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China waited for PML-N rule before making CPEC investment: Nawaz

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while addressing a meeting of his party’s parliamentary committee on Thursday, said Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Islamabad last year said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a ‘gift’ to Pakistan.

“He [Xi Jinping] said this is a gift to you from China. They were also waiting for the time when our government would be in power so that they could make this investment,” Nawaz said, referring to the $46 billion investment made by the Chinese government for various projects under the CPEC.

“Our government has been working with great sincerity, there have been no accusations of kickbacks or corruption against us,” he claimed.

Earlier this week, following a high-level cabinet meeting on energy, officials in the know suggested the government is losing sleep over its promise of ending loadshedding by May 2018.

“The risk is too high if the government fails to generate required amount of megawatts and control load shedding before PML-N leaders hit the road for the 2018 general elections campaign,” a PML-N legislator privy to the government’s nervousness caused by the severity of the task admitted earlier.

A ministry of water and power official said the government, in the face of a furious opposition and colossal challenge, ‘had no option but to deliver’.

PM Nawaz, in his address to PML-N officials, lauded the swiftness with which power projects are being undertaken. “Lots of power projects are being undertaken,” he said, claiming that Chinese officials privy to project developments have said “they are being built faster than such projects were built in China”.

“We want to deliver on the commitments we have made to the people,” he said. “Why weren’t power projects given importance by previous governments? Why weren’t they being set up when we came to power in 2013? If anyone cared about these projects between 2008 and 2013, why didn’t they do it?” he asked.

The premier called for former president Pervez Musharraf and others who were in power to be brought before the National Assembly and questioned by parliamentarians. “Ask them why they ruined Pakistan,” he said. “You were in power, why didn’t you pay attention to this problem?”

“Producing more power, ending loadshedding and supplying cheap electricity are our goals,” Nawaz said, adding that exploration of coal deposits in Thar and setting up coal-based power plants would aid in achieving this end. “For the first time in 70 years in Pakistan’s history, coal is being extracted from Thar… This should have been done 70 years ago,” he said.

‘Time to say goodbye to IMF’

Pakistan is becoming an emerging economy, Nawaz claimed, congratulating parliamentarians on the news that the government’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund had concluded.

The IMF today cleared payment to Pakistan of a final $102 million tranche in a $6.4 billion three-year programme.

“It is our desire… that after this we will say goodbye to the IMF,” Nawaz said.

“There is no indication for miles that we will default,” the premier claimed. “No one calls us a failed state anymore… Foreign reserves are at historical levels,” he said, adding that there is an “investment climate” in Pakistan.

‘Must examine factors behind terrorism’

“It’s important to examine who was in charge when terrorism began, what the reasons were, what the factors behind terrorism rising were. If things had been run properly earlier, terrorism would not have entered Pakistan,” the premier said.

Nawaz admitted Pakistan had experienced ‘blowback’ when military operations began in the tribal areas.

“Economic development will be possible when there is no extremism,” he said. “We have tried to maintain peace.”

Tension simmers between Pakistan, India interior ministers at Saarc meet in capital

ISLAMABAD: The interior ministers of both Pakistan and India made critical remarks apparently aimed at each other’s governments on the second day of a Saarc conference here on Thursday, as tensions between the two neighbouring countries run high in the aftermath of weeks-long violence in India-held Kashmir.

In his address to the Saarc interior ministers’ conference, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan lambasted the “use of excessive force” to suppress protests in held Kashmir, without naming the Indian government.

“Using torture against innocent children and violence against civilians qualifies as terrorism,” said the minister, adding that there was a need to end an “extremist” mindset and instead try to solve regional issues with dialogue.

Nisar said like the attacks in Pathankot, Kabul, Mumbai and Dhaka, Pakistan too has lost many innocent lives due to terrorism. “The use of blame game has not benefited anyone for the past six decades.”

In response to Nisar’s statement, India’s home minister made a more direct jibe aimed at the Pakistani government for its strong condemnation of the killing of Kashmiri separatist leader Burhan Wani by Indian forces.

“There are no good terrorists or bad terrorists,” said Rajnath Singh in his address, referring to earlier criticism the Indian state has levelled against Pakistan. “There should be no glorification or eulogising of terrorists as martyrs.”

Singh called for “strongest action not only against terrorists or organisations but also against those individuals, organisations and nations.”

No bilateral meeting between the Indian home minister and his Pakistani counterpart took place on the sidelines of the ministerial conference that ended Thursday.

‘Saarc countries should promote peace’

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assured the Saarc conference that Pakistan will stand alongside its South Asian neighbours to eradicate corruption, organised crime and terrorism from the region.

“Pakistan on national grounds has been successful in curbing terrorism by implementing the National Action Plan and carrying out the operation Zarb-i-Azb,” said the premier.

“The success proves that Pakistan is committed towards wiping out terrorism from its territory,” he added.

The PM said Saarc countries should use their human and natural resources to promote peace and prosperity in the region.

“The Government of Pakistan wishes for peace in all countries across the region and has always supported Saarc in pursuit of its goals,” he said.

Nawaz pressed on the importance of efficient transport and communication network in the region to ensure public welfare and economic growth.

Saarc Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa, who belongs to Nepal, said the issues of drugs, terrorism, cybercrime and other international crimes should be addressed immediately. He also appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to host the conference.

Endangered loggerhead sea turtles recover at North Carolina Aquarium

Three endangered loggerhead sea turtles, found too weak to leave their nest along the North Carolina coast, begin rehabilitative care at a North Carolina Aquarium.

SHOWS: CARTERET COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA, UNITED STATES (AUGUST 3, 2016) (NBC – Broadcasters: NO ACCESS USA AND CNN Digital: FOR BROADCAST CLIENT USE ONLY/NO ACCESS INTERNET, MOBILE, WIRELESS)

1. VARIOUS OF LOGGERHEAD BABY TURTLE BEING CLEANED AND EXAMINED BY HAND

2. TURTLE IN TRAY WITH WATER

3. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NORTH CAROLINA AQUARIUM SPECIALIST, MICHELE LAMPING, SAYING:

“A lot of times the hatchlings are in great shape, it’s just they were on the bottom of the nest and all their siblings left and the sand dropped on them and they may be squished in the nest for 2 or 3 days, so they just need a little bit of turnaround time before we can get them back out.”

4. VARIOUS OF TURTLE BEING CLEANED

5. VARIOUS OF TURTLE IN WATER TRAY

6. TURTLE IN BUCKET

STORY: Three endangered loggerhead baby sea turtles found too weak to leave their nest along the North Carolina coast began rehabilitative care at a North Carolina Aquarium, NBC reported on Wednesday (August 3)

Scientists said that some 1,500 nests have been spotted on the nesting beaches of North Carolina and that some hatchlings need extra help.

“A lot of times the hatchlings are in great shape it’s just they were on the bottom of the nest and all their siblings left and the sand dropped on them and they may be squished in the nest for two or three days, so they just need a little bit of turnaround time before we can get them back out,” said Michele Lamping, North Carolina Aquarium specialist.

According to NBC, the turtles are expected to stay in aquarium for several weeks before being sent back out into the ocean.

The loggerhead is the most common sea turtle in the southeastern United States and migrate thousands of miles in U.S. waters but nest on Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico shores.

They can live 40 years or longer, weighing up to 250 pounds (113 kg), and were first listed as endangered in 1978. Loggerheads face persistent threats from fishing gear and pollution, according to scientist.

Endangered or threatened sea turtles that frequent Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico waters also include Kemp’s ridley, leatherback and green sea turtles.

In 2014 the United States designated 685 miles (1,100 km) of beaches from Mississippi to North Carolina and 300,000 square miles (777,000 sq km) of ocean off the Gulf and Atlantic coasts as critical nesting and roaming habitat for threatened loggerhead sea turtles.

The joint ruling by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) was the largest critical habitat designation in U.S. history, environmentalists say.

Nearly 8,000 ballots from NA-125 ‘unverified’, Nadra tells SC

ISLAMABAD: A report submitted to the Supreme Court by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) on Wednesday claimed that 7,892 ballot papers from the 2013 general elections in Lahore’s NA-125 constituency did not qualify for fingerprint match due to a host of reasons.

The hotly contested constituency, where incumbent Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique defeated Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader and senior lawyer Hamid Khan, was among the four constituencies where the PTI had alleged widespread rigging.

The fingerprint-matching report furnished by Nadra showed that of the 7,892 counterfoils, the identity of the voter could not be established due to invalid CNIC numbers mentioned on the counterfoil in 3,998 cases. In addition, 1,917 of the counterfoils did not have any CNIC number mentioned on them, Nadra said.

The Supreme Court is currently hearing an appeal filed by Mr Rafique requesting the court to set aside the May 4, 2015, cancellation of his election by an election tribunal.

Accepting Hamid Khan’s Jan 26 plea, the Supreme Court had given Nadra three months to verify thumb impressions on the available ballot paper counterfoils used during the 2013 general elections in all 265 polling stations of the constituency, with the cost being borne by the petitioner.


Multiple votes cast on 398 CNICs; five votes cast by someone other than CNIC holder


On March 1, the court ordered the PTI candidate to deposit the amount with Nadra within four weeks, otherwise it would recall its Jan 26 order. Subsequently, the expenses were paid.

On Wednesday, Nadra explained in its report that of the unverified counterfoils, 184 belonged to voters who were not registered to vote in NA-125, whereas 398 of the CNIC numbers mentioned on about 797 counterfoils were used more than once. This information was extracted by capturing CNIC numbers on used counterfoils. At least 996 counterfoils did not have fingerprints on them, the report said.

In addition to the 7,892 unverified counterfoils, 206,242 others were processed through the Automated Fingerprinting Identification System (AFIS), but Nadra was unable to process 14,139 of these because the quality of the fingerprint was not up to the mark. However, the CNIC numbers mentioned on such counterfoils were found to be valid, the report said.

Of the remaining 57,103 fingerprints, a total of 57,098 counterfoils were authenticated by AFIS. This means that the fingerprint affixed on the counterfoil at the time the ballot paper was issued matched with the fingerprint data of the registered voter, available in Nadra’s database.

However, a total of five votes failed authentication, the report said, explaining that this meant that someone else voted against the CNIC number mentioned on the used counterfoil.

The report said Nadra received election material consisting of 18 sealed cloth bags, containing 303 khaki envelopes on May 2, 2016. The envelopes were opened and reconciled in the presence of relevant officers and representatives starting from May 3.

Pakistan welcomes US blacklisting of TTP Jamaatul Ahrar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has welcomed a United States decision to place Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), splinter group of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), on a list of specially designated global terrorists.

“Pakistan has long pleaded concrete action against the TTP and their like who operate in Afghanistan, and they have planned and launched a number of attacks in Pakistan while operating from there,” Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at a weekly briefing on Thursday.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) is an offshoot of the TTP based in the Pak-Afghan border region. The group, founded by a former TTP leader in August 2014, has staged multiple attacks in the region targeting civilians, religious minorities, military personnel and law enforcement agencies.

The US State Department announced that the designation automatically imposed on the group and its leaders all sanctions that applied to foreign persons and groups determined to have committed, or posing a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism.

As a result of these designations, all property subject to US jurisdiction in which Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has any interest is blocked and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with the group.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar was responsible for the killing of two Pakistani employees of the US Consulate in Peshawar in March. Later in that month, it carried out a suicide assault at the Gulshan-i-Iqbal amusement park in Lahore that killed more than 70 people — nearly half of them women and children — and injured hundreds more. The Easter Sunday attack was the deadliest terrorist attack in Pakistan since December 2014.

‘Pakistan has suffered more than any country’

The Pentagon’s announcement that it will not pay Pakistan $300 million in military reimbursements did not evoke a strong reaction from the Pakistan Foreign Office.

However, spokesperson Zakaria in response to a question recounted the sacrifices the country has made in the war against terrorism.

Pakistan has suffered more than any other country in the war on terror both in terms of human and economic losses, Radio Pakistan quoted the FO spokesperson as saying.

He said 60,000 people including 6,000 security personnel had lost their lives during the war on terror, adding that the US payment under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) was helpful to the Pakistani offensive.

Operation Zarb-i-Azb has seen a resounding success due to which bastions of terrorists in the tribal areas have been cleared, the spokesperson stated.