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Pakistan Disqualifies Ex-PM Khan From Politics on Corruption Charges

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Pakistan’s election authorities Friday disqualified populist former Prime Minister Imran Khan from holding public office for allegedly concealing his assets, prompting his supporters to stage nationwide protests and fueling political turmoil in the country.

The ruling alleges that the former cricket star turned politician had made a “false statement and incorrect declaration” about his assets before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Khan “consequently ceases to be a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan [the lower house of parliament] and his seat has become vacant accordingly,” the ECP said.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders denounced Friday’s decision as politically motivated and vowed to challenge it in a high court, alleging the election commission transgressed its jurisdiction under pressure from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s coalition government.

Khan’s supporters took to the streets across major Pakistani cities to protest his disqualification, blocking major highways and clashing with police. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The case against the former prime minister centered upon a government department known as “Toshakhana”—which literally means “treasure house”—where gifts received by Pakistani leaders during foreign state visits are stored and displayed.

Khan sold several expensive gifts, including luxury watches, he had received and retained, but he allegedly did not report the earnings to the ECP. The hugely popular former leader maintained the earnings in question had been included in his income tax returns and denied any wrongdoing

Recipients are legally allowed to retain gifts above a certain value on payment of 50% of the value, a discount Khan raised from 20% while in office.

His lawyers argued “the election commission is not a court, therefore they can’t give a declaration to disqualify anyone.”

Police use teargas to disperse supporters of Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) rallying against the decision to disqualify former Prime Minister Imran Khan from running for political office, in Islamabad, Oct. 21, 2022.

Police use teargas to disperse supporters of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) rallying against the decision to disqualify former Prime Minister Imran Khan from running for political office, in Islamabad, Oct. 21, 2022.

The former prime minister was ousted in a vote of no-confidence in April. He has long asserted, without evidence, his removal was orchestrated by the United States in collusion with Sharif and the powerful Pakistani military, which influences politics from behind the scenes.

Both Washington and Islamabad deny this.

More than 130 PTI lawmakers, the largest group in the lower house of parliament, also resigned en masse in April over the ouster of their leader. Khan’s popularity has since surged, and tens of thousands of his supporters have turned out at his nationwide anti-government rallies to call for fresh elections in Pakistan.

Khan’s party has swept subsequent national and provincial by-elections. In the latest round of the election last Sunday, he himself contested seven of the eight National Assembly seats up for grabs and won six of them, underscoring his popularity across the country of about 220 million people.

He has threatened to march with hundreds of thousands of supporters on the national capital, Islamabad, to force the Sharif government into holding early general elections for allegedly ruining the national economy and foreign policy.

Khan has long accused Sharif and his family members, as well as leaders of his major coalition partner, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), of siphoning billions of dollars to offshore accounts from kickbacks and commissions they received while previously in power.

Sharif and PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan’s current foreign minister, reject the corruption charges.

“The election commission delivered justice in the Toshakhana reference. The nation has seen that the post of prime minister has been made a source of personal income through corrupt practices,” Sharif tweeted Friday while commenting on the ruling against Khan.

“He who would spread lies about alleged corruption of his political opponents has been caught red-handed,” Zardari wrote on Twitter.

The election panel in its decision also directed officials “to initiate legal proceedings and take follow-up action” against Khan.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah vowed later at a news conference the government would immediately abide by the ECP direction and launch court proceedings against the ousted prime minister.

Friday’s developments come as Pakistan’s economic troubles have deepened following this year’s catastrophic floods. Analysts say increased political instability will likely add to the challenges facing Sharif and his coalition government in addressing rising inflation and balance of payments amid Pakistan’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves.


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Karnataka gives nod to prosecute ADGP in police recruitment case | Latest News Delhi

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The Karnataka government on Friday issued a circular permitting prosecution of suspended additional general of police (ADGP) Amrit Paul in the police sub-inspector recruitment scam, officials familiar with the development said on Saturday.

Since the accused is a government servant, the government’s permission was necessary to proceed with the prosecution.

“In the background of the facts, circumstances and documents pertaining to the case, the investigation agency has made out a prima facie case against Amrit Paul for his alleged involvement in tampering with OMR sheets and creating false documents by misusing his official position, even though knowing it was illegal and tantamount to cheating. Hence, with the approval of the competent authority, the Government of Karnataka issues the following order to accord permission to prosecute Amrit Paul, then ADGP-recruitment,” read the circular issued by the state government.

Paul is the first officer of ADGP rank — the second-highest rank in the police hierarchy — to be arrested in the state in connection with the corruption case. Paul who was heading the Police Recruitment Cell, Karnataka, was arrested on July 4 after his name cropped up in the ongoing investigation into the PSI scam, where money was taken from candidates to enable them to cheat during their examinations or for tampering their answers sheets after the exam.

Paul has been arrested under Sections 409, 406, 420, 468, 469, 461, 471 and 120 B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for criminal breach of trust by a public servant, criminal breach of trust, cheating, forgery, dishonestly breaking open receptacle containing property, using as a genuine forged document or electronic record and criminal conspiracy. He has been placed under suspension under the All-India Services (Discipline & Appeals) Rule, 1969.

The courts have thrice rejected bail to Paul. CID had in September filed a separate 1,406-page charge sheet against him.

According to the charge sheet submitted before the First ACMM court in Bengaluru, Paul is the 35th accused in the scam. CID had submitted 78 records, 38 witnesses against Paul in the charge sheet. Investigations have revealed that Paul had allegedly received a cut of 1.35 crore from candidates to PSI posts.

A CID officer said the involvement of three groups in facilitating the malpractice has emerged so far. The first gang, which included BJP leader Divya Hagargi, was involved in answer sheet tampering using invigilators. The second gang run by Rudragouda Patil operated using Bluetooth devices to give answers to candidates during the examination, while the third gang was of police officers in the recruitment cell, who tampered with the answer sheets kept inside the strong room of the recruitment wing’s office after taking money from candidates.

The probe into the involvement of the recruitment wing officials has revealed that Paul was part of the malpractice. “First of all, on the day the answer sheets arrived at the recruitment wing office, ADGP Paul had given the keys of the strongroom, where the OMR sheets were kept under tight security, to deputy superintendent of police Shantha Kumar,” said the officer.

Kumar then allegedly roped in first division assistant Harsha and reserve sub-inspectors Sridhar and Srinivas to help him switch off the CCTV and fill up the blank OMR sheets. “The strongroom can be accessed only using a biometric entry. The investigators have found multiple entries to the strongroom that night, in some cases as early as 4 am. The officers who entered the room have been arrested. Considering they entered the room at odd hours and the fact that the ADGP handed over the keys show that these officers were involved in the conspiracy,” said the officer.


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Corruption case: Punjab vigilance submits challan against AIG Ashish Kapoor, ASI Harvinder Singh

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Vigilance bureau on Saturday submitted chargesheet against Ashish Kapoor, a Punjab Police Service (PPS) officer along with assistant sub inspector (ASI) Harvinder Singh, arrested in a bribery case on October 6 in a local Mohali court.

VB submitted the chargesheet under Section 7 (Public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act) of Prevention of Corruption Act in the court of Parminder Singh Grewal, Additional District and Sessions Judge. On October 6, the vigilance arrested him for taking a bribe of 1 crore through different cheques. Kapoor was posted as the commandant, 4th IRB, Pathankot. Kapoor is currently lodged in Patiala jail.

VB had alleged that AIG Ashish Kapoor had taken 11 cheques from the woman, through which she got 1 crore transferred to the accounts of her acquaintances and then took out the amount and kept it herself.

As per vigilance spokesperson, during his posting as Amritsar central jail superintendent, in 2016, Kapoor had got acquainted with a woman inmate, Poonam Rajan of Sector 30, Kurukshetra, who was on judicial remand in a case.

Poonam, along with her mother Prem Lata, brother Kuldeep Singh and sister-in-law Preeti, was also in police remand in a cheating case registered at Zirakpur police station. Kapoor went to the police station and fraudulently convinced Poonam’s mother Prem Lata to help her get bail and acquittal from the court. Kapoor, in connivance with Pawan Kumar, the then SHO of Zirakpur police station, and ASI Harjinder Singh got Preeti declared innocent in the case. In lieu of that favour, Kapoor obtained signatures of Prem Lata on different cheques amounting to Rs1 crore and deposited them under the names of his known people and got them encashed through ASI Harjinder Singh.

Moreover, the bureau had claimed that the receipts of the jewellery found in Kapoor’s locker were in the name of a Kurukshetra-based woman and were addressed to her Kurukshetra residence. Refuting the allegations, Ashish Kapoor claimed that the jewellery in his locker was purchased on his debit card from his salary account.

The vigilance had produced the receipts as evidence of the jewellery amounting to 13 lakh weighing 400.14 gram which the Kurukshetra woman had received from the jeweller. The vigilance had produced the statements of 11 witnesses in the court who claimed that they got cheques encashed that were allegedly taken by Kapoor from the Kurukshetra woman and her mother for dropping charges against them. The DSP, intelligence, Pawan Kumar, and ASI Harjinder Singh were also nominated as accused in the FIR.


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Peru: Police clash with protesters in capital Lima – BBC

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