The government of Pakistan on Friday reiterated its stance that US drone strikes in its territory were illegal after President Barack Obama laid out new guidelines for their use. The US president mounted a firm defence of his covert drone war as legal and just in a major speech on counter-terrorism policy on Thursday but warned that undisciplined use of the tactic would invite abuses of power. Islamabad said it welcomed some aspects of Obama’s address, particularly his acknowledgement that “force alone cannot make us safe”, but it remained firm on its long-held public stance on unmanned missile attacks in its tribal northwest. “The government of Pakistan has consistently maintained that the drone strikes are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives, have human rights and humanitarian implications and violate the principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Obama said he had approved new guidelines stating that drone strikes can only be used to prevent imminent attacks and when the capture of a suspect is not feasible and if there is a “near certainty” that civilians will not be killed. According to Britain’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, CIA drone attacks in Pakistan have killed up to 3,587 people since 2004, up to 884 of them civilians.
The Supreme Court on Friday gave caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso time till June 6 to submit his response in a contempt notice issued against him and other senior officers for violating one of its judgments. Earlier, a three–judge bench headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja had observed that the premature transfer and posting of at least 20 senior government officers violated the apex court’s judgment in the Anita Turab case. The bench had taken notice of the transfer and posting by the caretaker government of 20 senior officers, including Imtiaz Inayat Elahi, on a petition filed by senior bureaucrat Shafqat Hussain Naghmi. Besides the competent authority (caretaker prime minister), notices under Section 3 of the Contempt of the Court Ordinance 2003, read with article 204 of the Constitution, were also issued to Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Khawaja Siddiq Akbar and Establishment Secretary Taimur Azmat Usman. The same bench resumed the hearing of the contempt notice issued against the caretaker premier. During the hearing, Justice Khawaja remarked that the case was of an individual nature, adding that the notice was issued to Khoso, caretaker prime minister at the time. Moreover, Justice Khawaja said the court did not require Khoso to make a personal appearance before the bench. However, the caretaker premier may be asked to appear if there was a need after the submission of his response. Petitioner Naghmi said his transfer from the position of industries secretary to the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) was a move influenced by Akbar and Usman, adding that they should also be asked to submit their responses on the matter. Elahi, who was another official affected as a result of the transfer and posting, said corrupt personnel enjoyed key positions in the government. The court subsequently adjourned the hearing to June 6.
At least 45 Indian fishermen were released on Friday from Karachi’s Malir Prison and will be handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border on Saturday. Ansar Burney Trust International Chairman Ansar Burney said all expenses to send the fishermen to India would be borne by his trust on humanitarian grounds. The release is part of an understanding between the nuclear-armed rivals to free citizens who mistakenly stray into each other’s waters. The neighbours frequently arrest each other’s fishermen on charges of violating territorial waters.
Gunmen on Friday opened fire on a convoy of NATO containers in a northwestern town in Peshawar near the Afghan border, killing a driver and wounding a helper, officials said. The attack took place at Shagai area, 20 kilometres southeast of Landi Kotal, the main town of the troubled Khyber tribal region. “Gunmen opened fire from the nearby mountains on the convoy carrying Nato military vehicles after it entered Pakistan from Afghanistan and killed a driver and and injured one of the helpers,” local tribal police official Khan Dad said. He said two vehicles in the convoy en route to Karachi were damaged in the attack. A local military official confirmed the incident. Khyber is one of seven districts that make up the country’s semi-autonomous tribal belt where Taliban and Islamist militants are active. Pakistan is a key transit route for the NATO mission in landlocked Afghanistan, from where supplies are driven to the border from the Arabian Sea port of Karachi. From November 2011 to July 2012, Pakistan shut its Afghan border to overland NATO traffic after botched US air raids killed 24 Pakistani troops. Pakistan and the United States have signed a deal allowing NATO convoys to travel into Afghanistan until the end of 2015.
The jailed doctor who helped the US track down Osama bin Laden was denied asylum in United States. Portions of the voluminous 357-page Abbottobad Commission Report, which has yet to be made public , said that Dr Shakil Afridi's conviction last year by a jirga undermined Pakistan's credibility. The report called for Afridi to be given a new trial. The report also acknowledged that Dr Shakil Afridi was convicted by a tribal court on bogus charges. The report claimed Afridi joined the CIA search for Bin Laden five years ago, while he was staying in the US with a cousin. The State Department declined to comment on the report's claims that Afridi had applied for asylum while staying in the US.
At least two persons were killed and several others were injured in a suicide attack targeting the vehicle of a religious leader at the entrance of the Jamia Uloom al-Islamia madressah (seminary) in the suburbs of Peshawar after Friday prayers. A leader of Jamaatul Dawat Alquran and Alsunnah, Haji Hayatullah, was not present in the vehicle when it was targeted by the suicide attacker. However his driver and bodyguard, who were the occupants of the targeted vehicle, were killed in the blast. Haji Hayatullah is the nephew of Maulvi Jamilul Rehman, the founder of Afghan Jamaatul Dawaat. Lady Reading Hospital sources said that three bodies, including one of an unidentified person, were received at the hospital. The suicide blast targeted a pick-up vehicle and body-parts of the attacker had been recovered, according to AIG Bomb Disposal Squad Shafqat Malik who added that five to six kilograms of explosives were used in the blast. Malik further said that ball bearings and pellets were also used in the making of the bomb. Security persons reached the blast site and cordoned off the area.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang concluded his two day visit to the country on Thursday, vowing to extend further support of his country to Pakistan in all sectors, especially in strategic sectors including energy, science and technology and agriculture. Addressing participants of a special session of the Senate, the visiting premier said Pakistan’s support to China was vital for the development of his country. “China will give you every support and assistance and by helping you, we would be helping ourselves,” he said, adding that the friendship between China and Pakistan was based upon sharing values of life and it was long lasting. “The two nations have been enjoying such an exemplary friendship. Both nations should stand shoulder-to-shoulder as friends and brothers with pragmatic cooperation. In order to launch major social and financial projects, the cooperation in energy and agriculture sectors would be the other steps for cooperation,” he asserted. Terming the friendship as outcome of centuries old historical people-to-people contacts, the Chinese PM said it was nurtured by the nations and fostered by the forefathers through generations to generations. “To be friends forever is the cherished desire of both nations,” he said, adding that all weathers friendship between the two countries “is precious than the gold”. Enumerating priorities to take both the countries forward on way of development and progress and for fostering bilateral time tested friendly ties, Premier Li said that the development and utilisation of Karakoram Highway would have to be sped up for boosting trade activities. The visiting dignitary also lauded learning of Chinese language by Pakistani people and said they would require assistance of Pakistani people in learning the Urdu language. Sharing his rejoice in addressing the Upper House of parliament, the Chinese premier said it was a great pleasure to address Pakistan’s parliament and conveyed his warm and brotherly greetings to the people of Pakistan. He pledged to work for mutual benefits and fostering of relations between the brotherly nations. Referring to Pakistan’s geo-political significance, he said it was hectically involved in maintaining regional stability and global peace and its contributions were commended by the world. He said the Chinese nation could never forget when the first PIA flight landed in China in 1960 and provided them an air route and the timely aid by Pakistani nation when a massive quake hit Chinese population. Li also referred to construction of Karakoram Highway in which a number of Chinese people lost lives and said the Pakistani people were looking after the cemetery and the saplings planted there had now turned into luxurious trees. Similarly, the Chinese government and people have also been supporting and helping Pakistan in time of natural disasters and crisis, he added. The visiting dignitary said the denizens in China had coined a new phrase on Internet which meant “China and Pakistan are iron brothers”. The friendship between the two nations was growing faster than the information technology and the other phrase which impressed him the most was “If you love China, please love Pakistan”. In his welcome address, Senate Chairman Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari urged greater connectivity between Pakistan and China for enhancing economic cooperation between the two countries. “We should concentrate on enhancing economic cooperation through greater connectivity. We must continuously expand and deepen cooperation in all areas of mutual interest,” he said. Senator Aitazaz Ahsan and Raja Zafarul Haq presented vote of thanks and said the friendship between Pakistan and China was deepened with passage of time. Later, during his visit to the Pak-China Friendship Centre, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang termed “unmatchable” the friendship between Pakistan and China and said the “eternal relationship” between the two countries always withstood tests of time. “Our hearts beat together and if there is anything time-tested in this world, it is Pakistan-China friendship,” the Chinese premier said. Premier Li Keqiang along with caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khoso visited the institute built with the assistance of the Chinese government. Premier Li, in his address to the select gathering of representatives of think-tanks and the Chinese-learning students, said China considered Pakistan as its valuable neighbour. He said it was a point of satisfaction that the people of Pakistan and China considered each other brothers and were bonded through their hearts and minds. Caretaker Prime Minister Khoso highlighted the “priceless” relationship of Pakistan and China that was rooted in the realms of trust. Khoso said Pakistan supported China’s vision of maintaining harmonious ties with its neighbours. CHINESE PM LEAVES: Later, the Chinese premier left after a successful two-day visit. Li and his delegation was seen off at Nur Khan Airbase by President Asif Ali Zardari, Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (r) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Kayani and civil and military officials. Six PAF JF-17 Thunders escorted the aircraft of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang as it took off from PAF Nur Khan Base for its next destination. The escorting aircraft got airborne from an operational air base and formed a three ship echelon right and echelon left formation on either side of the distinguished dignitary’s aircraft, according to PAF. The escort formation of JF-17 Thunders was led by Wing Commander Ronald Afzal.
The power shortfall in the country has exceeded 7,000MW and load shedding has risen to at least 20 hours a day. Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) have been especially subjected to prolonged and unscheduled electricity load shedding varying between 18 to 20 hours a day. Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala and other cities in Punjab are experiencing 18 to 20 hours of load shedding. Continuous power outage has affected domestic life to a great extent and caused water shortage in many areas. Meanwhile, the traders and business outlets have also been hit hard by the load shedding. According to officials, Gaddu power station tripped on Thursday affecting up to 1300 megawatt power generation. At present, the power supply across the country is 9,500 MW with demand around 16,500 MW.
Supreme Court has declared the election of PML-N MPA Abdul Ghafoor Lehri null and void. According to Media Reports, a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry declared him ineligible in the fake degree case. According to his statement he said that he had done Matric in 1983 and BA in 1985.
Prime minister-designate Nawaz Sharif on Thursday sought civil nuclear technology from time-tested friend China to overcome the country’s crippling energy crisis. The PML-N chief on Thursday held a meeting with visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Islamabad and discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations in various fields. Sources said that during the meeting, Nawaz focused on civil nuclear technology, trade and foreign investment. He sought special help from the Chinese government to overcome the energy crisis. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang congratulated News on his party's victory in the general election. He expressed good wishes for the new government of Pakistan. The PML-N chief expressed the hope that two friendly countries would continue working together for the mutual benefit of their people. The visiting premier also invited Nawaz to make an official visit to China . After the meeting, Nawaz told reporters that Chinese premier’s visit to Pakistan would further strengthen cooperation and friendship. He said Pakistan’s friendship with china was deep rooted and both countries enjoyed mutual trust and wanted to work together. He said the Chinese premier invited him to visit to China to discuss development projects of mutual interest, which he added, would be beneficial for people of both countries. Nawaz said he would visit China, which would be one of his first spot of foreign tour after taking charge of the PM’s office. He said Pakistan and China enjoyed historical and long-lasting friendship and both countries had been working jointly in the areas like economy, commerce, energy, and telecom to ensure development. “Our future is very bright as we are quite hopeful of economic development and furthering Pakistan-China cooperation,” he said. Speaking on the occasion, visiting premier Li Keqiang said growing friendly relations with Pakistan was a policy of his government. He said Pakistan was an important country in the region, which had made significant contribution to peace, development and stability of the region. PML-N leaders Shahbaz Sharif‚ Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Senator Ishaq Dar and Foreign Secretary Jalil Jilani were also present in the meeting. Earlier‚ services chiefs, including the chairman joint chiefs of committee also called on the Chinese prime minister and discussed various matters relating to defence cooperation between the two countries.
Unknown assailants on Friday lobbed a hand grenade at a shop on Quetta’s Sariab Road killing its owner. The shop which dealt in CDs was located near the Awami petrol pump on Sariab Road. The owner of the shop who was initially injured in the attack was taken to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his wounds. The proprietor was a resident of Quetta’s Ittehad Colony located on the provincial capital’s Kirani Road. After the attack, the assailants managed to escape from the scene.
Terming the proposed mini budget as a “drone attack” on the already troubled trade and industry, traders and industrialists the country’s financial hub said the interim government has no mandate to introduce a budget. Calling upon the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to call a round-table meeting with all concerned stakeholders present, almost all major representative bodies of the business community warned of disastrous consequences for the ailing economy, particularly exports and remittances, if the proposal materialised. The caretaker federal government is reported to have introduced a mini budget worth Rs 152 billion through promulgating a presidential ordinance. The interim fiscal document, however, is awaiting President Zardari’s nod which, according to Presidential Spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar, has so far not been given. Dubbing the FBR as an “enemy” of Pakistan, traders and industrialists said the board was further burdening taxpayers only to increase what KCCI President Haroon Agar said was its “unofficial income”. “First of all, it is not the caretakers’ mandate to introduce a budget,” claimed the KCCI president who along with M Zubair Motiwala and other office bearers of the chamber is slated to address a briefing on Friday (today) at the KCCI on the mini budget. Further, Agar said much of the proposed taxes in the mini budget were of a refundable nature. “Almost all of the taxes in the Rs 152 billion budget are to be refunded later, so this budget would serve no purpose but open up a window of corruption,” the KCCI chairman said while talking to Pakistan Today. Moreover, he said the FBR instead of broadening the existing below-10-percent tax-to-GDP ratio, was imposing more taxes on the taxpayers only to cushion its low tax collection. “We demand that the elected government decide these issues in the federal budget,” Agar said, warning that the move would adversely impact the government’s $ 90 billion three-year exports target. Slamming the caretaker government for “exceeding its mandate”, FPCCI President Zubair Ahmed Malik said it was unacceptable. “Whatever they plan to do should be in the federal budget and by the elected government,” he said. Linking the proposed mini budget to the credibility of next PML-N-led government, Malik said Khwaja Asif, a PML-N stalwart known for moving courts on national issues, would also have to question the introduction of this caretaker-backed budget in the manner he challenged appointments by the interim government. The FPCCI chief said he would soon declare his future line of action after taking his executive committee and chamber members in confidence. Malik urged the FBR to convene a round-table meeting with business leaders under FPCCI to discuss all major issues pertaining to the federal budget 2013-14. “Misconceptions are cropping up before the announcement of budget,” he said. A strong reaction also came from the SITE Association of Industry which in an urgent meeting vowed to resent any budget unveiled by anyone other than the newly-elected government. “The industry which already suffered due to strikes and riots is now going to be hit with a drone attack in the form of a mini budget,” said SITE Association of Industry Chairman Dr Arshad A. Vohra. The association’s executive committee agreed that the move, full of heavy taxes before the end of fiscal year 2013, was aimed at sabotaging the country’s already crippled economy as well as the worst-affected business community. “The SITE Association of Industry appeals to the president of Pakistan to not sign any mini budget through presidential orders and let the new government decide the matter on its own,” the chairman said. The budget in question envisages an increase in sales tax from 16 to 17 percent; further tax of 2 percent on unregistered sales; turnover tax to be increased from 0.5 percent to 1 percent; 0.2 percent withholding tax on cash withdrawals from banks to be increased to 0.3 percent; income tax on exports proceeds to be increased from 1 percent to 1.5 percent; withdrawal of zero-rated tax on domestic sales of five sectors that include textiles, leather, carpet, sports and surgical. The GST on sugar is also to be increased from 8 percent to 17percent; a 5 percent tax on the value of new cars to be purchased and 10 percent withholding tax on all domestic electric bills with consumption of more than 1,000 units.
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) sided with at least 15 entities declared as “guilty” by SECP investigators for insider trading in the shares of Azgard Nine Limited (ANL) during April 2007-2008 at Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) by not naming them in the criminal complaint filed with the court. When contacted, SECP officials clarified that the 15 accused were left out of the case for the want of “strong evidence” that could substantiate the investigators’ findings against them. The apex regulator is alleged to have favoured at least 15 organisations and/or individuals by removing their names from a recent criminal complaint the commission filed, on 17th April, in the Court of Session Judge Karachi (South) against a group of 23 persons, including some high profile corporate individuals, for manipulating the listed shares of ANL. Interestingly, one of the regulator’s 15 alleged blue-eyed personnel was appointed as an SECP commissioner in August 2012. The allegations came from Transparency International-Pakistan (TI-P) that claimed to have received complaints against the SECP as well as other parties allegedly involved in the 2008 brokerage house scam. “SECP in the criminal complaint… has excluded 15 companies and individuals reportedly involved in the inside(r) share trading of Azgard (Nine) in the SECP investigation report,” observed TI-P in a letter it dispatched to the commission on May 9. The said inquiry report was filed by SECP investigators on April 15, 2009, according to the TI-P letter, a copy of which is available with Pakistan Today. The 15 names not included by the SECP in its criminal complaint are: Crosby Dragon Fund, Jahangir Siddiqui Bank Limited, JS Aggressive Asset Allocation Fund, JS Income Fund, JS Capital Protected Fund, JS Capital Protected Fund II, JS Growth Fund, Begum Aftab Khatri, Zaibunnisa, Muhammad Ibrahim, Mashooq Ali Kalyar, Rubin Malkani, Khalid Rafi, Rashid Siddiqui and Muhammad Asif Mendha. The TI-P, in its letter to SECP acting Chairman Tahir Mahmood, said the commission had removed the name of Zafar Abdullah, CEO of Crosby Dragon Fund, as an accused in the ANL scam. “Mr Zafar Abdullah was appointed as SECP commissioner on 17th August 2012,” the TI-P letter recalled. Further, the TI-P said after April 2008, Term Finance Certificates (TFC) of ANL were sold to the Evacuee Trust by the JS Group at approximately Rs 1 billion, four times the market rate. Moreover, the anti-corruption watchdog said last year on February 24, JS Growth Fund and JS Large Capital Fund had sold over 1.606 million shares of Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT) at Rs 101.59 to Bank Julius Baer & Company of Switzerland. The Swiss bank in fact had bought the PICT shares for the JS Group, claimed the TI-P. “JSCL had a commercial relationship with them,” it added. “The above allegations are against (the) SECP itself, for not filing criminal case against 15 entities who have been proven guilty of insider trading in the 2008 SECP investigation report,” Transparency International said. The TI-P asked the SECP to authenticate the complaints regarding trading of ANL’s TFCs at four times the market price. In addition, it wants the regulator to probe into the sale of PICT shares by the Bank Julius Baer & Company “if it has not already taken notice of these two issues”. The commission, the letter suggested, may contact the Evacuee Trust Property Board, Government of Pakistan and Bank Julius to find out the client for whom they had purchased the PICT shares. “Transparency International-Pakistan requests to examine the complaint and beside criminal action which would be taken by the court, also requests action under the SECP Law and Companies Ordinance 1984,” reads the TI-P letter undersigned by Executive Director Saad Rashid. The SECP is said to have responded to the allegations through a letter to the TI-P on Tuesday. “The investigators do a sort of fact-finding job that is largely based on happenings of the case,” said an SECP official requesting anonymity as he was not supposed to comment on the issue officially. The names of 15 entities, the official said, were excluded from the commission’s criminal complaint for lack of strong evidence that could substantiate SECP’s plea in the court. “You need strong evidence when you finalise the list of accused,” explained the official. On April 17, the SECP had filed a criminal complaint against a group of 23 persons/entities including brokerage houses, investment companies and individuals from renowned business families. The institutional accused in the complaint included JS Global Capital Limited, Jahangir Siddiqui and Company Limited, Jahangir Siddiqui & Sons Limited, Jahangir Siddiqui Securities Services Limited, JS Investment Limited and Aziz Fida Hussain and Company Limited. While the individuals nominated were Saad Saeed Farooqui, Mehboob Ali Kalyar, Muhammad Sadiq Patni, Syed Nizam Shah, Humayun Shaikh, Alia Sheraz Monoo, Amna Humayun Shaikh, Nasreen Shaikh, Ahmed Shaikh, Muhammad Riaz, Muhammad Ijaz, Irfan Aziz, Saba Irfan Aziz, Zehra Nazim Aziz, Mohammad Iqbal and Muhammad Mubashir Hameed Dagia.
Economic observers foresee substantial ease in the country’s troubled external account as the change of guard in Islamabad has started to emerge with Saudi Arabia taking the lead in extending an olive branch to the newly-elected Sharif-led government. Riyadh, reportedly, is expected to extend a bailout package by supplying crude and furnace oil on deferred payments to enable Pakistan to resolve the chronic circular debt issue. “Though no official announcement has been made yet, the development would provide respite to the country’s external account and lend support to government’s effort for energy sector reforms,” said analysts at Topline Research. Ensuing, they said, it should bode well for Pakistan’s energy companies by improving their cash-flow position. “We have suggested in our report titled ‘Post Elections: Trigger and Liquidity’ dated May 10, 2013, efforts to resolve energy crisis and security issues hold the potential for the market to re-rate on historical multiples of 8.5x (last 10-years average),” analysts said. Citing news reports, analysts said as soon as the Sharif-led PML-N takes charge at the Center, the Saudi government is expected to extend a bailout package similar to the one in 1998. Pakistan had received approximately $3.5 billion worth of oil on deferred payment between 1998 and 2002 which later was converted into grants, they recalled. “This time… a package of US$12-15 billion that includes 100,000 barrels of crude oil and 15,000 tonnes of furnace oil per day on deferred payment for three years is expected,” they said. “With the mentioned quantities representing above 50% of imported quantity, our back of paper calculations suggest the quantum of package may exceed $20 billion or approx $7 billion a year, on prevailing oil prices,” they added. “Subject to the materialisation of the news, the development would substantially ease the pressure on the external account as oil bill of $14.4 billion in FY12 stands around at 35% of our total import bill,” analyst said. Subsequently, they said, Pakistan’s delayed re-entry in the IMF program may not pose high risk and provide stability to Pakistani rupee against the greenback. “On the fiscal front, the development is likely to create space for the government to address structural weaknesses in the energy sector leading to the infamous circular debt,” they added. Analyst were of the view that development on this front may potentially unlock values on energy stocks that include OGDC, PPL, PSO, HUBCO and other listed independent power producers (IPPs).
Katy Perry is proving that she's not just a California "Gurl" … she's a Hollywood Hills one, too. Though her current home in the area is still for sale, Perry has plunked down a reported $11.2 million for a house and three plots of land in the star-studded neighbourhood. According to property records obtained by real estate website Zillow, none of the adjoining parcels were on the market, nor was the home, which the 28-year-old purchased for $3 million via a trust held by her manager. Clearly, she must have made the owners an offer they couldn't refuse! Eat your hearts out, mid-century modern enthusiasts. Perry's new pad, built in 1953, is a perfect specimen of architecture from the era with angular rooflines, floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and an open floor plan. The home features three bedrooms, three bathrooms, city views, a living room with 14-foot ceilings and a fireplace, and a kitchen with stainless steel countertops and Miele appliances (that's all new, of course). And the gregarious Perry won't have any problem hosting pals whenever she likes. The property also includes a big yard and pool as well as a two-bedroom, one-bath guest house, for those friends who don't want to make the windy drive home. The two houses sit on nearly an acre of land, while the additional properties total three acres, bringing her compound to nearly four acres. Perry put her other Hollywood Hills house on the market last month for nearly $7 million. That Spanish-castle-style manse has seven bedrooms and totals nearly 9,000 square feet, but isn't half as hip as her new bachelorette pad.
Director Kiran Rao, who is lending her support for 'Ship Of Theseus', has taken tips from actor-producer husband Aamir Khan for promoting it. Kiran would be presenting writer-director Anand Gandhi's upcoming film 'Ship Of Theseus'. "Aamir liked the film and we did take suggestions from him from time-to-time. He is like an outside support for the film. He feels the film needs to be nurtured. It should be given special care and time to grow," she said. Aamir liked the poster of the film. In fact it was on his suggestion that the makers retained the old poster. Kiran also clarified she has not turned producer and is not considering launching her own banner. "I am a presenter, have given my support for this film. I have not turned producer with this film. Also, I am not looking at having my own banner. I would not part way from Aamir Khan Productions, and will direct films for them. I don't have plans to turn a producer as of now," she said. Kiran has come up with a unique strategy to promote the film as she would be promoting it online and not on television. She feels the digital medium holds the key to the future and is the right way to go forward. "The digital...online medium is growing. The film needs to grow with time. We are not aiming to have a direct competition with big blockbusters. We have specific plans for marketing it online, which is a better way," Kiran said. The film that has been to several festival circuits will release in India on July 19. "I am happy that Kiran Rao has come on board for this film. It feels good when filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap praise your work," director Anand Gandhi said. 'Ship of Theseus' explores questions of identity, justice, beauty, meaning and death through the stories of an experimental photographer, an ailing monk and an enterprising stockbroker. "The film raises questions and also somewhere gives answers to things that we want to know," said Gandhi, who has been a writer of popular TV shows 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi' and 'Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki'.
Ameesha Patel is leaving no stone unturned to make sure her career takes off after her last release Race 2 rang the bell at the box office. The actress is excited as she has a few films to hit the theatre this year. Ameesha will be seen essaying different characters in films like Shortcut Romeo, Run Bhola Run and Desi Magic. On being asked about her comfort zone, Ameesha stressed, "I don't have a comfort zone and its doing different roles every time." "I am fortunate that I can also do a variety of roles and people accept me in different roles. I think that's the challenging part of films and so I don't want to be comfortable. I have miles to go," added the actress. Ameesha will be seen playing a negative character in Shortcut Romeo which is all set to release on 21st June.
The spot-fixing saga in the ongoing IPL took a dramatic turn on Thursday (May 23) with International Cricket Council (ICC) withdrawing controversial Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf from the panel of match officials for the upcoming Champions Trophy in England as his role in the scandal is allegedly being investigated by Mumbai Police. The ICC issued a media release stating that Rauf had been removed from the panel of umpires for the June 6 to 21 tournament. "The decision has been made after media reports on Wednesday indicated that the umpire was under investigation by Mumbai Police," the ICC release said. Explaining the decision, ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said: "In the wake of reports that the Mumbai Police are conducting an investigation into Asad Rauf's activities, we feel that it is in Asad's best interests as well as those of the sport and the event itself, that he is withdrawn from participating in the ICC Champions Trophy." Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Zaka Ashraf meanwhile said that he is unaware if Asad Rauf has done anything wrong. The PCB had, in April this year, suspended international umpire Nadeem Ghauri for four years for agreeing to "extend undue favors for material gain" during a sting operation carried out by a Indian television channel in 2012. Rauf was embroiled in a controversy last year when a small-time model named Leena Kapoor accused the Pakistani umpire of sexually exploiting her for months before refusing to marry her. The umpire though denied all the allegations back then. As per the duty schedule of the on-field umpires, Rauf was supposed to officiate in a warm-up match between Australia and West Indies in Cardiff on June 1. In the tournament group league stage, he was supposed to officiate in two matches in Cardiff. The first on June 9 was between Sri Lanka and New Zealand while other was between West Indies and South Africa. It is not the first time an umpire has been linked with spot-fixing. Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) had banned international umpire Nadir Shah for 10 years after an Indian TV channel, India TV, exposed that he was apparently willing to fix matches for cash. The TV channel also exposed Pakistani international umpire Nadeem Ghauri, who has also been slapped with a four-year ban by Pakistan Cricket Board.
The Senate Sports Committee has invited Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) on May 24 in Islamabad to present its case with regards to the absolutely unnecessary embarrassment created by a few individuals who have found some interested backers in our federal sporting bureaucracy who have been misquoting the judgment of the Supreme Court. The POA in a statement highlighted certain parts of the Supreme Court which maintained that the Government has the right to make laws and implement them and that the Federations are free to enter into any association or union. If, however, they seek and become affiliated with PSB they have to subordinate their Constitution to the PSB Rules. However if they choose to disaffiliate themselves, PSB cannot impose any restrictions. It is the formulation of Rules that we have always contested. If the Government can frame rules they can amend them also. We have all along been asking the PSB to amend its Rules and Policy to bring them in line and in harmony with the Olympic Charter. “Our point of view has always been that the Rules have been framed without consulting the stake holders and that they should be amended. “This was also supported by the Senate sub-committee on sports in its meeting on September 4, 2008 made the following recommendations inter alia to uplift the standard of the games in the country. It stated that the Sports Policy should be re-written after getting feedback from the principal stakeholders including POA and sports federations. The policy should be reviewed after every 4 years and necessary changes should be made in it after taking stakeholders into confidence and this is what the IOC and OCA have requested for. The POA will be attending the meeting, with its President, Syed Arif Hasan giving a presentation to the august Senate Committee, along with visual and documentary evidence, which would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt how some unscrupulous, defeated quarters have brought international ignominy and opprobrium to the country. “Howsoever much the POA is pressured, our stance shall remain unchanged. We would remain steadfast for we are in the right. And the IOC shall keep on backing us also because it is not about personnel, it’s about principle. International bodies like the IOC draw their strength and unimpeachable authority from their integrity, from always doing the right thing, and they would never brook any non-sense where the IOC Charter is concerned. “At the moment, owing to certain politically motivated quarters that have compelled the federal ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) to write to the IOC, Pakistan has been put in a very precarious situation. “Let me make it clear: the POA is not interested in an IOC suspension or ban being slapped on Pakistan for we know how further damaging it would be for our sports as well as bringing a rank bad name to the country. It was owing to such POA efforts that Pakistani athletes had been cleared to participate in the London Olympic Games 2012. But things are now quite perilous because after the IPC letter, the IOC has proof positive that Pakistan government is making an unwelcome intervention in the POA’s affairs – which is a clear violation of the Olympic Charter,” said Arif Hasan. The POA President is of the view, and he shall present it before the Senate Committee on Sports, that if there was any ambiguity around the time of London Olympic Games, it should have been removed once India’s membership was suspended last November. And that Pakistan shall be similarly penalised if the government intervention and other stiff-arming tactics were continued to be adopted by the defeated elements. The POA president also said: “There are certain international laws and conventions, abiding by which is mandatory on all member nations. Among many others, these are human rights, war crimes, the UN Charter etc. And there is no escape from these. The IOC Charter is similar in nature: an international treaty which cannot be violated by any member nation. Only a couple of weeks ago, seeking re-entry into the Olympic fold, the government of India has through its federal sports minister not just pledged to follow and protect the Olympic Charter and shun all intervention in the Indian Olympic Committee’s affairs but also to amend its National Sports Bill to bring it in line with the IOC’s directives. The Indian Government also committed to the IOC and that Indian National Olympic Committee’s elections shall be held exclusively under the IOC watch. This should make it clear the drift of events to all. Though Pakistan is close to the tipping point, the POA’s earnest desire is to still avoid this catastrophe without any further damage to our already much dented reputation. “Hopefully we shall be able to present to the Senate’s Committee on Sports the direness of the situation and also that it must help the POA to overcome the impasse”.
The IPL crisis took a twist today with officials of the Mumbai Police reaching the house of Gurunath Meiyappan, chief executive of the Chennai Super Kings. Meiyappan is the son-in-law of BCCI president N Srinivasan, whose company India Cements owns the Super Kings franchise. It was not immediately clear why they were there, and there has been no official statement by either the police or the franchise. However, CNN-IBN quoted Mumbai's joint commissioner of police Himanshu Roy as saying that Meiyappan had been summoned for questioning in connection with betting and asked to appear before the Crime Branch in Mumbai between 11 am and 5 pm on Friday. The summons had been affixed to the door of Meiyappan's Chennai residence and been served to, and accepted by, a manager at the Super Kings office. The news follows reports circulating in the Indian media since Tuesday on the proximity of Virender "Vindoo" Dara Singh, who was arrested that day in Mumbai for links with bookies, to the Super Kings franchise. Those reports, which included pictures of Vindoo watching IPL matches in the company of Super Kings captain MS Dhoni's wife, have not been denied in the 48 hours since. The sole official response came from IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla. "The Mumbai and Delhi Police are competent authorities and let them finish the investigations before jumping to any conclusions," he said when asked whether Srinivasan should step down from the post of BCCI president accepting moral responsibility for the scandal. "How can you term anyone guilty before the investigations are completed? Let the police report be submitted and then we will be in a better position to talk further." The police crackdown on bookies continued in other parts of the country. In Kolkata, ten people, including one bookie, were arrested for being allegedly involved in cricket betting. "We have arrested 10 people, including a bookie last night. We are investigating the case. They will be produced before a court today [Friday]," deputy commissioner Santosh Pandey told PTI. Initial investigations said they had bet on a match between Mumbai Indians and Super Kings.
Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday said the brutal murder of a soldier by two suspected Islamists on a London street was an attack on Britain and a betrayal of Islam. "This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life. It was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country," he said. "There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act." The British police are investigating the murder of a soldier who was attacked with a meat cleaver near an army base in South London. The victim was hacked to death with a cleaver in the Woolwich district in the southeast of the British capital on Wednesday before the attackers were shot by police. A second meeting of the government's emergency COBRA security council has been held and David Cameron, British Prime Minister, made a statement about the results. "This country will be absolutely resolute in its stand against extremism and terror," he said after the meeting. "This action was a betrayal of Islam and the Muslim communities that give so much to our country. We will defeat violent extremism by standing together. "We will not rest until we know every detail." Cameron also praised the actions of Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, a cub scout leader who confronted the attackers immediately after the violence and tried to talk them down. "They told her they wanted to start a war in London and she replied, 'you are going to lose, it is you against many," Cameron said. Video footage: Johnson also made a statement ahead of the meeting in which he emphasised that religion should not be blamed. "It is completely wrong to blame this killing on the religion of Islam," the mayor said. "It is also wrong to draw a link between this and British foreign policy and soldiers risking their lives in the name of freedom. "The fault lies exclusively in the warped and deluded mindset of the people that did it." Video footage filmed by an onlooker and broadcast by Britain's ITV news channel showed a man with hands covered in blood and holding a bloodied meat cleaver and a knife. "I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our lands, our women have to see the same," he said. "You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don't care about you."
Malaysian authorities have detained two anti-government figures and charged a student activist with sedition, renewing the debate surrounding the government's use of the law. Adam Adli Halim, 24, was charged under the Sedition Act over a statement made at a public post-election forum on May 13, and had been held in custody for five days until he was released on bail on Thursday, his lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri said. The student apparently called for people to "go down to the streets to seize back our power" while addressing the forum. Opposition activists have staged numerous peaceful demonstrations since the May 5 general elections, which the National Front coalition won with a weakened parliamentary majority. They insist the coalition, which has governed since 1957, retained power through bogus ballots and other irregularities, but Prime Minister Najib Razak and electoral authorities deny manipulating the results. The latest arrests involve Tian Chua, a senior official in opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's People's Justice Party, and Haris Ibrahim, a rights activist who leads an anti-government group. Mailk Imtiaz, a lawyer, said a third politician had been detained, but did not have any further details. The Kuala Lumpur police chief declined to comment. Both men have criticised the National Front at political gatherings since the elections. Police have previously said they are investigating those who challenge the government over the fraud claims. Security laws: The Sedition Act is widely criticised as a method of oppressing democratic dissent, to the extent that Prime Minister Najib Razak pledged last year to repeal it. Malaysian activists and the opposition have dismissed Najib's moves to amend a series of security laws to guarantee greater civil liberties as window-dressing to appease voters. Fadiah heavily criticised the use of the act against his client. "It's clearly still being used to stifle dissent," Fadiah told AFP news agency. "The law is open to abuse ... it's an infringement to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly." Amnesty International, human rights group, has also gone on record as being against the law. "The Malaysian authorities must ensure that peaceful political dissent is protected both in law and practice," it said in a statement on Wednesday." On his arrest, Tian Chua tweeted that Malaysians should not allow themselves to be "overtaken by fear [but should] continue to assemble peacefully and have faith". Adam, who became publicly known in 2011 when he brought down a flag with Najib's portrait at the ruling party's headquarters during a demonstration, faces three years in prison and a fine if convicted.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, has begun a round of separate talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials but acknowledges there is considerable scepticism that the two sides will resume peace negotiations. Kerry has now visited Israel four times in his four months in office to try to restart peace talks. The negotiations broke down in late 2010 in a dispute over Israeli building of Jewish settlements on occupied West Bank land that the Palestinians want for a state. Kerry, who last week was the subject of a scathing portrait in the Israeli daily Haaretz which called him "a naive and ham-handed diplomat who has been acting like a bull in the china shop", acknowledged the difficulties. "I know this region well enough to know that there is scepticism, in some quarters there is cynicism and there are reasons for it. There have been bitter years of disappointment," Kerry said as he and Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, posed for pictures. "It is our hope that by being methodical, careful, patient, but detailed and tenacious, that we can lay out a path ahead that can conceivably surprise people but certainly exhaust the possibilities of peace." Kerry will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later in the day on Thursday. Netanyahu said he wanted to restart talks with the Palestinians. "It's something I hope the Palestinians want as well and we ought to be successful for a simple reason, when there's a will, we'll find a way," Netanyahu said. Illegal settlements: Complicating efforts is the new Israeli government which has moved more towards the right and includes some members who openly oppose a two-state solution. "There are ideological differences at the heart of the government," Tzipi Livni, Israel's justice minister who is also the senior peace negotiator, told public radio. The lack of talks "only serves the interests of those who think that each passing day [without a peace agreement] allows them to build a new house", she said, referring to illegal Jewish settlement building on Palestinian territory. "But this is not the position of the majority of Israel's population". Last week, Kerry telephoned Netanyahu to voice US concern at Israel's plan to declare legal four illegal West Bank settler outposts. Most of the world deems all Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal. Israel, which captured the land in the 1967 Middle East War, disputes this and distinguishes between about 120 government-authorised settlements and dozens of outposts built by settlers without official sanction. The main issues that would have to be resolved in a peace agreement include the borders between Israel and a Palestinian state, the future of Jewish settlements, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem. In his visits to the region, Kerry is also trying to put together an economic package for the Palestinians to go alongside the US political initiative. William Hague, UK foreign secretary, was also due to hold talks with Netanyahu and Abbas later in the day.