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No decision taken yet about next army chief: PM Shehbaz

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  • PM Shehbaz is not in a hurry to make topmost military appointments and has said that the decision will be taken at an appropriate time.
  • Military authorities have not yet moved summary containing a panel of three-star generals for the topmost army appointments.
  • Issue of these appointments is informally discussed among the ruling PML-N and its coalition partners.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is not in a hurry to make the topmost military appointments and has said that the decision will be taken at an appropriate time.

Talking to The News, the premier said that no decision has been taken so far as to who would be the new Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) and the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS).

It was also learnt that the military authorities have not yet moved the summary containing a panel of three-star generals for the topmost army appointments. It is the PM’s discretion to appoint the CJCSC and COAS. Generally, the process of initiating the summary for the prime minister, containing the panel, starts in the second half of November unless the PM wants the panel early.

However, the issue of these appointments is informally discussed among the ruling PML-N and its coalition partners. Though the PM is the competent authority, he can consult anyone for these appointments. In the present situation, it is said the premier’s consultation with PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif appears to be really important.

Before announcing the appointment, the PM is also expected to take into confidence his key coalition partners. According to a PMLN source, unlike in the past, the prime minister may have more emphasis on seniority. Though not mandatory, the prime minister may also informally seek the outgoing army chief’s advice.

A senior journalist in a recent tweet suggested that the name of a top lieutenant general would not be considered for promotion and appointment because his retirement date falls just a couple of days before November 29. However, defence sources, when approached, confided to The News that at the time of initiating the summary for the topmost appointments, names of all the most senior general officers are included in the panel and the premier can appoint anyone of them to the key military posts. Generally, three officers are considered for one post.

In order of seniority, the following six officers are expected to be considered for the top military appointments: Lt Gen Asim Munir, Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Lt Gen Azhar Abbas, Lt Gen Nauman Mehmood, Lt Gen Faiz Hamid, and Lt Gen Mohammad Amir.

These appointments always attract a lot of focus and attention from the media, politicians and civil and military bureaucracy. However, this time Imran Khan’s repeated statements demanding the deferment of these appointments until the next elections generated controversy. Khan suggested extending COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure until the next election.

Khan was of the view that these appointments should be made by the future PM. He had said the present government has no right to make these appointments. Strangely, President Arif Alvi also talked about consultation between the government and the Opposition for these appointments.

Not only did Gen Bajwa decline to continue beyond November 29, but the PM and his coalition partners also rejected the demands of Khan and President Alvi, insisting that as per the law and Constitution, it is the discretion of the prime minister to make these appointments.

Of late, the DG ISI in his press conference had disclosed that Khan, during his premiership in March this year, had offered an extension to General Bajwa for an indefinite period to save his government from the opposition’s no-trust move. Gen Bajwa had rejected the offer and refused to interfere in political wheeling and dealing.

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government contests Imran Khan and Qureshi’s exoneration in the cipher case

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On Thursday, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court contesting the exoneration of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the well-known cipher case.

Citing procedural and jurisdictional issues, the Ministry of Interior has appealed the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

In hearing the cipher case, the High Court allegedly overreached its power, arguing that judges cannot change laws where Parliament has not expressly passed legislation.

Despite receiving government-funded legal representation, the petition emphasized Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s lack of cooperation during the trial, submitting 65 separate motions and neglecting to cross-examine witnesses.

The petition contended that in order for a retrial to satisfy legal standards, the High Court should have ignored important evidence that was given during the trial. It requests that the appeals contesting the IHC’s June 3 acquittal be given a hearing date by the Supreme Court.

Case history

The cipher issue concerns a supposed diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s custody. The cipher allegedly contained threats from the US to remove Khan from office, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several aides, including Asad Umar, are named in the First Information Report (FIR) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in accordance with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.

The then-foreign secretary received a diplomatic cipher from Washington on March 7, 2022, according to the FIR. The lawsuit claims that by manipulating the data for their own benefit, Khan and Qureshi put the safety of the country at risk. It alleges that on March 28, 2022, Khan secretly met at his Bani Gala home and gave his Principal Secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, instructions to change the content of the cipher to his advantage, jeopardizing national security.

The document asserts that Khan still has custody of the cipher, jeopardizing Pakistan’s encrypted messaging systems and possibly helping foreign forces, which would be detrimental to the nation. A complaint has been filed by the FIA’s Anti-Terrorism Wing against Khan, Qureshi, and other individuals for improper use of state secrets and unapproved possession of the cipher.

Acquittal by the Islamabad High Court

In the cipher case, on June 3, the IHC cleared Khan and Qureshi when Justice Aamir Farooq issued a succinct ruling in their favor. Their sentences were appealed in the case, which has since been a source of political and legal controversy, leading to their acquittal.

This acquittal and the ongoing legal and political struggles surrounding the cipher case are highlighted by the government’s subsequent move to contest it.

With potentially huge ramifications for the parties involved and the larger political scene, the Supreme Court’s decision over whether to hear the appeal will be keenly scrutinized.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urges political stability in order to accelerate economic expansion.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former prime minister, emphasized on Thursday how important political stability is to Pakistan’s economic development and how the nation cannot prosper without it.

His concern was that export growth had not progressed, and he emphasized that stability in the current climate is vital to draw investments and carry out the necessary reforms.

In his criticism of the tax system, Abbasi brought up the erratic nature of tax laws and the transient nature of the most recent tax slab implementation. Insisting that difficult choices are unavoidable for economic recovery, he emphasized the necessity of designing a tax system that is equitable and does not burden the people.

Furthermore, arguing that the effectiveness of organizations like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is essential for economic governance and transparency, Abbasi urged for changes within these and other organizations.

Abbasi, in his discussion of more comprehensive fiscal plans, suggested that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be reviewed again and that power distribution companies (DISCOs) be decentralized to the provinces.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and corruption at the provincial level, he recommended looking into ways to share the cost of defense spending and decentralize the management of energy resources.

In closing, Abbasi emphasized that Pakistan’s economic trajectory will stay stagnant unless comprehensive changes are implemented immediately. To move the nation towards sustainable progress, he urged policymakers to give stability and structural reforms first priority.

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Through in-app QR payments, Zindigi and SBP streamline transactions involving sacrificial animals.

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With its in-app QR code payment system based on Raast, Zindigi—powered by JS Bank—has elevated the convenience of cashless payments for the procurement of sacrificial animals to a whole new level for Eid ul Adha.

This program uses QR code payments to streamline transactions for sacrificed animals for the general public and traders. It is a component of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Raast quick payment service.

This feature enables users of Zindigi and users of any digital banking apps or wallets to safely and easily make payments at certain cattle markets throughout Pakistan using Zindigi QR. The consumer must scan the QR code of the livestock merchant and pay the transaction amount in order to complete the payment.

In order to further financial inclusion and digital innovation in Pakistan’s developing economy, Zindigi and the State Bank of Pakistan have partnered. Both organizations are committed to improving the efficiency and accessibility of financial services, especially on holidays such as Eid ul Adha, by utilizing the most recent developments in fintech.

One of the most important steps toward promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment at the local level is the integration of livestock markets into the digital economy. Farmers and retailers may take charge of their financial operations and help realize the larger goal of an inclusive digital Pakistan by adopting digital payments.

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