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Ashiana scam: Ahad Cheema, others may be indicted on 20th Aug.

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LAHORE: An accountability court may indict former director general Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Ahad Cheema and other accused in Ashiana-i-Iqbal housing scam on 20th August. 
During the proceedings on Monday, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials produced Ahad Cheema, Bismillah Engineering’s proprietor Shahid Shafiq Faridi, former chief executive officer of Punjab Land Development Company Imtiaz Haider, consultant Bilal Qidwai and other accused before Accountability Court Judge Syed Najamul Hassan.
The court distributed copies of the reference among the accused and directed for producing them again on August 20, so they could be indicted by framing charges against them.
It is pertinent to mention here that Lahore Development Authority chief engineer Israr Saeed and Member Technical Land Financial Allocation Committee PLDC Arif Majeed Butt were on bail in the case.
Ahad Cheema has been charged with misusing his authority and awarding illegal contracts, in a reference, filed by NAB. The reference against Ahad Cheema consisted of 11 volumes and more than 3,000 pages.
NAB alleged that Ahad Cheema misused his authority as LDA’s director general and awarded a contract of Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme to Lahore Casa Developers, a joint venture of three companies M/s Bismillah Engineering Services Co, M/s SPARCO Construction Company and M/s China First Metallurgical Group Co Ltd, which was ineligible for the purpose.
It was claimed that Ahad also received illegal gratification in the form of 32-kanal land from one of the shareholder companies of the said joint venture.

Relevant pieces published earlier: 

i) NAB had conducted a raid at the house (situated at the Govt. Officers Residence here) of Ashiana Housing Scam’s principal accused Fawad Hassan Fawad and recovered two laptops, mobile phones (including a blackberry) and other important documents related to the case.  Fawad had revealed password of one of his phones that would help get crucial information. Moreover, according to sources some thirty USBs were also taken into custody and sent for forensic testing along with other devices. (Published on 8th July 2018).

ii)  Ashiana Housing Scam’s principal accused Fawad Hasan Fawad – a close aide of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif – has been sent by an accountability court on a physical remand to the NAB today. According to details, an accountability court today has handed over senior bureaucrat Fawad Hassan Fawad to NAB on 14-day physical remand in Ashiana Iqbal Housing scam. Earlier, NAB officials produced Fawad Hassan Fawad before Accountability Court Judge Syed Najamul Hassan in strict security. NAB prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua argued that Fawad Hassan Fawad misused his authority while serving as implementation secretary to chief minister Punjab in Ashiana Iqbal Housing Project. He alleged that the accused through backdoor channels managed to award the contract of Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme to his favorite firm. He alleged that steps taken by Fawad Hassan not only caused a delay in the execution of the project but also resulted in a hike in project cost in billions. He pleaded the court to grant physical remand for further investigation into the matter. However, Fawad Hassan Fawad denied all allegations and termed them baseless. The court after hearing arguments handed over Fawad Hassan Fawad to NAB on 14-day physical remand and directed to produce him again on July 19. It is pertinent to mention here that Civil Services Academy Director General Fawad Hassan Fawad was arrested by NAB on Thursday for his alleged involvement in Rs14 billion Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme scam. The senior bureaucrat, who had served as principal secretary to two former prime ministers of Pakistan, was nabbed by NAB in Ashiana Housing Scam. NAB here has asked Fawad to appear before it in the housing scam case in order to record his statement. But he was taken into custody for not cooperating with the probe. It is pertinent to mention here that Fawad is under investigation apropos his involvement in the Ashiana Housing scam by means of misuse of his authority. He has also been accused of harboring assets worth millions that is far beyond his known sources of income. Fawad has also to justify how he managed to acquire plots in posh housing schemes and allotting agricultural lands. According to NAB Lahore spokesperson, Fawad misused his authority as Secretary Implementation to Punjab Chief Minister when he passed unlawful directions to the Chief Executive Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) to suspend the contract of Ashiana Iqbal project. The NAB official said the accused got canceled the officially granted contract to Chaudhry Latif & Sons through his orders. He also kept the Inquiry Committee Report, headed by Secretary Finance Tariq Bajwa, hidden from the authorities with mala fide intentions. As per the inquiry committee findings, Chaudhry Latif & Sons company was awarded the contract lawfully and in accordance with the PEPRA rules. The spokesperson said that Chaudhry Latif & Sons had deposited Rs 70 million as mobilization advance, while the project had been officially launched at the time of illegal suspension of the contract. He said the illegal act of the accused Fawad Hassan Fawad caused undue delay in the project, which increased the cost of the project by billions of rupees. The spokesperson said the accused, as Secretary Health Punjab, is alleged to have purchased six mobile health units beyond the market price. The accused purchased six mobile health units while the price of one unit was 55 million rupees. Fawad Hassan Fawad remained unlawfully employed with the Bank Alfalah from September 2005 to July 2006 despite the fact that Secretary Establishment had rejected his request for a double job. The accused remained appointed to the Sprint Energy, a subsidiary of the JS Group, and was involved in preparing and presenting fake No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for transfer of the site of CNG pumps from one district to another.

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Crime

Land Grabbing: Mansha Khokhar arrested!

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ISLAMABAD: Islamabad Secretariat Police today arrested an absconding suspect Mansha Khokhar alias Mansha Bomb from premises of Supreme Court as he was wanted in land grabbing cases.
According to the source, he came to the court and wanted to surrender himself before the court.  He also demanded to meet Chief Justice, the source said adding that Mansha and his sons are accused of illegally grabbing land in Lahore’s Johar Town area.
It is to mention that Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Saqib Nisar had ordered immediate arrest of the alleged land grabber last month, however, he was absconding since then.
The source said that he had been shifted to Secretariat Police Station by its SHO and further legal proceedings will be initiated against them. He may be handed over to Punjab police, the source maintained.

 

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Asia

14 killed in bomb attack on Afghan election rally!

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KUNDUZ: A motorcycle carrying explosives blew up among supporters of an Afghan election candidate on Saturday, killing at least 14 people, officials said, in the latest attack on a political rally.
Violence related to the parliamentary vote has killed or wounded hundreds of people in recent months and more militant attacks are expected ahead of Afghanistan’s October 20 poll. More than 30 people were wounded in the explosion in the northeastern province of Takhar where candidate Nazifa Yousefibek had been campaigning, provincial governor spokesman Mohammad Jawad Hejri told the Media. Interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said most of the 14 killed were civilians.
“The explosives were placed in a motorcycle and detonated behind a tent where Nazifa Yousefibek was campaigning,” Rahimi said.  Yousefibek was not hurt in the blast. No group has claimed responsibility.  Ambulances have been sent to the remote district of Rustaq where the attack happened, but officials also are seeking to airlift the wounded to hospitals, Hejri said.
Khan Jan, who told AFP he saw the explosion, said there had been a powerful blast and “a lot of people” had been killed. More than 2,500 candidates are contesting the long-delayed legislative elections.  At least nine candidates have died so far, most of them in targeted killings, according to the Independent Election Commission.  A candidate was among eight people killed in a suicide attack in the southern province of Helmand – a Taliban stronghold – on October 9. No group has claimed responsibility.  That incident came a day after the Taliban warned candidates to pull out of the “bogus” election, describing it as a “malicious American conspiracy”.
The group vowed to attack the ballot and those involved in it. An attack on a rally in the eastern province of Nangarhar on October 2 killed 13 people and wounded more than 40. The Islamic State group claimed the attack, which the candidate survived. Violence had been expected to escalate ahead of the poll. Preparations for the ballot, which is a test run for next year’s presidential vote, have been in turmoil for months and there has been a debate about whether the vote should go ahead.
Bureaucratic inefficiency, allegations of industrial-scale fraud and an eleventh-hour pledge for biometric verification of voters threaten to derail the process, which is three years late. Some 54,000 members of Afghanistan’s beleaguered security forces will be responsible for protecting more than 5,000 polling centers on election day. But there are concerns over how they will manage as the Taliban and the Islamic State group step up attacks across the country.

 

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Crime

Facebook says data breach affected 29 million users

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Cyber attackers stole data from 29 million Facebook accounts using an automated program that moved from one friend to the next, Facebook Inc (FB.O) announced as the social media company said its largest-ever data theft hit fewer than the 50 million profiles it initially reported.

The company said it would message affected users over the coming days to tell them what type of information had been accessed in the attack.

The breach has left users more vulnerable to targeted phishing attacks and could deepen unease about posting to a service whose privacy, moderation and security practices have been called into question by a series of scandals, cybersecurity experts and financial analysts said.

The attackers took profile details such as birth dates, employers, education history, religious preference, types of devices used, pages followed and recent searches and location check-ins from 14 million users.

For the other 15 million users, the breach was restricted to name and contact details. In addition, attackers could see the posts and lists of friends and groups of about 400,000 users.

Lawmakers and investors have grown more concerned that Facebook is not doing enough to safeguard data. Facebook cut the number of affected users from its original estimate after investigators reviewed activity on accounts that may have been affected. Still, cybersecurity experts warned that attackers could use stolen information in targeted phishing scams.

Facebook said it was continuing to investigate whether the attackers took actions beyond stealing data, such as posting from accounts but had not found additional misuse. Hackers did not steal personal messages or financial data and did not use their access to accounts to access users’ accounts on other websites, Facebook said.

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