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Interpol removes Umar Farooq Zahoor from red notice list

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LONDON: Interpol has removed businessman Umar Farooq Zahoor from the list of internationally wanted persons (Red Notice) in a high-profile case started by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) under former accountability adviser Shahzad Akbar.

The Interpol had added Dubai-based businessman Zahoor to the Red Notice database after an application moved by Zahoor’s former wife and actor Sophia Mirza (alias Khushbakhat Mirza) with help from Akbar who had tasked the FIA to go after the Dubai-based businessman at all costs.

The General Secretariat of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) in Lyon has confirmed that Zahoor is no longer subject to an Interpol Notice or diffusion.

Interpol has confirmed in a letter that “the Commission carried out the appropriate checks” in accordance with its functions and that the information concerning Zahoor provided by Pakistan has been deleted from the Interpol Information System at the request of its National Central Bureau on 28 September 2022.

Papers show that the Interpol Commission – made up of four members from US, UK, Lebanon, and Morocco –has deleted the Red Notice category for Zahoor after the FIA wrote to Interpol on September 26 confirming approval for the cancellation of the Red Notice, in a case started by FIA Punjab Zone-1.

Zahoor’s name was added to Interpol’s most wanted list after the FIA wrote to the international police making several allegations against Liberia’s Ambassador-At-Large for South East Asia, the Middle East, and Pakistan.

His name was removed from the Red List after the fresh investigation, conducted by the officers of FIA appointed by the new government, revealed that the allegations against Zahoor were frivolous and politically motivated.

Investigations established later on that the FIA was asked by Akbar to help Sophia Mirza, the former wife of Zahoor. The couple married in 2006, divorced within a year after the birth of twin daughters, and ever since they have fought a custody battle, while daughters Zainab and Zuneirah have publicly maintained they want to live with their father.

Umar Zahoor’s predicament started when the FIA Lahore Anti Human Trafficking Circle proceeded with the registration of a criminal case against Zahoor on the complaint of his ex-wife over allegations of kidnapping his own daughters. At the same time, the FIA Corporate Crime Circle Lahore also initiated an inquiry against Zahoor over allegations of fraud and money laundering of around Rs16 billion on the complaint of the same complainant Khushbakht Mirza. The complainant accused (Zahoor) of being involved in a fraud of $89.2 million in Oslo, Norway, in 2010 and another fraud involving an amount of $12 million in Bern, Switzerland, back in the year 2004.

The complaint made its way to the PTI government’s federal cabinet agenda via the Interior Ministry, being run by then Chairman of Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) Mirza Shehzad Akbar, and the federal government gave a go-ahead to the FIA to probe the alleged fraud of over Rs16 billion by Zahoor and his relative Saleem Ahmad.

In the pursuance of the false and frivolous criminal cases registered against Zahoor: his name was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL); non-bailable warrants in one of the FIRs were obtained from the Court without fulfilling the legal requirements and on the basis of said non-bailable warrants, his passport and CNIC were blacklisted and Red Warrants were issued through INTERPOL by National Crime Bureau (NCB) Pakistan for arresting Mr Zahoor. The Constitution of INTERPOL does not permit is the issuance of red notices in family and civil disputes, however; the FIA added heinous offences in the FIR registered against  Zahoor in order to apprehend him through Interpol.

Interpol confirmed that it had received requests from the government of Pakistan in the year 2020 to issue Yellow Notices against the minor daughters of actor Sophia Mirza and businessman Umar Farooq Zahoor.

The Interpol has further confirmed that international Yellow Notices for twins Zainab Umar and Zuneirah Umar were issued and their names were placed on the Interpol database for international tracing after two requests from the FIA were received on April 30, 2020 and then again in July 2020 on the request of Sophia Mirza who wanted her daughters to be traced by the Interpol and taken back to Pakistan.

Names of Zuneirah Umar and Zainab Umar were later deleted in July 2021 after an investigation by Interpol revealed that the legal custody of both the daughters had already been granted to Umar Farooq Zahoor being their father and legal guardian by the Shariah Court of Dubai.

The two letters issued by the Office of Legal Affairs General Secretariat of Interpol confirm that Zuneirah and Zainab, both of whom are 15 years old, are no longer “subject to an INTERPOL Notice or diffusion”.

In a statement, Zahoor welcomed the Interpol decision. He said: “I am glad the Interpol and the FIA have finally realised that the cases against me were cooked up by Sophia and Akbar. They used the money and resources of Pakistani taxpayers to target me in a family dispute case. For two years, they used the FIA and other institutions against me like a mafia. They used the media to run campaigns against me and did everything to destroy me but the Almighty Allah is there for all to protect.”

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In Lahore, several unlawful constructions were dismantled

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In response to bylaw infractions, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) demolished a number of structures in Lahore.

An illicit workshop next to Hair Factory at Adda Plot on Raiwind Road was destroyed by the LDA crew.

Along Raiwind Road and in LDA-controlled areas close to Lahore Ring Road, a number of additional unlawful constructions were also removed.

In addition, a private school that had broken land use regulations was sealed.

Chief Town Planner II Azhar Ali led the operation with the assistance of the police, enforcement team, and heavy equipment.

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Pakistan

Bushra Bibi challenges the Nikah case’s verdict in court.

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According to specifics, Bushra Bibi’s attorney, Khalid Yousaf Chaudhry, entered a plea on her behalf, requesting that the trial court’s decision from February 3 be deemed invalid.

Salman Akram Raja, Salman Safdar, and other individuals will also be parties in this action, while Bushra Bibi’s ex-husband Khawar Maneka and the federal government have been named respondents in the plea.

According to the plea, the former first lady went to her mother’s house in August 2017 after divorcing in April.

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In a case concerning their marriage during the latter’s Iddat era, a court in Islamabad earlier this year condemned former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi to seven years in prison apiece.

The decision on the lawsuit submitted by Bushra’s ex-husband Khawar Maneka in a temporary court at Adiala jail was announced by senior civil judge Qudratullah. The pair was also fined Rs 500,000 apiece by the court.

Bushra Bibi and Imran Khan’s marriage
In February 2018, the former prime minister married Bushra Bibi in Lahore.

Only the bride’s mother and other close relatives and friends were present for the ceremony. The sisters of the PTI founder, however, were not present.

Former SAPM Zulfi Bukhari and Awn Chaudhary, leaders of the Pakitan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), were present when Mufti Saeed conducted the nikah.

Bibi’s ex-husband Khawar Maneka had petitioned the court last year, arguing that the marriage was unlawful and in violation of Sharia law.

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Pakistan

Culprit running social media campaign against CJP and was arrested

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The person suspected of spearheading a social media campaign against Pakistan’s Chief Justice (CJP) has been taken into custody by law officials.

According to sources, Abdul Wasay, a resident of Rawalpindi, was arrested for planning a threatening campaign against Pakistan’s Chief Justice, Qazi Faez Isa. They said that Wasay had taken part in character assassination on social media sites and made direct threats as part of a harmful campaign against the CJP on X (formerly Twitter).

Law enforcement responded quickly to Wasay’s concerning acts, which resulted in his imprisonment. Currently, inquiries are being conducted to find additional participants in the campaign. The sources also suggest that law enforcement organisations are making a concerted effort to identify each participant.

Authorities have made it clear that, once they have identified the participants in the threatening campaign, they will all face severe legal consequences. The gravity of the issue emphasises how crucial it is to protect public servants’ safety and dignity as well as the rule of law.

Abdul Wasay’s arrest sends a strong message to the public that acting in a threatening or derogatory manner towards public persons is unacceptable. It emphasises how determined law enforcement is to protect the rule of law and bring anyone who attempt to compromise the credibility of the courts or any other branch of government accountable.

To combat defamatory social media campaigns that target government personnel and the electoral commission, the caretaker government said on Wednesday that a new joint investigative team (JIT) will be formed for in-depth inquiries.

The decision was made in the wake of mounting worries about the dissemination of false information and attempts to sway public opinion by using dishonest methods. Maintaining the integrity of the electoral process and making sure that elections are transparent and fair are commitments made by the caretaker administration.

A caretaker government spokesman addressed the issue, saying, “We cannot allow malicious actors to undermine the democratic process through deceitful means.”

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