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Posts tagged as National Assembly

Former PIA CEO, others may evade inquiry in A310 case

KARACHI.: There are serious concerns that those involved in transferring the national airline fleet’s Airbus 310 aircraft to Germany and obtaining leases at expensive rates for premier services in violation of rules and regulations may never return to Pakistan to face an investigation.

The case against these individuals now seems in jeopardy after the former Pakistan International Airlines’ German-origin chief executive officer and others involved have allegedly been using delaying tactics to avoid appearing before the inquiry.PIA incurring Rs3b loss every month, says CEOSources have said that the Airbus 310 aircraft, a part of the national airline’s fleet, had been taken to Germany in 2016 in violation of the law after which it had been sold to the Leipzig airport in Germany for 140 million Pakistani rupees, the engine and body of the aircraft being sold to two different companies.The matter has been mired in controversy since the aircraft’s departure for Germany. The Airbus 310 had reached Germany in dramatic fashion with the permission of PIA’s former chief executive officer Bernd Hildenbrand.
Sources have said that the former PIA CEO had entered into an agreement with a foreign film-making company to use the aircraft for film-making purposes. At the time, the aircraft had, from a technical standpoint, 25 hours of flying time remaining.The agreement had been signed for 300,000 Euros. However, a dark aspect of the agreement was that, apart from the former CEO, top airline officials were unaware that the agreement, carried out through a middleman, was in fact being made for the use of the plane in the making of an Israeli film.
After this came to light and pictures of the plane in the film went viral on social media, the matter of the Airbus 310 aircraft assumed a sensitive dimension.Ex-acting PIA chief: Flying off home, German evades corruption probeIn addition, an illegal procedure had been adopted to transfer the aircraft to Germany.
And to compound matters, PIA had also obtained an Airbus 330 on lease for which a rent of 8,000 dollars per hour had been agreed. This agreement had also become controversial with Hildenbrand being held responsible for it.His name had subsequently been included in the Exit Control List (ECL). Due to diplomatic pressure, however, he was allowed to travel once.According to sources, the former PIA CEO did not return after leaving for Germany on the 6th of May, 2017. Sources have also said that, apart from Hildenbrand, another German consultant, Shrodker, is also being investigated.Shrodker had allegedly departed for his country without informing anyone. Furthermore, an allegation of aircraft theft has been made against Bernd Hildenbrand in the National Assembly.

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Opp to raise NZ terror attack in NA

PBC strongly condemns massacre at Christchurch mosques, Extremism and intolerance are destroying healthy human development in world.The MNAs in the upcoming National Assembly session will also unanimously pass a resolution to condemn the tragic incident in New Zealand.
In the terrorist attacks on two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, almost 49 people died and 20 received serious injuries.The tragic incident in two mosques was condemned throughout the world.The lawmakers from Pakistan are unanimous that there should be a unified stance against terrorism.The legislators will further express their views in the upcoming session of the National Assembly and Senate over the terrorist attack.The parliamentarians, in their views, have strongly condemned the terror attack on a mosque in New Zealand. They mentioned in their messages that the entire international community should have a unified stance against terrorism.PPP-P Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari said that terrorism is an evil which should be immediately dealt with.The former President prayed to Almighty Allah for the grant of eternal peace to the departed souls and strength and fortitude to the bereaved families to bear this irreparable loss with equanimity.
He concluded by advising the government to contact overseas Pakistanis settled in New Zealand.Meanwhile, Vice-Chairman Pakistan Bar Council Syed Amjad Shah has strongly condemned terrorist attacks on two mosques in New Zealand in which at least 50 worshippers were killed and many others seriously injured.
He expressed his grief and shock over this heinous incident and expressed condolences for the victims and termed this act of terrorism against the Muslims and their place of worship. He said that terrorism has no boundaries and we all need to stay together to overcome this global issueof terrorism.
He said that the extremism and intolerance is destroying the healthy human development in the world and appealed all the peace loving people of the World to raise voice against such extremism and to create a culture of tolerance in the world.He demanded severest action against the culprits for committing this act which not only has caused heart burning of the Muslims world over but would also advance and promote terrorism and religious hatred.He has, further, demanded that the World leaders must together to take quick measures for the peace of the World and to combat all forms of terrorism They should evolve practical strategy and plan to eliminate causes of terrorism.He emphasized the need of unified efforts and practical steps by the world to ensure that such evil acts may not be repeated otherwise such like incident may destroy peace of the World.

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Bilawal elected as NA Human Rights Committee chairman

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said India was making gross violation of Human Rights in occupied Kashmir.
At a time when India is violating the human rights in occupied Kashmir and the way they are doing injustices to the Muslim and Dalit communities within their country and when I go abroad and raise the vice on violation of human rights violation in Occupied Kashmir then people ask me questions about the Human rights in Pakistan, he said while talking to journalists here Tuesday after being unanimously elected as National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights Chairman.
Ms Shazia Marri, MNA, Member of the Standing Committee on Human Rights proposed the name of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for the chairman of the committee on human rights and his name was seconded by Ms. Fouzia Behram and accordingly Bilawal Bhutto Zardari MNA, was unanimously elected as the chairman of the Standing Committee on Human Rights.Talking to media-persons after being elected as a Standing Committee on Human Rights Chairman, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said unless and until we don’t shift human rights based society in Pakistan, we will not be able to strengthen democracy, rule of law and social justice. The Human Rights will be our agenda and he will move forward with all the political parties, he said.Bilawal Zardari said he opted for the chairmanship of the Standing Committee on Human Rights to serve the country with breaking the precedent as generally the head of the political parties did not head the standing committee. But I opted for it to follow the path of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto who broke the precedent to head the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly while being in the opposition, he said.
He said the scope of the Human Rights Committee is wide and it is important responsibility. The PPP believes in strengthening the Parliament and wanted to strengthen the committee system of the Parliament, he said.Bialwal Bhutto Zardari said he choose the Human Rights Committee as the Human Rights are the foundation stone of the democracy as without the human right the democracies could not work properly, he said.He said if there is no human rights then we cannot give guarantee to education, freedom of speech, access to health facilities, rule of law and justice and I believe that the canvass of the Human Rights are so extensive.
The Human Rights has no limits, it can cross the party lines, cross borders and they cross all issue, he said.Asked whether the issue of missing persons will be in his priority and whether he will take up it in the committee, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari replied in affirmative and said the Human Right Committee will look into every human rights issue.
It is an issue of human rights and very important issue in Pakistan and I am sure that it will be taken up in the committee, he said.After being elected as a Chairman of Standing Committee on Human Rights Bilawal Bhutto Zardari thanked the members and specially thanked Minister for Human Rights Ms Shireen Mazari for her presence in the meeting and asked for her guidance and support for the Committee.The Chairman Standing Committee on Human Rights emphasized on the importance of Human Rights issue in Pakistan and he assured the members of his bipartisan role; and to remain focused only on resolving issues of Human Rights.ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said India was making gross violation of Human Rights in occupied Kashmir.
“At a time when India is violating the human rights in occupied Kashmir and the way they are doing injustices to the Muslim and Dalit communities within their country and when I go abroad and raise the vice on violation of human rights violation in Occupied Kashmir then people ask me questions about the Human rights in Pakistan,” he said while talking to journalists here Tuesday after being unanimously elected as National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights Chairman.Ms Shazia Marri, MNA, Member of the Standing Committee on Human Rights proposed the name of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for the chairman of the committee on human rights and his name was seconded by Ms.
Fouzia Behram and accordingly Bilawal Bhutto Zardari MNA, was unanimously elected as the chairman of the Standing Committee on Human Rights.Talking to media-persons after being elected as a Standing Committee on Human Rights Chairman, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said unless and until we don’t shift human rights based society in Pakistan, we will not be able to strengthen democracy, rule of law and social justice.
“The Human Rights will be our agenda and he will move forward with all the political parties,” he said.Bilawal Zardari said he opted for the chairmanship of the Standing Committee on Human Rights to serve the country with breaking the precedent as generally the head of the political parties did not head the standing committee.
“But I opted for it to follow the path of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto who broke the precedent to head the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly while being in the opposition,” he said.He said the scope of the Human Rights Committee is wide and it is important responsibility.“The PPP believes in strengthening the Parliament and wanted to strengthen the committee system of the Parliament,” he said.Bialwal Bhutto Zardari said he choose the Human Rights Committee as the Human Rights are the foundation stone of the democracy as without the human right the democracies could not work properly,” he said.He said if there is no human rights then we cannot give guarantee to education, freedom of speech, access to health facilities, rule of law and justice and I believe that the canvass of the Human Rights are so extensive. “The Human Rights has no limits, it can cross the party lines, cross borders and they cross all issue,” he said.Asked whether the issue of missing persons will be in his priority and whether he will take up it in the committee, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari replied in affirmative and said the Human Right Committee will look into every human rights issue. “It is an issue of human rights and very important issue in Pakistan and I am sure that it will be taken up in the committee,” he said.After being elected as a Chairman of Standing Committee on Human Rights Bilawal Bhutto Zardari thanked the members and specially thanked Minister for Human Rights Ms Shireen Mazari for her presence in the meeting and asked for her guidance and support for the Committee.The Chairman Standing Committee on Human Rights emphasized on the importance of Human Rights issue in Pakistan and he assured the members of his bipartisan role; and to remain focused only on resolving issues of Human Rights.

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NA proceedings adjourned without any business

ISLAMABAD: The proceedings of the National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday were adjourned without taking up any business as the opposition parties stuck to their demand of resignation of the Federal Minister Faisal Vawda and cancelation of his membership.
The Speaker Asad Qaisar occupied his seat at around 7.30 instead of 4: pm and announced adjournment of proceedings soon after the national anthem.The office of the Speaker did not state any reasons for delayed start and adjournment of proceedings.However, the sources said deadlock between the government and opposition benches persisted on objectionable remarks of Faisal Vawda on a television channel.The PML-N parliamentarian Ahsan Iqbal, later talking to newsmen, said the government had almost suspended the Parliament and there has been no business for the second day.
He said the government should seek resignation of the federal minister for his objectionable remarks. The government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is misusing religion to fan hatred between people of different religions, he said, adding the government was doing nothing but staging dramas.
He alleged that the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was not being provided health facilities. The government will be responsible in anything happened to Nawaz Sharif, he said.The issue of remarks uttered by the federal minister on a television channel was raised by members of Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and they were also supported by other opposition parties in the House. “We demand cancellation of his membership for use of highly objectionable words,” they said.
They also wanted to get a resolution passed by the House to condemn act of the minister. The government side, however, feels that Faisal Vawda be given an opportunity to explain his position.

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Venezuelan military says 100 members left service after being promised $20000

Over 100 members of Venezuela’s National Guard had arbitrary left service, crossing the country’s border with Colombia, the long-term regional ally of the US, in hope to receive $20,000 promised to them for desertion, amid a political and economic.
The defence minister continued by saying that these promises were false, adding that the absence of these people among the service members was “not a catastrophe” and would not affect the combat readiness of Venezuela’s military.On Thursday, Venezuelan Ambassador to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada, said that the United States was arming Venezuelan deserters to form a so-called liberation army to invade the South American country. The envoy also suggested that Washington was fabricating a report about a high number of deserters in order to justify the creation of such an army.
Earlier this week, the migration service of Colombia claimed that the number of Venezuelan service members who had crossed into Colombia had surpassed 320 people. Meanwhile, the Analitica news outlet reported, citing the same agency, that the number of defectors allegedly reached 567 people.
Venezuela is currently in the midst of a political crisis. On January 5, lawmaker Juan Guaido was elected the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which all other government branches have been refusing to recognize since 2016.On January 23, two days after the Venezuelan Supreme Court annulled his election, Guaido declared himself the country’s “interim president.” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn in for his second presidential term on January 10 after winning the May election, which part of the opposition boycotted, qualified Guaido’s move as an attempt to stage a coup orchestrated by Washington.The United States immediately recognised Guaido, after which some 50 other countries, including Colombia, followed suit. Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia and a number of other states have, in the meantime, voiced their support for the legitimate government of Maduro.

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Pakistan will not attend OIC moot: FM Qureshi

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is invited to the OIC moot as a guest of honour despite strong protest from Pakistan.

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is invited to the OIC moot as a guest of honour despite strong protest from Pakistan. FM Qureshi informed the lawmakers that did not attend the conference in UAE in protest.The invitation was sent without consultation. Hence, I have decided to not attend the session, he told the Parliament.The foreign minister also wrote a letter addressed to the OIC content of which was approved by the members of the Lower House and political parties.India is not a member of the OIC, he asserted and added that Ankara and Tehran were also displeased over extending an invitation to New Delhi.Qureshi, briefing the parliament on his conversation with United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said: He said the invitation was extended before the Pulwama attack. But the crown prince showed the willingness to rethink the decision.
We have a total of 19 resolutions at the OIC – all include human rights violations committed by the Indian occupying forces in the disputed valley. Our stance will be presented at the conference by  officials from the foreign ministry.”“Any bid to grant observer’s status to India will be opposed by Pakistan at the OIC.The foreign minister further said that the decision was backed by Turkey and the country had promised to play their role in it.
In Hanoi, United States President Donald Trump said he did not want instability in the sub-continent. The US has long-standing ties with Pakistan, recently its relations with India have improved.Trump directed US envoys to play their part in de-escalating the recent situating. I thank him for the efforts.
In my trip to Moscow before the Pulwama attack, I had expressed concerns about possible misadventures from the Indian side. Today, the Indian nation and political opposition are vindicating Pakistan’s stance that Narendra Modi is escalating the situation for political gains, he said as he referred to Bharatiya Janata Partys (BJP) regional chief boasting that the air strike will secure at least 22 more seats for the party.
PM Imran tried to contact Modi thric Shehbaz Sharif lauds Turkeys supportTaking the floor after the foreign ministers address, Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif thanked Turkey for standing by Pakistan side in tumultuous times.Shehbaz regretted that other allies of the country did not issue statements favouring Pakistan’s stance.“It would have helped to strengthen our position globally.”The PML-N president further suggested sending a delegation to allied countries to push Islamabad’s narrative.
In the end, he thanked the armed forces for their sacrifice and paid tribute to the three armed services.PM throws ball in Modis courtPakistan should have engaged the OICPakistan Peoples Party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, however, disagreed with the government’s decision to not attend the OIC conference.
“I feel Pakistan should have engaged the OIC as disengagement is not a solution. It will only drive India further.”Zardari stressed that OIC members were Pakistan’s friends. “I believe we should strengthen our ties with neighbours and allies.In 2008, after the Mumbai attack, we contained the situation through diplomatic channels by engaging our allies. I accept the government’s decision to not attend the conference but I would rather we went and held talks with the members.”The former president also thanked Pakistan Air Force (PAF) pilot Hasan Siddiqui for defending the country. “Yes, we are both nuclear-armed countries.
I would like to mention that Benazir Bhutto brought nuclear technology to Pakistan.”“We are emotional at the moment but we should not forget that wars are fought between nations and not just armies.And the nation is ready – but it should be our last resort.”“Modi’s adventurism has backfired.
God has been very kind. We managed to come out of the situation with dignity – we should hold on to it, not squander it.”Zardari said the captured pilot’s release was a welcome move. “It is soft diplomacy – and it is the need of the hour.
The move depicts us in a better light in the world. India is painting us as a terrorist state but our actions show that we are a democratic state.”Trump hints at de-escalation between India, Pakistan as US mediatesFully capable to defend our bordersFinance Minister Asad Umar began his address by paying tribute to the armed forces. “It is because of them that we can sleep peacefully at night.”Umar was impressed by Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan’s talk. “The forces are doing their job, the responsibility to ensure regional peace lies with the political leadership.”The PTI leader said that the nation was united at the moment, unlike India. He further urged the Modi-led government to contain war-hysteria.
“Pakistan may be going through an economic crisis but we are fully capable to defend our borders.”Pakistan to hand over captured IAF pilot to Indian authorities at Wagah BorderSupport FM Qureshi’s decisionFormer foreign minister Khawaja Asif expressed pleasure at the united front being shown to the world.
“India is using its Muslim population as leverage to become a member of the OIC. Today, they have been invited as a guest of honour, next they will vie for observer’s status.Hence, I support FM Qureshi’s decision to not attend the OIC.”He urged the Parliament to stand united and send a message to the world that Pakistan is eliminating terrorism.“The United State is ready to engage in dialogue after 17-year-long conflict. We are providing them an escape route,” he said.
Referring to PM Imran’s call to Modi – which the Indian premier ignored – Asif lamented that Nawaz Sharif was called a traitor for opening a dialogue with Modi. “Nawaz saw it coming.He urged economic development and ties. Today, Imran is doing the same thing.
And we are standing behind him [Imran],” he said as he urged for unity.Asif quipped that Imran can call Modi but shies away from shaking opposition leader’s hands.On Kashmir, he said freedom was every Kashmiri’s birthright. “Even the United Nations have endorsed that Kashmiris have a right to self-determination which India is denying.

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Joint session of Parliament to be held today to discuss Pakistan-India ties

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – A joint session of the Parliament has been convened on Thursday (today) to discuss the prevailing security situation in Pakistan and a sharp escalation of tensions with long-standing rival India, a day after Pakistan shot down.
Reportedly, the session is scheduled to be held at 3pm in the Parliament House where Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan will table the motion to discuss the prevailing external threats.Yesterday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Major General Asif Ghafoor, the director general (DG) of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), provided the military’s input to the meeting participants at an in-camera session at the Parliament House.Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa was also present in the session.
Qureshi briefed the opposition on the government’s foreign policy strategy and the decisions taken during the National Command Authority (NCA) were also discussed in the meeting.Besides, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly (NA) Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari attended the session along with party delegations.A special meeting of parliamentary leaders was convened at Parliament House today to brief national leadership on the ongoing security situation. The parliamentarians were briefed by FM (foreign minister), followed by DG ISPR, read a press statement issued after the session.
COAS also interacted with the forum after the brief.It said the participants unanimously expressed that they stand united against any aggression against Pakistan and will support the government and its institutions unconditionally.They also expressed hope that those who want peace and stability will prevail, as war is not an option but a failure of policy, the statement said. National leaders of all political parties offered their services for the cause of peace and progress.

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Tareen tops list of lawmakers paying taxes in 2017

ISLAMABAD: The top ten parliamentarians in terms of their tax contributions paid Rs322 million in taxes, equal to 60% of total taxes paid by all members of the parliament in tax year 2017, raising questions whether lawmakers were fulfilling their moral,
Former member of National Assembly (MNA) Jahangir Khan Tareen paid Rs97.3 million in income tax, which was the highest paid by any national lawmaker in 2017, according to a tax directory for the year released by the government on Friday.Tareen’s tax contribution was equal to 18.2 per cent of the total taxes paid by 423 members of parliament. His numbers also showed an 81 per cent increase in his tax contribution from the previous year, when he was also the country’s highest tax contributor.
Imran reiterates resolve to hold everyone accountableSkewed numbersExcluding these ten members, the average tax contributions by the remaining 413 members of the National Assembly and the Senate paid Rs212 million in taxes – an average of Rs513,000 per parliamentarian.Such a poor tax contribution does not commensurate with the life styles of these worthy members of the Parliament, a fact that was acknowledged by Finance Minister Asad Umar on Wednesday.
True VIPs are those who pay taxes, says PM ImranBy including the tax contributions of top ten parliamentarians, the average per parliamentarian tax contribution would jump to Rs1.26 million, which does not present realistic picture.
Crests and troughsThe tax contributions by former premier Nawaz Sharif and incumbent Prime Minister Imran Khan also nosedived in tax year 2017, which was the fiscal year 2016-17. Few weeks after the end of that fiscal year, Nawaz was removed by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case.
Presumably, his tax returns were filed after he was ousted from power. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif paid just Rs 263,173 in taxes in 2017, as against Rs 2.52 million paid in the preceding  year.Meanwhile, PM Imran was a member of National Assembly from a Rawalpindi constituency at that time.
He paid a paltry sum of Rs 103,763 in income tax, which was less than by 35% or Rs 55,0000.Overall, there was an upward trend in tax contributions by members of parliament.
The fifth tax directory of parliamentarians showed that national lawmakers, including members of the federal cabinet, paid Rs535 million in taxes during tax year 2017 – up by Rs139 million or 35 per cent The tax contributions by the members of the Senate increased to Rs254 million – up by 14 per cent. MNAs paid over Rs281 million during tax year 2016, an increase of 26 per cent.But a significant number of parliamentarians were still paying far below their potential, showed the tax directory. Many of them paid Rs138,573 annual tax, which suggested that they paid taxes only on the income that the earned as member of the National Assembly or the Senate.
The tax directories for fiscal year 2016-17 that ended in June 2017 were released by Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar. Tax year 2017 was the fourth year of the PML-N term but the directories were released after a lag of over one year.The numbers of total taxpayers increased by over 34 per cent in tax year 2017, said Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Jehanzeb Khan while speaking at the launch ceremony.Overall, out of a total 1,169 members of the Senate, the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies, as many as 98 legislators did not file their tax returns.
Under the law, filing the income tax return is binding on every citizen who earns more than Rs400,000 per annum and non-filer parliamentarians may face serious consequence, provided FBR plays its due role.Six senators and 17 MNAs did not file their annual income tax returns.Top taxpayers in parliamentSenator Rozi Khan Kakar paid Rs40.9 million in income tax, which was lower by Rs9 million over the preceding year.
Senator Taj Mohammad Afridi paid Rs29.4 million, which was less than his previous contribution of Rs35.3 million. Senator Muhammad Talha Mehmood paid Rs43.2 million, which was higher by 33%. Senator Aitzaz Ahsan paid Rs25.9 million, showing an increase of 86.3%.Senator Ishaq Dar paid Rs9.4 million and Senator Farogh Naseem paid Rs27.9 million in income tax, which was higher by 37.5%.Senator Farooq H Naek paid Rs11 million in income tax.Among the members of the National Assembly, MNA Sheikh Fayyaz uddin paid Rs14 million in income tax, MNA Isphanyar Bhandara paid Rs22.95 million income tax.Former Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif paid Rs10.3 million in income tax, which was higher by nearly 9%.Former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who owns a controlling stake in Air Blue, paid Rs3.1 million in income tax, higher than the previous year. Finance Minister Asad Umar paid Rs4.85 million in income tax in 2017. Hamza Shehbaz Sharif paid Rs8.3 million income tax.Senator Rubina Khalid paid only Rs44,485 income tax, Senator Saleem Zia just Rs173,362.Former MNA Haji Ghulam Bilour paid Rs138,573 income tax, former Chief Minister KP, and MNA Amir Haider Hoti paid Rs168,586 in income tax. Sheikh Rashid Ahmad paid just Rs702,698 income tax.

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Incensed by Durrani’s arrest, PPP lashes out at Centre

KARACHI: The provincial government and members of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have taken strong exception to the arrest of Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in Islamabad by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday …
The party has decided to challenge the arrest in the court and protest in the upcoming session of the Sindh Assembly, scheduled for February 27.The partys chairperson, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari took to to lash out against the move. Attack on Speaker of federating unit is unacceptable, he tweeted.
Undemocratic attempt to dislodge Sindh govt. Failed before will fail again.Independent institutions shouldnt unwittingly be part of political engineering, he added.His sister, Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, also expressed her concern on the micro-blogging platform.Chairman Bilawal was placed on exit control list post his Dec 27 speech and later PTI did a press conference claiming to take over Sindh. There has been no subtlety on what PTI want.Cases and ECL for Sindh chief minister and arrest of speaker, all insult to Pakistan and democracy.The arrestDurrani, who was facing an inquiry relating to the accumulation of assets beyond known sources of income, was arrested by NAB Karachi in Islamabad.
After getting his transit remand, he will be moved to Karachi for further investigation today [Wednesday].This is the first time that a sitting Speaker of a legislative assembly has been arrested in the country.A source privy to the development told The Express Tribune that two other inquiries of corruption and illegal appointments are already pending before the NAB against Durrani. He has been arrested in the assets beyond means inquiry, but the NAB will also look into other inquiries against him, said the source, adding that there has been massive bungling in the construction of MPAs Hostel of the Sindh Assembly and hundreds of people were given jobs in the local government department in violation of the rules when Durrani was minister of the department from 2008 to 2013.
Sindh govts stanceAccording to the Sindh government, the Speaker is the custodian of the House representing 168 MPAs elected from various constituencies of the province. Therefore, he [Durrani] cannot be arrested merely on the basis of an inquiry.
But the NAB officials were of the view that the arrest came after Durrani did not present himself before the inquiry committee, even after being issued three notices.Soon after news of his arrest, PPP ministers held a press conference, where they alleged that there were separate sets of laws operational one for the PPP and another for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and its allies.Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who was flanked by provincial ministers, including Syed Awais Shah and Shabbir Khan Bajarani, referred to the Constitution and said, The arrest of Speaker Durrani was a breach of Article 25 of the Constitution under which all citizens are equal and entitled to equal protection before the law. No reference or case is registered against him.He is innocent until proven guilty, he said.Quoting inquiries against incumbent Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet members, including the National Assembly speaker and Punjab Assembly speaker, Barrister Wahab said, None of them have been arrested.
On the contrary, they are enjoying all perks and privileges and full protocol.Transport Minister Owais Shah called Durrani a custodian of the Sindh Assembly elected by 99 MPAs.The NAB has breached the privilege of the Sindh Assembly. We will protest it on all forums, he said.We are not against the accountability process, but want to know why such actions are not being taken against opposition parties [in Sindh Assembly], he said, adding that they will devise a strategy on it soon.The PPP ministers were of the opinion that the people of Sindh were being victimized as they had voted for PPP, but the PTI would not succeed in its nefarious designs.
Later in the evening, the PPP leaders gathered at the Chief Minister House to devise a strategy in light of Durranis arrest. The meeting decided to approach the court against the move as well as take up the matter in the upcoming session of the provincial assembly.
PTI demands resignationOn the other hand, the PTIs Sindh lawmakers demanded the resignation of the Speaker, given his involvement in corruption cases. MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman, who is also the partys city chief said, Agha Siraj Durrani has lost the moral authority to remain on the seat.
He himself should resign.Zaman added that all the local bodies ministers, who had ruled Sindh in the past, were on the NABs radar.
Corruption will end in Pakistan, he said. Referring to the resignations of PTI lawmakers Aleem Khan, Babar Awan and Azam Swati, Zaman called on the PPP to follow the PTIs example and replace the speaker.Sindh Assembly sessionThe Sindh Assembly session has been summoned for February 27. According to officials, under the prevalent circumstances, the deputy speaker, Rehana Leghari, will chair the session.If the speaker is on leave or absent for some reasons the deputy speaker will work as the acting speaker, the Sindh Assembly Secretary told The Express Tribune, while referring to Article 30 of the Constitution.  The acting speaker can issue his production order to attend the session, said the secretary.When asked who would chair the session if Durrani came to the Assembly, he said, He is the speaker and will preside over the session whenever he is in the Assembly. st, 2019.

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