Nawaz condolence

PML-N President Nawaz Sharif has expressed grief over the murder of Geo correspondent Malim Mumtaz in Miran Shah.

In a condolence message here Wednesday, he expressed his grief over Malim Mumtaz’s death and offered his condolence to the bereaved family

CM launches distribution of solar panels among students

PUNJAB Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday launched the programme of free distribution of solar panels among 25,000 talented male and female students of government schools and colleges of Lahore under Khadim-e-Punjab Ujala Programme at University of Engineering and Technology Auditorium.

When the chief minister arrived at the auditorium of the university, thousands of male and female students warmly welcomed him.

During his speech, the students had been raising slogans continuously, upon which, he asked them to remain silent, and then silence prevailed in the hall.

Shahbaz Sharif criticised the steps of previous government of Ch Pervaiz Elahi and said that these were the elements which had no concern with the welfare of the people. The chief minister also criticised the “Parha Likha Punjab Programme” of Pervaiz Elahi and said that crores of rupees were wasted on the publicity whereas no practical step was taken for the uplift of education sector.

He said that 70 per cent girl students were getting solar lamps and they were far ahead of the boys.

He said that if the situation remained so, there would be a Khadima in place of Khadim tomorrow.

MoU: A Memorandum of understanding (MoU), was signed between Punjab government and Asian Development Bank (ADB) under public-private partnership for promotion of cooperation in energy sector at Model Town here on Wednesday.

Under the MoU, collaboration will be made in energy-related projects for alternative water, coal and other energy sources.

The energy secretary signed the MoU on behalf of the Punjab government while a representative of Asian Development Bank signed the document on behalf of the bank.

The ceremony was attended by Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, Special Assistant Zaeem Hussain Qadri, planning and development chairman, information secretary and Country Director of Asian Development Bank Pakistan Resident Mission Warner Liepach and other representatives.

Under the MoU, Punjab government and Asian Development Bank would identify various energy projects and, after making initial review, would extend cooperation to each other.

Condolence: Shahbaz Sharif has expressed sorrow over the death of noted poet, writer and founder of Human Guides Mian Iqbal Akhtar.

Ashraf seeks names for caretaker PM from Ch Nisar

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Wednesday requested the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, to propose the names of persons who, in his opinion, are eminently qualified to be appointed as the caretaker prime minister of Pakistan.

In a letter sent to the opposition leader, the PM said that you know, the National Assembly will be achieving the milestone of completing its tenure by the middle of next month. “It will be a historic achievement signifying the maturity and sagacity of the political parties in the country. This singular achievement will go a long way in strengthening democracy and establishing supremacy of the will of the people of Pakistan,” he maintained in the letter.

He further wrote that all the political parties, within and outside parliament and national institutions, deserve special compliments and praise for their continued support to the democratic process during the last five years. “The country is now poised for general elections with the likely dissolution of the National Assembly on the expiry of its term,” he added.

“It is imperative that we initiate the process under Article 224 of the Constitution to reach a consensus on the appointment of caretaker prime minister, who could uphold the national interest and ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the country,” he said and added that the people of Pakistan rightly expect us to rise to the occasion and agree upon the most suitable person as caretaker prime minister and pave the way for holding general elections in an impartial, fair and transparent manner. “Let us enable the people of Pakistan to express their will in an exemplary environment and ensure smooth transition of power to the next elected government,” he added.

“I would be grateful if you could forward your nominations at the earliest so that we may arrive at a consensus on the care taker prime minister, prior to the dissolution of the National Assembly on the expiry of its term; otherwise, we will be constrained to proceed further in the matter as per Article 224 (A) of the Constitution,” he concluded.

No one should dream SC will order postponement of polls: SC

KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) observed on Wednesday that the court would never issue an order to postpone the general elections and no one should even dream that the elections could be postponed.

Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali made these observations while heading a five-member bench of the apex court bench while hearing the suo moto proceedings on the Karachi law and order implementation case. The apex court also ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to comply with the SC judgment on the delimitation of constituencies on a non-ethnic basis.

The Supreme Court dismissed the application of Election Commission that sought deferment of the SC’s direction regarding delimitation of constituencies in Karachi till the holding of the forthcoming general elections.

“The delimitation of constituencies has nothing to do with the fresh census,” the Supreme Court’s five-member bench headed by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali observed while hearing suo moto proceedings on the Karachi law and order implementation case.

“The time for the law of necessity and expediencies has long gone,” Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali observed, adding that the court was concerned about what the compulsion of the ECP was for not implementing the court order that was passed on October 6, 2011.

Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali observed that the court had not asked the Election Commission to increase or decrease the seats of the national and provincial assemblies but the ECP was unnecessarily trying to avoid implementation of the court judgment. Justice Khilji Arif Hussain observed that the postponement of elections would not be allowed and no one should even think even in their dreams that elections could be postponed.

The court observed that after the amendments of the Act under section 10-A, the ECP had been given undeterred powers to make any amendment at any time of its own motion. The Election Commission’s counsel Munir Paracha submitted that the delimitation of constituencies could not be possible without a census and there was a constitutional embargo for the ECP to carry out the exercise of delimitation of constituencies in Karachi.

He submitted that the Supreme Court’s observation in its detailed judgment regarding delimitation of constituencies was not mandatory for compliance as court left it to the ECP to initiate the exercise on its own. Referring Article 51(5) of the Constitution, he said that unless new census had been conducted, the delimitation of constituencies was not possible besides section 7 also debarred ECP from the delimitation.

However, when the court asked the counsel to read the relevant Article 51 and the section 7,8,9 of the Delimitation of Constituencies Act, the counsel conceded that there was no hurdle in delimitation and he could not be able to pinpoint the provision in the law that placed embargo on the delimitation or compliance of the court order.

The court observed that ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmed conceded before the court on November 28 that neither Article 51(5) of the Constitution nor section 7(2) of the Delimitation of Constituencies Act 1974 was the hurdle in the compliance of the court observation. The secretary had assured that the court observations regarding delimitation of constituencies would be complied with in letter and spirit within shortest possible time.

The ECP counsel said that extensive meetings were also held with all the stakeholders from Karachi to discuss how delimitation was possible in light of the Supreme Court order issued on October 6, 2011 and a number of suggestions were received from the political parties stressing new constituencies for single ethnicity to the exclusion of others.

He submitted that the political parties’ suggestions were quite opposite to the intent of the Supreme Court order which suggested that all the communities should live together in peace and harmony thus it had become evident that any delimitation exercise in light of proposals received by the ECP would be contrary to the spirit of the Supreme Court’s order.

Justice Khilji Arif Hussain observed if different suggestions were coming from the stakeholders, the ECP had to apply its own mind. Justice Khilji observed that Supreme Court passed the judgment on October 6 and till now the order was not complied with by the ECP in letter and spirit and now the court was being informed that in present situation such exercise could not be carried out and same would not be allowed to do so.

ECP counsel submitted that implementation of the court order could not be possible for time being and prayed the court to defer its observations for undertaking delimitation at Karachi until a fresh census was conducted. He said that assembly tenure would end on March 16 and ECP would have 60 days more and it would be impossible to carry out such an exercise. He also expressed fear that the entire process of the elections could be in jeopardy if such exercise was to be done.

The court took exception to the apprehension of the Election Commission’s counsel. Justice Khilji Arif Hussain observed that the court might differentiate between grey and black areas but what the court would do when one might declare black as white.

Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali observed that there was no concept of grey areas in Islam and it was the tradition of Islamic Shoora that they vote by rising hands to avoid any hypocrisy. The court observed that it was evident that grounds urged in the ECP application for avoiding the implementation of the court order was misleading, misconceived and without any substance therefore the application was dismissed.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court withdrew its show-cause notice issued against IG Sindh for concealment of facts after unconditional apology. IG said that there was nothing to be concealed as the list of all the officers and police personnel who were facing trial or charges had been placed before the court. He submitted that non-mentioning the names of two SSPs in the list was not deliberate but the list was prepared as per list of the MIT.

Justice Jamali said that the cases of police officers and police personnel would strictly be followed under the police rules and also directed to provide protection to the complainant Changez Khan and others who lodged complaint against SSP Hyderabad Pir Fareed Jan Sarhandi and SSP Jamshoro Furrukh Bashir.

Bill on new university deferred

ISLAMABAD: Opposition from the PML-N ON Wednesday led to delay in the passage of a bill that seeks establishment of yet another private university in the federal capital.The National Assembly in its previous session had also passed bills for establishment of three private universities in Islamabad.

As the minister for capital administration and development Nazar Muhammad Gondal moved the bill for establishment of the Capital University in Islamabad in private, the PML-N member Zahid raised an objection that a provision is there in the legislation that the government would have no powers to question the resources allocated to the institution.

He further said it was not the first university with this name as a university was already functioning for the last over 15 years. In response the minister the objection raised by the member could be discussed but he said it was a new university and the university as pointed by member is for different purposes. Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza deferred the bill till Thursday (today) asking the minister and the opposition members to sort out the matter.

Meanwhile, the Speaker appreciated the role of the opposition in legislation and other house business saying what the assembly had done during last five years was a big achievement.She also appreciated the House for maximum legislation during its tenure, saying most bills were passed unanimously. “Although the government on the basis of its majority could have got bills passed yet it preferred to create consensus,” she said.

Dr Fehmida Mirza proposed that last three sessions of all the assemblies should start with the National Anthem. “As the assembly is going to complete its five years, I propose that the last three sessions should begin with the National Anthem,” she said.She said that upcoming general elections will be free and fair and nobody should have doubts about their credibility.

SC asks govt to find root cause of Hazara killings

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) has urged the government to get to the root cause of the Hazara town carnage and stated that under Article 9 of the Constitution, it is the state’s responsibility to provide safety and security to its citizens.

A three-member bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and Justice Sh Azmat Saeed resumed hearing of the suo moto notice into the killings in Hazara Town in Quetta.

During the course of the proceedings, the chief justice remarked, “The people of Balochistan cannot be confined to their houses and there is a need to show efficiency to root out causes behind such incidents.”

The CJ said that there was a dire need to formulate a long-term planning to bring peace in Quetta as it used to be one of the most peaceful cities of Pakistan.Azam Khattak, Additional Advocate General Balochistan, apprised the court that scanning and checking was being made in the area and the security for Hazara Town had also been beefed up.

When Justice Sh Azmat Saeed inquired whether scanners were installed in the area, the additional advocate replied that the scanners were being brought and would be installed there. Justice Ejaz Afzal remarked wherever scanners were needed should be provided on emergency basis.

The CJ inquired whether the victims had been given the compensation or not, and Azam Khattak stated that the work was being done and the matter would be solved in a week time.Senator Abbas Komeli also submitted his statement before the court which was accepted by the bench.

He said the Hazara community did not back any targeted operation against anyone adding that real culprits behind these incidents should be brought to justice.PPP MNA Syed Nasir Ali Shah in his statement said that the people of Quetta are proud to be Pakistanis.

He said, “We do not want compensation. We only want peace in Quetta. We want the culprits to be dealt with iron hands.”The bench in its order stated that the Additional Advocate General Balochistan submitted a progress report before the bench and it was noticed that the law enforcement agencies and local administration had so far been not succeeded in identifying the root causes of the incidents.

It was also noted in the order that despite warnings, no steps were taken and compensation was not paid to the victims which should be provided on priority.Later, the court directed the Inspector General of Balochistan Police, Chief Secretary, Inspector General Frontier Constabulary and Home Secretary Balochistan to submit a comprehensive report on the incident and adjourned hearing till March 6.

Iesco has to pay back consumers Rs14.5 billion

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) has deprived its consumers of Rs14.5 billion in the name of fuel adjustment surcharge, which has been declared illegal by the court and now Iesco has to pay back to the consumers, documents available with The News reveal.

Moreover Iesco sustained a loss of Rs13.502 billion during July 2011 to June 2012 alone while its liabilities exceed its assets by Rs13.54 billion. Islamabad High Court on October 24, 2012 declared the fuel adjustment surcharge being collected by the electricity distribution companies ordered by National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) as illegal and void. In the wake of that order of the IHC audit conducted by an independent firm shows that the poor consumers were deprived of Rs14.55 billion during June 2009 to October 2012.

The audit report identified that “the company’s management based on its interpretation of the short order of Honourable Islamabad High Court dated 24 October 2012 has not reversed electricity sales revenue amounting to Rs14,554.34 million relating to the years from 30 June 2009 to 2012.

Had the electricity sales been reversed, loss for the year ended 30 June 2012 would have increased by Rs9,634.28 million with the effect of reversal of electricity sales for the year ended 30 June 2012 and Rs4,920.06 million with the effect of reversal of electricity sales relating to prior years and accumulated loss as at 30 June 2012 would have increased by Rs14,554.34 million”.

Regarding the overall losses, the audit report says, “It has been explained that the company incurred a net loss of Rs13,502 million during the year ended 30 June 2012 and, as of that date, the company’s current liabilities exceeded current assets by Rs13,540 million.

Consequently the Company has negative equity of Rs1,311 million at the year end notwithstanding the matter discussed in paragraph (a) above (Rs14.5 billion collected through fuel adjustment surcharge).”

Well-placed sources in Iesco told The News that these losses have occurred because of the Line losses and electricity theft; excessive expenditures; massive corruption (rewarding buddies by changing the category of their electricity meters e.g changing the commercial meter to domestic etc) and mismanagement.

It is worth mentioning here that the Islamabad High Court, on 24-10-2012 declared fuel adjustment charges in power bills ‘null and void’ and ordered National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) to adjust the charged amount in the future.

The IHC heard the petitions against fuel price adjustment which were filed by more than 700 industrialists. Justice Shaukat Aziz had remarked that power distribution companies (Discos) cannot include the charges from previous bills into the fresh ones. The chief executive officer of Iesco and its spokesman couldd not be contacted.

Politics of expediency

The deliberate hash of local government to reflect the diverse demographics of the ruling coalition, the PPP in the rural areas and the MQM in the urban areas of Sindh, the Sindh People’s Local Government Ordinance (SPLGO) was essentially a hybrid measure. The vertical integration of the local governments with the provincial tier was never resolved. It was condemned outright by Sindhi nationalists as a sell-out of ethnic Sindhi interests, and there was reaction even from diehard PPP loyalists in interior Sindh.

The MQM quit the coalition using as a pretext the release of PPP political activists from Lyari accused of committing heinous crimes. This caused no sweat among those used to the party’s frequent walkouts from the federal and Sindh governments over the past five years.

With less than four weeks left for the Sindh Assembly’s completion of its five year term the other political parties had reason to cry foul, alleging that this was a stage-managed ploy to enable the MQM to nominate the leader of the opposition, and usher in a friendly caretaker chief minister in ‘consultation’ with the PPP’s present chief minister in Sindh. Or is there more than meets the eye? That Governor Ishratul Ibad did not resign immediately added to the scepticism.

The PPP-dominated Sindh Assembly did not take even one day to overwhelmingly repeal the SPLGO, hardly four months after its inception. The fact is that the MQM bailed out Zardari politically by giving him a convenient backtrack to prevent Sindhi nationalists from using it as a potent election issue. Moreover, it even seemed possible that a restless PPP could implode in its own Sindh stronghold because of a rebellious Zulfikar Mirza.

To dampen his rabid ethnic fervour, Zardari probably made Mirza an offer he could not refuse. One can safely bet that SPLGO 2012 will be back in some form once the elections are over. For public consumption the former (and future) coalition partners kept going at each other hammer and tongs – the fine print probably not visible to party stalwarts lower down the ranks. The ‘fog of politics’ is far murkier than the ‘fog of war’.

PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif recently reposed full confidence in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). And why not? By vacillating about crucial issues till they have become ineffective because of the short time now available, the ECP has tacitly stacked the deck against those who could possibly replace most present legislators even if the next elections are genuinely free and fair. The elaborate mode of scrutiny of candidates under Articles 62 and 63 of the constitution notwithstanding, Justice (r) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim knows very well that detailed scrutiny is not possible in 15 days.

Regarding the ‘scrutiny’ by the ECP going on for the last five years, the very insistence about the short time period makes the process suspect. Incidentally, public officials all over the world must declare assets, but the Sharifs never question the ECP about Zardari being the only holder of public office in the world who does not declare his assets or sources of income.

Abiding strictly to the letter of the constitution, if not its spirit, it does not oblige Fakhru Bhai to ask such inconvenient questions either. According to declarations under oath by our parliamentarians, most are living below the poverty line; and this amounts to perjury. How many of those caught lying through their teeth under oath before the Supreme Court have been convicted by for perjury?

Discussing this curse in my article ‘True or false’ (September 2, 2000): “Most of our problems can be traced to the willingness of those under oath to tell lies with impunity, to forge documents, to erase, alter, deface, mutilate etc, evidence as may be required.

For personal gain, whether monetary or otherwise, false representation of facts and distortions, a gentlemanly phrase for ‘outright lies,’ is the order of the day. In the Oxford Dictionary perjury is ‘an act of wilfully telling an untruth when on oath.’ Simply put, a perjurer is a criminal and, in most countries, perjury carries exemplary punishment, painful enough for people to avoid giving false statement under oath.

On the other hand, our frustrated common citizen very rarely consents to bearing witness, for fear of being persecuted by the forces of evil.” The legal history of the developed world shows that the decline in corruption there has been commensurate with repeated convictions due to perjury.

Recalling the sorry history behind the bribery and corruption sustaining the feudal system in my article ‘The genesis of corruption’ (November 15, 2000), I wrote: “Uptil 1857, the British bribed their way into power across South Asia by seducing recalcitrant individuals among the close relatives/associates of various rulers.

After 1857, they created a new ‘loyal’ elite by distributing vast tracts of land that became theirs by default of having defeated the vestiges of the old Mughal Empire, generously gifting away land that did not belong to then in the first place. This new landed gentry owed their loyalty to the British Raj. Aping their customs and traditions these loyal feudals helped the core white British community of 300,000 civil servants, soldiers, etc., rule a vast country of several hundred million people.”

Quite a number of our politicians in Pakistan are for sale to the highest bidder. Asif Zardari is at his devious best exercising the politics of compromise, but it is in the politics of expediency that he has truly excelled, successfully clubbing together rural feudals, urban socialists and religious parties, along with political opportunists, despite vehemently opposing ideologies: a patented Zardari’s ‘horses for courses’ solution.

The people continue to suffer under atrocious governance, which is deliberately resorted to by the rulers in order to promote feudalism, and keep it alive, well and flourishing. The local bodies system, being the antithesis to feudalism, has no chance in this country. How can feudals ever allow the representatives of those they consider serfs to rule?

Gen Kayani has a dream – of free, fair elections. He must be commended for his strong belief in democracy and maintaining that it is “the prerogative of the people to elect competent or incompetent rulers.” His soldiers need to be commended for being blindly loyal to their chief who has successfully kept a corrupt government in power for five long years.

The last time an army chief ‘dreamt’ of free and fair elections – in 1970 – the dream turned into a nightmare for this country. The country as it then was ceased to exist the following year. Will history commend those in uniform today for ignoring the corruption rife around them, with politicians spending enormous amounts of illegal money thus acquired to win ‘free and fair elections’?

Rampant feudalism keeps us prisoners in the heart of darkness. The real question is whether those who should will ever see the light before this country plunges permanently into a dark abyss?

One can remain deaf and dumb for democratic reasons but closing one’s eyes to the rampant corruption that exists is going ‘above and beyond the call of duty’. Remember the saying in the army: ‘Better wake up!’

Shortfall intensifies

The Economic Coordination Committee’s decision to consider raising the profit margin for the oil marketing companies and dealers would apart from aggravating the vicious cycle of inflation would badly affect the energy crisis. Since furnace oil is largely used to generate electricity, its price is going to impact the electricity’s generation as well as the cost.

On the other hand, disturbing news is coming in that the total shortfall of electricity has reached 5,000MW; the situation has been exacerbated by the shutdown of the Chashma power plant, following the nationwide breakdown late Sunday that is still resulting in grisly blackouts across the country. While some of the power houses have been repaired, Chashma is still not functioning. The ostensible explanation is that some power houses have been closed in order to avert an accidental trip. President Zardari’s assurance on Tuesday that those responsible for the breakdown in the power supply would be brought to book appears more of a diversionary remark as overall the situation he is now talking about is the result of years of neglect. Now in urban areas, the loadshedding spells have prolonged to almost 15 hours while in rural areas the situation is much worse. Temporary arrangements and quick-fixes, which have been the practice so far has to be given up. These power breakdowns make very obvious the need for building large dams.

The debacle

Watching Pakistani batsmen fall like nine pins during the best part of the recently-concluded three-match Test series against South Africa must have been a painful sight for millions of fans back home. The pathetic showing from the team made the 3-0 clean sweep achieved in the series by the Proteas hardly a surprising result. The writing had been on the wall for Pakistan since their very first outing in the series when they were bowled out for a paltry 49 in Johannesburg – their lowest ever Test score. It was evident that the team lacked the skills and motivation needed on the bouncy South African tracks and against a pace attack that is currently regarded as the best in the world. Barring one good partnership during the second Test in Cape Town, there was little for Pakistan to celebrate during the entire series. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq and his deputy Mohammad Hafeez were among the team’s biggest flops.

The Pakistani team’s batting failure wasn’t entirely unexpected but it was their below-par bowling performance that really allowed the home team to walk away with a 3-0 rout without much fuss. Umar Gul, the senior lynchpin of the pace arsenal, remained off colour in the first two Tests and had to be dropped for the final outing. Junaid Khan was supposed to be Pakistan’s main weapon but was sidelined after the series opener because of fitness problems. In a nutshell, Pakistan was found lacking in all departments of the game. And this happened right when our cricket chiefs were claiming that the national team is back on track. They must be made accountable for the embarrassing results in South Africa because of their poor judgement. Dav Whatmore, Pakistan’s highly-paid foreign coach, was their choice. He was roped in just days after Pakistan whitewashed England, the world’s best Test team last year. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) claimed that under Whatmore our team would transform itself into a winning unit. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to have happened.