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Month: May 2014

London meetup: PAT, PML-Q agree on 10-point reform agenda

By noreply@tribune.com.pk (Peer Muhammad)

ISLAMABAD:

The Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) on Saturday agreed on a 10-point reform agenda aimed at launching a movement to bring electoral reforms and establish a welfare system in the country.

The announcement was made at a news conference in London, following a meeting between PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri. The top leadership of the two parties was in London to discuss the formation of an alliance against the government.

Earlier reports had suggested that the PAT and PML-Q leaders would be joined by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, who also happens to be in the UK. The reports were later rejected by the PTI leaders.

Speaking at the news conference, Qadri announced that he would return to Pakistan in June – earlier than his previously planned homecoming in July – to launch a movement against the government geared towards reforming the electoral and governance systems in the country.

“We will launch a movement for electoral reforms and for the rights of the poor, who have been deprived for more than six decades,” he told reporters. “We also plan to bring about a ‘mass revolution’ in the country to get rid of the incumbent government and election systems.”

While signing the 10-point agenda, the two parties decided to contact ‘likeminded’ political and religious parties – naming the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and PTI in particular – to join their ‘mass revolution’.

Qadri claimed that the present government had failed to deliver and said that the rights of the poor in Pakistan were being usurped. “This system is not for the poor, but for protecting the interests of rulers and their cronies,” he said.

He added that the administrative and financial systems of the country had miserably failed to provide relief to the masses and needed to be overhauled. “The establishment of a new welfare system has become inevitable,” the PAT chief said.

Revealing PAT and PML-Q’s plans, Qadri said they planned to compile data on those who earned less than Rs15,000 in order to provide them free electricity, gas and housing. State land will be distributed among homeless people and every citizen would be provided a home as well as employment, he said. In addition to that, a state insurance programme would be introduced for the low-income segment, he added.

Qadri said the two parties also agreed to transfer powers to the grassroots level in a bid to empower the common man. The PAT and PML-Q have agreed to create sectarian harmony in the country as well, he added.

Senior PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who was also present at the news conference, said that steps would be taken to introduce a ‘pro-poor system’ in the country. “Poor people are in a miserable condition. A comprehensive system is needed to address their issues,” he said, vowing to reform the police and patwari systems.

The former Punjab chief minister criticised incumbent Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for “ruining the governance structure in Punjab during his six years in power”.

PML-N reaction

Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid termed the two parties’ leaders ‘political orphans and jobless’. “One leader cannot come to Parliament through the democratic system while the other can’t join the opposition,” he said. The minister added that the PAT and PML-Q were trying to gather everyone who was ‘rejected’ in the election.

The statement was echoed by senior PML-N leader and Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Chaudhry Barjis Tahir. He said the PML-Q was rejected in the elections while the PAT ran away from the polls. Despite this, the two parties are trying to derail democracy, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2014.

Source: London meetup: PAT, PML-Q agree on 10-point reform agenda

Nandipur project’s inauguration: Nawaz asks foes to rally round cause of democracy

By noreply@tribune.com.pk (Our Correspondent / Zafar Bhutta)

LAHORE / GUJRANWALA:

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday enjoined his political foes to abandon “divisive politics” and back instead efforts to strengthen democracy for the sake of the country.

He made the appeal at the inauguration of the 425-525 megawatt (MW) Nandipur power project – which he touted as proof of the government’s commitment to steer the country out of its energy crisis.

“These [political parties which are planning anti-government campaigns] should not create stumbling blocks in the progress of Pakistan and should instead join hands with us for development,” PM Nawaz said. Voicing disdain at their campaign, he asked: “Is your protest against our efforts to strengthen democracy, ensure development, generate employment and eliminate corruption?”

“If the agenda of the protesters is against all these initiatives, then we can only assume that they are trying to destroy the country,” he said.

The premier accused his political rivals of stage-managing protests in Pakistan from Canada and London and fomenting unrest. “While they are perpetuating the processions against the government, we are working day in and day out for the progress of this country,” he said.

“I cannot understand why some people are making a hue and cry when the government is delivering. They must see that the government is investing in projects all over the country irrespective of whether they bagged votes from those constituencies or not,” he added.

He pointed out that the government had launched an operation in Karachi to end kidnappings, targeted killings and extortion rackets and that the situation had improved there. “We are taking measures to eliminate terrorism and militancy,” he said adding that the agenda of the agitating political parties was beyond comprehension.

He said the Nandipur power project was commissioned ahead of schedule. “The first phase of 95MW electricity will start from today and the rest of the projected electricity will be added in the next few months,” he said.

At the same time, the premier also heaped scorn at the previous government for withholding equipment for the project at Karachi port for three years. “As a result of this, the cost of the project went up to Rs275 billion against earlier cost of Rs84 billion,” he said, adding that this issue should also be investigated for plundering public money.

“We have completed the project in a few months,” he said adding that they had held the ground breaking ceremony of two power projects of 1,320MW in Sahiwal a few days back. “I will soon inaugurate Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project also,” he said. He said that current power supply stood at 13,000MW whereas government had been able to generate 16,000MW last year. He said that situation would improve in a few days after the inflow of water into rivers improve.

The premier said the government had planned to set up power plants of 21,000MW generation capacity in the next eight to ten years with the help of China. “Qatar and China will set up ten power plants at Gaddani,” he added.

“We have provided Rs44 billion for land acquisition of this dam a few days back which will also help in storage of water for irrigation purposes and will enhance crops yield,” he said.

The premier said international donors would also provide funding for the dam. In addition to it, he said, the government had decided to start work on 4,500MW Dasu hydropower project on Indus River. “These two projects will generate 9000MW hydel power,” added the premier.

He said the government was soon to lay foundation of Lahore-Karachi motorway.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2014.

Source: Nandipur project’s inauguration: Nawaz asks foes to rally round cause of democracy

Bajaur Agency raid: Kabul put on notice after troops repel militants

By noreply@tribune.com.pk (Our Correspondents / Mureeb Mohmand)

MIRAMSHAH / ISLAMABAD / KHAR:

At least 14 militants were killed when Pakistani border guards repelled a pre-dawn cross-border attack on a military post in the Warra Mamond tehsil of Bajaur Agency. Subsequently, the Afghan charge d’affaires was summoned to the Foreign Office to protest the raid.

“Dozens of heavily-armed militants sneaked into Bajaur from Afghanistan around 5am and attacked the military post in the Nao Top area, 25 kilometres northwest of the agency headquarters of Khar,” an official of the security forces told The Express Tribune.

One border guard was killed and two others were critically wounded in the attack, he added. Security personnel manning the post fended off the attackers and called for aerial support. Shortly afterwards, helicopter gunships were rushed to the area. Some 14 militants were killed in the retaliatory action, forcing the remaining to flee across the border.

The injured border guards were shifted to hospital before reinforcements were sent to the region to comb the area for more attackers, the security official said.

In a statement, the Foreign Office put the number of attackers at 200-plus. “To repulse the terrorist attack, Pakistani troops responded with artillery and aviation support. Any allegations about shelling on Afghan civilians inside Afghanistan are incorrect. Pakistan aviation [forces] only fired on attacking terrorists,” it added.

An official of the local political administration said that security has been enhanced in the entire agency while tribal jirgas are being convened to seek support of the local tribesmen.

Islamabad formally lodged a protest with the Afghan charge d’affairs over the attack.

“A protest was lodged with the Afghan charge d’affaires and the matter was also taken up by our ambassador in Kabul with the Afghan foreign ministry,” said the Foreign Office statement.

“Pakistan’s concerns about miscreants and terrorists attacking from the other side of the border have been repeatedly shared with Afghan authorities. We hope effective steps will be taken to prevent recurrence of such incidents,” it added.

Earlier this month, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif had taken up the issue during his talks with his Afghan counterpart Sher Muhammad Karimi and International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) Commander General Joseph Dunford in Kabul.

Bajaur Agency shares a border with Afghanistan’s northeastern province of Kunar, where Mullah Fazlullah-led Taliban fighters have been sheltering since they were routed in a massive military operation from the scenic valley of Swat in 2008. Since then, militants have been using Afghan soil as a springboard for mounting cross-border attacks on Pakistani posts.

Over in North Waziristan Agency, a tribal jirga warned that local tribesmen will migrate to neighbouring Afghanistan, if the government launched a military operation in the region. The warning came a day after a powerful Taliban commander, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, accused the government of reneging on a peace agreement signed with his faction in 2007.

The Jirga was convened by Uthmanzai Wazir and Dawar tribes in the Darpa Khel Eidgah, Miramshah, the agency headquarters of North Waziristan.

Addressing the Jirga, Haji Sher Ali Khan, the successor of legendry Faqir of Api, said the Waziristan tribes have always voluntarily served as a bulwark against any aggression on Pakistan from western borders. “The Waziristan tribes don’t want war,” he said. “However, we have fought and will continue to fight ‘un-Islamic forces’ in the region.”

Another tribal elder, Malik Sher Wali Khan, said they would take up the issue of recurring curfews with the local political agent, provincial governor and federal government. “If they fail to normalise the situation, then we will migrate to Afghanistan,” he added. “This will be the only option for us, if the state fails to secure us.”

Malik Azmatullah Khan claimed that last week’s air strikes caused huge civilian casualties. “This kind of military intervention should stop,” he said, adding that tribesmen from several areas of North Waziristan, including Miramshah, Machis Camp, Darpa Khel and Mirali, continue to migrate to Afghanistan. “We are trying to stop the tribesmen but they continue to evacuate for fear of an impending military operation in the agency,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2014.

Source: Bajaur Agency raid: Kabul put on notice after troops repel militants

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