Bollywood veteran actor Om Puri dies of heart attack

Indian actor Om Puri has passed away after a massive heart attack in Mumbai early this morning, Indian Express reported. He was 66.

His close friend, filmmaker Ashoke Pandit, was the first to announce his passing on Twitter:

According to Times of India, Puri returned home last evening after a shoot and didn’t answer his door bell in the morning. His driver then raised an alarm. Puri’s body was taken to Cooper hospital for postmortem.

His funeral will take place at 6pm, according to a tweet by his colleague and friend Shabana Azmi:

Puri was a veteran of Bollywood cinema and also appeared in Pakistani film Actor In Law last year. He visited Pakistan frequently, being an ardent supporter of Pak-India cultural collaborations and was a regular fixture on the film and literary festival circuit in Pakistan.

Also read: Pakistanis pamper me and everyone wants to take a selfie: Om Puri on filming in Pakistan

He said of his experience of filming Actor In Law in Pakistan, “I really like working in Pakistan, because I’m pampered a lot here. I keep responding to people’s salaams from morning to night. So many people want to throw me a dinner party at their house. And everyone wants a selfie.”

He continued, “I’ve known Pakistanis abroad for about 20 years. I have always received love from them, so much so that it’s hard to believe that there are conflicts between our two countries. I pray that we find our way to peace and both countries work towards progress, friendship and trade.”

Puri also played several Pakistani characters in British and Hollywood films, from the iconic role of George Khan in British dramedies East is East and West is West to President Zia-ul-Haq in Charlie Wilson’s War.

He was last seen in Manoj Sharma’s Yeh Hai Lollipop.

Members of the Bollywood fraternity took to Twitter to mourn his loss:

Rest in peace, Om Pur

Govt plans 10-paisa per unit surcharge to cover Neelum-Jhelum cost overruns

ISLAMABAD: The government is expected to impose 10-paisa per unit surcharge for all electricity consumers for at least 18 months to finance cost overruns of Rs500 billion Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project and extend Rs3 per unit reduction in power tariff for industrial consumers for six months.

A senior government official told Dawn on Thursday that a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has been called on Friday to approve two proposals moved by the Ministry of Water and Power following green signalled by the Prime Minister Office.

The official said the 10-paisa per unit surcharge was originally imposed in 2007 when the Neelum-Jhelum project cost was approved at Rs130bn with a sunset clause of Dec 31, 2015. It was envisaged that half of the financing would be generated through this surcharge on every unit of electricity sold to consumers in eight years.

Tariff cut for industry to be extended for six months

The cost of 969-megawatt run of the river project in Azad Kashmir kept on increasing with latest estimates at Rs500bn for targeted completion in 2018. The 10-paisa per unit surcharge was extended for one year up to Dec 31, 2016 when the total cost was approved at Rs404bn early last year. So far, the surcharge contributed about Rs70bn.

However, the power ministry has now proposed to continue with the surcharge until June 2018 when the project may come into production. It expects additional revenue generation of about Rs15-18bn in 18 months, the official said.

The official said the cost estimates for the Neelum-Jhelum project had been jacked up four times since 2002 when the plant was projected to be completed at a cost of Rs84.5bn and was revised to Rs277.5bn in 2012 to accommodate changes in design and geography caused by 2008 earthquake. This was followed by revised cost approval of Rs404bn in 2015 then Rs500bn now.

As a result, the per unit cost of the project which was originally estimated at about Rs3-4 per unit is now being worked out at Rs12-13 per unit, the official explained. The 10-paisa surcharge is not applicable to consumers of K-Electric.

The project, located near Muzaffarabad in Azad Kashmir, was awarded to Chinese contractors in December 2007 and involved diversion of Neelum River waters to Jhelum river through a cumulative tunnel of about 68 kilometres.

The government is currently charging about Rs2.5 per unit of different surcharges on electricity rates over and above approved by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) to cover inefficiencies in the system on account of debt servicing, late payments and tariff equalisation across the country etc.

To go beyond 87pc physical progress without financial closure — a prerequisite for any project to begin with —makes the strategic initiative, which is also meant to establish Pakistan’s rights on the Jhelum waters, a rare venture.

The PML-N government was expecting the first unit of the project to become operational by July 2017, followed by subsequent units every quarter, to reach 100pc operation by January 2018, in accordance with the agreement signed with the Chinese contractor in December 2007. Work started in May 2009 and was to be completed in eight years.

The project is now expected to bring its first unit to operations at the end of February 2018 and the other three before the start of next summer, extending the completion date by seven months. The full capacity will be available for use by May 2018.

TARIFF CUT FOR INDUSTRY: The ministry has also sought extension of Rs3 per unit reduction in industrial tariff announced by the prime minister in January last year for another six months i.e. June 2017. However, this lower tariff mostly goes against the industrial consumers because they are kept outside the purview of monthly fuel based tariff cuts.

Apex committee resolves to ‘choke’ terror funding in Punjab

LAHORE: The Punjab Apex Committee which met here on Thursday decided to ban all means of funding to extremist organisations.

The first meeting of 2017 chaired by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif reviewed during four-hour marathon deliberations progress on the steps being taken to eliminate terrorism, extremism and sectarianism in the province under the National Action Plan (NAP).

The participants included National Security Adviser retired Gen Nasser Janjua, Lahore Corps Commander Lt-Gen Sadiq Ali, Punjab Rangers Director General Maj-Gen Umar Farooque Barki, GOC 10 Division Maj-Gen Sardar Tariq Aman, Chief Secretary Zahid Saeed, Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Sukhera, Home Secretary Azam Suleman, National Security Division Secretary Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui and senior military and civilian officers.

They agreed to launch an indiscriminate crackdown on the elements providing financial support to the terrorists and their facilitators and close down all sources of financial aid to them. They also decided to take more coordinated and effective steps for elimination of terrorism, extremism and sectarianism under NAP.

The meeting resolved to adopt a zero-tolerance policy against those involved in printing and distribution of literature based on religious hatred and ensuring implementation of the ban on provocative speeches.

Similarly, violation of the Amplifier Act would not be tolerated and those spreading terrorism, extremism, and sectarianism through social media would also be taken to task, the meeting resolved.

The participants also agreed on strict monitoring of entry and exit points of the province.

A handout said the meeting was satisfied with the steps so far taken under NAP and it was resolved that efforts would be continued to uproot terrorism, extremism and sectarianism from the province.

The meeting also lauded the success of operations carried out by the Punjab government and law-enforcement agencies against terrorists and their facilitators. It paid tributes to the sacrifices rendered by the officers and jawans of Pak Army, officers and officials of the Punjab police and other departments.

The chief minister said Punjab was the first province where ‘Safe City Project’ had become operational and geo-tagging of seminaries, mosques and other worship places had been completed.

Earlier, the corps commander met the chief minister and discussed the steps being taken in connection with NAP.

10 MNAs get notices for filing unclear statements

ISLAMABAD: The Election Com­mission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued notices to 10 members of the National Assembly for submitting ambiguous statements detailing their assets and liabilities.

These were the first 10 documents that the ECP had examined in line with its decision to scrutinise statements of assets and liabilities, a public document submitted by lawmakers for the financial year 2015-2016, ECP Additional Secretary Fida Muhammad told journalists on Thursday. Inconsistencies had been found in all 10 forms examined so far, he said.

Notices have been issued to Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Hamid ul Haq, Sajid Nawaz, Gul Zar Khan, Imran Khattak, Siraj Muhammad Khan, Muhammad Gohar Shah, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Ali Muhammad Khan and Mujahid Ali — MNAs elected from NA-1 to NA-10 respectively.

Mr Fida said they had begun the process by examining statements submitted by MNAs, and statements submitted by senators would be audited next, followed by members of provincial assemblies. The process was expected to be completed by June. He said the MNAs who had received notices would be required to present explanatory statements as soon as possible and would be issued reminders if they failed to provide them in the next two weeks.

Discrepancies found in all statements of assets and liabilities examined so far

Without naming Awami National Party’s Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Mr Fida said an MNA had declared the value of his car to be around Rs0.9 million, without mentioning its make and model for years.

Similarly, some lawmakers had given details of assets owned by their dependants at the time of submitting nomination forms; however, the information was missing from their annual statements of assets and liabilities.

He indicated that the assets of one of the 10 lawmakers had risen steadily during the months after the elections. Without naming Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Ali Muhammad Khan, who was elected from NA-10, Mr Fida said the assets he had declared when he submitted his nomination papers had multiplied by millions of rupees a few months after the election when he submitted his annual statement of assets.

The ECP additional secretary said a majority of lawmakers had not filled out their forms carefully and most of the forms had discrepancies and missing information.

In response to a question about a proposed electoral reform which seeks to replace the annual statements of assets and liabilities with a wealth tax form, he said if the relevant law was passed, the ECP would scrutinise the new form.

He explained that a four-member team was working on examining the statements and that the pace of scrutinising them would pick up in the coming days. Statements detailing assets for three years were being compared for analysis.

According to the procedure, the statements audited each week, along with the discrepancies and recommended action will be placed before the ECP for further directions.

Mr Fida said the first analysis report of 10 MNAs from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the recommendation of issuing notices to them for explanations had been approved by the ECP.

Imran advises Qatari prince not to appear in SC

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan said on Thursday that Qatar’s former prime minister Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al Thani would be jailed if he appeared before the Supreme Court (SC) to authenticate the letter he had sent to rescue Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Panamagate.

“If the Qatari prince doesn’t want to go to prison, he should not come to Pakistan,” he said at a press conference at his residence in Banigala.

Mr Khan asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to submit evidence if he was not involved in money laundering and had sent money abroad through legal channels to purchase properties in London.

He said that the letter of the Qatari prince had proved to be false as the prime minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz was the owner of the London property.

“The Qatari Prince’s letter is false, I don’t know which prince will come to their defence next,” the PTI chief said.

He alleged that Nawaz Sharif was involved in money laundering since he had transferred money abroad through illegal channels and established overseas companies in the name of his children. “Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s affidavit is a documentary evidence of Nawaz Sharif’s money laundering.”

He said that the government had been trying to hide the Sharif family’s corruption for the past eight months and “the entire (federal) cabinet is on their toes in an attempt to hide the prime minister’s corruption”.

Mr Khan said that the Sharif family had been categorically identified in the Panama Papers’ revelations and it was issuing contradictory statements ever since the Panama Leaks came to the fore. “If the Panama Papers were wrong why the Sharifs have not moved court against the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists,” he asked.

In a democratic system, Mr Khan said, the opposition was not responsible for providing evidence for identification of illegal acts whereas the government had to respond to questions raised by the opposition.

He said that Maryam Nawaz had claimed that no overseas assets were in her family’s name but the documents submitted to the court on Wednesday had proved otherwise.