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SC orders federal govt to provide PTI with a ground between H-9, G-9 areas to hold jalsa

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the federal government to provide the PTI with a ground between the H-9 and G-9 areas of Islamabad to hold its public gathering.

When the hearing resumed after a break, the attorney-general told the three-member bench that the ground, which will be given to the PTI, only had the capacity to accommodate 10,000 people. 

He also added that a Sunday bazaar and the Sirinigar Highway were close to the venue.

However, the bench did not pay any heed to the advice of the Attorney-General for Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf Ali and directed the government to provide security to the PTI’s gathering within three hours.

During the hearing, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan asked PTI’s lawyer Babar Awan when the gathering will be held.

“Till when will the gathering go on for?” asked Justice Ahsan.

To this Awan, replied that the decision is for the political leadership to take.

In response, Justice Ahsan remarked that the apex court can change its order, amend or take it back. He added that the bench will be monitoring the developments.

“Talks between the government committee and PTI committee should be held at 10pm tonight at the chief commissioner’s office,” said the court. It directed the deputy commissioner, interior secretary, and inspector-general Islamabad to make sure the meeting take place.

“Arrested political leadership and workers should be freed at once,” said the court. It also ordered the government to follow the point agreed between the JUI-F and PTI during the former’s 2019 long march.

“Any new clause should be included in the agreement through mutual consultation and the court should also be informed about it,” said the bench.

Before the break, the court had directed the authorities concerned to hold consultations over permission for the PTI rally on H9 ground and update the court on the outcome.

The directives came during a hearing of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association’s (IHCBA) plea against the government’s decision to block roads to stop PTI’s “Azadi March” taking place today (Wednesday) in the federal capital.

A three-member bench of the SC, headed by Justice Ahsan, was hearing the plea. Islamabad chief commissioner and Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Akbar Nasir Khan appeared before the court during the hearing.

PTI’s counsel Babar Awan presented the party’s request for permission to hold a rally at the H9 ground.

Awan informed the court that Imran Khan has four demands which include the provision of H9 ground for the rally, the release of all the arrested party workers and leaders, and the removal of all the barricades that are blocking routes leading to Islamabad.

AGP Ausaf conveyed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s message that he believes in the rule of law. He said that the premier has formed a committee which will decide on the venue for the PTI rally and the use of words.

The AGP assured the court of protecting every citizen.

SC orders provision of alternative venue for PTI rally

Earlier, the court had directed the authorities concerned to provide an alternative venue for the PTI to hold a rally.

SC’s Justice Ijazul Ahsan directed the Islamabad chief commissioner to prepare a traffic plan for the PTI rally and submit a report after compliance with orders by 2:30pm.

“Make an offer of an alternative venue to the PTI and inform the court about the outcome after negotiations.

“The administration should present a complete plan of action which allows the protest, but keeps roads open so that the protesters can reach peacefully and go back home afterwards,” Justice Ahsan said.

The judge sought assurance from the authorities that there won’t be any violence and that roads will not be closed.

Moreover, the court directed PTI’s counsel to give names if the party fears arrest.

Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi remarked that the Islamabad IGP and Interior secretary should review their policies.

The judge warned the IGP to understand his responsibilities and fulfil them.

“You have been appointed four days ago. Stay within your limits as you already have enough burden of cases and allegations,” Justice Naqvi said.

‘Will entire country be shut down over every protest’: Justice Ahsan

Justice Ahsan questioned if the entire country will be shut down whenever there is a protest. 

“The government basically wants to disrupt routine life by blocking roads across the country,” the judge remarked.

Earlier, Attorney-General of Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf requested the court to give him time to take instructions from the government.

Accepting the request, the court allowed AGP Ausaf to take directives from the government during a break in the hearing till 12pm.

Justice Ahsan remarked that news reports show that all exams have been postponed and roads and businesses have been closed. He said that all schools and public transport services are shut, with an emergency imposed on the hospitals in the capital city.

Responding to the judge’s remark, AGP Ausaf said that he is not aware of the details. He requested the court to give him time to gather information.

“Everyone knows what is happening in the country. Economically, the country is undergoing a critical phase and is on the verge of bankruptcy,” he said.

At this, AGP Ausaf suggested the court avoid making remarks on the economy. He went on to say that he is fundamentally against blocking roads, but the PTI threatened a “bloody march”.

“Taking steps had become inevitable for the protection of people and their property,” AGP said, adding that the court should keep the context behind the government’s decision in view.

At this, Justice Ahsan remarked that the Constitution doesn’t say anywhere to close the entire country down.

AGP Ausaf argued that the Constitution doesn’t say anywhere that armed men shouldn’t be stopped, either.

‘Imran’s life in danger’: AGP

While referring to PTI’s application for permission to stage a protest, Justice Ahsan inquired from the city administration about the decision on the request.

Replying to the court’s query, AGP Ausaf informed the court that PTI sought permission for staging a sit-in at Srinagar Highway but the request was rejected.

He claimed that Imran Khan’s life is in danger as intelligence agencies say there is a threat of a suicide attack on the ex-prime minister.

“You are going away from the actual issue. Why are Lahore, Sargodha and the rest of the country closed if the government has an issue with the sit-in at Srinagar Highway,” Justice Ahsan remarked.

He asked who reported the security threat, to which the interior secretary said that two intelligence agencies and the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) reported it.

‘Police barging into lawyers’ houses’: IHCBA

Meanwhile, IHCBA President Shoaib Shaheen claimed that the police are barging into lawyers’ houses to arrest them. He referred to the raid at former judge Nasira Iqbal’s house.

“Both the protesters and government are bound to follow the Constitution and law,” he said.

At this, AGP Ausaf argued that how could armed men be allowed to protest. “Where did the armed men come from when the protest hasn’t even started?” IHCBA president objected.

He said that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has staged a sit-in at the Srinagar Highway twice and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has led a long march in the past, therefore a venue can be designated for the protesters to stage the protest.

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government contests Imran Khan and Qureshi’s exoneration in the cipher case

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On Thursday, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court contesting the exoneration of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the well-known cipher case.

Citing procedural and jurisdictional issues, the Ministry of Interior has appealed the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

In hearing the cipher case, the High Court allegedly overreached its power, arguing that judges cannot change laws where Parliament has not expressly passed legislation.

Despite receiving government-funded legal representation, the petition emphasized Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s lack of cooperation during the trial, submitting 65 separate motions and neglecting to cross-examine witnesses.

The petition contended that in order for a retrial to satisfy legal standards, the High Court should have ignored important evidence that was given during the trial. It requests that the appeals contesting the IHC’s June 3 acquittal be given a hearing date by the Supreme Court.

Case history

The cipher issue concerns a supposed diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s custody. The cipher allegedly contained threats from the US to remove Khan from office, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several aides, including Asad Umar, are named in the First Information Report (FIR) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in accordance with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.

The then-foreign secretary received a diplomatic cipher from Washington on March 7, 2022, according to the FIR. The lawsuit claims that by manipulating the data for their own benefit, Khan and Qureshi put the safety of the country at risk. It alleges that on March 28, 2022, Khan secretly met at his Bani Gala home and gave his Principal Secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, instructions to change the content of the cipher to his advantage, jeopardizing national security.

The document asserts that Khan still has custody of the cipher, jeopardizing Pakistan’s encrypted messaging systems and possibly helping foreign forces, which would be detrimental to the nation. A complaint has been filed by the FIA’s Anti-Terrorism Wing against Khan, Qureshi, and other individuals for improper use of state secrets and unapproved possession of the cipher.

Acquittal by the Islamabad High Court

In the cipher case, on June 3, the IHC cleared Khan and Qureshi when Justice Aamir Farooq issued a succinct ruling in their favor. Their sentences were appealed in the case, which has since been a source of political and legal controversy, leading to their acquittal.

This acquittal and the ongoing legal and political struggles surrounding the cipher case are highlighted by the government’s subsequent move to contest it.

With potentially huge ramifications for the parties involved and the larger political scene, the Supreme Court’s decision over whether to hear the appeal will be keenly scrutinized.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urges political stability in order to accelerate economic expansion.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former prime minister, emphasized on Thursday how important political stability is to Pakistan’s economic development and how the nation cannot prosper without it.

His concern was that export growth had not progressed, and he emphasized that stability in the current climate is vital to draw investments and carry out the necessary reforms.

In his criticism of the tax system, Abbasi brought up the erratic nature of tax laws and the transient nature of the most recent tax slab implementation. Insisting that difficult choices are unavoidable for economic recovery, he emphasized the necessity of designing a tax system that is equitable and does not burden the people.

Furthermore, arguing that the effectiveness of organizations like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is essential for economic governance and transparency, Abbasi urged for changes within these and other organizations.

Abbasi, in his discussion of more comprehensive fiscal plans, suggested that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be reviewed again and that power distribution companies (DISCOs) be decentralized to the provinces.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and corruption at the provincial level, he recommended looking into ways to share the cost of defense spending and decentralize the management of energy resources.

In closing, Abbasi emphasized that Pakistan’s economic trajectory will stay stagnant unless comprehensive changes are implemented immediately. To move the nation towards sustainable progress, he urged policymakers to give stability and structural reforms first priority.

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Through in-app QR payments, Zindigi and SBP streamline transactions involving sacrificial animals.

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With its in-app QR code payment system based on Raast, Zindigi—powered by JS Bank—has elevated the convenience of cashless payments for the procurement of sacrificial animals to a whole new level for Eid ul Adha.

This program uses QR code payments to streamline transactions for sacrificed animals for the general public and traders. It is a component of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Raast quick payment service.

This feature enables users of Zindigi and users of any digital banking apps or wallets to safely and easily make payments at certain cattle markets throughout Pakistan using Zindigi QR. The consumer must scan the QR code of the livestock merchant and pay the transaction amount in order to complete the payment.

In order to further financial inclusion and digital innovation in Pakistan’s developing economy, Zindigi and the State Bank of Pakistan have partnered. Both organizations are committed to improving the efficiency and accessibility of financial services, especially on holidays such as Eid ul Adha, by utilizing the most recent developments in fintech.

One of the most important steps toward promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment at the local level is the integration of livestock markets into the digital economy. Farmers and retailers may take charge of their financial operations and help realize the larger goal of an inclusive digital Pakistan by adopting digital payments.

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