My 'utmost effort' to bring Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan to face jail — PM Khan

Pakistan Prime Minister talks at Tiger Force at Convention Center in Islamabad on Oct. 17, 2020. (Photo courtesy: PTI)
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Updated 17 October 2020

My 'utmost effort' to bring Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan to face jail — PM Khan

  • Prime minister addresses Tiger Force convention, responds to former premier’s comments blaming army top leaders for ousting his government
  • Sharif is in London on medical bail from a seven-year-prison sentence, Khan says he will be returned to Pakistan to serve the rest of his sentence in a regular prison

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday lashed out at opposition leader Nawaz Sharif over his recent comments against the country’s top military leadership, saying it would now be his ‘utmost effort’ to bring the former prime minister back to Pakistan to face jail.
Khan was addressing a convention of the Tiger Force, a one-million-strong task force of young volunteers set up to facilitate official coronavirus relief efforts which has now been put to work in aid of multiple other Pakistan government departments.
At a protest rally in the eastern city of Gujranwala in the early hours of Saturday, Sharif, who addressed tens of thousands of people via video link from London, accused the army chief of “packing up” his government. The military has consistently denied meddling in politics.
Sharif’s second term as PM ended when his government was toppled in a military coup in 2000. He was prime minister for a third term from 2013 to 2017, when he was removed by the Supreme Court amid corruption revelations over his personal wealth.
He was subsequently convicted of graft but says the accusations are politically motivated. On October 25 last year, Sharif was granted bail and got court clearance to leave the country for medical treatment in London.
“From today it will be my utmost effort that you [Sharif] be brought back to this country,” Khan said to a charged crowd. “And you will be kept in a regular jail, not a VIP jail … You come back and I’ll see how we keep you.”
Addressing Sharif’s remarks against the military, Khan referred to two separate attacks on military convoys this week, in which 20 people, including 13 soldiers, were killed.
“Attacks are being carried out against our soldiers, our soldiers are sacrificing their lives,” he said.
“Why are they sacrificing their lives? It’s for us and this country. And this jackal [Sharif], who ran from here, is sitting there [in London], used this language against our army chief and the DG ISI [intelligence chief],” Khan said, as the crowd rang out in angry cheers.
“The opposition is going to see a different Imran Khan now,” the PM added, dismissing the Gujranwala rally as a ‘circus.’
Last month, nine major opposition parties formed the Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) to launch countrywide protests aimed at forcing Khan to resign and call early elections. The first rally was held in Gujranwala on Friday evening. Rallies are also planned for Karachi and Quetta later this month.
PM Khan’s PTI party swept to power in August 2018 after defeating all major opposition parties. The opposition alliance says the party won a rigged election, which Khan’s government denies.
The next general election is scheduled for 2023.


License to kill: $85,000 markhor trophy hunting permits suffer pandemic markdowns

Updated 26 min 36 sec ago

License to kill: $85,000 markhor trophy hunting permits suffer pandemic markdowns

  • Earlier this year, Gilgit-Baltistan’s hunting scheme was halted mid-season after virus outbreak
  • $18 million in permit fees have been raised, with 80 percent going to local communities

PESHAWAR: The price of a permit to hunt Pakistan’s endangered Astor markhor suffered a markdown of over $20,000 as compared to last year, as the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) wildlife department on Thursday auctioned licenses for the hunting of over 100 rare species under a trophy hunting program.
The enormous license fee to kill the rare markhor, a long-horned goat native to Pakistan and found in its snowy northern mountains, is one of the highest in the world, with 12 licenses awarded every year in the country-- four of them in GB.
In 2017, a markhor hunting license was auctioned for $100,000-- the highest in the history of trophy hunting. Earlier this year, the GB government had to ban trophy hunting mid-season, owing to the virus outbreak.
Conservationists argue the trophy hunting program, which picked up steam in 1998, prevents poaching and empowers local communities. But this year, COVID-19 has damaged the value of permits with a lower than usual turnout at Thursday’s auction.
“Last year the price of a single markhor license was between $83,000 to $85,000,” Zakir Hussain, chief conservator for forests, parks and wildlife in GB, told Arab News a day after the auction.
This year, he said, the base price of the licenses had to be reduced, with permits selling eventually for roughly $62,000.
But despite the drop in license fees, Hussain said he is grateful hunting season-- which falls between November and April-- will finally bring some financial respite to mountain villages in the wake of the pandemic, which had spelled a near end to incomes dependent on foreign tourism.
Eighty percent of the money received from the trophy hunting program goes to local communities which spend it on education, health and development projects.
The remaining 20 percent of the money is deposited in the government exchequer.
In addition to the steep price tag of the permits, trophy hunting also provides income for local communities as hunting guides and hosts — extra incentives not to poach the markhors, which has led to a rise in the population of the iconic mountain goat.
According to Hussain, more than $18 million have so far been generated from the trophy hunting scheme which includes permits to hunt blue sheep, ibex and urial among other rare species.
“The amount generated by trophy licenses is used in the development of the social sector and health... and to provide loans for people who want to start small businesses,” Irshad Karim, a member of a local villager’s association told Arab News.
The funds he said, were used to build schools, solar panels, girls’ hostels and to give scholarships among other things.
“People here wait all year round just for hunting season to begin, and for some money to start coming in as the cold winter begins,” he said.
Markhors are usually found at heights of 8,000-11,000 ft, but during the winter months descend to between 5,000- 6,000 ft, which is when hunting season kicks off.