Jailed Pashtun lawmakers released after four months in custody

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Lawmaker Mohsin Dawar embraced by a supporter after being released from jail in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. Manzoor Pashteen, a leader of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) is also pictured, in a red cap. (Photo courtesy: social media)
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Supporters greet Ali Wazir, a lawmaker from South Waziristan tribal district, after his release from a jail in Haripur in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. (Photo courtesy: social media)
Updated 21 September 2019

Jailed Pashtun lawmakers released after four months in custody

  • Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar were arrested after a deadly clash at a security checkpost in northern Pakistan in May
  • In Twitter post after his release, Dawar thanked Bilawal Bhutto for support; said allegations of violence were “most hurtful”

PESHAWAR: After months of detention, two Pakistani parliamentarians from South and North Waziristan were released two days after they received bail in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a senior member of their political party, the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), said on Saturday.
The two lawmakers, Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, were arrested alongside several members of the PTM following a deadly clash between troops and party supporters at the Khar Qamar checkpost in North Waziristan tribal district in May, where 13 people were killed.
“Justice has won and it is proved that Wazir and Dawar were innocent. Both the members (of the) National Assembly are among us and our constitutional and peaceful struggle will get fresh momentum,” Abdullah Nangyal, a senior leader of the PTM, told Arab News.
He said that hundreds of PTM supporters greeted the two lawmakers when they came out of the high-security Haripur prison after midnight on Saturday.
“The release of the MNAs had to be delayed for hours because of submitting legal documents and furnishing surety bonds,” Nangyal said.




From right, lawmaker Mohsin Dawar, leader of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), Manzoor Pashteen, PTM leader Abdullah Nangyal and lawmaker Ali Wazir in a car heading to the provicial capital Peshawar after the release of the two lawmakers from a jail on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. (Photo: Social Media)

Soon after their release, both parliamentarians drove straight to the provincial capital of Peshawar alongside supporters, from where it is expected they will travel onwards to their home constituencies in North and South Waziristan.
After his release from jail, lawmaker Mohsin Dawar said in a series of Twitter posts that the “allegation of violence against us preachers of non-violence,” was the most “hurtful in all this.”
“I would like to thank all of those who raised their voice for our release. There are too many names, but one that I must mention is @BBhuttoZardari for his unwavering support both in & out of parliament,” he tweeted.
Headed by Justice Nasir Mehfooz, the Bannu bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday had conditionally approved bail applications that said the lawmakers would furnish surety bonds of Rs. 1 million each.
In addition, the court barred the parliamentarians from leaving the country, and directed them to appear before district police officers once a month.
Later, in a detailed verdict, the bench stated that the bail was granted only for a period of one month, and would be subject to conditions of “good behavior.” Before the expiry of that period, both men would need to file fresh bail applications in the PHC.
Separately, the two lawmakers were also named in a case lodged on June 7 at a police station in Bannu, after an IED explosion in Doga Macha in North Waziristan tribal district, left four army officers martyred. Wazir and Dawar were already in custody at the time of the IED blast and received bail in the Doga Macha case last month by an anti-terrorism court.


In a first, Punjab Assembly holds session in hotel to prevent virus spread

Updated 37 min 57 sec ago

In a first, Punjab Assembly holds session in hotel to prevent virus spread

  • The assembly speaker says social distancing was not possible in the small chamber of the building
  • The assembly building was constructed in 1937 for 140 members

LAHORE: For the first time in history, the provincial assembly of Pakistan’s most densely populated province of Punjab held a session out of its historic building on Friday, choosing a local hotel for the purpose to ensure social distancing among its members amid growing coronavirus infections.
The assembly building was constructed in 1937 and has a small chamber to accommodate all lawmakers. Its foundation stone was laid in 1935 and it was inaugurated in November 1937 by Sardar Jogendra Singh who served as the agriculture minister back in the day.
The building was originally constructed to cater to the needs of 140 members of the united province of Punjab. After the division of the region into two separate countries in August 1947, the structure was continued to be used for the sessions of the Punjab provincial assembly. Later, it also catered to the needs to the West Pakistan assembly.
After 2002, the number of Punjab Assembly members was raised to 371. The construction of a new assembly building with the capacity of 500 legislators was initiated in 2005 by the former chief minister of the province, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, but the idea has not materialized until now, even though the construction project was scheduled to be implemented in two years.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has gripped the whole world and the situation requires social distancing to save people from the disease,” Elahi, who is now the assembly’s speaker, said in his opening remarks at the beginning of the session. “It was not possible to maintain that distance in the assembly building due to insufficient space. We were, therefore, forced to change the venue of the meeting to this place.”
The session began Friday afternoon and was attended by a large number of politicians on both sides of the political divide. Some members criticized Federal Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain during the debate since he undermined the idea of a physical session while advocating a virtual meeting.
“Holding the assembly session is a constitutional requirement and we can only deplore the thoughts of those who insist on calling virtual meetings,” leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz said in his comments.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) legislators raised the issue of farmers during the session, accusing the government of “snatching wheat” from the growers against their will.
“The government is harassing the farmers, snatching their wheat on cheaper rates than they are likely to get in open market. Locust swarm has already ruined the produce. Now the government is adding to the miseries of farmers,” PPP leader Hasan Murtaza said.
Before the session began, leaders of various political factions in the House held a meeting at the speaker’s chamber and reviewed the COVID-19 situation.
Special precautionary measures were also taken to prevent the spread of the virus as a disinfection gate was installed at the entry point and assembly members were requested to wear masks and gloves.