Senior PTI leader refuses to cooperate with investigators probing journalist Arshad Sharif’s killing

In this picture taken on June 22, 2022, Arshad Sharif speaks during an event on "Regime Change Conspiracy and Pakistan’s Destabilisation" in Islamabad. (AFP/File)
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Updated 26 November 2022

Senior PTI leader refuses to cooperate with investigators probing journalist Arshad Sharif’s killing

  • Murad Saeed, a close aide of Imran Khan, is said to be in possession of the slain journalist’s laptop
  • Saeed says he is willing to share information with a judicial commission formed by the Supreme Court

ISLAMABAD: A senior leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has refused to cooperate with a fact-finding team investigating the circumstances of Arshad Sharif’s murder in Kenya, reported a local news channel on Saturday, while saying the slain journalist’s own family was not satisfied by the government’s probe.
A hugely popular talk show host, Sharif was shot by Kenyan police on October 23 when his vehicle sped up and drove through a checkpoint. Officials in Nairobi expressed regret over the incident, saying it was a case of “mistaken identity” during a search for a car involved in a child abduction case.
The two-member Pakistani fact-finding team, which also visited the African state, questioned the police narrative while calling Sharif “a victim of targeted assassination.”
The team also reached out to Murad Saeed, a senior PTI leader and a close aide of former prime minister Imran Khan, since he was thought to be in possession of Sharif’s laptop while asking him to hand it over to facilitate investigation.
According to Geo News, however, Saeed declined to cooperate with the team.
“In his letter to the fact-finding committee written on November 21,” the news channel said, “Saeed expressed reservations and refused to cooperate with the fact-finding committee.”
“The mother of Shaheed [martyr] Arshad Sharif has already expressed her reservations and concerns with respect to investigation into assassination of her son by the current government,” the PTI leader was quoted as saying in his correspondence with the team. “She has appealed for justice and expressed dissatisfaction over the [government] of Pakistan’s handling of the matter. She clearly stated: ‘I have no faith in the Pakistani government.’”
The fact-finding team had said in a written message to Saeed that its probe had revealed that he was “in possession of Apple MacBook of the deceased senior journalist Arshad Sharif.”
“Therefore, you are requested to provide the device of the deceased enabling the fact-finding team to ascertain the facts regarding [his] assassination,” the channel reported.
It added one of the team members requested Saeed to cooperate, saying the team had to present its report to the Human Rights Cell of the Supreme Court after being directed to do so.
In response, the PTI leader said in his note he was “willing to appear before the judicial commission constituted by the august Supreme Court and present all the information he has with respect to the matter.”

Petroleum minister denies fuel shortage, says Pakistan has sufficient stock

Updated 11 sec ago

Petroleum minister denies fuel shortage, says Pakistan has sufficient stock

  • Musadik Malik admits the ‘danger’ of hoarding amid volatility of petroleum prices in international market
  • Minister says the government can take administrative measures against people rationing fuel in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Petroleum Dr. Musadik Malik dismissed reports of fuel shortage in Pakistan on Tuesday, saying the government was complying with the regulatory requirement of maintaining a substantial quantity of petrol and diesel in the country.

Malik issued the rebuttal during a conversation with a local news outlet amid reports that commuters were facing problems in the country’s most populous Punjab province where several petrol pumps had temporarily suspended their service.

“We held a meeting with the oil marketing companies in the morning,” he told Geo News. “Currently, the country has the stock of more than 20 days of petrol and more than 25 days of diesel.”

The minister asked the media to intimate the government about any artificial shortage created by owners of petrol pumps in any part of the country, saying action would be taken against such elements.

“In certain regions, there is a danger that people are hoarding since they believe that petrol prices are being increased on an international level,” he continued. “But we have got administrative measures that can be used to deal with such situations.”

Malik categorically denied that the country’s ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had anything to do with the prices of petroleum in the country.

He maintained the subject was not being discussed between the two sides, adding any fluctuation in fuel prices was due to the volatility in international market.

Pakistan is facing a major dollar liquidity crunch which has led the government to unofficially suspend import of various items, including essential goods, to save its foreign currency reserves that have hit an alarming level of $3 billion.

Under the circumstances, a nationwide power outage last month also led to speculations about fuel shortage in the country for power generation, though senior government officials denied the claim.

‘Mob attack’ on film set in Pakistan takes mainstream and social media by storm

Updated 6 min 59 sec ago

‘Mob attack’ on film set in Pakistan takes mainstream and social media by storm

  • Incident occurred on Monday evening during shoot of ‘Sajin Mahel,’ directed by Nabeel Qureshi and starring Hira Mani
  • Mani told Arab News armed men entered set in a “pre-planned” attack and beat up crew after director had a spat with neighbors

KARACHI: A “mob” attacked a film set this week while some of Pakistan’s most popular actors were shooting for an upcoming movie in Karachi, the actor in the leading role, Hira Mani, said, while a police report of the incident said five crew members were injured. 

The incident, which has taken Pakistani mainstream and social media by storm, occurred on Monday evening during the shoot of upcoming film ‘Sajin Mahel,’ directed by Nabeel Qureshi, and starring Mani, her husband Salman Saquib (popularly known as Mani) and Gul-e-Rana.

Mani said the attack happened after the film director got into a spat with neighbors who complained about noise from the shoot, which was taking place in a rented property in Karachi’s PIB Colony. An “armed mob” forcibly entered the house, she said, describing it as a “pre-planned” attack by people aiming to disrupt the shooting. 

“They manipulated the policemen sitting outside the premises [by telling them] that something inappropriate was taking place inside,” Mani told Arab News. “They were going to burn us, [they were] chanting ‘Allah O Akbar’.”

The attackers, according to Mani, were demanding to speak directly to Qureshi and the top actors, who were locked up for their protection in a room of the house by the owner, a man identified in a police complaint only by his first name, Shakir.

Calls to the police went unanswered, she added:

“They [attackers] had almost reached the cast when the [paramilitary] Rangers arrived and rescued us after almost an hour.”

According to a copy of the first information, or police, report (FIR) seen by Arab News, producer Ali Hussain said up to 50 people, many of them carrying sticks, barged into the house where the shoot was ongoing and beat up its owner, Shakir, who rents the property for film shoots. The attackers also allegedly beat up crew members and injured five, including one who was hit on the head with a pistol. 

The FIR said several pieces of equipment were stolen from the set, including a 2k light, bulbs, C-stands, avenger stand, 10kg jib weight, set pancake and cables and three mobile phones. 

Arab News heard a sound recording of the incident, shared by a member of the cast, in which women could be heard screaming and shouting. The sounds of blows being exchanged is also heard and Mani is frantically yelling to suspects that there were women and children in the house. 

Mani said three people had been arrested since the complaint was filed. She said this was not the first time that violence had ensued at this particular location, recalling a similar incident last year when Pakistani actor and comedian Yasir Hussain was directing the TV series, “Aik Thi Laila” at the spot.

Speaking to Arab News, Hussain complained that while Shakir rented out the property for large sums for Tv and film shoots, he did not take responsibility for controlling crowds.

During the shooting of “Aik Thi Laila” he said, uninvited entrants on the set fought with the producer when they were asked to leave. Over 100 people subsequently entered and attacked the crew, forcing the team to cancel the shoot twice. The actor said he couldn’t complain at the time since he wasn’t the show’s producer. 

“We wanted to wrap the shoot so we didn’t post any [Instagram] stories either,” Hussain said. “This is quite scary and this needs to end.”

Arab News could not reach the owner of the house, Shakir, or police for comment.

Pakistan PM postpones Ankara visit as Turkiye-Syria quake toll tops 8,300

Updated 53 min 30 sec ago

Pakistan PM postpones Ankara visit as Turkiye-Syria quake toll tops 8,300

  • Pakistan has sent relief goods to the two Middle Eastern states on commercial and military airliners
  • As rescue activities continue, time is running out for the thousands who are trapped in the rubble

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday postponed his visit to Ankara after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency in 10 southeastern provinces that were hit by a major earthquake that has so far claimed more than 8,300 lives in Syria and Turkiye.

The prime minister called for “tangible and timely material support” for Turkiye a day before while pointing out that Ankara had generously helped Pakistan in the wake of the 2005 earthquake and floods in recent years. He also established a relief fund for quake victims and urged well-off individuals to contribute.

Sharif decided to travel to Turkiye to express solidarity with its people and government while announcing to reschedule a national conference to discuss the security situation in his own country.

“PM visit is postponed due to [the] ongoing relief activities in Turkiye,” federal information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a brief message to the media on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, rescue activities continue in Syria and Turkiye after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake jolted the two countries earlier this week. According to World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, time is running out for the thousands injured and those still feared trapped.

Reports emerging from the two countries say thousands have taken refuge from rains, snow and aftershocks in mosques, schools and bus shelters after losing their apartments and houses.

Some estimates suggest that nearly 23 million people have been affected by the quake which will require significant relief and reconstruction activities in the coming days.

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has already sent two planeloads of relief goods to Turkiye and Syria.

The country’s air force also said in a statement on Wednesday it had dispatched tents, blankets and other essential items on two C-130s to Turkiye to help its people.

In latest transport tragedy, 22 people killed in bus-car collision in Pakistan

Updated 08 February 2023

In latest transport tragedy, 22 people killed in bus-car collision in Pakistan

  • Fatal road accidents are common in Pakistan, where traffic rules are rarely followed
  • Bad road infrastructure and use of unfit vehicles are other causes of frequent accidents

PESHAWAR: A speeding bus collided with a car and plunged into a ravine in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 22 passengers and injuring 12 others, police said, the second such deadly accident in less than a week.

The bus was traveling to the garrison city of Rawalpindi from the Ghizer district in the north when the accident happened near Shatial village, 500 kilometers (30 miles) north of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said Dildar Khan, an area police chief.

He said rescuers transferred the dead and injured to a hospital, where some of them were listed in critical condition.

Last Friday, 17 people were killed in a head-on collision between a passenger bus and a speeding truck near a tunnel in the Kohat district in northwest Pakistan. On Jan, 29, another deadly accident happened in southern Pakistan where a bus crashed into a pillar and fell off a bridge, killing 40 people.

Deadly accidents are common in Pakistan due to poor road infrastructure and a disregard for traffic laws.

Security forces kill 12 militants in joint intelligence-based operation in Pakistan’s northwest

Updated 08 February 2023

Security forces kill 12 militants in joint intelligence-based operation in Pakistan’s northwest

  • The militants were kept under surveillance by intelligence operatives in Lakki Marwat before being ambushed
  • Police officials say the militants belonged to a TTP faction that killed six of their men in the district last December

ISLAMABAD: Security forces have carried out a joint intelligence-based operation in the northwest of Pakistan, said official statements released on Wednesday, killing 12 militants involved in violent activities in the region.

The operation was carried out in Lakki Marwat, an impoverished district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where a proscribed militant network, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), carried out more than 15 percent of attacks last year.

According to the military’s media wing, ISPR, the militants killed in the operation also belonged to same network and were kept under surveillance by intelligence operatives for about a week.

“Terrorists were lured in by providing a vehicle for escape that was intercepted and neutralized,” it added. “Weapons, ammunition and Afghan currency were also recovered from the terrorists during the operation.”

In a separate statement, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police said the militants belonged to TTP’s Azharuddin Group, adding they were on their way to Tank district when they were ambushed by the security forces.

“The terrorists opened fire but the security personnel remained safe,” the statement said. “The police targeted the vehicle with a rocket launcher.”

“Azharuddin Group was involved in terrorist activities against the police in Lakki Marwat,” it continued. “It also martyred six policemen in December.”

The TTP ended a fragile truce with the government last November before stepping up attacks on security forces and resorting to suicide bombings in different parts of the country.

The network leadership is said to be based in Afghanistan, making Pakistani authorities urge the administration in Kabul not to let armed factions use its territory to target other states.