May 10, 2013
Apr 17, 2013
Apr 11, 2013
- The need of more provinces for Federation or Division?
- Shouldn’t Punjab government be held responsible for the deaths due to consumption of poisonous cough syrup in Punjab?
- Is Delimitation without census alone in Karachi is fair with the people of Karachi?
- Extremist Religious Groups in Pakistan Justifies: "Attack on Malala Yousuf Zai is a Reaction of Drone-attacks"
- In Quaid’s Pakistan Independence is a Responsibility not a Privilege: Are you ready to play your part?
- Do you think that the recent statement of Mr. Altaf Hussain is an eye opener for the Pakistani Nation?
Latest Breaking Pakistan News, Business, Life, Style, Cricket, Videos, Comments
Updated: 18 hours 30 min ago
LAHORE: Chaudhry Sarfraz Anjum Kahlon, political advisor to former president Pervez Musharraf on Friday categorically dismissed all claims about Musharraf leaving Pakistan for good.
He said the claims were “totally baseless and without any merit”.
Musharraf will continue to live in Pakistan and “there is no exit strategy,” he said.
The former president is currently being tried in several cases and continues to be detained at his Islamabad residence.
“The political entities who feel intimidated by Musharraf’s presence must realize that he is a soldier who has fought for Pakistan and nothing scares him. Musharraf dedicated his life to Pakistan the day he joined the armed forces and he has every right as a citizen to live with his people,” Anjum stated.
APML, PTI in talks
Anjum confirmed reports that the All Pakistan Muslim League has been approached by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and discussions between the political parties are underway to identify areas of mutual interest.
Sarfraz Anjum was recently appointed as the official political advisor to Musharraf and is also credited for APML’s success in Chitral.
There are no easy and quick solutions to the menace of loadshedding in country.
With temperatures hitting record highs in parts of the country, The Express Tribune looks to gauge the extent to which loadshedding is being undertaken across the country.
Select your province and city below and let us know how many hours of loadshedding you are facing.
Results are available in real-time upon filling out the survey. Full results will be available on the site on Sunday.
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LAHORE: Two petitions seeking reopening of cases of executed Ghazi Ilm Din Shaheed and Bhagat Singh were filed before the Lahore High Court (LHC), on Friday, with recommendations to fix them before a full bench.
A single bench of the LHC referred the petitions to the chief justice.
Appearing before the court of Justice Shujat Ali Khan, counsel for petitioner Advocate Abdul Rasheed Qureshi requested the court that as the matter was of national interest and it should be fixed before a full bench.
The petitioner had submitted in the petition that Bhagat Singh was a freedom fighter and fought for the independence of the sub continent. He said he was hanged by the British Raj on March 23, 1931, following his trial for involvement in the conspiracy.
Imtiaz Rashid Qureshi of Saved Judiciary Committee in his petition had submitted that Singh was initially given life imprisonment but later he was awarded death sentence “in a case, which was fake.”
He said the governor Punjab at that time had constituted the tribunal through an ordinance, which was valid for four months and the tribunal started its proceedings six days prior to lapse of its tenure. He stated that the tribunal neither recorded statements of 450 witnesses nor did it listen to counter arguments from the defence side.
The petitioner argued that Bhagat Singh is respected in the subcontinent not only by Sikhs but also Muslims. He said Qauid-e-Azam twice paid him tribute during his speech in the central assembly.
He requested to reopen the case of Singh and declare him as innocent.
In his other petition for reopening the case of Ghazi Ilm Din, Qureshi said that a biased bench comprising LHC non-Muslim judges had given death sentence to the great Muslim Ghazi Ilm Din Shaheed in 1929 for killing a blasphemer. The counsel said that both judges’ decision was the violation of justice norms. He requested the court to reopen the case of Ghazi Ilm Din and form a full bench for its hearing.
He also asked the court to direct the government for martyr’s burial after acquitting him of the charges.
ISLAMABAD: Former president Pervez Musharraf has challenged a decision of the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday, Express News reported.
The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC), on May 22, had rejected the bail plea of former president general (retd) Pervez Musharraf in the judges detention case.
Musharraf was also accused of conspiracy to murder Bhutto, who died in a gun and suicide attack in December 2007. It is one of three cases he is fighting in the courts since returning home last month after four years in self-imposed exile. He was also charged for imposing emergency and judge’s detention case.
On April 17, the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi bench had granted Musharraf pre-arrest interim bail in the murder case till April 24 against two surety bonds of Rs 5 million each.
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government Friday repeated its view that US drone strikes in its territory were illegal, after President Barack Obama laid out new guidelines for their use.
The US president mounted a firm defence of his covert drone war as legal and just in a major speech on counterterrorism policy on Thursday but warned that undisciplined use of the tactic would invite abuses of power.
Islamabad said it welcomed some aspects of Obama’s address, particularly his acknowledgement that “force alone cannot make us safe”, but it remained firm on its long-held public stance on unmanned missile attacks in its tribal northwest.
“The Government of Pakistan has consistently maintained that the drone strikes are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives, have human rights and humanitarian implications and violate the principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Obama said he had approved new guidelines stating that drone strikes can only be used to prevent imminent attacks and when the capture of a suspect is not feasible and if there is a “near certainty” that civilians will not be killed.
According to Britain’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, CIA drone attacks in Pakistan have killed up to 3,587 people since 2004, up to 884 of them civilians.
LAHORE: The heat wave experienced by Lahore has become worse for locals as load-shedding nears 12 hours a day, reported Express News on Friday.
Even after the caretaker PM Mir Hazar Khan Khoso released Rs 22 billion for electricity relief, there has been no improvement in the load-shedding. In some areas, it has nearly doubled in fact. In the previous schedule after every four hours of load-shedding, an hour of electricity was released however now load-shedding has increased to eight hours.
According to reports, some areas in Lahore experience nearly 12 hours of load-shedding in a day. The daily life of residents has been severely impacted as there is also a reported shortage of water.
Similarly, in some parts of Karachi and Faisalabad, load-shedding is for nearly eight hours a day.
People wait for relief as the incoming government has made promises to eliminate the problem of load-shedding.
According to recent data, the power shortfall has crossed 6,500 megawatts.
The total demand for power is 15,700 megawatts, whereas around 9,000s megawatt energy is produced only.
Because of the severe shortfall, the duration for power outages has reached 22 hours in certain parts of the country.
LAHORE: American Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson and Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal met Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif on Friday, Express News reported.
Nawaz is expected to be the next prime minister of Pakistan after his party emerged as the victor in the May 11 elections. PML-N managed to win 125 out of total 272 National Assembly seats.
Earlier on May 23, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met Nawaz and vowed to provide assistance in overcoming the Pakistan’s worsening power crisis.
British High Commissioner Adam Thomson on May 18 met Nawaz in Raiwind and congratulated him for winning the elections.
Apart for international leaders, the PML-N chief recently met President Asif Ali Zardari and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani and discussed national issues.
Olson visits Imran Khan
American Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson visited Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan at Zaman Park, Lahore,
While talking to the media after the visit, Olson said that the voter turnout rate in the 2013 general elections was far more than the previous elections.
He further revealed that matters concerning the province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were discussed during the visit.
LONDON: Pakistan is one of the most unpopular countries in the world, only a rank above the least popular Iran, an annual poll for the BBC World Service revealed on Thursday.
More than 26,000 people from around the world were asked to rate 16 countries on whether their global influence was “mainly positive” or “mainly negative”.
Pakistan came second last with only 15% looking upon it favourably, while 55% rating it as “mainly negative.”
The poll was conducted for the BBC by GlobeScan and PIPA, and quizzed randomly selected people in 25 countries.
Germany is the most popular country in the world despite well-publicised protests against its insistence on austerity measures within the European Union.
Some 59% of those polled rated Germany as having a positive influence, while at the other end of the spectrum, Iran came last with only 15% looking upon it favourably.
Even in Spain, which is suffering from stringent austerity measures due to a German-led financial rescue package, 68% said they felt Germany had “a mainly positive influence in the world”.
Respondents in Greece, which has seen anti-German protests depicting Chancellor Angela Merkel as a Nazi for her insistence on fiscal belt-tightening, gave it the worst rating with 52% saying it was a bad influence.
Germany displaced Japan at the top of the table, with the Asian giant’s popularity falling from 58% last year to 51%.
Canada and Britain scored second and third, both with 55 % positive ratings.
As Pakistan’s power crisis deepens, Minister for Water and Power Musadiq Malik has flatly accused the finance ministry of ‘reluctance’ in releasing the entire amount of funds approved by the prime minister to arrange fuel for power plants.
“Timely payments by the Ministry of Finance are the only solution to overcome the current power outages; however, the ministry is reluctant to release Rs22.5 billion approved by the prime minister,” Malik said, while addressing a press conference on Thursday.
“If I had been aware of how helpless I would be in the release of funds, I would never have accepted the responsibility of water and power minister,” he said, adding that the power production now stands at 10,400mw, while the power shortfall was 5,000mw.
He added that a meeting was held with finance ministry officials over its failure to release funds but they refused to disclose the reason behind the non-disbursement of the much-needed money.
“The finance ministry has released only Rs5 billion, which has been paid to PSO for LC payments,” he said. He said the water and power ministry was running Independent Power Plants (IPPs) from its own resources.
Malik said the power sector required immediate release of funds to provide relief to the masses, and added that there was no doubt that the energy crisis could be solved within 30 months, provided the funding was made available.
“We are not able to produce power because of scarcity of funds and we have to change our priorities to address the energy shortages in the country,” he said, adding that the government should give incentives to private investors for power projects. “If they are not facilitated, the government will have to invest on its own in this sector,” he added.
He said that the government would have to increase generation capacity to 20,000mw, and added that the sale price of power was at Rs9 per unit, despite the Rs13.94 per unit generation cost.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2013.
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has refuted the allegation made by the Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) in its letter to the chief justice of Pakistan regarding the issue of insider trading in Azgard 9.
These allegations appear to be motivated by mala fide intentions or a result of lack of knowledge of the intricacies involved in the issue at hand, says an SECP statement.
The TIP letter gives the false impression that the SECP has been lax in prosecuting the guilty individuals and institutions. The TIP has been less than honest because it has ignored the fact that the SECP had already explained its position to the TIP through a letter, the statement said.
The TIP letter contains hearsay information and this violates its very own objectives. The truth is that the SECP discharges its functions and responsibilities in accordance with the law, rules and regulation. When it comes to preventing, detecting, deterring and punishing financial malfeasance, the SECP has devised the procedures, internal mechanism and the power for filing a criminal complaint.
The SECP, nonetheless, has to ensure that all technical and legal aspects are taken into consideration in terms of substantiating the case in the courts, as the onus of proof lies on the prosecution.
The TIP’s letter acknowledges the fact the SECP had initiated action by filing a criminal complaint against 23 companies and individuals. The letter complains that the SECP had not moved against 15 companies. The SECP would like to clarify that before filing any criminal case, it has to make sure that the evidence is strong enough to secure a conviction.
The documents pertaining to the investigation report were reviewed by an external counsel. The objective was to prepare a substantiated complaint, backed up by sufficient evidence, because anything merely based on an opinion or presumption would not secure a conviction, SECP said in its statement.
The counsel was of the view that if the investigation report in its present form was transformed into a complaint, it would be difficult to secure a conviction. In fact, the conclusion of the trial would be a remote possibility, the learned counsel had further argued, the statement said.
Being a responsible organisation, the SECP has to ensure that it has satisfied all the legal requirements before taking any stern action, such as filing of criminal complaints, because a half-baked attempt might damage the reputation of the relevant businesses, it said.
The SECP’s internal team and external counsel undertook an extensive review of the evidence. A list of persons to be proceeded against criminally, based on the gist of available evidence against them, was recommended to the SECP. The SECP granted approval to the companies/individuals to be prosecuted in the matter.
Now the matter is sub judice. It is also pertinent to mention here that JS Investment has filed a constitutional petition No D 1985 of 2013 in the Sindh High Court, which has since suspended the proceedings in the trial court. The SECP is contesting the matter.
With specific reference to charges made against Mr Zafar Abdullah, an SECP commissioner, the SECP would like to clarify that Mr Abdullah was never the CEO of Crosby Dragon Fund (CDF) or its Asset Management Company (AMC). As matter of fact, Abdullah was the CEO of Crosby Securities Pakistan (Private) Limited (CSPL), a licensed corporate brokerage house, which was completely independent and separate from CDF and Crosby AMC in terms of the board of directors and the management. Moreover, in terms of the relevant statute and the regulatory framework thereof, a corporate brokerage house and an asset management company and its funds should have separate and independent respective management and boards of directors and Crosby Brokerage House and Crosby AMC were compliant with these statutory conditions.
It may further be noted that Abdullah had joined the CSPL on February 15, 2008, and it had started commercial operations on May 29, 2008, whereas in ANL manipulation case, the second review period was also over in early April 2008. Thus, CSPL, the brokerage house, headed by Abdullah, had neither indulged in any direct or indirect trading of ANL shares nor it had any connection with Crosby AMC or Crosby Dragon Fund.
Furthermore, it is relevant to state the factual position, that the name of the Crosby Dragon Fund was excluded from the list of the accused by the SECP on October 20, 2011, whereas Abdullah joined the Commission on August 17, 2012.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2013.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Thursday took suo motu notice of the kidnapping of a female student of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU).
The action was taken in response to an application filed by the father of the kidnapped girl, Dr Gul Mezar Khan, who is a resident of Kohat district. In his complaint, Dr Mezar claimed that Abdul Hussain Junejo had abducted his daughter and taken her to Khairpur, Sindh.
Though a First Information Report (FIR) has been lodged, he said, the police have not arrested the suspect named by him. The police, according to Dr Mezar, have shown reluctance to recover the girl.
The chief justice has directed the inspector general of police in Islamabad for the girl’s recovery.
Without mentioning any details of the incident, the written order of the court stated, “The IGP Islamabad is directed to constitute a team of senior police officers to recover the abductee and present her before the concerned district and sessions judge, in order to record her statement and submit the report by the judge and IGP Islamabad within two weeks.”
Khairpur girl’s abduction
The chief justice also took suo motu action on an application by Khairpur resident Sohbat Ali about the abduction of his daughter. The father of the girl claimed that he had registered an FIR against the accused party but the police failed to make any arrests. However, on self-help basis, the applicant had managed to capture three individuals who were nominated as the kidnappers and were presented before the police.
Sohbat Ali said that the accused disclosed that his daughter had been taken to Sialkot, but police remained inactive.
After going through the contents of the application, Justice Chaudhry passed similar directions to IG of police in Sindh stating, “The IGP Sindh be directed to recover the abductee and present her before district and sessions judge and submit their report within 15 days.”
In a separate case, the chief justice directed IGP Sindh for the recovery of Ali Akbar’s daughter, who is a resident of Karachi. The applicant stated that the accused persons had abducted his daughter after looting their gold and cash.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2013.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) claimed on Thursday that one of the absconders in the National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) land scam has been arrested.
Talking to The Express Tribune FIA’s director for Sindh Mohammad Malik confirmed the arrest of Amir Hussain, one of the co-accused in the Rs900 million scam involving former commerce minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and former head of NICL Ayaz Khan Niazi, among others.
The arrest was made at the Uni Plaza, I I Chundrigar Road, Karachi. Hussain’s arrest has brought the number of those arrested in the case to about a dozen, with just two absconders still at large, informed Malik. NICL ex-director Amin Qasim Dada and an individual, Khalid Anwar Khan have yet to be arrested.
The FIA director added that according to reports, Dada is currently residing in England while Khalid Anwar is residing in the US.
Malik said that the govt of Pakistan continues to be in touch with govts of both countries and the two absconders would soon be arrested.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2013.
For all the sound, fury and Hollywood hype, the War on Terror was not a true strategic shift for the United States. I say ‘was’ because, for all real intents and purposes, the war is over for the United States.
Yes, the drones will continue to fly, terrorists will be monitored, the militarisation and intrusiveness of America’s domestic security services will increase and the odd lone wolf attack will be carried out. But on a strategic level, the US is now out of the fight. It’s another matter entirely that the length and breadth of the Muslim world will be faced with a metastasised al Qaeda and its allies for some time to come, but that’s not the topic of this piece. So long as the Middle-East remains balkanised and fragmented, a process aided by the Iraq invasion’s aftermath and now the Syrian civil war, the possibility of a regional hegemon arising remains a distant one. This coupled with a projected decrease in the US’ reliance on Mideast energy, means that this area will not be a prime strategic concern for the US in years to come. Al Qaeda essentially did not achieve its strategic goal of fomenting rebellion in the Muslim world, although one must admit that the war it inspired did succeed in delaying what is the true strategic realignment of the US: The Asian Pivot.
Starting from South Korea and Japan, and stretching all the way down to Vietnam, Myanmar and finally India, an attempt is being made to create a ‘shield’ of nations that can, if push comes to shove, contain China both diplomatically and physically. As a counter, China has its string of pearls, a series of ‘friendly’ naval bases – meant primarily for commercial purposes – that stretch around the Indian Ocean and culminate at Gwadar. The other importance of Gwadar to the Chinese is that it will be, ultimately, the jumping-off point for the economic corridor that Chinese PM Keqiang spoke of during his visit. This, along with Pakistan’s utility as a hedge against India and possibly the US, is the core of the strategic partnership. And make no mistake, it is a strategic partnership in the true sense of the term and is based on cold, hard geopolitics. To analyse it purely, or even primarily, through an economic lens is myopic and disregards the way the Chinese tend to do business. This is not a sugar-daddy in the mold of the US, which will keep the dollar spigot open. For Pakistan on the other hand, it is a relation of necessity. We have few friends in the region, and simply cannot afford to let the Chinese partnership sour, especially when we consider that the long-term strategic interests of Pakistan and the US are fundamentally divergent.
It is true, of course, that out of this necessity we have struck unequal bargains with the Chinese, but fairness is not a guiding principle in foreign affairs. For all the Himalayan hyperbole – which is meant largely for public consumption – It is not incumbent for the Chinese to look out for Pakistan’s best interests. That is, or should be, our job. But it is also another home truth that the junior partner usually ends up getting the short end of the stick, especially when that partner has nowhere else to go and is negotiating from a position of weakness, if not desperation. While the general public can view it as an ‘all-weather friendship’, one hopes that our strategic planners are looking at this relationship with their eyes wide open and with their rose-tinted glasses off.
A fundamental miscalculation made in the Pakistan-US relation was an assumption that Pakistan was permanently indispensible to the US. This was never the case, and at best our value to the US was situational and temporary. In the future, this value will degrade even further, making the China nexus even more important. Here, at least, geography itself dictates that Pakistan’s strategic importance will not fall below a certain minimum. Still, it is important to realise that Pakistan is only one aspect, and by no means the most important, of China’s game plan.
So how do we increase our strategic value to China, keeping in view that while China may be the cornerstone of our grand strategy, we are a sideshow in theirs? The first answer is also the most obvious: by putting our house in order. All the talk of an economic corridor will remain just that unless we are able to secure the route that corridor must take; a route that currently stretches across terrain plagued by insurgency and chaos. Achieving this will not only allow Gwadar to reach its potential but also create the kind of credible state that can, finally, negotiate from a position of relative strength.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2013.
ISLAMABAD: While the refrain when it comes to Pakistan’s relations with the US has usually been ‘trade not aid’, with China it seems to be ‘energy not aid’.
In his meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday, prime minister-to-be Nawaz Sharif sought Beijing’s assistance in overcoming the country’s worsening power crisis and urged him to further expand cooperation in the civil nuclear technology sector.
“Instead of aid, we have asked China to invest in Pakistan’s energy sector,” a senior PML-N official told The Express Tribune. “It will help us overcome our energy shortage and create new jobs, and at the same time be beneficial to China,” he added.
A day earlier during his meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari, the Chinese premier offered his country’s help in resolving Pakistan’s energy crisis.
During the meeting, both leaders discussed ways to further strengthen existing bilateral and strategic relations. Nawaz expressed an eagerness to avail Chinese expertise in order to develop infrastructure in Pakistan and asked Premier Keqiang to develop the Gwadar Port as early as possible to kickstart economic activity in the country. The two leaders also discussed a range of regional and international issues of common interest.
“The PML-N chief has yet to take oath of his office and was thus not in any position to make any agreement but he will be materialising proposals [discussed in the meeting] when he would travel to Beijing,” added the PML-N official..
Congratulating Sharif on his party’s success in the general elections, the Chinese premier also invited the PML-N chief to visit China.
“China views Nawaz Sharif as a sincere and committed friend, whose contribution to expanding cooperation between the two countries is highly appreciated,” a statement quoted Premier Li as saying. Following the meeting, Sharif told reporters that he would visit China at the earliest after taking the oath of office, and it seems its not just energy that will be on the agenda.
“A team of experts will go with Sharif in his visit to Beijing who will materialise the proposals in several sectors other than energy as well,” the party official added.
Meeting with services chiefs Along with meeting the man who will be the next civilian head of government, the Chinese premier also met Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, along with the other services chief and the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, on Thursday.
They highly commended the China-Pakistan Defence and Security Consultations Mechanism, and resolved to maintain the momentum of high-level visits between the armed forces of the two countries and exchanges between military academics, while also deepening cooperation in counter-terrorism personnel training and identifying new areas for exchanges and cooperation.
In a joint statement issued at the conclusion of Chinese Premier’s two-day visit, Islamabad and Beijing agreed to further deepen practical cooperation in all sectors and strengthen coordination and cooperation on international and regional issues.
The Chinese premier reaffirmed support Pakistan’s efforts to uphold its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrit. In return, Pakistan reiterated that friendship with China is the cornerstone of its foreign policy as well.
According to the statement, tThe statement also said that both sides believe that terrorism, separatism and extremism pose a serious threat to regional peace, stability and security, and reaffirmed their resolve to continue cooperation to combat the ‘three evil forces’.
“China recognises that Pakistan has made great efforts and sacrifices to combat terrorism, and reiterates that it respects the anti-terrorism strategy developed and implemented by the Pakistani side in light of its own conditions,” the statement read.
Pakistan reaffirmed its resolve to combat terrorism, and commits to continuous, active collaboration with and assistance to China in combating terrorist forces including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2013.
KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) is in an organisational crisis once again now that all its main bodies have been dissolved – this time in the backdrop of the May 11 elections. Although this is not the first time the powerful urban force went through such a situation, it nevertheless needs to move forward and replace the ‘movement’ with a ‘party’.
The party survived similar crises in the past – in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994 – during which it faced military and police operations, and lost key leaders. This time, however, it seems more like a political crisis and there appears to be a sense of realisation within the party that ‘all is not well’. MQM is also under pressure because it mishandled the situation to counter the propaganda against its leadership in both Pakistan and London since the murder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Zahra Shahid Hussain.
The party has taken some major decisions since the unfortunate incident at MQM headquarters, Nine Zero, on Sunday morning – an incident quite embarrassing for party veterans because the MQM is considered the country’s most disciplined party along with Jamaat-i-Islami (JI). Now, its chief Altaf Hussain had suspended the Karachi Organisational Committee, the Rabita Committee and the committee handling Nine Zero’s affairs. These changes occurred even though the party swept the polls in the city and retained its 17 National Assembly and 37 provincial seats – showing that there is more to the crisis than merely the election results.
Back to the roots
In 1984, the All Pakistan Mohajir Student Organisation formed in 1978, gave birth to the Mohajir Qaumi Movement and after almost 10 years, the word ‘Mohajir’ was replaced by Muttahida. In 1993, MQM abandoned its political structure of chairperson, secretary general, joint secretaries, etc, and replaced them with the Rabita Committee. The decision came after the assassination of its only chairperson, Azeem Ahmad Tariq.
The dissolution of the Rabita Committee is not a first, but it is definitely one of the major overhauls since 1991 when the party sacked several leaders, and sector and unit in-charges, including Afaq Ahmad and Aamir Khan.
The present dissolution of the committees apparently has a lot to do with their failure to misread new political realities. These committees failed to pay attention to complaints against extortion, land grabbing and forced occupations being carried out in the name of MQM. This annoyed Altaf Hussain. He was also unhappy with his Pakistani leadership for failing to counter the negative perception about the party.
It is also true that the MQM has witnessed a decline in its vote bank, much like the Pakistan Peoples Party and the JI. Several people who voted for the MQM in the past elections chose PTI candidates instead.
The surviving founding members of the MQM – Altaf Hussain, Tariq Javed, Zareen Majeed, Kishawar Zehra, Ahmad Saleem Siddiqui and Aminul Haq, who are still active in the party in one way or the other – would never have imagined they would become the undisputed ruler of urban Sindh when they were laying down the foundations of APMSO.
Since then, MQM has won three local bodies’ and six general elections and is still the second largest party in Sindh.
The birth of the MQM was a result of the ethnic dimension of Sindh, which remains the same today. Thus, the MQM may be down but is certainly not out. It will be interesting to see if the party will be born again or will there just be a change of a few faces. It is certainly time for Altaf Hussain and his close aides to revisit their policies and make sure they are aware of the ground realities.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2013.
Days after his faction of the Pakistan Muslim League swept to victory in the parliamentary polls, Nawaz Sharif told newly elected lawmakers on Monday that there was no other option except to negotiate with the Taliban in the interest of peace.
Alluding to the outlawed group’s peace overtures before the election, Nawaz said the Taliban invitation for dialogue should be taken seriously.
Speaking about the strategy evolved by his party vis-a-vis the Taliban, Nawaz said, “The bullet is not a solution”.
“We want to use each and every option; every issue has to be brought on the [negotiating] table for a solution.”
Pakistan, according to Nawaz, has no other option apart from engaging the Taliban in talks.
The PML-N leader made these remarks at Alhamra Hall while addressing newly elected MPs from among his party, including independent candidates who have thrown their weight behind the PML-N and given it a simple majority in the lower house.
Apart from the Taliban threat, Nawaz also spoke about the country’s economic situation and indicated the steps his government intended to take to spur its early revival.
Six MPs elected from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas Nazir Khan Wazir, Bilalur Rehman, Shah G Gul, Dr G G Jamal, Sajid Turi, Bismillah Haji have joined the PML-N.
Nawaz also did some number crunching, counting the human and material cost of delaying the dialogue process with the Taliban. “We have lost around 40,000 lives, wasted billions of dollars and ruined our economy as a result,” said Nawaz. “Why can’t we start dialogue with the Taliban and make our country peaceful?”
On the economy
An atmosphere of peace will revive the economy and end the energy crisis, Nawaz said, adding that the nation will be able to observe a change within the first 100 days as the country gets on the “right track.”
He acknowledged that it was difficult to decide as to which economic problem should be addressed first: the return of loans worth Rs16,000 billion, an end to the circular debt or new development projects for the country. Making a decision was all the more challenging as the previous government led by the PPP had left the national kitty empty. He said that he was in close consultation with Senator Ishaq Dar on how the PML-N could solve the conundrum.
Dar has been asked to find a way out of a circular debt worth of Rs500 billion in order to give temporary relief to the public from load-shedding. There would be a one-time payment in this regard, he said. Through effective management, the PML-N leader said his party would try to rid the nation of the energy crisis.
Nawaz said he intended to reduce government expenditure by up to 30 per cent. “I do not want to set deadlines — but we will try to complete in months those tasks that take years.”
In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Nawaz said he could have played the role of a spoiler yet he chose to adhere to the constitution and allow the PTI to form its government.
In Sindh, he said that the centre would provide support to the PPP-MQM coalition and help it curb violence, improve law and order and revive the economy. However, he warned that he would not tolerate any killings in Karachi.
In Balochistan, Nawaz said his party was ready to form a coalition government. In this regard, the party has already approached some of its coalition parties in the province.
Commenting on the structure of the centre, Nawaz said that his party had won 124 National Assembly seats and thanks to the inclusion of many independent candidates the PML-N now enjoyed a simple majority.
He added that if any party had reservations in working with the PML-N, the winning party will address on its own the country’s challenges. He said his meeting with Imran Khan was to seek his support and share his views on forging a common agenda for the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2013.
Despite having voted in the elections — dealing severe blows to many a party and politician while giving a fresh mandate to others — the people of Pakistan remain quite literally powerless.
During the scorching days of summer, they are forced to sweat it out, whether at home, in offices or even in emergency wards. This is the reality of Pakistan’s prolonged — and worst ever — power crisis.
At the moment, Punjab receives around 68 per cent of total power generation, while the remaining is being distributed among the other provinces. As of this Monday, total power generation was 9,000 megawatts (MW) against a demand of 16,000MW. That means a shortfall of 7,000 MW, and a power crisis of unparalleled proportions.
The shortfall is resulting in frequent power outages across the country. For instance, urban centres of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are made to go without electricity for up to 12 hours a day. The situation in rural areas is worse where consumers are subjected to up to 20 hours of load-shedding.
The situation in Punjab is not good either. On Monday, Sialkot district and its adjoining areas spent 22 hours without electricity. The Gujranwala Electric Power Supply Company, which is responsible for supplying electricity to the region, blamed Wapda for the power outages.
A vicious circle
Power plants require gas and furnace oil to operate. The main oil supplier: Pakistan State Oil (PSO) has no money to inject and has defaulted at least ten times to international fuel suppliers in 2012 due to a liquidity crunch.
The previous government left behind a circular debt of over Rs500 billion, leading to a shortage of fuel which in turn caused a 7,000MW shortfall, causing unbearable levels of load-shedding.
The main fault lies with the power sector, which is unable to collect bills from many consumers but is forced to continue supply to defaulters due to political pressures.
According to sources, during the ongoing financial year 2012-13, Pakistan State Oil (PSO) was paid Rs369 billion for fuel supply, of which Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) gave only Rs50 billion. The shortfall was paid by the finance ministry.
The water and power ministry had asked the finance ministry to arrange Rs105 billion to provide fuel for power plants for April to June 2013. Instead, the finance ministry released Rs30 billion in April and Rs10 billion in May, against the requirement of Rs35 billion. This led to a shortage of furnace oil for power generation.
The gas gangs
Thanks to a gas shortage, power plants mainly rely on furnace oil, and when that supply is cut off, power shortages take place. “At present, the government needs to inject Rs55 billion every month into the power sector to pay for fuel to operate plants at full capacity,” officials said, adding that many power plants had been deprived of gas due to the powerful compressed natural gas (CNG)and fertiliser industry lobbies.
Lobbying by CNG and fertiliser sectors resulted in more than 600 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) being diverted from the power plants to those sectors, resulting in a jump in the cost of electricity production.
The gas being diverted is from the power plants owned by state-owned power generation companies. These companies need about 735 mmcfd to run their plants, but during the 2011 the maximum amount they have received on any given day has been 300 mmcfd.
These power plants were forced to shift to furnace oil, the prices of which have jumped 72% over the past few years. This policy has also affected the power plants capable of producing about 3,000MW, or over one-quarter of the country’s power supply.
“The gap between the notified power price and the cost of production has gone up by 40%. At present, the government is charging Rs8.87 per unit from consumers against the average power price of Rs11.90 per unit,” said an official of the water and power ministry.
And it’s not getting any better
With the elections over and done with, the water and power ministry says fuel supply has been reduced from 19,000 metric tons/day to 10,000 tons. Gas supply has also declined to 75 mmcfd to four power plants with a 8,000MW generation capacity, which were previously supplied 150 mmcfd. They’re the lucky ones, comparatively.
An official of the power ministry said the power plants with a 4,000MW capacity were shut down due to fuel shortages, and that Hubco and Kapco were not operating on full capacity.
A PSO official said the liquidity crunch had choked their Letters of Credit to the extent that they did not have enough furnace oil to pump into the power sector.
The ministry of petroleum had warned the finance and water and power ministries to arrange funds in a letter sent on May 10. But these two ministries did not arrange the money and the power crisis worsened.
Mismanagement adds to miseries
Financial constraints aren’t the only reason for the crisis.
The interference of the federal government, which forced oil and gas companies to continue supplies despite the default of the power sector, has been a major reason behind the collapse of energy companies.
Petroleum ministry officials said that oil and gas firms were supplying fuel to the power sector, along with other clients, in violation of supply agreements.
Also, there are ad hoc heads supervising power firms who have contributed to their inefficiency. At present, ad hoc arrangements had been made to operate Pepco, NTDC and other power distribution companies.
The former government also empowered gas utilities to manage load shedding on their own. Previously, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) and cabinet used to approve the gas load management plan but now gas companies are reportedly involved in giving gas through commissions, and therefore no gas was being provided to power plants. This is a gross violation of the ECC, which had placed power sector on second priority after domestic consumers.
Under a short term plan, government should divert gas from inefficient captive power plants to Independent Power Plants (IPPs). This would help to generate 5,000MW power which would not only be cheaper, but will also result in continued power supply.
The gas supplied to CNG firms could also be diverted to operate those power plants which were shut down due to a shortage of gas. It’s now time for our economic managers to start burning the midnight oil so that the rest of the country can keep its lights on.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2013.
The Taliban had vowed to sabotage the parliamentary elections because they believe Western democracy is un-Islamic. However, they failed to disrupt the elections which saw an unprecedented turnout.
Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said on Monday that the May 11 elections amply demonstrate that “as a nation we can withstand any challenge”.
“In these elections, the people of Pakistan courageously withstood the threat of terrorism and defied the unfounded dictates of an insignificant and misguided minority,” Gen Kayani said while addressing a day-long conference at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Monday.
The conference titled ‘Saving Lives by Jointly Defeating IEDs’ was attended by experts from several countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Turkey.
The army chief also proposed a regional military forum to counter the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have inflicted heavy casualties on US-led foreign forces fighting a Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.
The proposed counter-IED forum could go a long way in eliminating the threat posed by homemade bombs, if supported by the international community, he added.
Speaking at the event, experts from the US and Britain acknowledged Pakistan for taking concrete steps in recent months, towards stopping the smuggling of calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN), one of the main ingredients used in IEDs.
US officials claim that about 80% of the IEDs used in Afghanistan have homemade explosives as the main charge, and more than 80% of these are derived from CAN fertiliser produced in Pakistan.
However, Gen Kayani dispelled the impression that CAN smuggling was the sole stumbling block in eliminating the threat of homemade bombs.
“Production of CAN has come under national and international focus, to the extent of creating a perception that controlling CAN alone can remove the menace of IEDs. Our arguments against this singular perception were taken as unwillingness to act against IEDs,” he added.
However, CAN is only one of the precursors of IEDs, dozens of other are readily available. Moreover, Pakistan is not the only country producing CAN, other regional countries also produce CAN which has a higher degree of nitrogen content than what Pakistani CAN possesses, he said.
The army chief further said that ammonium nitrate, produced in certain regional countries, has 34% to 35% nitrogen content as opposed to 26% contained in what is produced in Pakistan. There is evidence that as Pakistan tightened the control on sale and distribution of CAN, terrorists simply switched to other precursors, like potassium chlorate, not produced in Pakistan, he argued.
Therefore, he said that the underlying complexity of the issue “forces us to adopt a multinational and holistic government approach.”
The army chief told the conference that contrary to prevalent perceptions, Pakistan had come a long way in fighting the IEDs threat during the past three years. “Pakistan has taken significant policy initiatives to counter IEDs. The Pakistan Army, aware of the seriousness of the threat, is leading the drive to create a pragmatic, cost-effective and efficient counter-IED strategy,” he said.
This strategy, he added, aims at creating awareness, assisting in legislation and adopting best practices from across the world to suitably equip and effectively train our forces. He added that the policy was meant to develop a proactive rather than reactive response to the threat at the national level.
Speaking on the occasion, the Deputy Director for Operations/Intelligence Integration, Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organisation USA, Brig Gen Roberts P Walters Jr concurred with Gen Kayani and praised Pakistani efforts to reinforce its border to curb fertiliser smuggling into Afghanistan. Walters praised Pakistani efforts to reinforce its border to curb fertiliser smuggling into Afghanistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2013.
ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday claimed that the massive passport backlog will be eradicated by mid-June after securing 1.5 million laminates.
Till mid-April, as many as 800,000 applicants were waiting for their new passports since the authorities had run out of the laminates and a court order suspended the government from procuring new ones from its designated supplier.
But the Director General Immigration and Passports (I&P) Dr Zulfiqar Ahmed Cheema in a media briefing on Monday said that all passports pending for months with the department due to lamination crisis have been printed and shipped to respective countries.
The backlog has been halved on the national front too with only four hundred thousand passports pending printing. This, Cheema hoped, would be completely eradicated by June 15, pointing out that his department was printing 20, 000 passports a day.
Laminate is the specially designated paper used for passports. By mid-April the backlog had reached 800, 000 while the passport department was left with only 90, 000 laminates.
However, the department managed to reduce the backlog as the department managed to recover 300, 000 laminates in damages. Then, after the court relaxed its stay order, it was able to order another 1.5 million laminates from it US supplier OpSec after securing a special permission from Prime Minister.
LAHORE: President Asif Ali Zardari called Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif on Monday evening to congratulate his party on gaining a simple majority in the general elections, Express News reported.
In his pre-parliamentary address in Lahore earlier in the day, Nawaz had pointed out that President Zardari had not sent him a note of congratulations.
“President Zardari has not congratulated me yet but this is a tale for an another time,” he said.
President Zardari then called Nawaz felicitating him on PML-N’s success in the general elections.
President Zardari also talked to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali on the phone and exchanged his views about issues facing the country with the party leaders.