PM met with MNA Tariq Fazal Chaudhry

Tariq Faza l ch.JPGMNA from Islamabad Mr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry met Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif at PM House today. Mr Tariq Fazl Chaudhry apprised the Prime Minister about major issues of Islamabad Capital Territory.The Prime Minister said that the welfare of people of Islamabad is part of our priority development agenda.

CPEC transparency

564c19596b0eaThe China-Pakistan Economic Corridor may be a genuine, transformational moment in the country’s history, but, as with so much else under the present government, there is far too much secrecy and far too little transparency when it comes to the execution of colossal infrastructure and energy projects.

The sense that the PML-N government appears to be treating the economic corridor projects as some kind of gift to the nation — from the Chinese via the PML-N government to the Pakistani people — has been re-emphasised by a special bicameral parliamentary committee on CPEC.

Committee chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain announced recently that the committee members will travel to Sindh and Balochistan at the end of the month to inspect for themselves the progress on CPEC-related projects — this after stinging criticism by opposition parties and a far from robust defence by government officials of the PML-N’s real intentions.

As ever, the crux of the matter remains whether or not the supposedly national CPEC will be used to disproportionately, and unfairly, benefit Punjab at the expense of the other provinces. It is a potentially explosive inter-provincial issue that refuses to go away — and the PML-N must largely be blamed for the continuing political controversy.

Why is the government so loath to share comprehensive and up-to-date details on all CPEC-related projects with the public? Government officials may claim that there is an avalanche of data available, but in fact it is an uneven drip, drip, drip of information.

For example, why cannot there be a government-run online portal listing the various projects, the sources of funding, the stages of completion and weekly updates to publicly and unequivocally demonstrate that CPEC projects are being pursued evenly and in a cost-effective manner.

In addition to political speculation about a Punjab bias, there are very real concerns about the costs that CPEC projects will impose on the state.

As a report in this newspaper on Monday emphasised, many of the projects are to be financed by Chinese loans to the federal government that will impose significant and long-lasting costs on the state. For every dollar that is received as aid or a grant from the Chinese, there appear to be many, many more dollars that will have to be repaid over many years, indeed decades.

Why are the accounting and the long-term costs not being made public by the federal government?

In addition to the issue of overall costs to the state, and therefore the taxpayer, there is the question about how much of the spending on CPEC projects will accrue to Chinese companies and not to Pakistani talent.

While the political and military leadership have rightly pledged absolute support for the safety and security of Chinese personnel working inside Pakistan, there appears to be very little consideration given to employment opportunities for Pakistani or encouraging private-sector investment.

Local employment and investment should be a central objective of the CPEC projects.

Pakistani doctor acquitted of molesting minor girl on US flight

CHICAGO: A US judge acquitted a Pakistani physician of all charges stemming from allegations he inappropriately touched a girl travelling alone on an American Airlines flight from New York City to Chicago.

Both Muhammad Asif Chaudhry, 57, and the school-aged girl took the stand during the two-day bench trial in Chicago.

Chaudhry testified that any contact there might have been was inadvertent.

Prosecutors alleged Chaudhry moved from his assigned seat to one near the Iowa girl, who was traveling in July on the airline’s unaccompanied-minor program.

She allegedly sent frantic text messages from the plane to her mother, explaining a man had touched her and that she couldn’t move because the seat belt light was on.

But US District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman said in announcing her decision Monday that prosecutors had failed to prove their case.

Chaudhry was acquitted of two counts of abusive sexual contact with a child between 12 and 16. Each count had carried a maximum two-year prison sentence.

Chaudhry, who had been in the US to visit acquaintances in Oklahoma, wasn’t jailed while awaiting trial but was required to hand over his passport after being charged earlier this year.

His Chicago-based attorney said Tuesday that Chaudhry now looks forward to returning home and resuming his life in Pakistan.

“He’s overwhelmingly relieved,” Andrea Gambino said. Prosecutors’ spokesman Joseph Fitzpatrick declined comment Tuesday on the case.

Deputy Secretary Defence, Chief of Joint Committee Staff General Dunford, Chief of Army Staff

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COAS General Raheel Sharif spent his day in Pentagon. Other than Secretary Defense, meetings held with Deputy Secretary Defense, Chief of Joint Committee Staff General Dunford, Chief of Army Staff General Milley, Commander Cent-Com General Austin.
Defense cooperation, strengthening military to military relations, regional security, need for enhanced coordination, increased training exchanges discussed.Later, CJCS General Dunford hosted special banquet in honor of Chief of Army Staff at Fort Myer. Amongst others attended by General Austin, General Milley.

PM performs groundbreaking of 1,223MW plant

BALLOKI (KASUR): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Tuesday that completion of three re-gasified power projects at what he called “unprecedented savings of Rs110 billion” would brighten up every home in the country.55dac75013cde

“If such determination, transparency and hard work were displayed in past, today’s Pakistan would have been quite different,” he said while addressing a ceremony here after performing the groundbreaking of the 1,223MW Balloki Power Plant.

The project would be completed in 2017. Its cost stands at $469,000 per MW with an efficiency of 61.63 per cent. Savings in its construction cost are Rs38.6 billion while annual savings achieved due to better efficiency would be Rs5.8 billion.

The prime minister said the federal and Punjab governments were implementing these projects for which a huge sum of Rs300 billion had been allocated in the public sector development programme.

He mentioned the trickle down effects of development projects and said the wheel of industry would move on and the low cost of power would boost production and end unemployment.

The construction work on various coal-fired projects is also under way. The interest rate has been slashed to 5 to 6 per cent, contrary to staggering 18 per cent in the past.

Mr Sharif said people were now getting loans from banks while there was a major reduction in government’s borrowing from banks. The inflation rate had been brought down while the foreign currency reserves had swelled. These facts are being mentioned by international rating companies.

Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Mohammad Asif, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali, Punjab Governor Rafiq Rajwana and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also attended the ceremony.

The prime minister said farmers in the country were burdened by the rise in international input prices and decline in production and, therefore, a Rs341 billion relief package for farmers had been launched.

Under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a number of important development projects were under way across the country.

In hydel projects, he said, Dasu and Diamer Bhasha dams would be completed soon. The Bhasha Dam for which the government had already released Rs100 billion for land acquisition, would become a lifeline power project for the country.

About construction of new road networks, he said, Balloki would be linked with the motorway and the Lahore-Multan road would be constructed on new alignment running up to Karachi.

He highlighted the significance of road networks linking Kasur-Gojra to Sumandri and Khanewal and Sukkur, Hyderabad and Karachi.