Gunmen kill two policemen, polio worker in northwest Pakistan

A police officer stands guard while a health worker administers a polio vaccine to a child, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on February 28, 2022. (AP/File)
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Updated 28 June 2022

Gunmen kill two policemen, polio worker in northwest Pakistan

  • Attack came a day after government launched another anti-polio campaign amid a spike in attacks
  • Pakistan’s anti-polio campaigns are regularly marked by violence, militants often target polio teams

PESHAWAR: Gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on Pakistani police escorting a team of polio workers Tuesday during a door-to-door inoculation campaign in a former Pakistani Taliban stronghold, killing two policemen and a polio worker, police said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in North Waziristan, a district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The attack came a day after the government launched another anti-polio campaign amid a spike in attacks.
A passerby was also wounded, said Aziz Ullah, a local police official. The attackers fled the scene.
Since April, Pakistan has registered 11 new polio cases — all in North Waziristan, where parents often refuse to inoculate children. The outbreak has been a blow to the Muslim nation’s efforts to eradicate the disease, which can cause severe paralysis in children.
Pakistan’s anti-polio campaigns are regularly marked by violence and militants often target polio teams and police assigned to protect them, falsely claiming the vaccination campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize children.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic. In 2021, Pakistan reported only one case, raising hopes it was close to eradicating polio.
North Waziristan was a base for myriad militant groups, including the Pakistani Taliban, until a massive military offensive in recent years claimed to have cleared the region, forcing many militants to flee to Afghanistan. But attacks have been increasing lately, adding to concerns the assaults could further jeopardize anti-polio campaigns.
Before this week, Pakistan's health authorities had carried out three nationwide anti-polio drives this year — in January, March and in May.
During the March campaign, gunmen in northwestern Pakistan shot and killed a female polio worker as she was returning home after a day of vaccinations. And in January, gunmen shot and killed a police officer providing security for polio vaccination workers, also in the country’s northwest.


Pakistan launches 'Governance Innovation Lab' to ensure transparency, improve service delivery

Updated 09 December 2022

Pakistan launches 'Governance Innovation Lab' to ensure transparency, improve service delivery

  • The lab will help provide innovative solutions to improve transparency through structural solutions
  • Ahsan Iqbal says a hotline and an ombudsperson at the lab will help address complaints from citizens 

Islamabad: Pakistan's Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Friday inaugurated a "Governance Innovation Lab" in Islamabad to ensure transparency and improve service delivery in the South Asian country, the planning ministry said. 

The special lab has been established at the Pakistani ministry of science and technology and was inaugurated on the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day. 

The key objectives of the lab will be to enhance transparency and resolve problems faced by various government departments.  

“The lab will focus on connecting knowledge with action and act as an agent of change within the public sector,” Iqbal said at the launch.     

“Our commitment is not merely based on slogans or deception, rather to take practical steps to eliminate corruption, as developments from 2013-18 demonstrates.” 

Pakistan's planning minister Ahsan Iqbal, left, speaks at the inauguration ceremony of "Governance Innovation Lab" in Islamabad on December 9, 2022. (Photo courtesy: @PlanComPakistan/Twitter)

He announced that the planning ministry would establish a hotline and appoint an ombudsperson to address complaints received from citizens and whistle-blowers on instances of corruption in public sector development projects. 

The Governance Innovation Lab will help provide innovative solutions to improve transparency through structural solutions to end the menace of corruption, according to the minster.  

“There is a dire need to give confidence to government officials so that they can take decisions based on merit while ensuring transparency without fear of persecution,” he added. 

Dr Adnan Rafiq, a senior official at the Planning Commission, said the government took this initiative to create a collaborative community of multi-disciplinary experts to drive public sector reforms.  

“The Governance Innovation Lab will focus on key governance challenges which include taxation reforms, increasing exports, enhancing ease of doing business, justice system reforms, effective coordination between federal, provincial and local governments and to improve impact of PSDP while reducing leakages,” Dr Rafiq explained. 


Police, judiciary among top most corrupt institutions in Pakistan — Transparency International

Updated 09 December 2022

Police, judiciary among top most corrupt institutions in Pakistan — Transparency International

  • The findings are part of National Corruption Perception Survey (NCPS) of Transparency's Pakistan chapter
  • A majority of Pakistanis believes that anti-corruption institutions have failed to eliminate corruption

ISLAMABAD: Police in Pakistan remain the top most corrupt institution, followed by tendering & contracting, judiciary and education, local media reported on Friday, citing a survey by the Transparency International's Pakistan chapter. 

The findings were part of the National Corruption Perception Survey (NCPS) 2022 of the Pakistan chapter of the Berlin-based international civil society organization, which was released on Friday. 

In Sindh, education remained the most corrupt sector, police was seen as the second most corrupt, while tendering and contracting was the third most corrupt institution. In Punjab, police remained the most corrupt sector, followed by tendering and contracting and judiciary, according to the survey. 

The judiciary remained the most corrupt sector in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) this year, followed by tendering and contracting and police. In Balochistan, tendering and contracting topped the list of corrupt institutions, followed by police and the judiciary on second and third slots. 

The report said a majority of Pakistanis believed that anti-corruption institutions had failed to curb corruption in the South Asian country. 

"At the national level, the majority of 45% of people considered anti-corruption institutions’ role as ‘ineffective’ in curbing corruption in Pakistan," Pakistan's Geo News channel reported. 

"The three most important causes of corruption, according to NCPS 2022, are delayed decisions in corruption cases (31%), use of state institutions by governments for their gain (26%) and incompetence of the government (19%)." 

Pakistanis continued to believe that corruption in public service delivery was high.  

According to the participants, the three most corrupt public services for which people had to bribe officials were contracts of roads (40%), access to uninterrupted electricity (28%) and access to clean drinking water (17%). 

Around 33% of Pakistanis said corruption should be punishable by life imprisonment, while 28% said all government officials, including politicians, military officers and judges, should disclose their assets to the public.  

Of the participants, 25% recommended that anti-corruption courts should hear corruption cases on a daily basis and decide them in six months. 


Sindh police arrest ex-PM aide Swati hours after Balochistan court orders his release — party leaders

Updated 09 December 2022

Sindh police arrest ex-PM aide Swati hours after Balochistan court orders his release — party leaders

  • The Federal Investigation Agency arrested Swati in Islamabad on Nov 27 for remarks critical of military officials
  • The senator was later nominated in multiple complaints filed with police in Balochistan and Sindh provinces

ISLAMABAD: The Sindh police on Friday arrested Azam Swati, a close aide of former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan, hours after the Balochistan High Court (BHC) ordered his release in a case registered against him for tweets critical of top military officials, party leaders said. 

Swati was arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency in Islamabad on November 27 for the second time in less than two months for his remarks at a rally and strongly worded tweets about military officials, including former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.  

The senator was booked under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016, which deals with offences against the dignity of a person, according to Pakistan's Dawn newspaper. Separately, he was nominated in multiple complaints filed with police in Balochistan and Sindh provinces for using “derogatory language” and “provoking the people against the army.” 

On Friday, BHC's Justice Hashim Khan Kakar directed police to quash all five FIRs against Swati and release him, but party leaders said the senator was again arrested by the Sindh police. 

"Azam Swati released from Balochistan and arrested in Sindh on the same charge," Asad Umar, a senior member of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, said on Twitter. 

 

Shireen Mazari, another Khan aide and former human rights minister, criticized the way Swati was being sent "from province to province in police custody." 

"The way Senator Swati is being tortured through dozens of FIRs & being sent from province to province in police custody via special planes it would seem he & his use of a few intemperate words are the greatest threat to Pakistan's security & not terrorism or Indian mly ambitions," she said. 

 

Following his release on bail after being arrested for the first time, Swati had alleged he was stripped naked and tortured in custody. The senator had accused two Pakistani intelligence officials of being behind his custodial torture.  

The opposition senator had also told reporters at a news conference in November that his wife had received an obscene video which featured him and her, but had refused to divulge further details. 


Ruling party starts preparations to welcome self-exiled Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan ahead of election

Updated 09 December 2022

Ruling party starts preparations to welcome self-exiled Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan ahead of election

  • Nawaz Sharif, the elder brother of incumbent Pakistan prime minister, has been living in London since 2019
  • The three-time ex-premier left Pakistan on medical bail after being disqualified for life from public office

ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party has kicked off preparations to welcome its self-exiled supremo Nawaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Friday, adding the three-time former prime minister would return to Pakistan the day election schedule is announced to lead the party’s election campaign. 

Sharif, who is the elder brother of sitting Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif, was restricted for life from holding any political office by Pakistan's top court in April 2018, followed by his conviction in a corruption case the same year. Sharif says the cases against him were politically motivated. 

The three-time former premier left Pakistan for London in November 2019 after securing bail on medical grounds and has since not returned to the country, but often meets party leaders in the UK to share his input on party and national affairs. 

Sanaullah, who is a senior figure in Sharif's PML-N party, told reporters on Friday that he would return to the country once a date for the next general election is announced. The next general election is scheduled to be held in the latter half of 2023.

"Today, we have started preparations to welcome Mian Nawaz Sharif," the interior minister said at a press conference in Lahore. 

"Our workers from every union council will reach Lahore to welcome Nawaz Sharif. God willing, that welcome will also decide the election." 

Responding to the UK's Daily Mail newspaper's apology to PM Shehbaz for its report on embezzlement of funds for earthquake victims, the minister criticized former premier Imran Khan and his aides and said they handed over "fabricated" documents to the British daily’s correspondent, David Rose. 

The British newspaper said in its July 14 article that PM Shehbaz had embezzled funds provided by UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) for rehabilitation and reconstruction work after a devastating 2005 earthquake.  

On Thursday, the British paper apologized to Shehbaz in response to a lawsuit filed by him against the tabloid in January 2020. 

"Their correspondent, David Rose, was invited to Pakistan and Khan himself held a meeting with him and handed him fabricated documents," Sanaullah said. 

"[Khan’s accountability czar] Shahzad Akbar formally facilitated his meetings with people in jail." 

Sanaullah said the former government had "tricked" Rose into publishing the story against PM Shehbaz. 


Ahmed's 7-114 on test debut helps Pakistan rein in England

Updated 09 December 2022

Ahmed's 7-114 on test debut helps Pakistan rein in England

  • The 24-year-old mystery spinner helped dismiss England for 281 inside the first two sessions
  • England got rid of Pakistan openers before Azam’s unbeaten 61 carried hosts to 107-2 at stumps

MULTAN: Unheralded Abrar Ahmed bagged a rich haul of seven wickets in a dream test debut as Pakistan's spinners kept England’s aggression in check on the first day of the second test on Friday. 

The 24-year-old mystery spinner grabbed 7-114 and got plenty of help from the dry wicket at Multan Cricket Stadium to dismiss England for 281 inside the first two sessions. 

England got rid of both Pakistan openers — Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique — early before captain Babar Azam’s unbeaten 61 carried the home team to 107-2 at stumps when bad light stopped play with 10 overs still remaining in the day. 

Saud Shakeel, who scored a gritty half century in Pakistan’s 74-run defeat in the first test at Rawalpindi, was not out on 32. 

Ahmed was surprisingly left out from the first test despite picking up 43 wickets in this season’s first class tournament. He mystified England with his sharp googlies and carrom balls with only Ben Duckett (63) and Ollie Pope (60) scoring rapid half centuries. 

Legspinner Zahid Mahmood made a forgetful test debut at Rawalpindi, but finished off the tail just before tea to end up with 3-63 after Ahmed’s brilliance constantly posed challenges to England’s aggression. 

Duckett and Pope both scored half centuries in the first session before falling to Ahmed as the legspinner became only the second bowler in test history to pick up five wickets before lunch in his debut test and England reached 180-5. 

Leftarm spinner Alf Valentine of the West Indies was the other bowler to do so when he debuted against England at Manchester in 1950. 

Ahmed struck off his fifth ball as Babar turned to his mystery spinner as early as in the ninth over after Ben Stokes won the toss and elected to bat. 

Ahmed challenged England’s aggression through his variety of bowling on a wicket offering plenty of assistance to the spinners inside the first hour and wasn’t afraid to lure the England batters through his variations. 

Zak Crawley (19) was baffled by Ahmed’s sharp delivery which jagged back into him and knocked back his stumps and then the legspinner successfully won lbw decisions against Duckett and Joe Root (8) through television referrals. 

Duckett and Pope combined in a 79-run stand off 61 balls and briefly dominated even Ahmed through their extravagant reverse sweep shots before the bowler broke through soon after Duckett had completed his half century. 

Allrounder Faheem Ashraf and Ahmed were two of the three changes Pakistan had to make after fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah both were ruled out with injuries, and the home team also dropped experienced No. 3 batter Azhar Ali because of lack of form and brought in allrounder Mohammad Nawaz. 

England didn’t slow down and its fearless approach to score at a rapid pace cost them when Pope was caught at point while going for a reverse sweep and Harry Brook gave a skied shot to Nawaz at mid-off against Ahmed as England reached 180-5. 

Captain Stokes (30) and Will Jacks (31) added 61 runs but Ahmed continued to strike after lunch by removing both batters in his successive overs. Stokes was shocked by Ahmed’s sharp turner that hit the lefthander’s off stump and Jacks was trapped leg before wicket. 

Mark Wood, the only change England made to its playing XI, struck eight fours in his unbeaten 36 off 27 balls to underline England’s aggressive batting throughout the innings before Mahmood wrapped up England’s innings quickly. 

Wood, playing his first test since March, replaced allrounder Liam Livingstone who flew back home after injuring his knee during the first test. 

Veteran James Anderson struck early when he found the outside edge of Imam in his second over without scoring before wicketkeeper Pope held on to another thin edge of Shafique’s bat against Jack Leach when England successfully went for television referral. 

Leach couldn’t get much purchase of the wicket with the new ball after Stokes went to his spinners from the onset in the last session. 

Babar, who pushed himself at No. 3 after Azhar was dropped, was fluent against both spin and pace and completed his half century off 57 balls late in the last session before bad light brought an early closure.