Govt restores Hub coal power project capacity after ‘Chinese firm objected’

ISLAMABAD: The government has restored the capacity of a coal-fired power project in Hub, Balochistan, to 1,320 megawatts after the Chinese company that was developing the project reportedly took up the matter at the highest level.

On Wednesday, the government signed an implementation and power-purchase agreements with two Chinese and local companies for setting up of two coal-based power projects in Hub and Thar with a cumulative generation capacity of 1,650MW. The projects are targeted to come on line in August 2019.

The 1,320MW Hub power project, to be run on imported coal, is being developed by a consortium of Hub Power Company and China Power International Holding Company at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion. The 330MW Thar project is being developed by Thar Energy Ltd of Hub Power Company and will use local coal.

In November, a meeting of the Private Power and Infrastructure Board presided over by Minister of Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif scaled down the 1,320MW plant to 660MW as part of the overall decision to contain power plants based on imported fuels.

However, the Chinese side took up the matter at the highest level and followed it up at the sixth Joint Cooperation Committee meeting of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Beijing (CPEC) in December.

The Chinese side is reported to have told Pakistan that commercial viability of the Hub power project on supercritical technology was possible only with 1,320MW for which it had also been given tariff by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) on the request of the government of Pakistan.

It also said the negotiations and processing of the project started in November 2014 pertained to 1,320MW for which financial arrangements had also been ensured and its unilateral reduction to 660MW at an advanced stage was unacceptable.

The Wednesday’s signing ceremony was again supervised by Mr Asif and Secretary Power Mohammad Younas Dagha.

Mr Asif termed these agreements as the achievement of an important milestone under energy framework of the CPEC. He said the construction work on site of the Hub project has already been started and the project would be completed in August 2019 with first to be synchronised with national grid by December 2018.

He said the establishment of these two projects was a clear negation of notion that the power projects had been concentrated in a single province, as these projects were being built in Sindh and Balochistan provinces.

This will have a very good social and economic impact on people of these provinces. He said the completion of these projects would be followed by more and Thar would become the “energy capital of Pakistan”.

He added that the “environment-friendly” Hub project will use supercritical technology, whereas the Thar project will use subcritical technology.

Asked why subcritical technology was being used in Thar, he said it was a pilot project the technology will be upgraded with the passage of time.

The minister said that after overhauling of the Nandipur Power Plant, the plant continuously transmitted 230MW to the national grid in first two weeks of this month. For the last one week, it is generating with full capacity of 430MW. He added said that six furnace oil treatment plants have been installed at the plant to remove its past shortcomings. Moreover, the gas supply to the plant would also be ensured by May 2017 so that it could generate 525MW.

The minister said the process of land acquisition for Diamer-Bhasha dam had been mostly completed and a small part was still being acquired. He said the groundbreaking of the project would be performed this year.

Australia thrash Pakistan in 5th ODI with highest-ever total at Adelaide

Australia thrashed Pakistan, winning the fifth and final One Day International (ODI) at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday with a 57-run lead.

Australia piled on the runs, setting an unassailable target of 369/7 for Pakistan ─ the home team’s highest score at the venue ─ thanks to a record opening partnership of 284 between David Warner and Travis Head.

Pakistan was bowled out for 312 at 49.1 overs.

Despite Pakistan’s loss, the green shirts received praise for scoring above 300 in chase of the Australian target. The team’s 312 is the sixth-highest ever at the Adelaide Oval.

Babar Azam scored 100 and Sharjeel Khan a quickfire 79, but the home side were always in control and celebrated Australia Day in style with a convincing win.

Sharjeel Khan has smashed three half centuries this series, the highest for Pakistan in any bilateral series against Australia, according to ESPN Cricinfo.

Warner and Head earlier got Australia away to a superb start, with Warner particularly damaging as he smashed the Pakistan attack to all parts of the ground.

Warner blasted 179 and Head 128 on their way to an opening stand of 284, a new Australian record for any wicket in ODIs.

Both batsmen made their highest scores in one-day internationals, with Head also recording his maiden international century.

After losing the toss and being asked to bowl first, the Pakistanis almost got the perfect start when Mohammad Amir enticed an edge from Warner with his first ball.

But a diving Azhar Ali at first slip couldn’t hold onto a difficult chance and Warner was soon in full flight.

He brought up his 50 from 34 balls and his 100 from 78 including 11 fours and two massive sixes. His 150 came from only 107 deliveries with 17 boundaries and three sixes.

Head was far more circumspect but once the ball stopped swinging after just four overs, he began to look more and more comfortable.

On a flat pitch that offered nothing to the bowlers, the Australians were untroubled until Warner began to cramp, restricting his movements.

Warner eventually fell when he swatted a short ball from Junaid Khan to Babar at point with the score on 284.

Australia were headed for a score well over 400 when Warner and Head were in full flight but Pakistan fought back with some late wickets to restrict them to 369.

Pakistan’s chase started badly when Azhar fell leg before to Mitchell Starc for 10, but Sharjeel and Babar took up the attack and moved the score to 140 before the big hitting Sharjeel mistimed a pull shot and skied a catch to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.

Babar began to pick up the pace and reached 100 from 107 balls, however, soon after bringing up his fourth ODI century he holed out to Head at mid-on.

Shoaib Malik retired hurt when he was hit on the arm by a Pat Cummins short ball and despite a defiant 46 from Umar Akmal which took the visitors past 300 runs, Pakistan ultimately fell short.

Teams

Australia:

  • David Warner
  • Travis Head
  • Steve Smith (capt)
  • Usman Khawaja
  • Peter Handscomb
  • Glenn Maxwell
  • Matthew Wade
  • Mitchell Starc
  • Pat Cummins
  • Adam Zampa
  • Josh Hazlewood

Pakistan:

  • Azhar Ali (capt)
  • Sharjeel Khan
  • Babar Azam
  • Mohammad Hafeez
  • Shoaib Malik
  • Umar Akmal
  • Mohammad Rizwan
  • Mohammad Amir
  • Wahab Riaz
  • Junaid Khan
  • Hasan Ali

Trump signs order to start Mexico border wall project

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed the order to start the Mexico border wall project and is also expected to sign measures targeting US “sanctuary” cities, where local officials refuse to help round up people for deportation.

Stemming immigration was a central plank of Trump’s election campaign. His signature policy prescription was to build a wall across the 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico.

Some of the border is already fenced, but Trump says a wall is needed to stop illegal immigrants entering from Latin America.

In 2014, there were an estimated 5.8 million unauthorised Mexican migrants in the United States, according to Pew, with fewer arriving each year.

Experts have voiced doubts about whether a wall would actually stem illegal immigration, or if it is worth the billions it would be expected to cost.

But the policy has become a clarion call for the US right and far-right — the core of Trump’s support.

Still, any action from the White House would be piecemeal, diverting only existing funds toward the project. The Republican-controlled Congress would need to supply new money if the wall is to be anywhere near completed, and Trump’s party has spent the last decade preaching fiscal prudence.

Furthermore, much of the land needed to build the wall is privately owned, implying lengthy legal proceedings, political blowback, and substantial expropriation payments.

A Morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday said 47 per cent of voters support building a wall, with 45pc against.

Make Mexico pay?

Trump again promised “100 percent” to make Mexico pay for the wall Wednesday, something that the Mexican government has repeatedly said it will not do.

“Ultimately it will come out of what’s happening with Mexico, we’re going to be starting those negotiations relatively soon. And we will be, in a form, reimbursed by Mexico,” he told ABC.

“All it is, is we will be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we’ll make from Mexico.”

“I’m just telling you, there will be a payment, it will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form. What I’m doing is good for the United States, it’s also going to be good for Mexico. We want to have a very stable, very solid Mexico”

Trump aides have weighed hiking border tariffs or border transit costs as one way to “make Mexico pay.”

Another threat is to finance the wall by tapping into remittances that Mexican migrants sent home, which last year amounted to $25 billion.

Mexico’s foreign minister Luis Videgaray and the country’s economy minister are currently in Washington to prepare a visit by President Enrique Pena Nieto scheduled for January 31.

“There are very clear red lines that must be drawn from the start,” Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told the Televisa network in Mexico just ahead of the trip.

Asked whether his country would walk away from talks if the wall and remittances are an issue, Guajardo said: “Absolutely.”

Trump also wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada, warning last week that he would abandon the pact unless the United States gets “a fair deal.”

Mexico has said it is willing to “modernize” the pact, which came into force in 1994 and represents $531 billion in annual trade between Mexico and the United States.

Some 80pc of Mexico’s exports go to the US market.

Ban on Muslims?

Trump has also floated the idea of a ban on Muslims coming to the United States.

Trump this week is set to slash the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States, according to the New York Times, particularly from Syria and other Muslim-majority countries.

Around 4.8 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries alone, according to the United Nations. An estimated 18,000 Syrians have come to the United States.

Former officials said Trump could slow the flow down by moving resources away from processing visa requests, or cutting migrant quotas and programs.

The orders would restrict immigration and access to the United States for refugees and visa holders from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, according to the Washington Post.

Citizens from those countries already face large obstacles in obtaining US visas.

But the move has prompted a fierce backlash even before it was announced.

“A ban on refugees would not make America safer,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr of Cornell Law.

“Refugees from Syria already go through a 21-step screening process that takes 18-24 months.”

The head of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services told Congress in September 2016 that not a single act of actual terrorist violence has been committed by a refugee since 9/11.

Govt starts deliberations to eliminate terms of ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’ from Article 62, 63

The government has started deliberations on Wednesday to reshape Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution that deals with eligibility and disqualification of parliamentarians, it has been learnt.

State Minister on Information Technology and Telecommunication Anusha Rehman told reporters that the sub-committee on electoral reforms, headed by Zahid Hamid, in its meeting at the parliament house in Islamabad, started discussions on the Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

She said that political parties have submitted their suggestions on the issue. The state minister added that the committee was deliberating on restoring the Articles 62 and 63 into their original forms as per the Constitution of 1973, further amending the Articles or to keep them as they are.

“In its initial form, the Articles 62 and 63 of the 1973’s Constitution had not made it mandatory for a legislator to be ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’. Later, in the tenure of Ziaul Haq, the terms were made part of the Articles. So, if the Articles were reshaped to their original form, legislators could not be prosecuted for not being ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’,” she said.

The committee also discussed the format of Senate elections and agreed to keep dual nationals out of the Senate. It also considered the suggestion that Senators be selected, instead of elected.

If the suggestion is approved, political parties would submit respective priority lists of senators, on the pattern of special seats, before the Election Commission of Pakistan and the commission would announce the selection of senators as per the lists, provided by political parties.

The minister further said that the committee would take Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani and senate secretariat onboard in connection with the issue.

The subcommittee was formed by the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms, headed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

Echo of Articles 62 and 63 in SC

The applicability of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has largely been discussed in connection with the Panamagate case, being heard in the country’s top court.

Petitioners in the case wanted the Supreme Court to dislodge the prime minister under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, where as the premier’s lawyers argued that the Articles need scrutiny and that disqualification of the premier under these Articles is not possible.

Review of Scotland Yard’s decision to drop Altaf case sought

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has sought a review of the Scotland Yard’s decision of dropping the money laundering case against Mutta­hida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain.

An informed source told Dawn that the interior ministry had written a letter to the UK authorities, asking them to reconsider the decision on the basis of evidence provided by Pakistan, in view of the sensitive matters of security and law and order.

He said the ministry had expressed concern over the decision to wrap up the money laundering case against Mr Hussain.

The letter stated that it was imperative for making headway in cases against Altaf Hussain in Pakistan that the United Kingdom shared evidence with it.

The cases against Mr Hussain, senior MQM leader Mohammad Anwar and businessman Sarfaraz Merchant were dropped by the Metropolitan Police in October last year for lack of evidence.

The London Metropolitan Police Service had on Oct 13, following a detailed evidential review and upon receipt of legal advice, taken the decision to withdraw their application in a civil case under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 for the forfeiture of over £500,000 in cash.