Two of Pakistan's political parties have formally announced the formation of a coalition government.The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) announced the coalition late Tuesday, naming former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister and Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as president.The deal was finalised between the coordination committees of both parties, Pakistani media sources said, adding that the agreement ends days of uncertainty and negotiations after the Feb 8 elections produced a hung national assembly.PML-N is the largest party with 79 seats and PPP is second with 54. They, along with four other smaller parties, have a comfortable majority in the legislature.The delay in forming a government has caused concern as Pakistan is grappling with an economic crisis amid slow growth and record inflation, rising militant violence, and needs a stable administration with the authority to take tough decisions. (QNA)
Pakistan strongly condemned the "unprovoked violation" of its airspace by Iran and summoned the Iranian Charge daffaires.The statement issued by Pakistan's Foreign Office Spokesperson said that "it is even more concerning that this illegal act has taken place despite the existence of several channels of communication between Pakistan and Iran."The Associated Press of Pakistan said that "Pakistans strong protest has already been lodged with the concerned senior official in the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran. Additionally, the statement maintained the Iranian Charge daffaires has been called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to convey strongest condemnation of this blatant violation of Pakistans sovereignty."On Tuesday, Iranian media sources reported that Iranian forces targeted two bases in the Pakistani province of Balochistan, a day after similar strikes in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and Syria. (QNA)
India and Pakistan officially exchanged lists of nuclear facilities and sites under the provisions of an agreement on the prohibition of attack against nuclear installations and facilities.A statement issued by Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that under the provision, the list of nuclear facilities and facilities in Pakistan was officially handed over to the representative of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Islamabad, while the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also handed over the list of Indian nuclear facilities and facilities to the representative of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.The exchange of lists of nuclear installations comes in implementation of the Convention between the two countries signed on 31 December 1988 and ratified on 27 January 1991, which stipulates that Pakistan and India shall inform each other of their nuclear installations and sites on the first day of each year.Pakistan and India also exchanged lists of civilian prisoners in their respective custody, as the move comes in implementation of the consular agreement signed between the two countries in 2008, under which prisoners' lists are exchanged twice each year in January and July.The Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported that the prisoners' lists were exchanged through diplomatic channels Foreign Affairs of Pakistan handed over to the Indian Embassy in Islamabad a list of 231 Indian prisoners held in Pakistani prisons, including 47 civilian prisoners and 184 fishermen. The Indian Government also shared a list of 418 Pakistani prisoners in its custody with representatives of Pakistan's High Commission in New Delhi, comprising 337 civilian prisoners and 81 fishermen. (QNA)
The Pakistani army announced the killing of five militants in a military operation in the northwest of the country.The army said, in a statement, that its forces carried out an intelligence operation in the Mir Ali area north of Waziristan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, adding that the gunmen were involved in terrorist acts against security forces, and that weapons and ammunition were found with them.The Pakistani government is waging battles against armed groups in many provinces of the country, after militant attacks led to the deaths of many civilians, soldiers, and security forces.Earlier in December, 25 Pakistani soldiers were killed in two incidents in one day in Kulachi and Darazinda. (QNA)
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday granted former Prime Minister Imran Khan bail in a case related to a leak of state secrets, but he remains in jail on other charges.Khan - detained since August - alleges the powerful military is colluding with dynastic parties that have long dominated Pakistan to crush his political party and prevent him from standing for office."The case has completely collapsed, and Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi have finally been granted bail," lawyer Salman Safdar told reporters outside court, referring to Khans former foreign minister who is being held in the same case.The Supreme Court in its short order said "there are not reasonable grounds for believing" that an offence under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a possible 14-year prison term or death sentence, was committed by Khan."There are sufficient grounds for further inquiry into their guilt of said offence, which is to be finally decided by the learned trial court," the top court said.Khan remains incarcerated over numerous separate corruption cases. He has faced several charges since he was ousted from office in April 2022. (QNA)
Pakistan police busted an organ trafficking ring run by a disgraced doctor and a motor mechanic, who conducted at least 328 illegal kidney transplants, authorities said.Fawad Mukhtar -- a doctor already arrested five times for malpractice -- used the unnamed mechanic as a surgical assistant and anaesthetist on vulnerable patients lured from hospitals, according to a police probe.The chief minister of Punjab province Mohsin Naqvi said transplants were conducted in private homes, at times without the patient's knowledge, with kidneys sold for up to 10 million rupees ($35,000) each.The arrested eight-man gang was said to be operating across eastern Punjab province as well as in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, causing at least three fatalities."The facts and figures that have come to us make the heart tremble," Naqvi said during a press conference on Sunday night."There are a lot more transplants and illegal surgeries than this. These are the ones that we have confirmed."Pakistan outlawed the commercial trade of human organs in 2010, imposing a decade-long jail term and steep fines in hopes of curbing sales to overseas clients by exploitative middlemen.In January, Punjab police busted another organ trafficking ring when a missing 14-year-old boy was found in an underground lab after having his kidney removed.
Blasts hit two mosques in provinces bordering AfghanistanFirst kills 52, second five; officials expect toll to riseLatest of surge of attacks in run-up to elections in JanuarySuicide bombings ripped through two mosques in Pakistan on Friday, killing at least 57 people and injuring dozens more, police and health officials said.No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blasts, one of which was reported to have trapped dozens under rubble.A surge in militant attacks in Pakistan's western provinces has cast a shadow on election preparations and public campaigning in the run-up to January's general elections, but until now the attacks had mostly targeted security forces.The first blast, in Mastung in the southwestern province of Balochistan, killed at least 52 people, according to district health official Abdul Rasheed, and injured another 58, many of them seriously."The bomber detonated himself near a police vehicle near Madina Mosque, where people were gathering for a procession," added senior police official Munir Ahmed.The second attack, in neighbouring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, killed five people at a mosque, according to rescue officials. The roof collapsed, broadcaster Geo News said, trapping about 30 to 40 people under the rubble.The attack involved two explosions, one of which was at the mosque gate and the other in the compound, an official said."Luckily one blast was at the gate so worshippers were able to exit the mosque; as a result the casualties are low," said the deputy commissioner of Hangu district, Fazal Akbar.Both provinces border Afghanistan and have suffered attacks in recent years by militants aiming to overthrow Pakistan's government."Bodies were strewn in pieces at the site and the injured were crying for help," said Munir Ahmed Shahwani, at the site of the Balochistan bombing.He said people were looking for loved ones who had planned to take part in the procession: "I saw at least 25 bodies on the spot, which included small children."A deputy superintendent of police was among those killed as he oversaw security arrangements in the area, police said. Television showed hundreds of people helping the injured into ambulances.The gathering, in which people were carrying flags and banners, was at a mosque belonging to the Barelvi sect.Caretaker Prime Minister Anwar ul Haq Kakar, in Saudi Arabia for the religious pilgrimage of Umrah, condemned the blasts and called for full support for victims.Kakar heads a caretaker government meant to oversee general elections scheduled for the last week of January.Militant attacks have surged since 2022 when a ceasefire broke down between the government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).The TTP, responsible for some of the bloodiest attacks in Pakistan since its formation in 2007, denied responsibility for Friday's blasts.TTP also denied involvement in a Peshawar police mosque bombing in January that killed 100 people, but a faction of the umbrella group later claimed the attack.In July, more than 40 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at a religious political party's gathering. The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for that attack.
The owner and operator of a stricken cable car that dangled over a Pakistan ravine for more than 12 hours have been arrested after repeatedly ignoring safety warnings, police said Thursday.Six teenage boys were among eight people left stranded hundreds of feet in the air when two of the three chairlift cables snapped on Tuesday, leading to a daring rescue mission that brought them to safety."The cables being utilised were of subpar quality, and the machines were also in need of overhauling," Tahir Ayub Khan, a senior police official in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told AFP."The initial notice was issued to the owner in June, followed by a second notification served in August."He said the owner had received directives to refurbish the machinery, enhance the quality of the chains and obtain a safety certificate from the local administration."Both the cable car operator and the owner have been arrested by the police for an investigation into the disaster," Khan said.Amjad Ali, another police official, confirmed that the arrests were made on Wednesday.The six children had been on their way to school accompanied by two adults when the chairlift broke down Tuesday morning midway through its journey above the remote Allai Valley."Some of the children were so frustrated and were considering to jump down, but the elder passenger gave us confidence," 15-year-old Rizwan Ullah told AFP on Wednesday."When the cable car was twisting, we were terrified and we started reciting the Koran and gave confidence to each other not to jump down."In a daring rescue operation, military helicopters plucked the first child from the chairlift and brought the student to safety after flying several sorties in the area.Rescuers then used the cable keeping the gondola from plunging into the valley as a zipline to rescue the seven others stranded late into Tuesday night.Cable cars that carry passengers -- and sometimes even cars -- are common across the northern areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Gilgit-Baltistan, and are vital in connecting villages and towns in areas where roads cannot be built.Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar issued a directive for all chairlifts in mountainous areas to be inspected and for those that are not "safety compliant" to be immediately closed.In 2017, 10 people were killed when a chairlift cable broke, sending passengers plunging into a ravine in a mountain hamlet near the capital Islamabad.
Military helicopters and zipline experts on Tuesday rescued eight people, including six school children, trapped for hours in a stricken cable car high above a remote Pakistan valley.The daring rescue began with a helicopter plucking two children to safety after almost 12 hours in the air as daylight faded, but the chopper was forced back to base in the dark.Then rescuers used the cable keeping the gondola from plunging into the valley as a zipline to rescue the rest of those stranded late into Tuesday night."The rescue operation has been completed. The two adults were the last to be rescued," Bilal Faizi, from the Pakistan emergency service Rescue 1122.The military confirmed the rescue efforts had successfully concluded.A video of the first rescue showed a teenager in a harness hanging at the bottom of a swinging rope under a helicopter as crowds cheered with relief.Rescuers set up a temporary camp on a mountaintop and were providing first aid, Faizi said.The six children had been on their way to school when the chairlift broke down at around 7am (0200 GMT) midway through its journey, hanging above the lush green Allai valley.Residents used mosque loudspeakers to alert neighbourhood officials of the emergency and hundreds of people gathered on both sides of the ravine -- hours away from any sizeable town -- to watch the drama unfold.Several military helicopters had earlier in the day flown sorties and an airman was lowered by a harness to deliver food, water and medicine, Rehman, the official, told AFP."Great team work by the military, rescue departments, district administration as well as the local people," caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar posted on X.He earlier issued a directive for all chairlifts in mountainous areas to be inspected and for those that are not safe to be immediately closed.Earlier in the day, as the rescue operation unfolded, headmaster Ali Asghar Khan told AFP by phone that the children were teenage boys and students at his government high school Battangi Pashto."The school is located in a mountainous area and there are no safe crossings, so it's common to use the chairlift," Khan said."The parents are gathered at the site of the chairlift. What can they do? They are waiting for the rescue officials to get their children out. We are all worried."Abid Ur Rehman, a teacher from another school in the area, said around 500 people had gathered to watch the rescue mission."Parents and women are crying for the safety of their children," he told AFP.Syed Hammad Haider, a senior Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial official, said the gondola was hanging about 1,000 to 1,200 feet above the ground.Cable cars that carry passengers -- and sometimes even cars -- are common across the northern areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Gilgit-Baltistan, and are vital in connecting villages and towns in areas where roads cannot be built.In 2017, 10 people were killed when a chairlift cable broke, sending passengers plunging into a ravine in a mountain hamlet near the capital Islamabad.
At least 18 people burned to death on Sunday when an overnight bus smashed into another vehicle carrying diesel in eastern Pakistan, officials said.The accident took place on a motorway at around 4:30 am (2330 GMT on Saturday) near the town of Pindi Bhattian in eastern Punjab province."Within five minutes, the whole bus was engulfed in flames. Eighteen people burned alive whereas 16 others were injured, of whom four are critical," senior police officer Fahad Ahmed told AFP on the phone."It seems that the driver of the bus dozed off."The Suzuki open-back van was carrying drums of diesel and petrol.Ramshackle highways, lax safety measures and reckless driving contribute to Pakistan's dire road safety record.Passenger buses are frequently crammed to capacity and seatbelts are not commonly worn, meaning high death tolls from single vehicle accidents are common.In January, at least 40 people died when a bus plunged off a bridge in southwestern Pakistan and burst into flames.
A prominent human rights activist and a former lawmaker were arrested overnight, police said Sunday, after they rallied against enforced disappearances in Pakistan.Lawyer Imaan Mazari-Hazir and politician Ali Wazir on Friday appeared at the first protest in months to be staged by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), which fights for the rights of ethnic Pashtuns."Both of the accused were wanted for investigation. All the proceedings will be carried in accordance with the law," police in the capital Islamabad said, without giving details of the charges.A PTM spokesman told AFP that dozens more members have also been detained since the protest.PTM was launched to fight against what it says are military excesses committed during anti-terrorism operations in the country's northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where most Pashtuns live.The military has denied the accusations.Up to 3,000 people attended the protest in Islamabad, where both Mazari-Hazir and Wazir gave speeches condemning harassment against Pashtuns and called for missing people to be returned."You are being stopped as if you are the terrorists, while the (Pakistan) Taliban have taken over your homes again," Mazari-Hazir told the crowds in a video posted on social media.She repeated the party's slogan, "It's the uniform behind terrorism".Shireen Mazari, the country's human rights minister under former prime minister Imran Khan, said her daughter had been taken from her home in Islamabad by plainclothes women who did not present warrants."My daughter was in her night clothes and said 'let me change' but they just dragged her away," Shireen Mazari posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.Wazir is a PTM founding member who has long been an outspoken critic of the military and their clearance operations in the former tribal areas that border Afghanistan.He was part of the outgoing government, representing the PTM, which dissolved earlier this month and has been arrested many times.Both appeared at court in Islamabad on Sunday."It's unacceptable and points to a larger, more worrying pattern of state-sanctioned violence against people exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly," the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in a statement.Amnesty International called on the government to release Mazari-Hazir."If Imaan has been detained for her participation at this jalsa, she must be immediately and unconditionally released as this would be a violation of her rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression," the rights group said.
The vice-chairman of jailed Pakistani former prime minister Imran Khan's party was arrested on Saturday, a spokesman said, part of a widening crackdown on the former ruling party.Authorities have made widespread arrests targeting Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in recent months, crushing his grassroots power by rounding up thousands of his supporters as well as senior leaders.Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who served as Khan's foreign minister, was arrested in the capital Islamabad shortly after giving a press conference in which he slammed authorities for delaying elections."He was arrested from his residence by Islamabad police. We don't have any further details yet," a PTI official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP.Khan, a former international cricket star turned politician, was jailed earlier this month after being convicted of graft in one of the more than 200 cases he has faced since being ousted as PM in a no-confidence vote in April 2022.The three-year sentence disqualifies him from taking part in elections, although many politicians - including outgoing prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and his brother former premier Nawaz Sharif - have in the past had convictions overturned to make a comeback.Sharif's shaky coalition government that replaced Khan dissolved parliament earlier this month, with a caretaker government led by little-known politician Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar sworn in to lead the country until elections.Elections are due within 90 days according to the constitution, but there has been speculation for months that they would be delayed as the government and military grapple to stabilise a country facing overlapping security, economic and political crises.Data from the latest national census was finally published earlier this month, and the outgoing government said the election commission needed time to redraw constituency boundaries.
Opposition leader says Kakar, a surprise pick, was its candidateCaretaker PM to pick cabinet after being sworn into officeImran Khan's party calls on Kakar to hold free, fair pollsPakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and opposition leader Raja Riaz agreed on Saturday to name Senator Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar as caretaker premier to oversee elections, the Prime Minister's office said.Kakar, 52, a little-known politician from the southwestern province of Balochistan, will name a cabinet and head a government to steer the nation through economic and political crises until a new government is elected."The prime minister (Sharif) and leader of opposition have jointly signed the advice which will be sent to the president for approval," the statement said.President Arif Alvi approved Kakar's appointment, the president's office said in a statement.Under Pakistan's constitution, a neutral caretaker government oversees national elections, which must be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the parliament's lower house - which in this instance means early November.The choice of caretaker prime minister has assumed greater importance because the candidate will have extra powers to make policy decisions on economic matters, while the elections may be delayed by up to six months.The Election Commission has to draw new boundaries for hundreds of federal and provincial constituencies and, based on that, it will give an election date.Riaz told broadcaster Geo News that he believed elections would take place in February next year, and not as scheduled before November.Kakar, who Riaz said was the opposition's candidate for premiership, has been serving a six-year term in Pakistan's Senate since 2018, but his selection came as a surprise as he had not even been mentioned earlier as a prospective candidate.His mineral-rich home province of Balochistan is Pakistan's largest by size, but smallest by population, and has been a hotbed of violent nationalist insurgency for decades.Kakar is listed as an independent politician by the Senate, but is reported by local media to be a part of the Balochistan Awami Party, which is widely considered to be close to the country's powerful military.The military continues to have a huge role behind the scenes in Pakistan. It has ruled the country directly for over three decades of its 76-year existence, and wields significant power in politics.Political analysts say that if the caretaker set-up stretches beyond its constitutional tenure, a prolonged period without an elected government would allow the military to consolidate control.The party of former prime minister Imran Khan, who is currently in jail and barred from contesting elections for five years following his conviction for corruption, expressed hope that Kakar would ensure free, fair and credible elections."If there are questions over the credibility of elections, there will be no political stability, which is critical for economic certainty," former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is currently leading Khan's party, said in a TV interview.Economic stabilisation is the top challenge with the $350 billion economy on a narrow recovery pathafter an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout averted a sovereign debt default. Economic reforms have already fuelled historic inflation and interest rates.Political uncertainty is a factor after Khan's jailing and ban. There was no violence following his arrest, unlike in May when his supporters went on the rampage , but his continued detention will raise questions about the credibility of the election.
Pakistan's outgoing prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, and the leader of the opposition will on Thursday meet to pick a caretaker leader to oversee a general election due by November, a government official said.Sharif and opposition leader Raja Riaz will meet in the afternoon, said the official in the prime minister's office, who declined to be identified pending the announcement of the meeting.Under the constitution, the two have three days to reach agreement on a caretaker. If they can't, the decision will go to a parliamentary committee, and if it can't, then the Election Commission of Pakistan will decide.The lower house of parliament was dissolved on Wednesday, three days before the end of its five-year term on Aug. 12.A general election in the South Asian country of 241 million people should be held in 90 days but it could be delayed for several months because the election commission has to redraw the boundaries of hundreds of constituencies based on a new census data.Any delay could fuel public anger and add to uncertainty in the nuclear-armed country, analysts say.Sharif led a coalition government of nearly a dozen parties after they voted out his predecessor, Imran Khan, whose party won the last election in 2018, in a no-confidence vote in parliament last year.The former cricket star has been at the heart of months of political turmoil since he was ousted, raising new worries about stability. He has since been jailed in connection with a graft case and has, as a result, been barred from taking part in an election for five years.
A Pakistani high court on Wednesday turned down an appeal by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan that his conviction on corruption charges be suspended, his lawyer said, suggesting it was unlikely he would be released on bail anytime soon.Khan, 70, has been at the centre of political turmoil since he was ousted last year as prime minister in a no-confidence vote, raising concerns about Pakistan's stability as it grapples with an economic crisis.He has been barred from holding any public office for five years since he commenced a three-year prison sentence on Saturday on charges of unlawfully selling state gifts acquired by him and his family during his 2018-2022 tenure.The court asked the concerned authorities to respond to Khan's plea to be moved to an A-class jail cell in a prison in Rawalpindi, which has better facilities that he is entitled to as a former prime minister, his lawyer Naeem Panjutha said outside the court.The case was adjourned for an indefinite time, Panjutha said, adding; "Our request to suspend the conviction wasn't accepted."The court will issue a written order later in the day.Khan, who has denied any wrongdoing, was arrested at his Lahore house and is currently in a prison near Islamabad.
The prison selected by the government to detain former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, convicted of graft, is a lowly and distant facility that houses hardened criminals and does not have facilities that political prisoners are entitled to, his party and lawyers said on Monday.It is a dramatic fall from the luxurious lifestyle that Khan, the charismatic cricketer-turned-politician, has along been associated with in Pakistan and abroad as a sporting icon and national hero.Following his conviction on Saturday, Khan was to be sent to Rawalpindi's Adiala jail according to an arrest warrant seen by Reuters, but he was moved to District Jail Attock instead, about 80 kilometres west of Islamabad."He feels he has been brought to this jail purposely because there are no 'A-class' or 'B-class' facilities here," one of Khan's lawyers, Nameem Panjutha, said after meeting him on Monday, referring to the higher class cells that have more facilities for inmates.Attock jail, established in 1905 during British colonial rule of the subcontinent, covers 67 acres, with a built structure of 17 acres, according to the facility's website. It is overcrowded, housing more than 800 prisoners against an authorised accommodation of about 530, the government website says.Attock jail is not as high-profile or central as other larger prisons such as Adiala jail, where several former prime ministers have been kept in Pakistan's 76-year history in which no elected premier has completed a full term.Panjutha said Khan was being kept in a cramped cell, but Gulzar Butt, a retired jailor who served at Attock, told Reuters that the cells in the prison have been modified in recent years to all measure the same 10 foot by 12 foot (3x3.7 metres) size.While the prison is low-key, officials and witnesses say the security of the prison has been ramped up since Khan was moved there.Inside, Khan's lawyers say he is facing testing conditions."It is a small room which has got an open washroom where he said there were flies in the daytime and insects in the night," Panjutha said.He said there was no air conditioning in an area known for high temperatures and humidity during the summer and monsoon months, adding that Khan was spending his time praying and reading the Koran - the Muslim holy book.Khan, the lawyer added, has no access to television, which his lawyers say he is entitled to given that he is a former prime minister. He was being given basic jail food, including lentils and bread, Panjutha said.The information minister of Punjab, which controls the prison, and the chief of the jail, did not respond to requests for comment on the lawyer's allegations.It's a sudden fall for 70-year-old Khan, who grew up in an affluent family in Lahore, Pakistan's second-biggest city, studied at the University of Oxford, and later developed a playboy reputation in London in the late 1970s as his cricket career flourished.Khan has two homes in Pakistan - one a sprawling hilltop mansion in Islamabad and another a luxurious home in the most affluent area of Lahore.He has been convicted of misusing his 2018-2022 premiership to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than 140 million Pakistani rupees ($490,000).Butt, the retired jailor, said prisoners were categorised into A, B or C at the jail. If a prisoner was deemed to be important, provincial authorities could send instructions to the jail administration."The superintendent would then give the prisoner a separate cell, allow his family to provide him food, assign unarmed guards for his safety and provide him with a few prisoners with a good record to serve him ... Mostly, prominent people get B class," Butt said.A prisoner can also, on special request, get an air-conditioner installed in the cell at their own expense after approval from the provincial authorities, and would also have to foot the electricity bill themselves, Butt added.Khan's legal team said they are applying for better conditions for the former prime minister.
Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan's lawyers were on Monday attempting to launch legal challenges against his three year-sentence for graft that has ruled him out of contesting national elections.The former international cricket star was arrested at his home on Saturday and taken to jail for charges he has previously said are politically motivated.His lawyers have so far been denied access to him at Attock Jail, established 100 years ago on the outskirts of historical Attock city, around 60 kilometres (40 miles) west of the capital, Islamabad.On Monday, petitions were being filed in Islamabad and Lahore High Courts demanding power of attorney for the jailed former leader, which would allow lawyers to challenge his conviction.A petition has also been filed to request that Khan be held in an 'A-class' cell, more comfortable than other quarters and usually reserved for VIP inmates.At a court hearing Khan did not attend Saturday, a judge found him guilty of graft in relation to gifts he received while prime minister and sentenced him to three years in jail.Anyone convicted of a criminal offence is disqualified from contesting elections in Pakistan, and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Sunday that parliament would likely be dissolved on Wednesday -- days ahead of the end of its natural term.This would give the incoming interim government until mid-November to hold an election, but there is already speculation it could be delayed following the release Saturday of the country's latest census data.Law minister Azam Nazeer Tarar told a local television channel that constituencies would have to be redrawn according to the new census, warning there could be a delay to polls of up to two and a half months.Khan's arrest and detention for three days in connection with the same case in May sparked deadly violence when his supporters took to the streets in the tens of thousands, clashing with police.But a massive crackdown by the authorities that saw thousands of PTI supporters rounded up - some still in prison - and a muzzling of the press has vastly diminished his street power, even if his popularity remains high.
Pakistani former Prime Minister Imran Khan's lawyers could not reach him on Sunday after he spent the night in a jail near the capital following his arrest the previous day on a corruption conviction, a spokesperson said.Khan was taken by police from his home in the eastern city of Lahore on Saturday and transferred to the jail just outside Islamabad, where a court had convicted him of charges arising over the sale of state gifts. The conviction likely means the cricket star-turned-politician will be disqualified from running in a national election."Attock prison is a 'No Go' area for (his) legal team as well as locals in the vicinity," said Naeem Haider Panjotha, Khan's spokesperson for legal affairs, adding they were unable to take him food or arrange the signing of legal documents.Pakistan's information minister referred a request for comment on Khan's access to his lawyers to provincial authorities in Punjab, where the jail is located. Punjab's top information official could not immediately be reached for comment.It was not clear whether Khan would appear in court on Monday, after a trial court's surprise weekend decision sentencing him to three years in prison.The arrest was the latest in a series of blows that have weakened Khan's political standing, after he fell out with Pakistan's powerful military and his party splintered.His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said it had filed appeals in higher courts over the decision.The nationwide reaction was largely quiet, a contrast to widespread violent clashes that plunged the country into turmoil after Khan's several-day arrest in May, despite calls by his party on Saturday for nationwide peaceful protests.Thousands of Khan's aides and supporters have been arrested since May, according to the interior minister. Many pro-Khan parliamentarians were also arrested and have distanced themselves from Khan, with some resigning from politics.His arrest came days before the government was expected to dissolve parliament, which would normally lead to elections by November. But the government decided on Saturday to use the latest census as part of election procedure, potentially delaying the vote.Britain's foreign office said on Saturday it was closely monitoring the situation and supported democratic principles. Pakistan's government denies Khan's arrest was related to the election.Legal experts say the conviction means Khan would likely be disqualified form politics for five years.His vice chairman, former foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, has taken the helm of PTI in his absence.
Factory worker Lubna Babar was made redundant at the beginning of the year, a victim of a crisis in the Pakistan textile industry that has seen it lose ground to more nimble Asian competitors."When you lose your job, your life comes to a close," the 43-year-old from Lahore told AFP."We've been working in factories for years... the day you get sacked, the story ends there."Pakistan's industrial manufacturing sector -- like elsewhere in the world -- has suffered from the slowdown in global consumption and the rise in energy costs following the outbreak of war in Ukraine.But the difficulties of the textile sector, which accounts for 60 percent of Pakistan's exports, are compounded by the critical state of the economy and months of political chaos.In Pakistan, the industry was buoyed at the tail end of the coronavirus pandemic, when it was freed of restrictions earlier than regional rivals India and Bangladesh and benefited from government financial aid, including slashed energy rates.In 2022-2023, however, textile exports fell by 15 percent to $16.5 billion."Two years ago, we were on a very high growth trajectory... we were confident that our exports this year would go to $25 billion," said Hamid Zaman, managing director of Sarena Textile Industries."Unfortunately, when you have political instability and things are not clear, and the policies of the government are reversed, this whole thing has gone into a tailspin," he told AFP.The political chaos started in April last year, when Imran Khan was dismissed as prime minister by a vote of no-confidence.His attempts to parlay popular public support into a movement to force an early election saw him arrested in May, leading to violence that only ended with a massive crackdown on his party and its supporters.He was convicted of graft on Saturday and sentenced to three years in jail.- Factories shutting down -The textile and clothing sector employs around 40 percent of the country's 20 million-strong industrial workforce.The main export markets are the US, EU, the UK, Turkey, and the UAE, supplying cotton fabrics, knitwear, bed linen, towels, and ready-made garments to global brands such as Zara, H&M, Adidas, John Lewis, Target and Macy's.But many factories have closed in recent months -- at least temporarily -- or are no longer running at full capacity."Perhaps 25 to 30 percent of all textile factories have closed. It is estimated that perhaps 700,000 jobs have been lost in the last year or year and a half," said Zaman.Babar felt this keenly, having looked for work at other factories -- but they were also laying off employees."They said they were no longer receiving orders from abroad," she said. After devastating floods in the summer of 2022, cotton production in Pakistan fell to an all-time low.The textile industry was unable to compensate by buying from abroad because of a freeze on imports imposed by the government to preserve its forex reserves.Thousands of containers filled with raw materials and machinery essential for the country's industries were held up for months in the southern port of Karachi.Textile companies also saw the cost of capital rise significantly, contending with interest rates of more than 20 percent as the central bank sought to curb record-breaking inflation.- 'Not a solution' -Pakistan finally managed to consolidate its foreign exchange reserves with the approval in mid-July of a $3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and additional assistance from China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates."But that's not a solution, it's just getting deeper and deeper into debt," said Kamran Arshad, managing director of Ghazi Fabrics International."The only way forward is enhancing Pakistan's exports and creating an environment that is investor-friendly that would incentivise industrial production and activity," he added.One of the conditions of the IMF bailout was an end to subsidies on energy, leading to a sharp rise in the cost of electricity, which affects the competitiveness of textile companies."Our biggest challenge going forward is having energy prices that are substantially higher than those of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and China," said Arshad."We're not asking for subsidies. Realistically we are asking for regionally competitive energy prices."In the face of these challenges, the country's textile manufacturers have lost customers globally."Pakistan's overall market share in the textile and garment industry was nearly 2.25 percent about two years ago. Now it's down to around 1.7 percent," said Aamir Fayyaz Sheikh, CEO of Kohinoor Mills.Sheikh sees some hope if the political situation settles following an election due before the end of the year."After the elections there will be more political clarity and that will help bring more economic stability," he said.But for ordinary workers like Babar, there is little light at the end of the tunnel."Life is getting harder every day," said the mother of three."We cook once and make it last for two days. And if we don't have any food, we make do, without complaining."
Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan was found guilty of graft Saturday and sentenced to three years in jail, state TV said, in a case involving gifts he received while premier."Judge Humayun Dilawar announced that involvement in corrupt practices has been proven," Pakistan TV said.Khan was not present for the hearing at the Islamabad High Court, and the judge ordered his arrest.Khan is facing over 150 cases brought against him since being ousted in April last year -- charges he says are politically motivated.Khan's legal team said they would be filing an immediate appeal."It's important to mention there was no chance given to present witnesses, neither was time allotted to round up arguments," a member of the team said.