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Raja Pervez Ashraf elected NA speaker unopposed

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  • PM Shehbaz congratulates Ashraf for being elected as speaker.
  • Suri resigns as deputy speaker of the National Assembly.
  • Ashraf takes oath as the NA speaker shortly after being elected.

ISLAMABAD: PPP’s Raja Pervez Ashraf was elected unopposed as the speaker of the National Assembly Saturday, with PTI leader Qasim Suri resigning from the office of the deputy speaker, hours before a no-confidence motion was scheduled to be tabled against him.

The NA speaker’s office fell vacant on April 9 when PTI’s Asad Qaiser resigned, stating that he can not hold voting on the no-confidence against the then-prime minister Imran Khan, which he said, was a part of a “foreign conspiracy” against the PTI government.

PPP’s Ashraf took oath as the 22nd NA speaker shortly after being elected unopposed as no other member submitted nomination papers.

In response to Suri’s resignation, PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq — who chaired today’s session — said there’s no need for voting on the motion now. 

He stated that the courts have specified the resignation process according to which it is to be presented to the speaker in presence of witnesses.

I hope you bury what took place earlier: Shehbaz

Congratulating the newly-elected speaker, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, while speaking on the floor of the NA, hoped that Ashraf would bury what took place in the assembly in the last four years.

“You are an experienced politician. I congratulate you from the depth of my heart. You have also served the country as the prime minister,” the prime minister said.

‘Intuitions returning towards their constitutional role’

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari extended his congratulation to Raja Pervez Ashraf on becoming the 22nd speaker of the lower house.

Referring to the recent political turmoil in the country, Bilawal, while speaking on the floor of the house, said that a mockery was made of the constitution and the house during the last few days. Pakistan’s image was maligned, he added.

“The selected prime minister, who was imposed on the house, has been removed. We are a coalition government now,” he said, adding that the change brought a ray of hope for the people. Addressing Shehbaz Sharif, the PPP leader said: “Mr prime minister all the institutions and the nation are looking towards you.”

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addressing a session of the National Assembly in Islamabad, on April 16, 2022. — Twitter/NAofPakistan
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addressing a session of the National Assembly in Islamabad, on April 16, 2022. — Twitter/NAofPakistan

“Those institutions who had been controversial, are now returning towards their constitutional role,” said Bilawal.

The PPP leader claimed that no power could stop Pakistan from progressing and developing.

Speaking on the occasion, he, on the behalf of the house, expresses deep grief and condoled on the sad demise of Bilquis Bano Edhi, the wife of renowned humanitarian and philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi. Meanwhile, he tabled a motion to pay tribute to Bilquis Bano Edhi, which was approved unanimously by the house.

PTI lawmakers asked to submit resignation again

In his opening note soon after taking the oath, newly elected NA Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf thanked Bilawal and former president Asif Ali Zardari for nominating him for the slot. He also thanked PM Shehbaz Sharif and the allied parties for reposing their confidence in him.

He maintained that earning more respect and honour for the House will be his top priority. The speaker vowed that he will act in an impartial manner and added that the voice of the opposition will not be suppressed but respected. He maintained that they should not divide the nation.

Newly elected National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf addressing a session of the National Assembly in Islamabad, on April 16, 2022. — Twitter/NAofPakistan
Newly elected National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf addressing a session of the National Assembly in Islamabad, on April 16, 2022. — Twitter/NAofPakistan

The NA speaker said that all the institutions should co-operate with each other while keeping themselves within their constitutional ambit.

Raja Pervez Ashraf said that he will look into the matters of the former NA deputy speaker’s ruling and the resignations of the PTI members as per the rules.

The NA speaker directed to present the resignation of PTI’s lawmakers before him.

Loadshedding in Pakistan

Talking before the election of the speaker, PM Shehbaz brought it to the house’s notice that he held several meetings with energy and petroleum officials in light of the load-shedding across the country.

He said that the current capacity to produce electricity was enough for the country, but unfortunately, the PTI-led government did not follow up on the projects that had started during Nawaz Sharif’s tenure.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaks during a session of the National Assembly in Islamabad, on April 16, 2022. — PID
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaks during a session of the National Assembly in Islamabad, on April 16, 2022. — PID

The prime minister said it was due to the PTI government’s “gross management and incompetence” that is causing load-shedding in the country — and nothing else.

“This was the most incompetent and corrupt government,” he said lashing out at the Imran Khan-led government. Shehbaz said had Nawaz and Abbasi not struck energy deals with Qatar, then the power crisis would have deepened today as the PTI meet the energy needs.

Talking about the flyover being constructed near the Rawal Chowk in Islamabad, he said it was written on its contract that the project was expected to be completed within 24 months, but due to PTI’s government, it was still not complete.

“…we made such projects within 72 hours,” he said. Shehbaz hoped that the government could resolve the issues of the country.

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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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