ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday adjourned the hearing of a suo moto action regarding combating the pandemic of coronavirus (COVID-19).

A five-member larger SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed heard the case.

During the course of proceedings, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal briefed the court about the funds being spent to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and the government’s response to the locust attack.

The court after questioning the NDMA chief termed yesterday’s report as very useful. The chief justice also expressed concern over the condition of quarantine centres and said 10 people were placed side by side in a room. The people were not getting potable water in quarantine centers, whereas cleanliness was also not being ensured there. There were complaints of bribing the authorities by the corona positive patients to leave the quarantine centres.

He said the videos of poor conditions at the quarantine centres were being circulated on the social media.

He said Pakistan was a poor country and the powerful ones were playing with money and did not care for their poor fellows. He said the educated youth were not being utilised to help the people in need.

 

Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan informed the court that Pakistan now had the capability to make ventilators. The chief justice said that the country should be self-sufficient in everything, warning that there would be a time when nothing, including medicines, would be available from abroad. All surgical equipment should be made in Pakistan.

 

The attorney general said that people were not taking the COVID-19 threat seriously after the apex court’s remarks making it difficult for the administration to take measures to curb the deadly coronavirus.

 

Advocate General Sindh Salman Talibuddin endorsed the opinion saying the lockdown was no more effective as shops had been allowed to open. Beauty salons and barber shops were also opening, he added.

 

He said the Sindh government had earlier imposed a strict lockdown, that included the closure of all businesses and activities that might lead to gatherings of people.

 

The chief justice in response observed that the businesses were not opening because of the court rather the police inspectors were permitting the businessmen to reopen their outlets after receiving bribes.

 

He clarified that the Supreme Court did not make any remarks against the Sindh government, which had even allowed its offices to reopen.

The chief justice said the SC was not concerned about the expenses being incurred by the state to overcome the pandemic rather about the quality of the services being provided to the COVID-19 patients.

 

He referred to the examples of SC employees who were initially tested positive in the government labs and then negative by the private labs. He noted that the coronavirus was affecting a lot of people.

 

Justice Masood said the administrations of Punjab and Islamabad had already decided to open shopping malls and the court’s order was limited to Sindh. Did not blame the court for the opening of malls, he added.

He said the shopping malls were being opened in the rest of the country so there should be no prejudice against Sindh in that regard. 

 

He said the court’s order issued Monday was completely clear. He said the shopping malls were far safer than the markets since SOPs could still be followed in closed and limited spaces. The court should not be blamed for the reopening of malls, he added.

 

He said there was a lot of rush in Raja Bazar, Moti Bazar, and Tariq Road. The Sindh government had opened all its offices. Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmad said the decision to open the malls over the weekend was till Eid, which would be reviewed after Eid.

 

When asked to clarify that the restrictions had only been relaxed till Eid, the chief justice said it would be done in the next hearing. Justice Sardar Tariq clarified that the Supreme Court’s decision to reopen the malls pertained to Sindh. As the malls were reopening in most of the provinces, so it was fair to open them across Sindh too.

 

The court directed the federal and provincial governments to submit their reports on the progress made so far till June 8. It also ordered the governments to provide safety equipment and salaries to the sanitary workers.

 

 

 

NAB authorises investigations against Akram Khan Durrani, Rukhsana Bangash’s son

 

ISLAMABAD, May 19 (APP): The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) authorised filing reference against foreign ministry officials, investigations against Akram Khan Durrani and son of Rukhsana Bangash for inflicting huge losses to national exchequer by abusing their authority.

The Executive Board Meeting (EBM) of NAB, chaired by Chairman Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal authorised filing a reference, conducting five inquiries, an investigation, a complaint verification and referring back the ongoing inquiry being conducted against the officials of FBR to NAB, Rawalpindi for further perusal.

According to details shared by NAB spokesman, the Executive Board Meeting (EBM) has authorised filing reference against the officers/officials of Foreign Ministry on the accusations of inflicting heavy losses to national exchequer by selling Pakistan embassy building in Jakarta (Indonesia) by trampling the rules and regulations and abusing their authority.

The EBM authorised conducting investigation against Arif Ibrahim, senior joint secretary, Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination.

The EBM has authorised conducting of five inquiries against various personalities including two separate inquiries against Umer Manzoor son of Rukhsana Bangash, former Member of National Assembly and Political Secretary of former President Asif Ali Zardari, officers, officials of Ministry of Housing and Works and others, Syed Akhtar Hussain Rizvi, former Secretary Works, Gilgit-Baltistan, Akram Khan Durrani, former Minister for Housing and Works, officers/officials of the ministry, management and others of job testing services.

The EBM authorised conducting complaint verification against the officers/officials and others of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony.

The EBM okayed referring back the ongoing inquiry against the officers/officials and others of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to NAB Rawalpindi bureau for further review.