Pakistan cricketers’ bribery allegations expose rampant extortion culture in Sindh Police

This file photo, taken on July 20, 2021, shows Pakistan's Sohaib Maqsood during a T20 international cricket match between England and Pakistan at Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester. (AFP/File)
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Updated 28 November 2023

Pakistan cricketers’ bribery allegations expose rampant extortion culture in Sindh Police

  • Four police officers were arrested in the province on charges of taking money from Pakistani cricketers
  • Last week, a senior police official was arrested for seizing over Rs20 million from a trader in a fake raid

KARACHI: Four police officers were arrested in Nawab Shah, a town in southern Sindh province, on Tuesday following bribery allegations made by Pakistani cricketers with international reputations.
The development follows similar incidents, including the arrest of a senior police official who seized over Rs20 million from a trader and action against three cops for harassing Afghan refugees last week, spotlighting problems within the Sindh police force.
Cricketers Sohaib Maqsood and Aamir Yamin, in near-identical posts on their social media accounts, complained about extortion, expressing gratitude for living in Punjab province. Maqsood recounted being stopped every 50 kilometers for money while traveling back from Karachi to his hometown, Multan.
Last week, a senior superintendent of police in Karachi, Imran Qureshi, was removed from his post, and his deputy, Umair Tariq Bajari, was arrested after being implicated in seizing money from a trader.
In response to these incidents, a spokesperson for the Inspector General of Police’s office told Arab News the Sindh police chief, Riffat Mukhtar, had taken notice and ordered the immediate arrest of the accused in such cases.
“The IG Sindh not only immediately ordered an impartial and fair inquiry but also took immediate legal action against those found guilty,” he said.
Mukhtar and Additional Inspector General of Karachi, Khadim Hussain Rind, however, did not respond to requests for comment.
Experts believe these cases are indicative of a much larger problem deeply ingrained in the police culture and difficult to eradicate.
“There is a perception that the situation is getting worse,” Dr. Shoaib Suddle, a former police inspector general with a degree in criminology, said.
“Unfortunately, the number of police officials involved in such crimes is not released by their department,” he continued. “People don’t always report them since they believe the system will not support them no matter how grave their complaint is.”
Suddle said it was important to make merit-based recruitments and appointments.
“Proper investigation of cases against offices and setting example by punishing the cops involved in crimes can provide us the solution,” he added.
In a series of recent incidents highlighting the impediments to actual police work, three counterterrorism department officials were arrested in September for corrupt practices, a Station House Officer (SHO) was arrested in July for alleged involvement in robberies, and 28 policemen, including SHOs, were suspended in April on suspicion of involvement in smuggling.
Additionally, three officers posted in Nawab Shah were caught robbing people in Karachi in March, and three policemen were arrested in connection with a theft in Karachi in October 2020.
In May 2020, five staff members from the Malir Cantonment police, including the station head and investigation officer, were arrested after a cache of drugs and extortion money was found in their possession. A report submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2017 by the Chief Secretary of Sindh stated that 12,000 police officers were involved in different crimes, with 184 sentenced and action recommended against 66 others.
Afzal Nadeem Dogar, a journalist reporting on crimes for over three decades, remarked that police involvement in such wrongdoings is not new, but the direct plundering of citizens in Karachi is unprecedented.
“Usually, police officials patronize criminals and get a share,” he continued. “But they mostly try to avoid targeting ordinary citizens on their own.”
Dogar said the crime culture was so deeply entrenched in the police force that its immediate eradication was not feasible.
“It’s now an integral part of the police culture, making it a major hurdle in effective policing,” he added.

Pakistan’s National Assembly to hold inaugural session today, following president’s late summon

Updated 10 sec ago

Pakistan’s National Assembly to hold inaugural session today, following president’s late summon

  • Arif Alvi once again pointed out the incomplete allocation of reserved seats in the lower house while calling the session
  • The president also took exception to the PM’s accusation of being in violating of constitution for not summoning the session

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly of Pakistan is set for its first meeting today, Thursday, following the general elections held earlier this month, after President Arif Alvi belatedly summoned its inaugural session late last night.

Alvi had previously objected to a request by the caretaker administration to call the session for the oath-taking of newly elected lawmakers on Feb. 29, indicating that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had not allocated all the reserved seats in the house, which he deemed currently incomplete.

His position was viewed as untenable by various politicians who pointed to the constitutional provision requiring the assembly session to be convened no later than 21 days after the national polls, which in this case fell on Feb. 29.

The constitutional requirement, enshrined in Article 91 (2), was widely interpreted to mean that the assembly’s session would be held automatically, even without the president’s decision to summon it, prompting the speaker of the outgoing assembly to call its first meeting.

“Subject to some reservations, President Dr. Arif Alvi has summoned to convene the National Assembly on 29th February in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 54(1) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” his office informed in a social media post in the early hours of the day.

“The President accorded his approval while keeping in view the mandate and implications of the timeline given in Article 91 (2) and subject to some reservations and expecting the resolution of the issue of the reserved seats before the 21st day,” it added.

Alvi also objected to the language of a summary sent to him by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, saying it was “sad that the Chief Executive of the country addresses the Head of the State in the first form and resorts to unacceptable language and allegations without any substance.”

He particularly mentioned the accusation of constitutional violation attributed to him in the summary for not summoning the session, pointing out that he did not want to engage with it.

The president said he could not be oblivious to “some incongruities in the electoral process and the process of formation of the Government.”

“He further remarked that it was needless to remind that a Caretaker Prime Minister/set up was merely responsible to ensure conducive conditions for the peaceful, fair and transparent holding of the General elections, within the framework of the Constitution and the timeline on which many quarters had expressed reservations,” his office said in the social post.

It is pertinent to mention that there are 60 reserved seats for women and 10 for religious minorities in the 336-member National Assembly. So far, the ECP has only allocated 40 of them to various political parties.

The commission is not yet to decide if it wants the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), which includes independent candidates supported by former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, to get a share of reserved seats in the lower house of parliament.

The PTI-backed candidates won over 90 seats and emerged as the single largest bloc in the assembly.

However, they could not form their own government without joining a political party or lay claimed to the reserved seats that are distributed among different parliamentary factions on the basis of their representation in the house.

Alvi, who contested the 2018 elections on the PTI ticket and is considered Khan’s close aide, has also raised objection over the incomplete allocation of reserved seats.

The National Assembly’s inaugural session will scheduled to begin at 10am.

Two Pakistanis charged over calls for Dutch far-right leader’s killing

Updated 29 February 2024

Two Pakistanis charged over calls for Dutch far-right leader’s killing

  • The Netherlands and Pakistan do not have an extradition treaty, leaving prospects for a trial unclear
  • A Dutch court says the Pakistanis were suspected of publicly calling on people to kill Geert Wilders

AMSTERDAM: A Dutch court said it had charged two Pakistani nationals on Wednesday over public calls for the murder of far-right anti-Muslim leader Geert Wilders, who aims to lead a new government after his party won elections in November.

In a statement on Wednesday, the court said prosecutors had asked authorities in Pakistan to extradite the two suspects – aged 55 and 29 – to stand trial in the Netherlands.

It said the two Pakistanis were suspected of publicly calling on people to kill Wilders and promising them a reward in the afterlife if they did so. It did not say how those calls were made.

In September, a Dutch court sentenced a Pakistani former cricketer to 12 years in prison after he was tried in absentia for publicly urging people to kill Wilders.

“I hope they (two suspects) will be extradited, convicted and jailed!” Wilders wrote in a post on X.

The court scheduled its first hearing on the case for Sept. 2. The Netherlands and Pakistan do not have an extradition treaty, leaving prospects for a trial unclear.

Finance minister says China rolls over $2 billion loan to Pakistan

Updated 29 February 2024

Finance minister says China rolls over $2 billion loan to Pakistan

  • The loan was due in March and has been extended by the Chinese authorities for one year
  • Securing external financing is one of the most urgent issues facing Pakistan’s next government

ISLAMABAD: China has rolled over a $2 billion loan to Pakistan, caretaker finance minister Shamshad Akhtar confirmed in a response to Reuters on Thursday.

The $2 billion loan was due in March and has been extended for one year, Geo News which first reported the news said, citing sources in the Pakistan finance ministry. Beijing had communicated the decision to Islamabad, it added.

Pakistan’s cash-strapped economy is struggling to stabilize from a financial crisis and secured a $3 billion standby arrangement from the International Monetary Fund last summer.

Pakistan’s vulnerable external position means that securing financing from multilateral and bilateral partners will be one of the most urgent issues facing the next government, ratings agency Fitch said last week.

Pakistan’s top business body says Saudi investors want Pakistani businesspersons to establish industries in Kingdom

Updated 29 February 2024

Pakistan’s top business body says Saudi investors want Pakistani businesspersons to establish industries in Kingdom

  • A delegation led by Pakistan’s commerce minister met Saudi officials, investors in Kingdom last week to discuss business opportunities
  • Top official of Pakistan’s leading business forum says Saudi investors expressed “great interest” in Pakistan’s five key economic sectors

KARACHI: Saudi investors offered land and equity to Pakistani businesspersons to set up export-oriented industries in the Kingdom, a top official of the South Asian country’s apex business forum who was part of a prominent business delegation that went to Saudi Arabia last week, said on Wednesday. 

A delegation of 20 Pakistani industrialists last week visited Saudi Arabia with Caretaker Commerce Minister Dr. Gohar Ejaz. The delegation held meetings with Saudi officials and trade representatives to promote bilateral trade and industrial cooperation in various sectors.

Pakistan constituted the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), a hybrid civil-military forum, in June 2023 to fast-track decision-making and promote investment from foreign nations, particularly Gulf states. The SIFC has identified five key sectors for investment, which include agriculture and livestock, IT and Telecom, mines and minerals, energy, and industry, among others. 

Atif Ikram, president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) said the delegation’s visit to the Kingdom was a “very productive one” as Saudi investors had taken “great interest” in investing in five key sectors identified by the SIFC. 

“The Saudi investors were more interested in Pakistan’s agriculture to ensure future food security,” Ikram told Arab News, adding that they offered Pakistani businesspersons land and equity to set up industries in the Kingdom. 

“The Saudis are also welcoming Pakistani businessmen to set up export-oriented industries in the Kingdom,” Ikram said. “They are very much focusing on industrialization.”

With 9.1 million hectares of land available for agriculture and 22.4 million hectares for livestock, Pakistan is set to transform its agriculture landscape by transitioning from the traditional micro-farming culture to high-tech, high-yield and low-cost community-based Modernized Corporate Farming, the SIFC has said. 

The FPCCI official said Pakistani businessperson see Saudi Arabia as a significant market for investment and are prepared to play a larger role in the mutual growth of industries and economies in the two nations.

“Saudis are open for every industry that produces exportable goods be it textile, steel or any other product that could be exported from the Kingdom,” Ikram noted.

Arif Habib, founder and chairman of the Arif Habib Group— a leading Pakistani conglomerate in the services, real estate, and manufacturing sectors— ​said Saudi officials also expressed interest in establishing a cricket stadium in the Kingdom.

He said the group offered to develop the stadium as it has constructed one in Karachi’s Naya Nazimabad area.

“The Saudis were excited about the cricket facility because they think that it would interest Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans living in the Kingdom and it would also help in creating interest for cricket among Saudis,” Habib explained. He added that the Saudi officials also expressed interest in setting up football clubs, gyms, and family clubs.

Habib said the visit was a “good start” but cautioned that Pakistan needed a strong follow-up with Saudi authorities to avail investment opportunities in both countries. 

“Future outcome depends on how strongly the Pakistani sides follows, how they effectively share our economic research and future direction,” he said. “What we can offer to them and similarly what opportunities are available in the Kingdom.” 

Fiery Munro ensures Islamabad hammer Karachi by seven wickets in one-sided PSL contest

Updated 28 February 2024

Fiery Munro ensures Islamabad hammer Karachi by seven wickets in one-sided PSL contest

  • Islamabad United’s Colin Munro smashes 82 runs from 47 balls to win Player of the Match award
  • His opening partner Alex Hales scored 47 runs from 35 balls before Salman Ali Agha guided the team home

ISLAMABAD: Explosive Islamabad United batter Colin Munro on Wednesday smashed an 82-run knock from 47 balls to hand his team a thumping seven-wicket victory over the Karachi Kings at their home ground in the southern port city.
The two sides locked horns for the 15th match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) contest in Karachi. The Kings, led by skipper Shan Masood, were unable to impress in the first match of this year’s PSL hosted in Karachi. The Kings were able to score 165/5 from their 20 overs after being sent in to bat by United. 
Pakistani all-rounder Imad Wasim, a former Karachi Kings cricketer, Salman Ali Agha, Naseem Shah and Hunain Shah took a single wicket each to restrict the Kings to a modest total before Islamabad’s openers wreaked havoc on Karachi. 
“Back-to-back sixes by Salman Agha and WE HAVE WON!” United wrote on social media platform X, announcing the franchise’s victory. 
Munro and his opening partner Alex Hales smashed a 108-run partnership, leaving little doubt Islamabad would clinch the match. Hales was dismissed by Hasan Ali after scoring 47 runs from 35 balls, hitting four boundaries. Wasim fell to left-arm Karachi spinner Tabraiz Shamsi on the second ball, heading to the pavilion without scoring a single run. 
Munro was the third Islamabad wicket to fall when he was trapped leg-before-wicket by Mohammad Nawaz. His 82-run knock included eight fours and four sixes. 
United, who were placed at number five on the PSL points table, have gone up to the fourth spot ahead of the Kings with four points from five matches. Skipper Shadab Khan’s side will next take on the Quetta Gladiators on Saturday as it eyes climbing the PSL points table further. 
The Kings will now face a strong Gladiators squad, placed on number two at the PSL points table, on Thursday. Placed now on number five at the PSL points table, they have four points from two matches with a run rate of -0.527. 
The top four teams of the tournament will qualify for the playoffs.