Pakistan PM steps down as ruling party president, Nawaz Sharif poised to take charge 

Pakistan PM steps down as ruling party president, Nawaz Sharif poised to take charge 
This handout photograph taken and released on March 3, 2024 by the Pakistan National Assembly, shows Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L) and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party greeting his younger brother and newly-elected Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (R) at the Parliament House in Islamabad. (AFP/File)
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Updated 13 May 2024
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Pakistan PM steps down as ruling party president, Nawaz Sharif poised to take charge 

Pakistan PM steps down as ruling party president, Nawaz Sharif poised to take charge 
  • Nawaz, who founded the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in 1993, stepped down as president in 2018 
  • Supreme Court had ruled individuals disqualified under Articles 62/63 of constitution couldn’t head party

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has resigned as president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), saying it was time for his elder brother and three-time former premier Nawaz Sharif to “resume his rightful place” as the party’s leader, the PML-N confirmed on Monday. 

Nawaz, who founded the PML-N in 1993, stepped down as its president in 2018 after the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that an individual disqualified under Articles 62 and 63 of the constitution, which outline the rules for qualification and disqualification for parliamentarians, could not serve as the head of a political party. 

Sharif was disqualified as prime minister by the Supreme Court in July 2017, which declared him “dishonest” for not disclosing a separate monthly income from a company owned by his son. The court also ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to open a criminal trial into the ownership of London flats and several other revelations about the ex-PM’s family wealth disclosed in the Panama Papers’ leaks. 

A year later, following the investigations ordered by the court, Nawaz was sentenced to 10 years in prison for corrupt practices linked to his family’s purchase of the upscale London flat and subsequently to seven years in jail in a separate case for being unable to prove the source of income that had led to his ownership of a steel mill in Saudi Arabia. Nawaz has since been acquitted in both cases, which he always maintained were politically motivated. 

Sharif, who is Nawaz’s younger brother, subsequently became president of the party but has always maintained it was a temporary arrangement until his brother was exonerated by the courts. 

On Monday, PML-N information secretary and Senior Punjab Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb shared Sharif’s resignation on X.

“I am heartened by recent developments that have exonerated our leader with dignity, affirming his unblemished integrity and commitment to the service of our nation,” Sharif wrote. 

“Therefore, it is with a deep sense of duty and reverence for our party’s principles that I tender my resignation as the president of PML-N,” he added, pledging to support the PML-N with “unwavering loyalty” under Nawaz. “The time has come for Mohammad Nawaz Sharif to resume his rightful place as the president of the PML-N.”

After being jailed in 2018, Nawaz flew to London in 2019 after a court allowed him to leave for medical treatment, on the condition he returned when fit. However, he went into exile and ran his party affairs from London, while former cricketer Imran Khan ruled as prime minister until April 2022, when he was ousted in a parliamentary vote of no confidence. 

Nawaz’s younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, subsequently became prime minister for 16 months ahead of general elections on Feb. 8 after which Sharif once again came to power in March and became premier, ruling Pakistan through a fragile coalition with smaller parties. 


Seven civilians injured as militants attack army cantonment in northwest Pakistan — police

Seven civilians injured as militants attack army cantonment in northwest Pakistan — police
Updated 5 sec ago
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Seven civilians injured as militants attack army cantonment in northwest Pakistan — police

Seven civilians injured as militants attack army cantonment in northwest Pakistan — police
  • Sprawling military facility in Bannu mainly houses offices of the military and homes of security forces
  • In statement shared with media, Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group, a Pakistani Taliban faction, claims responsibility 

PESHAWAR: Security forces foiled an attack by militants near the outer wall of a military cantonment in northwestern Pakistan early Monday, wounding seven civilians, police said, amid a surge in such assaults in recent months. 

The attack took place in Bannu city in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan. The province has witnessed a surge in militant attacks in recent years.

“Terrorists mounted the attack on the Cantt at around 5:00 am, which was repulsed by the security forces,” Ziauddin Ahmed, the district police officer (DPO) for southern Bannu district, told Arab News. “As per initial information, seven civilians were wounded in the attack.”

He said a clearance operation was still ongoing and any casualties, including of soldiers, could only be confirmed after its conclusion. He added that sporadic gunfire could still be heard near the Bannu Cantt. 

Locals said militants had tried to force their way into the Cantt and had detonated an explosive-laden vehicle on the road between the supply depot and the outer wall of the cantonment. 

AP reported, quoting police, that a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle and at least one of his accomplices exploded his vest near the outer wall of Bannu Cantt, wounding eight civilians and damaging nearby homes.

Policeman Tahir Khan told AP security forces quickly responded to the “coordinated attack” and foiled an attempt by the insurgents to enter the sprawling military facility which mainly houses offices of the military and homes of security forces. He also said army helicopters and ground forces were still reaching the area to track more militants.

In a statement shared with media, the Jaish-e-Fursan (Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group), a Pakistani Taliban or TTP faction, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Islamabad blames an ongoing surge in militant attacks on neighboring Afghanistan, saying TTP leaders have taken refuge there and run camps to train insurgents to launch attacks inside Pakistan.

The Afghan Taliban rulers in Kabul say rising violence in Pakistan is a domestic issue for Islamabad and it does not allow militants to operate on its territory.


Eight civilians wounded in 2 coordinated suicide attacks near military facility in northwest Pakistan

Eight civilians wounded in 2 coordinated suicide attacks near military facility in northwest Pakistan
Updated 14 min 13 sec ago
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Eight civilians wounded in 2 coordinated suicide attacks near military facility in northwest Pakistan

Eight civilians wounded in 2 coordinated suicide attacks near military facility in northwest Pakistan
  • Police say security forces foiled an attempt by insurgents to enter sprawling military facility in the city of Bannu 
  • Northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan has witnessed surge in militant attacks in recent years

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle and at least one of his accomplices exploded his vest near the outer wall of a military facility in northwestern Pakistan early Monday, wounding eight civilians and damaging nearby homes, a local police official said.

Tahir Khan said security forces quickly responded to the “coordinated attack” and foiled an attempt by the insurgents to enter the sprawling military facility in the city of Bannu which mainly houses offices of the military and homes of security forces. He also said army helicopters and ground forces were still reaching the area to track more militants.

Local authorities said several soldiers were also wounded in the attacks.

There was no immediate comment from the government or military.

Bannu is in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan. The province has witnessed a surge in militant attacks in recent years. 

In January 2023 militants killed at least 101 people, mostly police officers, when a suicide bomber disguised as a policeman attacked a mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the suspicion is likely to fall on the Pakistani Taliban who have stepped up attacks on security forces across the country in recent months.

Pakistani Taliban — who are known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP — are a separate group but an ally of the Afghan Taliban. TTP has stepped up its attacks on security forces since the Afghan Taliban seized power in neighboring Afghanistan in 2021.


Pakistan’s Madinah Hajj directorate holds preplanning meeting for next year’s pilgrimage

Pakistan’s Madinah Hajj directorate holds preplanning meeting for next year’s pilgrimage
Updated 27 min 13 sec ago
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Pakistan’s Madinah Hajj directorate holds preplanning meeting for next year’s pilgrimage

Pakistan’s Madinah Hajj directorate holds preplanning meeting for next year’s pilgrimage
  • Authorities reiterate commitment to “leveraging technology for better management and service delivery” 
  • At least 160,000 Pakistanis attended this year’s annual Hajj pilgrimage, which ran from June 14-19

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Hajj directorate in the Saudi city of Madinah held a meeting to preplan for a “smooth and comfortable” pilgrimage for Pakistanis next year with a focus on accommodation, transport, health care and other needs of pilgrims, the ministry of religious affairs said on Monday.

At least 160,000 Pakistanis attended this year’s annual Hajj pilgrimage, which ran from June 14-19. 

“The primary agenda of the meeting was to devise strategies to enhance the facilities and services provided to Pakistani pilgrims during the upcoming Hajj,” the ministry’s statement said. 

“The importance of proactive planning and coordination to ensure that all pilgrims have a comfortable and spiritually fulfilling experience.”

Issues raised during the meeting included improvement of accommodation, transportation and health care services as well as training and support through digitalization.

Syed Mushahid Hussain Khalid, Director General (Research & Reference), highlighted the religious affair ministry’s commitment to “leveraging technology for better management and service delivery” during Hajj 2025.

The fifth pillar of Islam, the Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah is mandatory once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it and is the most significant manifestation of Islamic faith and unity. Eid Al-Adha, one of Islam’s two main festivals, marks the climax of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, when Muslims slaughter animals to commemorate the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim, or Abraham, to sacrifice his son on God’s command.


Pakistani scooter brand, Chinese startup reach agreement to introduce solar e-bikes

Pakistani scooter brand, Chinese startup reach agreement to introduce solar e-bikes
Updated 15 July 2024
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Pakistani scooter brand, Chinese startup reach agreement to introduce solar e-bikes

Pakistani scooter brand, Chinese startup reach agreement to introduce solar e-bikes
  • Preliminary cooperation deal reached between Pakistan’s Road Kind, China’s AGAO Solar Mobility
  • Pakistan has set ambitious goal of running 30 percent of its vehicles on electricity by 2030

ISLAMABAD: Road King, a leading electric scooter brand in Pakistan, and AGAO Solar Mobility, a China-based startup specializing in solar-powered scooters, have reached a preliminary agreement to introduce eco-friendly solar e-bikes in Pakistan, APP reported on Monday.

Solar scooters are equipped with solar panels that convert solar energy into electrical energy for storage and are used to drive the scooter’s electric motor. They are best for short-distance travel and produce zero carbon emissions.

“The Chinese company expressed its willingness to provide Road King with technical support, product optimization, and marketing assistance for solar e-bikes,” APP reported on a meeting between executives of the two companies. “The goal is to jointly create high-quality transportation products that meet local market needs.”

“We will actively promote cooperation with the Chinese side and introduce solar e-bikes to the Pakistani market, stated the delegation from Road King,” APP said, quoting the Chinese firm, which said the environmental friendliness and high-efficiency performance of solar e-bikes “perfectly” aligned with Pakistan’s current demand for green transportation.

Pakistan has set an ambitious target to generate 60 percent of its energy from clean and renewable energy sources by 2030. The goal is part of a broader strategy to transition toward sustainable energy, which includes a significant push for solar and wind power development.

Additionally, Pakistan plans to have 30 percent of its vehicles running on electricity by 2030, aligning with global environmental targets and efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
 


Beijing reiterates calls for Pakistan to create ‘safe’ environment for Chinese workers and projects

Beijing reiterates calls for Pakistan to create ‘safe’ environment for Chinese workers and projects
Updated 15 July 2024
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Beijing reiterates calls for Pakistan to create ‘safe’ environment for Chinese workers and projects

Beijing reiterates calls for Pakistan to create ‘safe’ environment for Chinese workers and projects
  • China is a major ally and investor in Pakistan but militants have attacked Chinese projects and workers over recent years
  • Five Chinese workers were killed in a suicide bombing in March in the third major attack on Chinese interests in a week

ISLAMABAD: Beijing has reiterated its calls for Islamabad to create a “safe, stable and predictable” environment for Chinese workers, projects and institutions operating inside Pakistan and crack down on militant groups working against Chinese interests in the South Asian nation, Beijing’s ambassador said on Sunday. 

China is a major ally and investor in Pakistan but both separatist and religiously motivated militants have attacked Chinese projects over recent years, killing Chinese personnel. In the most high-profile recent attack, five Chinese workers were killed in a suicide bombing in March. It was the third major attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan in a week.

In an interview to state-run Pakistani news agency APP, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Jiang Zaidong said President Xi Jinping had discussed security challenges with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif when he visited China in June. 

“President Xi Jinping made it clear that China supports Pakistan in firmly combating terrorism and hopes that Pakistan will continue to create a safe, stable and predictable business environment and effectively protect the safety of Chinese nationals, projects and institutions in Pakistan,” the envoy said.

Sharif had “promised” that Pakistan would “resolutely crack down on and severely punish the terrorists involved” in recent attacks and take all measures necessary to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel, projects and institutions in Pakistan, Jiang added. 

Speaking about Sharif’s visit, the envoy said its focus was on strategic and security cooperation and materializing an upgraded version of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in line with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Under CPEC, Beijing has pledged over $65 billion in investment in road, infrastructure and development projects in Pakistan as part of the Belt and Road scheme.

“Through Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit, the leaders of the two countries have drawn a blueprint, pointed out the path, and determined measures for the development of China-Pakistan relations in the new era,” he said, adding that the two leaders had agreed on cooperation in various sectors including mining, development of offshore oil and gas resources, clean energy, artificial intelligence, science and technology, finance and space cooperation. 

Consensus had been reached, the envoy said, on accelerating the Main Line-1 railways and Karakoram Highway projects, the year-round operation of the Khunjerab Pass, development of Gwadar Port and supporting Chinese companies to invest and operate in Special Economic Zones.

“At present, China-Pakistan cooperation is facing important opportunities for quality improvement and upgrading, ” Jiang said, “but also under the realistic pressure of climbing over obstacles.”