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Pakistan politics

Terrorists being brought into parliament: Senate

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Senate

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The senate echoed with one question altogether as to why candidates having links with banned outfits were being allowed to run in the upcoming elections.

They also warned the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that allowing banned organisations to contest elections would lead to bringing the extremist elements into the mainstream.

“Terrorists were being brought inside the parliament and parliamentarians were being sent to jails,”

Senator Pervaiz Rashid of Pakistan Muslims League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that terrorists are being brought inside the parliament and parliamentarians are being sent to jail, in an apparent reference to the ECP’s decision to allow some candidates having affiliation to banned groups in the July 25 elections, while former premier and party chief Nawaz Sharif was sent to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.

“Terrorists would end up entering the parliament as candidate having links with banned outfits were being allowed to run in the elections,” he added.

Rashid, along with other lawmakers in the Senate, asked the ECP and caretaker governments in Islamabad and in provinces to ensure that July 25 general elections are held in free and fair manner.

He also said that Pakistan was put on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list last month on the issue of terror financing.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and leading member of Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), Sherry Rehman, warned that allowing banned organisations to contest the elections will lead to bringing them into the mainstream.

“We won’t be able to breathe if these people (extremist elements) enter the Parliament,”

She also drew attention of the House towards the alerts issued by the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) about the threat to leading politicians, and said that names of all leaders who were facing security threats should be provided.

Former Senate chairman and PPP leader Raza Rabbani attacked the ECP for its alleged silence over irregularities in the run-up to the polls and asked why banned groups were allowed to participate in the elections.

“Under what law has the ECP permitted banned groups to contest elections?”

In an apparent reference to PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari not being allowed to campaign at some places due to security threat and stone throwing incident at rally of former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Rabbani said “leaders of the PPP and the PML-N were being targeted and the ECP was doing nothing.”

“Is the ECP sleeping?” he asked.

He also objected to the deployment of the armed forces in the polling process.

“At first, the ECP kept saying that soldiers would be deployed outside polling stations. Now it’s saying they will be also be deployed inside. What is the reason for their being stationed inside?” he asked. “The ECP should tell us why they eventually decided to deploy soldiers within polling stations. And if they will be inside, what will their function be?” he said. 

Rabbani also spoke about restrictions being placed on the media.The ECP had said that it was ready to hold elections in free and fair manner, and apart from other formalities, it had also competed the printing of ballot papers.

It had said that around 210 million ballot papers have been printed for national and provincial assemblies.

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Independence Day: Sale of Kashmiri flags on the rise

Sale of Kashmiri flags, badges and other decoration items have gained impetus ahead of Independence Day after the federal government had announced to observe August 14 as Kashmir Solidarity Day.

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Kashmir

MUZAFFARABAD, Azad Kashmir/KARACHI, Pakistan: Sale of Kashmiri flags, badges and other decoration items have gained impetus ahead of Independence Day after the federal government had announced to observe August 14 as Kashmir Solidarity Day, ARY News reported on Thursday.

As marking of 73rd Independence Day is right around the corner, the preparations have gained momentum as a huge rush of people were seen at different stalls of Kashmiri flags, national flags buntings, badges, set up by vendors in different areas of Karachi.

READ MORE: Top 10 schools of Pakistan (2018-19)

All Karachi Tajir Ittehad Chairman Ateeq Meer said that people are very enthusiastic and passionate for purchasing celebratory items to mark Independence Day.

It must be noted that government has decided to observe Independence Day; 14 August, as Kashmir Solidarity Day and 15th of this month as Black Day to express harmony and solidarity with Kashmiris in their recent plight caused by the Indian government.

The national flag will fly half-mast on 15th of this month. A notification to this effect has been issued by the Ministry of Interior.

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Pakistan News

Maryam’s interview “stopped forcefully:” Nadeem Malik

An interview of Maryam Nawaz Sharif, a vice president of the PML-N, was “forcefully” taken off air soon after it was run, it was reported on Thursday.

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Maryam Nawaz

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: An interview of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif was taken off air forcefully seconds after it started.

“Just came to know Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s interview has been stopped forcefully just [a] few minutes after it started live,” tweeted show host Nadeem Malik.

Hum News, the channel on which the interview was aired for a few brief moments, released a statement shortly after the incident, saying: “Hum News believes in a free and responsible media. Protecting freedom of expression is one of our core values. At the same time, we stand for the respect and dignity of [the] judiciary in line with our ethical values and the Constitution.”

The development comes days after AbbTakk TV24 News, and Capital TV all had their broadcasts cut after screening a press conference by Maryam Nawaz.

Authorities say the three channels were unavailable due to “technical issues”, but Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a global media watchdog, described the outage as an act of “brazen censorship”.

It slammed the local authorities over the removal of three television channels from the country’s airwaves, saying the move was “indicative of disturbing dictatorial tendencies” as pressure mounts on journalists in Pakistan.

READ MORE: Arrest me if you want to, I won’t run away like your master Musharraf: Hamid Mir

Maryam is the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — who is currently behind bars for corruption — and a recent press conference she hosted featured a judge reportedly claiming he had been blackmailed into convicting the former premier.

The move came as Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration vowed to block any media coverage and interviews of politicians “who are convicts and under trial”.

Earlier this month, Geo News TV abruptly took an interview with former president Asif Ali Zardari off air shortly after it began.

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Several dead and dozens injured in Pakistan train collision

A collision between a passenger train and a stationary freight train near the central town of Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan has killed at least 10 people, with more than 70 others injured, according to police and hospital officials.

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Rahim yar khan

RAHIM YAR KHAN, Pakistan: A collision between a passenger train and a stationary freight train near the central town of Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan has killed at least 10 people, with more than 70 others injured, according to police and hospital officials.

The incident on Thursday took place at the Walhar railway station, located about 35km south of Rahim Yar Khan.

“The Akbar Express [passenger train] going from Bahawalpur to Quetta hit a freight train that was parked there at 7.40am,” a local police official told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to media.

Senior police official Umar Salamat told local media the collision took place because the passenger train was diverted onto the incorrect track at the station, hitting the parked freight train.

Rescue operations were under way at the collision site, with workers using equipment to get to some of those trapped in the train wreckage, local media reported.

The injured were taken to a nearby government hospital and to a more advanced facility in Rahim Yar Khan, hospital officials said.

Nine of the dead were taken to the government hospital, with more than 60 people injured in the wreck also treated there, Liaquat Chohan, a senior hospital official, told Al Jazeera.

“The injuries were of multiple types – many had fractures, others had bleeding wounds. Some were crushed under objects,” he said.

At least one dead body was also taken to the Sheikh Zayed hospital in Rahim Yar Khan, where 11 of those wounded in the accident were being treated, hospital official Ilyas Ahmer told Al Jazeera.

“One person’s leg was cut off [in the collision], and another is having serious chest surgery,” he said.

‘Emergency steps’

Pakistan’s aging railway network carries both passengers and goods across the country, but suffers periodic derailments and other accidents due to aging infrastructure.

A major Chinese investment in the country is seeking to upgrade the main railway line that connects the length of the country, raising speeds and safety standards.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his condolences for those who were killed and injured, and ordered Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad to speed up work on the country’s rail infrastructure.

“Have asked Railways Minister to take emergency steps to counter decades of neglect of railway infrastructure & ensure safety standards,” Khan tweeted after the accident.

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