Aug 302016

ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was informed on Tuesday that sacked staffers of the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) had fled with vehicles worth Rs480 million.

The revelations were made during the PAC meeting with Khusheed Shah in the chair. The PAC chairman directed the authorities to recover the vehicles and submit a report.

EOBI had purchased vehicles worth Rs480 million and given them to the newly appointed officials on loan. The Supreme Court, however, declared the appointments illegal and subsequently the officers were dismissed along with the vehicles.

EOBI Chairman Sualeh Faruqui said the vehicles had been given to the employees on loan under an initiative of the then board of governors to improve recovery of the EOBI “that no doubt improved in that particular year”.

The chairman said the EOBI had assets of Rs300 billion but its resources were depleting due to a rising number of pensioners. “The EOBI can survive till 2027 under the prevailing situation,” he added.

He said former EOBI chairman Zafar Gondal, financial adviser, financial officer, former director general and other staffers were either behind bars or under investigation in the case regarding the purchase of 18 properties at exorbitant prices. The EOBI had spent Rs34 billion on scandalous purchases.

The EOBI chairman said after the 18th Amendment, subjects of welfare of labour and old-age pension, etc., had been deleted from the concurrent list.

Giving reasoning of fewer recoveries from the employers, the chairman said the EOBI Act requires actuarial valuation of the EOBI fund and assets after every three years. However, the previous regimes had taken the issue of revision of minimum wages as a political decision, he added.

Responding to a question, the EOBI chairman said no new investment was made in the recent past.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2016.

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Aug 302016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is on course to making giant strides in its battle against load-shedding by adding significant power to the national grid through a string of power projects, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Tuesday.

“Never in the country’s history has such huge investment been made in the energy sector. The government is not only working to meet the power shortfall but is also catering for the future energy needs of Pakistan,” PM Nawaz said on Tuesday, while chairing a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy.

The premier said increased power generation will also contribute towards economic growth, employment generation, increased industrial activity and foreign investment.

“I will personally monitor the progress on the ongoing power projects across the country and will also perform onsite visits of all power projects to ensure their timely completion,” he said, according to a press release issued by the PM House.

Earlier, Water and Power Secretary Younus Dagha gave a detailed briefing on the timeline for completion of the ongoing power projects in Pakistan. The premier was briefed that the power projects will be completed before March 2018.

The projects that will be completed between the given timeline include three LNG power plants – Bhikki, Haveli-Bahadur, Baloki – of 3,600MW, Chashma 3 & 4 Nuclear of 340MW each, Guddu Gas  of plus 400MW, Nandipur Gas of plus 100MW and Sahiwal Coal of 1,320MW.

The projects slated to complete by March 2018 also include various wind and bagasse plants of 350MW, Patrind HPP Hydel of 147MW, Faisalabad Gas of 250MW, Neelum Jhelum of 969MW, Tarbella 4 Extension of 1,410MW and Port Qasim Power Plant of 1,320MW.

The meeting was assured that a total of 11,131MW will be made available to the national grid by the March of 2018. The participants were told that all transmission line projects are on track to evacuate ongoing power projects, and billions of rupees have been invested in the existing distribution network to bear the load of additionally generated power through completion of ongoing power projects.

The meeting was attended by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan, Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif and other senior officials.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2016.


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Aug 302016

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided not to re-enact the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (Popa) which expired on July 15, highly reliable sources said. The ordinance was originally promulgated to vest the law enforcement agencies with special powers and also gave protection to the witnesses besides accepting evidence that was previously inadmissible in the court under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). “The ordinance has expired and there is no plan to revive it,” said a senior government official on the condition of anonymity. The government, according to the official, is considering introducing a special judicial structure at the federal level to specifically deal with terror related cases. “A new federal judicial system, headed by the Attorney General for Pakistan, is being worksed out with elite investigators, prosecutors and judges who will be appointed with due consultations with the provinces and chief justices of the high courts,” he said. Under this judicial system, a separate prison will also be constructed in Islamabad to house all the terror suspects from all over the country. “The military court cases will be shifted to these new courts. These will be purpose built and will have a very high security facility,” he added. The appeal against these cases will be made at the Supreme Court –much like the appeal against military court verdicts. Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2016. The post Already expired: Federal govt not to re-enact Protection of Pakistan Ordinance appeared first on The Express Tribune. Click for detailed story

Aug 302016

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party submitted a resolution in the National Assembly on Tuesday condemning Muttahida Qaumi Movement Chief Altaf Hussain’s recent anti-Pakistan speech and the attack on media houses by his party workers. The resolution seeks to discuss the issue in the upcoming session of the lower house, scheduled to take place on Friday. Provincial assemblies, including Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab have already passed condemnation resolutions. The resolution strongly condemned the speech stating that “this House vociferously condemns Altaf Hussain’s anti-Pakistan speeches in recent days while addressing his party workers. His derogatory remarks against the country which gave him an identity and standing in national and international arena are totally unacceptable to each and every person loyal to this country.” The PPP lawmakers further demanded that an immediate and stern action be taken against all those elements that were part of ‘treachery’. The lawmakers maintained that they also disapprove of the attacks carried out against media houses and journalists after being provoked by Altaf Hussain, and demand that each culprit be punished. “Pakistan is home to more than 200 million brave and patriotic Pakistanis who stood resolute and determined against every force whosoever intended to malign this country and will continue to do so in future as well,” the resolution concluded. Separately, National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice has adopted a condemnation resolution against the MQM chief. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Dr Arif Alvi presented the resolution which demanded action against the MQM founder and sought action against [Read More…]

Aug 302016

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and a private firm to devise a strategy to protect construction material at the site of the One Constitution Avenue complex. While allowing an application filed by the firm, Justice Athar Minallah directed the counsel for the CDA and the petitioners to work out on a plan which allows the petitioner to make arrangements for protecting the building structure, construction material, fuel, and other assets at the construction site. The court then disposed of the application. The main case would be taken up on September 7. Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2016. The post Protecting assets on site: CDA, developer told to find solution  appeared first on The Express Tribune. Click for detailed story

Aug 302016
The Congo virus

As the sacrificial animals for Eidul Azha are arriving in major cities, more and more cases of Congo fever are being reported from different parts of the country. Two years back, my 20-year-old nephew was diagnosed with ‘Viral Haemorrhagic Fever’ ahead of Eidul Azha. He was bleeding profusely from the nose, ears, mouth etc for nine days. Doctors were of the opinion that my nephew had contracted the virus through sacrificial animals. He was kept in quarantine for three days for fear of the Congo virus. His blood samples were sent to a laboratory in the UK which confirmed that it wasn’t the Congo virus. During treatment, he received more than 40 bags of white blood cells and also had to undergo two sessions of dialysis because during treatment, his kidneys got affected. Fortunately, my nephew won the fight with the disease. While we offer our religious rituals, it is equally important for each one of us to take care of ourselves and of those who have a contact with sacrificial animals in excitement ahead of Eidul Azha. M Rafique Zakaria Karachi Click for detailed story

Aug 302016
The enemy

This refers to the article ‘The monster of extremism’ August 29) by Saleem Safi. The writer has justly concluded that “The lack of common ownership and sense of collective responsibility is a major hurdle in countering extremism.” Every politician, TV host and intellectual defines extremism according to his own convenience and perception. The point is that we should be on one page regarding the root cause of this bane. There should be zero tolerance and no compromise on national security issues. We must understand that extremists are our enemy. Muhammad Fayyaz Mianwali Click for detailed story

Aug 302016
The Kashmir case

The selection of 22 parliamentarians to visit important parts of the world on junket trips to highlight the brutalities in Indian-held Kashmir looks more like a way to please some of the lawmakers. A delegation comprising members of the Azad Kashmir Assembly would have been in a better proposition to highlight the ground reality to the outside world. This is why we need a foreign minister who can put forward the reality at various forum and oversees embassies to follow up aggressively the Kashmir cause at their respective countries of deployment. A delegation comprising eminent lawyers, journalists and some prominent Kashmiri leaders is another option for taking the case to countries which matter. Fahim Siddiqui Islamabad Click for detailed story

Aug 302016
Late bills

Since the beginning NAB has been used for political pressure, where many mega cases are never investigated and many corrupt officers are secretly fined and released through ‘plea bargains’, without any real punishment. Parliamentarians that have admitted to corruption in plea bargains are still in parliament. The people of Pakistan have accepted the failed NAB as another political pressure tool. Since NAB is a complaint-based organisation, where no action is taken until a complaint with proof is first submitted to them, there is little the bureau can manage. Take the example of Pesco, where bills are created on the 6th of every month and issued on the 15th. Bills are delivered to the customers on the 24th of the month, while the last bill due date is the 26th of the month. After due date PESCO charges 9 percent as late surcharge on customers. For common Pakistanis, who are busy in their daily lives, it is not possible to keep track of such manoeuvring by Pesco and therefore they pay the late surcharge, without realising that they only had one or two days to pay their electricity bill or that this trick is used every month by Pesco. Since NAB is not an enforcing agency, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is requested to discuss the issue of late bill delivery and late surcharge with Pesco and end this menace for the people of KP.  Engr Shahryar Khan Baseer Peshawar Click for detailed story

Aug 302016
Islamabad, the beautiful

Islamabad was probably the most beautiful city of Pakistan. Unfortunately due to the inefficiency, negligence and lack of civic sense of the residents it has deteriorated. Part of the blame for this deterioration has to be taken by its residents. However, the major blame for the deterioration of the roads and lighting and civic facilities must go to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) who up till very recently were solely responsible for its development and maintenance. The newly elected mayor and local government who will now take on a major portion of these responsibilities have not yet been allocated funds and staff because the CDA is dragging its feet on this division of responsibility. The local government is still struggling to take over complete charge. The new mayor seems to be keen to show some results but he has to fight the CDA. In order to make Islamabad a really beautiful, clean, well maintained capital the CDA, city government, capital administration and IESCO have to make coordinated efforts under the supervision of the minister of state for CADD. That said, it must be pointed out some of the sectors of Islamabad where the VVIPS and heads of executive and judiciary reside and work are clean and well-maintained. Beyond sectors F5, F6 and 7, the further you go the worse it becomes. The only solution to the problems of Islamabad is that the PM should take a direct interest in its maintenance like his younger brother is doing in Lahore. With [Read More…]

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