistan on a new loan program after Islamabad last month completed a short-term $3 billion program, which helped stave off a sovereign debt default.
An IMF team, led by mission chief Nathan Porter, concluded discussions with the authorities on Thursday after arriving in Pakistan on May 13, the lender said in a statement.
“The mission and the authorities will continue policy discussions virtually over the coming days aiming to finalize discussions, including the financial support needed to underpin the authorities’ reform efforts from the IMF and Pakistan’s bilateral and multilateral partners,” Porter said.
Pakistan is likely to seek at least $6 billion under the new program and request additional financing from the IMF under the Resilience and Sustainability Trust.
Ahead of the discussions, the IMF had warned that downside risks for the Pakistani economy
remained exceptionally high.
“The authorities’ reform program aims to move Pakistan from economic stabilization to strong, inclusive, and resilient growth,” Porter added.


Pakistani retiree, 59, defies age to dominate the mat at Islamabad Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club

Pakistani retiree, 59, defies age to dominate the mat at Islamabad Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club
Updated 24 May 2024
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Pakistani retiree, 59, defies age to dominate the mat at Islamabad Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club

Pakistani retiree, 59, defies age to dominate the mat at Islamabad Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club
  • Saqib Lateef retired, from army in 2012, had various jobs before embracing life of physical fitness and martial arts
  • BJJ revolves around smaller, weaker person defending against stronger opponent through leverage, weight distribution

ISLAMABAD: Saqib Lateef stood out at Islamabad’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) training club this week, moving on the black mat with a grace and precision that defied his 59 years of age, and which have turned him into an inspiration for the younger athletes who train at the facility. 
After retiring from the Pakistan army as a colonel in 2012 and transitioning through various jobs, Saqib Lateef discovered his passion for physical fitness and martial arts, particularly BJJ, a hybrid self-defense system based on traditional Japanese Jujitsu and Kodokan Judo and involving grappling, ground fighting, and submission holds.
“I have turned 59 and my own weight is 74 kg and I am 5 feet 10 inches in height,” Lateef told Arab News between fights. “So, I have sparred [fought] with all of them [younger athletes], people who are on the mat. They have got a lot of different weights, and I can take on anyone of them.”
BJJ revolves around the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger, heavier opponent by using leverage and weight distribution, taking the fight to the ground and using a number of holds and submissions to defeat them.
“I always test my limits, that how can I engage with younger people on the mat,” Lateeq said, explaining the fundamentals of BJJ.
“So, they are faster than me, and they are more resilient than me, and they have got more physical power. So it was a challenge for me to have a submission [defeat opponent] but in this old age, I can do submissions on them.”
“You don’t end up knocking someone off his face or drawing blood or causing a brain contusion,” added Osama Ahmed Aitzaz, who owns the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club, the only one in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, which he opened last year after returning from Australia. 
“With this [BJJ], you just take the person to the ground. So we learn that stuff, how to take down a person and then there’s not much damage done.”
“ALL AGES, ALL SIZES”
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was first developed in 1925 by Brazilian brothers Carlos, Oswaldo, Gastão Jr., and Hélio Gracie, after Carlos was taught a hybrid of traditional Japanese Jujitsu and Kodokan judo by a traveling Japanese judoka, Mitsuyo Maeda, in 1917. Later on, the Gracie family developed their own self-defense system Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, changing the face of unarmed combat by turning the confused chaos of ground fighting into a dynamic science of joint locks, chokes and strangles.
“Matter of fact, the person who developed this, what we call now Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, they were of the stature of being old and being skinny and fighting against a bigger and a stronger opponent,” Aitzaz, a blue belt, four-stripe practitioner of the discipline, told Arab News. 
“So Jiu-Jitsu welcomes all ages, all sizes … It does not just give you physical strength but also mental strength.”
The trainer applauded Lateef’s commitment and skill, saying his presence in the fighting arena had a positive impact on others.
“We love him, he puts us all to shame, especially the young ones,” Aitzaz said, smiling. “He gives me a bit of a reason to say [to younger participants], ‘Hang on, look at this fella, he’s 59. You have no excuse.’ So yeah, it’s perfect. We love him.”
For Lateef, the sport is not just about self-defense or combat but also about learning patience and bringing positivity into his life, which he also advises others to do. 
“People [who are] redundant, doing nothing, and sitting and watching TV, and eating, and with a bad lifestyle, [these] people should change their lifestyle, do some physical activities,” Lateef said as he prepared to tackle an opponent. 
“The more physical activity there is, the less ailments there will be … You should focus on how much you give physically to your body, because once you physically engage your body, then positiveness comes out of your body.”


Pakistan arrive in Birmingham for second T20 as deadline to announce World Cup squad looms

Pakistan arrive in Birmingham for second T20 as deadline to announce World Cup squad looms
Updated 24 May 2024
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Pakistan arrive in Birmingham for second T20 as deadline to announce World Cup squad looms

Pakistan arrive in Birmingham for second T20 as deadline to announce World Cup squad looms
  • ICC has set May 25 as deadline to announce squads for next month’s T20 World Cup tournament
  • Pakistan remain the only team who have not announced their squad for upcoming World Cup

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan cricket team arrived in Birmingham on Thursday to play the second T20I of the four-match series against England, with only a day left before the deadline to announce the squad for next month’s World Cup ends. 
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has set a deadline of May 25 for countries participating in the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024— scheduled to take place in the USA and West Indies next month— to announce their squads for the mega tournament. 
Pakistan are the only team who have not announced their squad for the megaevent. The green shirts were hoping to test their players in the first T20I fixture against England in Leeds on Wednesday before finalizing the squad. 
Rain, however, washed away the first match of the series which would have helped selectors and Head Coach Gary Kirsten arrive at a decision. Local media widely reported the PCB would announce the World Cup squad on Friday. 
“Pakistan team will practice from 9:30 a.m. tomorrow till 12:30 p.m.,” the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said in a statement. “The second T20 international between Pakistan and England will be played on Saturday at Edgbaston.”
The other two matches of the series against Pakistan, the team England beat to win the 2022 T20 World Cup final in Melbourne, will take place in Cardiff and at the Oval on May 28 and May 30, respectively. 
The Pakistan-England T20 series could see the return to international duty of England fast bowler Jofra Archer. Injuries have blighted the quick’s career, with elbow and back problems sidelining the 29-year-old from top-level cricket for 14 months.
The 20-team ICC World Cup, scheduled to take place in the USA and West Indies from June 1-29, will see Pakistan take on the USA, India, Canada and Ireland in the group stages of the tournament. 
Schedule for England series:
22 May – v England, 1st T20I, Leeds
25 May – v England, 2nd T20I, Birmingham
28 May – v England 3rd T20I, Cardiff
30 May – v England, 4th T20I, The Oval