240,000 children miss anti-polio drive

Islamabad  – A top Unicef official says as many as 240,000 children have missed UN-backed vaccinations against polio because of security concerns in tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. Dr Nima Saeed Abid, acting Unicef chief for the polio eradication programme in Pakistan, says health workers have not been able to immunise children in Waziristan regions since July 2012.
Nima said Friday that 15 health workers have been killed in the anti-polio campaign in Pakistan since July 2012.
Pakistan is one of the few remaining countries, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, where polio is rampant. Up to 58 cases were reported in Pakistan in 2012, down from 198 in 2011.

Weekly inflation increases by 0.49 percent

ISLAMABAD: The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) for the week ended on March 28 for the lowest income group up to Rs 8,000, registered an increase of 0.49 percent as compared to the previous week.
The SPI for the week under review in the above mentioned group was recorded at 187.94 points against 187.02 points registered in the previous week, according to provisional figures released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) on Friday.
The weekly SPI has been computed with base 2007-2008=100, covering 17 urban centres and 53 essential items for all income groups and combined.
The SPI for the combined group increased by 0.49 percent as it went up from 191.97 points in the previous week to 192.17 points in the week under review.
As compared to the corresponding week of last year, the SPI for the combined group in the week under review witnessed increase of 6.13 percent.
As compared to the last week, the SPI for the income groups from Rs 8,001- 12,000, 12,001-18,000, 18001-35,000 and above Rs 35,000 increased by 0.50 percent, 0.50 percent, 0.50 percent and 0.47 percent, respectively.
During the week under review average prices of 13 items registered decrease, while that of 17 items increase with the remaining 23 items’ prices unchanged.
The items that registered decrease in their prices during the week under review included, tomato, egg (farm), potato, gram pulses (washed), wheat, red chillies powder, vegetable ghee (loose), mash pulses (washed), jaggery, LPG cylinder, masoor pulses (washed) and mustard oil.
The items that recorded increase in their average prices included onions, chicken (farm), sugar, bananas, long cloth, lawn, shirting, cooked dal (plate), energy savor, garlic, mutton, georgette, rice basmati (broken), beef cooked, beef (plate), moong pulse (washed) and cooking oil (tin).
The items with no change in their average prices during the week under review included rice irri-6, bread plain, curd, milk fresh, milk powder, vegetable ghee (tin), salt powder, tea, tea prepared (cup), cigarettes, chapal spang, sandal ladies, electric charges, gas charges, kerosene oil, fire wood, washing soap, match box, petrol, diesel, telephone call and bath soap.

Rupee weakens

KARACHI: The rupee continued its downward trend against the dollar on the sixth consecutive day on Friday due to rising demand for the dollar in the interbank market, dealers said.

The rupee posted a decline of two paisas to close at 98.44 against the previous closing of 98.42. The rupee extended its firmness against the dollar in the open market.

NAB officers to get training from FBI

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has decided to train its fresh batch of investigation officers from the US agency the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to get expertise in tracing and investigating white collar crimes.

According to sources in the NAB, besides getting the cooperation of the FBI for training of fresh batch of investigation officers, who were recently inducted into the NAB, the bureau will also seek cooperation from the European Union and other top agencies for training of investigation officers.

The sources said it was decided the fresh batch of 260 investigation officers who were recently getting training at the COMSATS, would be sent to the United States for further training to combat the white collar crimes. “The main aim of sending these investigation officers to the US is to improve their standards and bring them at par with the international standard to probe the white collar crimes,” they added.

The sources said the NAB was currently working under 28 percent strength. “We have now recruited over 260 new investigators following a pure transparent and competitive process. Training of these investigators will be completed in the next three-four months’ time. This will strengthen the enforcement,” they added.

The sources went on to say that the NAB had also written to the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) to return the Financial Crime Investigation Wing to the bureau. They said the Financial Crime Wing of NAB was transferred to the FIA during the tenure of the previous government when the former government decided to disband the NAB.

However, the sources said, the FIA had refused to return the Financial Crime Wing to the NAB.They said the NAB had decided to raise the issue with the caretaker government for the return of its Financial Crime Wing from the FIA as during the tenure of the previous government, NAB had been facing difficulties in investigating the white collar crimes because its senior investigation officers, who were earlier working under the wing, were taken by the FIA.

With the transfer of the Financial Crime Wing to the FIA, all the investigation officers who were working under the wing were also transferred to the FIA due to which the NAB was facing difficulties in probing the financial crimes, the sources maintained.

SC orders removal of no-go areas in Karachi by April 4

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the police and Rangers to eliminate the no-go areas in Karachi by exhausting all the resources available to them by the time the apex court resumes hearing of the port city’s law and order case on April 4.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Amir Hani Muslim and Justice Ejaz Afzal, was hearing the Karachi no-go areas case.

The court sought a report pertaining to the no-go areas from the police top brass and director general Sindh Rangers through the advocate general of the province on April 4.

During the hearing, the chief justice said that they were going to Karachi to hear the law and order case and all the law enforcement agencies would be responsible if they failed in implementing the court order.

The court admonished the top cops, asking why the police were unable to locate the areas when the media could obtain credible information in this regard.

DIG West Zone, Karachi, Zone Amir Farooqui appeared before the bench and claimed that the situation was improving in the city.They claimed that there were no no-go areas in the city instead criminals were holed up in some pockets of the metropolis where operations are being conducted.

Justice Khilji Arif Hussain inquired whether people could independently move in Shanti Nagar area of Karachi where a Naval base was also located.The police officers told the court that a slum area was located under the hills in Manghopir where at least 200 militants of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan are present. They said situation was now improving as compared to the past when they were working under political influence.

The chief justice noted that no police officer had submitted that any political party was not allowing him to work freely.The cops said that anti-polio campaign was carried out in Shanti Nagar, which was identified as a no-go area by a newspaper.

The CJ inquired if the criminals, who were still roaming freely in Lyari, had been arrested, adding that the Supreme Court bench would also take up the issue during the hearing of the Karachi law and order case.

The bench directed that copies of its order and newspaper, carrying story regarding no-go areas, be provided to the Rangers DG and Sindh IG, seeking their explanation as to why the situation had not improved in case they rejected the story.

12 killed in suicide attack on FC convoy

PESHAWAR: Twelve people were killed and 28 others sustained injuries when a suicide bomber attacked the convoy of the commandant of Frontier Constabulary (FC) near an army checkpost on the Fakhr-e-Alam Road in Cantonment here on Friday.

Though the commandant of the paramilitary FC, Abdul Majeed Marwat, remained unharmed, his official car was damaged in the powerful blast. “I was going to office when the bomber blew himself up close to my car on the Fakhr-e-Alam Road,” Marwat, a senior officer of the Police Service of Pakistan, told The News.

The police confirmed the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber close to the army checkpost near the Greens Shadi Hall.“This was a suicide attack and the target of the bomber was the commandant FC,” said Station House Officer (SHO) of the East Cantonment Police Station, Arshad Khan.

Three of the dead persons were identified as Alamzeb, a banker from Landi Arbab, a passer-by Hussain and Manzoor Hussain from Mashogagar village.The dead reportedly included three security personnel and two women who were said to be mother and daughter.

The bodies of the fallen soldiers and wounded security personnel were shifted to the nearby Combined Military Hospital.The civilians were taken to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) where officials said they had received two bodies while six persons succumbed to their injuries there. They said around 20 people were being treated at the LRH.

Some of the injured were identified as Owais Khan, Amir Nisar, Samiullah, Zahir, Muhammad Arshad, Irfanullah, Jahandad, Rahman Saeed and Shah Khalid.

The explosion also damaged several vehicles and smashed windowpanes of the nearby shops and offices. The blast site is hardly 100 metres from the FC headquarters.The office and residence of the corps commander of Peshawar and the Consulate General of the United States are also situated at the same distance from the blast site.

There were some unconfirmed reports that the bomber was carrying a rocket-launcher, but the police authorities didn’t agree. “No evidence was found that the bomber was carrying a rocket launcher,” SHO Arshad Khan said.

Abdul Majeed Marwat, a senior police officer, previously headed the Peshawar Capital City Police when the then capital city police officer Malik Muhammad Saad was killed in a suicide attack in Dhaki Daalgaran near Qissa Khawani on January 27, 2007.

Marwat also headed the investigation wing as the additional inspector general and led different wings and regions of the police force as deputy inspector general.

Former FC Commandant Safwat Ghayur was killed in a suicide attack on his car near the FC headquarters on August 4, 2010. The FC has lost a large number of its men in attacks in Peshawar and other parts of Pakistan, including the tribal areas, during the last few years. Over 80 FC recruits and other men were killed in twin blasts outside the FC training centre in Shabqadar on May 13, 2011.

Our correspondent/agencies add: President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Engineer Shaukatullah, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and provincial president of the party Afrasiab Khattak strongly condemned the suicide attack on the FC convoy that claimed 12 lives.

In their separate statements, they said such acts of terrorism could not deter the resolve of the people of Pakistan to eliminate the menace. They prayed that Almighty Allah rest the departed souls in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved families to bear the loss with equanimity.

Charitable work never to be used for politics

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LAHORE – Former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that no society can truly make progress without fully integrating the special persons in the system.
He said this while during his visit to the Oasis School, Pakistan’s first fully equipped school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) and with special needs on Friday.
The former CM said his family never used charity projects as a means to attain political mileage as the family firmly believes it unfair to do so.
Shahbaz said when he took over, the budget for Special Education was extremely low but in the last five years, the PML– N government not only made substantial raise in the budget but also inducted more teachers in the institutions for special education and ensured proper transportation service to cater to the needs of these children.
He also encouraged the people to contribute resources and give time to the education of special children across Pakistan. He lauded the efforts of the Oasis School CEO Ayesha Haroon for running a visionary institute to help make special children constructive citizens of the society.

Nawaz shocked over attack on FC convoy

LAHORE : PML-N President Nawaz Sharif has condemned the terrorist attack on the FC convoy in Peshawar which resulted into deaths of 12 people. Nawaz Sharif stated Friday that the whole nation needs to get united to root out terrorism in the country. He prayed may Allah Almighty rest the souls of the deceased in eternal peace and grant strength to their families to bear this loss.

Shahbaz for special persons rehabilitation

Former CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif said that no society can truly progress without fully integrating the special persons into the system.

He made the comments while visiting school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) and with special needs on Friday. Shahbaz added that the Sharif family never used charity projects for political mileage as the family firmly believed that it was unfair to do so and it hurt the charity work. Shahbaz said that when he took over, the budget for Special Education was extremely low but in the last five years, the PML-N government not only improved the budget but hired more teachers for special education and ensured proper transportation service for the special children so they could attend school.

Meanwhile, Ijazul Haq, chief of his own party PML-Zia, Friday called on Shahbaz Sharif at Raiwind and discussed with him political situation.