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Senator Rabbani highlights ‘violations’ of Constitution by President Alvi as his 5-year term ends



President Arif Alvi’s completion of his five-year term on Friday may not culminate with an unblemished send-off, as Senator Raza Rabbani has issued a statement highlighting an alleged series of constitutional violations during his tenure as head of the state.

Nevertheless, despite the conclusion of his term, President Alvi is expected to remain in office indefinitely due to the absence of an electoral college necessary for the presidential selection process, according to a Dawn report.

This will make him one of the only heads of state in the country’s history to have an extended term, though Chaudhary Fazal Elahi also spent an additional month in office as a figurehead before Ziaul Haq became president on Sept 16, 1978.

Under the law, the president is elected by members of both houses of the parliament — i.e. the Senate and the National Assembly — and the four provincial assemblies.

With the general elections’ outcome still shrouded in mystery and the Election Commission’s contemplation of holding them in late January, it’s uncertain how much longer Alvi will hold his position.

Today, PPP Senator Rabbani issued a statement, outlining over a dozen instances when President Alvi allegedly violated the Constitution.

According to the senator, promulgation of ordinances by the president “without application of mind was in contravention of Article 89(1) of the Constitution.”

Under Article 89(1) of the Constitution, “the President may, except when the (Senate or) National Assembly is in session, if satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary to take immediate action, make and promulgate an ordinance as the circumstances may require”.

It says that an ordinance promulgated under this Article shall be laid before the National Assembly or the Senate, whichever goes into session first and “shall stand repealed at the expiration of 120 days from its promulgation or, if before the expiration of that period a resolution disapproving” it is passed by any house of parliament “upon the passing of that resolution”.

Rabbani also referred to the appointment of two members of the ECP, in violation of the procedure and the Constitution. The president had made the decision in 2019.

He also called out the president for promulgating the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) Ordinance “against judiciary and with no inter-ministerial consultation”.

Similarly, another alleged violation of the Constitution involved the “re-promulgation of the PMDC Ordinance, which had been rejected by the Senate under Article 89 of the Constitution.”

He also castigated the president for a reference filed against two judges of the superior judiciary “without application of mind”.

The senator also pointed out that the president allegedly maintained “criminal silence over the withdrawal of the prosecution case in a matter of high treason”.

He also highlighted that the Islamabad High Court had, on Feb 4 and Feb 11, 2020, nullified the presidential orders that had dismissed the chairman and members of the Competition Commission of Pakistan, as well as the PMDC Ordinance that he had promulgated, respectively.

Rabbani also stated that the top court also quashed the reference sent by the president against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

In addition to other purported violations, the senator also pointed out that the Supreme Court had dismissed the reference sent by the president against Justice Isa, who is scheduled to assume the position of Chief Justice of Pakistan later this month.

“The Balochistan High Court also set aside the NFC notification issued by the president,” Rabbani said.

He also called out the president for accepting an advice of the then prime minister Imran Khan for dissolving the National Assembly.

He also recounted an incident in which the president had reportedly declined to administer the oath to prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and his cabinet.

Rabbani was of the view that the president had also “not acted on the advice of the prime minister for the removal of the Punjab governor” in May 2022.

The lawmaker also blamed the president for “failing to nominate a person to administer oath of chief minister as per instructions of the Lahore High Court” — a reference to the oath-taking of then Punjab CM Hamza Shehbaz.

The legislator also held the president responsible for “neglecting to designate an individual to administer the oath of the chief minister in accordance with the Lahore High Court’s directives” – referring to the swearing-in of the then Punjab CM, Hamza Shehbaz.

He stated that the president had also purportedly neglected his constitutional obligation under Article 75 of the Constitution “by neither granting assent nor returning two bills to the parliament, instead placing the blame on the presidential staff.”

Rabbani also said it was president’s “mala fide intent by misinterpreting Article 48 of the Constitution for the announcement of the general election’s date”.

He made this reference in connection to President Alvi’s invitation to the chief election commissioner for a meeting aimed at “determining a suitable date” for the general elections.


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Indian police raid media office, homes of journalists in illegal funding probe



Indian police raided the office of a news portal and the homes of journalists and writers linked to it on Tuesday as part of an investigation into suspected illegal foreign funding of the media company, two government officials said.

Laptops and mobile phones were taken away as part of the investigation into the media company NewsClick, the officials and some of the journalists said.

“A special investigations team launched a search operation to identify all those individuals who were possibly getting funds from overseas to run a media group with the main agenda of spreading foreign propaganda,” said an official in the interior ministry overseeing the raids by the Delhi Police.

The raids were part of an investigation by the Enforcement Directorate, India’s financial crime agency, into suspected money laundering by NewsClick, the official said.

Another ministry official said the raids were conducted at more than a dozen homes of journalists and some other writers linked to NewsClick.

“We have not arrested anyone and the search operations are still underway,” the second official said.

Both of the officials declined to be identified as they are not authorised to speak to the media. A Delhi Police spokesperson said he was not in a “position to comment, as of now”.

NewsClick officials were not immediately available for comment. It says on its website says it is an independent media organisation launched in 2009 dedicated to covering news from India and elsewhere with a focus on “progressive movements”.

Officials said the investigation began after a New York Times report in August named NewsClick as part of a global network receiving funds from American billionaire Neville Roy Singham, allegedly to publish Chinese propaganda.

NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha said at the time the allegations were not new and the organisation would respond to them in court.

The Press Club of India said it was deeply concerned about the raids.

India has fallen to 150th in the World Press Freedom Index, an annual ranking by non-profit Reporters Without Borders, from 140th last year, its lowest ever.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government rejects the group’s findings, questioning its methodology, and says India has a vibrant and free press.


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In major milestone, first-ever women’s cricket match held in Swat



After enduring several restrictions and roadblocks, girls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat finally played the “first-ever” women’s cricket match in the Kabal tehsil on Tuesday.

Women cricketers from Kabal and Mingora tehsils participated in the match, which was played in the ground of the Government Girls Higher Secondary School Kabal.

During the 10-over thrilling contest, the Mingora women’s cricket team emerged as winners after beating Kabal by seven runs.

The game was attended by a large audience, which included female spectators, Babuzi Assistant Commissioner (AC) Luqman Khan, Kabal AC Junaid Khan, organiser and taekwondo champion Ayesha Ayaz, coach Ayaz Naik and others.

After the match, trophies, certificates and cash prizes were distributed among the players.

Speaking to, the women cricketers expressed their happiness and recalled how they had been barred from playing the sport.

Over the weekend, several clerics and a group of elders in the Charbagh tehsil had prevented the girls from playing cricket. They had called women’s participation in sports “immoral”.

After outcry from players and locals, Swat Deputy Commissioner Dr Qasim Ali Khan had instructed officials to find a “suitable location” for the match.

Sapna, one of the players, said: “I can’t find the words to describe how disheartened we felt when certain individuals prevented us from playing in Charbagh. It made us question whether we were not considered human beings and whether we had no rights.”

She said that she and her friends had been restless after that incident.

“But today, I am overjoyed that we were given the opportunity to play in front of a large audience and we emerged victorious,” she added.

Ayesha Ayaz, a 13-year-old budding taekwondo player who has secured two gold medals and one silver medal for Pakistan, stressed that the women of Swat possessed “remarkable talent” across various domains, including sports.

She advocated encouraging female participation in sports activities, asserting that they should not face obstacles but be granted opportunities to showcase their abilities and contribute to the nation’s prestige.

Naik, one of the match’s organisers, also expressed his gratitude to the district administration and organisers, hoping that they would continue promoting sports in the same way.

“This marks the initial step towards independent women’s sports activities, and we are committed to taking further substantial measures to offer increased opportunities to female players,” he said.


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Fiscal reforms critical for economic stability, sustainable growth in Pakistan: World Bank



Pakistan’s economy slowed sharply in fiscal year 2023 with real gross domestic product (GDP) estimated to have contracted by 0.6 per cent, according to the World Bank.

In a report released on Tuesday, titled ‘Pakistan Development Update: Restoring Fiscal Sustainability’, the global body said the decline in economic activity in the country reflects the cumulation of domestic and external shocks including the floods of 2022, government restrictions on imports and capital flows, domestic political uncertainty, surging world commodity prices, and tighter global financing.

The report said the previous fiscal year ended with significant pressure on domestic prices, fiscal and external accounts and exchange rate, and loss of investor confidence.

“The difficult economic conditions along with record high energy and food prices, lower incomes, and the loss of crops and livestock due to the 2022 floods, have significantly increased poverty.”

As per the report, the poverty headcount is estimated to have reached 39.4pc in fiscal year 2023, with 12.5 million more Pakistanis falling below the lower-middle income country poverty threshold ($3.65/day 2017 per capita) relative to 34.2pc in fiscal year 2022.

“Careful economic management and deep structural reforms will be required to ensure macroeconomic stability and growth,” said World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Najy Benhassine said in the report.

He added: “With inflation at record highs, rising electricity prices, severe climate shocks, and insufficient public resources to finance human development investments and climate adaptation, it is imperative that critical reforms are undertaken to build the fiscal space and public means to invest into inclusive, sustainable, and climate-resilient development.”

Without a sharp fiscal adjustment and decisive implementation of broad-based reforms, Pakistan’s economy will remain vulnerable to domestic and external shocks.

Predicated on the robust implementation of the IMF stand-by arrangement (SBA), new external financing and continued fiscal restraint, real GDP growth is projected to recover to 1.7pc in fiscal year 2024 and 2.4 per cent in fiscal year 2025, the report added.

It said economic growth was therefore expected to remain below potential over the medium term with some improvements in investment and exports.

According to the report, limited easing of import restrictions thanks to new external inflows will widen the current account deficit in the near term and weaker currency and higher domestic energy prices will maintain inflationary pressures.

“While the primary deficit is expected to narrow as fiscal consolidation takes hold, the overall fiscal deficit will decline only marginally due to substantially higher interest payments.”

The report underlined that the economic outlook was subject to extremely high downside risks, including liquidity challenges to service debt payments, ongoing political uncertainty, and external shocks.

“These macroeconomic challenges can be addressed through comprehensive fiscal reforms of tax policy, rationalisation of public expenditure, better management of public debt, and stronger inter-government coordination on fiscal issues,” said Aroub Farooq, economist at the World Bank, and author of the report.

To regain stability and establish a base for medium-term recovery, the report recommended reforms to drastically reduce tax exemptions and broaden the tax base through higher taxes on agriculture, property and retailers; improve the quality of public expenditure by reducing distortive subsidies, improving the financial viability of the energy sector, and increasing private participation in state-owned enterprises.

The Pakistan Development Update is a counterpart to the semiannual South Asia Development Update by the World Bank. This report assesses economic developments, prospects, and policy challenges within the South Asia region, the lender said.


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