Islamabad police file case against Zahir Jaffer over ‘abusive language’ during Noor Mukadam trial 

Policemen escort Zahir Jaffer, a man who went on trial accused of raping and beheading his girlfriend, after his court hearing in Islamabad, Pakistan, on October 20, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 04 November 2021

Islamabad police file case against Zahir Jaffer over ‘abusive language’ during Noor Mukadam trial 

  • Police say Jaffer attempted suicide by banging his head against wall on court premises 
  • Suspect can’t avoid conviction by merely posing as mentally ill, legal expert maintains 

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad police have registered a criminal case against Zahir Jaffer, the prime suspect in the Noor Mukadam murder case, for using “abusive language” inside the courtroom and attempting suicide on the court premises. 

Mukadam, 27, was found beheaded at Jaffer’s house in Islamabad’s upscale F-7/4 neighborhood on July 20. The trial for her murder is one of the most closely watched in Pakistan’s recent history, as the case has sparked public outrage and grabbed media attention unlike any other recent crime against women. 

Jaffer was arrested from the crime scene on the day of the murder and has been in custody since. The trial in the case began last month. 

Video footage broadcast on Pakistani news media showed police officers carrying Jaffer out of the Islamabad court building on Wednesday, after District and Sessions Judge Atta Rabbani directed the police to take him out for using indecent language and repeatedly interrupting the court proceedings with unwarranted comments at the trial hearing. 

“We have registered a criminal case against Zahir Jaffer and a separate charge-sheet for it will be presented in the court,” Assistant Sub-Inspector Waqas Ahmed told Arab News at the Margalla police station. 

“He has not only used abusive language in the courtroom, but also tried to commit suicide by smashing his head against the wall,” Ahmed said. 

The officer said he was not sure if “Jaffer was staging a drama by doing all this or he was genuinely not in his senses.” 

During the hearing on Wednesday, Jaffer repeatedly interrupted the proceedings and used indecent language as Judge Rabbani heard prosecution witnesses, they told Arab News. 

“These proceedings are being prolonged because they don’t have any authority,” Jaffer told the judge at one point. It was unclear who he was referring to as having no authority. 

In the First Information Report (FIR), the police said the suspect had “violated” the sanctity of the court by using abusive language inside the courtroom. The case would be investigated separately and a charge-sheet filed for trial. 

Reached for an opinion, a lawyer maintained that a suspect could not avoid conviction in a case by merely posing as mentally ill, as there was a whole procedure for this to be determined. 

“A judge may refer a suspect to a mental hospital for medical examination and it may take at least six months to finalize a report,” Aftab Bajwa, a Supreme Court attorney, told Arab News. 

“One thing is for sure that a suspect cannot trick the court by posing as mentally ill to avoid conviction or come out of jail on this pretext.” 


Pakistan's top court instructs government to allow PTI rally near H-9 sector

Updated 3 sec ago

Pakistan's top court instructs government to allow PTI rally near H-9 sector

  • The Supreme Court tells the government not to arrest PTI supporters in police raids
  • Government and PTI committees have been instructed to hold a meeting tonight

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's top court on Wednesday instructed the government to provide former prime minister Imran Khan's political party a ground between Islamabad's H-9 and G-9 sectors, reported the local media, to hold a protest demonstration while hearing a petition for the removal of road blocks in the federal capital.

The petition was filed by the Islamabad High Court Bar Association after the government blocked several roads in and around the capital to prevent the anti-government march initiated by Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party which has been seeking dissolution of assemblies along with a date for fresh elections in the country.

The government also detained several PTI leaders and supporters in different Pakistani cities ahead of their scheduled march to Islamabad, making the court prevent the relevant authorities from making excessive use of force.

"The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the PTI to hold its Azadi March protest in the H-9 area of Islamabad and restrained the government from arresting party chairman Imran Khan," reported Dawn newspaper.

It quoted the court as saying that it was "playing the role of the arbitrator," adding the judges said no raids should be conducted on the homes of PTI workers."

Pakistan's Geo news channel said the three-member bench headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan demanded a plan that would allow PTI workers and followers to peacefully converge in the capital to register their protest before returning home.

The bench said it did not want the protestors to shut down places like Faizabad and the Motorway like in the past.

The court also instructed the government and PTI representatives to hold a meeting at the chief commissioner's office tonight to work out the modalities of the protest demonstrations.


In dig at Imran Khan, PM says protest demonstrations cannot ‘fix’ national economy

Updated 12 min 8 sec ago

In dig at Imran Khan, PM says protest demonstrations cannot ‘fix’ national economy

  • PM criticizes the last government for leaving a ‘sinking economy’
  • Sharif says Khan sit-in delayed Chinese President Xi’s visit in 2014

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday criticized ex-premier Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party for launching an anti-government campaign at a time of economic uncertainty, saying the financial challenges of the country could not be addressed through protest demonstrations.

Addressing a group of Chinese nationals working on a hydropower project on the Jhelum River, the prime minister, who was sworn in last month after Khan was ousted in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence, said the last administration had handed over a “sinking economy” to his government after three and a half years in power.

He said his team was working day and night to deal with Pakistan’s economic challenges, including rising inflationary pressure.

“Now that we are trying to fix things, what kind of message are they giving [to the world] with such protests,” he asked, referring to Khan’s anti-government long march to the federal capital. “Can you improve the economy through sit-ins?”

The prime minister recalled that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s scheduled visit to Pakistan in September 2014 had to be postponed due to a similar demonstration by Khan’s PTI party in Islamabad.

“We beseeched [the PTI leadership] to call off their sit-in for three days to ensure the completion of President Xi’s visit,” he continued, “but Imran Khan remained obdurate, and the planned trip was delayed.”

Sharif said it was important to learn from past mistakes and give up a political attitude detrimental to Pakistan’s interests.
Khan has held several public rallies in recent weeks to call for fresh elections.

On Sunday he asked party supporters to join him in Islamabad on Wednesday for a sit-in to mount pressure on the government to announce a date for new elections.

The government has said Khan is trying to “sabotage” the economy by making it difficult for it to


‘Recipe for disaster’: Experts say political turmoil jolting economy as dollar hits historic low

Updated 25 May 2022

‘Recipe for disaster’: Experts say political turmoil jolting economy as dollar hits historic low

  • Pakistan’s economic woes compounded by anti-government march to capital by ex-PM Imran Khan
  • Rupee closes at Rs201.92 against US dollar, stock market traded 300 points below previous closing

KARACHI: Political turmoil in Pakistan over an opposition long march and uncertainty about the revival of a $6 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) program are continuing to jolt the country’s local currency, as the rupee hit another historic low against the United States dollar on Wednesday, closing at Rs201.92.

Pakistan’s economic woes have been compounded by an anti-government march to the capital announced by former prime minister Imran Khan. Clashes between Khan’s supporters and law enforcers on Wednesday have dampened investor confidence, economists and experts said.

On Wednesday, the country’s stock market also traded 300 points below the previous closing.

“The political noise and delay in the IMF [deal] has been affecting investor confidence. This is why the stock market and rupee are falling. Clarity on both will help restore confidence,” Muhammad Sohail, CEO of the brokerage company Topline Securities, told Arab News. 

The rupee was expected to show some recovery after the Saudi minister of finance said on Tuesday the kingdom was finalizing extending a $3 billion deposit to Pakistan. 

“The market was expected to depict some positive sentiments [after Saudi announcement] but the current political situation overshadowed it,” Samiullah Tariq, director of research at the Pakistan Kuwait Investment Company, said.

Pakistani economists and financial experts said the current political turmoil in the country was wreaking havoc on an already fragile economy. 

“The mayhem created by the call for the long march, coupled with [the government’s] unwise and violent means to stop PTI supporters, are going to completely wreck the already rustic and dysfunctional economic ship of Pakistan,” Dr. Ikram ul Haq, a Lahore-based financial expert, told Arab News. 

“With foreign reserves left for less than two months and the rupee plunging to the lowest in history by crossing the psychological barrier of 200, the call for the long march and the way it is being handled, is going to provide a sure recipe for disaster,” he added. 

Economic experts also say a nearly $1.5 billion fuel and electricity subsidy announced by the last government of Khan was proving to be an “economic land mine” for the current administration.

“The current economic crisis, whether it relates to the delay in the IMF program and fiscal stress, is to a large extent created by the outgoing government which laid economic land mines in the form of petroleum subsidies,” Dr. Sajid Amin, Deputy Executive Director of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), told Arab News.

“The current economic problems and political uncertainty have been inherited by the incumbent government but its indecisiveness has further compounded the situation,” he added. 

Pakistan is currently negotiating with the IMF to secure around $3 billion needed to stabilize its economy, marred by an ongoing political crisis, rising trade and fiscal deficit, and depleting foreign-exchange reserves, which at $10.2 billion, are not enough to cover even two months of imports. 

“The outgoing government, sensing that it was about to go, had announced the relief package to push the incoming government in troubling waters and [had also] frozen petroleum prices, which was not possible,” Amin said. “It has distorted the IMF program. Now the incumbent government is not removing the subsidies, fearing a political cost.”

Negotiations with the international money lender come at a time when Pakistan is battling the second-fastest inflation rate in Asia at 13.4 percent. To sail through the IMF deal, the country has to make the politically tough decision of raising fuel prices to ensure financial viability. 

“Already burdened with the unbearable fuel subsidy left by the PTI coalition government, those at the helm of affairs are making sure that the state loses its financial viability,” said Haq. 

Muzzamil Aslam, PTI’s spokesperson on finance, denied political rallies were destabilizing the economy. 

“It is the indecisiveness of the current government,” he said, “which is responsible for the economic turmoil.” 


Pilot safely ejects as air force trainer aircraft crashes near Mianwali city

Updated 25 May 2022

Pilot safely ejects as air force trainer aircraft crashes near Mianwali city

  • Pakistan’s armed forces have suffered several air accidents in recent years
  • In March, another PAF trainer aircraft crashed on training mission, two pilots killed

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistan Air Force (PAF) training aircraft crashed on Wednesday near the city of Mianwali during a routine training mission, PAF said, adding that the pilot had ejected safely.

In March this year, another PAF trainer aircraft crashed while on a training mission in the country’s northwest, killing the two pilots on board,

In another crash in March 2020, a PAF F-16 fighter jet crashed in a parade ground in the capital, Islamabad, killing the pilot as he was rehearsing for a Pakistan Day air show.

“Pilot ejected safely while no loss of life or property was reported on the ground,” PAF said about Wednesday’s crash. “A Board of Inquiry has been ordered by Air Headquarters to determine the cause of the incident.”

Pakistan’s armed forces have suffered several air accidents in recent years. A crash killed a female jet pilot in another training exercise in November 2015.

In May 2015, a military helicopter carrying diplomats to inspect a tourism project crashed, killing seven people, including the ambassadors of Norway and the Philippines.

Another military helicopter being used as an air ambulance crashed in August 2015 near the northern district of Mansehra, killing 12 people.


Pakistani FM meets Saudi counterpart, GCC general secretary on WEF sidelines

Updated 25 May 2022

Pakistani FM meets Saudi counterpart, GCC general secretary on WEF sidelines

  • WEF returned to Davos on Monday this week with multiple threats to the global economy topping the agenda
  • World leaders flagged risk of worldwide recession, conflict in Ukraine, global oil supply crunch and climate change

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday held separate meetings with his Saudi counterpart as well as the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

The World Economic Forum returned to Davos on Monday this week with multiple threats to the global economy topping the worries of the world’s well-heeled, with leaders flagging the risk of a worldwide recession, the conflict in Ukraine, a global oil supply crunch, and climate change.

“Bhutto Zardari met with His Highness Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, today,” the foreign office said in a statement.

“The Foreign Minister paid tribute to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for achieving new heights of progress and development of the Kingdom under their visionary leadership.”

Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (L) meets his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, May 25, 2022. (APP)

 The two ministers expressed satisfaction over their “excellent bilateral partnership” and resolved to strengthen it. They also discussed regional and global issues.

The foreign minister also separately met Dr. Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajjraf, the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), on the sidelines of the WEF.

“The Foreign Minister and the Secretary-General reviewed the status of Pakistan’s cooperation with GCC and its member states,” the foreign office said.

“The Foreign Minister and the Secretary-General agreed to explore further avenues for enhancing bilateral trade and economic ties between Pakistan and the GCC as well as to strengthen institutional linkages, in line with the Joint Action Plan for Strategic Dialogue,” the statement said. “On Pakistan-GCC Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the two sides expressed determination to conclude the negotiations at the earliest possible.”