Faisal Vawda shows PTI’s ‘Clean’ image as Fake

Faisal Vawda, PTI leader and Federal Minister for Water Resources, has been in the news often over the last year, from being photographed on the Line of Control to stating that Pakistan will experience a “burst of jobs in 7-10 days.” While he may have been able to brush away all of those, he will find it difficult to brush away the latest story by investigative journalist, Ahmad Noorani.

According to Noorani’s latest story “Meet the minister who kept Rs465 millions’ properties in his servant’s name,” “Despite having no known source of income, Fesal Vawda has made hundreds of millions of rupees benami transactions by selling two commercial properties which he kept in the name of his employee Sher Nawaz Khan.”

The questions posed by Noorani in his report are “Who is Sher Nawaz Khan who sold his properties worth Rs465 million to Emirates Global Islamic Bank Limited in 2006. According to court documents, Vawda approached bank with power of attorney of Sher Nawaz and informed he was real owner of properties while Sher Nawaz was his employee. Given his income as per FBR record, Vawda couldn’t purchase such properties worth hundreds of millions of rupees. Vawda also purchased properties in different countries of the world after this transaction while his tax continued to be zero until 2015 2018.”

For details please read the story below

“Sher Nawaz Khan while giving his version admitted that he had been an employee of Vawda in his business till last year. An official communication of minister for water resources available with Daily Business World (DBW) shows that Sher Nawaz Khan is still associated with Fesal Vawda. Sher Nawaz Khan bearing CNIC No. 42501-4069125-9 owned two commercial properties No.22-C and No.24-C, Phase V, Khayaban-e-Tanzeem, D.H.A. Mr Sher Nawaz signed an agreement with a private commercial bank, Emirates Global Islamic Bank Limited, to sell these two properties on June 08, 2006 at the price of Rs465 million. However, once the agreement was done between Mr Sher Nawaz Khan and the private bank, Mr. Vawda came in the front, approached the said bank and presented a power of attorney given to him by Sher Nawaz Khan (his employee at that time) to deal all the matter related to these properties. In a later litigation before Sindh High Court (SHC) on the issue of sale-purchase agreement of these two properties, the said bank submitted before the SHC that Vawda informed the bank that Sher Nawaz Khan was his employee and he (Vawda) was the real and beneficial owner of these Properties. Copy of the power of attorney is available with DBW.”

“Fesal Vawda Group (FVG) Construction — a company which Vawda proudly introduce as the main source of his income is so small that it is neither registered with SECP as a company nor it is listed with Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD) in Karachi. Official record shows that his company paid zero sales tax from 2007 to 2013 while its sales tax account is suspended by the FBR since July 2013. His firm M/s Fesal Vawda Construction is registered with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and file tax return in the category of individuals. According to FBR record, Vawda himself became taxpayer in 2004. In his private circles, Vawda use to discuss the tax he paid after 2016 and the foreign properties he declared only in 2018 after hiding them for many years. The most important point is that all the business transactions including purchase of many properties in Pakistan and in different countries of the world were made many years before when his declared sources of income were almost none and he was paying nominal or zero tax to tax authorities here in Pakistan.”

For more details and documents please check the entire story by Noorani here https://dailybw.com/2019/05/21/meet-the-minister-who-kept-rs465-millions-properties-in-his-servants-name/

PayPal refuses to enter Pakistan

PayPal, an American company that is the leader in online money transfers has turned down the request of the government of Pakistan to enter the Pakistani market. The main reason appears to be PayPal’s fears that Pakistan is not a country where laws and contracts are observed and protected.

During a briefing held before Pakistan’s Senate standing committee, Secretary Maroof Afzal asserted “PayPal did not decline because it has issues operating in Pakistan. Their internal working is such that they are not ready to introduce services in Pakistan.”

Others like Senator Rehman Malik, however, stated that the reason was otherwise. “One case of money laundering could cause significant problems for PayPal. PayPal must have the backing of the government that it can secure the interests of the company.”

The committee also took up the issue of the new telecom licence renewal policy. “Under which the government is asking Jazz and Telenor for $450 million instead of the previous $291m, IT Minister Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said the new policy has to be implemented under the new conditions. Jazz went to the Islamabad High Court earlier this month seeking to have the licence renewed according to the original terms and the 2015 Telecom Policy. The licence was issued for Rs16.8 billion (then equivalent to $291m) in 2004 and is now worth Rs41.4bn ($291m today). Two other mobile operators, Telenor and Warid – which Jazz later acquired – were issued licences through an auction in 2004, and both need to be renewed after 15 years. Both companies argue that the telecom operators are entitled to renew the licence at the same dollar price at which it was acquired, saying that it should be done “in an equitable, fair and transparent way”.”

Open Letter to Imran Khan on Spirituality and Super Science by a Geo-scientist

Pakistan has had its share of scientists who believe in Djinn energy and the ability to use water to run cars, so it comes as no surprise that in a recent speech Prime Minister Imran Khan declared that Pakistan would “convert spirituality into a super science.”

In response to Prime Minister Khan’s speech Pakistani-American geo-scientist Dr Asim Yousafzai has written him an open letter which is a must read and is copy-pasted below:

“The government of Pakistan’s Twitter account wrote, “Al-Qadir University would provide both Islamic and scientific education to the students and help them become morally, intellectually and spiritually accomplished persons”. Your government’s Information Minister, Firdous Ashiq Awan, was quoted as saying that “the credit for the unique and creative idea of Al-Qadir University goes to PM Imran Khan and the First Lady. To make the idea practical, the PM and First Lady played a personal role”.”

“Mr Khan, your statements are baffling, to say the least. There is no such thing as ‘super science’, and no one has ever claimed to convert ‘spirituality’ into super science. Science is based on logical questioning, critical thinking, experiments, and drawing conclusions from testable hypotheses. Spirit comes from the Latin word ‘to breathe’ and ‘spirituality’ is based on the inner workings of a human soul. Consequently, theology and science serve two different domains, and confusing one with the other can be an explosive mix. Both science and spirituality can have some overlap, but no one has ever proposed to fuse the two. It appears like you are conflicted about both science and spirituality. Spirituality (and meditation) is practiced all over the world, and it appeals to the internal mechanisms of a human body. Paradoxically, yoga, which is a form of spirituality, is looked down upon in Pakistan. Spirituality has been reduced to a dogma – a ‘voodoo’ – where tombs are worshiped, and ‘Najoomi professors’ bring ‘Mehboob’ to your front door after reading your palm. By providing easy answers and ‘awe moments’, superstition and pseudoscience has hindered Pakistan’s progress since its inception in 1947, and you and your government are adding to it, and abetting it.”

“The world of science has made incredible progress – there are at least three new experimental frontiers that are being investigated for integration, to gain perspectives into mind-body interactions: lab experiments on the origins of life, search for extra-terrestrial intelligence and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. Mr Imran Khan, how much is your country contributing to these highly scientific endeavors? The answer is zilch. Let’s assume, Mr Khan, that we have taken your proposition of converting spirituality into ‘super science’ at face value. But how are you going to achieve it? Pakistan is 117th out of 180 countries in corruption; 150th out of 189 countries in Human Development Index; 800th out of 1000 university rankings; and 147th in GDP per capita out of 181 countries. In April 2019, your government slashed higher education funds by 50 percent, thus depriving poor, but deserving students, of a golden opportunity to receive higher education. This is an alarming situation. For the sake of argument, let’s also assume that 100 students graduate from Al-Qadir University in the year 2023 with a degree in ‘Spirituality and Super Science’. Where will they be employed? Pakistan already has a very high number of unemployed and underemployed graduates, and adding more to this list would be a disservice to the country you often claim to love.”

“There is no scientific and technological infrastructure in the country; the bridge between research and development and the industries was never developed. Pakistan does not produce any satellite information, and has only one satellite in geostationary orbit which was launched from a Chinese platform. Neighboring India has six satellites in orbit, and is planning for a Mars mission in 2022. The nation would be eternally indebted to you if you focused on improving the current infrastructure of science and technology in the country rather than making new, unfounded claims. PM Imran Khan, you also mentioned that “students will be given financial assistance and scholarships, quite like Namal University. This will then be extended to other cities and towns”. How do you know that it will be extended to other cities? Are you or your wife stakeholders in the project? As a private entity, you or your wife should not have any stakes in this project.”

“In my opinion, educating students at Al-Qadir University would be tantamount to dumbing them down – they would neither become good scientists, nor good yoga instructors. On the contrary, there is a good chance that these students would end up as confused citizens. At the end, Mr Khan, I would frankly request you to stop patronizing such dubious projects which are counterproductive, and will further erode the confidence of the current and next generation of scientists, doctors, professors, technologists and engineers. Pakistan is replete with religious seminaries of every color, value and hue, catering to the needs of every sect and every denomination in the country. Let the private ownership take care of their own theological needs.”

Return of Basic Democracy? Deep State Strikes Back!

The Pakistani Deep State has never been comfortable with democracy or with civilian politicians who it cannot manage or control. Pakistan’s First military dictator, General Ayub came up with the Basic Democracy system in which he tried to replace existing political parties and leaders with directly elected civilians who would be indebted to the military. This backfired as in elections people chose the popular civilian leaders, even when they were forced to run independently.

Decades later General Musharraf came up with another form of the basic democracy system in which nazims were directly elected. He too sought to create new political leaders – who would be establishment people and have little grassroots support. This did not work out either as the existing political parties in every province retained their support base.

Under Imran Khan once again the military is trying to create a new form of basic democracy. At a recent press conference Khan “spoke at length about the newly adopted local government system in Punjab, which aimed at “taking the government to the people” and announced a two-tiered election across Punjab. Giving details of the new Punjab Local Government Act 2019, Imran Khan said a direct election would be held in 22,000 village councils in Punjab, for equal distribution of revenue and indiscriminate development of the entire province. “People need governance,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said and added that the new concept was brought to the fore after lengthy deliberations and study of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa local government system and similar systems in vogue internationally.”

Further Khan said ““The city mayors will be directly elected and they will generate their own money. The tehseel nazim would also be directly elected,” he said, adding that the new local government system will produce new leadership. The Local Government Bill 2019 was approved by the Punjab Assembly on April 30 through a majority vote with the opposition boycotting the session. The mayor will choose his own cabinet, the PM said, saying the mayor of London is directly elected.”

Pakistan needs an overhaul of the existing system but using techniques that have failed in the past is not the way out. The way out is more democracy, more civilian control and less military interference.

Pakistan Deep State’s continued war on journalists

The deep state of Pakistan has targeted all forms of free speech, civil society activists, human rights organizations and the media: print, electronic and social media. We at New Pakistan have consistently spoken out against this ‘war’ against the media.

On Wednesday Friday April 24, many Pakistan-based journalists were subjected to online smear campaigns. According to a report in Dawn, “The first series of the malicious hashtag campaigns emerged as the top three Twitter trends in Pakistan on Wednesday. The trends accompanied by scurrilous trolling, misinformation and doctored images targeted Marvi Sirmed, Mubashir Zaidi and Umar Cheema. According to social network analysis of the trends, the campaign against Marvi Sirmed generated the most tweets (over 11,000) within a span of two hours.”

Forty-eight hours later, on Friday, April 26, “seven other journalists were subjected to abuse and defamatory content. They included Saleem Safi, Arshad Waheed Chaudhry and Fakhar Durrani, who were accused of being ‘paid’ or supported by opposition parties. Arshad Waheed Chaudhry, for instance, was criticised after someone accused him of asking a ‘planted’ question to Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. Mr Chaudhry later responded via a tweet that such campaigns showed ‘how bothered they were’.”

According to the detailed reporting in Dawn, “users populated the hashtags using a structured network. Sharing multiple graphics showing how the network had trended the hashtags, Mr Rizwan [Saeed Rizwan, a social researcher] spotlighted four major Twitter accounts coordinating with a group of seemingly suspicious accounts. According to Twitter, the platform prohibits behaviour that encourages others to harass or target specific individuals or groups with abusive behaviour. “This includes, but is not limited to, calls to target people with abuse or harassment online and behavior that urges offline action such as physical harassment.” However, given the rising trends of abuse on Twitter, journalists and policy workers expressed disappointment over the platform’s inaction against accounts propagating abuse and hurling threats at critical voices.”

According to lawyer Waqqas Mir “the campaigns were a violation of Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) which criminalises, among other things, displaying, exhibiting or transmitting information which one knows to be false and intimidates or harms the reputation or privacy of another.”

Yet the PTI government appeared unwilling or unable to do anything. “When asked what the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government was doing to ensure journalist safety online, Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Digital Media Dr Arslan Khalid said such campaigns depicted failure of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the interior ministry. “We strongly condemn the campaigns. Abusive and defamatory behaviour is punishable under the cybercrime law and this should be investigated,” he said. Mr Khalid, who was the PTI’s social media secretary before assuming office, refuted allegations that the accounts running the campaigns were associated with the PTI. “This is despicable and the party has zero tolerance for abuse,” he said.”