Posts Tagged ‘Khyber’

Govt completing first 100 days without legislative work

ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) may have something to defend in terms of its 10,0-day performance,, but it has completely failed to deliver when it comes to legislative work.

The inordinate delay in the formation of the committees by Speaker Asad Qaiser has almost made parliament non-functional which is evident from the fact that so far the National Assembly during its four sessions since August 13 has not passed any legislation, except the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2018, known as a mini-budget. And the government has managed to pull off this “achievement” because under the Constitution, the finance bill, which is also called a “money bill”, is not required to be sent to any committee or to the Senate for approval.

With no legislative work to do, almost all the previous sittings of the lower house of parliament witnessed debates and speeches on insignificant matters, with members continuing their corruption tirades against each other, causing uproar and even scuffles.

On Nov 6, the legislators were allowed to move four private member’s bills in the assembly and the speaker referred them to the committees which don’t even exist.

Salient features of the PTI agenda were expeditious merger of Fata with KP, bifurcation of Punjab province and reconciliation with estranged Baloch leaders

The speaker, who has been struggling to run the house smoothly, is on a tightrope because of the ongoing tussle between the PTI and the opposition parties over the issue of chairmanship of the all-powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and he has stopped the process of formation of the committees due to the opposition’s threat to boycott all the committees if the ruling party does not offer the PAC chairmanship to Opposition Leader and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif as per “parliamentary traditions”.

And after the categorical announcement by Prime Minister Imran Khan that the government would never allow Mr Sharif to become the PAC head, it seems unlikely that the speaker would be able to constitute the committee by Nov 26, when the present government will be completing its first 100 days in office.

Leaders from both the sides admit that a deadlock over the issue of PAC chairmanship still persists with no party willing to budge from its stated position.

Under the rules, the speaker is bound to constitute all the standing and functional committees of the house “within 30 days after the election of the Leader of the House (prime minister)”. Since PTI Chairman Imran Khan was elected prime minister on August 18, the speaker had time till September 17 for the formation of over three dozen house committees.

Although there is no restriction on the government in the rules to give the chairmanship of the PAC to the opposition parties, it has been a parliamentary practice and tradition for the past 10 years that the office is given to an opposition member in order to ensure transparency in financial matters.

According to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the federal cabinet in its meeting on November 15 decided that the prime minister would “unveil the 100-day achievements of the government before the nation on Nov 29”.

Some three months before the July 25 general elections, Mr Khan had unveiled his party’s ambitious ‘agenda’ outlining the party’s commitments for starting work within the first 100 days of forming its government after the elections.

The salient features of the agenda were expeditious merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, bifurcation of Punjab province and reconciliation with estranged Baloch leaders.

The 100-day agenda, prepared by the Policy Unit of the PTI’s Election Management Cell headed by former chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shahzad Arbab, also contained a plan for introducing a development package for Karachi and a programme for alleviation of poverty, besides a number of steps for the improvement of the economy.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018

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Taking U-turns is sign of leadership: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Min­is­ter Imran Khan has said the real leader of a nation always makes U-turns and changes his or her strategy according to the situation and the need of the hour.

He was talking to journalists who met him in the Prime Minister Office (PMO). “The leader who does not do timely U-turns is not a real leader,” the prime minister was quoted as saying by a participant.

Mr Khan gave the example of the ‘failure of German leader ,Adolf Hitler and French military leader Napoleon, Bonaparte in the wars in Russia’ and said: “Both Hitler and Napoleon faced defeat as they did not change their strategies according to the situation and (as a result) their armies were marooned in Russia.”

Imran says Hitler and Napoleon faced defeat in Russia because they were not able to change their strategies according to situation

“Leaders should always be ready to take U-turns according to the requirement of their duties and best interests of the nation,” the prime minister added.

Interestingly, the opposition always blames Mr Khan for making U-turns in politics and backing out from what he promises to the nation. In fact, quite often he is dubbed as “master of U-turns”.

Reacting to the prime minister’s remarks, senior leader of the Pakistan Peo­ples Party Syed Khursheed Shah said that Mr Khan had “called himself Hitler” in his “U-turn remarks”.

Mr Shah said Hitler was a dictator and by giving his example Mr Khan had proved that he too was a dictator.

Talking about the performance of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the prime minister said the anti-graft watchdog should first take up cases of bigwigs and then go for petty suspects.

“NAB is an independent institution and I hope that the bureau will take it into account how many cases it can take to logical conclusion on the basis of its capabilities and human resources,” the prime minister added.

100-day plan

The prime minister said the government would soon present a comprehensive plan for elimination of poverty, better education and health facilities and some other reforms. “The first 100 days of any government determine its direction and policies,” he added.

Unfortunately, he said, it had never been tried to bring in what he called “real” democracy in the country, adding that instead of democracy, kleptocracy had so far ruled the country, where rulers (mis)used their powers for their own interests.

The prime minister deplored that despite obtaining huge foreign loans in the past, Pakistan was still among Third World countries.

“We do not know the amount of resources our country has,” he maintained.

Only in oil and gas sectors six per cent of the resources had so far been tapped, he said. “Unfortunately none of the governments in the past paid attention to exploring other natural resources.”

Stressing the need for merit and fair play, Mr Khan said (previous) rulers had intentionally weakened state institutions so that they [institutions] could not make them [rulers] accountable for their deeds. “We are not at war against democrats but those who destroyed the country and plundered its wealth,” he said.

Lauding the performance of his party in the July 25 elections, Mr Khan said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had lost about 55 seats, 14 of the National Assembly and the rest of provincial legislatures, with the margin of 3,000 to 4,000 votes. “We have offered to the opposition to open any of the constituencies but its objective is only to malign the government by levelling false allegations of rigging,” he added.

“Maulana Fazlur Rehman (chief of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F) and other opposition leaders are making a hue and cry because they have been wiped out from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the polls,” he said.

The prime minister said the PTI government had inherited a number of problems, including crippling economy, but he was hopeful of overcoming all of them. “Improving exports, investments and foreign remittances are among top priorities of the government,” he said.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018

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With circular debt crossing Rs1.2tr, firms told to recover arrears

ISLAMABAD: As the total circular debt of the power sector is estimated to have crossed Rs1.2 trillion, the power division has set specific targets for distribution companies to recover arrears from previous bills and ensure 100pc recovery of current billing.

A meeting, presided over by Federal Power Minister Omer Ayub Khan on Friday, set targets for six distribution companies (Disco) for collection of Rs83bn of past bills and asked them to ensure 100pc recovery targets for current electricity billing.

The meeting was also attended by Nadeem Babar, chairman of the Energy Task Force appointed by the prime minister, and chief executives of the Pakistan Electric Power Company and Discos concerned.

“It was decided to freeze the figures of old receivables as on Oct 31, 2018, with targets to achieve 100pc recovery of current billings besides reducing line losses as per the goals set by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra),” said an official statement.

The decision is part of ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials for a fresh bailout package that requires creating over Rs140bn fiscal space from the power sector through recovery of old bills to minimise the circular debt or else the government would need to further increase power tariffs during the current year.

The minister directed CEOs to end theft and illegal hooking of electricity and take strict action against those involved in it with the help of the Provincial Task Force established in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Informed sources said that the total outstanding bills payable by consumers including public and private sector stood at about Rs870bn and that was the major reason for repeated increases in circular debt.

The power division also directed Discos to ensure that defaulters did not use electricity through hooking and operation must be intensified without any fear or favour.

The meeting assigned specific targets to Discos.

For example, the Lahore Electric Supply Company was given the target of recovering Rs25bn additional funds from January to June 2019 from consumers against old bills, in addition to ensuring 100pc current collection. This will be achieved through Rs8bn recovery from running defaulters, Rs11bn from disconnected defaulters, Rs3bn deferred cases and Rs3bn saving through one per cent reduction in line losses.

Likewise, the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) was given the target of extra recovery of Rs41bn above the full current billing. It was tasked to recover Rs25bn from running defaulters, Rs10bn from disconnected defaulters besides Rs6bn saving by reducing line losses by 4pc.

Pesco will also ensure removal of hooks (Kunda) within two months and SDOs, XENs and SEs concerned shall be held responsible for this. Pesco will launch an awareness campaign to educate consumers that their wrong bills will be corrected and meters will be installed instantly after payment of dues which will also lead to reduction of load management hours in their areas.

The Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco) was asked to ensure extra recovery of Rs10.2bn by reducing line losses to Nepra target of 15pc and recovery of old receivables including Rs6bn from disconnected and Rs2bn from running defaulters.

The Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco) will ensure extra recovery of Rs3bn and reduce line losses by 1pc.

The Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) will also ensure extra Rs2billion collection by recovering old receivables besides bringing line losses at Nepra’s targets of 8.65pc.

The meeting warned that recoveries should be made against outstanding bills and there should be no overbilling or unfair means be adopted for achieving these targets.

A joint secretary of the power division and management of Pepco were directed to evolve a comprehensive monitoring mechanism to ensure that all CEOs personally supervised the drive against theft and shall meet the district administration in this regard.

The total circular debt currently stood at about Rs1.2 trillion including Rs566bn fresh flow and Rs582bn old stock parked in the power holding company. The power sector authorities believe that line loss and lower than billed recovery are causing about Rs202bn and Rs205bn, respectively, circular debt every year.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018

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7-member JIT formed to probe abduction, murder of SP Tahir Dawar

The Islamabad chief commissioner on Friday formed a seven-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the abduction and ,murder of Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar,.

SP Dawar, head of Peshawar police’s rural circle, was kidnapped in Islamabad on October 26 and his body was recovered in Afghan­istan’s Nangarhar province on Monday.

Editorial: ,Family of SP Dawar and the police force he represented deserve a full explanation on his murder,

According to a notification issued by the chief commissioner’s office, the convener of the JIT will be SP Police Investigation, Islamabad. Other members of the team will be:

  • Sub-divisional police officer Shalimar Circle, Islamabad
  • Deputy superintendent of police Crime Investigation Department, Islamabad
  • A representative of the Inter-Services Intelligence
  • A representative of the Military Intelligence
  • A representative of the Intelligence Bureau
  • Investigating officer of the case

The JIT formed on Islamabad police’s recommendation will complete its investigation within the time period stipulated in the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997, the notification said.

The directorates general of IB, ISI and MI have been asked to nominate their representatives for the probe body.

A first information report (FIR) of SP Dawar’s abduction was registered at Ramna police station on October 28 under Section 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person) of the Pakistan Penal Code. The capital police today added Section 302 (premeditated murder) of PPC and Section 7 of ATA to the FIR.

Nothing was known about Dawar’s whereabouts until November 13, when pictures of a body, said to be his, were shared on social media. The body in the photo had a letter written in Pashto placed on the chest. A day later, the Foreign Office confirmed that the body, found by locals in Nangarhar, was indeed of SP Dawar.

Following a two-day delay and hours-long negotiations on Thurs­day, the Afghan side had reluctantly handed over the body of the officer to his family, sparking a diplomatic row between the two countries.

The body was taken to the city police headquarters in Malik Saad Shaheed police lines, where his funeral prayers were offered. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Governor Shah Farman, Minister of State for Interior Shahryar Afridi, and police and military officials attended the funeral prayers. The body was later sent to his Hayatabad residence on the outskirts of Peshawar.

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Police team sent to Peshawar in SP’s murder investigation

ISLAMABAD: A team from the Homicide Unit of the capital police was sent to Peshawar to collect evidence and fulfil legal requirements in the case of a superintendent of police (SP), Tahir Khan Dawar, from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa being abducted from Islamabad and later killed in Afghanistan.

The capital police are also considering adding terrorism and murder charges to the case for Dawar’s abduction. Police official said a militant outfit may be nominated in the FIR.

A senior police officer told Dawn that a four member team under the supervision of an inspector was sent to Peshawar to fulfil legal requirements including documentation, the examination of the body, initiating the autopsy process and obtaining medical and autopsy reports.

“It was suggested that the autopsy be conducted in a hospital in Peshawar instead of bringing the body to Islamabad,” the officer said.

The investigators also took the slain officer’s belongings, including his service card and a hand written letter, with them. In the letter, a militant outfit is said to have claimed responsibility for the murder.

Read: ,Diplomatic row over delay in handover of SP’s body by Kabul,

The officer said the statements of the officials who received the body from Afghan officials and the SP’s family members will also be recorded.

Details of legal action taken by the slain SP against militant outfits and terrorists will be examined.

An officer said there are reports that the SP had arrested a terrorist recently and that the outfit he had been affiliated with had threatened him. He said the reports are yet to be confirmed.

Separate teams were constituted to examine all possible routes from Islamabad to Afghanistan as part of the investigation as well as the location at which the SP’s phone was switched on for two minutes.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2018

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Pakistan concerned over inordinate delay in handing over mortal remains of SP Dawar: Foreign Office

Following the burial of Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar on Thursday night, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal ,took to Twitter, to express “Pakistan’s concern over the inordinate delay in handing over mortal remains” of the ,martyred police official,.

He added that the handing over [from the Afghan side] was linked to “insistence on non-diplomatic procedures and non-official individuals resulting in avoidable pain to the Shaheed’s family”.

“Diplomatic and humanitarian norms need to be observed, especially in such circumstances,” he said.

Editorial: ,SP’s murder,

SP Dawar, chief of Peshawar police’s rural circle, was kidnapped in the G-10/4 area of Islamabad on October 26. On Tuesday [Nov 13], his body was found in a remote area of the Afghan province of Nangarhar and a day later, FO said that Afghan officials had confirmed that the tortured body found was indeed that of Dawar.

Profile: ,Career officer Tahir Dawar,

Earlier in the day, according to senior government officials, members of a tribal jirga on the Afghan side refused to hand over the police officer’s body to Pakistani authorities. Eventually, the body was handed over to SP Dawar’s brothers.

State Minister Shehryar Afridi waits at Torkham border for SP Dawar's body. — DawnNewsTV

State Minister Shehryar Afridi waits at Torkham border for SP Dawar’s body. — DawnNewsTV

Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi and KP Information Minister Shaukat Yousufzai, as well as MNA Mohsin Dawar, were present at Torkham to receive the body of SP Dawar.

The martyred police officer’s body was then dispatched to Peshawar via a helicopter, where his funeral prayers were offered at Police Lines at around 9pm. Peshawar Corps Commander Lt General Shaheen Mazhar Mahmood, Commandant Frontier Constabulary Moazzam Ansari, and other high-ranking law enforcement officials were also in attendance.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Shehryar Afridi, KP Police Chief Salahuddin Khan Mahsud, Shaukat Yousufzai, and provincial spokesperson Ajmal Wazir also attended the funeral.

Dawar’s family held a separate funeral in Hayatabad, after which he was laid to rest at a graveyard in Phase-1 area of the locality.

‘Brutal murder highly condemnable’

The Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, condemned “the brutal murder” of “a brave police officer”, and suspected the involvement of an entity “more than a terrorist organisation”.

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The DG ISPR also urged “Afghan security forces to cooperate in border fencing” to “deny use of Afghan territory against Pakistan”.

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Earlier in the day, the Foreign Office had offered its condolences to SP Dawar’s family, and said it had registered with the Afghan Charge d’ Affairs “our strong protest over the inordinate delay and manner of return of the body”.

“It is hoped that Afghan authorities will offer full cooperation in ascertaining the circumstances under which a Pakistani police officer was found murdered in Afghanistan,” the FO had said.

‘No compromise on SP Dawar’s murder’

In a joint presser later in the day, Afridi and Yousufzai assured that the state “will not compromise” on SP Dawar’s murder, and lamented the Afghan authorities’ behaviour over the body’s handing-over process.

“We were made to stand at the border for two, three hours,” said Yousufzai, to which Afridi added: “The behaviour that we saw at the border today was painful.”

“A game of politics was being played, trying to spread chaos in Pakistan,” added Afridi. “When an officer of the state is martyred, instead of handing his body over to the state, you place some other demands and employ delaying tactics.”

“The Afghan refugees have been given the most respect by Pakistan,” the state minister said. “We have respect for the Afghan government [but] they will have to think why such a behaviour was adopted.”

Regarding the investigation, Afridi said: “The PM has already directed KP CM, KP IGP and Islamabad IGP to conduct an immediate inquiry and furnish a report. A meeting will be held in this regard at the Prime Minister House at 3pm tomorrow.

“We will take this matter to its logical end. We will go all out. The lives of our soldiers and citizens alike are the responsibility of the state. It will be a message to all those who have made a mockery of the issue that the state will not compromise on this.”

The martyred police official’s sibling, who also sat alongside the two ministers in the presser, requested the state to “help me bring to justice whoever has done this to my brother”.

PM orders immediate inquiry into SP Dawar’s ‘shocking’ murder

On Thursday morning, Prime Minister ,Imran Khan ordered, an “immediate inquiry” into SP Dawar’s “shocking” murder.

Taking to Twitter, PM Khan said: “Have followed the shocking tragedy of the murder of SP Tahir Khan Dawar and ordered Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to coordinate with Islamabad police in holding an inquiry immediately.”

MNA Mohsin Dawar, who has been vocal in demanding justice for the martyred cop since his disappearance, responded to PM Khan’s tweet, saying: “We reject an internal inquiry. We know that our investigation authorities can’t question certain powers.”

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PM orders immediate inquiry into SP Dawar’s ‘shocking’ murder

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday ordered an “immediate inquiry” into the ,murder of Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar.,

Taking to Twitter, PM Khan said: “Have followed the shocking tragedy of the murder of SP Tahir Khan Dawar and ordered Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to coordinate with Islamabad police in holding an inquiry immediately.”

The premier added that Minister of State for Interior Shahryar Afridi has been tasked to “oversee it with an urgency and present the report” to PM Khan.

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SP Dawar, who was chief of Peshawar police’s rural circle, was kidnapped in the G-10/4 area of Islamabad on October 26 and ,a body said to be his was found in a remote area of the Afghan province of Nangarhar,.

Afghan officials confirmed that the tortured body found in Nangarhar was indeed that of Dawar, said the Foreign Office (FO) on Wednesday.

According to DawnNewsTV, Dawar’s body was handed over to Pakistani authorities in Afghanistan.

Earlier in the day, Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) Spokesperson Miram Sadaqat told DawnNewsTV that the body was handed to the organisation.

“The body was given to ARCS [today] and now we will transport it to his family. Based on our humanitarian principles ,we are committed to hand over the body to his family,” he had said.

Dawar’s funeral prayers are expected to be held in Peshawar today.

Afridi briefs Senate about Dawar’s case

State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi briefed the Senate on the issue, reiterating that the prime minister had asked for an inquiry report on the murder of the police official.

“On November 13, the footage of his body was released, they [the Afghan government] were approached. The next day, on November 14, we initiated an inquiry into the matter and the Afghan government sent the message confirming the news [of SP Dawar's death],” Afridi said.

He added: “This was when our prime minister asked the the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa inspector general, the KP chief minister and the Islamabad inspector general for a complete and immediate inquiry report into the matter.”

“We only just started receiving all the details [of the case],” Afridi told the Upper House. SP Tahir was transported from Islamabad to Punjab, where he was kept for a couple of days, then he stayed in Mianwali for three to four days, and then he was taken to Bannu, he explained.

“At the border, there is no patrol on the Afghan side, which we have brought up with them [the Afghan government] multiple times,” he claimed.

According to Afridi, this is not the first such incident to occur with respect to Afghanistan as the two countries share a porous border. “Many of our jawans have been picked up this way,” he said, adding that their bodies were then recovered from the other side of the border.

Afridi also lambasted the Safe City project in Islamabad, claiming that of the 1,800 cameras installed in the capital, at least 600 are non-functional. Additionally, he said, “not one camera possesses the ability to identify a vehicle’s license plate or someone’s face”.

“No one bothered to examine how the nation’s money is being spent,” he said.

He called for an inquiry into the Safe City project contracts so that the people responsible are penalised.

Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani told Afridi since it fell within his own ministry’s purview, he could conduct the inquiry. Afridi replied that he would hold an inquiry on his part, but also wished to bring the matter up in the Senate since he didn’t want it said that a particular political party was being targeted.

“The state is responsible for the protection of the lives and property of all Pakistanis,” the minister of state said, calling for unity in the House.

He added: “It is the government’s promise to the nation that we will make examples of the culprits, whether they are in Afghanistan or Pakistan. All political parties need to be united so that people within Pakistan who are trying to destabilise the country and polarise the nation should get the message that if the state or national security are targeted, there will be consensus and unity [against them].”

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Govt approves Rs660bn development projects

ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Wednesday approved six development projects worth about Rs660 billion, five of them from the water and power sector.

The meeting presided over by Finance Minister Asad Umar jacked up the costs of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s signature transport project for Peshawar — Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) — by 38pc and that of Diamer-Bhasha dam project by 1pc.

The meeting approved a proposal of the Ministry of Water Resources to include Tangir Hydropower in the Diamer-Bhasha dam project that increased its cost by about Rs5bn — from previously approved cost of Rs474bn to new revised cost of Rs479.68bn.

Ecnec increases Peshawar mass transit project cost by 38pc

Informed sources said the additional cost for 15MW Tangir Hydropower Project was approved at the request of the Water and Power Development Authority to meet energy requirements during construction period of the Diamer-Bhasha dam. Wapda had estimated the cost of the small hydropower project at Rs6bn. But, the sources said, the Planning Commission had raised serious objections over the cost of the project, saying it was almost three times as costly as a normal hydropower project.

The Wapda management is reported to have taken up the issue with Prime Minister Imran Khan and told him that power supply from the national grid to Diamer-Bhasha over seven to eight years of construction period was estimated to cost about Rs10bn.

The Ecnec was updated on the Peshawar Sustainable Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Corridor Project with a request to increase its cost by Rs38pc as referred by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) last month.

The meeting approved the revised cost of the project of Rs66.43bn, with June 2019 as the stipulated month of completion of the project. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government reported that some funds would be required for a soft opening of the project, to be held in March next year.

The project envisages construction of 27.37km dedicated signal-free BRT corridor, out of which 11.85km will be on ground, 12.26km elevated and 3.25km through underpasses. In addition to the main BRT corridor, additional elevated structures having total length of 2.1km will be constructed.

The CDWP had referred the Peshawar BRT project to Ecnec with a revised cost estimate of Rs67.95bn and with an advice for its cost rationalisation, which was now approved at Rs66.43bn against original approved cost of Rs49.3bn.

The project aims at building high-quality mass transit for Peshawar to trigger urban development, activities and density along the BRT corridor improving economic growth besides giving access into the city.

The project, originally planned to be executed in 12 months, is already beyond schedule and is expected to facilitate 472,000 people per day in its initial phase. It starts from Chamkani on G.T. Road and terminates at Karkhano Market on Jamrood Road. It was launched in December 2017 for completion in one year, but is now expected to be completed in March next year.

The meeting also approved a transmission line project for power evacuation from hydropower projects of 870MW Suki Kinari in KP’s Mansehra district, 1,124MW Kohala in Muzaffarabad district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 590MW Mahal in Bagh District in AJK, at a cost of Rs79.92bn. The main objective of the project is construction of 500kV transmission network involving a total distance of more than 750km up to Lahore to provide interconnection facilities for evacuation of electricity from the above mentioned projects being constructed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Ecnec also approved Sind Solar Energy Project at a cost of Rs12.84bn. The project aims to support the scale up of solar power in the province and increased access to electricity. The project is expected to also improve energy security and fulfil Pakistan’s international commitments on climate change.

The meeting directed the power division to furnish a report covering all facets relating to power production, its effective evacuation/transmission and distribution. The report, Ecnec observed, would help set a direction for undertaking power projects in future.

Ecnec also approved rehabilitation project of Dargai hydroelectric power station in Malakand, KP, at a cost Rs4.050bn. Completion of the project will help enhance the capacity of the power station to 22 MW.

The council also approved the Balochistan Water Resource Development Project (Zhob and Mula river basins) at a cost of Rs16.453bn. The project will benefit districts of Muslim Bagh, Qila Saifullah, Zhob, Khuzdar, Jhal Magsi and part of Kalat.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018

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PM orders setting up of National Curriculum Council

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday ordered establishment of a National Curriculum Council for creating consensus among stakeholders for uniform standards of education across the country.

The prime minister took the decision during a briefing on education held at the PM Office, on a suggestion of Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood.

Punjab Education Minister Murad Rass and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Adviser on Education Ziaullah Bangash also briefed the prime minister about the future roadmap and highlighted various short- medium- and long-term measures to introduce qualitative change in the education sector.

Imran Khan appreciated the efforts being made at federal and provincial levels and said the National Education Policy Framework (NEPF) was being devised to bring uniformity in existing fragmented and apartheid-like system of education.

“The objective is to create a nation and to put in place a system which is ‘fair’ and ‘produces Pakistanis’,” he said, adding that, skill development of the youths should be especially focused so that their potential could be utilised effectively.

Earlier, Shafqat Mehmood gave a detailed presentation on the NEPF identifying various challenges vis-à-vis out of school children, education apartheid, quality of education and skill development issues.

He said the NEPF was being formulated to ensure that all children have a fair and equal opportunity to receive high quality education in order to achieve their full potential.

The minister said optimum utilisation of the existing infrastructure, employing technology solutions, improvement in non-formal education systems, attracting quality teachers and incentivising the education were some of the measures in the NEPF that would significantly help in enhancing school enrolment and addressing the issues of out-of-school children.

At a separate meeting on PM Youth Programme, Imran Khan stressed the need for devising a comprehensive programme for youths’ education, employment and their participation in different sectors.

He said out of 200 million population 130m were those who were below the age of 35 years. “This big number of youths is a precious asset which can change the destiny of the country,” he added.

The prime minister directed the federal government departments to follow the youth programme implemented by the KP government during the past five years.

Meanwhile, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Malki called on Prime Minister Imran Khan.

An official press release said bilateral issues of mutual interest were discussed during the meeting.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018

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SP Tahir’s body to be handed over to Pakistan tomorrow, says KP information minister

The body of Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar ? who was abducted from Islamabad last month and found dead yesterday in Afghanistan ? is expected to be handed over to Pakistan authorities tomorrow, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) information minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said in a statement on Wednesday.

Police and civil administration have been ,waiting at the Torkham border since Tuesday night, to receive the slain SP’s body.

The body was earlier expected to be handed over to Pakistani authorities today. Yousafzai said a KP Police delegation had waited at the Torkham border crossing all day for SP Tahir’s body but were unsuccessful. He did not mention the reason of the delay.

Miram Sadaqat, the spokesperson of the Afghan Red Crescent, told DawnNewsTV that the organisation’s volunteers will transfer the body to the Torkham crossing as soon as Afghan authorities hand it over.

He said that Afghan police and hospital administration were “collecting information” about the body.

SP Tahir, a police officer who had survived two suicide attacks in Bannu, was ,kidnapped from Islamabad’s G-10/4 area on October 26,. A body believed to be his was found in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province yesterday.

He hailed from North Waziristan district and earlier this year was made acting SP and given charge of Peshawar police’s rural circle. Prior to that he had served as DSP of University Town and Fakirabad and had also had a stint with the Federal Investigation Agency.

Photos of the SP’s badly tortured body with a hand-written Pashto letter placed on his chest, purportedly written by a yet unidentified militant group, went viral on social media on Tuesday before police could officially confirm the happening, but a senior official said a “source” had informed them of the tragic news.

A senior KP official said that the paper found on the body mentions no militant outfit and would be investigated later. The note carries the name of Wilayat Khorasan, the nomenclature the militant Islamic State (IS) group uses to refer to the Pak-Afghan region.

It referrs to SP Dawar with his first name and says that the “cop who had arrested and killed several militants has met his fate”. The note also threatens other people to take caution “otherwise they too would meet the same fate”.

In a statement released today, the Foreign Office spokesperson had confirmed that the body of SP Tahir had been recovered along with his service card by Afghan locals.

According to the FO spokesperson, SP Tahir was discovered by residents in Dur Baba district of Nangarhar province of Afghanistan on Tuesday and handed over to the local police.

The police had shifted the body to Momand Dara district of Nangarhar from where it would be transferred to Jalalabad, the FO spokesperson said. The statement further said that the body is yet to be received by the Consul General of Pakistan in Jalalabad and it “would be subsequently transferred to Pakistan via Torkham border after completion of necessary formalities”.

Islamabad didn’t contact Kabul about SP Tahir, says Afghan envoy

Earlier today, outgoing Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal told journalists at a farewell ceremony that the Pakistani government had not reached out to Afghan authorities for any information about the missing police official.

“How did a police officer disappear from Islamabad and turn up dead in Afghanistan?” he asked.

He urged the leadership of both countries to “sit together” and talk about SP Tahir’s suspected murder.

Zakhilwal also expressed grief over the police officer’s death and said he did not have any information about the abduction.

In response to a question, he said that the Afghan government had been in touch with ,slain Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam-Sami (JUI-S) leader Maulana Samiul Haq, and had urged him to ,play his role, to solve the Afghan issue.

“Apart from reconciliation, Pakistan and Afghanistan have no other way [to achieve peace],” he added.

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Police officers were tasked to ‘break PPP people’ by Sindh caretaker govt, claims CM Shah

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday lashed out at what he called arbitrary transfers of police officers by the Sindh caretaker government before the 2018 elections, saying the random postings had left the policemen clueless.

“[They] put the names of all officers in a box, started revolving it and then pulled out name chits to mindlessly decide where each police officer would be posted,” Shah said while briefing the Sindh Assembly about the law and order situation.

He alleged that the police officers had been assigned the task of “breaking the PPP people”, and because they were allegedly too busy trying to change PPP leaders’ alliances, the law and order situation had worsened and street crime in Karachi had risen.

“I am a witness [to this] myself… they were asked to ‘break the PPP people’, [and] forget about the law and order.”

After returning into power, the chief minister said, the PPP government has been trying to control the street crimes situation.

Shah informed the house that 61 incidents of terrorism had taken place in Sindh in 2013. The number came down to two such incidents in 2017, while this year no terrorist incident has taken place in Sindh so far.

Incidents of targeted killings and street crimes have also dropped, he said, adding in the same breath: “But we are not satisfied… we have to do more work.”

He said the province of Sindh, specifically Karachi, have seen several devastating terrorist incidents in recent years, including the Safoora Goth carnage, the Sehwan bomb blast, the Shikapur blast and the killings of qawwal Amjad Sabri, JUI-F leader Khalid Mehmood Soomro and journalist Wali Babar.

“There is not a single incident which we have not traced or solved,” Shah claimed, before questioning the investigations into terrorist attacks in other provinces.

“Did [we] ever find out what happened at the Army Public School in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa? Have the men who escaped in a jailbreak in KP been found till date?” he asked.

Responding to a point raised by another lawmaker, he said it was members of the civil society which had moved courts against the Sindh government’s efforts to replace then provincial chief of police A.D. Khowaja, and not Khowaja himself.

“We tried a lot [to replace him] but what can I say… [unlike Sindh,] nothing happens when the Punjab police IG is changed within three weeks,” Shah said, before adding tongue-in-cheek: “Be grateful the civil society there [Punjab] is not that active.”

“The Islamabad IG [was] also transferred in an incident involving cows,” he said, in a reference to a ,federal minister’s alleged role, in the transfer of former Islamabad police chief Jan Mohammad. However, he observed that a joint investigation team had been formed to probe that alleged abuse of power.

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SP Tahir Dawar’s body to be handed over to KP police today

The body of Superintendent of Police (SP) Tahir Khan Dawar ? who was abducted from Islamabad last month and found dead in Afghanistan ? will be handed over to Pakistani authorities by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement on Wednesday, MNA Mohsin Dawar told DawnNewsTV.

SP Tahir, a police officer who had survived two suicide attacks in Bannu and had been serving as head of Peshawar police’s rural circle, was kidnapped from Islamabad’s G-10/4 area on Oct 26. A body believed to be his was found in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province yesterday.

SP Tahir hailed from North Waziristan district and earlier this year was made acting SP and given charge of the rural circle. Prior to that he had served as DSP of University Town and Fakirabad and had also had a stint with the Federal Investigation Agency.

Photos of the SP’s badly tortured body with a hand-written Pashto letter placed on his chest, purportedly written by a yet unidentified militant group, went viral on social media on Tuesday before police could officially confirm the happening, but a senior official said a “source” had informed them of the tragic news.

A senior Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) official said that the paper found on the body mentioned no militant outfit and would be investigated later. The note carries the name of Wilayat Khorasan, the nomenclature the militant Islamic State (IS) group uses to refer to the Pak-Afghan region.

It refers to SP Dawar with his first name and said that the “cop who had arrested and killed several militants has met his fate”. The note also warns other people to take caution and threatens that otherwise they would also meet the same fate.

The KP official said that they would investigate where the officer was killed and what group was responsible for the murder.

MNA Mohsin Dawar said that SP Tahir’s body would be handed over to the ,KP police at the Torkham border crossing,, and that further details would be provided by Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) operations Peshawar Javed Iqbal.

Police and civil administration waited at the Torkham border on Tuesday night to receive the slain SP’s body, but it ,did not reach the country, yesterday.

Islamabad didn’t contact Kabul about SP Tahir, says Afghan envoy

Outgoing Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal told journalists at a farewell ceremony that the Pakistani government had not reached out to Afghan authorities for any information about the missing police official.

“How did a police officer disappear from Islamabad and turn up dead in Afghanistan?” he asked.

He urged the leadership of both countries to “sit together” and talk about SP Tahir’s suspected murder.

Zakhilwal also expressed grief over the police officer’s death and said he did not have any information about the abduction.

In response to a question, he said that the Afghan government had been in touch with ,slain Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam-Sami (JUI-S) leader Maulana Samiul Haq, and had urged him to ,play his role, to solve the Afghan issue.

“Apart from reconciliation, Pakistan and Afghanistan have no other way [to achieve peace],” he added.

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Two NAB officers don’t meet criteria of appointment, SC told

ISLAMABAD: A special committee in its report submitted to the Supreme Court has acknowledged that two officers currently working in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) did not meet the required criteria for their appointment.

The report has been finalised in response to a suo motu case against illegalities, contraventions and violations in appointments in the bureau.

It said out of 17 officers under consideration Farman­ullah and Fayyaz Ahmed Qureshi should be repatriated to their parent departments.

Farmanullah was director in NAB Khyber Pakhtun­khwa and Fayyaz Qureshi was director in NAB Sukkur.

The report states that the committee is of the view that Farmanullah, a director in grade-20, cannot be retained in NAB because an experience certificate provided by him could not meet the requirement mentioned in the advertisement for the job.

“The committee recommends that if legally possible he may be repatriated to his parent department,” the report stated.

He belonged to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Physical Plan­ning and Housing Depart­ment and the Frontier High­way Authority, and the committee has noted that the experience certificate submitted by him does not indicate if it is acquired from his previous employer in the fields of investigation, inqui­ries, research and legal matters.

The committee has also recommended that Fayyaz Ahmed Qureshi, who belonged to the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), may be repatriated to his parent department.

It said that his services cannot be retained in NAB because the certificates submitted by him stipulate that his core responsibilities were to analyse, inquire and scrutinise the estimates for approval of competent authority.

The special committee, comprising the Establishment Division secretary, a member of the Federal Public Service Commission and the director general, HR NAB, was constituted on the directives of the Supreme Court.

The committee said that additional director Mubashar Ghulzar could not be retained in NAB, but also the officer could not be repatriated as he had already resigned from his previous organisation.

Other officers mentioned in the report, including Zahir Shah, retired Brig Farooq Naser Awan, Altaf Bawany, Hussain Ahmed, Atiqur Rehman, Mirza Sultan Saleem, Masood Alam, Mirza Irfan, Nauman Aslam, Raza Khan, Abdul Hafeez Khan, Mujahid Akbar Baloch, S. M. Hasnain, Abdul Hafeez Siddiqui, Zafar Iqbal Khan, Ghulam Farooq and retired Lt Col Tariq Mehmood Bhatti, will be retained by NAB.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2018

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ECC takes up gas load management plan today

ISLAMABAD: The government has called a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet on Monday to take up gas load management plan for the winter as complaints of low gas pressure and supply shortages have started to pour in.

To be presided over by Finance Minister Asad Umar, the ECC meeting is expected to take up a 4-point agenda including allocations of small gas quantities from two new fields and issues arising out of construction of two LNG terminals and how to address them.

The coming winter months – December to February – are expected to be very tough for urban residential consumers in terms of gas shortfalls amid commitment by the new government to ensure uninterrupted gas supplies to the industrial sector, particularly the zero rated five export industries at highly subsidised prices.

Sources said the petroleum division estimated up to 50pc gas shortfall to urban population in Punjab and to some extent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, — both being served by Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL). It has proposed providing direct subsidy to the SNGPL for domestic consumers with an injection of about 150 million cubic feet per day (MMCFD) additional gas at three peak consumption intervals around cooking hours.

As winter begins, complaints of low pressure and shortages start pouring in

The sources said the government may have to shift the entire industry including the five zero rated export sectors and power generation to imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) instead of domestic gas supplies and yet spare 150 MMCFD for residential consumers at breakfast, lunch and dinner timings even if this required diverting some LNG supplies to the residential sector.

The challenge is the price differential that requires the government approval for additional subsidy after it committed about Rs44 billion subsidy for zero rated export sectors. The average cost of domestic gas is about Rs630 per million British Thermal Unit (MMBTU) compared to about Rs1,350 of LNG. The problem is that majority of domestic consumers are entitled to gas price ranging between Rs150 and Rs300 per MMBTU.

The petroleum division believes that without additional subsidy, the domestic and commercial consumers would not get enough gas even for cooking in Punjab as SNGPL’s domestic gas share has plummeted to about 1,060 MMCFD. The peak demand of residential consumers could touch 900 MMCFD, but the authorities advise the government not to bother about uninterrupted supplies round the clock.

The total domestic gas supply through transmission pipeline network is currently estimated at about 2,240 MMCFD including about 1,175mmcfd of Sui Southern Gas Company that severs Sindh and Balochistan and about 1,060 MMCFD in the SNGPL network where demand for domestic consumers increased from about 500 MMCFD in summers to about 900 MMCFD in peak winter.

The problem has aggravated financially after the PTI government committed that 100pc re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) would be provided to zero-rated industry from December to February at a flat rate of $6.5 per MMBTU. The current RLNG rate stood at about $12.5 per MMBTU.

After February, a blend of domestic natural gas and RLNG of 50:50 would be provided to zero-rated industry from March to November. Under the decision, the SNGPL will invoice the zero-rated industry at notified prices (RLNG) and upon receipt of subsidy from the Finance Division on a monthly basis, the subsequent invoices to industry will be adjusted at the ECC-approved weighted average price of $6.5 per MMBTU.

On receipt of subsidy, the SNGPL will onward credit the amount to consumers through immediate adjustment in the subsequent gas bills. It was agreed that the subsidy would be restricted to a maximum of 185 MMCFD — according to last year consumption — with 10pc variation.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2018

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Recovery of funds stashed abroad to take time: minister

LAHORE: Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Sunday since Pakistan could not investigate and recover “corruption money stashed abroad” all on its own, the recoveries would take time.

“The money looted by the Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari families belongs to the country and needs to be recovered,” he said at a press conference.

Reacting to the PML-N and PPP leaders’ recent comments that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s leaders were “begging” in different countries, Mr Chaudhry said Prime Minister Imran Khan would not have needed to go abroad to get money had the Sharif and Zardari families returned “83 per cent of Pakistan’s Rs30 trillion loan liability”.

The information minister said the country’s total debt in 2006 was just Rs6tr, but the PPP and PML-N governments pushed it up to Rs30tr.

He said Imran Khan had no personal agenda to carry forward as he only desired to create a social welfare state, while the opposition’s sole agenda was to promote its own interests.

Referring to the chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly, he said it was strange that the younger brother (Shahbaz Sharif) wanted to supervise the audit of his elder brother’s (Nawaz Sharif) “corruption” during the past two years.

Says PM will unveil plan on Nov 29 offering relief for the poor

“It is the PTI government’s right to audit the previous government’s bungling in projects executed with public money during 2016-18. The PML-N may take over when the PTI government’s projects are presented before the committee,” he asserted.

Rejecting the PML-N’s demand for appointing Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif as PAC chairman, the minister said the chairmanship could be given to Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari or anyone else in the opposition if it wanted to retain the position. “Will Shahbaz Sharif hold PAC meetings in Kot Lakhpat jail,” he wondered.

The PML-N central spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb immediately responded to Fahad Chaudhry’ remarks, saying the “compulsive thieves” had locked down the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission for five years to hide their “massive corruption” and now they were doing everything to lock down the PAC with the same motive.

“Imran Khan has never been held accountable, he has been let go in cases in which he himself admitted wrongdoings. This is why he has become a repeat offender and wants to hold the PAC hostage,” she said.

Ms Aurangzeb said Fawad Chaudhry needed to get tutored (by her) on the operations and functions of the PAC as he was speaking with little knowledge, that was dangerous, and, as a result, ended up in embarrassing himself.

“Mr Chaudhry should clarify before every press conference whether he is speaking as NAB spokesperson or information minister,” she advised the information minister.

Despite being in power, she said, Imran Khan and his “cronies are obsessed and possessed with the fear” of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif.

“The prime minister should address the nation to explain “billions of rupees corruption” in the Peshawar Metro and Billion Tree Tsunami projects and “proven corruption” of the (previous) KP government.

In reply to a question about the prime minister’s plan of speaking in detail about corruption in Pakistan, Fawad Chaudhry said the premier’s talk on the subject had been delayed because investigators believed that this was not an appropriate time to speak on the subject. “The government is consulting legal minds on the subject.”

In reply to another question about validity of the NAB director-general’s degree, the minister said the degree had never been challenged during the past two decades, adding that the official had recovered Rs4.5 billion in KP.

“The powerful and filthy rich people scream when law starts laying its hands on them and here begins the test of a government,” he said.

“If the PTI does not speak about corruption and catch big fish, it will be betraying its voters,” Mr Chaudhry said and added that the wheels of justice would turn soon and crush every corrupt whether weak or powerful. “The PTI will not go for any muk-muka (deal) with the opposition,” he added.

Apparently referring to the recent three-day protest by a reliogio-political organisation, the minister said a group (of people) was trying to reap political benefits under the cover of religion.

But, he said, the government itself and genuine religious segments in society could take the ownership of true religious narrative.

He said PM Imran Khan wanted to take care of the 2.5 million children studying in seminaries as well as offer due rights to the minorities by establishing a welfare state o the model of Madina’s.

He said the prime minister would unveil the PTI government’s 100-day plan on Nov 29 offering relief to the salaries class as well as the poor.

To a question about government advertisements to print and electronic media, the information minister said the government was the media’s client like any other client and would give advertisements in keeping with its budget.

“The PTI government will not use media advertisements as bribe like (today’s) opposition (parties) did when they were in power,” he said.

The minister said the government would support journalists and that every registered journalist would be given Rs450,000 health card facility.

In a media talk following the information minister’s press conference, Marriyum Aurangzeb said Fawad Chaudhry was a “political mercenary”, and in his desperation to “please his paymaster”, had become more loyal than the king.

“The people of Pakistan have not forgotten the Chaudhry’s conflicting statements while serving different political parties,” she commented and asked him to explain when the PTI government would provide people five million houses, 10 million jobs as well as tell the truth about Imran Khan’s sister Aleema Khan’s properties abroad worth billions of rupees.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2018

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Peshawar bus project budget to be revised soon

ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) is set to approve a Rs66.4 billion revised plan for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in Peshawar this week.

The revised plan of the BRT is being sent to Ecnec on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan which he issued during a meeting with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan at Banigala here on Sunday. It was the second meeting of the prime minster with the chief minister in three days.

The two also discussed the law and order situation in the province, the federal government’s 100-day plan, merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with KP and the local government elections.

The prime minister also discussed with the chief minister issues of education, health and other aspects that are part of the 100-day plan.

“Our political agenda is not artificial and we are not afraid of controversies,” the prime minister said.

The BRT’s revised plan has already been approved by the Provincial Development Working Party and the Central Development Working Party (CDWP).

According to an official press release, the multi-billion-rupee BRT project is not only a bus corridor, but also a grand plan for other roads in the city. There are also designs to construct drainage ways, a cycle track and moving utility service lines along the three-kilometre long underpasses and the 13km long elevated road.

The opposition has been criticising the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf governments — both at the Centre and in KP — for doubling the estimated cost of the BRT project from Rs30 billion to Rs60bn. However, the fact is that the original cost of the project was Rs57bn and the revisions amount to only Rs9bn.

When contacted, a senior official of the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) told Dawn that the original cost of the project was Rs57bn, but the CDWP made a 15 per cent cut and removed contingency expenditure — a provision created in all mega projects — reducing its cost to Rs49bn.

Meeting with MNAs

The prime minister has also initiated meetings with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s members of the National Assembly (MNAs) based on divisional groupings. A meeting has already been held with MNAs from the Peshawar division.

It is expected that the prime minister will discuss the issue of a recent video tape in which leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) were complaining to PTI leader Jehangir Tareen about alleged interference of Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar in the affairs the Punjab government.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2018

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80pc of Pakistan’s poor live in rural areas, says World Bank report

ISLAMABAD: Rural areas in Pakistan remain much poorer than urban areas and are far more disadvantaged in all respects of service delivery, and the present conditions show the decline in poverty has not reduced the urban-rural gap by much.

According to a World Bank report titled ‘State of Water Supply, Sanitation and Poverty in Pakistan’, Balochistan has by far the highest rural poverty rate, with more than 62 per cent of its rural population living below the poverty line. However, the gap between rural and urban poverty is the widest in Sindh at almost 30 percentage points. In contrast, the urban-rural gap in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was 13 and 15 percentage points, respectively.

Karachi, Lahore account for almost as many poor people as the 10 poorest districts do

The report said that the poverty head count rate in rural Pakistan was twice as much in urban areas — 36pc versus 18pc — and the gap had remained virtually unchanged since 2001-02. Combined with the slow pace of urbanisation — only about 35pc of the country’s population lived in urban areas in 2014 — this gap indicated that 80pc of Pakistan’s poor continued to live in rural areas.

Rural households, it said, faced a substantial disadvantage in virtually all aspects of service delivery. Nationally, the rural net enrolment rate was 13 percentage points lower for primary school and 11 percentage points lower for middle school than in urban areas. For girls, these gaps stood at 17 and 14 percentage points, respectively. The rural female literacy rate, at 28pc, was also less than half of that in urban areas.

According to the report, rural children are 8.5 percentage points less likely than urban children to have adequate immunisation by three years of age, and rural women are 10 percentage points less likely to receive prenatal care, 28 percentage points less likely to give birth in a facility or hospital, and 12 percentage points less likely to receive postnatal care. Rural households are also far less likely to have access to key utilities. They are 15 percentage points less likely to have an electricity connection and 63 percentage points less likely to have a natural gas connection than urban households.

The report noted that districts varied widely in poverty, with the richest district Abbottabad at a headcount rate of 5.8pc and the poorest district — Washuk in Balochistan — at 72.5pc. Much of this variation reflected differences in poverty across provinces. The vast majority of the 40 poorest districts were in Balochistan, followed by Sindh.

However, the report added, only three districts each in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa fell in this set, and they were not among the poorest in the group. Not a single district in Balochistan was among the richest 40, and only Karachi and Hyderabad in Sindh fell in this set. The divide between Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab in the north and Sindh and Balochistan in the south was apparent and quite stark.

It also found that districts that include large cities like Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Sialkot, Multan, and Bahawalpur had much greater within-district inequality than other districts.

Taking population into account, a large share of Pakistan’s poor lived in well-off districts in Punjab and Sindh, particularly Karachi, Faisalabad, and Lahore, it said.

Karachi, for example, was the third-richest district in Pakistan in 2014-15, but despite its low poverty rate of 8.9pc its large population share meant that 2.5pc of the country’s poor lived there. Similarly, Lahore — the sixth-richest city — was home to 2.2pc of Pakistan’s poor. Together, these two cities accounted for almost as many poor people as the 10 poorest districts, where poverty rates are six or seven times higher.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2018

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