‘Aman-17’ naval exercise kicks off in Karachi

The multinational ‘Aman-17’ naval exercise kicked off in Karachi Friday morning with 37 countries, including Pakistan, taking part in the event.

Nine of the visitors — Australia, China, Indonesia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan and Russia — are participating with naval assets.

A foreign naval ship in the Arabian Sea. ─ DawnNews
A foreign naval ship in the Arabian Sea. ─ DawnNews

‘Aman-17’ is the fifth such exercise that has taken place. Pakistan has been holding the exercise every alternate year since 2007.

Commander of the Pakistani fleet Vice Admiral Arifullah Hussaini, who was the chief guest on the occasion, inaugurated the exercise by hoisting the Pakistani flag at the Karachi dockyard.

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The vice admiral, speaking at the ceremony, said that the exercise would help work against human trafficking, narcotics smuggling, and terrorism in the region, Radio Pakistan reported.

Naval ships in the Arabian Sea. ─ DawnNews
Naval ships in the Arabian Sea. ─ DawnNews

The Pakistan Navy has played a vital role for ensuring safe passage of cargo ships in the region, he added.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif extended a warm welcome to all participants and said Pakistan, being a major stakeholder in maritime security of the Arabian Sea, is fully committed to ensuring freedom of navigation and lawful maritime order.

The premier pointed out that maritime security challenges in the Indian Ocean are both multidimensional and multifaceted. Threats such as maritime terrorism, drug trafficking and piracy have acquired international dimensions, he said.

PM Nawaz Sharif emphasised that cooperation between international navies is imperative to countering emerging threats.

country’s armed forces are dedicated and committed to the noble cause.Ch Nisar Ali Khan

Interior Minister.Ch Nisar Ali Khan has said that the country’s armed forces are dedicated and committed to the noble cause of defence of the motherland.
He was addressing a graduation ceremony of 9th National Integrated Counter Terrorism Course in Kharian today..The Minister said wars are not fought with weapons alone but passion and firm belief is the pre-requisite of all wars. He said no one can defeat our valiant armed forces

Railways to plan reconstruction of over 100-year-old bridges

LAHORE: The Pakistan Railways has decided to plan reconstruction of all such bridges on its network that were built more than 100 years ago and may prove dangerous for railway operations.

Presiding over a meeting at the PR headquarters in Lahore on Thursday, minister Khwaja Saad Rafique sought proposals pertaining to old bridges so that their reconstruction projects could be included in the next 10-year development plan.

Mr Rafique also directed that new bridges in thickly populated areas and big cities should be designed in a way that the same could also be used for movement of vehicular traffic.

The meeting was informed that of the 13,959 bridges the PR had on its network, some 3,000 had been lying closed, while another 850 were not operational.

Most of these bridges were constructed well before the Partition when railway system was introduced in the subcontinent and had completed their prescribed life.

Some 115 new bridges had been constructed on the railway network during the last 20 years, the meeting was informed.

A senior PR officer who attended the meeting told Dawn that a total of 159 bridges were found to be ‘in acute distress, requiring repair and maintenance on an emergent basis’ in the comprehensive survey carried out by a team headed by the then federal government inspector of railways after collapse of a bridge between Ran Pathani and Dhabeji stations on July 30, 2006, cutting off rail link between Sindh capital and the rest of the country for six days or so.

The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) in its meeting on Nov 3, 2007, had granted approval to the Rs412 million PC-1 submitted by the Ministry of Railways for its Bridge Rehabilitation Project.

After release of funds, work on the project was started in April 2008. However, only 95 bridges could be made fit for rail operations to date.

Around 25 bridges were excluded from the project, while ongoing work on six others would be stopped by June 30 this year, said the officer seeking anonymity.

Most of the 13,841 bridges on the PR network had been constructed between 1886 and 1900. The railways estate code, the officer said, determined the maximum age of a bridge having masonry substructure at 100 years and that of steel at 60 years.

“At least 86 per cent of the total PR bridges are 100 to 145 years old and have outlived their utility. Only 115 bridges are less than 40 years old. A total of 640 bridges are 60 to 80 years old, 1,243 are 80 to 100 years old, 1,352 are

100 to 120 years old, 2,911 are 120 to 140 years, 7,580 are more than 140 years old,” said the officer.

A project to repair 93 railway bridges by June 2017 was also under way, while rehabilitation of another 66 bridges had already been completed.

WB, Punjab govt review agri sector development

LAHORE: The first meeting of the Punjab government and World Bank’s joint steering committee reviewed the planned roadmap for development of agriculture sector and ensuring prosperity of rural areas.

Chaired by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif it approved various recommendations for improved farm research, seed development, barns for wheat storage and better use of water by the sector.

Mr Shahbaz termed these initiatives the need of the hour and welcomed technical assistance of the World Bank for boosting yields, bringing stability in economics and guidelines for best usage of water resources.

He said he hoped that the project would help equip the farm sector with latest trends.

He said that smart market reforms and amalgamated services for cultivators on their doorsteps would produce positive results.

The CM said that international and local seed company cooperation would be expanded in order to escalate involvement of private sector in agriculture research and to provide cultivators with state-of-the-art seed technology.

He said the steering committee would meet every month to keep the project on track and its completion in time.

Mr Sharif presided over another meeting in which implementation of Kissan Package and provision of interest-free loans to small cultivators were reviewed.

He said the proposal for setting up the Small Farms Development Corporation would soon be given a final shape.

A delegation of transport unit of Istanbul municipality headed by Mukremin Kara called on the chief minister and discussed ideas regarding upgrading traffic system, traffic re-engineering, improved parking plans, traffic planning and cooperation in road engineering in Lahore and other congested mega cities.

Panama Leaks case verdict will make Pakistan corruption-free: JI

LAHORE: As a result of a “decision” in the Panama Leaks case, Pakistan will emerge as a corruption-free country in the world, Jamaat-i-Islami Emir Senator Sirajul Haq said here on Thursday.

Addressing the participants of a central workshop held by the JI at its headquarters at Mansoora, he said Pakistan’s image abroad had been tarnished because of corruption.

In principle, he said, it was the government’s responsibility to check fraud and corruption, but unfortunately the country’s rulers were themselves at the top in corruption and could not be expected to control the menace.

He said if only a few big fish were netted and punished for corruption, all others would automatically renounce the social evil.

The JI chief also condemned the student unions ban continuing since 1984 and said this had done irreparable harm to the growth of political culture in the country.

“If employees in government and semi-government departments and institutions had the right to form unions and associations, there could be no justification for denying the same to the students at college and university level,” he argued. The revival of student unions was a must to strengthen democracy in the country, he insisted.

He said the JI drive against corruption was not against any individual or any party, terming it a fight for the public rights.

The JI chief said only an honest and “clean” leadership could control the menace of corruption.

However, he said, to curb corruption overhauling of the electoral system was required so that a common man too could return to the assemblies without spending billions on election campaign.

Mr Haq alleged that the international establishment and the foreign NGOs were backing the corrupt mafias. He said only those guilty of loot and plunder were afraid of accountability.