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Trump announces deal to reopen US government

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Friday announced a deal with opposition Democrats to temporarily reopen the US federal government, shut down for a record five weeks by a bitter row over funding for a US-Mexico border wall.


“We have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” Trump said. “In a short while, I will sign a bill to open our government for three weeks, until February 15.”

US lawmakers and the White House were under intense pressure to resolve the impasse, as hundreds of thousands of federal workers headed into a second month without paychecks, and the political stalemate began to disrupt some of the nation´s busiest airports.

While staunchly defending his wall project — which he claims is needed to keep out criminals and drug traffickers – Trump made no announcement regarding his demand for $5.7 billion to fund the barrier, a key promise made to his right-wing supporters.

Instead, he said a “bipartisan conference committee” of lawmakers from the Republican-held Senate and Democrat-controlled House would set to work on the question of border security, with the issue of wall financing at the top of their agenda.

“Over the next 21 days, I expect that both Democrats and Republicans will operate in good faith,” said the president — who went on to threaten a new shutdown three weeks from now should Congress refuse to approve the funds.

“We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” he said.

“If we don´t get a fair deal from Congress, the government either shuts down on February 15th again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”

Tribute to federal workers

Trump has spoken for weeks about using his presidential authority to declare an emergency on the US border with Mexico in order to fund the controversial project without congressional approval.

After two competing bills to end the partial shutdown failed in the Senate on Thursday, lawmakers were urgently scrambling for a fix that would get federal employees back on the job.

Normally paid every two weeks, 800,000 workers missed a second straight paycheck Friday, a situation that has reached a crisis point for thousands of American families.

The urgency was underscored as flight delays rippled across parts of the eastern US due to staffing shortages in airports where employees, including air traffic controllers, have been ordered to work without pay.

Trump — whose administration has been accused of being deaf to the shutdown´s impact — paid tribute to those affected.

“I want to thank all of the incredible federal workers and their amazing families who have shown such extraordinary devotion in the face of this recent hardship,” he said.

The president went on to reassert that many federal workers had backed him over the shutdown.

“In many cases you encouraged me to keep going because you care so much about all our country and about its border security,” he said.

source from The News

Money laundering case: Zardari directly nominated in nine fresh NAB cases

NAB investigation

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) will open 28 separate investigations into alleged money laundering of billions of rupees through fake accounts by the top leadership of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), government officials and private individuals.

The bureau has created 16 larger categories (based on an earlier report by a Joint Investigation Team) under which these cases would be investigated again by different NAB teams, fresh documents available with The News revealed.

The accused in these cases include former president and PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Omni Group CEO.

The NAB on Tuesday constituted a combined investigation team (CIT), comprising its top officers, to probe the mega cases. The apex court had directed the NAB to look into a joint investigation team (JIT) report and conduct its own fresh investigation within two months.

NAB sources told The News on Wednesday that all the accused could be summoned soon to record their statement and explain their position on the allegations. They said the NAB was determined to learn from its mistakes made in investigations against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Avenfield properties, Flagship and Al-Azizia Steel Mills cases.

Sources said the categories under which new investigations would be launched include illegal creation of Summit Bank allegedly for money laundering, exponential growth of Omni Group through fraudulent loans worth Rs53.53 billion and selling Thatta and Dadu Sugar Mills by Sindh government at throw-away prices.

A separate NAB investigation would be launched against Zardari to probe alleged misappropriation of Rs1.5 billion through M/S Park Lane in 2009. The former leader would also face another NAB probe for obtaining a luxury vehicle of “Tosha Khana” at only 15% of the value.

The case would be probed by the NAB Rawalpindi team, sources said. Another case would be launched against Zardari for importing undeclared bullet-proof vehicles and paying through a deceased person. The bureau will also probe Rs1.22 billion kickback allegations against Faryal Talpur through a dedicated investigation team.

A fresh investigation would also be launched to probe allegations against the PPP leaders of receiving Rs8.3 billion kickbacks from a mega construction firm through the joint account of APS Mushtaq Ahmad/fake account.

A probe would be launched against the then finance minister and current Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah for alleged fraud of Rs24.9 billion through misappropriated loans to Omni group. The CEO of group Bilal Sheikh is co-accused.

Four separate probes against the same two accused would be pursued separately for alleged misappropriation of Rs7.19 billion through the Sindh government’s tailor subsidies to Omni Group.

Two NAB cases would be opened against Younas Kidwai, the alleged front man of Zardari, for illegally obtaining expensive amenity plots of library, mandir and gymnasium in Clifton, Karachi.

Four separate cases will be opened for illegal acquisition of Prime Urban state and private lands by M/S Pink Residency and M/s Al-Ain Holding by Younas Kidwai. Sources said the NAB would also probe Manzoor Qadir Kaka and others for misappropriation of 362 acres of Pakistan Steel Mill Land.

Three separate cases would be opened to probe Rs1.32 billion kickbacks deposited by government contractors into fake accounts and violation of Sindh-PPRA rules in award of various contracts. Another three cases would be probed afresh by the NAB into illegal Hundi transactions through M/S Orient Energy and M/s Technomen Kinetics, partners of government of Sindh.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Qatar

PM Imran Khan Qatar visit

Prime Minister Imran Khan was in Qatar on a two-day official visit. It was his first visit to the Arab country where he met the Qatari leadership to discuss enhance bilateral relations and strengthen cooperation .

During his visit, the prime minister also addressed Pakistani community at Al Wakara Stadium in Doha.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his maiden speech dedicated to overseas Pakistanis, addressed a jam packed crowd at the Al Wakra stadium in Doha on Tuesday.

Qatar visit Imran Khan

Elated to see the amount of people who had turned out, PM Imran said that he’s addressing a crowd this huge for the first time after his electoral rallies.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in his remarks, said that the presence of such a large number of overseas Pakistanis in the stadium and in welcoming Prime Minister Imran Khan reflected a “New Pakistan”.

FM Qureshi added that the prime ministers of Pakistan, in the past, used to address the Pakistani community in closed-door rooms abroad.

“This is for the first time ever that a prime minister of Pakistan is addressing the community at a stadium,” the foreign minister added.

The iconic Al Wakra stadium, which will be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, has a capacity of 40,000 seats.

PM Imran in his address, describing the overseas Pakistanis as the country’s ‘heroes’, said that his government would steer the country out of difficulties, ensure its economic uplift and bring in pride for the green passport.

Acknowledging the efforts of oversees Pakistani diaspora, PM Imran said, “Whenever I see overseas Pakistanis working hard abroad, I think that they are special ones, who always think and worry about Pakistan.”

He expressed gratitude for always supporting him in his fund-raising campaigns for Shaukat Khanam Hospital, NAMAL University and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Wait for the JIT report: Punjab CM

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said he will receive the JIT’s preliminary report into the incident tomorrow, when the 72 hour-time period given to the probe team ends at 5pm. He advised the media against assigning the blame on anyone until the report is released.

“Do not say anything to anyone until 72 hours have ended .. wait for the report,” he told reporters in Lahore, adding that he will review the report at a meeting on Tuesday.

He assured the nation that they will see a “clear difference” between how the JIT report is acted upon “in Naya Pakistan” and how JIT reports were treated during previous governments’ tenures.

“Once the preliminary report is out, you can question us on what action we have taken over the incident,” he told a media representative.