Imran Khan barred from polls for 5yrs
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was disqualified Friday from running for political office for 5 years after the country’s election commission ruled he misled officials about gifts he received from foreign leaders while in power.
The decision is another twist in political wrangling that started even before Khan’s April ouster and is one of several legal battles being fought by the former international cricket star and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
“The ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan) has announced Imran Khan was involved in corrupt practices,” Gohar Khan, one of his lawyers, told the news media, adding he had been disqualified for 5 years.
“We are going to challenge it in the Islamabad high court right now.”
Pakistan’s courts are often used to tie up lawmakers in lengthy proceedings that rights monitors criticize for stifling political opposition, but the commission’s involvement, in this case, stems from the obligation of elected officials to declare all their assets.
The case centers on a government department known as “Toshakhana”, which during the Mughal era referred to the “treasure houses” kept by the subcontinent’s princely rulers to store and display gifts lavished on them.
Government officials must declare all gifts but are allowed to keep those below a certain value.
More expensive items must go to Toshakhana, but in some cases, the recipient can buy them back at around 50pc of their value — a discount Khan raised from 20pc while in office.
Pakistan newspapers have for months carried lurid stories alleging Khan and his wife received lavish gifts worth millions during trips abroad.
They included luxury watches, jewelry, designer handbags and perfumes.
Imran Khan is accused of failing to declare some gifts or the profit made from selling them.
The complaint to the election commission was first brought when Khan was still in office by the Pakistan Democratic Movement, a coalition whose members now make up the government.
At the time, Khan said he had not made public some gifts on national security grounds, but in a written submission admitted buying items worth nearly 22 million rupees ($100,000), and later selling them for more than twice that amount.
He says the valuation was done through proper channels.
This week, Khan won six of eight national assembly seats he stood for in a weekend by-election, a vote he called a referendum on his popularity.
Individuals can stand in multiple constituencies in Pakistan elections and choose which to forfeit if they win more than one, but it is rare for a candidate to contest as many as Khan.
The 70-year-old has attempted to disrupt Pakistan’s political process since his April ouster when he ordered all his lawmakers to give up their seats, leaving no PTI members in the National Assembly.
He has also vowed to soon announce the date of a “long march” of his supporters on the capital to pressure the government to announce an earlier national election than that scheduled for October next year.
Khan regularly holds rallies drawing tens of thousands across the country, giving fiery speeches criticizing state institutions — including the powerful military — for allegedly conspiring to topple his government.
He rode to power in 2018 on a populist platform promising social reforms, religious conservatism and a fight against corruption, overturning decades of rule by two feuding political dynasties interspersed with military takeovers.
But, under his tenure, the economy stagnated and he lost the support of the army, which was accused of helping to get him elected.
At least 20 Umrah Pilgrims died in Saudi Arabia Bus Crash
At least 20 Umrah pilgrims were killed and 29 injured in a horrific bus crash southwest of Saudi Arabia, according to Gulf News reports.
The passenger bus crashed into a bridge on Monday, overturned, and caught fire, killing 20 and injuring 29.
According to Saudi media, the accident occurred around 4pm on the 14 km-long Aqabat Shaar road in the Asir province, as the bus was traveling from Khamis Mushayt to Abha.
The road, according to Saudi Press Agency, cuts through mountains, and has 11 tunnels and 32 bridges. When the bus was making its way down a bridge it underwent a brake failure, which caused it to crash into a barrier at the end of the bridge, overturn and catch fire. About 29 other people were also injured in the accident, according to reports.
The Saudi civil defense and Red Crescent Authority teams rushed to the site of the accident and cordoned off the area.
The deceased and the injured have reportedly been transferred to nearby hospitals.
UN says: Extraordinary economic dev among BD’s many achievements
Greeting Bangladesh, the United Nations on Sunday (26th March) said Bangladesh has many accomplishments — extraordinary economic development, a significant cultural legacy, leadership on a global stage for climate-vulnerable countries, and immense generosity in welcoming and hosting nearly a million Rohingya refugees.
“The hospitality of Bangladesh’s diverse people is just one of the many facets of a country that my colleagues and I have been fortunate to experience every day,” UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Gwyn Lewis said in a press statement on the occasion of the country’s Independence Day.
“On behalf of the United Nations, I warmly congratulate the people of Bangladesh on the 52nd anniversary of independence,” she said.
Over the last 52 years, Bangladesh has made impressive and remarkable achievements: evolving from a war-torn country to one of the leading economic powers in South Asia, standing at the threshold of upcoming graduation from least developed countries (LDCs) in 2026, and planned achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDG) by 2030, she said.
The UN fully supports Bangladesh’s commitments to economic and sustainable development and appreciates the strong and long-lasting relationship with Bangladesh and our shared values.
The constitution of the country, which was adopted even before Bangladesh had formally become a member of the United Nations in 1974, guarantees fundamental human rights. The right to freedom of speech, religion, movement and assembly, the right to speak one’s own language and other rights that are in line with the UN charter, said the UNRC.
“Wishing you all a Happy Independence Day!” — she concluded.
PM Sheikh Hasina, President pays homage to Liberation War Martyrs
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina & President M Abdul Hamid paid rich tributes to the Liberation War martyrs by placing wreaths at the National Memorial at Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka early on Sunday (26th March), marking the 53rd Independence and National Day.
The president first placed the wreath at the altar of the memorial followed by the prime minister.
After laying the wreaths, the president and the premier stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect for the memories of the martyrs of the Great War of Liberation in 1971.
A smartly turned-out contingent drawn from Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force presented a state salute at that time while the bugles played the last post.
The head of the state and the head of the government also signed the visitors’ book kept on the memorial premises.
Flanked by her party leaders, Sheikh Hasina, also the president of the Awami League, paid glowing tributes to the Liberation War martyrs by placing another wreath at the National Memorial on behalf of her party.
Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique, senior AL leaders, leaders of AL-led 14-party alliance and high civil and military officials, among others, were present there.
Later, the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) speaker and the chief justice also paid homage to the martyrs by placing wreaths at the National Mausoleum.
Every year, March 26 brings the most tragic reminiscence of history’s blackest episode that heralded a nine-month bloody ordeal from the night of March 25, 1971, achieving the long-cherished independence on December 16 the same year at the cost of a sea of blood.
In the wake of the military crackdown by the then Pakistan occupation force, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh through the then EPR (East Pakistan Rifles) wireless at 00-30 hours on March 26 (the night following March 25) in 1971 at his historic Road-32 residence at Dhanmondi in Dhaka.
The day is very auspicious and precious to the Bengali nation.
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