Nawaz constitutes parliamentary board for finalising PML-N Senate nominees



ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday constituted a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parliamentary board to finalise the party’s nominees for the upcoming Senate elections.

The board is chaired by the prime minister himself, while Finance Minister Ishaq Dar will be its convener.

According to a press release from the PM’s Office, the board would constitute Raja Zafarul Haq, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Pir Sabir Shah, PML-N provincial president Ismail Rahu, PML-N Balochistan chief Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, Senator Sardar Yaqoob Nasir, Dr Asif Kirmani and Nuzhat Sadiq.


PM Nawaz arrives in Karachi for security meeting



KARACHI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday arrived in Karachi to discuss the overall security situation in the city and particularly the implementation of National Action Plan, Express News reported.

In the city for just a few hours, the premier will head a high-level security meeting at the Governor House.

PM Nawaz, along with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, will also meet Muttahida Qaumi Movement leaders and will be briefed on the killing of MQM worker Sohail Ahmed.

 


India an important neighbour for us: PM Nawaz



ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said it is important for both Pakistan and India to resolve all their outstanding issues, including the Kashmir dispute in order to ensure peace and stability in the region. 

Speaking to Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit, the premier said the country would like to have normal relations with India on basis of mutual respect and sovereign equality.

“India is an important neighbour for us,” said the premier at the PM House.

The prime minister also reiterated that Pakistan wants to maintain good neighbourly relations with all countries in the region.

Basit called on PM Nawaz and briefed him on the status of Pakistan-India relations.

Just two days ago, the premier got his words across with a letter of felicitations for his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on India’s 66th Republic Day.

RELATED POST: Nawaz pens letter to Modi in attempt to thaw icy relations with India

PM Nawaz expressed his desire to forge “friendly and cooperative” relations between the two neighbouring countries.


Nawaz pens letter to Modi in attempt to thaw icy relations with India



While India celebrates its 66th Republic Day — with a high-profile official visit by the US president — just weeks after trading heavy crossfire on its borders with Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif got his words across with a letter of felicitations for his Indian counterpart.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has written a letter to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, expressing his desire to forge “friendly and cooperative” relations between the two neighbouring countries.

Felicitating, on behalf of people and government of Pakistan, Modi and the people of India on their 66th Republic Day, the prime minister wrote, “It is our sincere wish to forge relations between our two countries.”

Reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to developing friendly relations with India on the basis of sovereign equality, respect and common interests, the premier said that Pakistan believes that both countries can work together for the well being of people of countries, development and attainment of common goal of peaceful and prosperous region.

“I avail myself of this opportunity to you, and for the happiness and prosperity of the people of Indian,” Nawaz wrote.

The year kicked off with an escalation in deadly border violations, with two soldiers being killed in cross-border firing with Indian border guards near the Sialkot working boundary on January 1, spurring a ‘strong’ protest from Islamabad.

Islamabad has blamed New Delhi for ceasefire violations along the LoC and working boundary in a bid to distract its security forces from the ongoing fight against terrorism.

A constant blame game and trust-deficit has prevented the two nuclear neighbors from normalising bilateral ties despite a promising start last year when Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi.

Furthermore, India abruptly cancelled high-level talks with Pakistan last year after the Pakistani high commissioner was seen meeting Hurriyat leaders in India.


As dissent grows, PM Nawaz takes control of party matters in Balochistan



ISLAMABAD: In view of the upcoming Senate elections, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday decided to take matters pertaining to the Balochistan government in his own hands, sources told The Express Tribune.

Ahead of the premier’s departure to attend the funeral of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, he chaired a meeting to discuss issues related to the province at the PM House.

RELATED: PM Nawaz pays tribute to King Abdullah as he departs to attend funeral

The meeting handout stated that matters associated with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Balochistan would be discussed.

Leadership in Balochistan had reportedly complained that issues pertaining to their constituencies were not being addressed by the current regime in the province.

PML-N has the highest majority of seats in Balochistan and, according to sources, PM Nawaz has taken control of all party issues to satisfy the reservations of all parties.

Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, Federal Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch alongside other officials and ministers were in attendance of the meeting.

The premier, on Thursday, was apprised on the situation in the province by PML-N’s Balochistan president , Sardar Sanaullah Zehri.

Sources have also said that Zehri handed over a long list of development projects for PML-N’s lawmakers to the PM and requested him to direct Balochistan’s CM to implement them immediately.

According to an official statement about today’s meeting, the prime minister asked the provincial government to ensure proper governance within the province.

PM Nawaz had also informed that the federal government is providing increased funds for the development of the province with particular focus on the development of infrastructure.

RELATED: Development forum: PM to divert extra funds to Balochistan

He had earlier said that Balochistan is an important part of the country and both provincial and federal governments should work in coordination for the optimum utilisation of the mineral resources in the province, adding that the development of the Gawadar Port along with the construction of the Pak-China Economic Corridor which would bring prosperity for the people of Balochistan.

RELATED: PM inaugurates Balochistan Development Forum 

Balochistan Assembly will be electing 12 Senators on March 3.


PM Nawaz pays tribute to King Abdullah as he departs to attend funeral



ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced one-day mourning in Pakistan for late King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz and departed for Saudi Arabia to attend the King’s funeral.

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz died on Friday in Riyadh. Believed to be around 90 years old, the King was hospitalised in December suffering from pneumonia and had been breathing with the aid of a tube.

The funeral prayer for the deceased king will be offered in Masjid Prince Turki Bin Abdul Aziz after Asr prayer in Riyadh. During the mourning period in Pakistan, the national flag will fly at half-mast.

Expressing grief and sorrow over the demise of King Abdullah, PM Nawaz said the late ruler had a “special place in the heart of every Pakistani being the custodian of Islam’s holy mosques”.

He further extended condolences to the Saudi royal family as well as the people of the Kingdom, saying the Pakistani nation stands with their Saudi brethren in this hour of grief.

PM Nawaz had visited the ailing King last week and inquired after his health.


Yasir Nawaz takes a creative detour



KARACHI: 

Model-turned-actor and now director Yasir Nawaz aims to be an all-rounder. With major productions lined up to release this Eid season, he aims at exhibiting his debut feature film Dekh Magar Pyar Say on the cinema screens by March end.

Discussing his novice project as a filmmaker, he says, “It’s a cinema feature film. It is tentatively titled Dekh Magar Pyar Se and will be a commercial film. Naach gaana hona chahiye.” He feels that the entertainment quotient of the Pakistani film industry is low. “We have already dealt with mainstream issues and serious subjects in our movies. Now, it’s time to stress on entertainment,” he comments. He attempts to change that with his film. “My film is a romantic comedy with dance and excitement.”  The film’s cast includes Danish Taimoor, Sohai Ali Abro, Janita, Javed Shiekh and Shafqat Cheema.

While Yasir lauds the efforts being made towards reviving Pakistani cinema, he feels there is room for improvement. “I think it will take six more years to declare that we are on to the road to revival,” he stated. “Our cinema must make a place for itself internationally. I would earnestly urge the crowds to support local movies.”

Of his television debut in the mid-1990s, he shares, “Besides TV, I didn’t have another option to start with. One of my brothers had become an engineer and another was pursuing a medical degree. At that time, TV used to offer less money because we only had two channels at the time, the state-run PTV and the private STN.” Yasir’s father, the late actor Fareed Nawaz Baloch, wanted him to pursue a career in the police force, but realised his son had the aptitude for acting.

The multi-talented Yasir is driven by his knack for adapting to changing trends of the industry and credits his success to it. “I was confident about my observational skills and I believed that they, alone, would hone my acting ability,” he states. “I started getting work quickly and it kept progressing over the time.”

Yasir belongs to a family of television luminaries; his brother Danish often plays comic characters on the screen, his wife Nida is an actor and a morning-show host, and his father-in-law is known director-producer Kazim Pasha. But he never depended on his family to give him a shot at stardom. “The best thing about this field is that if you have talent, you shine on your own. A talented person needs no one’s support.”

He wishes to impart liberal arts education to his children if they wish to pursue a career in the field. “When I was young, parents didn’t think it was suitable for us to be taught media studies. But now, I want my children to be trained in media sciences from abroad. They must study filmmaking from a foreign country if they are interested in the subject,” he says.

Yasir with wife Nida

Yasir, who has previously worked with Nida and Danish, states that working with family is no easy feat. “When we work together, we fight a lot. So, I prefer working separately.” Proud of his family’s accomplishments, he states, “There is no competition between us since we are family. Also, we excel at diverse genres. Nida is primarily a host, Danish is into comedy roles, and I’m involved with directing plays.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd,  2015.

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Back to square one: PTI demand Nawaz to step down, fresh elections



ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) on Wednesday demanded Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his cabinet step down due to their failure to resolve the ongoing fuel crisis in the country. 

“The prime minister and his cabinet should resign and there should be fresh elections,” PTI Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari said at a press conference in Islamabad, adding that no one from the government had taken responsibility for the crisis.

“The minister [of petroleum] should have resigned, or the PM should have fired him,” she added.

“This is a ghost government,” Mazari said.

“The prime minister and federal ministers are enjoying perks and privileges, and are not doing anything else.”

She expressed concern over an electricity crisis, which she believed was in the making. “There will be no electricity in the coming days as furnace oil reserves are running empty,” she added.

Mazari said the incumbent government had abdicated its authority during the last few months, therefore, should no longer remain in power.

“It is the ISPR which is issuing statements on the war on terror, but it is the responsibility of the information ministry,” she pointed out.

“The government has done nothing regarding the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP), except conducting meetings while the army has played its role,” she added.

Taking credit for the reduction in petroleum prices, she said, “It was because of our sit-in that the government reduced prices.”

Resignation from assemblies

Responding to a question regarding acceptance of PTI resignations from the Sindh Assembly, Mazari said, “Resignations in Karachi have been accepted, and it seems resignations in Punjab and the National Assembly would be accepted soon.”

“We will not return to assemblies unless our demand of the judicial commission is met, and until there is investigation into rigging of the 2013 general elections,” she added.

“The government had made a commitment to constitute a judicial commission, but backtracked on it.”

The PTI ended its protest campaign and 126-day long sit-in keeping in view the security and political situation after the Peshawar attack.

“The PTI has supported the government in the war against terrorism, while putting aside differences,” she added.

When asked about the status of dialogue with the government, Mazari said talks were moving forward and there was flexibility in the government’s response.

“The government has shown flexibility because it knows really well that the PTI has street power and can put it to a standstill,” the PTI information secretary said.

Responding to another question, she said “PTI had not called off its sit-in on the orders of the army.”

“We had neither come out on the streets, nor called off our sit-in based on directions from the army,” she clarified.

Talking about her party’s support in the setting up of military courts in the country, she said PTI did not want to damage the national consensus.

Senate elections

When asked about PTI’s plan about participation in the upcoming Senate elections, Mazari said the party has yet to take a decision in this regard.

She said the issue would be taken up by the core committee once PTI chief Imran Khan returns.

Saudi Arabia plan

In response to a question about the presence of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri in Saudi Arabia at the same time as Imran Khan, Mazari said it was mere a coincidence and nothing more.

Imran has gone for Umrah with his wife Reham Khan, and Qureshi has gone separately with his family.

“We are a political party, why would we meet [Dr Qadri] behind closed doors?,” she questioned.


Nawaz to share screen space with Nicole



Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who has been making waves in Bollywood since the release of Gangs of Wassepur will now be seen making his way towards Hollywood, reported Deccan Chronicle. The actor, known for his roles in Talaash and Kahaani, will star in an international project with Australian actor Nicole Kidman. The film is an adaptation of Saroo Brierley’s book A Long Way Home, and will also feature Slumdog Millionaire actor Dev Patel, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Deepti Naval.

The film will be shot extensively in India and Australia, reported the Hindustan Times. Although reports suggest that the Kick star has yet to give a final nod to the Garth Davis-directed film, he is likely to say yes and begin working on the project as soon as his schedule clears up. “Currently, Nawaz is in Rajasthan shooting for Bajrangi Bhaijaan with Salman Khan. Once he returns from the shoot next month, he will take a final call on this international project. But in all likelihood, he will take it up,” says an insider.

“Even if he has signed the film, it is unlikely that Nawaz will talk about it before the makers make an official announcement,” added the source. Nawazuddin will next be seen next in the movie Badlapur, slated to release on February 20.

Previously, it had been reported that Grace of Monaco actor Kidman, best known for her roles in Days of Thunder, Far And Away, Moulin Rouge!, The Hours and Nine, is in talks to be a part of the Ajay Devgn starrer Shivay. Devgn also said that the film will be one of the highest budget movies of the country with the action director of The Fast and the Furious providing the action choreography for it.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th,  2015.

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PM Nawaz inaugurates Balochistan Development Forum



Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday morning inaugurated the Balochistan Development Forum, terming Balochistan as the main beneficiary in the Pakistan-China economic corridor, Express News reported. 

“The region bares huge potential for the development of agriculture and the coastal areas- Gwadar in particular- offer great opportunities for the socio-economic development of the province s well as the whole country,” the prime minister said.

He lauded the efforts of the Balochistan government in making meaningful progress in the socio-economic uplift of its people over the past one and a half years.

“The development of Balochistan is close to my heart and despite constraints we have provided substantial resources to support and supplement the efforts of the provincial government,” PM Nawaz said, adding that “Rs 61 billion had been allocated in the current financial year which was 37 per cent higher than the 2013-2014 financial year.”