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PA passes resolution against US adding Pakistan to blacklist

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly on Thursday passed a resolution condemning the step by United States of America to put Pakistan at its blacklist of countries violating religious freedom.

The members of KP assembly from monitories including Wazir Zada and Ravi Kumar moved the resolution in the House which was passed unanimously by the assembly after being signed by all parliamentary leaders of political parties.

“We condemn this act of America. It is baseless and prejudice. Our worship places are safe and minorities enjoy all their rights here,” Wazir Zada stated reading the resolution.

America doesn’t see the atrocities on Muslims and Sikhs in India, Burma and Palestine. Why they were not blacklisted, the resolution stated.

It added, all minorities living in Pakistan want to make it clear that our worship places are safe in Pakistan and we enjoy all our rights here. We can raise our voices and can struggle for our rights at all forums. Pakistan is our country and we will not tolerate anything against its sovereignty. We don’t need dictation from anyone.

Both Kumar and Wazir Zada in their speeches said minorities in Pakistan enjoy freedom to follow their religion and never in the history of the country anyone has stopped minorities from going to their worship places or performing religious rituals.

“Pakistan is the number one country in world that provides religious freedom to minorities,” Kumar said in his speech over the issue adding that no person can claim that he or she was stopped from following religious obligations in Pakistan.

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DC wants an end to poppy crops cultivation

Ghulam Mursalin Marwat

LAKKI MARWAT: Deputy Commissioner Jehangir Azam Wazir has warned the elders of Bettanni tribal sub division to use their influence for destroying poppy crops in their respective localities otherwise the growers would face stern legal action.

The warning came at open sessions held in Paakhel and Shadikhel localities bordering Tank tribal sub division on Thursday. Assistant commissioner Riaz Mehsud, Deputy DHO Dr Kifayat Bettanni, education officer Bakhtiar Wazir, sports officer Noorullah Wazir and officials of communication and works, irrigation and agriculture departments were also present. The deputy commissioner reached the rural localities through a long and difficult mountainous terrain where tribal elders presented a warm welcome to him. He inspected under construction culverts, a damaged protection wall and other uplift schemes and expressed dissatisfaction over quality of work.

He directed authorities concerned to complete uplift works within specified timeframe and ensure use of quality construction material in them. Mr Wazir also covered polio refusal cases and administered anti polio drops to children whom parents had earlier refused to get them vaccinated. During open sessions the tribesmen highlighted their problems and demanded of the government to bring the tribal sub division at par with other devolved parts of the province. They thanked Pak army and local administration for their great efforts and contributions to restore and maintain sustainable peace in tribal area.

The local tribesmen are peace loving and patriots and that they always extended full cooperation to army and other law enforcement agencies to maintain peace and harmony in tribal subdivision”, they maintained. A tribal elder Malik Fazalur Rehman asked the administration chief to direct quarters concerned for provision of electricity facility to tribal people.

He also demanded replacement of old cables of power transmission line and said that special attention should be given to address power related problems faced by tribesmen.

Another elder Malik Hussain demanded establishment of schools in Wargarey locality and construction of small bridges on water courses. “The government should focus on agriculture sector and promote setting up of fruit orchards in the tribal areas as it will help to enhance income of tribesmen and to alleviate poverty”, he maintained. Malik Abdul Sattar said that the entire area lacked playgrounds and other sports facilities therefore the government should provide funds for establishment of playgrounds and sports stadiums so as to divert tribal youths to healthy activities.

The elders said that tribal sub division had great potentials for establishment of hydro power generation stations, urging the government to improve road infrastructure and basic facilities in education and health sectors. Speaking on the occasion, deputy commissioner Jehangir Azam Wazir called upon the tribesmen and elders to cooperate with polio tams and immunize their children against the crippling disease. He assured that the government would set up a higher secondary school in the subdivision to enable students to get higher secondary level education near their houses.

Wazir said that besides promoting agriculture sector the administration would make all out efforts to resolve irrigation problems in the area. “The administration has credible reports about cultivation of opium poppies in the area therefore the growers should destroy it at their own or get ready to face action”, he said, calling upon tribal people to eradicate opium poppies and focus on education of their children.

The deputy commissioner said that backwardness of the region would be transformed in progress and prosperity as peace prevailed in the region with clean and pollution free environment and that tribesman were hospitable, loving and cooperative and development friendly.

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Top court directs private schools to slash 20 % fee

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered private schools to slash fees by Rs20 percent and also return the 50 percent of fees which they received during the summer vacations, on Thursday.

According to private news channel report, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar headed a three-judge bench of the apex court and it given the decision during the hearing of the case pertaining to increase in school fees.

Lawyers for the private schools, Deputy Auditor General and Federal Broad of Revenue (FBR) Chairman also appeared before the bench.

During the hearing, CJP remarked that the Supreme Court was not bound by decisions of high courts.

He said the apex court be informed about how a significant cut in fees could be made.

A lawyer for Beacon House told the bench that private schools’ fee structure and annual increase differ from each other.

He said former Punjab Education Minister had asked for legislation regarding 10 percent annual fee but Rana Mashood was able to get approval for eight percent only.

When a lawyer for another private school said the schools were ready to cut eight percent fee, the CJ said eight percent decrease would be insignificant.

Justice Ejazul Ahsan said schools gave wrong statistics in audit reports.

The CJ said results could be different if the court orders audit of 20 years.

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Former cricketer Sharmeen Khan dies at 46

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Former Pakistan cricketer Sharmeen Khan, has passed away in Lahore at the age of 46, on Thursday.

Her sister Shaiza Khan informed that Sharmeen breathed her last after battling with pneumonia and adding that her sister had arrived in Pakistan from England only two days ago.

Sharmeen represented Pakistan in two Tests and 26 one-day internationals as A right-handed batsman and pacer.

Sharmeen and Shaiza are known as the founders of Pakistan Women team. The sisters, who had studied at Leeds in England, were inspired to form a national team when they went to watch the 1993 World Cup final at Lord’s.

They secured International Women’s Cricket Council membership for Pakistan in September 1996, which made Pakistan Women eligible for the 1997 World Cup, held in India.

Sharmeen made her Test debut against Sri Lanka Women at Colombo in April 1998, and played her last Test against Ireland Women at Dublin two years later.

Her ODI debut came against New Zealand Women at Christchurch in January 1997. She played her final ODI against Sri Lanka Women at Moratuwa in January 2002.

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Pakistan,UK discuss legal modalities of assets recovery

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United Kingdom on Wednesday discussed legal modalities of Assets Recovery and both sides ensured full cooperation to each others, a statement issued by the PM Office said.

A delegation of National Crime Agency (NCA) headed by Donald Toon, the UK Home Secretary’s Envoy to Pakistan on Accountability and Assets Recovery had a meeting with the members of Assets Recovery Unit under the chairmanship of Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability.

During the meeting, some important cases, which are being pursued with the UK, were also discussed.

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Dense fog engulfs areas of Punjab

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Dense fog engulfed different cities of Punjab province on Thursday morning.

According to Motorway spokesperson, the visibility is zero on National Highway.

The motorway police have advised the people to use fog lights and avoid unnecessary traveling to ‎remain safe from any mishap. ‎

‎According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), very cold and dry weather is expected in most parts of the country during next 24 hours.

However rain/thunderstorm with snow over hills is expected at a few places in Quetta, Zhob, D.I. ‎Khan, Bannu, Kohat, Malakand divisions and Gilgit-Baltistan during evening/night.‎

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Polling underway for by-polls on PP-168 seat

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Polling for the by-election underway today (Thursday) for Punjab Assembly seat PP-168.

According to details, the polling started at 8am and will continue till 5pm without any break as Election Commission has finalized all necessary arrangements to hold the elections in peaceful manner.

PP-168 seat was vacated by former minister for railways and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Saad Rafiq after he was elected to the National Assembly from NA-131 Lahore in the October last by-polls.

Khawaja Saad Rafiq had obtained 34114 votes to defeat the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Muhammad Fiaz Bhatti who secured 14940 votes. The PTI candidate is working hard to fill the gap. Rana Khalid has been long affiliated with the PML-N and the party has awarded him ticket recognizing his services.

Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) had also announced its support to the PML-N candidate in PP-168. Acknowledging the PPP offer, the PML-N City President and MNA Pervaiz Malik had thanked the PPP leadership.

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Measures afoot to produce cheap electricity: Omar Ayub

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan Wednesday said the government was taking a range of measures to generate cheap renewable energy and stop electricity theft by installing Aerial Bundle Cable (ABC) and advanced metering infrastructure in high theft areas.

During question hour, the minister told the National Assembly the aerial bundle cable (ABC) which could stop electricity theft, would be installed in areas of IESCO, PESCO and LESCO with the financing of $ 900 million by the Asian Development Bank.

Omar said the government was focusing on renewal energy and a new policy would be introduced by March.

The cost of solar energy was dropping down in the world and the effort would be to replace renewal energy with the expensive electricity, he added. The minister told the government was prioritizing indigenous resources for affordable generation including local Thar coal and hydel power.

He said when the government came into power, issue was high tariff and National Electric Power Authority (NEPRA) was suggesting increase in tariffs. However the government took measures to provide relief to consumers, he added.

He said there was no increase in rates for consumers using 300 units of electricity and rate of Rs 5.25 per unit was given for tubewells.

Relief of Rs 1.27 per unit was given to the farmers while the Ministry of Power planned to save Rs 150 billion through different measures. The minister said the government was charging 35 percent capacity charges from consumers because it could not utilize the generated electricity due to lack of demand.

He said 8000 FIRs have been registered against officials of power companies involved in theft of electricity.

Half of the electricity theft was occurring in areas of Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) and the problem was severe in areas of Peshawar, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan.

The minister said Chitral had great hydel potential while Pakistan had the potential of 60,000 megawatts of hydel electricity and a study was being conducted to ascertain demand of electricity in future before setting up new projects.

The federal and provincial governments were working together to plan hydel generation projects which would be set up keeping in demand from consumers, he added.

He informed that NEPRA would announce the new tariff for electricity for which it already held its hearing and made the determination.

To a question asked by MNA Aslam Bhootani, Omar said the private entity K Electric should invest in transmission lines in Lasbela district and resolve issues faced by the consumers. He said power losses were occurring due to technical losses, faulty lines and lack of investment in the distribution system.

The minister said the circular debt increased by Rs 400 billion as the last government supplied electricity to areas where theft was already high. One of the reasons for high tariff was power theft in almost all the distribution companies.

He said Balochistan had 27,000 tubewells and they were being put on solar system. As the water table was getting low in the province, the solarization of tubewells was being done to save energy costs. More small dams would be constructed in Balochistan to conserve water.

To a question posed by MNA Ghulam Bibi Bharwana, he said the fixed charges on tubewells were abolished which was appreciated by the farmers.

He said he issued directives for installation of transformers of same specifications, adding a mafia was making money on maintenance of transformers. The network of the “transformer mafia” would be broken, he added. When MNA Iqbal Muhammad Ali drew attention of the over billing by K-Electric in Karachi, the minister assured that he would take up the matter with the private power company.

The minister said setting up of power plants in distant coastal areas was not feasible as it would require long distance transmission lines.

He said the deposit of silt in Tarbela dam could be controlled after building of dams upstream on the Indus river.

MNA Yousaf Talpur complained that areas in his constituency in Sindh was without light for hours. MNA Akhtar Mengal told that Gwadar was still getting electricity from Iran and districts of Makran were not being fed by national grid.

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People want accountability of those who remained in power for ten years: Fawad

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Wednesday said people wanted accountability of those who remained in power for ten years and the government would not be hurdle in the cases filed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) – an independent institution.

Speaking at the floor of the National Assembly here, he said Saad Rafique was arrested after his bail was cancelled in Lahore High Court.

As he was speaking, his speech was disrupted by opposition members irked by arrest of opposition member Khawja Saad Rafique in a case made by National Accountability Bureau (NAB). He said everybody knew how the country was badly run in the last 10 years. He said the NAB chairman was appointed during the tenure of the last governments of Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and all the cases were made during the same period. He said opposition was fearful and it wanted that nobody should ask questions about its affairs in government.

Fawad said opposition should have changed the NAB laws when it was in power. The opposition should give account of the money spent by it in10 years.

A task force headed by Law Minister Farogh Naseem would look into the NAB laws, he added.

He said huge corruption money was laundered outside of Pakistan and those who did not have anything became rich over the years. He said if looted money was not recovered from corrupt people, then PTI had no right to be in government.

The minister said nobody had the right to indulge in corruption and those who were protesting in the assembly were fearful that now it was their turn to face accountability. The opposition should apologize to the nation for its malpractices, he added.

Speaking before the minister, Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif said witch hunt was being done in the name of accountability. He asked the Speaker to issue production orders of Khawaja Saad Rafique.

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Sudden hike in prices is a divine punishment: Siraj

F.P. Report

TIMERGARA: Jamaat-i-Islami chief and senator Siraj ul Haq has termed the sudden hike in prices of various commodities as a divine punishment by Al-Mighty Allah. He was addressing the area elders during a conciliatory jirga held at the Hujra of Late Malik Muhammad Zarin at Maskini Darra here on Wednesday.

The jirga resolved a feud of land ownership between the people of Kakas and Sheeno Banda villages. The gathering was also addressed by JI Lower Dir emir and former MPA Izaz ul Mulk Afkari, Munda tehsil nazim Humayun Khan, Maulana Gul Zamin and others.

The JI chief said that a bill for permitting wine was being tabled in the parliament. He said the JI was not only condemning it but also planned to resist it. He said the nation had voted to the PTI for making a ‘Naya Pakistan’ but the government gifted the nation with sky rocketing price hike, uncontrollable inflation, joblessness and devaluation of Pakistani currency. He said the PTI government t had failed on all fronts and it was not capable to manage financial crisis in the country. “The foreign powers are also seemed least interested to help this government,” he added.

Siraj said his party wanted to bring real changes in the country by imposing Islamic ‘Sharia’ law through democratic means. Appreciating the tradition of jirga system in Pakhtun culture the JI chief said it was far better than the existing judicial system in the country.

He said it took decades to decide a case or feud in courts but the jirga resolved such cases in days and weeks. He asked the participants to strengthen the JI for the establishment of justice, equality and equity in society.

The jirga members Malik Mir Aslam, Muhammad Roz Khan and others thanked the rivals for cooperating with the jirga. The rivals on the occasion embraced each other and promised to live like brothers in future.