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7,000MW to be added to national grid by 2017, IMF assured

The assurance was conveyed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to IMF mission.—AFP/File
The assurance was conveyed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to IMF mission.—AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The government assured the International Monetary Fund on Monday that 7,000MW of electricity would be added to the national grid by 2017 and tax base expanded for generating more revenue to support development and social sectors.

The assurance was conveyed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in back-to-back meetings with the newly-appointed IMF mission led by Herald Finger currently on an introductory visit to Pakistan.

The IMF delegation comprised Harald Finger, IMF Mission Chief to Pakistan, Tokhir Mirzoev, Resident Representative of IMF to Pakistan and Masood Ahmad, Director Middle East & Central Asia Department. It was the first official visit to Pakistan by Mr Finger and Mr Mirzoev after recent shake-up in IMF staff for Islamabad.

Take a look: Pakistan’s fuel crisis weighing on credit worthiness: Moody’s

Prime Minister Sharif welcomed and congratulated Mr Finger and Mr Mirzoev on their new assignments. He acknowledged the financing of $6.64 billion from the IMF to support Pakistan under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) approved by the IMF Board in September 2013.

He said his government was taking measures for increasing tax base in the country to generate more revenue for spending on development and social sectors.

An official statement quoted the visiting delegation appreciating the positive economic indicators in Pakistan. The IMF mission congratulated the prime minister and his team on the rise in foreign exchange reserves, reduction in budget deficit and an increase in GDP, showing restoration of economic stability and hence it was high time for Pakistan be part of the group of dynamic emerging markets.

The assurance was conveyed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to IMF mission

Mr Finger is reported to have said that he was impressed by the economic headway Pakistan had achieved in the past months and hoped that things would further improve in the next three years.

The official statement quoted IMF Director Masood Ahmed as saying that Pakistan’s economy presented a totally different picture now compared to what it was 18 months ago. There was comparative economic stability and this could serve as a good foundation to further build up the economy in future, truly turning Pakistan into an emerging economy.

He emphasised focus on broadening the tax base, improving investment regime and enhancing competitiveness of the economy.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said Pakistan had met all structural benchmarks and quantitative performance criteria set for the sixth review. He also mentioned the problems that the government had inherited in the form of energy shortages, a weakened economy and scourge of extremism.

He said a number of power projects had been undertaken and 4,000MW projects were already ensured to be added to the national grid soon which would ultimately reach 7,000MW by 2017. Further, the Chinese side had also undertaken to set up power plants on government-to-government basis which could produce up to 10,000MW of electricity.

Mr Dar said Pakistan had incurred over $100bn in economic losses because of terrorism and suffered 50,000 casualties, including 5,000 military personnel, in the war on terror. He said the government had pursued the path of dialogue to resolve the issue of militancy, but finally it had to resort to a full-fledged military action.

He said the Zarb-i-Azb Operation was laun­ched with vigour which had yielded results as high-profile targets had been eliminated. “We have shared details with the donors at three conferences held over the past few months aimed at drawing up plans for rehabilitation of IDPs and people affected by floods.”

The finance minister said the government had extended due care to social protection measures. The present government had enhanced the number of recipients to 4.8 million under the income support programme and aimed to achieve target of 5m beneficiaries by the end of June this year. The government had declared the National ID card number as the National Tax Number to facilitate individual taxpayers, he added.

He claimed to have passed on to consumers the full benefit of decrease in oil prices and against all forecasts, did not enhance the prices for March and instead made adjustments in GST to keep the prices level.


Grenade attack at residence of KP minister, no injuries

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Unknown persons on Tuesday hurled a hand grenade at the residence of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Revenue Minister Ali Amin Khan Gandapur, who belongs to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), in Cantonment police area of Dera Ismail Khan.


The motorcycle-riding men managed to escape from the scene after the attack.Security and emergency teams reached the attack site, while police personnel cordoned off the area as the search for the attackers went underway.Police sources told NNP News that there was no loss of life or property reported in the incident.The residence of the provincial minister is situated at a sensitive locality of DI Khan with the DPO office, sessions and high courts in the vicinity.

The was no claim of responsibility for the attack.

At least eight people including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s then law minister Israrullah Gandapur, also belonging to PTI, were killed on Oct 2013 when a suicide bomber exploded outside the leaders residence in Dera Ismail Khan.

Opposition names Rabbani for Senate post

ISLAMABAD: The opposition parties unanimously nominated on Monday PPP’s Raza Rabbani as their candidate for the office of Senate chairman.


Mr Rabbani’s name was announced by ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan in the presence of representatives of all opposition parties represented in the Senate after a nearly four-hour meeting at Zardari House.

The name of the candidate for the office of deputy chairman would be announced later, but PML-Q’s Kamil Ali Agha told reporters that they had decided to nominate someone from Balochistan for the post.

Mr Rabbani will be the joint candidate of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami National Party (ANP) and Balochistan National Party-Awami (BNP-A).

Asfandyar Wali, talking to reporters, claimed that three sitting Fata senators were also part of the opposition alliance whereas one Fata senator belonged to the JUI-F.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the JUI-F chief, attended the meeting for some time, but he was not present at the time of the announcement, indicating that the Maulana still wanted to keep his options open as he was scheduled to have a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday.

An opposition member said the JUI-F chief had stated that he would make a formal announcement regarding his party’s support for the government or the opposition at a news conference on Tuesday.

A source in the opposition told NNP that the participants had agreed to nominate any senator from Balochistan as the candidate for the deputy chairman’s office, but deferred the announcement till such time as the JUI-F made up its mind to support the government or opposition candidate.

Take a look: Raza Rabbani in tears: ‘Ashamed to vote against conscience’

He said the office could go to the PML-Q, which has two senators — Saeedul Hassan Mandokhel and Rubina Irfan — or the ANP’s Daud Khan Achakzai.

Explaining the reasons for extending support to the PPP’s candidate, MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar claimed that his party had reached an understanding with the PPP over the local government system and the issue of urban-rural division in Sindh. “We have agreed to set up the local government system as early as possible.”

The MQM leader said that after devolution of most of the subjects to the provinces as a result of 18th Amendment, a new social contract was now needed.

8 picked during combing in sensitive area near Taxila

File Photo.

TAXILA:  Eight persons were picked by law enforcement agencies, illegal arms were seized during a massive combing launched by law enforcement agencies in Punj Khatta area bordering Taxila on Saturday. The area is high security zone due to presence of sensitive areas as well as premier educational institution.

Armed policemen lead two of four men, who were draped in cloth to hide their identities, after they appeared in district courthouse in Karachi
File Photo…

Police backed by army, counter terrorism department flanked with elite force officials and lady police launched a massive combing in Punj Khatta area from Jandial to Bhera area bordering Taxila and during house to house search seized illegal weapons including one sub machine gun with 96 rounds, three 12 bore guns and one 30 bore pistol with many rounds and picked eight suspects. The suspects were identified as Abdul Basit resident of  Tull, Hangu, Umer Ali resident of Mardan, Moladad resident of Pind Ghakra, Mohammad Maqsood resident of Barra, Khyber Agency, Musa Khan resident of Lakki Marwat, Mohammad Ayub resident of Khar, Bajaur Agency, Mohammad Anwer resident of lower Kurrum Agency and Tajdar Akbar resident of Swabi.   The suspects were arrested and shifted to police station for further investigation.


4 th Century Buddhist site crumbling due to rains, poor care

TAXILA: Scores of stucco sculptures dated back to 4 –5 th century AD at Mohra Moradu Stupa and Monastery are crumbling fast as recent rains has damaged them due to lack of proper care by the federal department of archaeology and museums.

mm2Mohra Moradu Stupa and Monastery has its own significance and importance in archaeological history of Pakistan as it among three sites of 18 Buddhist sites of Taxila valley which has a good priceless collection intact stucco sculptures and figures of lord Buddha which are still intact at various cell of this monastery. The Mohra Moradu Monastery flourished as a beacon of knowledge from 4th to 5th centuries AD and is located in a small valley between Sirkap called second city of ancient Taxila valley civilization and Jaulian, known as ancient Taxila Buddhist University. It has been savagely damaged by treasure-hunters who split apart the main stupa hoping to find gold inside. The lower portions of the stupa were protected, however, as earth covered most of the site before excavation began under the auspices of John Marshall earlier in the 20th century. A Buddhist shrine, the monastery was once a place of meditation in the rural areas outside of busy Sirkap, the second city of Taxila. The stupa is famous for the many bas-reliefs of Buddha that adorn its base. The monastic cells around the stupa are badly damaged, but yielded such treasures as the stone stupas. The settlement had been restored briefly before it was abandoned, after the invasion of the White Huns at the end of the fifth century.

 Keeping its importance UNESCO put this site on its list of the world cultural heritage sites in 1980. But the officials of federal department of archaeology and museums who are called custodian of cultural heritage of country turned back towards the proper care, maintenance of sheds erected to save these centuries old stucco sculptures from rain and other climatic agents resultantly they are torn down and recent three weeks of the monsoon rains has badly damaged various images and sculptures and now they are crumbling and on the verge of decay. During visit to this ancient site it was observed that as sheds over the ancient stupa and cells torn due to poor maintenance and care resultantly rain water make their way inside cells and it damage around 80 percent of stucco sculptures and figures at various cells of the monastery. The rainy water which remains flowing through huge cracks of holes in shed erected decades before results in dissolving various parts of stucco sculptures and figures of lord Buddha. Mohammed Afzal, caretaker at monastery said that shed in deplorable condition and various holes and cracks appeared from where water flow and damage these sculptures. He said that the sheds are no more in position to sustain as wooden planes are badly damaged and near to crumbled if it collapsed it would also damage the stucco figures under it. He said that he informed the higher authorities mm1 mm-5about this sorry state of affair but they have taken no action so far for the reason best known to them.

It was observed that in cells one of the figure foot, other shoulder and in stupa whole figures made of stucco are dissolving due to rains as no proper care and maintenance has been by the so-called custodians of the cultural heritage who have left these priceless antiquities to decay. There was seepage on the walls of the cells which was proof of the fact that huge quantity of water absorbed in to walls of the cell due to criminal neglect of the officials concerned. Some insider in federal department of archaeology and museums Sub regional office Taxila told this correspondent that higher officials are well aware of the alarming situation at this site. He said that during previous fiscal year, officials of Taxila to Swat ancient site preservation and restoration project spend huge money on construction of boundary wall, erecting of iron grill and construction of watchman room and nothing has been done for chalking out preservation project due to their vested interests. He said that as preservation is a lengthy and technical work which left little “share” for these officials therefore they focused on constructions instead of their primary job of preservation.

When contacted, Mohammad Bhadur Khan, deputy director of federal department of archaeology and museums has given stereotype answer of the lacks of proper funds for chalking out of preservation project for the safety of these stucco sculptures. He said that due to financial problems, funds has cut short and due to limited financial resources, department is unable to execute the preservation and restoration plan which require huge funds. He said that about the damaging of sculptures at Mohra Maradu stupa due to recent rains, a report has submitted to authorities at Ministry of Culture for provision of funds on war footing basis to save the stucco sculptures from further destruction.

Pakistan’s devastating rains are now threatening the ancient archeological sites, besides leaving millions of people dependent on the humanitarian aid for survival, an archaeologist told this correspondent. Pakistan has been ravaged by nearly three weeks of the monsoon rains. The flooding has affected one-fifth of the country and hit up to 20 million people, destroying the crops, the infrastructure, towns and villages. Due to this climatic devastation now country cultural heritage is also at stake. He said that it is SOS call for UNESCO and other donor agencies of Japan, Korea, France, Italy and other countries where Buddhism is practicing religion come forward and play their active role for the preservation and restoration of these sites as country economy and infrastructure is not able to do this job in this time of national crisis.

Crumbling Buddha figures in side a cell in Mohra Moradu Stupa and Monastery. Due to recent rains stucco sculptures are decaying fast due to proper care and safety measures by the officials of federal department of archaeology and museums.