Nawaz Sharif demands national commission to scrutinize statement on Mumbai attacks

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, left, chairing NSC meeting called to discuss Nawaz Sharif's interview given to local media outlet. (Photo courtesy: Radio Pakistan)
Updated 14 May 2018

Nawaz Sharif demands national commission to scrutinize statement on Mumbai attacks

  • Opposition parties slam Sharif for his ‘irresponsible’ statement
  • NSC also criticize India for delays in finalizing cases against alleged militants who attacked targets in Mumbai

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif challenged his detractors on Monday to form a “national commission” to scrutinize his recent statement on the 2008 Mumbai attacks. He said the same authority should also assemble those who are calling him a traitor so the people of Pakistan can determine who is right and wrong.
Addressing a public rally in Buner, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he said: “Whoever is found guilty, hang him publicly.”
Sharif also questioned why there was no accountability for the generals who overthrew democratically elected governments, while politicians who worked for the country and its people were labeled as traitors.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC), the country’s top civil-military body, held a meeting during which it described the former premier’s statement regarding the Mumbai attacks as “incorrect and misleading.”
In an interview published in Dawn newspaper on Saturday, Sharif questioned the role of militant organizations based in Pakistan in cross-border terrorism. This was interpreted by the Indian media as an admission of Pakistan’s involvement in the Mumbai attacks.
“Militant organizations are active,” Sharif said in the interview. “Call them non-state actors; should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?”
After the NSC session, at Prime Minister’s House, the government said: “The meeting reviewed the recent statement in the context of Mumbai attacks, as it appeared in the Daily Dawn of May 12, 2018, and unanimously termed this statement as incorrect and misleading.
“The participants observed that it was very unfortunate that the opinion, arising out of either misconceptions or grievances, was being presented in disregard of concrete facts and realities.”
The participants at the meeting also “unanimously rejected the allegations and condemned the fallacious assertions.”
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired the session, which was also attended by all three services chiefs, including Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director-General Inter-Services Intelligence Lt. Gen Naveed Mukhtar, and other senior civil and military officials.
The meeting, however, also accused India of delays in finalizing the cases against alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba’s militants who attacked targets in Mumbai in November 2008.
“Besides many other refusals (by India) during the investigation, the denial of access to the principal accused, Ajmal Qasab, and his extraordinarily hurried execution became the core impediment in the finalization of the trial (here in Pakistan),” the government said.
Pakistan’s main opposition parties, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Pakistan People’s Party, have also criticized Sharif for his “irresponsible” statement and demanded a retraction.
However, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the former prime minister’s rivals were targeting him for political gain ahead of the general elections.
“One general comes into power and creates ‘mujahideen;’ the other takes over power and declares them terrorists,” he said, adding that such political antics could not be tolerated in the country any longer.


UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

Updated 31 October 2020

UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

  • Lockdown starts just after midnight on Thursday morning
  • United Kingdom has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England back into a national lockdown after the United Kingdom passed the milestone of one million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service.
The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.
Johnson, at a hastily convened news conference in Downing Street after news of a lockdown leaked to local media, said that the one-month lockdown across England would kick in at a minute past midnight on Thursday morning and last until Dec. 2.
In some of the most onerous restrictions in Britain’s peacetime history, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons such as education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials and medicines or caring for the vulnerable.
“Now is the time to take action because there is no alternative,” Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance.
The government will revive its emergency coronavirus wage subsidy scheme to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off during a new England-wide lockdown receive 80% of their pay.
Essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open, Johnson said. Pubs and restaurants will be shut apart from for takeaways. All non-essential retail will close.
Johnson’s imposition of stricter curbs came after scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas.
Johnson was criticized by political opponents for moving too slowly into the first national lockdown, which stretched from March 23 to July 4. He fell ill with COVID in late March and was hospitalized in early April.
The measures bring England into alignment with France and Germany by imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.
So far the United Kingdom has reported 46,555 COVID-19 deaths — defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. A broader death measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates gives the toll as 58,925.
The United Kingdom has the world’s fifth largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.