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SC orders federal govt to provide PTI with a ground between H-9, G-9 areas to hold jalsa

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the federal government to provide the PTI with a ground between the H-9 and G-9 areas of Islamabad to hold its public gathering.

When the hearing resumed after a break, the attorney-general told the three-member bench that the ground, which will be given to the PTI, only had the capacity to accommodate 10,000 people. 

He also added that a Sunday bazaar and the Sirinigar Highway were close to the venue.

However, the bench did not pay any heed to the advice of the Attorney-General for Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf Ali and directed the government to provide security to the PTI’s gathering within three hours.

During the hearing, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan asked PTI’s lawyer Babar Awan when the gathering will be held.

“Till when will the gathering go on for?” asked Justice Ahsan.

To this Awan, replied that the decision is for the political leadership to take.

In response, Justice Ahsan remarked that the apex court can change its order, amend or take it back. He added that the bench will be monitoring the developments.

“Talks between the government committee and PTI committee should be held at 10pm tonight at the chief commissioner’s office,” said the court. It directed the deputy commissioner, interior secretary, and inspector-general Islamabad to make sure the meeting take place.

“Arrested political leadership and workers should be freed at once,” said the court. It also ordered the government to follow the point agreed between the JUI-F and PTI during the former’s 2019 long march.

“Any new clause should be included in the agreement through mutual consultation and the court should also be informed about it,” said the bench.

Before the break, the court had directed the authorities concerned to hold consultations over permission for the PTI rally on H9 ground and update the court on the outcome.

The directives came during a hearing of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association’s (IHCBA) plea against the government’s decision to block roads to stop PTI’s “Azadi March” taking place today (Wednesday) in the federal capital.

A three-member bench of the SC, headed by Justice Ahsan, was hearing the plea. Islamabad chief commissioner and Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Akbar Nasir Khan appeared before the court during the hearing.

PTI’s counsel Babar Awan presented the party’s request for permission to hold a rally at the H9 ground.

Awan informed the court that Imran Khan has four demands which include the provision of H9 ground for the rally, the release of all the arrested party workers and leaders, and the removal of all the barricades that are blocking routes leading to Islamabad.

AGP Ausaf conveyed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s message that he believes in the rule of law. He said that the premier has formed a committee which will decide on the venue for the PTI rally and the use of words.

The AGP assured the court of protecting every citizen.

SC orders provision of alternative venue for PTI rally

Earlier, the court had directed the authorities concerned to provide an alternative venue for the PTI to hold a rally.

SC’s Justice Ijazul Ahsan directed the Islamabad chief commissioner to prepare a traffic plan for the PTI rally and submit a report after compliance with orders by 2:30pm.

“Make an offer of an alternative venue to the PTI and inform the court about the outcome after negotiations.

“The administration should present a complete plan of action which allows the protest, but keeps roads open so that the protesters can reach peacefully and go back home afterwards,” Justice Ahsan said.

The judge sought assurance from the authorities that there won’t be any violence and that roads will not be closed.

Moreover, the court directed PTI’s counsel to give names if the party fears arrest.

Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi remarked that the Islamabad IGP and Interior secretary should review their policies.

The judge warned the IGP to understand his responsibilities and fulfil them.

“You have been appointed four days ago. Stay within your limits as you already have enough burden of cases and allegations,” Justice Naqvi said.

‘Will entire country be shut down over every protest’: Justice Ahsan

Justice Ahsan questioned if the entire country will be shut down whenever there is a protest. 

“The government basically wants to disrupt routine life by blocking roads across the country,” the judge remarked.

Earlier, Attorney-General of Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf requested the court to give him time to take instructions from the government.

Accepting the request, the court allowed AGP Ausaf to take directives from the government during a break in the hearing till 12pm.

Justice Ahsan remarked that news reports show that all exams have been postponed and roads and businesses have been closed. He said that all schools and public transport services are shut, with an emergency imposed on the hospitals in the capital city.

Responding to the judge’s remark, AGP Ausaf said that he is not aware of the details. He requested the court to give him time to gather information.

“Everyone knows what is happening in the country. Economically, the country is undergoing a critical phase and is on the verge of bankruptcy,” he said.

At this, AGP Ausaf suggested the court avoid making remarks on the economy. He went on to say that he is fundamentally against blocking roads, but the PTI threatened a “bloody march”.

“Taking steps had become inevitable for the protection of people and their property,” AGP said, adding that the court should keep the context behind the government’s decision in view.

At this, Justice Ahsan remarked that the Constitution doesn’t say anywhere to close the entire country down.

AGP Ausaf argued that the Constitution doesn’t say anywhere that armed men shouldn’t be stopped, either.

‘Imran’s life in danger’: AGP

While referring to PTI’s application for permission to stage a protest, Justice Ahsan inquired from the city administration about the decision on the request.

Replying to the court’s query, AGP Ausaf informed the court that PTI sought permission for staging a sit-in at Srinagar Highway but the request was rejected.

He claimed that Imran Khan’s life is in danger as intelligence agencies say there is a threat of a suicide attack on the ex-prime minister.

“You are going away from the actual issue. Why are Lahore, Sargodha and the rest of the country closed if the government has an issue with the sit-in at Srinagar Highway,” Justice Ahsan remarked.

He asked who reported the security threat, to which the interior secretary said that two intelligence agencies and the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) reported it.

‘Police barging into lawyers’ houses’: IHCBA

Meanwhile, IHCBA President Shoaib Shaheen claimed that the police are barging into lawyers’ houses to arrest them. He referred to the raid at former judge Nasira Iqbal’s house.

“Both the protesters and government are bound to follow the Constitution and law,” he said.

At this, AGP Ausaf argued that how could armed men be allowed to protest. “Where did the armed men come from when the protest hasn’t even started?” IHCBA president objected.

He said that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has staged a sit-in at the Srinagar Highway twice and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has led a long march in the past, therefore a venue can be designated for the protesters to stage the protest.

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The bail petition of Parvez Elahi in the Jinnah House attack case has been rejected by the ATC.

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A bail application filed by Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, a leader of the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) party, in the Jinnah House attack case has been rejected by an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on the grounds of prematurity.

ATC Judge Arshad Javed announced the decision during today’s hearing.

The counsel representing Parvez Elahi contended that there was a significant likelihood of his client being arrested in relation to the Jinnah House attack case. It was stated that the ex-Chief Minister had previously been held in custody on judicial remand in other cases.

The petitioner requested the court to authorise the release of Parvez Elahi on bail in the Jinnah House attack case.

Nevertheless, the prosecution argued that the bail petition did not meet the necessary legal criteria, emphasising that Parvez Elahi had not been apprehended in connection with the case.

Considering these considerations, the court rejected Parvez Elahi’s request for release, stating that it was premature since he had not been arrested in the Jinnah House attack case.

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Pakistan have initiated discussions at the policy level.

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Pakistan will commence policy-level discussions today (Monday), as financially-strained Islamabad aims to secure another agreement with the Washington-based lender while satisfying all the stringent requirements associated with it.

The negotiations will primarily focus on deciding the magnitude of the upcoming IMF programme, establishing the corresponding terms and conditions, and defining the objectives and aims for the next budget.

Simultaneously, both parties will establish the macroeconomic objectives for the upcoming fiscal year’s budget. The IMF is determined to enforce policies such as monetary tightening (raising interest rates), increasing energy tariffs, adopting a market-based exchange rate, and implementing privatisation.

The expectation is that both parties will conclude the negotiations during the current week and finalise a staff-level agreement, which will then be subject to the ultimate approval of the IMF Executive Board.

A significant number of experts argue that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has proposed a misguided policy of increasing interest rates, which has severely damaged the economy of the country. Consequently, it is imperative for the State Bank of Pakistan to promptly initiate a cycle of reducing interest rates.

They believe that the existing monetary policy will result in an overwhelming accumulation of debt and taxes, which will hinder the revival of economic activity and investment. This outcome has already been evident to all.

Despite the prevailing cost of living crisis in Pakistan, the IMF is insisting on raising the minimum energy bill, citing its necessity in managing the escalating circular debt.

However, due to the stringent conditions imposed by the IMF and Pakistan’s inability to address the issues in the energy sector, as well as the nature of agreements made with independent power producers (IPPs), the country is unable to benefit from the decline in global prices of solar panels and related equipment.

Further information: Should I choose solar power or not? The inefficiency of the energy sector provides a compelling reason to reconsider the solar energy policy.

Pakistan and the MF initiated discussions on both the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) and climate funding. Pakistan is seeking a larger and more extensive bailout package to stabilise and revitalise its economy.

According to sources, it has been stated that the two parties have reached an agreement on the significant objectives outlined for the forthcoming budget, which encompass the punctual settlement of foreign debt obligations.

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Iran has officially announced a period of national mourning following the tragic death of Raisi in a helicopter crash.

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The state-run news agency IRNA has reported that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has announced a period of five days for the entire nation to grieve the untimely death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter accident.

Khamenei paid a respectful homage by sharing a photograph of himself with Raisi on X, previously known as Twitter, and included a remark alluding to Imam Reza, the highly esteemed eighth imam of Shia Islam.

Mohammad Mokhber, the First Vice President, has been appointed to supervise the executive branch of the government. He will serve in this role temporarily for a period of 50 days, during which a new presidential election must take place. Mokhber has committed to perpetuating Raisi’s trajectory and guaranteeing the seamless execution of governmental responsibilities.

“As per Article 131 of the constitution, Mokhber has been appointed to lead the executive branch,” stated Khamenei. He further mentioned that Mokhber will collaborate with the heads of the legislative and judicial branches to make arrangements for the upcoming presidential elections, with a deadline of 50 days.”

According to IRNA, Ali Bagheri Kani has been designated as the interim foreign minister following this unfortunate event. The remains of Raisi are currently being brought to Tabriz, however, specific information regarding his funeral plans has not yet been provided.

An unusual conference, encompassing all three levels of the Iranian government, was convened on Monday in response to the tragedy. Mokhber served as the representative of the executive branch, while delegates from the legislative and judiciary branches were also present.

“During the meeting, Mokhber assured that we will adhere to President Raisi’s directives and carry out our assigned responsibilities without any disruptions.” As to the constitution of the Islamic Republic, the first vice president is authorised to temporarily take the position of president with the agreement of the Supreme Leader. Subsequently, a new president is to be elected within a period of 50 days.

Global leaders have offered condolences and conveyed their profound grief and sympathy with the people of Iran in response to this tragic occurrence. While the country grieves, plans are being made to commemorate Raisi’s accomplishments and facilitate a seamless transfer of power.

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