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Pak court suspends jail terms of Sharifs

Monitor News Bureau

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Islamabad, Sep 19: A Pakistani court has suspended the jail sentences given to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and two family members by an anti-corruption court earlier this year, with the three expected to be released after the payment of a bail bond.

Sharif, his daughter Maryam and his son-in-law Muhammad Safdar were convicted in July by an anti-corruption court of not being able to prove the source of assets used to buy a set of upmarket London flats.

On Wednesday, Islamabad High Court judge Athar Minallah ruled that the National Accountability Bureau, Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog, was unable to prove a financial link between the former prime minister and the apartments in question.

 

A two-member bench, led by Minallah, suspended the jail sentences while hearing the Sharifs’ appeal against their convictions.

Their convictions will stand, although their sentences have been suspended.

Sharif had been sentenced to 10 years in jail and a $10.5m fine, his daughter Maryam to a seven-year jail sentence and a $2.6m fine, and Maryam’s husband Safdar to a year in prison.

Sharif remains barred from running for public office for life, after the Supreme Court in April ruled that he had lied on a parliamentary wealth declaration and that the disqualification from that crime would last for an indefinite period.

Sharif, his daughter, and his son-in-law will now each have to pay 500,000 Pakistani rupees (roughly $4,000) in separate surety bonds before their release.

Hamza Shehbaz, Nawaz Sharif’s nephew, said the family was thankful for the ruling.

“Today is a happy day that our leader will be released from jail. We are thankful to Allah. As I said earlier, this verdict from the anti-corruption court, it was clear that there was no corruption proved against Nawaz Sharif. Hopefully, we will show that there is nothing to this case.”

“Today’s fundamental news is that the verdict by the anti-corruption court against Nawaz Sharif was very weak, and … hopefully, we will continue our legal battle against all the other cases.”

A crowd of hundreds of Sharif’s supporters had gathered at the court ahead of the verdict and raised slogans praising him following the announcement of the suspension of the sentence.

The National Accountability Bureau is expected to appeal the Islamabad High Court’s verdict at the Supreme Court.

Hearings in two other corruption cases against Sharif and his family are continuing at an anti-corruption court.

Wednesday’s decision will come as a blow to Sharif’s bitter political rival Imran Khan, who swept a July general election following Sharif’s conviction and jailing.

Khan, now prime minister, was in Saudi Arabia on a state visit when the decision was announced.


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‘10 percent of drug addicts are women’

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Jul 18: Inside a drug de-addiction center of SMHS hospital, a well-built 45-year-old woman could well be mistaken for an attendant. Until she tells you how she got trapped in the vortex of drug-abuse.

A mother of two school going children, she in fact exemplifies how the valley’s drug menace is a half told story. It’s been mostly about the men. Among those visiting de-addiction center are homemakers, students, divorcees’ and working women.

Her story of drug addiction is a byproduct of both turmoil and never-ending grief.  She suffered the first blow when one of her brothers died due to illness and the second shocker came when the clashes at an encounter site claimed the life of her second brother two years ago.

 

“I got hooked to drugs two years back when my two brothers passed away. In an attempt to escape the emotional pain, I sought refuge in sedatives first. The dependence became chronic and eventually it led me to heroin,” she said in a heavy voice.

When she felt lonely, she decided to bite the bullet and seek help from doctors though without informing her husband.

“No-one in the family knows about my addiction. Drug-abuse is a known vice. When a woman is doing drugs, it becomes all the more difficult for the men-in-house to accept the fact,” she said with a sigh.

She did not turn up after her first visit to the Center. But the constant withdrawals and fear of dying due to drug-overdose made her seek the following treatment properly.

“I came here a fortnight ago and am determined to come again for follow ups. The worst nightmare of my life should end now,” she said.

Kashmir has in recent years seen a rise in the cases of drug abuse.

Data of drug de-addiction Centre accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveals that there has been almost 1300 percent increase in the number of patients treated in OPD since April 2016.

Figures reveal that the number of patients treated in OPD were 489 in 2016-2017. The number increased to 3622 in 2017- 2018. The patient load increased to 5113 in 2018-2019. The number of patients treated in OPD in first three months of current financial year is 1095.

In addition, there has been 600 percent increase in the number of patients admitted in the Centre.

Data shows that the number of patients admitted in 2015-2016 was 116. The number increased to 203 in 2015 -2016.  Around 207 were admitted in 2016- 2017 followed by 374 between in 2017-2018. The number increased to 624 in 2018-2019. The patients admitted in first two months of current financial year are 140.

Registrar drug de-addiction centre, SMHS hospital, Dr Salim Yousuf said: “It’s not uncommon for women to get addicted due to easy availability of drugs such as heroin. Nowadays, it has become as easy as ordering pizza.”

Dr Salim noted that 10 percent of the addicts are women. “We are receiving a lot of patients particularly from the regions like Tanghdar and Bijbehara. Now Rajouri and Poonch are also following suit,” he said.

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Wasn’t allowed to take my father’s body, says top Govt official

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 18: A senior official of the Jammu and Kashmir government has alleged that he was stopped while carrying his father’s body back to Srinagar and made to wait for several hours because of the restrictions due to the ongoing Amarnath Yatra.

Imtiyaz Wani, director finance PHE/I&FC department narrated his ordeal in a Facebook post to say that if this is what was done to a government official, what must be happening with the commoners.

“All civil rights are subordinate to Amarnath Yatra while moving from Jammu to Kashmir. I am not being allowed to carry forward my father’s dead body. What hell the life of a common Kashmiri is. Inspector Rakesh of J&K Police on yatra duty categorically said the body shall not be allowed (sic),” Imtiyaz wrote on his Facebook account.

 

His ailing father was shifted to Delhi for treatment. He, however, passed away in the hospital. The family was moving back from Delhi to Jammu. They were travelling towards Srinagar in the early hours of Thursday morning when they were halted on their way.

“When we crossed Nagrota after leaving Jammu with my father’s body, I was stopped. I kept pleading with them that I am a senior public servant but they did not pay any heed. It was only after two hours that they let me take my father’s body. The officer kept saying that he has to allow the Yatris and not dead bodies. It is very sad. We are not against the Yatra but does it suspend our civil rights of taking a deceased person home,” said Imtiyaz.

Traffic police in Jammu, however, said that there are no such orders to stop a body from being transported. “There are no such orders,” Joginder Singh, SSP Traffic Jammu was quoted saying by India Today.

There have been several instances when the civilians in the Valley have complained of problems due to restrictions on the movement of vehicles. A few cases of ambulances being stopped have also surfaced.

Complaints have been pouring in on a daily basis that authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have barred civilian traffic on Qazigund-Nashri stretch of the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway for few hours every day in order to allow incident-free passage to vehicles carrying Amarnath pilgrims.

However, division commissioner of Kashmir in a recent press briefing said that there was no blanket ban.

“There is no ban on civilian movement during the Amarnath Yatra, only traffic regulation,” Baseer Khan, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir said during a press conference in Srinagar last week.

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WORLD’S RICHEST: Bill Gates toppled by LVMH boss Bernard Arnault

Agencies

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New Delhi, Jul 18: Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates, who has never been ranked below the second spot on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index has been pushed to the Number 3 rank by Bernard Arnault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LVMH Moet Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE, aka LVMH.

LVMH pushed Arnault’s net worth to $108 billion. In 2019 alone, Arnault added $39 billion to his fortunes, which is the biggest gain by an individual in all of the 500 people on the list.

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos is the still richest man in the world, with a total net worth of $125 billion. Bill Gates stands at Number 3 with net worth of $107 billion. According to Bloomberg, the trio’s collective wealth exceeds the individual market values of almost every company in the S&P 500 Index that has firms like Walmart Inc, Exxon Mobil Corp and Walt Disney Co on its list.

 

It must be mentioned that Gates’ philanthropic endeavours was one of the biggest reasons for his slip in ranking. Gates donated more than $35 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Without that, he would still have been the richest man.

Arnault and his family are among luxury titans who pledged more than $650 million in April for the reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral after fire ravaged the landmark church. He controls about half of Paris-based LVMH through a family holding company and also owns a 97% stake in Christian Dior, the fashion house founded three years before his birth in 1949.

Arnault entered the luxury-goods market in 1984 by acquiring a textile group that owned Christian Dior. Four years later, he sold the company’s other businesses and used the proceeds to buy a controlling stake in LVMH. His art collection of modern and contemporary paintings includes pieces by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan, Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso.

Jeff Bezos’ fortunes saw an uptick despite his divorce with MacKenzie Bezos, which made her the fourth richest woman in the world, according to Bloomberg. MacKenzie Bezos is ranked 22nd with a net worth of $40.3 billion.

The richest woman, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, daughter and heiress of L’Oreal’s Liliane Bettencourt, is at the Number 10 spot. The second richest woman Alice Walton and third richest woman Jacqueline Mars are ranked 15th and 19th on the list.

The richest Indian, Mukesh Ambani is on the 13th spot, with a net worth of $51.8 billion. Azim Premji is the second-richest Indian to be on the list at the 48th rank with $20.5 billion, followed by Shiv Nadar in the 92nd spot and Uday Kotak on the 96th spot.

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