CDWP Approves 38 Projects Costing Rs. 244.5 Billion

CDWP meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning, Development & Reform. The meeting considered 42 development projects and approved 38 of them costing Rs. 244.5 billion with Foreign Exchange Component of Rs. 68 billion covering Energy, Water Resources, Education, Governance, Science & Technology, Social Welfare and Agriculture sectors.

Prof. Ahsan Iqbal directed that all project proposals should be put up on website for scrutiny by experts and citizens to bring transparency in development programmes. He directed Ministry of Water & Power, and Chairman WAPDA to set up Expert Advisory Group for helping provinces to prepare small hydro power projects. He asked Ministry of Water & Power to expedite investment policy for private sector to invest in small hydro power projects, as the availability of fund in public sector is limited and constrained. Therefore, we must promote private sector in energy sector. If there is pro-private sector policy, we may harness more than 30000 MW by developing small dams in Northern Areas of Pakistan. He directed the NCHD to develop key performance indicator in development to achieve universal primary education, as achieving 100% literacy is critical for Pakistan’s future. He said, in the past, we have ignored human and social capital and today are paying a big price for this mistake. Knowledge, energy and infrastructure sectors are critical for our future development. He directed Ministry of Planning, Development & Reform to ensure discipline in project management and a committee was formed with representatives of all provinces, AJ&K and Gilgit Baltistan to make recommendations on eliminating wastage in development projects and streamlining the procedure in developing sector.

Pakistan China Economic Corridor feasibility study for rail track to connect Gwadar to Karachi through 700 km, rail track from Gwadar to Basima and Basima to Jacobabad via Khuzdar measuring 1048 km were approved. Feasibility study for new rail from Havelian to Pak.China border was also approved. Feasibility study for Karachi – Lahore 1160 km motorway,  and Muzaffarabad-Mirpur-Mangla N-5 express way were also approved. A project costing Rs.400 million to upgrade Larkana Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Radiotherapy (LINAR) was also approved. Project costing Rs. 880 million for construction of Abbas Institute of Medical Science, Muzaffarabad AJ&K (Phase-II) was also approved. Three (03) projects for construction of Barracks for Gilgit Baltistan Scouts were approved. In water resources, project feasibility study of small dams in KPK costing Rs.128 million, Chao Tangi Small Dam in South Waziristan Agency (FATA) costing Rs.798 million, construction of Palai & Kundal Dam District Charsadda, KPK costing Rs. 999 million, flood protection on river Chenab  at Muzaffargarh-Khangarh Bund costing Rs. 395 million, feasibility study for construction of Bhimber Dam project, AJ&K with the cost of Rs. 86 million, Construction of Shadi Kaur Storage Dam with cost of Rs. over 6 million, Revised Project of Kachhi Canal costing 57 billion rupees which will irrigate 100,000 acres of land in Dera Bugti were approved. In energy sector, Harpo Hydro Power Project costing Rs. 11.6 billion, Dubair Khawar Hydro Power Project costing Rs.27 billion, Distribution Rehabilitation Energy Loss Reduction Project (ELR) of PESCO with the cost of Rs. 7.8 billion, Power Distribution Expansion (DOP) of PESCO, Rs. 17 billion Land Acquisition Project for Dasu Hydro Power Project, establishment of Hydro Power Training Institute (HPTI) at Mangla costing Rs. 568 million, Refurbishment and Up-gradation of generating units of Mangla Power Station enhancing the capacity from 1000 MW to 1310 MW costing Rs. 50 billion, Power Distribution Enhancement Investment Programme LESCO, GEPCO, PESCO, IESCO, FESCO & HESCO over 160 million dollars, Construction of 35 MW Nagdar Hydro Power Project costing Rs.7 billion, construction of Dowarian Hydro Power Project Neelum Valley were approved. Project for establishment of Federal Government College of Home Economics, Management Sciences, and a. project for improving Human Development Indicators and literacy through NCHD for Rs.13 billion were also approved. Project to improve agriculture growth in Sindh costing Rs. 9 billion and project of Nutrition Support for Sindh with the cost of Rs.4 billion were also approved by the CDWP.

PM accorded warm welcome on arrival in Kabul

KABUL, Nov 30 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif received warm welcome as he landed here Saturday on a day-long visit to Afghanistan. The Prime Minister is visiting Afghanistan on the invitation of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. He is accompanied by Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, Member National Assembly and Chairman Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Mahmood Khan Achakzai and other officials.Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be meeting Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The two leaders will hold in-depth consultations on all issues of common interest, including the evolving situation in the region and ways to further deepen and broaden Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations in all dimensions.The Prime Minister will also meet a delegation of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, led by its Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani.

(Courtesy: APP)

Pak-China economic to boost economic activity: President

ISLAMABAD, Nov 29 (APP): President Mamnoon Hussain on Friday said the Pak-China Economic corridor project would help generate immense economic activity and usher in a new era of progress and prosperity for the people of both countries.The President was talking to a Chinese parliamentary delegation led by Ms. Shen Yueyue, Vice Chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Aiwan-e-Sadr here.President Mamnoon expressed hope that the visit of parliamentary delegation would help further strengthen Pak-China bilateral ties besides promoting parliament-to-parliament and people-to-people contacts between the two countries.
He said the parliamentarians from both the countries have a critical role to play in realization of the goals of friendship and urged for increased interaction of the parliamentarians,businessmen, youth and intellectuals to share views and learn from each others’ experiences.
Commenting on the Sino-Pak time-tested friendship, the President said that these are solidly anchored on convergence of strategic interests, strong mutual trust and are driven by an abiding interest in progress and prosperity of each other as well as promotion of peace and stability in the region.
The President said Pakistan was keen to learn from the Chinese economic and development miracle and benefit from its expertise in diverse areas including energy, irrigation, agriculture, communications and commerce and trade.
President Mamnoon appreciated the strong support and assistance of the government and people of China in Pakistan’s socio-economic development.
He expressed hope that it would continue to the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries.
President Mamnoon welcomed the Chinese parliamentary delegation and said that frequent exchange of high level visits was a manifestation of deep rooted and time tested bonds of friendship between two countries.
Ms. Shen Yueyue,  Vice Chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) said the government and people of China greatly value its all weather and time tested friendship with Pakistan and desire to see a more stable and prosperous Pakistan.
She said that bilateral partnership had gained strength due to the commitment of political leadership of both the countries.
She thanked the President and government of Pakistan for the warm welcome and hospitality to her and the accompanying delegation and expressed hope that the frequent exchange of parliamentary delegations between the two countries would provide new impetus to the existing strong strategic partnership between Pakistan and China.
The delegation included Huang Huahua, Member of the Standing Committee of NPC, Cong Bin, Member of the Standing Committee of NPC, Wang Jinliang, Deputy Secretary-General, NPC, Yang Ruiguang, Deputy Director-General of the Foreign Affairs Bureau of the General Office of the Standing Committee, NPC, Liu Jinglei, Secretary to Shen Yueyue and other high officials of the Chinese embassy.  Ambassador of China to Pakistan Sun Weidong was also present.
From Pakistan side, those present in the meeting included Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Deputy Speaker National Assembly, Rana M. Afzal. Khan, MNA/Convener Pakistan China Parliamentary Friendship Group, Imran Zafar Leghari, MNA, Syed Ghazi Gulab Jamal, MNA, Karamat Hussain Niazi, Secretary National Assembly , Murad Ali, Special Secretary, MOFA, Ahmad Farooq, Acting Secretary to the President and Ms. Saba Mohsin Raza, Press Secretary to the President.
(Courtesy: APP)

Govt committed to resolve missing persons issue: Defence Minister

KARACHI, Nov 28 (APP): Federal Minister for Water and Power, Defence, Khawaja Muhammad Asif Thursday said that the Government is committed to resolve the missing persons issue as per law and the Constitution. Speaking to the heirs of missing persons of Balochistan at their protest camp outside Karachi Press Club here, he hoped that the issue would be resolved soon.Khawaja Asif said that he would talk to the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of Balochistan to resolve the issue and hoped that it would be resolved before December 10. Referring to the missing persons issue, he said that they should be produced before the concerned courts for prosecution of their alleged crimes by the authorities. The heirs of the missing persons apprised the Federal Minister about their sufferings due to missing of their dear ones. (Courtesy: APP)

PM sets up Business Advisory Council; announces Business Reforms Package

ISLAMABAD, Nov 28 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Thursday announced to establish PM Business Advisory Council besides unveiling a comprehensive reforms package to encourage business and investment opportunities in the country. Addressing a gathering of businessmen and industrialists here at the Prime Minister’s Office, the Prime Minister said he would also establish an Advisory Council exclusively to deal with the issues confronting the agriculture sector of the country. He said the Business Advisory Council would meet quarterly to debate the issues and ideas to enhance business activity and attract foreign investment to the country. The Prime Minister also announced various incentives for the highest taxpayers of the country as well as those bringing themselves voluntarily under the tax net.
He said the government would issue Privilege Cards to 400 highest taxpayers to entitle them for VIP airport lounge, fast track clearance, gratis passport and baggage allowance worth $5,000.  Moreover, they would also be given excellence awards and he would also host a reception in their honor, the Prime Minister said.
He also announced the exemption from any investigation about the income sources for those who would invest in construction, livestock, captive power plants, Thar Coal and mining in Balochistan.
However, the industries including arms, explosives, fertilizers, sugar, cigarettes, beverages, spinning, flour, ghee and cooking oil would not be eligible to avail this offer.
The Prime Minister said anyone paying 25 percent more tax than the previous year would be given exemption from detailed audit and also extended the last date for filing of tax returns till December 15, 2013.
Prime Minister announced exemption from penalties, default surcharge and detailed audit for those bringing them themselves voluntarily under tax net as well as the first-time tax payers.
He told the gathering that the government has also exempted the tax payers from FBR’s access to bank accounts.Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said for availing these incentives, it was required that investment is made in Green Field Industrial roject after January 1, 2014. Under the scheme the minimum investment required as Rs 25 million and it should create at least five jobs.
Moreover, he said the immunity shall not be available to proceeds of crime relating to offences under the Narcotic Substances Act 1997, Anti Terrorist Act 1997 and Anti Money Laundering Act 2010.
He said top 100 taxpayers each would be issued taxpayers recognition card to CEOs’, main share-holders, salaried and non-salaried individuals.
He said the top 400 taxpayers would also be invited on March 23, August 14, and other state banquets on rotational basis, besides increase in baggage allowance from $500 to $ 5,500.
The Excellence Awards would be given to top 10 taxpayers in each category, he said.
Nawaz Sharif said in order to encourage individuals to file their tax returns, they would be declared immune from penalties, default surcharge and audit if income tax returns for the last five years or missing returns for the last five years are filed and minimum tax of Rs 20,000 per tax year is paid.
Moreover, he said the provincial governments will be engaged through the Inter-Provincial Coordination Division and Council of Common Interests to create ease of doing business by consolidating, rationalizing and minimizing the licensing, registration and inspection regimes. They will also facilitate setting up of Special Economic Zones by recommending cases to the federal government.
The provinces, he said would also be asked to facilitate contract enforcement by setting up commercial courts.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the country has rich investment potential, industrial base, and efficient entrepreneurs, but the dent caused by nationalization policy of 1972 damaged the sector when around 32 industries were nationalized.
He said had the country been keeping that momentum, the exports would have surged to $300 to $400 billion instead of current $25 billion.
He said Pakistan’s literacy and growth rate was one of the lowest in the world and even the countries with smaller population, such as Turkey and Thailand, export 10 to 15 times more than Pakistan.
He stressed the need to ponder as to why the country lagged behind and could not excel in economic sector as it did in defence sector.
The basic factor, he said was the frequent abrogation of the constitution, ousting of the judiciary and that the country had been witnessing one-man show that lacked consultation and collective wisdom.
He said owing to poor law and order situation, the investors were even reluctant to visit Pakistan and preferred to hold business meetings in Dubai, or in their own country.
He said besides security, the investors were sensitive about country’s judiciary to judge the future protection of their investment.
Discussing ongoing operation in Karachi, the Prime Minister said such action should have been launched in the year 2000; however, he assured to take this operation to logical end.
He said those fanning sectarianism through loudspeakers should be dealt with strictly as such people were the enemies of the religion as well as the country.
Nawaz Sharif said the government was willing to carry forward the dialogue process as decided by political forces because terrorism had inflicted huge loss to the economy, lives of security personnel and innocent citizens.
The government, he said, even wanted to resolve the long-standing issues with India through dialogue and recalled the visit of the then Indian prime minister to Pakistan during his previous tenure on his invitation.
The prime minister also hinted at making legislation to resolve the issue of dual nationality and said that depriving the dual nationals of their rights was tantamount to undermining their integrity.
Mentioning about government’s plan to link Kashgar with Gwadar, he said China had shown interest to establish economic zone in the area and the planned Economic Corridor would reduce cost and distance of the exports of nearby states.
He said instead of seeking aid, the government always asked for trade links with other countries. He said the government was planning to execute the power projects to cope with country’s needs till 2025 when the power needs would swell to 40,000 megawatts.
He said recently launched two civil nuclear power plants in Karachi would produce 1100 MW each and that negotiation with China was in process for execution of three power projects to generate 5100 MW.
(Courtesy: APP)

IP gas pipeline project to be materialised in one year: Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

ISLAMABAD, Nov 28 (APP): Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that Pakistan will find an opportunity to complete the proposed gas pipeline project within a year.Talking to a private news channel, Minister said, “I think trade restrictions will be lifted on Iran following agreement between Iran and world powers”.He said Pakistan has intensified its efforts to materialize Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. He said that it seems that situation is appropriate to materialize proposed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project following inking a deal on Tehran’s nuclear programme between Iran and world powers.
He said his meeting with Iranian counterpart is expected next month in this regard.
Prominent economist Iqbal Hamid Khan has also said that the Iran-Pakistan pipeline has become more significant in the present scenario.
He said that pipeline project can only be pursued if sanctions against Iran were lifted.
He said that the price at which Iran is going to sell gas to Pakistan is a little high, but the electricity generated from imported gas will help resolve shortage of electricity, besides reducing power tariff.
Iqbal Hamid Khan said that two-year period is required for completion of the project if work on it is started right now, inside Pakistan.
(Courtesy: APP)

CM announces financial aid for heirs of killed persons in encounter

FAISALABAD, Nov 27 (APP): Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has announced financial aid (compensation) of Rs 500,000 each for the heirs of two passersby including a woman who were killed in police encounter with dacoits near Saleemi Chowk at Sitiana Road. According to a handout issued here on Wednesday, financial aid will be given to the heirs of passersby Naeem Abbas resident of Mohalhah Sharifpura and a woman Nazia Saeed of Batala Colony. The chief minister also expressed sympathies with bereaved families and sorrow over the killing of citizens during encounter. Meanwhile, DCO Noor ul Amin Mengal said that each family member from both affected families of the deceased will also be recruited in government departments on the directions of CM Punjab.

Pakistan, Sri Lanka agree to enhance bilateral economic cooperation

ISLAMABAD, Nov 27 (APP): Pakistan and Sri Lanka on Wednesday agreed to enhance bilateral economic cooperation during the 11th Session of Sri Lanka – Pakistan Joint Economic Commission held in Colombo. Minister for Industries and Production, Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi represented Pakistan at the forum while Minister for Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka, Rishad Bathiudeen represented his country, according to a message received here from Colombo. Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi in his address on the occasion said that the newly elected government in Pakistan is very keen to strengthen economic relationship with the countries in the region and Sri Lanka is one of the most important neighbor in this context.
He hoped that deliberations of this Joint Economic Commission would prepare concrete and significant recommendations to advance further growth in various areas of mutual interests.
Pakistan is mindful of the fact that existing cordial and friendly relations between the two countries can be further translated into substantial economic and commercial cooperation, he added.
In his remarks, Rishad Bathiudeen said that Sri Lanka and Pakistan have been enjoining extremely cordial relations as Pakistan has been a very close and genuine friend of Sri Lanka.
He noted that both the countries are connected by deep rooted mutual cooperation, while sharing common views on many bilateral, regional and international issues.
Both the nations have always stood by each other, in much needed and difficult times, the minister added.
As a follow up to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s offer to assist Sri Lanka in sugar sector, Minister for Industries and Productions Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi called on the Sri Lankan Minister for Sugar Industry Development, Lakshaman Seneviratne.
The two ministers had detailed discussion about prospects of enhanced bilateral cooperation and agreed to collaborate closely in setting up sugar industries in Sri Lanka with the assistance of Pakistan.
The Pakistani side agreed to the Sri Lankan proposal for charting out and formalizing cooperation between the Sugar Research Institutes of the two countries with the signing of an MoU for cooperation.
In a separate development, Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi also called on Sri Lankan Minister for Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa in the afternoon.
The two sides discussed a whole gamut of issues to bolster economic ties between the two countries.
The Minister of Industries and Productions expressed appreciation on behalf of the government of Pakistan for the vision with which President Rajapaksa is developing Sri Lanka’s national economy.
Minister Basil Rajapaksa while thanking the support extended by Pakistan to Sri Lanka urged Pakistan government to explore the possibility of cooperation between the two countries in pharmaceutical sector.
He also expressed Sri Lankan government’s resolve to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries.
The Minister for Industries and Production also invited the Sri Lankan Minister for Economic Development to visit Pakistan which the Sri Lankan Minister accepted.

Khawaja Asif given additional charge of Defence Ministry, Pervaiz Rasheed of Law Ministry

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has given the additional charge of the Defence Ministry to Khawaja Asif.

Khawaja Asif also holds the portfolio of Minister for Water and Power.

The prime minister has also given the additional charge of the Law Ministry to Pervaiz Rasheed who is the country’s information minister.

The appointments coincided with those of Pakistan’s new Army Chief and Chairman Joints Chiefs of Staff Committee.

These portfolios had been held by Prime Minister Sharif and he still holds the portfolio for the Foreign Ministry.

(Courtesy: The News)

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appoints new Pak army Chief

Lt General Raheel Sharif, the third in terms of seniority, was appointed as Pakistan’s new army chief and the man tipped for the position of army chief, Lt General Rashad Mahmood was appointed to the largely ceremonial position of chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee, local media said on Wednesday.

Geo Television reported that Sharif, who hails from Lahore, was chosen by prime minister Nawaz Sharif from a list of four candidates sent to him by the outgoing army chief General Pervez Ashfaq Kayani.

Earlier, the favourite for the position was General Mahmood, who was the second senior most in the rankings and seen as the favourite of General Kayani.

General Raheel Sharif comes from a military family. Hailing from the Frontier Corps, Sharif’s elder brother – Shabbir Sharif was a recipient of Pakistan’s highest military award, the Nishan-e-Haider. He is also related to another war hero, Major Aziz Bhatti.

Sharif has worked extensively on countering India’s cold start doctrine with more sophisticated responses.

In a message on Twitter, the Pak prime minister confirmed the appointment at a time when tension continues with India over Kashmir and as the United States seeks Pakistan’s help in bringing peace to neighbour Afghanistan.

Sharif is seen as a moderate who views the militant threat inside Pakistan as just as important as the strategic tussle with India.

General Sharif will take over as head of the 600,000-strong army from General Ashfaq Kayani, who is retiring after six years at the helm.

The change of command comes with the country facing a daunting array of challenges — a homegrown Taliban insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives, vexed relations with India and the winding-down of the 12-year NATO mission in neighbouring Afghanistan.

“Sharif has played a big role in convincing the army that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and assorted militants inside Pakistan are as big a threat (as India),” a retired senior army officer who Sharif has served under told Reuters.

The TTP is a group of Islamist militants in the country’s lawless tribal areas next to Afghanistan. Sharif’s appointment came as somewhat of a surprise as three other men had been seen as leading candidates.

Sharif, whose elder brother won Pakistan’s highest military award for valour in the 1971 war with India, will formally take command on Thursday.

Departing commander Kayani has served as army chief since 2007 and has been given much credit for resisting the temptation to meddle overtly in politics.

When he confirmed his retirement last month he stressed that the armed forces “fully support and want to strengthen” democracy.

The general election in May marked a major landmark for Pakistani democracy as being the first time an elected government had completed its term and handed over power through the ballot box.

Nawaz, who made the appointment, will be hoping to avoid a repeat of events the last time he named an army chief — General Pervez Musharraf overthrew him in a coup in 1999.

There has been much debate about how to deal with the campaign of violence waged against the state by the Pakistani Taliban.

The government has said it wants to pursue peace talks, but some have argued that a military offensive is needed to clear militant hideouts in the tribal northwest.

Analyst Hasan Askari said he thought the new commmander would take an uncompromising approach.

“He belongs to a family of soldiers, his father was a martyr, his brother was honoured with the highest military award, so I expect he will go for the extremist groups and clear the tribal areas,” Askari told AFP.

“He has to secure the border with Afghanistan, so I think he will consult with his senior top brass officers and clear the troubled area along the Durand Line.”

The Durand Line is the official name for the Afghan-Pakistani border.

(With Reuters, AFP inputs)