Joint session of parliament postponed on opposition’s request

Pakistan’s new President, Dr. Arif Alvi. (AP)
Updated 13 September 2018

Joint session of parliament postponed on opposition’s request

  • Delay follows demise of ex-PM Sharif’s wife Kulsoom
  • President Alvi was scheduled to address the session to mark beginning of new parliamentary year

ISLAMABAD: Following the death of ex-premier Nawaz Sharif’s wife Kulsoom Nawaz, Prime Minister Imran Khan has instructed that the joint session of parliament be postponed until Monday, on the opposition’s request.

Kulsoom died at the age of 68 in London, on Tuesday, after succumbing to a long battle with cancer. Her funeral is scheduled to be held on Friday.

President Dr Alvi was to deliver a speech on Thursday, in what would have been his maiden address, to to mark the beginning of the new parliamentary year. Dr Alvi was elected as the 13th president of Pakistan on September 4 and sworn in on September 9. 

As per the constitution, the president’s address is required at the commencement of the first session of the joint parliament each year. After winning the election, Dr Alvi had told reporters that during his term he would not be a “silent president” and would fulfill all responsibilities towards the development of the country. 

His predecessor, Mamnoon Hussain, faced heavy criticism from the media for not being proactive in this role. A dentist by profession, Dr Alvi is a close ally of PM Khan and one of the founding members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

In Pakistan’s parliamentary system, the president plays a largely ceremonial role, though he is both the head of the state and the commander of the country’s military. 

In 2010, the parliament passed the 18th amendment to the constitution which transferred significant powers from the president to the prime minister and also removed the president’s power to dismiss the parliament.

Karachi police chief asks his cops to be clean, lightly armed

Updated 23 September 2018

Karachi police chief asks his cops to be clean, lightly armed

  • Karachi police to replace Kalashnikovs, Sub Machine Guns (SMGs) with pistols and revolvers for officials on patrol, escort and picket duties
  • Taking back automatic assault weapons from policemen in a city such as Karachi, where people and groups are heavily armed, is not a wise decision, says former IG Sindh, Afzal Ali Shigri

KARACHI: The chief of police in Pakistan’s seaside megacity of Karachi has introduced reforms in an effort to win public hearts.

“The police persons should be nicely dressed, should be neat and lean and should demonstrate good manners,” Dr. Amir Ahmed Shaikh, the city police chief, told Arab News.
Shaikh, on Saturday, issued a notification, reading; “SMG/automatic assault weapon should not be displayed or pointed toward general public during escort movements or mobile patrolling.”
The directives, from Shaikh, which were forwarded for strict compliance to his subordinates, read: “All assault weapons are to be replaced with pistols/revolvers.”
According to priority, the motorcycle squad will have only pistol or revolver.
For escorts, police patrolling mobile, picket points and Madadgar, 15 mobiles will be allowed to have one SMG each. The rest of the police on these duties will have pistols only.
“It has been observed with great concern that all police persons deployed for patrolling, pickets or escort duties are armed with SMGs, and the display of automatic assault weapon in an urban setting not only scares people but also results in casualties in a case of even accidental firing,” reads the notification.
Shaikh, in an interview with Arab News, said he has carried this and all other measures to reform the police who are infamous.
“I am making police people-friendly. I want a police force which is loved by the people and upon seeing them, criminals should run away,” Shaikh said. “Currently the people are running away from the police. It hurts me a lot that the police are defamed due to a few.”
Shaikh said that he had identified 197 officials who are black sheep of the police force. “Policemen are involved in kidnapping. Would anyone call them policemen? They are kidnappers, they are criminals. They are dacoits but they have no more any place in police force,” the enthusiastic police officer vowed.
Although his good intentions are hailed by many, former officials have criticized the decision of taking automatic weapons back from the police.
“It’s no less than a suicide to take back automatic weapons from police in a city where huge caches of arms are recovered on a regular basis,” Afzal Ali Shigri, former Inspector General of Police Sindh, told Arab News.
In the 1980s, Shigri recalled, the policemen in Karachi would have sticks to deal with criminals. “But it’s not Karachi of those past times. It has remained a center of violence although peace has been restored. The city has faced every type of actors of violence which exists in this country. The city has been host to sectarian, ethnic violence besides hardcore terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Islamic State-inspired youths,” he said.
Shigri said even the common people are armed. “How do we expect police with a pistol to deal with a criminal having an assault rifle?” he asked.
One has to take several aspects before taking such major decisions, the former IG said, adding that instead of AK-47 and other assault weapons with a large range, the police should be armed with close-range weapons like the MP5, which are good for urban centers.
Shaikh said that after assuming power as city police chief he has not only focused on finding black sheep within an otherwise great police force but is also working on building their capacity.
On Saturday another notification issued by Shaikh reads: “It is to state that since last two years no firing refresher courses have been arranged for the constabulary, so training should be provided.”
In his letter to principals of the Saeedabad and Razzakabad police training colleges, Shaikh has requested firing training for 540 policemen in the first phase.