The rally was over a week ago but the dividends have only started to materialise. With manifestly popular support under its belt, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has set out to reap the political windfall from its October 30 gathering.

A PTI delegation will visit southern Punjab after Eid and hold talks with serving national and provincial assembly members and seasoned politicians regarding their induction into the party, PTI Punjab chapter President Ahsan Rashid told.

Rashid, who will lead the delegation, said he would finalise talks with MNAs from various political parties. Among those who have expressed their desire to join forces with the party, or are willing to hold talks, are PML-Q MNA Raza Hayat Hiraj, five times MNA from Bahawalpur Makhdoom Ahmad Alam Anwar and PML-Q MPA Ata Muhammad Maneka. Rashid said he would meet all three in his upcoming trip to the region and finalise negotiations.

He added that he has a hectic schedule and would be negotiating with PML legislators as well, but refused to disclose their identities.

Maneka and the unification bloc

While neither Maneka nor Hiraj responded to this correspondent’s calls, sources say Maneka’s case is sketchy.

A close friend of former governor Mian Azhar, who recently joined the PTI, Maneka was a senior leader of PML-Q’s dissident faction, the Unification Bloc, in the Punjab Assembly and openly supported the PML-N government in the province. Differences, however, developed between Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Maneka over granting development funds for his constituency, sources say.

But if the PML-N gives him guaranteed tickets, a National Assembly seat for himself and a provincial assembly seat for his son, he might review his decision of joining the PTI, sources add.

Alliance with Tareen’s ‘Clean Party’

The PTI is not the only new kid on the bloc. PML-Functional MNAJahangir Tareen’s “clean party,” announced six months ago, is also stepping up on the political front, albeit with much less fanfare than Imran Khan’s PTI.

Sources say Tareen contacted Imran on Sunday and assured his ‘full support’ to make room for both parties in the upcoming general elections.

“We will go for a joint political venture with PTI,” senior leader Ishaq Khakwani .

Stressing that clean party leaders will not “join” the PTI, Khakwani said the two parties could forge an alliance due to similarities in their objectives.

While there was no concrete decision on a formal alliance, PTI’s Information Secretary Umer Cheema said his party “welcomes all clean politicians, including Jahangir Tareen.” PTI’s spokesperson also confirmed Tareen’s links with the PTI and said he hoped to meet him during his visit to the region.

Some political analysts, however, dismiss Tareen’s initiative and say he’s an industrialist, not a politician.

An analyst from Bahawalpur said that Tareen is “the only member of his party.” Alleging that Tareen has “always won the seat with the support of his brother-in-law PML-F MPA Makhdoom Ahmad Mehmood,” the analyst said he could “only join the PTI.”

PML-N senior leadership, however, has good relations with Mehmood, and he is likely to contest his next election on their ticket, well-placed sources told .

Meanwhile, former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, while talking he ruled out joining Tareen’s party but said he has not yet decided between the PTI and the PML-N. PML-Q MPA Sardar Mohsin Khan Leghari also said he was not joining Tareen’s party.

On the other hand, PML-Q’s like-minded faction, headed by Hamid Nasir Chattha and Khursheed Kasuri has expressed desire to form an alliance with the PTI.

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People want to know who killed BB: Mirza

Former Sindh home minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza has described as wishful thinking the provincial government’s move to introduce a new local bodies system after Eid.

Addressing his supporters at Nasim Nagar Chowk on Sunday, he said: “We will not accept another system or drama after Eidul Azha if the government is planning something to this effect.”

He said he was pursing a one-point agenda of crushing the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and saving Sindh and he was ready to offer any sacrifice for the province`s honour.

Dr Mirza said people wanted to know who had killed former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and who had been responsible for her security. He accused PPP`s ministers and parliamentarians of bargaining over the blood of Ms Bhutto.

“The People`s Party was able to form the government because of her sacrifice and Qaim Ali Shah became Chief Minister, Manzoor Wasan and Agha Siraj Durrani, who grows by inches every day, also owe their posts to her.”

Mr Mirza even did not spare provincial Minister Pir Mazharul Haq, a relative of his. “Pir Mazhar used to get `chanda` from Benazir Bhutto while he was in self-exile and also got a job for his wife.” He said: “They should at least speak the truth now.”

Dr Mirza said that all those who were bargaining over the blood of Benazir should be condemned.

He also criticised the MQM. “My dearest friend (Asif Zardari), times have changed and you still appease Altaf Hussain more than myself. Yes my political father, I am more than a madman if it comes to saving the honour of my friends and colleagues.”

He said that of about 350,000 arms licences issued by his ministry, 50,000 had been given to Minister Zahid Bhurgari. “But he perhaps sold these licences. I took licences even after I quit the ministry and I will even get a bomb if the need arises,” he said.

He said he could sacrifice 10,000 people for the sake of Sindh`s honour. He made it clear he spoke against the MQM and not against the Urdu-speaking people.

“Urdu-speaking people are educated and most civilised but they are more oppressed than any other community in the country because they have been made hostage by the MQM,” he said.

“They have taught us so many things and we admit it because they are followers of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Liaquat Ali Khan,” he said.

Dr Mirza said that when he talked about emancipation of people, they included the Urdu-speaking community.

He said it was time to save people`s honour and follow the path of `Hussainiyat`, while those siding with the MQM were siding with `Yazeedi` forces.

“The MQM is a snake that needs to be crushed,” he said.

Activists of the PPP and People`s Youth Organisation held a demonstration against Dr Mirza outside the press club when he was addressing a news conference there.

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Nation celebrate Eidul Azha

 Eidul Azha is being celebrated across the country with religious zeal and fervour. After Eid prayers, the faithful are sacrificing camels, cows, goats, rams and sheep to revive the Sunnah of Prophet Hazrat Ibrahim (AS).

The process will continue on three days of the Eid festivities. People prayed to Allah Almighty in mosques and Eidgahs for the solidarity, prosperity and integrity of Pakistan and the liberation of all occupied Muslim territories, including held Jammu and Kashmir.

Scholars from different schools of thought delivered special sermons to highlight the significance of the day and the purpose of the sacrifice rendered by Prophet Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) centuries ago.

In federal capital, the biggest Eid congregation was held at Shah Faisal Mosque. A large number of people have gone to their hometowns from main cities to mark the day with their beloved ones.

In Karachi, the biggest congregation was held at Nishter Park and in Lahore, the mass congregation held at the historic Badshahi Mosque where more than 100,000 people offered Eid prayer.

The city district governments have finalised comprehensive cleanliness plans for Eid-ul-Azha to get rid of entrails and offal of animals.

Special instructions have been given to the staff of Solid Waste Management to continue patrolling roads and streets to lift the waste and keep the atmosphere clean.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani emphasised the spirit of sacrifice on the occasion of Eidul Azha and urged that religious tolerance be practiced.

The president called upon people to adopt values of sacrifice, brotherhood, kindness and charity to create a tolerant society.  We should wage a jihad (struggle) against poverty, deprivation and unemployment,” he added.

President Zardari emphasised that nations pass through “difficult times” and the country now faces the task of rehabilitation of flood-affected people, protection from contagious diseases, and eliminating terrorism. “To overcome these challenges, we need values of sacrifice, brotherhood, fraternity, kindness, tolerance, peace, charity and love more than ever,” he stressed.

He urged the Muslims to do away with regional prejudices and religious intolerance.

Prime Minister Gilani urged people to keep in mind, during their Eid celebrations, the problems of those who had been affected by floods and terrorism. The prime minister said the philosophy of this Eid was to understand the importance of sacrifice and look after the welfare of society.

“On this auspicious occasion, we should not forget the families affected by terrorism and countrymen affected by floods in Sindh and we have to share our happiness with them by helping them out in their hour of need,” he added.

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From cricket uniform to jail uniform

The three suspended Pakistani cricketers found guilty of corruption were sentenced to prison by a crown court judge in London on Thursday.

Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were jailed for 30 months and one year respectively. Mohammad Amir, who pleaded guilty before the trial of his two team mates, was sentenced to six months in a case that prosecutors said had revealed rampant corruption at the heart of international cricket. . 

Justice Jeremy Cooke said Butt got a harsher sentence than the other two players because he was “responsible for corrupting Amir”.

“These offences, regardless of pleas, are so serious that only a sentence of imprisonment will suffice,” Judge Jeremy Cooke told the four at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

The players’ agent, Mazhar Majeed was also sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.

Former captain Butt, 27, and opening bowlers Asif, 28, and Mohammad Amir, who had admitted his part in the scam before the trial started, plotted to bowl deliberate no-balls at pre-arranged times during the Lord’s test in August last year.

During the three-week trial in London, the jury heard how an undercover reporter recorded sports agent Mazhar Majeed, 36, boasting he could arrange for Pakistan players to rig games for money and how huge sums could be made for gambling syndicates. Earlier on Wednesday, Amir made an impassioned apology for his involvement in the cricket spot-fixing scandal, saying his own stupidity had brought him down.

Cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were found guilty on Tuesday of taking bribes to fix part of a test match against England in a case that prosecutors said revealed rampant corruption at the heart of international cricket.

e judge offered sympathetic words for teenager Amir and has jailed him for six months. Amir is to serve his time at the Young Offenders Institution.

The players have also been ordered to pay compensation towards the cost of the prosecution: Butt 30,937 pounds, Asif 8,120 pounds and Amir 9389 pounds.

The players have been asked to collect their bags and led to holding cells.

former captin imran khan said that he always felt sorry for amir. Another former captain Ramiz Raja said he has no sympathy for the players.

Relatives wept and professed the innocence of their loved ones on Thursday as a London court jailed three Pakistani cricketers for fixing parts of a Test match against England.

“My son is innocent and he did the no ball at the asking of the captain,” said Nasim Akhtar, the mother of Mohammad Amir, tears rolling down her cheeks at her home in the village of Changa Bangial outside the Pakistani capital.

“I spoke to him two days ago and he asked me to pray for his acquittal… I’m ill after this case, suffering from several diseases and I may not be here (when he gets out),” she added.

salman butt sisters spoke to reporters to defend their brother and claimed he had been made a scapegoat for a wider conspiracy.

“The punishment is unfair, it is shocking. Our brother is innocent,” said Khadija, veiled and in her 30s, outside the family home.

“We talked to him this morning he was very upset and asked us to pray for him… His crime is that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” she added.

“The trio had been framed and made part of a wider controversy.”

The full text of the judgement can be read here.

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The Balochistan High Court (BHC) has directed the federal government to seek extradition of former president Pervez Musharraf, former prime minister Shaukat Aziz and other accused in the Nawab Akbar Bugti murder case who are currently not residing in Pakistan.

“The federal government is directed to seek extradition of those accused residing in treaty states whose arrest warrants have been issued by the competent court of law,” the bench ordered.

The court also directed that minutes of federal and provincial cabinet meetings that were held when Bugti was killed should be collected.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Abdul Qadir Mengal, issued directives before disposing off the petition filed by Nawabzada Jamil Akbar Bugti, the oldest surviving son of Nawab Akbar Bugti.

Copies of arrest warrants for Musharraf and Aziz were submitted before the BHC. Jamil had stated in his petition that the murder case was not being investigated “properly”, since no efforts had been made to record statements or arrest the accused nominated in the FIR registered at the Dera Bugti Police Station.

‘We knew nothing’

Deputy Attorney-General Malik Sikandar submitted Aziz’s statement in Tuesday’s hearing, in which he had said that he was “used as a tool” by then president Musharraf and had nothing to do with the Bugti murder case. However, it stated, he will extend his cooperation to the court during investigations.

Recently, arrest warrants were issued for not only Musharraf and Aziz, but also former home minister and sitting Member of Provincial Assembly Shoaib Ahmed Nosherwani of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid. Other accused who are nominated in the FIR include former Balochistan governor Owais Ghani, former federal interior minister Aftab Sherpao, and former chief minister and sitting Member of National Assembly Jam Mir Mohammad Yusuf.

According to sources within the home department, the crime branch has filed a formal request with them for extradition of Yusuf.

Ghani, who was then governor, also submitted a reply and stated that although he was the constitutional head of Balochistan, he was unaware of the military operation until it took place. “There may have been talks between the federal and provincial government about the operation but I do not know about them,” he stated.

Sherpao’s statement said that he was in Peshawar when Bugti was killed and only came to know of the murder through government and media sources. “Jamil nominated me as an accused just because I was interior minister at the time,” he said. He also assured the court that he will cooperate during investigation.

Jamil ‘not satisfied’

Talking to journalists outside the court, Jamil said he was not satisfied with the investigation. “The court merely issued directives and did its job, but now it is the responsibility of the executive to implement these directives. The statements by Aziz and others accused submitted to court are surprising because everyone seems to be trying to blame each other for the murder,” he said.

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Afghans are our brothers, we have sympathy for them: Altaf Hussain

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain says Afghans are our brothers and we have sympathies for them.

Hussain was speaking with Afghan journalists and a Pashtun delegation via telephone from London.

The MQM chief said that his party wants peace and prosperity in Afghanistan. He said that MQM is against any racial and linguistic discrimination.

Hussain said that they [MQM members] believe that every nation should be respected and given equal rights.

He also said that friendship and brotherhood between Pakistan and Afghans is a fact and that the MQM is trying to build brotherhood among the Pashtuns and the Urdu-speaking people.

Earlier, the United Nations refugee agency reported that the number of Afghan refugees returning home has dropped substantially this year, with some 60,000 repatriating in the first 10 months compared to more than 100,000 over the same period in 2010.

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PPP, MQM agree to bring new LG System

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), have agreed to introduce a single Local Government System-2011 without rural and urban discrimination, prior to expiry on November 6, of the Local Government Ordinance-2001 which had been issued by the Sindh Governor.

This was said by Sindh Local Government Minister, Agha Siraj Durrani while talking to media at his Camp Office, after a meeting between the leaders of MQM and PPP.

He said there would be no urban and rural discrimination in the new Local Government System and all parties including Awami National Party (ANP), and PML-Functional would be taken into confidence in this regard.

He told newsmen that Sindh Senior Minister, Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq and Sindh Local Government Minister, Agha Siraj Durrani represented the PPP while Syed Sardar Ahmed, Dr. Sagheer Ahmed, Wasey Jaleel and Kanwer Naveed Jameel attended the meeting on behalf of the MQM.

Agha Siraj Durrani said that both the parties have agreed to bring a new System of Local Government-2011. In this regard, meeting would also be held with the ANP and PML-F on November 3, while other stakeholders would also be taken into confidence, he added.

He said the new LG System would give powers to the provincial government while the Nazims would be able to exercise the authority to resolve problems of the masses at local level.

He said there would be a single Local Government System in the whole province without any rural and urban discrimination and it would be acceptable to all in the interest of Sindh and for the betterment of the people.

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