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PTI workers stage violent protest, enter Sindh House in Islamabad by force

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  • Workers in Faisalabad and Peshawar also protest against PTI MNAs.
  • Protesters demonstrate against MNAs Noor Alam Khan and Raja Riaz. 
  • Despite police deployment outside Sindh House, workers still break the gate.
  • Following incident, PTI MNAs Attaullah Niazi and Faheem Khan have been arrested for partaking in protest

After around two dozen PTI MNAs decided to move to the Sindh House to seek refuge from the government’s wrath, party workers resorted to violence in Islamabad Friday as they barged into the lodges to throw the lawmakers out.

Hordes of PTI workers — including MNA Ataullah Niazi — participated in the demonstration. The workers chanted slogans against the PTI MNAs and in PM Khan’s support. They also smashed the lotay with their feet. A lota is a derogatory term in Pakistani politics, used for turncoats. 

Meanwhile, the PTI and Insaf Student Federation (ISF) workers in Faisalabad also protested against MNA Raja Riaz at the Zila Council Chowk. The protesters demanded Riaz resign from the party. As a result, a heavy contingent of police was deployed outside the MNA’s house for his security. 

The demonstrators held placards and posters depicting the faces of the MNAs covered in black ink. A huge crowd blocked the road and chanted slogans against the MNAs. A similar protest also took place in Peshawar against MNA Noor Alam Khan.

Two PTI MNAs, 12 protesters arrested for participating in protest

Following the incident, two PTI MNAs — Attaullah Niazi and Faheem Khan — and 12 PTI members have been arrested by the Islamabad Police for partaking in the protest.

Addressing the violence outside the Sindh House, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed had issued orders to arrest the PTI supporters who were involved in the “unfortunate incident.”

Condemning the turn of events, he said that the situation is now “under control” and added that the inspector general of police Islamabad has been instructed to arrest all people involved in the violent protest, including the two MNAs.

He further said that security has been tightened around the lodge and police have been instructed to take strict actions against protesters. 

‘Worst form of terrorism’: PPP’s Sharjeel Memon

Terming the violent protest outside the Sindh House the “worst form of terrorism”, PPP’s Sharjeel Memon accused the Islamabad police of not taking action and acting as a spectator.

The MPA further said: “It is the failure of the Islamabad Police and the interior ministry as “such an attack on government property has been unprecedented.” 

“PTI’s tigers were involved in the attack at the Sindh House but the police remained silent,” Memon said, adding that several MNA’s are present in Sindh House along with their families.

He warned the government that if such “terrorist attacks” are carried out again, then PTI MNAs will have to “face the consequences.”

Disgruntled PTI MNA claims to receive threats

Following PTI members’ protest against Noor Alam Khan, he took to Twitter and claimed that he and his sons are receiving threats.

“Receiving threats telling me what we did with Benazir Bhutto shaheed and Bashir Bilour shaheed will do with you and your three sons. I saved others numbers who have given threats present leadership will be responsible [sic].”

‘Only option left for you is thuggery’: Maryam

Following the incident, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz took to Twitter and wrote that the government should “go home” if it has any sense of shame left.

“God willing, you will not be able to save the government, but if you have any sense of shame left in you, then go home,” she wrote. 

Maryam further wrote that since the government has not been “elected,” it had no reason to show resistance.  “The only option left for you is to resort to thuggery, but that will also backfire.”

‘How many people will [the govt] stop?’: Fawad Chaudhry

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, while reacting to the development, tweeted that the Sindh House is situated in a “sensitive area” in the proximity of the Chief Justice House, ministers’ colony, and the residences of other important personalities. 

“PPP and PML-N turncoats should shift from [the Sindh House to some other place] otherwise, this show will continue throughout the month,” he said. “How many people will [the government] stop?”

‘PTI will warn workers who vandalised Sindh House’: Gill

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill said the arrested MNAs will be released on his personal surety, following the legal procedures.

Condemning the protest outside the Sindh House, the SAPM regretted the situation and said: “It shouldn’t have happened.”

He further said the PTI will warn the workers who vandalised the Sindh House by breaking the door. 

“The party will ask its workers to protest peacefully within the ambit of the law,” he added.

Talking about the party’s disgruntled leader Riaz, Gill said: “Raja Riaz was not worthy enough to get votes on the party’s tickets,” adding that people will react if the MNAs turn their back on the prime minister. “The nation is standing with Imran Khan,” he added.

Recalling yesterday’s incident when Gill used profanity against PTI MNA Ramesh Kumar, the SAPM said that he is taking his words back. “No one would bat an eye if I use this word in English,” he added.

“What else do we call a person who engages in p*mping,” said Gill while talking about the PTI workers inside the Sindh House. He went on to say that “people’s consciences are being bought through sacks full of money.”

‘Sindh govt to lodge FIR against PTI workers’: Murtaza Wahab

Advisor to the Chief Minister of Sindh on Law Murtaza Wahab took to Twitter and said that the Sindh government has decided to lodge a first information report (FIR) against PTI members who vandalized the Sindh House in Islamabad.

“PTI lawmakers & workers have yet again proven that #Sindh House needs protection & more deployment of Sindh Police & SSU is needed,” he tweeted, adding that the FIRs will be lodged under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

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Massive power breakdown hits Pakistan

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  • Minister says power generation units are temporarily shut in winter at night.
  • Says frequency variation in national grid triggered outage.
  • Says ministry trying to restore power in next 12 hours.

LAHORE/KARACHI/QUETTA/ISLAMABAD: A countrywide power breakdown, triggered by a “frequency variation” in the national grid early Monday morning, has left large parts of the country including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta without electricity. 

Power Minister Khurrum Dastagir, while talking to Geo News, said that the power generation units are temporarily shut down in winter at night as an economic measure to save fuel costs.

“When the systems were turned on at 7:30am this morning one by one, frequency variation was reported in the southern part of the country between Jamshoro and Dadu. There was a fluctuation in voltage and power generating units were shut down one by one due to cascading impact. This is not a major crisis,” said the federal minister as the country plunged into darkness for the second time in four months.

The minister said that his ministry has started restoring some grid stations in Tarbela and Warsak. 

“Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) and some grids of Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) have already been restored,” claimed the minister.  

Talking about the breakdown in Karachi, the minister said that the matter in the port city is complicated as it has a complete electric supply system.

A shopkeeper speaks with a customer (not pictured) at a medical store during a country-wide power breakdown in Karachi, Pakistan January 23, 2023. — Reuters
A shopkeeper speaks with a customer (not pictured) at a medical store during a country-wide power breakdown in Karachi, Pakistan January 23, 2023. — Reuters

“We provide K-Electric about 1,000-1,100 megawatts routinely, however, it will be restored within a few hours. It is not certain how long will it take to sort this issue. However, my target is to restore electricity in the country in the next 12 hours,” said the minister. 

Before the energy ministry’s announcement, different power distribution companies had confirmed the breakdown.

According to Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO), the two transmission lines have tripped leaving 22 districts of Balochistan, including Quetta without power.

Karachi power update

Meanwhile, K-Electric spokesperson Imran Rana said that at approximately 7:34am today, the national grid experienced a loss of frequency, affecting the power supply to multiple cities across Pakistan

“This has also cascaded to KE’s network affecting power supply to Karachi,” Rana said, adding the KE’s network is safe and protected.

“Our teams are actively monitoring the situation and enabling restoration efforts.”

An IESCO spokesperson said that its 117 grid stations were without electricity.

Meanwhile, PESCO also confirmed the outage in areas where it supplies electricity. 

This is the second time within four months that a country was hit by a major power breakdown.

NEPRA takes notice

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), in a statement, said that it has taken “serious notice” of the power outage and directed the National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) to submit a “detailed report”.

The statement also said that the regulator has previously imposed fines on similar outages in the 2021 and 2022. It also shared that NEPRA has consistently issued directives and recommendations on tackling such events in future.

Previous breakdown 

In October of last year, Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Quetta, Multan, and Faisalabad were hit by a power outage.

At that time, the power minister said that nearly 8,000 megawatts of power went offline.

Back then, Dastagir had said that the simultaneous faults in two power lines, which had triggered the breakdown, at the same time was concerning for the government. He had also announced that an in-depth inquiry was ordered and promised action.

A timeline of power breakdowns in Pakistan

The country’s generation and distribution network has suffered eight major power breakdowns during the last nine years.

In 2014 and 2017, nationwide blackouts were caused by a fault in Tarbela Power Station while fog, frequency variation and the Guddu Power Plant fault were blamed for breakdowns in 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Every time the party in power announced to conduct a comprehensive probe and vowed to rectify the issues but nothing has happened despite multiple inquiries.

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Punjab ordered to issue divorce certificates to non-Muslims

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  • Lahore High Court directs provincial authority to frame rules within 90 days.
  • Petitioner says issue is faced by many members of Christian community.
  • NADRA’s Registration Policy allows change of marital status on basis of affidavit.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) Wednesday directed the Punjab government to frame, within 90 days, rules under which union councils would issue divorce certificates to members of Christian and other non-Muslim communities in Pakistan.

In many parts of the country, the divorce certificates are not issued to non-Muslims by union councils that instead claimed such certificates were “not issued to the Christian community.” This is an issue for members of the said community because, without a divorce certificate, they cannot request the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to update their marital status while applying for the renewal of their identity cards.

The matter was brought to the attention of the LHC during the case Shumaila Sharif vs the secretary union council etc.

The petitioner in her appeal requested that the court is a writ of Mandamus — an order from a court to an inferior government official ordering the government official to properly — against the relevant union council and direct it to issue her the divorce certificate.

The case proceedings

The petition was heard on December 16 last year and the presiding judge was Judge Tariq Saleem Sheikh.

During the proceedings, the counsel of the petitioner, Advocate Umar Saeed, said that the issue was faced by several people in the Christian community and was not a one-off incident.

Citing Section 33 (1)(j) of the Punjab Local Government Act 2022 (PLGA 2022) — which mandates that union councils ensure registration of births, deaths, marriages and divorces for all the communities without discrimination — and Article 36 of the Constitution, which expressly requires the state to protect the minorities’ legitimate rights and interests, the counsel argued that by refusing to issue the requisite certificate, the council was failing to fulfil its legal duty.

Additionally, Advocate Kashif Alexander, the court’s amicus curiae on the matter, contended that obtaining a divorce certificate is a legal right that cannot be denied.

Together the two emphasise that while the Constitution of Pakistan (1973) does not explicitly guarantee the right to identity, Article 9 (right to life) and Article 14 (dignity of man) safeguard that right. Therefore, any citizen whose marital status changes due to the dissolution of marriage by divorce has a fundamental right to obtain a divorce certificate from the competent authority and then have their CNIC updated/revised.

The Additional Advocate General has little to defend the respondents and said that the provincial government was taking steps to address the complaints of the Christian community regarding the non-issuance of divorce certificates.

The verdict

During the proceedings, it was brought to the court’s attention that NADRA’s Registration Policy dated 06.04.2021 (Version 5.0.2) allowed a change of marital status of a divorcee on the basis of an affidavit in the prescribed form.

In light of this, the court directed that until the provincial government framed the requisite rules needed for the issuance of the divorce certificate by the union council, NADRA shall accommodate the Christian community in accordance with the Registration Policy 19.

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Anchor Mishal Bukhari passes away at 38

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Mishal Bukhari, a renowned journalist and anchorperson, has passed away at the age of 38 after battling cancer for two years, Daily Jang reported. 

The news of Mishal’s demise was announced by her husband, Ameer Abbas, who is also a renowned anchorperson, on Twitter. 

“My wife, journalist Mishal Bukhari, a beautiful heart, an incomparable personality, an incredibly patient, unbelievably brave woman, left an unbearable shock after fighting cancer for two years,” Abbas wrote.

The funeral prayers of the journalist will be held at 1pm in Jamia Masjid-al-Muntazir in Lahore today.

Mishal, who was an award-winning broadcast journalist, was born on  July 8, 1984, in Karachi. She started her career as a news anchor on a private TV channel. She also worked for Pakistan Television.

The news of her sad demise triggered an outpour of reactions from fellow journalists and politicians, who offered their condolences.

“Remembering #mishalbukhari our host #AppTV who lost battle against cancer in Lahore on Tuesday evening. Thoughts of our team members with whom she worked are with her parents, family,” wrote Rauf Klasra.

Former deputy speaker Qasim Khan Suri offered condolences and prayed for the departed soul and her family members. 

Maritime Affairs Minister Faisal Subzwari prayed for the family members and the deceased journalist. 

Columnist Dr Shahid Masood also offered his condolences and prayers. 

Pakistan lost another journalist at the very outset of 2023 after 2022, a year riddled with several tragic deaths including senior Pakistani journalists. The last year saw the shocking deaths of famous televangelist Aamir Liaquat Hussain, anchorperson Arshad Sharif and Jang Press president Imran Aslam.

In July 2022, the news of sudden death of Hussain sent shock waves across the country. This was followed by the tragic death of Sharif, who was shot dead in a case of “mistaken identity” by Kenyan police in Nairobi in October.

Later in December, Aslam, a giant of journalism, passed away during the course of treatment at a local hospital.

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