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    Offended over not being informed about the rescheduling of the Mohmand Dam groundbreaking, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday said he might not attend the inauguration ceremony.

    Chief Justice Nisar shared his grievance with Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda while hearing a case regarding the construction of the Nai Gaj Dam in Sindh.

    Last week, the government had shelved the inauguration ceremony of the much-awaited Mohmand Dam project, rescheduling the groundbreaking of the project from Jan 2 to Jan 13.

    "You changed the date without informing me; you did not think it was necessary to inform me," remarked the chief justice. "I might not even attend the [Mohmand Dam] inauguration now."

    The top judge told Vawda to tell the prime minister to inaugurate the Mohmand Dam project himself. "Do we not have any role in the construction [of the dam]," asked Justice Nisar, further questioning why the inauguration date was changed without the court's knowledge.

    "The government did nothing for the dam project on its own. All it did was announce that by 2025, the country will face water shortage."

    Vawda offered an apology "on behalf of the government" and urged the chief justice to attend the ceremony when it takes place.

    The chief justice regretted that the prime minister "was unaware of the issues that were pending".

    Turning his attention to the Nai Gaj Dam, he demanded the reason behind the delay in the releasing of the funds and said that he would ask the attorney general to summon the finance minister for the next hearing.

    "We will issue a notice if the finance minister does not appear [for the next hearing]," he said, asking if the federal government was serious about building the dam.

    Last month, the Supreme Court had asked the federal government to come up with its plans about releasing funds for the construction of Nai Gaj Dam in Dadu district of Sindh.

    The three-judge SC bench had taken up a petition moved through senior counsel Rasheed A. Razvi highlighting hurdles in the way of Nai Gaj dam’s construction.

    In today's hearing, the CJP said that if the court had not taken up the case, the dam project would have remained in a limbo for the next two to three years.

    Justice Nisar asked Vawda to summon a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec).

    "If the [Ecnec] meeting is not held, then we will summon all four of the ministers on short notice," he warned. He also directed the water minister to inform the court about the date of the meeting in the next hearing.

    The hearing was adjourned until Jan 11.

    Mohmand, Diamer-Bhasha dams

    Separately, while hearing a case regarding the construction of Mohmand and Diamer-Bhasha dams, the Supreme Court asked Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman retired Gen Muzzamil Hussain to submit a written plan for the construction of the dams.

    They asked the governor of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to explain how the process for donating money could be made easier for overseas Pakistanis.

    The Wapda chairman said that propaganda was being spread against the water development authority. At this, Chief Justice Nisar told him not to worry about it "as spreading propaganda takes place regularly".

    When the chairman told the court that there was criticism on the contract [for the dam] being awarded on single-bid, the top judge responded that any individual who has an issue should bring it to them.

    "We will then look at all your rules," Justice Nisar added.

    He then took aim at GNN news channel, asking why the channel was criticising this project. "Insects have been found in their ice cream," he remarked, referring to an earlier order that all ice cream production units of Gourmet Foods across Punjab be sealed and all other edible products of the company be assessed for quality checks.

    Justice Nisar told the Wapda chairman to make a complete plan on when which part of the dam would be constructed.

    The court asked the chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to tell the bench if a special tax could be imposed on mobile phones for the construction of dams. They also asked the chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to submit a reply regarding critique on the dams.

    The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow [Tuesday].

    Mohmand Dam contract controversy

    The project was made controversial when the government awarded the contract of the Rs309 billion Mohmand Dam to a Descon-led consortium on a single-bid basis.

    Speaking at a news conference last week, Vawda had said the controversies being generated around the project "on the agenda of international powers by linking it with Descon Engineering and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood were totally incorrect".

    He said Dawood had nothing to do with the contract, nor could he influence the bidding process; he had already resigned from the company and the bidding for the project was held on July 18 even before the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf came to power.

    According to Vawda, Descon had only 30 per cent shares in the consortium and that bids were evaluated by technical experts comprising Nespak, an Australian company and another foreign firm and the qualified bidder had secured the contract.

    “We are independent in this country. The prime minister is independent, the ministry is independent, but even Wapda was not authorised to award a contract,” he said. He said the government would launch and complete the project before the deadline unlike the previous governments that held repeated inaugurations.

    Earlier, Wapda Chairman Hussain at a separate press conference had said that it was just a coincidence that the single bidder’s bid price was almost the same as estimated by the government and insisted there was no conflict of interest in the award of the contract to a company having links with a sitting cabinet member.

    Hussain agreed that Descon Engineering was related to Razak Dawood, but said this had nothing to do with the bidding conducted by Wapda. He said there was also no truth in aspersions that he or Wapda faced pressures on the issue of groundbreaking of the project.

    Meanwhile, Dawood explained in a statement that he had founded and headed Descon Engineering Limited like several other business ventures but disclosed all his business associations in writing to the prime minister and resigned from these positions before joining the government to ensure transparency and avoid conflict of interest.

    “The disclosure had also identified the Mohmand dam project for which Descon had already bid”, but the prime minister felt the pending project should not prevent him from joining the cabinet, the adviser said.

    “On joining the cabinet, the adviser has totally distanced himself from his former business interests and has scrupulously observed and implemented all requirements of transparency and avoidance of conflict of interest. There has been no departure whatsoever from this ethic,” he said.

    Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda apologised Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda apologised "on behalf of the government" to the top judge. — File

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    The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its verdict in a case regarding the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and the grant of fundamental rights to its citizens.

    A seven-judge larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar had taken up a set of petitions challenging the Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018, Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order, 2009 as well as the right of the citizens of the area to be governed through their chosen representatives.

    The Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018 was earlier opposed by protesters hailing from the Northern Areas who demanded that GB should be declared a part of Pakistan instead of being administered through presidential orders.

    Examine: GB in a constitutional black hole

    At the outset of the hearing, Attorney General (AG) Anwar Mansoor presented before the court a draft of the Gilgit-Baltistan Governance Reforms, 2018, which has been prepared by the federal government for political empowerment and good governance in GB.

    The proposed reforms draft states that the federal government intends to grant GB the status of a provisional province, "subject to the decision of the plebiscite to be conducted under the UN resolutions", with all privileges provided by the Constitution.

    However, the draft states, the move would require an amendment in the Constitution, which needs a two-thirds majority in the parliament and "would take time". Therefore, as an interim measure, the government plans to give such fundamental rights to GB residents as enjoyed by the people of any other province.

    The AG informed the bench that objections have been raised on the proposed draft in the cabinet and therefore as of now, "it remains only a draft".

    Justice Nisar remarked that even former Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had accepted that "Kashmiris should get the right to self-determination and self-governance".

    "The recommendations of the Sartaj Aziz-led committee are very close to this vision," the top judge added.

    Judicial matters

    The AG informed the SC bench that the funds allocated for higher courts in GB have been transferred from the territory's government to the GB Council. The Government of Pakistan can also increase the number of judges in GB, he added.

    At this, the CJP inquired what the procedure of the judges' appointment would be. Mansoor responded that the GB council has been given the authority to legislate in this regard.

    Justice Nisar observed that an appeal cannot be filed against a decision of the GB Supreme Appellate Court in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and asked the government

    The GB law minister during the hearing stated that the region's government desired the implementation of recommendations made by the Sartaj Aziz-led committee. "It's [almost] impossible, but we have come very close to it's [fulfilment]," he added.

    Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan — a senior counsel who has also been appointed by the SC as amicus curiae — noted that the government has expressed its intention to first declare GB a provisional province, and later grant it the status of a full-fledged province.

    He said although the parliament would likely pass any constitutional amendment brought before it regarding GB, "Pakistan's stance on [occupied] Kashmir would be weakened by making Gilgit-Baltistan a full province."

    After hearing all sides, the bench while reserving its judgement in the case ordered the reforms committee to submit additional details after holding consultations regarding fundamental rights, legislation and judicial autonomy in GB.

    The petition being adjudicated upon seeks to declare the Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) No 786 (1) of Sept 9, 2009, Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009 — which was amended lately in February 2015 empowering the minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas to act as the GB governor — as illegal, unlawful and contrary to the May 1999 SC judgement in the Aljihad Trust case.

    At a hearing of the case in December, the apex court had hinted at announcing a meaningful judgement to grant fundamental rights to the citizens of GB.

    The government's proposed reforms draft states that it intends to give such fundamental rights to GB as enjoyed by any other province. — AFP/FileThe government's proposed reforms draft states that it intends to give such fundamental rights to GB as enjoyed by any other province. — AFP/File

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    The Supreme Court on Monday reprimanded the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) and the administration of Bahria Town, over what it termed their "non-cooperation" in implementing a ruling of the apex court.

    Justice Azmat Saeed, chairing a hearing of the three-member implementation bench on Bahria Town case, warned the respondents that the judges were "about to lose their temperament".

    Last month, the apex court had set aside Bahria Town's review petition against its May 4, 2018, verdict, in which the court had declared that the total area of land acquired by the real estate company in Takht Pari, Rawalpindi, was 2,210 acres and not 1,741 acres as claimed by the developers.

    The court had dismissed the petition, noting that the matter of action against those responsible for these encroachments will be dealt with by an implementation bench of the court.

    During today's hearing, the judge directed NAB to ensure progress "through its actions".

    Justice Saeed asked the NAB prosecutor why didn't the watchdog submit its report on Bahria Town, which it was asked to. "Let us know if you can't follow orders. You were given a time frame of three months but there has been no development so far."

    "Sir, this is not the case," the NAB prosecutor pleaded, to which the judge responded: "The fact is that no cooperation has been shown [on the part of NAB]".

    The judge highlighted that a separate joint interrogation team has completed its investigations into the Bahria Town case in Karachi, but still, the accountability watchdog did nothing.

    "Why don't we take action against the NAB under the contempt of court," the judge said, adding that the court should issue a contempt of court notice to Suparco as it also failed to submit the report it was ordered to file.

    Justice Saeed said he knows that the director general of Suparco is a "Major General" and ordered him to appear before the court on the next hearing.

    He remarked that the state institutions were not working under the ambit of law. "Even if someone is facing an issue, he is not ready to reveal it," the judge said.

    "Tell your client to cooperate with the court," Justice Saeed advised Ali Zafar, the counsel of Bahria Town.

    "Malik Riaz will be held responsible for the rights of allottees are affected." The hearing of the case will now resume on Wednesday.

    Justice Azmat Saeed warns NAB, Suparco of contempt of court proceedings.— AFP/FileJustice Azmat Saeed warns NAB, Suparco of contempt of court proceedings.— AFP/File

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    A suspect who participated in the illegal hunting of a markhor, Pakistan's national animal, in Chitral was presented before the court of the assistant commissioner of Chitral on Monday following his arrest.

    Aslam Baig was arrested from his house on Sunday night and a case was registered against him under the Wildlife and Biodiversity Act, 2015.

    On December 30, two hunters had illegally hounded a 10-year-old markhor and escaped after firing at the animal.

    Later, the carcass of the animal was brought to the hospital for post-mortem examination which revealed that the male markhor died due to gunshot wounds.

    Markhor is protected by local and international laws such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

    In a Feb 2018 brief to a parliamentary committee, the Ministry of Climate Change said that the trophy hunting of markhor in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Balochistan and Azad Kashmir was a success story in Pakistan, as local communities conserve the animal and international hunters pay large sums for obtaining shooting licences.

    Up to 80 per cent of the money generated from issuing markhor hunting permits is shared with the local community, which works to prevent illegal hunting of the animal.

    The Gilgit-Baltistan Wildlife Department in Oct 2018 auctioned hunting permits for 18 rare species under the trophy hunting programme 2018 and 2019. The licences for trophy hunting included four Astore markhor, 14 blue sheep and 95 ibex.

    Two hunters illegally hounded a 10-year-old markhor last week in Chitral and escaped after firing at the animal. —Dawn ArchivesTwo hunters illegally hounded a 10-year-old markhor last week in Chitral and escaped after firing at the animal. —Dawn Archives

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    The Foreign Office (FO) on Monday summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner J P Singh to protest the latest "unprovoked ceasefire violations" by Indian border forces along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Bagsar sector which resulted in the death of a civilian, Radio Pakistan reported.

    According to a press release issued by FO Director General (South Asia and Saarc) Dr Muhammad Faisal, who also serves as the foreign ministry spokesperson, the firing at the LoC left civilian Azeem dead and caused injuries to a woman.

    "The Indian forces along the Line of Control and the Working boundary are continuously targeting civilian populated areas with heavy weapons," the statement read, adding that this "unprecedented escalation" in ceasefire violations by India has been ongoing since 2017, a year during which they committed 1,970 such violations.

    The statement termed the "deliberate targeting" of an area populated by civilians as "deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws".

    It added that India's ceasefire violations were a threat to both regional peace and security, and "may lead to a strategic miscalculation".

    Dr Faisal urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 ceasefire agreement. He asked them to investigate this as well as other incidents of ceasefire violations and to instruct Indian forces to respect the ceasefire "in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC and the Working Boundary".

    The FO spokesperson also urged the Indian side to allow the United Nations Military Observers Mission for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to play its mandated role as per United Nations Security Council resolutions.

    Foreign Office says India's ceasefire violations are a threat to regional peace and Foreign Office says India's ceasefire violations are a threat to regional peace and "may lead to a strategic miscalculation". —PID

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    The funeral of retired Major Geoffrey Douglas Langlands, an officer of the British Army who chose to stay in and serve Pakistan upon its independence, was offered in Lahore on Monday.

    Policemen from the Chitral region, where Langlands had served as the principal of Sayurj Public School for quarter a century until retirement in 2012, paid homage to the educationist as he was laid to rest in Lahore.

    Colleagues and students bury Geoffrey Douglas in Lahore. —AFP
    Colleagues and students bury Geoffrey Douglas in Lahore. —AFP

    Langlands had breathed his last after a brief illness at a local hospital in Lahore last week. He was over 101.

    A teacher of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and many others, the noted Aitchison College teacher served the education sector for 75 years.

    Editorial: A legendary teacher

    The story of Geoffrey Langlands is one of human perseverance and dedication. He must have been blessed with a golden heart to have travelled the distance that he did, mind rooted in the finest traditions of his age, to influence countless lives along the way.

    Colleagues and students carry the coffin of Geoffrey Douglas. —AFP
    Colleagues and students carry the coffin of Geoffrey Douglas. —AFP

    The revered Major nurtured generations of Aitchison College students, many of them destined to lead in their own right. After leaving the proud and tranquil school in Lahore, he still had enough left in him to take an assignment at Razmak Cadet College in North Waziristan. He then rounded it off with a long, deeply meaningful stint at a public school in Chitral, which was later named — fittingly — after him. His was a breathtaking journey that brought him in contact with students — and, through them, with their communities — from various, even contrasting, backgrounds.

    He had lessons for all, including those who had the pluck and gumption to kidnap him and hold him hostage for a few days. He reportedly taught them how best to negotiate the steep climb while walking through the mountains. The Major was an incorrigible guide, who truly earned his rise and his salutes.

    Chitral region policemen pay tribute beside the coffin of former British officer and teacher Geoffrey Douglas at his funeral in Lahore. —AFPChitral region policemen pay tribute beside the coffin of former British officer and teacher Geoffrey Douglas at his funeral in Lahore. —AFP

    Government officials, colleagues and students bury former British officer and teacher Geoffrey Douglas. —AFPGovernment officials, colleagues and students bury former British officer and teacher Geoffrey Douglas. —AFP

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    The Islamabad High Court on Monday postponed the hearing of a petition seeking suspension of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif's ­jail sentence in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills/Hill Metals Establishment reference.

    Accountability Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik had on Dec 24, 2018 convicted Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference and awarded him seven years imprisonment, besides imposing fines of Rs1.5 billion and $25 million on the PML-N quaid.

    The ex-prime minister’s legal team comprising lead defence counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed, Barrister Munawwar Duggal, Zubair Khalid and others had last week filed the petition as well as an appeal against Sharif's conviction in the Al-Azizia reference.

    A two-judge bench headed by IHC Chief Justice Ather Minallah today decided to indefinitely postpone the matter as the petition cannot be heard unless the appeal is set for hearing. The petition will be taken up when a date is set for the hearing of the appeal.

    Defence lawyer Khawaja Haris insisted that the court hear the case as the appeal has been fixed for hearing after the court holidays, which end tomorrow.

    Last week, the IHC Registrar's Office had raised some administrative objections to the petition as the legal team submitted with it over 4,000 documents, including papers in foreign languages. Some documents were not readable due to which the petition was fixed for hearing after a delay.

    A defence lawyer on Saturday removed these objections after which the Registrar's Office fixed the case for a preliminary hearing.

    The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has also filed appeals in the IHC seeking enhancement of Sharif’s sentence from seven to 14 years. Additionally, the watchdog has challenged Sharif’s acquittal in the Flagship Investment reference.

    The Supreme Court had on July 28, 2017, while deciding petitions of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and other political leaders, disqualified Sharif and directed NAB to file three references — Avenfield Properties, Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment — against Sharif and other members of his family in the accountability court.

    Accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir had on July 6, 2018 convicted Sharif in the Avenfield reference and ­sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

    However, an IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb suspended the sentence in the Avenfield reference.

    NAB has filed an appeal against the ­suspension of sentence, which is pending adjudication before the Supreme Court.

    Court says petition cannot be heard until Nawaz's earlier appeal on the same matter is set for hearing. — AFP/FileCourt says petition cannot be heard until Nawaz's earlier appeal on the same matter is set for hearing. — AFP/File

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    Prime Minister Imran Khan, in an interview aired on Monday, said that when PTI came into power Pakistan was facing a record current account deficit but "China has been a breath of fresh air" in this otherwise gloom and doom situation.

    In an interview to Turkey’s news channel TRT World, the prime minister said though the country “was facing multiple crises including a weak economy and foreign debts, the [PTI] government will meet all these challenges with effective economic policies”.

    He was of the view that Pakistan's economy has improved during the past four months. The premier praised China for its support, saying "they have been helpful to us in areas I can't even tell".

    Also read: Can Imran Khan fix Pakistan's economy?

    Commenting on the current situation in India occupied Kashmir, Imran Khan said India was involved in committing human rights violations in the occupied region “but it will never succeed in suppressing the freedom movement of Kashmiris”.

    “Pakistan wants [to hold] dialogue with India but New Delhi has refused Islamabad's offer several times,” the premier was quoted as saying.

    To a question, the prime minister said Pakistan wants to maintain relations with the United States based on equality and “Pakistan is ready to become an ally of the USA for [achieving] durable peace in Afghanistan”.

    India is committing human rights violations Kashmir “but it'll never succeed in suppressing their freedom movement”. —PIDIndia is committing human rights violations Kashmir “but it'll never succeed in suppressing their freedom movement”. —PID

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    KARACHI: The Supreme Court-mandated commission on water and sanitation in Sindh has directed sugar mills to install effluent treatment plants before the crushing season 2019-20 begins.

    The commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Amir Hani Muslim, warned that the sugar mills in Sindh must strictly follow the timeline and if the effluent treatment plants were not made functional before the upcoming crushing season, the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) would seal such industrial units.

    On Monday, the commission was informed that Sepa had approved the initial environmental examinations regarding installation of treatment plants and handed them to the sugar mills concerned. It was further told that Seri Sugar Mill was non-functional and, therefore, did not need a treatment plant.

    Subsequently, Justice Muslim directed the owner or any authorised officer of the mill to submit an undertaking that they would only make the sugar mill functional after the installation of an effluent treatment plant in terms of Sepa rules and in case of non-compliance, the industrial unit would face closure.

    In a previous hearing, the commission was informed that the industries had processed their cases for the installation of effluent treatment plants through a firm, Technology Provider, and they would complete the assignment within the timeline agreed between the parties.

    However, the commission had warned that any non-compliance on part of the firm would not absolve the industries from consequences.

    In August, the commission had ordered Dr Ghulam Murtaza of the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources for inspection of all sugar mills and distilleries with officials of Sepa across the province to suggest installation of treatment plants for effluent. Later, the inspection report was handed over to Sepa to finalise it.

    The report said that there were 38 sugar mills in Sindh and 37 were functional, adding that treatment plants in four sugar mills had already been in place while the remaining industrial units were required to install effluent treatment plants.

    Meanwhile, the commission granted a firm two-day time to submit an undertaking that it would make functional the 59 reverse osmosis plants it had installed in various districts of Sindh after the project director and chief engineer of the public health engineering department informed it about the status of Clean Drinking Water for All plants installed by the private firm.

    Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019

    SC-mandated water commission warns sugar mills to install plants before crushing season 2019-20 begins. ─ File photoSC-mandated water commission warns sugar mills to install plants before crushing season 2019-20 begins. ─ File photo

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    MANSEHRA: A man was killed by in-laws, while a transgender person was seriously injured by a gunman here on Monday.

    Mohammad Latif told police that his son, Mohammad Shoaib, was poisoned by his father-in-law and brother-in-law after he developed differences with them and wife over a domestic issue. He said his son had been living with in-laws for almost a decade.

    The police handed over the body to the family after the Shinkiari hospital doctors fulfilled formalities. Also, the police said Mohammad Waqas seriously injured transgender person Khushi by firing gunshots in Noguzi area.

    The transgender persons rushed to the city police station and demanded the arrest of the gunman.

    VACANCIES: Awami National Party Oghi tehsil president Khalid Khan on Monday demanded of the Peshawar Electric Supply Company to fill over 100 posts lying vacant in Oghi subdivision for a long time.

    “There are over 40,000 consumers in our subdivision but they have been facing various problems due to the shortage of staff,” he told reporters here on Monday. Mr Khalid said the shortage of staff inconvenienced the people visiting the sub-divisional offices for the resolution of their problems on power meters, wires and disconnection. He said the shortage of meter readers, clerks and linemen had led to the issuance of inflated bills.

    “The people will agitate if Pesco doesn’t fill vacancies in Oghi subdivision without delay,” he warned.

    Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019

    Police said a  seriously injured transgender person Khushi by firing gunshots in Noguzi area.Police said a seriously injured transgender person Khushi by firing gunshots in Noguzi area.

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    KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet on Monday cancelled allotment of 70,000 acres of forest land and decided to launch an operation to get 145,245 acres of illegally occupied such land vacated from influential persons.

    The cabinet meeting also approved a Rs900 million donation for the Thar Foundation for investment to pay Rs100,000 annually to each of the 757 families affected by Gorano reservoir and Dukkur Chho Pond as a compensation.

    By another decision, it approved two fare slabs for Qingqi rickshaws — Rs10 from 0 to 6 kilometres and Rs15 for more than 6km per passenger — and approved the amendment in the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 for the removal of a mayor, deputy mayor, chairman or vice chairman from the office if a vote of no-confidence was passed against him with a simple majority.

    Amends LG law to remove mayor, others with a simple majority of council members

    These were among the decisions taken by the cabinet, which met here at New Sindh Secretariat presided over by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah. The meeting, which lasted for four hours, had an agenda spread over 30 items. Those who attended the meeting included Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, all provincial ministers, advisers and special assistants.

    In the backdrop of the order of the apex court to get all forest land vacated, the meeting was informed by Forest Minister Syed Nasir Shah that 13,000 acres out of 145,245 had already been retrieved from illegal occupants. The chief minister asked the minister to get the remaining land vacated at the earliest with the help of police and Rangers.


    Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh stated that 757 families living in a one-kilometre radius of Gorano reservoir and Dukkur Chho Pond had been affected apart from those 471 who had been displaced owing to the development/excavation of Thar coalfield block-II.

    The cabinet also approved a compensation of Rs100,000 for the 471 affected families of Thar block-II to be paid by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company because they were leaseholders. The 471 families were also being provided with one house in two villages — Senhri Dars and Tharyo Halepoto.

    The cabinet asked the chief minister to approach the federal government to pay the affected families from oil and gas fields compensation on the same pattern and ensure local development.

    Automatic meter-reading system

    The meeting extended the period for the completion of the installation of an automatic meter-reading system till May 2019 by Hesco and Sepco.

    Under an agreement for which Rs27.398 billion was paid to Discos (Hesco Rs10.228bn and Sepco Rs17.17bn) to clear all outstanding electricity dues for the period from July 2010 to 2016.

    In addition, a monthly amount was also agreed to be paid to Hesco, Rs555.82 million, and Rs513.73m to Sepco, till the installation of AMR systems.

    Sugar-cane price

    The cabinet on the suggestion of Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu approved the sugarcane price to the growers not lower than Rs182 per 40kg. The meeting also authorised the agriculture minister to appoint market committees.

    Approving the two-slab Qingqi fares as suggested by the transport department, the chief minister asked why the registration of the rickshaws was delayed and directed the officials concerned to ensure proper safety precautions in the rickshaws and also register them.

    Regarding allotment policy, Secretary Services and General Administration Zulfiqar Shah briefed the cabinet on the present status of the allotments saying that there were six residential colonies of the provincial government in Karachi.

    The cabinet discussed the allotment status and said that the forcible vacation of the accommodation from those residing there against the policy would be ethically wrong. Therefore, the cabinet approved one-time waiver for the present allottees and till their retirement they would be entitled to staying there. However, no allotment against the policy would be made onward.


    The cabinet approved recruitment for the posts in BPS-1 to BPS-15 on merit. The chief minister directed publication of advertisements in the press and making selection committees. In lower grades only locals would be recruited. However, there would be a five per cent quota for the disabled and 5pc for minorities.

    The cabinet constituted a three-member committee under Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh to frame rules for recruitment and to start recruitment.

    LG law amendments

    The cabinet approved amendments to the Local Govt Act 2013 presented by Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani for the removal of a mayor, deputy mayor, chairman or vice chairman from office if a vote of no-confidence was passed with a simple majority which at present requires a two-thirds majority of the total number of members of the council.

    The cabinet authorised the local government minister to appoint the remaining members of the Hyderabad Development Authority and other authorities where required.

    By another decision, it approved the creation of a separate department in place of the Sindh Board of Investment and also renewal of contract of Prof Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan Rajput as chairman of the Charter of Inspection and Evaluation Committee.

    The irrigation department presented three names, Imtiaz Qazi, Idrees Rajput and Abdul Basit Soomro, for chairman of the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority. The cabinet approved the appointment of Basit Soomro as the two other were not available technically.

    Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019

    Chief Minister Murad Shah chairs a meeting of the cabinet. ─ Photo courtesy CM House Sindh TwitterChief Minister Murad Shah chairs a meeting of the cabinet. ─ Photo courtesy CM House Sindh Twitter

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    LAHORE: The Punjab government on Monday ordered retrieval of two official vehicles from the Lahore deputy commissioner’s (DC) office within 24 hours for their onward allocation to two special assistants to the chief minister.

    In exchange for the two vehicles, the government has left two used 2014-model cars at the disposal of the DC’s office, which sources see as a bid to please the special assistants.

    “The 2018-model cars, which were part of the deputy commissioner’s office pool, were allocated by the government a few months ago to replace two 2004-model vehicles. One was being used by Deputy Commissioner Saleha Saeed and the other by Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) Awais Malik,” an official source told Dawn.

    According to a letter sent to the commissioner, the government has decided to retrieve the DC office’s vehicles in light of the recommendations of a sub-committee of the cabinet for their allocation to the provincial cabinet, rationalising the official vehicles.

    “The provincial cabinet in its meeting of Dec 29, 2018 has approved recommendations of its sub-committee. Under these, LEG-18-9586 and LEG-18-8586 should be retrieved from the office of DC Lahore and the same allocated to Mr Javaid Akhtar Ansari (special assistant to the CM) and Syed Rafaqat Ali Gillani (special assistant to the CM), respectively,” the letter reads. “The vehicles -- LEG-14-622 and LEG-14-620 -- of the pool of the services and general administration department (S&GAD) will be given to the Lahore DC office,” it adds.

    Will be allocated to CM’s special assistants

    The government, through the letter, directed the commissioner to retrieve the newer cars from the DC’s office along with registration and log books within 24 hours and hand them over in lieu of the older model cars.

    The source called the cabinet’s decision surprising since it should have recommended arranging of official vehicles for the CM’s special assistants from the S&GAD pool rather than the DC’s office.

    “The vehicles officially designated for the office of the DC are mostly used in field jobs such as administration, revenue, relief etc,” he added. “It clearly sends a message that the provincial government wants new cars for its own advisers and special assistants.”

    SEALED: A team of the city administration on Monday sealed two farmhouses for flouting the one-dish and time restrictions. The team also got cases registered against the owners, according to a spokesman. It also got the organsier arrested of a wedding at a private university for flouting the same rules.

    Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019

    The cars will be allocated to CM’s special assistants. — File photoThe cars will be allocated to CM’s special assistants. — File photo

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    LAHORE: Indian journalist, activist and former president of the Mumbai Press Club Jatin Desai stressed restoration of talks between India and Pakistan, lamenting the suspension of bilateral talks between the countries since 2016.

    “It is extremely unfortunate that there has been a complete silence on both sides, resulting in the suffering of the peoples. Just keeping the communication alive changes everything,” he said and added that its right time in India for holding talks as it can bring about change in the atmosphere.

    Mr Desai had worked hard for the release of Indian national Hamid Nehal Ansari who went back home from Pakistan last month. On Ansari’s release, Desai had accompanied his family to the Wagah border to receive him.

    Talking about the gesture by Pakistan, Mr Desai said the release of Hamid Ansari was a positive development.

    Demands Kartarpur-like steps in both countries beyond Punjab

    “Prisoners on both sides should be treated as humans,” he demanded.

    The Indian journalist, who is also secretary general of the Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), was greeted by the local journalists and civil society activists at the Lahore Press Club on Monday where he spoke about a range of shared issues plaguing both India and Pakistan and possible ways to resolve them. The issues ranged from industrial waste dumped into rivers and shared air pollution to failed diplomacy problems between the two countries.

    Talking about the Kartarpur, which is in the news since its opening for Sikh pilgrims by Pakistan, he said: “The Katarpur corridor is a great development even though the traffic is expected to be more one-sided. Such developments should happen all over Pakistan and India beyond Punjab for there are people all in both countries who want to visit each other”.

    Mr Desai had started a dialogue for peace by establishing connection between the Mumbai Press Club and its counterpart in Karachi.

    “We need to respect each other. That is so very important. No one wants war, everyone wants peace. And in these times, journalists have an integral role to play.”

    Jatin Desai termed the role of the media important to help sustain the dialogue for peace.

    “We initially had four journalists from India and Pakistan, each corresponding from both the countries but following tense relations, they were reduced to two journalists on each side and now there are none. This must be the biggest failure in keeping relations alive.”

    Desai said the few media houses that had their correspondents on either side were nationals of their own country. India exchanged correspondents with Nepal, Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries but ironically a huge chunk of Indian news remained about Pakistan, he revealed.

    “To have an Indian correspondent in Pakistan and a Pakistani correspondent in India can a completely different impact on the news. A foreign correspondent would see things from a completely different perspective than a local one.”

    To Desai, these correspondents would serve as links between the public and their country’s high commissions.

    “But both the countries are so insecure that they are not letting the other’s correspondents come and stay. They should display more self confidence.”

    Mr Desai demanded both the countries to send journalists on exchange programmes.

    He also demanded easy visa regimes for genuine reasons. “There should be a medical visa category which should be given on an emergency basis,” he suggested. He regretted India had been trying to quash the SAARC summit which had not been taking place for years.

    Lahore Press Club secretary Zahid Abid concluded the session by thanking Jatin Desai.

    Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019

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    LAHORE: The opposition on Monday caught the treasury on the wrong foot as it got the decision of Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who nominated Mian Shafi Muhammad to preside over the session in his absence since he is acting as governor, reversed, accusing him of arrogating the right of the House and committing a sheer illegality.

    It all started as soon as the House began its proceedings at 4.25pm, instead of 2pm, and Mian Shafi occupied the speaker’s chair. The opposition wondered how he could be sitting there. Malik Ahmed Khan of the opposition called it sheer illegality and sought explanation from the minister for law and parliamentary affairs.

    The minister tried to justify the new occupant, saying that Speaker Pervaiz Elahi had nominated him to preside over the session. Where did this nomination take place, if not in, and by, the House? The opposition wondered. “In his chamber,” answered the law minister. It provided new vigour to the opposition, which maintained that it was completely illegal nomination.

    “Rule 13/2 of the Punjab Assembly clearly maintains that in absence of the speaker and deputy speaker, the secretary assembly would inform the House as such, announce a panel of chairmen and let the House decided who would be presiding over the session.” In the presence of such clear instructions, how can the speaker nominate a person, and that too in his discretion and chamber? It was tantamount to snatching the right of the House.

    Nomination to preside over session without House approval stirs up controversy

    The treasury tried to put up a defence: the only objection the opposition is trying to raise is that the speaker can nominate a person in the House, not in his chamber – speaker is speaker, whether in the House or outside, and has the right. But the defence soon collapsed as Samiullah Khan of the PML-N warned that these proceedings, involving expenditures from the provincial exchequer and legality of the proceedings, would be challenged in the court.

    At this point, Law Minister Raja Bashrat conceded the rule 13/2 of the assembly needs to followed and asked the secretary to announce a panel of chairmen, and then he himself moved a motion to nominate Mian Shafi Muhammad as the one who could preside over the proceedings.

    The opposition genuflected but not before posing another trouble: how about the legality of one hour of proceedings that have been presided over by the man, which involved oath of Assad Ali – a newly elected MPA from Lahore. The chair, however, came up with a solution proposed by a minister: through a ruling, it validated all proceedings that took place before the implementation of the rule 13/2, leaving the opposition again questioning as to how could an illegal occupant of the chair validate his own invalidity? But the chair was not in a mood to oblige and it immediately took up the question hour.

    The number started thinning as soon as the controversy settled down and it was more of a matter of time before anyone could point out the quorum and the moment came around 7.25pm when Shazia Abid of the PPP pointed out quorum, winding up the proceedings for the day. The House would now meet on Tuesday (today) morning.

    Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019

    View of the Punjab Assembly. — File photoView of the Punjab Assembly. — File photo

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    LAHORE: As the distribution companies (Discos) continue to observe loadshedding for hours on a daily basis, official sources say the situation will improve after Jan 10 when the power plants will start receiving Regasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG).

    “At present there is no LNG for the plants. However, it will be available to plants after arrival of the ship carrying LNG at Port Qasim (Karachi) probably on Jan 10 or 11,” a senior official told Dawn on Monday.

    The official said due to non-availability of LNG, the plants including Balloki, Bhikki, Hallmore, Saif, Saphire, Fauji, Rosche and Kapco (nine units) are closed.

    Only Haveli Bahadur Shah and Orient plants are operational since they are receiving indigenous gas (over 120MMCFD) from the SNGPL’s system. “120MMCFD is half of the total supply to Haveli and Orient plants. It means that these plants are generating power half of their total capacity,” he added. He said besides these some plants including Uch (1, 2) and Guddu-747 were being provided with local gas directly from [gas] fields.

    He said since the hydel generation had already been squeezed to a couple of 100 megawatts due to low flow season, the generation being added to the national grid was either from some furnace or local gas-fired plants. “At present the total demand ranges between 10,000 and 11,000MW. And the generation is just 7,000MW or so. So there is shortfall of 3,000 to 4,000MW in the system, forcing the Discos to observe load shedding,” he added.

    On the other hand, the Discos continue to observe loadshedding for hours in the areas of all categories of high-loss feeders.

    “Since the allocated power quota of our company has been squeezed due to shortfall, we are observing loadshedding for two to eight hours in the areas of all high-loss feeders falling under category 1 to 5,” said another official.

    Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019

    Several plants are closed due to non-availability of LNG. — File photoSeveral plants are closed due to non-availability of LNG. — File photo

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    LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Lahore, has approved filing of two references against officials of the Lahore Development Authority ( LDA) and the Public Health Engineering Cooperative Housing Society for allegedly committing a fraud in commericialisation fee and illegal allotment of plots, respectively.

    Presiding over a meeting of the Lahore bureau officials here on Monday, Director General Shahzad Saleem approved filing of the references in both the cases and upgrade of an inquiry in the Khadija Commodities Pvt Ltd case.

    “The board decided to file a supplementary reference against (10 or so) LDA officials for misusing authority and gaining illegal advantages by corrupt means which caused financial loss to the national exchequer worth millions,” said a bureau spokesman, adding it had already filed an interim reference in this regard.

    According to NAB, the LDA officials misused the government funds in connection with commercialisation fees, thus causing a loss of millions to national exchequer.

    In the Public Health Engineering Cooperative Housing Society case, its former president Hafiz Sarfraz Anwar and former general secretary Malik Sajjad Haider allegedly cheated the public at large by allotting numerous commercial plots and misappropriating funds during the sale proceeds and also through illegal transfer of plots mortgaged with LDA.

    NAB said both suspects in connivance with one another caused a loss to the society to the tune of Rs5.3m in electrification works.

    The NAB board also decided to upgrade investigation against the owners of the Khadija Commodities Pvt Ltd following the allegations of cheating public at large. The suspects are accused of embezzling Rs270m.

    According to NAB, suspects Qasim Bilal and Muhammad Arshad Elahi allegedly committed fraud with more than 900 people in the name of online investment.

    “The Khadija Commodities defrauded over 900 people/investors depriving them of Rs270m,” it said. The suspects have been in NAB custody on physical remand.

    Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019

    NAB spokesperson says board has decided to file supplementary reference against (10 or so) LDA officials. — File photoNAB spokesperson says board has decided to file supplementary reference against (10 or so) LDA officials. — File photo

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    LAHORE: At his house on the busy Mall Road, environmental lawyer Rafay Alam runs three air purifiers around the clock, keeps his windows shut and stuffs towels into the gaps under his doors.

    Some winter days, when the city’s smog is particularly bad, “I don’t send my daughter to school,” he admits. “I am not going to risk permanent damage to her lungs.”

    Safety guide: How to safeguard your health from smog

    The country’s second-largest city is choking on smog, driven in part by smoke from bricks kiln and steel mills, burning of rice stubble and garbage, growing numbers of vehicles on the road and large-scale losses of trees as the expanding city makes way for new roads and buildings, residents say.

    Many in the city of 11 million complain of headaches and burning eyes and throats as air pollution levels this winter have on some days hit five times the legal limit, according to a global air quality index that many in Lahore check via the AirVisual phone app.

    Alam thinks it’s time for the government to declare a public health emergency on the worst days, when the air is full of dust and pollutants that can cause health issues including asthma, lung damage, bronchial infections and heart problems.

    Many in Lahore complain of headaches and burning eyes as air pollution levels have recently hit five times the legal limit

    The air pollution in Lahore is bad throughout the year, but in winters there is temperature inversion where a layer of warm air is prevented from rising and it traps all the pollutants below it, which renders them visible, he said.

    Lahore, once known as the Garden City but now choked with cars, regularly figures on air quality indexes as one of the most polluted cities in the world — and many of the pollutants are also drivers of climate change.

    The PTI government has restarted air quality monitoring in Lahore after the previous government ceased it two years ago, said Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam.

    During that two-year period, air quality monitoring stations in the province weren’t working because of lack of funding and capacity, Alam said.

    The prime minister, who grew up in Lahore, said he sees tackling the city’s smog problem as a priority.

    “It is a serious issue that must be addressed,” Mr Khan told his cabinet.

    In November, the Lahore High Court ordered the Punjab government to implement recommendations of the Smog Commission, set up by the court in 2017 to look at the drivers of smog and find ways to reduce them.

    Those included curbing emissions from factories, closing brick kilns that fail to use fuel-efficient technology, and fining polluting vehicles and farmers burning rice stubble in the winter.

    The commission also ordered planting of trees in urban areas and efforts to spread environmental awareness in schools.

    Monitors, meetings

    Mr Aslam said the government now has a team travelling around Lahore reading the city’s air quality monitors, with the data feeding into the city’s own air quality index.

    That index, updated daily, is posted for public use on the Environmental Protection Department’s website.

    Since coming into office, Mr Khan has organised meetings with brick kiln owners and won a two-month winter shutdown of factories in 12 districts, including Lahore.

    The government has also pushed brick kiln owners to shift to cleaner technology, offering loans to make the switch, as well as issuing fines for kilns that operate using the dirtiest technologies, such as burning used tires.

    The Environment Protection Department has fined farmers who burn crop stubble — a traditional practice — and is looking at promoting zero tillage farming as an alternative, though making the switch will be costly for farmers, Aslam admitted.

    As well, the government is considering setting higher emissions standards for vehicles — but warned the switch could make petrol “more expensive for consumers as a result”, he said.

    The Environmental Protection Department said the level of smog pollution was lower this year than last in Lahore because of anti-smog measures already under way.

    But Mr Alam said monitors installed in his house continue to show hazardous levels in his neighbourhood.

    It’s not just brick kilns and farmers who are causing air pollution. The country uses the most polluted fuel in the world and tackling this problem will require a tremendous change in the energy and transport sectors, he said.

    He said the country needed a nation-wide system of air quality monitors in its cities to better understand what is happening and drive action.

    Cutting smog would have other benefits as well, he said.

    “By reducing greenhouse gases that cause air pollution you are also addressing climate change. The two are linked.”

    Abid Omar, who founded the Pakistan Air Quality Initiative, a non-profit group that publishes data about air pollution and its health impacts, agreed that a broad approach is needed.

    “We have to reduce air pollution at the source, be it industry, agriculture, urban waste or transportation. This will require time, money and planning,” he admitted.

    Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019

    Lahore residents complain of headaches and burning eyes as air pollution levels hit five times the legal limit. — File photoLahore residents complain of headaches and burning eyes as air pollution levels hit five times the legal limit. — File photo

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    SAHIWAL: The American Sikh Council (ASC) and the Sikh in America (SIA) have appealed to the Pakistani government to make sure that the Kartarpur Sahib Complex (KSC) is maintained in its original state.

    A message posted at the website of the ASC reads that “any structural changes and/or additions to accommodate upcoming huge visitors either coming from India, Pakistan or Sikh diaspora living across globe by lodging to restrooms and more must be done at a distance, away from the main KSC so that the Kartarpur Sahib original farms, natural areas spread around 100 acres of land that belonged to Guru Sahibji, and the forest areas around the River Ravi can retain as much of its originality as possible. This needs to be preserved in its original landscape for posterity”.

    The appeal was made in the background of recent development where both Pakistani and Indian governments agreed to open up Kartarpur Corridor for Sikhs to visit the birthplace of their prophet Baba Guru Nanak.

    Dr Gurdas Singh, ASC president, and Gurinder Pal Singh, SIA president, told Dawn by phone the Pakistani government might change the original archeological and cultural structure and lawns of the complex.

    Gurinder Pal Singh said they feared that in the name of development sometimes original and historical architecture were not being taken care of by contractors.

    “Such efforts must be and should be kept at bay without compromising original structure spread across 100 acres,” he explained.

    He said the Auqaf Department and the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandak Committee must understand the legitimate concerns of the Sikh diaspora.

    He said Sikhs everywhere yearned to visit the Kartarpur Sahibje and see the fields that their wondrous ‘Guru’ tilled with his own hands, the place where he lived, the trees he sat under and feel and touch their forehead on the same dusty soil that their ‘Guru’ walked on!

    Both ASC and SIA presidents thanked the Pakistani government for opening the Kartarpur Corridor and taking “proactive step towards peace and amity of two people (Indian Punjab and Pakistani Punjab) who have so much in common, from language to food, from Punjabi poetry to clothes and so much more”.

    Dr Gurdas told Dawn a group of young American Sikhs started a Facebook page to monitor and report on the developments of the Kartarpur Corridor and to make concerned voices heard in regards to the development.

    GP Singh says Kartarpur Sahib is the place where the founder of the Sikh faith spent 18.5 years of his life as a farmer, a householder, a husband, a father while spreading the word of love, humanism, universal sisterhood and brotherhood and making sure that his followers learnt how to raise their voices against any kind of tyranny, be it state repression or social discrimination.

    Kartarpur Sahib can be called the first Gurdwara which was established in 1521. Bhai Dhuni Chand donated 100 acres to Baba Guru Nanak Sahibji. This land is still associated with the KGC. Both organizations wished that it would be heartening to see if any renowned Pakistani architecture along with provincial department of archaeology gets involved in revising and keeping old structure intact.

    Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019

    — Dawn— Dawn

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    ISLAMABAD: The chief justice of Pakistan said on Monday that he would not tolerate any carelessness on the part of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) that could waste Rs10 billion in funding offered by Bahrain for Pakistan’s first nursing university.

    Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had summoned NAB Chairman Javed Iqbal to his chambers on Jan 4, after expressing disappointment with impediments to obtaining possession of land on which the university is to be built.

    Justice Nisar had remarked that the bureau had started defaming and humiliating people on the basis of single or frivolous complaints and questioned its criteria for entertaining complaints.

    NAB, CDA told to address land issue so construction can begin

    The chief justice was told that the CDA could not take possession of land for the project while an inquiry is pending with NAB.

    On Monday, the court directed NAB and the CDA to address the land issue and ensure construction of the university begins soon.

    King Hamad of Bahrain had announced funding for King Hamad University of Nursing and Associated Medical Sciences in 2014, and it had been decided that Pakistan would arrange land and utility services for the university while Bahrain would fund its construction.

    It was to be built on 237 kanals of land on Park Road in Chak Shahzad to cater to 2,000 students with 500 annual admissions.

    It will also include on-campus residential facilities for 1,000 women.

    A Bahraini delegation visited Islamabad in July 2016, and its foundation stole was laid by then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif in January 2017, but the unavailability of land delayed the project both times.

    Some 700 people have filed applications with the CDA claiming to be owners of land that is to be taken over for the university.

    With the project continuously delayed, then prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in September 2017 directed the Minister of Capital Administration and Development Division to address the land issue. However, possession of the land was not provided to the Ministry of National Health Services even then.

    Possession of the land has not been obtained to date, because of which the NHS ministry is considering asking the Bahraini government to build the university at the National Institute of Health (NIH), and the land in Chak Shahzad can later be handed over to the NIH.

    An NHS ministry official seeking anonymity said the project will be built on a turn-key basis.

    Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019

    CJP Mian Saqib Nisar tells NAB and CDA to address the land issue. — File photoCJP Mian Saqib Nisar tells NAB and CDA to address the land issue. — File photo

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    MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan said the AJK government is determined to achieve the goal of economic self reliance by exploring new avenues of financial resources and completing projects of national importance.

    He expressed these views while addressing officials of the AJK Planning and Development Department after a briefing on important development projects in AJK.

    The briefing was given by Additional Chief Secretary-Development Dr Syed Asif Hussain.

    The president said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, the government was not only resolute to put the state on the path of progress and but also wanted to help Pakistan by achieving benchmarks in infrastructure development, tourism, health and education.

    “It is a matter of great pride that AJK is far ahead of other provinces of Pakistan in terms of literacy rate even with inadequate infrastructure and an unfavourable learning environment,” he said.

    “We are endeavouring our best to improve the requisite infrastructure by providing educational facilities and enhancing the quality of education,” he added.

    He said many of the doctors, engineers and IT experts from AJK were not only serving in Pakistan but also in different parts of the world.

    He said that many developed countries were willing to provide help for the development of primary and elementary education, tourism and energy sectors.

    Earlier briefing the president about important development goals, Mr Hussain said that the major chunk of our development budget was being spent on improvement, rehabilitation and construction of major roads.

    He said these included inter-district roads and those linking AJK with Pakistan to bring the remote areas of the state on a par with the urban developed areas and to provide best travelling facilities to the commuters in AJK.

    After communications and roads, development of health and education sectors are among the top priorities of the government, added and that there is great potential to develop tourism and hydropower generation in AJK.

    Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019

    AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan says region will explore new avenues of financial resources. — File photoAJK) President Sardar Masood Khan says region will explore new avenues of financial resources. — File photo

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