Telephones of CDA control room out of order

Islamabad—All seven telephones of control room of Capital Development Authority (CDA) have gone out of order due to the negligence of authority that may enhance the risk of loss in capital at time of emergency, CDA official told Intime.

All seven telephone sets of CDA Fire Brigade Control Room are not functioning as it has to be for more then six months. When the emergency calls are received distortion in the telephone lines interrupted the communication that irks callers and receivers, he said.

Receivers complained several times to the section concerned but not action yet been taken to clear the lines indicate authority’s negligence. Section concerned is constantly reporting the matter to the higher authority for over six months but despite of the gravity of situation, authority is not paying attention to resolve the problem.

“If some thing would go wrong at time of emergency, rescue team and control room would responsible” he said.Another member of rescue team told that the control room, submit this matter in register of daily report but senior official are not taking any steps in this matter. He said that controlroom of CDA receive hundreds of calls daily, it can be dangerous, if telephones sets would not be changed.— Intime Continue reading

Cash-starved CDA seeks lost club to make money

ISLAMABAD, June 26: Cash-strapped Capital Development Authority (CDA) wants the Rs1.28 billion club complex standing mocking at it in the F-9 Park come to its rescue.

Dawn has learnt that CDA bosses have sought advice from their law department whether their Citizens Club misadventure could be put to commercial use without violating the Supreme Court verdict that shut it down in 2010.

Before the fabulous club complex could open its membership to the elites of Islamabad, the apex court upheld a citizen’s petition that public places like parks could not be used for commercial purposes.

That made the CDA rename the club as “community centre” but the magnificent structure has since stood as a haunted place.

Yes, the Supreme Court ruling is there. But it did not stop CDA from profiting from something raised with billions of taxpayers’ money,” a CDA official told Dawn.

Initiated by Kamran Lashari, a former CDA chairman, and designed by renowned architect Nayyar Ali Dada, the club complex boasts a 475-seat auditorium, library, conference halls, swimming pools, restaurants, fitness centres, squash and tennis courts, aerobic area, gymnasium, billiard room, games room, banquet halls and residential rooms for the members.

Private citizens were proposed to be 62.5 per cent of the membership, government officers and parliamentarians 15 per cent, CDA officers 7.5 per cent and diplomats and corporate sector 15 per cent.

“We were to generate a good amount of money from the membership fee of the Citizens Club but the dream could not materialise because of the apex court’s decision,” an official associated with the project said.

“Instead, the structures stand unused and deteriorating with time,” lamented a senior CDA official without sharing his name.

“These structures are meant for the general public but how to put them to that use in the light of the Supreme Court judgment is a question for lawyers to answer,” he said.

The 2010 judgment said: “This [Rs1.28billion] huge amount belongs to no one else except the taxpayers/citizens. Such amount, therefore, could have been spent appropriately for their welfare instead of providing luxurious type of Citizens’ Club only for its members.

“We are not opposing establishment/construction of such like clubs in the Capital, but definitely on a suitable place and by not curtailing rights of the general public.

“CDA can undertake such projects not in the park, but in any other area, ensuring at the same time that the money of taxpayers shall not be used for such purposes.

“Instead of abandoning the project, the CDA, with the approval of the federal government, may utilise the building and other facilities for any public welfare project, like women university, medical/engineering college, science, technology or IT institution, etc.” Continue reading

IHC reprimands CDA officials for meeting Faisal Sakhi Butt

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) here on Tuesday reprimanded the Capital Development Authority (CDA) officials for their meeting with former chief coordinator of the prime minister on Islamabad affairs Faisal Sakhi Butt and asked them not to play political games with the court.

The IHC bench rejected the plea of CDA officials for an unconditional apology and directed them to submit their replies till July 2.

On June 19, the court, while taking notice of media reports that two officers of the CDA — Director General Planning Ghulam Sarwar Sindhu and Director Municipal Administration Mansoor Ali Khan — ignoring the court orders met Faisal Sakhi Butt and assured him of their loyalty, had issued show-cause notices to them and asked them to appear before the court on June 26.

The IHC bench here on Tuesday observed that despite restraining orders of the court, the two officials met Faisal Sakhi Butt assuring him of their support and they even did not issue a rebuttal of news published in newspapers.

The same IHC bench on May 14, while hearing a land allotment case of Fazal Hussain, had barred Faisal Sakhi Butt, the then chairman of the prime minister’s task force on CDA, from entering into the premises of the CDA. The IHC bench in the same decision had also directed officials of the CDA not to visit the residence of Faisal Sakhi Butt in their official capacity.

Legal counsel of CDA officials Advocate Raja Amir on Tuesday told the court that his clients met Butt in their personal capacity and asked him to stop his involvement in the CDA affairs. The counsel further said that they have also got published a rebuttal regarding their meeting with Butt. The IHC bench, however, expressed its displeasure and said that they met Faisal Sakhi Butt on May 29 and published the rebuttal on June 26 after the court took notice of the situation.

The bench further observed that these CDA officials do not have the guts to getting published a rebuttal till Faisal Sakhi Butt has been removed from the post of chief coordinator. Before that these officials kept meeting Butt and kept assuring him their support giving a message to the court that they would be doing whatever they want to, the IHC bench observed.

The court, while addressing Ghulam Sarwar Sindhu and Mansoor Ali Khan, said that they were on deputation in the CDA and doing politics there. The court will also decide about deputations in the CDA, the IHC bench said.

The court also expressed its anger over the presence of another CDA official, Safdar Saleem, in the court who said that he has been from the CDA Welfare Association. The court directed him to go outside the courtroom and come to the court when asked.

Stabilising the state

Recent events in Pakistan are likely to have a profound impact on its future. The case of Arsalan Chaudhry has brought to fore that nothing remains hidden for long under the broad and sharp gaze of the media.

As institutional and individual skeletons are being dragged out of the closet, the few idols and iconic structures that we still had faith in are crumbling one by one. The chief justice, who remains the last bastion of justice, is facing embarrassment due to his son’s misdeeds. The DHA–Bahria contract has turned out to be a scam of mammoth proportions. And erstwhile prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, after remaining in the eye of the storm, was disqualified on the Supreme Court’s orders, which indeed was an earth-shaking event. These are not isolated cases but part of a broader, deeper malaise that afflicts the nation.

As our crisis worsens, no institution can pretend to be sacrosanct and above board unless it really is. And no individual or institution — the judiciary, military, politicians, business tycoons or the media — can claim immunity against accountability anymore. The forces released by the information technology revolution and a highly interconnected world have broken the barriers that once ensured some degree of impunity. Moreover, the concept that some institutions are more equal than others, or more worthy of respect, is also progressively being demolished.

These are not ordinary changes in the Pakistani environment, where too many still take it for granted that anyone can be bought out with money or power. Moreover, these developments are good for Pakistan in the long-term because our greatest weakness has been the duplicity in our behaviour — not applying the same standards to oneself that we demand from others. Just as market forces bring about corrections to economies in distress, so our institutions and society as a whole are finding self-correcting mechanisms to check failing institutions and individuals. We are now witnessing institutions — autonomously or in concert — apply checks and balances on one another: the moment one institution becomes too powerful it is likely to be checkmated. In the process, these institutions and their leaders, too, often play politics and advance their own narrow interests.

The challenge we face as a country is clear: how do we keep Pakistan in a fairly stable condition as old power structures collapse and institutions falter? It seems only too likely that the current turbulence could lead to widespread anarchy. Why? Two reasons stand out: our societal transformation is taking place in a leadership vacuum (and those who oppose change have a high stake in maintaining the status quo). Second, no institution has sufficient credibility and moral authority to guide us and show the way forward.

If Pakistan has to break from its past, then it should work for the victory of those forces that truly want to uphold the rule of law and create a society based on merit. The growing pressure for the accountability of institutions from the media — and from every walk of life in this country — should lead to collective introspection and compel the nation to redefine itself. Although rebuilding and redefining institutions is not easy, it is urgently needed. The clock is ticking louder than ever: our economy faces a meltdown, our current political leadership is incapable of taking hard decisions and a failure to act is simply not an option for a nuclear power.

How do we sanitise and transform the state when there is no leadership on the horizon of anything like the stature of a Nelson Mandela? Our dilemma is made worse when the present leadership’s only interest is personal profit that has given rise to a serious crisis of legitimacy. In the past, we took the simplistic approach of inviting the army in when events got out of control. But people are not prepared to accept a replay of that role anymore. Experience has shown that involvement of the military creates more problems than it solves in the long-term. The overreaching role of the judiciary is equally resented (most people would rather have judges provide justice to ordinary people than to play an outsized role in high profile political cases). Continue reading

Alleged tax evasion: FBR chief told to decide cases by June 30

The Lahore High Court here on Monday directed Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and tax officials concerned to decide by June 30 the cases about alleged tax evasion by Bahria Town administration. The court also directed the FBR Chairman to furnish a report about the decisions on tax evasion before the High Court registrar.

The petitioner, a bar member Shahid Jami, contended that during audit of Bahria Town for tax year 2006 it was detected by the then officer that the purchase of land expenses claimed at Rs 9.2 billion were not supported with evidence which attracted tax liability of Rs 2.0 billion. He pointed out that the tax officer was transferred on bringing on record the said discrepancy but he refused the high-ups to drop the issue. Later, the case was assigned to a very junior officer who dropped the issue while concluding the audit. During the course of hearing FBR’s counsel objected the jurisdiction of the court to hear the subject matter. However, the court rejected the argument and issued necessary directions to the FBR Chairman and concerned tax officers.  Continue reading

Another week, another rough start for Malik Riaz and Co



ISLAMABAD, June 25: The week started off on a busy note for the lawyers of Malik Riaz as benches of the Supreme Court and Islamabad High Court heard cases implicating him and his accomplices.

A bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja that was hearing around a dozen cases of land grabbing and payment disputes suggested that Malik Riaz’s admission of paying Rs 350 million for his acquittal in a murder case could lead to a fresh case on charges of perjury and subverting justice.

Meanwhile, a two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court maintained the status quo on the matter of the presidential pardon to Mohammad Basharat, a gunman of property tycoon Malik Riaz who was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment for killing a rival in the parking of Islamabad district courts in 2009.

Justice Khawaja of the Supreme Court while heading a two-member bench said that action would be taken against Malik Riaz for paying bribes to the tune of Rs350 million to pave the way for his acquittal in a murder case.

Also present in the courtroom were dozens of persons who were allegedly forced to transfer thousands of acres of land to Malik Riaz, his son or other nominees after intimidating them or implicating in false cases followed by arrest till transfer of their land either for free or for peanuts.

The court at the very outset of the proceedings asked Director-General Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Fayyaz Khan Leghari to read out its order in the murder case of security guard Raja Fayyaz.

While he was reading the order, Justice Khawaja interjected and said that the murder of Raja Fayyaz remained un-avenged.

He further stated that the judicial inquiry by District and Sessions Judge Mazhar Minhas was not seen by the police, and ordered the DG FIA to look into it as the case file was now with the FIA.

Zahid Bokhari, the counsel for Bahria Town, strongly objected to this and said that the report the court was referring to was under challenge. He said the court cannot direct the investigation. “This is the only case where the hearing is still going on after the payment of compensation and acquittal,” he informed the court.

Justice Khawaja though stood his ground and said that everything will be done in accordance with the law.

“We are now talking of another possible criminal case. The FIR in the murder case will be put aside, however, it is clear that justice was subverted through false testimonies and witnesses,” he commented.

He also recalled that one of the witnesses Shaukat Ali claimed to have identified a dozen people in the lights of the car and subsequently filed statements to change the names of the people at least thrice.

Following this, Mr Bokhari argued that the courts cannot give observations before the investigation officer that can prejudice his mind. “The Supreme Court is becoming part of the investigation and monitoring it, which is not in accordance
with the law,” he pleaded.

“If the court is not satisfied with the investigation, it means that it wants investigation in line with its observations,” he added.

On the other hand, Justice Khawaja insisted: “I will keep on saying this, it does not meet the normal standards of investigation an intelligent police officer is supposed to conduct.”

Justice Khawaja opined that he asks questions to ensure fairness, and that a judge should speak out his concerns to provide an opportunity to the party to address it and stressed that silence despite questions in mind may cause prejudice to the litigant.He said the court will dispense justice as it was its duty and right of the people, without caring if someone expects justice from it or not. He told the DG FIA that no observation should interfere with or prejudice the investigation. Continue reading

Media, thy name is dishonesty

Our TV news channels and their hosts were no different from the village mirasi, when it came to the recent interview of Malik Riaz Husain on Dunya TV. They had the temerity to eulogize the secret recording and smuggling of off-line comments when it was in fact a serious crime. (If it had happened to any of them, they would have condemned it certainly in harshest words.) Jealousy should not have led them to dishonest behavior.

Dunya News

Dunya News (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let us consider some aspects of the matter.

“Planted” interview of Malik Riaz

Malik Riaz Husain may be a crook or a saint, depending on one’s view but, without doubt, he is the biggest newsmaker of today. Is there any news channel, which would have refused to broadcast his interview if offered the opportunity? Would any host refuse to cooperate with him in asking questions? Then, why have they pounced upon Dunya TV?

The criticism about the interview being “planned,” “arranged,” and “planted” is ridiculous. Which interview is not? Do you pull a major guest off the street and start interviewing him on the footpath? You must seek his willingness, tell him about the questions you want to ask (at least in general), respect his wishes about asking or ignoring questions. (Or you would soon face boycott by important guests.) In the West, publications and channels are known to even give questions beforehand to an important person just to get his interview.

You may plant a news story in a news bulletin to give a favorable view of somebody or damage his image but how do you “plant” an interview when the guest is himself on television, speaking in his own voice? And how do you plant a question when the guest is going to give the same answer, whether he is told about a question in advance or not?

Behavior of Mubasher and Meher

I have no love for Mubasher Lucman and Meher Bukhari. I watch their programs only when the subject is of interest or they have one or more guests, who have something significant to say. (Incidentally, this attitude applies to all talk shows on all channels.) I don’t like their frequent interruptions, aggressive tone and the style of a prosecutor. Their enormous ego also does not endear them. But does that mean that their situation should be viewed with a jaundiced eye? Don’t they have a right to fair treatment?

I watched the entire two-hour interview as well as the off-air recording on YouTube. I don’t think they did anything more wrong during the commercial breaks than what other hosts would do. The focus of criticism should have been the interview itself, not what was said or done in off-air breaks. You are supposed to assess their professional performance, not do character assassination for something that should not have surfaced in the first place. Continue reading

Capital police hold flag march in Bahria Town

Map showing the administrative subdivisions of...

Map showing the administrative subdivisions of Rawalpindi District. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ISLAMABAD, June 26: In what looked to be a move to protect property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain from being arrested by the Rawalpindi police in a land fraud case, the capital police held a flag march in Bahria Town, sources told Dawn on Tuesday.

A senior police officer said, “This flag march held on Saturday was followed by another on Sunday.”

Replying to a question about the reason behind holding the march in the housing society, he said it was conducted due to a ‘sensitive movement’ in the area. However, he was reluctant to disclose the details.

The sources said the flag march was held in each and every street of all the eight phases of Bahria Town by the capital’s rural zone police. The eight phases spread in the limits of Sihala, Rawat and Morgah police of Rawalpindi district.

However, the capital police accompanied by security staff and vehicles of Bahria Town also trespassed into the limits of Rawalpindi and moved around in the jurisdictions of Rawat and Morgah police.

The flag march was held under the supervision of a superintendent who had the strength of over 50 policemen, including three DSPs and six station house officers of the rural zone comprising Sihala, Loi Bher, Koral, Shahzad Town, Nilor and Banigala.

Personnel of Anti-Terrorism Squad also accompanied the police.

A police officer, when contacted, said the flag march was held in response to information that the Rawalpindi police had moved to Bahria Town Phase-VIII, Morgah, to conduct a raid for the arrest of Malik Riaz.

A few days back when a 22-member police and anti-corruption establishment team from Rawalpindi reached the Aabpara police station to arrest the property tycoon from his G-6/3 house, they were detained and then escorted out of the city. Continue reading

Malik Riaz gets lawyer to fight contempt case

ISLAMABAD: Malik Riaz Hussain, a business tycoon, has engaged Dr Abdul Basit to contest his contempt of court caseafter he allegedly ridiculed the judiciary.

Sources told that Dr Basit would defend Malik Riaz in the Supreme Court (SC) on June 28. On June 21, the SC had given the tycoon seven days to engage a lawyer of his choice in the case.

Dr Basit is known as an outspoken lawyer and has already appeared in the PCO judges’ contempt case. The counsel is also defending NRO beneficiaries such as Ahmad Riaz Sheikh and Adnan A Khawaja.

Malik Riaz is facing contempt charges over a press conference wherein he scandalised and ridiculed the judiciary on the issue of Arsalan Iftikhar, son of the chief justice. On June 21, Malik Riaz had stated in the court that he could not arrange any lawyer to represent him in the case and, therefore, requested the court to grant him 10 days to engage a lawyer.

He said that due to the resolutions passed by Rawalpindi and Islamabad district bar associations, no one was willing to represent him in the case. Continue reading