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Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif appealed against the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case on Tuesday. In three separate review petitions, Sharif’s lawyer, Khawaja Harris, cited 19 reasons as to why he should not be disqualified, reported news agency PTI. Last month, a five-member bench of Pakistan’s apex court had disqualified Sharif for dishonesty and ordered the National Accountability Board, the country’s anti-corruption agency, to investigate him and his children in the corruption scandal, firstreported by The Indian Express as part of the Panama Papers investigation.

In a 34-page application, Sharif appealed to the top court asking for an injunction to suspend its original verdict till the review petitions were decided. The petitioner also argued that Sharif did not conceal documents in his nomination papers ahead of the 2013 presidential polls — the SC had labelled Sharif dishonest due to this.

“As far as disqualification of Petitioner (Sharif) by way of declaration in terms of Section 99(f) of ROPA and Article 62 (1)(f), for non disclosure of his un-withdrawn income from Capital FZE in his nomination papers for 2013 General Elections is concerned, it is submitted that this declaration also suffers from an error apparent on the face of the record,” the petitioner argued, reported PTI.

“It is also submitted that under the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, ‘salary’ is to be declared as income only after it is received,” the petition said.

The petitioner argued that under Article 188 of the Constitution, it was against the law to disqualify Sharif without a trial. Further, it was stated that the judgment disallowed Sharif from appealing, which is the right of every citizen.

Sharif also argued that the July 28 decision should have been made by a three-member bench, excluding Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed, as their jurisdiction had expired after their dissenting judgement on April 20. “By signing the the final order of the court (Justice Ahmed and Justice Khosa) have actually passed two judgments in the same case, which is unprecedented in judicial history,” the petition stated, according to PTI.

Sharif has been trying to replace Pakistan’s “flawed” system to end the ouster of prime ministers. He has repeatedly been quoted as saying he will replace it with a new one.

 

 

 

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India’s decision to impose anti-dumping duties on 93 products from China has raised fears of a trade war between the two countries, according to Chinese state media. An article in the Global Times today criticised India’s decision to impose anti-dumping duties on Chinese products, warning India should be prepared for the “possible consequences for its ill-considered action.” It also advised Chinese companies to “reconsider the risks of investing in India amid strained bilateral ties.”

The article noted that even before imposing anti-dumping duties, India was the country with most “trade remedy probes” against China with 12 investigations into Chinese products in the first half of this year. It said that India’s desire to narrow trade deficit with China is “understandable” but trade remedy measures should not be used as shortcuts as it would “backfire.”

“If India really starts a trade war with China, of course China’s economic interests will be hurt, but there will also be consequences for India,” it said. Explaining this further, the article claimed Chinese companies will first face a setback due to the anti-dumping measures, while Indian consumers will also face loss. Secondly, it said, China may even consider “suspending investment or economic cooperation projects in India to ensure the security of these investments.”

The report on possible trade war between the two countries comes amid the ongoing standoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers at Doklam in the Sikkim sector. The standoff has worsened the bilateral ties between both countries, with Chinese media and diplomats even issuing threats of war against India. New Delhi has consciously not ratcheted up the conflict. The standoff started in June when Chinese soldiers tried to build a road in the region, which is in Bhutan and strategically significant for India. New Delhi and Beijing had in 2012 decided not to change the status quo in the region without consulting all three parties – China, India, and Bhutan.

 

 

 

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Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif's daughter in Twitter spat

Written by Friday, 11 August 2017 07:13

 

NEW DELHI: Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's daughter Maryam are engaged in a war of words on Twitter with the latter calling the former a "stooge".

It all began after Imran tweeted disparagingly about Sharif's rally from Islamabad to Lahore which began on Wednesday. The rally is being seen as the former PM's attempt to show he has popular support despite the Pakistani supreme court disqualifying from any public posts in the country on corruption-related allegations.

Imran tweeted calling Sharif's rally a "corruption bachao rally", or a "save corruption rally", and saying it was showing a "downward trend in the no (number) of people listening".

The people who showed up on the rally stops along the way were there because of Sharif's party's "rent-a-crowd methods", Imran said.

The former cricketer also mocked Sharif for travelling in a bulletproof car.

All of this was much too much for Sharif's daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif. She said Imran has "lost it", that her father's "struggle is bigger than all of you stooges combined" and called Imran " irrelevant". Her "stooge" reference likely meant she was saying Imran is a bit too close for comfort with the Pakistani military.

Before that, Maryam had tweeted that the rally route was "choking" with people and that it looked like there was a "Bhangra party" on the streets where her father's rally passed through.

 

 

 

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Doha: Qatar announced on Wednesday a programme to allow visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries to encourage air transport and tourism amid a two-month boycott imposed on the Gulf state by its neighbours.

Nationals from dozens of countries in Europe and elsewhere including India, Lebanon, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States only need present a valid passport to enter the gas-rich country which hosts the soccer World Cup in 2022.

Nationals of 33 countries will be allowed to stay for 180 days and the other 47 for up to 30 days. 

"The visa exemption scheme will make Qatar the most open country in the region," Hassan al-Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development officer at Qatar Tourism Authority, told reporters at a press conference in Doha.

Oil giant Saudi Arabia along with Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates imposed a boycott on Qatar on June 5 and cut off all transport links with the country after accusing it of supporting terrorism and of close ties to Iran.

Doha denies the charges.

Since the boycott began, Qatar has sought to build up its diplomatic and trade ties beyond the Gulf region. The visa scheme is just the latest in a series of measures aimed at preparing Qatar for greater economic independence in the long term. Efforts led by Kuwait to resolve the rift are ongoing.

Qatar has flown in food supplies from Turkey and Iran and chartered new shipping routes via Oman to bring in construction materials but hotel occupancy rates have fallen with Saudis, a key source of tourism, barred by their government from visiting the country.

Visitors from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council usually account for almost half of all visitors to Qatar.

Air links suspended by the four Arab states represented around 25 percent of flights by state-owned Qatar Airways, one of the region's big three carriers.

On August 3, Qatar approved legislation allowing certain permanent residents to benefit from parts of the state's generous welfare system, including education and health-care services, a first for the Gulf.

Under the law, children of Qatari women married to foreigners and people with special skills "needed by the state," can benefit from the new status.

Foreign workers from countries including India and Nepal account for around 90 per cent of Qatar's population of 2.7 million.

Qatar's World Cup organising committee has said the Arab sanctions will not affect preparations for the World Cup.

 

 

 

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Tehran: Iranian president Hassan Rouhani put forward a new Cabinet line-up on Tuesday that was immediately criticised by reformists for its lack of women or young people.

The ministerial line-up, which must still be approved by parliament, also lacked minorities and actually increased the average age compared to Rouhani's first term.

"The lack of women ministers shows we are treading water," Shahindokht Mowlaverdi, Rouhani's outgoing vice-president for women's affairs, told the Etamad daily after news of the line-up was leaked.

Many on social media said Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate cleric who whipped up reformist support to secure re-election in May, was failing to keep his campaign promises of greater diversity.

"The people's message in the last two elections has had little reflection in the proposed Cabinet," tweeted Mohammad Karroubi, son of jailed opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi.

"How can you speak of equality of the entire nation and ignore women and religious minorities?" he asked.

The head of the reformist camp in parliament, Mohammed Reza Aref, also voiced his disappointment, "We expected at least one woman to be nominated," he said.

Aref noted, according to Iranian media, most of the members of the delegation that accompanied European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to Iran Saturday for Rouhani's inauguration in parliament were women — saying this was very meaningful.

First vice-president Eshagh Jahanguiri echoed him in a tweet saying: "We should increase the number of women, minorities and youths in positions of responsibility."

There were few major changes in the Cabinet, with the key figures in Iran's efforts to rebuild ties with the West — Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh — retaining their positions.

Average age of 58

The one surprise was the appointment of Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, a 35-year-old engineer and by far the youngest addition, who is set to become telecommunications minister.

But even with his appointment, which puts an opponent of censorship at the heart of government, the average age of the Cabinet remains at 58.

Sunnis, who make up around 10 percent of the Shiite-majority nation, were also left out of the new government.

Rouhani did replace the defence minister, Major General Hossein Dehghan, with his deputy, General Amir Hatami — the first time in more than two decades that the post has been filled by someone from the regular army rather than the elite Revolutionary Guards.

And the deputy economy minister, Masoud Karbasian, also replaced his boss, Ali Tayebnia.

Analysts say Rouhani will stick with his general push to increase foreign investment and improve the management of the stagnant economy.

Over the past week, the expected lack of women has been a focus of criticism by reformists, who say Rouhani is probably bowing to pressure from the religious establishment.

In his first term, Rouhani did have three women among his large cohort of vice presidents, who do not require parliamentary approval.

Ironically, the sole female minister since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution came under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani's hardline predecessor, whose health minister Marzieh Dastjerdi served between 2009 and 2013.

Rouhani sailed to victory in May over hardliner Ebrahim Raisi with the backing of reformists after vowing to improve civil liberties and rebuild ties with the West.

With no official parties in parliament, he must negotiate among a shifting pattern of political factions, none of which holds a definitive majority of the 290 seats.

He is known to have coordinated closely with other power-brokers, including supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Revolutionary Guards and the judiciary.

 

 

 

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Lahore: An explosive device went off on Monday night inside a truck parked on the route former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif is to take on Wednesday for a public rally in Lahore, injuring at least 35 people, officials said.

Official sources told PTI that the explosives were placed in the truck laden with fruits on the Out Fall Road - the route Sharif is to take on his return to his hometown for the first time since the Panama Papers scandal verdict on 28 July.

Sharif was initially scheduled to travel to Lahore from Islamabad via the famous Grand Trunk Road on Sunday, but the rally was postponed to Wednesday.

"It appears the explosive device was to target Sharif's cavalcade," the sources said, adding that Sharif is now likely to review his Wednesday's planned march through the route.

The truck was parked there for the past three days, police said citing initial reports they had received.

"It appears to be a message for Nawaz Sharif to cancel or defer his planned rally on coming Wednesday," the sources said.

The PML-N has planned a "million march" against Sharif's disqualification by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case. Opposition leader Imram Khan has expressed concern over the ousted prime minister's plan to travel to Lahore with a cavalcade, terming it "a deliberate attempt to undermine the Supreme Court" and its judgement in the high-profile scandal.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said Sharif's travel plans were making Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leaders anxious.

"Khan's is afraid of the strong solidarity that will be demonstrated by the masses for the ousted prime minister, who is now emerging as the people's prime minister," Iqbal said.

A rescue official told PTI that an explosive device planted in the truck went off at around 9pm local time.

The kind of device and the explosives used were not yet known.

Police and rescue officials have cordoned off the area.

"At least 35 people have been injured and admitted to hospitals. An injured minor girl is stated to be critical," he said.

DIG Haider Ashraf confirmed that it was a bomb blast and said that the blast has created a huge crater.

"We have launched investigation on all aspects," he said.

Azim Hanif, an eyewitness, said he was going to the parking area when the powerful blast took place.

"Due the impact of the blast, I fell on the ground. After a couple of minutes when I gained my senses, I saw some people injured," Hanif said.

The explosion shattered the windows of nearby buildings. A number of bikes and cars were damaged due to its intensity.

Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan, has witnessed several terror attacks in recent months.

On 24 July, a Taliban suicide bomber struck a police team near residence-cum-office of Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif here, killing 27 people, including policemen.

In April, six persons were killed and 15 others injured when a suicide bomber targeted a population census team in Lahore's Bedian Road.

In February, a suicide bomber killed 14 people, including senior police officers, near the Punjab Assembly here.

 

 

 

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ISLAMABAD: 

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Special committee to probe sexual harassment charges against Imran Khan
  2. Ayesha Gulalai has alleged that Mr Khan had sent her lewd messages
  3. PTI has accused government of masterminding a ploy to malign Mr Khan
 
 

Pakistan's flamboyant Opposition leader Imran Khan today faced a major crisis after the National Assembly decided to form a special committee to probe sexual harassment charges against him by a prominent woman lawmaker of his party.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, soon after the swearing-in of his Cabinet, called for the formation of a special committee to investigate the allegations of harassment levelled against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former Pakistan cricket team captain Imran Khan by the Member of the National Assembly, Ayesha Gulalai.

Ayesha Gulalai has alleged that Imran Khan, 64, had hinted towards tying the knot in the texts sent to her, which also included lewd messages.

Imran Khan has rejected the allegations and said that the ruling PML-N has used her and bought her.

"This is the tried and tested method of the PML-N," Imran Khan told a private television channel yesterday, refering to the Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League.

Prime Minister Abbasi, in his address to lawmakers, called for the formation of a special committee to probe the allegations against Imran Khan in-camera and suggested that the committee present a report before the House after its investigation so that the "matter can be closed".

"Both the PTI chief and Gulalai are respectable personalities; therefore, a committee should be formed to probe the allegations," PM Abbasi told the assembly.

The assembly then passed the motion and directed the committee to submit its report within a month, Dawn newspaper reported.

The prime minister assured both the accused and the accuser they would be respected, adding that the PTI chief had the "right to defend himself".

The speaker has been asked to form the committee and include members of both treasury and opposition benches in it, Geo TV reported.

The resolution was supported by the PML-N, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

PM Abbasi also promised round-the-clock protection for Ayesha Gulalai after she claimed on television that she was scared for her life.

While announcing her resignation from the party earlier this week, Ayesha Gulalai had accused Imran Khan and his "gang" of having an "immoral character".

The lawmaker from Waziristan alleged that Imran Khan "would forward inappropriate and explicit text messages to party women", claiming that she received the first such message in 2013.

Ayesha Gulalai's allegations against Imran Khan has caused a furore among party members and deepened an existing rift with the ruling PML-N, with PTI accusing them of allegedly masterminding a ploy to malign the party chief, who had initiated the corruption case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif under the Pananma Papers leaks. Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court in the case.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf rejected the demand for a bi-partisan parliamentary committee to probe Ayesha Gulalai's allegations against party chairman Imran Khan.

Speaking in a press conference, a party leader said: "we will not accept the committee of our political rivals. We are ready for the probe but investigation on the issue must be transparent."

He wondered how the probe could be independent and transparent when political rivals will be investigating the case.

He claimed that the Pakistan Muslim League is running a dirty campaign against Imran Khan.

 

 

 

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BEIJING:  China has said that it has shown "utmost goodwill" over the prolonged military standoff with India in the Sikkim sector but warned that its "restraint" has a "bottom line".

The reaction from the Chinese defence ministry late last night came a day after the Indian External Affairs Ministry in a statement said that the peace and tranquillity of the India-China boundary constitutes the important prerequisite for the smooth development of bilateral relations.
 
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj last month made clear India's position on the over-a-month-long standoff in the Doklam area, saying both sides should first pull back their troops for any talks to take place, favouring a peaceful resolution.

The standoff began on June 16 after Chinese troops began constructing a road near the trijunction with Bhutan, which India says was a unilateral action by Beijing to change the status quo in the area.

New Delhi fears the construction of the road would allow China to cut off India's access to its northeastern states. Ren Guoqiang, a spokesperson of the Chinese defence ministry, in a statement called on the Indian side to swiftly address the situation in a proper manner to restore peace and tranquillity in the border region.
 
"Since the incident occurred, China has shown utmost goodwill and sought to communicate with India through diplomatic channels to resolve the incident. Chinese armed forces have also shown a high level of restraint with an eye to the general bilateral relations and the regional peace and stability," the spokesperson said, according to report in the state-run Xinhua news agency.

"However, goodwill has its principles and restraint has its bottom line," he added.

The spokesperson urged the Indian side to give up the "illusion of its delaying tactic, as no country should underestimate the Chinese forces' confidence and capability to safeguard peace and their resolve and willpower to defend national sovereignty, security and development interests".

The spokesperson said the Chinese armed forces will resolutely protect the country's territorial sovereignty and security interests.

His comments also come after Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of a BRICS summit of NSAs from the member countries.

 

 

 

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UNITED NATIONS/UNITED STATES (AFP) - The United States is pressuring China to decide in the coming days on whether to back tougher UN sanctions on North Korea after weeks of negotiations on a response to Pyongyang's missile launches, diplomats said.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley has been in talks with her Chinese counterpart on a proposed sanctions resolution since North Korea launched a first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 4.

But China, North Korea's main ally and trading partner, has yet to agree to the new measures even after Pyongyang's second ICBM test last Friday (July 28) again raised questions on how the UN Security Council will respond.

"In the coming days, we'll understand whether there'll be a resolution," Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters on Wednesday (Aug 2).

Japan's Ambassador Koro Bessho expressed hope that sanctions will be agreed this week. "I hope we can get it done in days," he told reporters on Tuesday.

Ms Haley on Sunday declared that the "time for talk was over" and that "China must decide" whether it will agree to the new raft of sanctions, aimed at ramping up the pressure on North Korea to change its behaviour.

The US ambassador warned that a weak resolution would be "worse than nothing" because it would send a message to North Korea leader Kim Jong Un that global powers are unwilling to unite to challenge him.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the weekend, on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting of the Asean group in Manila.

If the US and China agree on a draft resolution, the Security Council could meet quickly to vote on the sanctions.

A US official told reporters in Washington that there were "indications" that China was ready to take steps to address the situation in North Korea.

"We would like to see more action faster and more obvious and quick results. But I think we're not giving up yet," said Ms Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary of state for Asian affairs.

Moscow's UN envoy said any new sanctions should not worsen North Korea's humanitarian crisis.

"The question is: What is the aim of the sanctions?" Mr Nebenzia said.

"If we see that they are suffocating the people, that will be the question. If they will help to eliminate the nuclear programme of North Korea, that's another thing."

Russia has maintained that stronger sanctions alone will not resolve the crisis over North Korea's military programmes and has backed China's call for talks between the US and Pyongyang.

Ms Haley has suggested that cutting of North Korea's oil supplies, banning North Korean guest workers or imposing new air and maritime restrictions could be among the new UN sanctions.

US President Donald Trump has demanded that China rein in its nuclear ambitions - angrily tweeting over the weekend that he would no longer allow China to "do nothing" on North Korea.

China hit back, saying that primary responsibility for resolving the crisis rests with North Korea and the US.

In all, six sets of UN sanctions have been imposed on North Korea since it first tested an atomic device in 2006, but two resolutions adopted last year significantly toughened the sanctions regime.

 

 

 

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Economic sanctions imposed on Qatar by three fellow Gulf states do not violate World Trade Organisation agreements, a United Arab Emirates official said, after Doha launched a wide-ranging legal complaint at the Geneva-based body this week.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar - a major global gas supplier and host to the biggest U.S. military base in the Middle East - on June 5, accusing it of backing militant groups and arch foe Iran, allegations Doha denies.

Qatar made the formal protest at the WTO on Monday by “requesting consultations” with the three countries, triggering a 60-day deadline for them to settle the complaint or face litigation at the WTO and potential retaliatory trade sanctions.

“The sanctions imposed by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain did not contradict the agreements of the WTO,” UAE state news agency WAM quoted Juma Mohammed al-Kait, an assistant undersecretary in the Economy Ministry, as saying late on Tuesday.

In what appeared to be the first response to the Qatari move, he said the boycott - which included the severing of diplomatic and travel ties - was in line with articles 21 and article 14 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which allows such moves in the case of security exceptions.

 

The boycotting countries have previously told the WTO they would cite national security to justify their actions against Qatar, using an the almost unprecedented exemption allowed under the WTO rules.

Kait said the agreements did not prevent WTO member states from using economic sanctions to protect basic security interests, or from carrying out the commitments in the United Nations Charter to maintain peace and security, WAM reported.

The WTO suit does not include Egypt, the fourth country involved in the boycott. Western-backed efforts by Gulf state Kuwait to mediate have yielded little progress so far.

The disputed trade restrictions include Gulf bans on trade through Qatar’s ports and travel by Qatari citizens to the three Gulf countries, blockages of Qatari digital services, closure of sea borders and the closure of airspace to Qatari aircraft.

 

 

 

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