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Imran petitions SC to declare amendments to secrets law, army act ‘null and void’



Former prime minister and PTI chairman Imran Khan on Saturday petitioned the Supreme Court to declare “null and void” the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2023 and Official Secrets (Amendment) Act 2023, contending that since both lack the presidential assent, they remain bills and have not become law.

In late July, both houses of Parliament passed the bill to amend the Army Act, 1952, which proposed up to five years in jail for those who disclose sensitive information pertaining to the security of the country or the military.

On August 1, the PDM government also got the bill to amend the century-old secrets act approved by the National Assembly in a bid to grant blanket powers to intelligence agencies, empowering them to raid and detain any citizen, even under suspicion of them breaching the law.

The bill was referred to the relevant standing committee of the Senate the next day after it faced fierce opposition from both sides of the aisle when taken up for passing.

On August 6, the upper house of the Parliament finally approved the bill, followed by the National Assembly passing the same bill for a second time after making some alterations to the original draft, chiefly among which was the removal of a clause that would have granted agencies the power to arrest suspects or conduct searches without warrants.

On August 19, Presi­d­ent Arif Alvi was said to have assented to both the Of­­ficial Secrets (Amend­m­ent) Bill 2023 and the Pakistan Army (Amend­ment) Bill 2023, allowing the pieces of proposed legislation to become acts of parliament.

However, in a startling turn of events the next day, the president publicly claimed that he had not signed the two bills since he disagreed with them and had asked his staff to return them unsigned within the stipulated time to make them ineffective, but his staff had “undermined” his will.

The law ministry had rebuked the president’s claim and asserted that the bills were received by the presidency on Aug 2, 2023, and Aug 8, 2023, respectively. Addressing a press conference after Alvi’s claim, caretaker Law Minister Ahmed Irfan Aslam had said the government had not received any of the two bills from the presidency thereafter, and thus both had become law.

The law ministry also released gazette notifications for the two laws the same day which said they were “deemed to have been assented by the president”.

The president’s denial of giving assent to the bills had put a question mark on their status and opened up a debate whether they had indeed become laws or were still proposed pieces of legislation — exactly what the PTI chief has challenged in the apex court.

The plea filed today, a copy of which is available with, prays for both the laws to be suspended until the case was ruled upon by the court.

It asserted that the president did not sign the Army Amendment Act and Official Secrets Act, which it said were in violation of Article 10-A (Right to fair trial), Article 8 (Laws inconsistent with or in derogation of Fundamental Rights to be void) and Article 19 (Freedom of speech etc) of the Constitution.

President Dr Arif Alvi, the National Assembly secretary, the law ministry, and the interior ministry were listed as respondents in the petition filed by lawyer Shoaib Shaheen on behalf of the PTI chief.

The petition has not been fixed for hearing yet.

Earlier, the Sindh Bar Council (SBC) also approached the Supreme Court on September 6 against both bills, contending that since both lack presidential assent, they remain bills and have not become law.

The petition was jointly filed by the SBC, its Vice Chairman Azhar Hussain, Chairman of the Executive Committee Naeemuddin Qureshi, and member Judicial Commission of Pakistan Syed Haider Imam Rizvi.


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Annual inflation rises to 31.4pc amid high energy prices



Pakistan’s annual inflation rate rose to 31.4 per cent in September from 27.4pc in August, statistics bureau data showed on Monday, as the country reels from high fuel and energy prices.

The country is embarking on a tricky path to economic recovery under a caretaker government after a $3 billion loan programme approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in July averted a sovereign debt default, but with conditions that complicated efforts to rein in inflation.

On a month-on-month basis, inflation climbed 2pc in September, compared to an increase of 1.7pc in August. Reforms required by the IMF bailout, including an easing of import restrictions and a demand that subsidies be removed, have already fuelled annual inflation, which rose to a record 38pc in May.

Food inflation remained elevated at 33.1pc with the year-on-year increase in non-perishable food items at 38.4pc and 4.37pc for perishable food items.

Annual consumer inflation in urban and rural areas increased to 29.7pc and 33.9pc year-on-year, respectively.

Meanwhile, the highest year-on-year increase was recorded in the categories of alcoholic beverages and tobacco (87.45pc), recreation and culture (58.77pc), furnishing and household equipment maintenance (39.32pc) and non-perishable food items.

Index-wise increase in inflation YoY (in descending order)

  • Alcoholic beverages and tobacco: 87.45pc
  • Recreation and culture: 58.77pc
  • Furnishing and household equipment maintenance: 39.32pc
  • Non-perishable food items: 38.41pc
  • Miscellaneous goods and services: 36.42pc
  • Restaurants and hotels: 34.3pc
  • Transport: 31.26pc
  • Housing and utilities: 29.7pc
  • Health: 25.28pc
  • Clothing and footwear: 20.55pc
  • Education: 11.12pc
  • Communication: 7.42pc
  • Perishable food items: 4.37pc

Interest rates have also risen to their highest at 22pc, and the rupee hit all-time lows in August before recovering in September to become the best performing currency following a clampdown by authorities on unregulated FX trade.

On Friday, the ministry of finance said in its monthly report that it anticipated inflation remaining high in the coming month, hovering around 29-31pc due to an upward adjustment in energy tariffs and a major increase in fuel prices.

The report added that inflation was, however, expected to ease, especially from the second half of the current fiscal year that starts on Jan 1.

On Saturday, the government cut petrol and diesel prices from a record high, after two consecutive hikes. The finance ministry cited international prices of petroleum products and the improvement in the exchange rate, following the clampdown on unregulated FX trade.

Inflation has been elevated, hovering in double digits, since November 2021.
The country targeted inflation at 21pc for the current fiscal year, but it averaged 29pc during the first quarter.

Worsening economic conditions, along with rising political tensions in the run-up to a national election scheduled for November, triggered sporadic protests in September, with many Pakistanis saying they are struggling to make ends meet.

Analysts said the inflation reading was in line with market expectations.

Tahir Abbas, head of research at Arif Habib Limited, a Karachi-based investment company, said inflation appeared to have peaked for the current fiscal year and would subsequently recede.

“The higher reading is mainly due to the low base effect which was also mentioned in the last monetary policy statement. Going forward, in the next few months, we expect inflation to ease to around 26-27pc,” said Fahad Rauf, head of research at Ismail Iqbal Securities, a Karachi-based brokerage firm.

Rauf said higher inflation statistics should not impact monetary policy.


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Police ramp up Adiala jail security for Imran



RAWALPINDI: In light of recommendations by the Special Branch and relevant departments following a survey of Adiala Jail where former prime minister Imran Khan is incarcerated, the police have ramped up security in the vicinity of the jail by deploying elite commandos and setting up additional security pickets to ensure foolproof measures.

After the survey, the officials concerned recommended an increase in security and search operations targeting shops located in front of the jail and residential areas in the surroundings of the central prison.

Sources said police pickets were established on Adiala Road and on both sides of the jail premises to ensure foolproof security, whereas two contingents of Elite Force would also patrol the area around the jail in two shifts. The officials also recommended keeping a record of CNICs and other details of the visitors.

The SSP operations and the chief traffic officer accompanied by other senior police officials visited the jail and held a meeting with the superintendent to take stock of security measures.

During the meeting, it was decided that the jail administration would ensure the security of the premises, while the police would be responsible for the security outside the jail.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan was shifted to Central Jail Adiala from District Jail Attock following the orders of the Islamabad High Court on September 26 amid tight security.

The high court had made this decision while hearing a plea moved by the PTI chief seeking transfer from Attock Jail to Adiala.

The former prime minister was shifted to Attock jail on August 5, 2023, after a court sentenced him to three years in prison in the Toshakhana case for concealing details of gifts he received as the prime minister of Pakistan.

After his sentence in the Toshakhana case was suspended by the high court, the government detained the ex-premier in the cipher case.

The cipher case pertains to a diplomatic document which reportedly went missing from Imran’s possession. The PTI alleged that it contained a threat from the United States to oust Imran Khan from power.

In the same case, a special court had sent the PTI chairman on judicial remand till Oct 10. It may be noted that an IHC bench is also hearing a plea moved by the PTI chairman seeking post-arrest bail in the cipher case.

Last month, the court had rejected a request by the Federal Investigation Agency seeking in-camera proceedings of the bail plea filed by Mr Khan. Proceedings against former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the same case are also underway.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2023


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PSX gains more than 390 points over reduced fuel prices, strengthening PKR



The Pakistan Stock Exchange’s (PSX) benchmark KSE-100 index gained over 394 points during trade on Monday, which analysts attributed to what seemed like an improved outlook in the economy.

The optimism in the market came as the government announced a reduction in fuel prices, slashing the prices of petrol and high-speed diesel by Rs8 per litre and Rs11 per litre, respectively, for the next fortnight.

It also follows a weeks-long rally of the Pakistani rupee. It appreciated by Rs0.98 to reach 286.76 against the dollar by day’s end, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.

The index reached 46,627.08, up 0.85pc, when the trading closed. It had reached a high of 46,704.63 points at 11:15am, 472.04 points from the previous close of 46,232.59 points.

—Photo courtesy: PSX’s website

Major activity was reported in stocks such as WorldCall Telecom Limited, Cnergyico PK Limited, Oil and Gas Development Company Limited, Pakistan Petroleum Limited, First Prudential Modaraba and BankIslami Pakistan Limited.

The top advancers included First Punjab Modaraba, Pak-Gulf Leasing Company Limited, Hala Enterprises Limited, and First Prudential Modaraba.

The top losers included PICIC Insurance Limited, SME Leasing Limited, Ashfaq Textile Mills Limited and Habib Insurance Company Limited.

IMF review meetings this month for the next tranche release and an “upbeat growth outlook”.

He added: “Upbeat data on crop output, cotton production, power generation, fertiliser, autos, POL and cement sales in September ’23, the rupee recovery and government deliberations on privatisation of SOEs [state-owned enterprises] played a catalyst role in the bullish activity.”

More to follow


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