JUI-F Chief Claims PM Imran Does Not Have a Vision


The Chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), Maulana Fazalur Rehman, declared on Wednesday that in his opinion, the Prime Minister and his incumbent government do not have a vision for the country. 

Fazl was addressing a gathering of PDM in Loralai, Balochistan, when he stated that the people of Pakistan do not want this rigged government. He went on to say that the fight of the opposition parties is for the implementation of the law, independence of the parliament, and the restoration of democracy in the country. Moreover, he highlighted the unity of the 11 opposition parties, as well as the nation on one platform. 

The chief reminded his people that their aim is to get rid of Imran Khan and his ‘fake’ government. He claimed that the Prime Minister does not have a vision and makes distorted plans for the country. Fazl maintained that sometimes, Khan talks about establishing the State of Medina whereas, there are times when he expresses hope to implement a Chinese, Iranian, or American system. 

The head of JUI-F went on to say the people of the country want the supremacy of the Pakistani Constitution. In his opinion, either a couple of strong institutions or the public can own the country. Consequently, Fazl believes that it is time for power to be handed to the public, as they are no longer willing to accept the supremacy of a handful of institutions. 

The Maulana, in his speech, also took a jibe at the current PTI government saying that the public is sick and tired of it. He accused it of leveling false allegations against the opposition parties and deeming them as ‘thieves’. 

According to the JUI-F leader, the current PTI government has done nothing but doom the economy. He highlighted how the poor are unable to buy edible items for themselves and have consequently, lost the power of purchasing. He added that poverty is driving parents to sell their children in the market or throw them into canals. 

Just last week, the Prime Minister stated that the 11-party opposition alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) poses no threat to his government. He added that he is not afraid of it either. 

The premier spoke at a meeting of his spokespersons, which he was chairing, and said that the opposition had only started this movement in the first place to coerce him into granting them a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). Khan informed, like several times before that he will not be doing the opposition any favors and making any concessions for them no matter how much they try to pressure him. 

Additionally, Khan observed that the entire opposition is now united under the same umbrella, and this unity came soon after they were all being held accountable. He went on to say that his government had made sure that the weak economy of the country was on the right track, and readily improving its delivery and performance. 

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Education Committee of the NA Wants to ‘Normalize’ the Syllabus


On Monday, the Standing Committee of the National Assembly on Professional Training and Federal Education called to reinstate the syllabus in studies that was previously excluded. The reason behind this exclusion was the pandemic. 

The entire panel fully supported the decision of the government to allow educational institutions to reopen from the 18th of January. Moreover, the committee observed that once institutions are reopened, the gap in the educational loss of the students during the pandemic will be bridged. 

The Secretary of the Ministry of Federal Education, Farah Hamid, revealed to the committee that the bill, which relates to the provision of loans to private schools, will hopefully be approved in the next three days. As of now, it is in the Finance Division. Moreover, she informed the committee that a budget of Rs.-.5 million to Rs.1 million will be awarded to all small private schools. 

The Director-General of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), Dr. Ikram Ali Malik, further stated that the educational sessions of all colleges and schools have been extended. In addition, the syllabus is also going to be reduced for the convenience of the students. He added that examinations will be held in May. 

Dr. Ikram also highlighted that they were not in possession of enough funds to perform coronavirus tests on teachers before the reopening of educational institutions. He further revealed that there is no tool at their disposal to help schools assess the ratio of students that are benefitting from online classes during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

One HEC official discussed how they did not have ample funds to provide support to universities. He informed that universities were asking for grants as well. However, the HEC had allocated a lower budget than the required amount. 

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Nearly 500 Prisoners in Pakistan Have Been Diagnosed with Coronavirus


It was recently revealed by the Federal Ombudsman that prisons across Pakistan have at least 20,000 excess inmates than the overall capacity. It was further announced that 500 prisoners in total were infected by the novel coronavirus. 

The Secretary Wafaqi Mohtasib Secretariat (WMS) has just submitted to the Supreme Court, its eighth implementation report. In it, the WMS talks about the plight of inmates in imprisonment, as per the outlines provided by the apex report, which requires the submission of a progress report after every three months. In addition, nine recommendations are also compulsory to help improve the current jail conditions for the prisoners and staff alike. 

The report revealed that the highest number of prisoners who have contracted the coronavirus, belong to the prisons in Sindh. This number is 291, followed by 126 in the prisons of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). In addition, there are three patients in the prisons in Punjab and a total of 80 prisoners tested positive in Balochistan. 

In addition to talking about the number of inmates who have contracted the coronavirus, the report also talked about how the prisons in Punjab, Sindh, and K-P are overcrowded. 

It stated that 52,303 inmates were living in 43 prisons all over Punjab. The capacity of these prisons all together is 38,806 in total. Similarly, there are currently 18,098 prisoners in Sindh prisons, however, the capacity is 13,538. K-P prisons have space to hold only 11,362 prisoners but, house 12,209 inmates as of now. 

The report further revealed that due to the inadequate capacity of the prisons in the three provinces, steps have been taken to ensure that some inmates are released on parole. Meanwhile, three new jails are being constructed in the province of Sindh. One is located in Shaheed Benazirabad, the other two in Thatta and Malir. 

Along with this, expansion work has taken off for several prisons located in Punjab whereas, new jails are also being established there. The report informed that prisons are also being constructed in Hangu and Swat in K-P. Furthermore, a model prison is also being developed in the capital city of the country. 

The report went on to talk about finances allotted to the prisons. Sindh previously allocated an increase of Rs.294 million to its prisons, whereas Punjab increased the budget for its prisons by 33%. These steps were taken to improve the conditions of the jails. 

Along with the increase in budget, decisions were also taken to ensure that free legal aid is provided to the inmates residing in these jails. 

As per the requirement, the report also gave a couple of suggestions. It stated that the provincial government should see to the construction of a jail in each district headquarter in respective provinces. Similarly, the federal government should focus on construction in Islamabad. 

Another suggestion given stated that women and juvenile prisoners should have an independent and separate portion, and each prisoner should be given a sleeping space, as well as adequate hygiene and toilet facilities. 

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Imran Khan Visits Quetta After Hazara Coal Miners are Laid to Rest


The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, arrived in Quetta on Saturday to have a meeting with the grieving families of the Machh victims. He made his trip, as promised, soon after the community obliged and buried the bodies of the slain coal miners. 

The premier boarded a special flight for Quetta from the Nur Khan airbase. He was accompanied by several Federal ministers, as well as Sheikh Rashid, the Interior Minister. 

The funeral prayers of the executed coal miners were offered in Quetta at the Hazara graveyard. The funeral prayers were attended by various leaders of different political parties. These included Qasim Khan Suri, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Ali Zaidi, the Federal Minister, and Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis. Many provincial ministers also turned up to join the funeral prayers. 

Late on Friday night, the negotiators representing the government, who were led by Jam Kamal Khan, the Balochistan Chief Minister, as well as Ali Zaidi, Maritime Affairs Minister, were successful in persuading Hazara mourners to call off their protest. Moreover, the families of the victims were convinced to lay their loved ones to rest, who were murdered brutally earlier in the week. 

The families had been encamped in the freezing cold on the Western Bypass. They had sat there, alongside the coffins of the slain miners, waiting for the Prime Minister to come. On Saturday, they announced that they had called off their protest after the government had accepted their demands. 

After the late-night talks between the senior government functionaries and protestors in Quetta took place, a member belonging to the Hazara Shuhada Committee confirmed that their demands had been accepted. Thus, the families in cohesion, decided to lay to rest the martyrs. 

As per the agreement reached, the government will take strict action against those who are responsible for gross negligence in the Machh incident. In addition, a high-level commission, which will be headed by the provincial home minister, has been created to conduct a proper investigation in this regard. 

The agreement further stipulates that the government of Balochistan will be liable to pay Rs1.5 million as compensation to all the living heirs of every martyr. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the provincial government to provide the heirs with jobs. 

Just last Sunday, 11 colliers, belonging to the community of Hazara, were brutally slaughtered by the Islamic State terrorist group residing in the Bolan district, specifically the Machh area. Ever since the occurrence of the incident, all the relatives, as well as the supporters of the community, got together to hold a vigil alongside the coffins of the slain coalminers. 

The protestors had clearly stated that they would not call off their sit-in and bury the dead until the premier came to Quetta to personally assure them that the targeted killings of the Hazara community will end. Most of the ethnic Hazaras are predominantly Shia. 

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PM Imran Urges Hazara Mourners to Bury the Bodies of their Loved Ones


The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, addressed the families of the victims of the Mach massacre on Wednesday. He pleaded to them to bury the bodies of their loved ones, soon after the federal and Balochistan government reported that they had failed to convince the protestors in the city of Quetta to end their sit-in. This protest has been going on for the past four days, despite the extreme cold weather. 

The premier took to the micro-blogging site, Twitter, to provide reassurance to the families of Hazara. He stated that he is aware of their suffering and their demands. Previously, the leaders had stated that they will not end the protest until the Prime Minister himself visits them and has a meeting with them. They believe that this is the only way to put forth their demands. 

Khan stated that he shares the pain of the mourners. He also added that he has gone to them before in their hour of need and will once again do so soon. The premier promised to visit the area soon to offer prayers and condolences personally to the families of the victims. In his own words, he said that he will not betray the trust of the people of the country. At the end of his series of tweets, Khan urged the families to bury their loved ones so that they can move on and find peace. 

Various members belonging to the community of Hazara have blockaded one of the highways in Quetta. They have laid, on the ground, the bodies of the slain coal miners ever since the morning of Sunday. The protestors have demanded that the Prime Minister should come meet them right away and bring the killers to justice, or else they will continue with their sit-in. 

Though the Prime Minister did not name any one country in particular, he did say that his government is well aware that one neighbor of the country is responsible for ‘instigating this sectarian terrorism’. 

A couple thousand protestors decided to block the key western bypass of Quetta on Sunday. This was because 11 coalminers, all of whom belonged to the Hazara community, were brutally slain in close vicinity of a mine site, located in the Mach area of Bolan. The residential compound where they were executed is only 100km away from the provincial capital. 

As the people of Quetta protest with the dead bodies of the victim in front of them in the freezing cold, sit-ins have been organized in other parts of the country as well. On Wednesday, members belonging to the community of Hazara disrupted traffic in Karachi and blocked at least three key roads. 

On Tuesday, Sheikh Rashid, the Federal Interior Minister, along with Qasim Khan Suri, the National Assembly Deputy Speaker, met with the protestors in Quetta. The people participating in the sit-in stated that they want the Balochistan government to resign and have a face-to-face meeting with the Prime Minister of the country. 

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Prime Minister Wishes a Happy Christmas to the Christian Community in Pakistan


On the eve of the Christian holiday, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, has wished a Happy Christmas to the entire Christian community residing in Pakistan.

On Thursday, he took to his official handle on the micro-blogging website, Twitter, and sent out the wish to Christians in the country. He also urged them to stay safe and observe all coronavirus SOPs, as the country is once again plagued by an alarming rise in the number of coronavirus cases. 

Hundreds of millions of Christians all over the world mark the 25th of December as the birthday of Christ. The Christian community residing in Pakistan has been frequenting shopping malls, especially in the past few days, to buy gifts and new clothes to celebrate the festival with their loved ones. 

The community has also not let the second wave of the disease put a damper on their most awaited holiday of the year. They have decorated their houses with colorful lights and Christmas trees. In addition, numerous events related to the celebration have also been organized in different locations of the country. 

On the eve of the festival, 97 churches finished Christmas preparations in the provincial capital of Pakistan. These included different types of churches, such as those for Catholics, Protestants, and a couple of other missionary churches. 

The biggest ceremony for the Catholic school of thought was organized in the city of Lahore, at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, located on Lawrence Road. On the other hand, the largest event for the Protestants was scheduled to be held at the Cathedral Church that sits on Mall Road. 

Similar Christmas events to mark the holiday were organized at Naulakha Church, St Anthony’s Church, and various others. Different Christian leaders held prayers in these places of worship to pray for the safety and prosperity of the country. 

A couple of days ago, the Christian community in Islamabad had started decorating the evergreen coniferous tree. This was to mark the biggest occasion of the year, Christmas, in a befitting manner. Popular hotels and malls in the federal capital of the country also placed Christmas trees in their foyers to share happiness with the Christian citizens, as well as to lure visitors. 

A Christmas tree is the main symbol of the celebrations of the festival. It is a sign that the community uses to welcome Santa Claus. Additionally, it adds color to celebrations with its decorative attractive look. The members of the Christian community, therefore, decorate a real or artificial evergreen coniferous tree, associated with the festival of Christmas.

Moreover, they deck the tree with different ornaments, such as small bells painted silver or gold, baubles, pine cones, candies, apples, tinsel, stars of different sizes and shapes, along with balloons made out of metal, ceramic, glass, and wood. Usually, a star and angel is placed at the top of the Christmas tree to represent the host of angels. 

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Imran Khan Urges Police Force to Stick to Righteousness


On Wednesday, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, made a speech to urge law enforcement officials to not lean towards illegal and unethical ways to earn money. He stated that he was aware of the fact that salaries of the working class are not adequate with the rising inflation. 

He acknowledged that due to the rising prices in the country, police personnel have had a tough time over the past couple of years.

The premier expressed hope for a better tomorrow, noting that the government is taking all necessary steps to ensure the economic wellbeing of the country. He reassured that Pakistan is heading in the right direction, as the current account balance features a surplus. 

Focusing on the passing-out parade that was recently held at the Islamabad Police lines, he pointed out that a country cannot build a better future until the property and life of its citizens are not safeguarded. According to Khan, the army is responsible for protecting the border whereas, it falls on the police to guarantee the safety of the life and property of the public. 

The Prime Minister went on to acknowledge that the police force in the country has not been awarded the status that it rightfully deserves. He promised to consult with the finance minister to talk about equaling the salaries of police officials in Islamabad, to that of law enforcement officers in Punjab. However, he noted that this was a difficult decision since the country is deep in debt. He informed that the government has had to cut down on its spending by 40 to 70%. 

Moreover, the PM announced that police personnel in the capital will be awarded health cards, which can be used by them and their family members to avail of treatments up to Rs1 million. Those in possession of these cards will be able to use them at any hospital they like. 

The premier went on to reveal that the police force in Islamabad will also have the opportunity to buy houses in installments. This was attributed to the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme of the current PTI government. Thus, he urged that benefits await the police officers who are patient and follow the path of righteousness. He advised them to only use legitimate means to fill their stomachs. 

Khan acknowledged that though it is not easy to stay patient in face of adversity, there is success in the end. He gave an example of him rejecting the offer to play cricket in South Africa, back when he used to play cricket. Consequently, he linked that example with the current situation and said that the evil path is tempting but, will lead to destruction sooner or later. 

The PM informed the people that if he had played in South Africa, he could have earned a lot of money but, would not have had any respect. Moreover, he would have had to show support to the racist government there. 

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Maryam Slams Prime Minister at Mardan Rally


On Wednesday, the Vice President of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), Maryam Nawaz, spoke at the rally in Mardan, hosted by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). She leveled insults at the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, after saying that he is respected, despite the fact that the world knows about his ‘exceptional disobedience’. 

She also referred to a recent address of the premier that was broadcasted on television. The PML-N leader pointed out that Khan himself acknowledged that he had been unprepared to lead the government of a country. 

She went on to add that in the words of the Prime Minister, no one should come to power until and unless they were prepared. Thus, she stated that he was brought in to lead a country, while he had no experience or preparedness. 

The Vice President of the PML-N called out the premier and asked him to tell the people of Mardan why he was so quick to don a Sherwani when he was not prepared to lead the country. This was spoken in her speech as a reference to the official dress code of the Prime Minister. 

The 11-party opposition alliance, PDM, held a ‘Mehngai March’ in the city of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, which is a protest against inflation. The leaders of the alliance, as well as their supporters, made their way through numerous areas of the city with the help of big caravans. They soon arrived at Nowshera Road where they addressed the participants of the rally. 

The large public gathering today was hosted by PDM, despite the district administration’s refusal to grant them permission in light of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. 

While giving her speech, the leader of PML-N directed several questions at the Prime Minister. One of these was where his team of 200 people was that he used to boast about before coming into office. She expressed that the cabinet members of the premier are only playing musical chairs amongst themselves and switching between portfolios. According to her, the premier and his cabinet are all talk and no action. 

Nawaz recalled that the Prime Minister had admitted that he had no inkling of the electricity problem in the country, the circular debt, or the current account deficit when he came into office. In addition, she observed, Khan had caused a sugar and wheat crisis and caused a loss on LNG that amounted to Rs12 billion. She further stated that he had not delivered on his promise to give 1 million jobs. But, the PML-N leader claimed, the premier had given out jobs like candy to foreigners, who had sent him money. 

In her verbal attack, the Vice President of the party said that the leader of the country was unprepared to introduce reforms for the police force. However, she alleged, Imran Khan had used the police to ensure that his brother-in-law was able to buy the plot he wanted. 

Nawaz also questioned the PM regarding his preparedness to file a judicial reference against Justice Qazi Isa. 

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Pakistan Bans Entry of Passengers from United Kingdom


Following the emergence of a new and highly infectious coronavirus strain in the United Kingdom, the European Union (EU), as well as various other countries banned the entry of passengers from Britain. Soon after, Pakistan also followed suit in fear of the new strain spreading in the country too. Thus, entry of passengers from the United Kingdom was banned, with effect from Tuesday, 21st of December. 

Numerous countries moved to close their borders to Britain early on Monday, consequently temporarily suspending any travel for Britons. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, made an announcement a few days ago revealing that a mutated variant of the disease has been identified in the country. He further informed that this strain is 70% more infectious than the ones that already exist. 

It was the decision of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to ban travel from the UK. This was decided on the same day when the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had to cancel all of its flights flying to and from Saudi Arabia. The cancellation was a result of the decision made by Saudi authorities to suspend any and all international flights for a week. 

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued a notification informing people that any direct and indirect flights from Britain have been delayed till the 29th of December. However, it also stated that in-transit passengers, who had not set foot at any British airport, will be allowed to enter Pakistan. In addition, Pakistani citizens can also gain entry into the country, but only after producing a negative coronavirus test. This test should have been conducted at least 72 hours prior to the beginning of the journey. 

The notification went on to add that even after a negative result, passengers will have to isolate themselves in their homes for at least 7 days after it. Any passengers that have traveled to Pakistan from Britain in the past few days, have also been quarantined in their homes. 

PIA also released a statement informing that they had canceled flights to Saudi Arabia, following the Saudi aviation authority’s decision to suspend all international flights. Due to the rising coronavirus cases all over the world, Saudi authorities thought it better to suspend all flights for a week at least. 

The canceled flights include PK-9760 and PK-9739. The first was going to fly on Monday from Lahore to Jeddah whereas, the latter was to take a flight from Multan to Jeddah. All PIA flights from Karachi, Islamabad, Multan, and Lahore for any Saudi cities of Dammam, Madina, and Jeddah, have consequently been suspended. 

As per a spokesperson from the PIA, these flights will not take off until the Saudi authorities gives the green signal. He added that all affected passengers will be accommodated right after flights resume. As of now, Saudi Arabia has given permission to foreign flights to leave the country.

On the other hand, Pakistan has been plagued by the deadlier second wave of the disease. On Monday, Kalsoom Parveen, the Balochistan Senator, succumbed to the virus in Islamabad. She had contracted the disease just last month. 

The pandemic continues to grip Pakistan with 1,792 new reported cases. 

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PM Calls Out India for ‘Rogue Behavior’


The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, just recently called out the Indian troops for attacking a vehicle belonging to the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). This incident occurred at the Line of Control (LoC). Shortly after, the premier stated that India has no respect for international laws, norms, and the United Nations itself. 

He went on to accuse the Indian troops of deliberately firing at the vehicle, despite the flying blue UN flag and vehicular markings. Imran Khan was quite furious by this attack, which is why he took to the micro-blogging site, Twitter, on Sunday to fire off these tweets. He added that the entire country and he himself strongly condemns India for its roguish behavior. 

On the 18th of December, the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) stated that the army of India had indulged in unprovoked fire at the LoC. They had targeted a UN vehicle, which was carrying two military observers, in the Chirikot Sector. 

The media wing of the military revealed further details following the incident. According to reports, the military observers of the UN were on their way to a village located in the Chirikot sector, known as Polas. They had decided to make this trip to converse with the villagers, who had been affected by India’s unabated ceasefire violations. On Saturday, the UN too confirmed the occurrence of the incident. A spokesperson also said that relevant authorities were looking into the matter. 

The Prime Minister also highlighted the significant surge in India’s aggression against the country. He pointed out the ceasefire violations at the LoC, as well as the Working Boundary. 

As per Khan, the world should be aware that Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, will lead his BJP government into creating a diversion. He said that this distraction will be created by carrying out a false flag operation against Pakistan to ensure that no one pays any attention to the domestic crises in India. 

The premier brought to light the many crises that have plagued India right now, such as the mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, an economic recession, and the growing protests of the farmers. 

Furthermore, Imran Khan provided evidence for the rise in Indian aggression against Pakistan. He stated that 276 people, inclusive of 92 women and 68 children, had died in the past year due to unprovoked firing at Working Boundary and LoC. 

The Prime Minister went on to point out that ceasefire has been violated by the Indian troops at least 3,000 times in the past year alone. He called the country out for targeting civilians and causing devastation. 

Khan made sure to tell the international community that if India carries out any false flag operation against the country, Pakistan will not just sit quietly. Instead, the leader promised that a matching response will be given for the misadventure. 

Recent reports have stated that India is currently planning on launching a military strike on Pakistani soil. After this news surfaced, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Foreign Minister, appealed to the international community to assist in de-escalating the tensed situation between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. 

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Teachers in Punjab End Their Protest


On Sunday, the teachers in government schools in Punjab announced that they are ending their protests at Bani Gala. This was a direct result of assurance received from the Islamabad deputy commissioner that their demands will be met. 

Contractual teachers belonging to the 36 districts of Punjab had come together for a sit-in at Bani Gala, which is located near the residence of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. They had converged only a day ago to ensure that enough attention was paid to their demand of being employed permanently. 

Qasim Bukhari, the Chairman of the core committee of the Secondary School Teachers, said that the administration of Islamabad had assured them regarding the resolutions of their demands. Just the previous day, a meeting had been held to discuss various negotiations with the Islamabad deputy commissioner. 

Bukhari informed that the DC had decided to mediate and assure the teachers that their demands will be met. However, the Chairman stated that they have only postponed the protest for a day. He went on to add that the sit-ins will continue if no progress is made with their demands. 

According to Bukhari, the government of Punjab had agreed to give permanent contractual agreements to 14,000 teachers. However, no practical steps had previously been taken in this regard. Earlier, it had also been reported that school teachers had been tear-gassed and baton-charged in close proximity of the premier’s mansion in Islamabad. 

Moreover, the protest in the federal capital of the country became a source of a massive traffic jam, which caused many hindrances in day to day activities of the residents.  Therefore, the police force in Islamabad deployed numerous officials with riot gear and barricaded the Bani Gala road. 

Attempts were consequently made to stop the teachers but, they persisted. The law-enforcement officials proceeded to fire tear-gas at the protestors and then baton-charged them. Several teachers ran for cover, some clung on to others whereas, some found themselves cornered by police officers. 

Numerous teachers were later arrested as a result of the clashes, which caused demonstrators to allegedly pelt officials with stones. 

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FIA to Investigate Pilots Possessing Fake Licenses


The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Pakistan has been given strict orders by the government. The agency has been told to start criminally prosecuting 50 commercial pilots who are carrying fake licenses. These licenses were suspended by the relevant authorities soon after an inquiry was carried out into the plane crash in the city of Karachi. All 50 of these pilots had licenses that could not be verified. 

The federal government presented a written statement to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) regarding this matter. It stated that 172 from a total of 262 pilots have been deemed as trained professionals, fit to fly planes. 

They had been previously thoroughly investigated due to the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash on the 22nd of May. However, the inquiry was completed just recently and all these pilots were cleared after being verified. 

The statement further added that the licenses of the remaining 50 pilots have been canceled because they could not be verified by the authorities. The federal cabinet went on to approve an in-depth summary of the reason behind the cancellation of these licenses. 

The government additionally informed the IHC that the FIA has been told about these recent developments and thus, entrusted with the authority to investigate them further. They further outlined that the FIA will consequently begin criminal proceedings against the concerned pilots. Moreover, no pilot with a fake license is going to be granted any sort of relief or leniency as per Article 199. 

On the 22nd of May, a plane belonging to PIA crashed a few kilometers away from the runway. The devastation was borne by a densely populated residential area in the city of Karachi. The plane had been trying to make an emergency landing after failing once before. 97 casualties occurred from a total of 91 passengers and 8 members of the crew. 

On the 26th of June, Ghulam Sarwar, the Minister for Aviation, had made an announcement. He reported that investigations were being conducted during which, 262 pilots had been banned from flying. This was because their credentials had come under suspicion and required to be thoroughly vetted. 

The pilots that came under scrutiny included 10 belonging to Serene Airlines, 141 from the PIA, along with 9 from Air Blue. The rest did not belong to any airlines rather, to chartered plane services and flying clubs. 

International publications spread the word about the plane crash and the consequent suspension of pilots. This caused the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to ban PIA from operating in Europe for at least six months. 

The US department of transportations also did not hold back from suspending authorization of the PIA to operate in the country. On the 9th of July, the relevant department suspended the company’s special permit after citing concerns related to the flag carriers’ pilots’ involvement in fake licenses. The department was also unsatisfied with the PIA’s safety measures in case of an emergency. 

The statement informed the IHC that the restrictions placed by EASA will only be lifted after it conducts a remote or onsite audit of the national flag carrier. This audit has been scheduled to take place in January of next year. 

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NAB Sends Questionnaire to JUI-F Chief


The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) located in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) has sent a questionnaire to the Chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), Maulana Fazlur Rehman, due to some serious corruption allegations. The questionnaire contains 26 points. 

The anti-graft body of the province has asked that the head of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) submit his reply by the 24th of December. He has also been told to present evidence. Failure to do either will result in legal action being taken against the Maulana and he has been warned about it as well. 

The NAB has specifically asked for various details regarding the sources of income of the chief himself, as well as his father. In addition, they have asked him to submit details of the properties that his father purchased and inherited. The Maulana also has to provide documents of the properties that he owns and inherited along with those of his family members. 

Moreover, the JUI-F Chief has been asked to submit the documents that show the sources of income for the 15 marla and two kanal agriculture land, and 64 kanal land located in Dera Ismail Khan that was purchased in his son’s name. 

The anti-graft watchdog made several other inquiries as well. For example, they sought details of the source of income of the property owned by Rehman’s son in the cantonment of Multan. The property in question is a five marla land. In addition, they asked for further details of any land that was bought by him in the name of any of his family members, or they themselves bought. 

The NAB presented additional questions about the nature of his party’s relationship with some individuals. These were listed as Mohammad Jalal, Gul Asghar, Sher Bahadur, Noor Asghar, Abdul Rauf, Mohammad Ashraf, Din Mohammad, Shaukat Khan, Sharifullah, Yasir, Haji Shahzada, Abrar Ali Shah, Mohammad Ramzan, and Abrar Ahmad. 

The questionnaire also requires details of any assets that were owned by the chief of JUI-F himself and his family members that they did not buy but, were given as gifts. It also asks the Maulana to disclose all that was bought along with the assets and land received as gifts. 

The anti-graft body asked the head of PDM to describe the assets that he and his family sold. It stated that all homes, shops, and hotels that he or either his family members had built in the name of others should be discussed in detail. 

Furthermore, Rehman was asked to disclose the details of all election expenses incurred by his party. He also has to submit documents that have a complete record of the expenses made by him and his family members on trips abroad. The reason for these trips was also asked along with the details of the bank accounts of his family members. 

The NAB, additionally, stated that the Maulana should provide details of the bank account he is currently using, even if it belongs to someone else. He is also required to submit details of the madrassas that operate under his supervision, as well as their registration, income details, and account. 

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Modi Offers Condolences to Nawaz Sharif on His Mother’s Demise


The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, extended his condolences to the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, on the sad demise of his mother in the last days of the month of November. Begum Shamim Akhtar, the mother of the PML-N founder, had succumbed to deteriorating health and passed away. 

The former premier has developed somewhat of a personal rapport with Modi and received a condolence letter from him in the last week. It was personally delivered to the Vice President of PML-N, Maryam Nawaz, by the Indian diplomatic mission in the capital city of the country. The letter sent by the leader of India was addressed directly to Nawaz Sharif and referred to him as the former Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. 

On the other hand, the founder of PML-N has been in London for the past year. He had been sentenced to a jail term due to being found guilty in a graft case by the Supreme Court. However, in the last few months of 2019, he requested to be granted a one-time permission so he could receive treatment for his undiagnosed illness. Sharif was allowed to fly out for four weeks but, he has not returned ever since.

In addition, the former premier has refused to even serve out his jail sentence. This forced the hand of the courts who deemed him as a proclaimed offender in various other cases that were filed against him. 

The mother of the leader of PML-N, Begum Shamim Akhtar, passed away on the 22nd of November in London. Her body was consequently flown to the city of Lahore. Here her body was laid to rest at the family estate of the Sharifs, which is located right on the edge of the city. 

The letter was dated the 27th of November in which the Indian leader extended his ‘heartfelt condolences’ to the former premier over the death of his mother. He stated that he had been deeply saddened by the news and took to offering his condolences as soon as he found out. A copy of the letter is available with various media outlets. 

It further talked about the time Modi had had the chance to meet with the deceased. He had been traveling to New Delhi in India from Kabul in the year 2015, when he had a surprise stopover in the city of Lahore. He recalled how Begum Shamim Akhtar had welcomed him and he had been touched by her warmth and simplicity. The letter also included prayers from the Prime Minister of India who wished Sharif and his family strength to ‘bear this irreparable loss’. 

Back in the year 2015, and announced stopover in the city of Lahore had been made by Modi himself. He had been returning from his daylong trip to Afghanistan. Nawaz Sharif himself had given the leader of India a red carpet welcome at the Allama Iqbal International Airport. 

From here, the two had flown together to the palatial residence of the Sharif family in Raiwind. Subsequently, Modi was invited to attend the wedding ceremony of Mehrun Nisa, the granddaughter of Nawaz Sharif. 

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Sindh Records the Highest Number of Coronavirus Deaths


On Wednesday, Pakistan reported a total of 105 coronavirus related deaths, which are the highest it has recorded since the month of June. These deaths together with all the previous ones have taken the death toll of the country to 9,010. 

The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) reported that the most deaths were recorded in the province of Sindh, with Punjab following suit. According to the center, 70 patients of the disease lost their lives while on the ventilator. 

Multan reported the highest number of ventilator occupancy in the country. The city stands at 48% with Islamabad following up with 46%, Lahore with 34%, and lastly Peshawar with 26%. Meanwhile, Peshawar reported the greatest number of oxygen bed occupancy in Pakistan, which was at 64%. Rawalpindi reported 42%, Multan had 41%, whereas the oxygen bed occupancy in Islamabad was at 37%. 

Additionally, the center reported 2,731 new cases of the virus and the total number is now at 445,977. Roughly 388,598 patients have been reported to have recovered since the pandemic first struck. 

The NCOC went on to report that the positivity ratio in Pakistan is at 7.2%. The highest percentage was observed in the City of Lights at 18.76%, with Hyderabad at 16.56%, and Peshawar standing at 15.99%. Moreover, the national fatality rate of the country is now at 2.02% as compared to 2.22% globally. 

The reports further stated that of the 2.02% fatality rate, 70% were males and 77.5% were aged over 50 years. 73% were observed to have chronic morbidities whereas, 91% of the deceased remained in hospice. 58% of those hospitalized were placed on ventilators before they eventually succumbed to the deadly disease. 

Just a day earlier, the center had been informed that the positivity ratio was at 7.12%. However, the number has now increased and is a source of worry for the citizens and government of Pakistan. The public is being warned repeatedly of the drastic consequences of the virus and urged to adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) outlined by the relevant authorities. 

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Anti-Rape Ordinance Approved by President


The President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi, has given his approval for the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance of 2020. This good news came on Tuesday to ensure that cases of sexual abuse against children and women are thoroughly expedited. However, some people are of the opinion that this ordinance is ‘holistic’ and ‘stringent’. 

According to this ordinance, various special courts will be set up all over the country. These courts will be in charge of expediting cases and trials of rape at the earliest. A time period of four months has been assigned within which these courts are to deal with the reported rape cases. 

In addition, the ordinance further outlines that the Prime Minister of the country will personally be looking over the establishment of anti-rape crisis cells. The function of these cells will be to conduct medico-legal examinations. However, these examinations must be carried out within a time span of six hours after the occurrence of the incident. 

The ordinance also adds that a registry of sex offenders be established at the national level. The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has been asked to assist with this process. It goes on to state that rape victims cannot be identified. In case that they are, the person doing so will be found guilty in the eyes of the law.

Just last month, on the 7th of November, two ordinances were approved by the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases. These ordinances related to harsher sentences for those committing offenses that are sexual in nature and setting up of special courts to go over rape cases. One of the several punishments outlined for a sex offender is chemical castration. 

The law ministry also issued a statement to talk about these ordinances. According to the ministry, the inclusion of chemical castration in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 and Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020, has been done to ensure rehabilitation of the perpetrators. These two ordinances also go hand in hand with International treaties and the Constitutional guarantees of the country. 

The statement added that these laws will provide appropriate mechanisms to curb sexual abuse crimes committed against children and women. 

The ministry further talked about the salient features of the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020. They said that the establishment of special courts will be done for the sole purpose of carrying out trials in rape cases. The anti-rape crisis cells which are going to be set up soon, will be headed by a deputy or commissioner. This will ensure the timely registration of an FIR, forensic analysis, and medical examination. 

The law has sought to abolish the degrading and inhumane two-finger virginity test that is usually conducted for the victims of sexual abuse. This is part of the routine medico-legal examination and is responsible for eliminating any attachment of probative value to it. 

The ordinance also prohibits the cross-examination of the survivor of the crime by the accused themselves. Instead, only the judge and the lawyers of the accused can cross-examine the rape survivor. 

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Pakistanis Reveal What They Think of the Coronavirus Vaccine


Around 40% of the citizens of Pakistan have stated that they are reluctant to get the vaccine against the novel coronavirus. A national survey taken further revealed that only 4% of the total respondents blamed the opposition for holding large rallies and infecting hundreds of people. 

Moreover, the challenges regarding future immunization efforts were highlighted by some Pakistanis, who also expressed concern over the communication strategy of the government. 

IPSOS carried out the 2-6 national opinion survey in December and published the results. It showed that the number of people who are open to getting vaccinated has decreased from 62% in the previous month to 60% now. However, the acceptance level has improved since August, when only 37% of people were positive that they would want to get vaccinated. 

Another noteworthy observation made from the survey results was that the number of citizens against the vaccine has fallen from 27% to 22%. Back in the month of October, 23% of the respondents were of the opinion that the vaccine would not be effective. But, this ratio has also declined and is now at 15%. 

The survey also indicated that there has been a reduction in the number of people blaming the federal government for the spread of the virus and the resultant deaths from it. This ratio now stands at 21% but, was 35% in the month of October. 

On the other hand, a greater number of Pakistanis are now blaming themselves for flouting coronavirus guidelines and causing the virus to spread. From 34% in October to 40% now, a larger number of respondents now believe that they are contributing to the outbreak of Covid-19 on a larger scale. 

In the past few days, the government has been campaigning to accuse the opposition of causing the disease to spread. However, the citizens of Pakistan are not convinced, as only 4% of the respondents laid blame on the opposition. Even though the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an 11-party opposition alliance, held a large rally in Lahore on Sunday, people do not hold them accountable. 

But, the respondents of the survey did point accusatory fingers at the provincial governments for pushing the spread of the disease. In October, the survey showed that only 11% of the respondents believed that their respective provincial governments were at fault whereas, 14% of them now hold the same opinion. 

In addition, 28% of the respondents in October stated that they were worried about the side-effects of the coronavirus vaccine. However, this ratio has now risen to 34%. Another alarming percentage that has increased is that of people who are of the opinion that the virus will not infect them. This number has gone from 20% to 23%. 

In other news, India has reported that the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were unable to reach a consensus regarding a proposal submitted by South Africa and India in the month of October. They wanted a temporary waiver of intellectual property to acquire coronavirus vaccines and drugs. 

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Imran Khan Reiterates that No NRO Will Be Granted


On Sunday, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) held its power show at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore. Here, they made promises to send the current Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government home and ensure that they vacate all the seats in the government. However, soon after these statements, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, had things to say as well.

The premier has once again firmly stated that neither he nor his government, will grant an NRO to the PDM, despite the tactics devised by the 11-party opposition alliance. He took to the social media platform, Twitter, to state exactly what he thought of the rally held in Lahore.

Khan said that the 11-party opposition alliance spent so much time, money, and effort to display only callousness. He accused the organizers and leaders of the power show of endangering the lives of the people as the coronavirus cases in the country continue to climb. In his opinion, the PDM has no regard for the safety and well-being of the citizens of Pakistan. 

On Sunday, the Prime Minister referred to the efforts of the opposition as nothing but an attempt to ‘blackmail’ him into granting them an NRO to protect their ‘looted’ wealth. 

The political gathering at Lahore was addressed by the routine bigwigs of the 11-party opposition alliance. This included the convener and the chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the Vice President of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Maryam Nawaz, and Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. In addition, various leaders of different parties of the opposition alliance also spoke at the rally. 

A while after his first tweet, the Prime Minister reiterated that he, under no circumstances, will grant an NRO to anyone in the opposition alliance. He stated that he was indifferent to the tactics being devised by the PDM to blackmail him. 

The rally at Minar-e-Pakistan was organized despite the fact that the leaders of the PDM were issued security threat alerts. They had also been requested by relevant authorities to abstain from holding large public gatherings due to the intensifying second wave of the coronavirus. 

The former Prime Minister of the country, Nawaz Sharif, also addressed the rally from London through video link. He claimed credit for resolving the chronic energy crisis faced by the country and making it the 7th atomic power. He went on to say that he ended load shedding, gas, and electricity shortages in the country back in 2013, as well as rooted out terrorism. 

The ousted Prime Minister claimed that his only crime was to speak the truth. He accused the ‘cronies’ of Imran Khan of minting money out of the sugar and wheat crisis. Addressing the crowd, Sharif claimed that he is fighting for the rights of the citizens of the country. 

Meanwhile, the Chief of JUI-F declared that the people of the country are slowly growing resentful of the current ‘illegitimate’ government. Thus, he cautioned, Pakistan could fall into a state of anarchy. 

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Information Minister Warns Against the Rising Coronavirus Cases


Shibli Faraz, the Information Minister, talked about the second wave of the coronavirus on Saturday. He stated that the government is taking effective steps to curb the rise in the number of cases but, requires cooperation from the citizens of the country as well. He appealed to the people and asked them to avoid public activities or gatherings that may put their or the lives of others at risk. 

He took to Twitter to tweet about the matter while urging people to avoid putting their health in danger. He said that the health of the public and the protection of the lives of the citizens is the first and foremost priority of the government. Faraz reminded people that the number of patients is significantly rising every day and thus, everyone needs to be careful and adhere to coronavirus guidelines. 

The Information Minister stressed that if the devastation of the coronavirus is to be minimized, people will have to follow precautionary measures. He urged that public gatherings should be avoided at all costs and standard operating procedures (SOPs), outlined by the government, should be abided by. 

During the pandemic, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), has been appointed by the government to take the lead in curbing the spread of the contagion. The center reported the death of 71 patients in the last 24 hours along with 2,729 new cases of the virus. Consequently, Shibli Faraz took to the social media platform to warn people of the increasing danger to their health and lives. 

In the words of the NCOC, the death toll of the nation since the pandemic first broke out in the month of February has risen to a total of 8,724. Meanwhile, the total number of people who have contracted the virus in Pakistan is at 435,056. Of these patients, 381,208 have recovered from the disease so far. 

Included in the fatalities was Dr. Prof Zaibun Nisa. She was the head of the Pathology Department at the Khyber Medical College. Reports revealed that she had been admitted to the North West Hospital (NWH) in Peshawar for a week after testing positive for the novel coronavirus. 

On the other hand, in their daily update today, the NCOC reported that there are a total of 45,124 active coronavirus cases in the country. The center added that 2,470 patients are currently in a critical condition, battling between life and death. 355 people are currently on ventilators whereas, the Covid-19 positivity ratio is at 6.59%. 

The nerve center further added that in the past 24 hours, the most coronavirus related deaths occurred in the province of Punjab. Out of the 8,796 deaths in the country, 3,351 people were from Punjab. Sindh recorded a total of 3,149 fatalities. There were 1,463 deaths in K-P, 368 in the capital city of the country, 175 in Balochistan, and 99 in G-B. 

In the 24-hour period, 42 people died on ventilators, 3,369 tested positive for the coronavirus and 72 lost their lives to it. 

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PDM Planning on Breaking the Electoral College


An 11-party alliance consisting of opposition parties, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), has announced that they are planning on breaking the Electoral College. They added that the next elections of the Senate will be considered faulty and fake by them if they were conducted through the same provincial and national assemblies.

The steering committee of the PDM has also made a decision regarding the anti-government long march. The joint opposition is scheduled to march in the last week of the month of January. 

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the Chief of JUI-F and the head of the 11-party alliance, stated that in his opinion, breaking the Electoral College is a democratic process. While talking to the media, he also added that they are currently devising different strategies to move ahead and are thus, consulting with constitutional experts. He was accompanied by the Vice President of PML-N, Maryam Nawaz, and Bilawal Bhutto, the Chairman of PPP. 

Rehman repeated that the current PTI government cannot be classified as a democratic or constitutional regime. In his opinion, the country has been taken over by the ‘stooge of dictatorship’ and democracy has been buried. 

These remarks were made by the Maulana only a day after the 11-party opposition alliance announced that all the parliamentarians, who are part of the PDM’s constituent parties, will tender resignations in the provincial and national assemblies. These resignations will be handed over to the respective party chiefs by the 31st of December. 

The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, responded to these announcements made by the PDM. He stated that the government will go ahead and hold by-elections on the vacated seat if the opposition parties resigned from the provincial and national assemblies. 

Elections have been scheduled for half of the total of the 104 seats in the House. These will be held on the 3rd of March in the year 2021, when 52 of the total senators will retire after completing their six-year term in the Senate. 

At least six of all the new lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are expected to get elected into the upper house of the parliament. If this happens, the party will become the third-largest political party in the Senate in terms of its strength. 

The PDM has also claimed that the government is placing hurdles in their way to try and prevent them from holding rallies. Referring to the flooding of the Minar-e-Pakistan in the city of Lahore, the opposition alliance accused the government of causing it. 

The JUI-F Chief declared that the date of December 13 will be considered historic. He stated that the opposition alliance will go through with the rally in Lahore even if the entire venue is turned into a dam by the Punjab government. He added that if one path is blocked, they will make a new one. But, the Maulana assured that the PDM will not be stopped nor will the flood of people. 

Bilawal Bhutto also spoke on the occasion talking about how the PPP has previously overthrown many dictatorships. According to him, they will be successful in getting rid of these ‘incumbent rulers’ once and for all. 

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