Category Archives: SINDH

Railways knew about vulnerability of Sukkur division track: official

HYDERABAD: Much before Monday’s train crash near Daharki, Pakistan Railways authorities were informed about the vulnerability of the 900-kilometre-long up and down tracks of the Sukkur division, but to no avail.

The vulnerability of the entire track could be gauged from the fact that the point where the tragic accident took place on Monday was welded and PR authorities conducted a forensic audit of that joint of the track just two years ago and cleared it.

Speaking to Dawn over the phone from the scene, PR Sukkur division’s superintendent Mian Tariq Latif said he had time and again brought into the notice of the top railways authorities the vulnerable condition of the entire track within his jurisdiction.

“There are around 6,000 joints on both up and down tracks in the Sukkur division and the point where the tragedy has occurred is one of the welded joints,” Mr Latif said, adding that the entire track in Sukkur division had welded joints.

Questions raised over the fate of ML-I project

“I have only one welding machine and that too is substandard,” he said, adding that the entire track needed rehabilitation.

He said he had been facing an inquiry for reporting these things to PR authorities. “A man with questionable credentials is conducting an inquiry against me,” he claimed.

He said he had been writing to the PR authorities regularly ever since he assumed office.

PR Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Nisar Memon did not agree with the contention of Mr Latif and claimed that the safety of passengers could never be compromised.

ML-I’s fate unknown

Opposition MNA Ch Hamid Hameed, who is a member of the Standing Committee on Railways, said that the federal government had not committed 15 per cent funds under the ML-I (main line) project. “The last meeting of the committee was scheduled in the office of Railways Minister Azam Khan Swati on his own request but he didn’t turn up and it shows his seriousness,” he added.

Minister Swati could not be reached over phone for comments. During his last visit to Hyderabad and different PR locations, the federal minister had said the ML-I project would change the destiny of PR.

‘Entire system needs rehabilitation’

According to Ch Hamid, the ML-I project was worked out at Rs800 billion, but it had been slashed to Rs600bn now by the current government. “Chinese won’t commit their 85pc funds for the project unless we [Pakistan government] commit our share of 15pc,” he said.

The PTI government, he said, did not allocate funds for this project in the last three years so why the Chinese would come to rescue it? “The entire system needs rehabilitation and this we have debated in June 3 meeting of the standing committee,” he said.

Fast locomotives

Ch Hamid, who belongs to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, attributed tragedies on railway tracks due to powerful new locomotives, which were not meant for passenger trains. “These locomotives were procured during the past PML-N government and these were solely meant for freight trains. They were supposed to be used for cargo purposes like carrying oil, coal, containers, etc. But this government has attached them with passenger trains and there’s a mismatch of speed between locomotives and old bogies.”

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Hyderabad MNA Sabir Kaimkhani somewhat tended to agree with Hamid.

“Why we are waiting for the ML-I alone when major train tragedies are taking place in the same Sukkur division near Ghotki. This strip has become a killer track. We need to invest on it without waiting for ML-I to save precious lives,” he said.

He said that due to a delay in ML-I project other projects including that of Hyderabad railway station had been delayed as well.

He said there were instances when PR drivers tried to cover delays in the journey by overspeeding and this ended up in derailment or collision. “For how long the current government [can] keep blaming the past government for its own follies?” he asked.

However, PR CEO Memon said: “Speed restrictions are applied wherever the condition of the track is not satisfactory. They vary between 50km per hour to 80km per hour depending on the condition of the track.”

Five ‘foreigners linked with RAW, NDS’ remanded in CTD custody

KARACHI: The administrative judge of the antiterrorism courts on Tuesday remanded five foreigners held for allegedly working for the Afghan and Indian intelligence agencies in police custody.

The Counter-Terrorism Department on Monday claimed to have foiled a major terrorist activity in the metropolis by arresting five Afghan nationals for having links with Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) and India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

On Tuesday, the investigating officer of the case produced the suspects before the administrative judge of the ATCs to seek their physical remand for interrogation and investigation.

He informed the court that the gang of held suspects was busted in an intelligence-based operation carried out in Shah Latif Town.

The IO submitted that the suspects engaged in an encounter with personnel of law enforcement agencies who managed to arrest them.

He mentioned that the suspects were planning to target key government installations, including the Sindh Assembly building.

The IO said that an explosives-laden rickshaw prepared by them to use in terrorist activity was recovered from their possession along with explosives and arms.

He mentioned that some eight cases pertaining to encounter, possessing illicit weapons and explosives and attempted murder were registered against them.

He requested for 14-day physical remand of the suspects in the custody of the CTD for interrogation and completion of investigation and other legal formalities.

However, the judge remanded them in the custody of the CTD till Feb 20, directing the IO to produce them on the next date along with an investigation report.

A day earlier, the CTD chief had said a suspected militant was killed and five of his accomplices were arrested during a pre-dawn raid on their hideout following a deadly gunfight.

Dawn, February 10th, 2021

Opposition parties slam Sindh govt’s denial of powers to LG set-up

KARACHI: While Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah conceded on Sunday that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) lacked resources, major opposition parties criticised the Sindh government for not empowering the local government set-up and concentrating all powers at the provincial level.

CM Shah, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar, who is also a senior leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal and Jamaat-i-Islami leader Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman with CM Shah participated in Geo News channel’s special transmission on Karachi.

While the CM defended his decision to create a seventh district in Karachi, the PSP and JI leaders opposed the creation of more districts and slammed the PPP for creating Keamari district just for its political gain.

Mayor Akhtar, Hafiz Naeem, Mr Kamal and Mr Naqvi expressed concerns over the accumulation of all powers by the Sindh government and observed that this would not help in resolving problems of Karachi.ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD

$10bn needed for Karachi: Murad

The CM said that at least $10 billion was required to modernise Karachi infrastructure but neither the federal government nor the provincial government had this kind of money.

He said he acknowledged that the KMC was short of funds. He said only Rs1.5bn was collected through property taxes in Karachi as opposed to Rs55bn in Mumbai in the same category.

“Garbage collection is a major problem in Karachi,” CM Shah said, adding that the city’s issues were not new as they had been here for some time.

CM Shah, Karachi mayor among participants in news channel’s special transmission

Speaking about the recently formed centre-Sindh coordination committee, he said it comprised federal and provincial ministers. “Such committees have been set up in the past as well. It will not bring administrative matters under discussions and not interfere in the administrative matters.”

About creating Keamari district, the CM said a discussion to make Keamari a district was going on for quite some time. “There is no issue in creating new districts in Karachi. We have reservations that the highest-earning districts have ended up on one side.”

Talking about the damage caused by rains to city’s infrastructure, he said his government worked a lot on cleaning storm-water drains in the city during the past four years. “In recent times, the responsibility to clean the drains lies with the KMC and the Sindh government has given fund to it,” he said.

“The problem is due to a major structure which has blocked all drains in Karachi which are the responsibility of the cantonments and district municipal corporations (DMCs).”

The chief minister said he had met National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) chairman Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal a few days ago. “The Supreme Court had ordered the NDMA to clear all the nullahs. When it rained, the Gujjar nullah overflowed once again,” he noted.

“Karachi was not like this [in the past] but then unplanned commercial construction occurred in the city,” said the chief minister, whose party has been ruling the province for the past 12 consecutive years. “Commercialising residential areas creates problems. It is not okay to expect that problems would be resolved by transforming residential areas into business zones.”

Mayor demands empowered LGs

Mayor Wasim Akhtar said the city did not fall under the domain of one man and issues stemmed from the fact that the powers were not with one person.

“Till the local governments are not given power, nothing can be done,” he said.

Responding to CM’s claim that the KMC was responsible for storm-water drain’s cleaning, he said: “Cleaning drains is my responsibility but I only did so until I had the resources.”

However, the drains would not be cleaned until the DMCs had funds and resources.

He said had Article 148 of the Constitution been imposed, the city would not have been facing these issues.

**City needs master plan: Naqvi

Leader of the Opposition Naqvi said everyone had been hearing for long that there would be a master plan for Karachi.

Criticising the PPP government for not making the city’s master plan in its 12-year rule, he said that the master plan should be prepared in proportion to the population growth of the metropolis.

Talking about the coordination committee, the PTI leader said its mandate was “for specific projects only”.

Create towns to decentralise Karachi: Kamal

PSP chairman Kamal opposed multiple districts in Karachi and said that the city should remain one district.

“If Karachi is to be decentralised, then create towns,” he suggested.

He said that all powers and resources had been parked in the CM House and there was a need to devolve powers at the grassroots level.

JI slams ‘division of Karachi’

JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem slammed the “division of Karachi” and said that the PPP was creating more districts for political purposes.

He said that the Sindh government destroyed the K-IV water project. “The sewerage system in Karachi is the worst and the transport system bad,” he said.

“Karachi should be empowered. Its local bodies should be empowered. It should get the status it deserves,” he said, demanding that the government immediately hold LG elections.

Wahab says no accountability in LGs

Sindh government’s spokesperson Barrister Murtaza Wahab said there was no system of accountability in the local government.

“We don’t mind local government being empowered. A lot of people were hired in the local government in the past and those appointees are nowhere to be found today,” he said.

He said the lack of resources in the KMC was due to the large number of recruitments in the past.

ANP demands special package

“Karachi has no heir but there are too many who lay claim to it,” said Awami National Party leader Shahi Syed. “Karachi is the city that runs the whole country, it feeds the entire nation.

“Let’s pay attention to Karachi. It should be given a special package,” he said.

He said whatever was in the interest of the people should be done, whether it be the formation of new districts or the creation of a separate province.

Religious scholar Talib Jauhari passes away

KARACHI: Widely respected religious scholar and orator Allama Talib Jauhari passed away at a private hospital on Sunday night after a long illness. He was 80.

Sources said the well-known Shia scholar, whose speeches during Muharram used to be televised regularly, had been under treatment at the intensive care unit of the hospital for the past 15 days. He left behind three sons to mourn his death.

According to the Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen media cell, Allama Jauhari was born on Aug 27, 1939 in Patna, Bihar. He obtained his early education from his father, Maulana Mohammad Mustafa Jauhar.

In 1949 he migrated to Pakistan along with his father. Later he left for Najaf, Iraq, where he studied religion for a full ten years under the tutelage of renowned Shia scholars of the time.

Allama Jauhari commanded respect among members of his sect in great part because he was a class fellow of the widely revered scholar Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani.

In 1965 he came back to Karachi and was appointed principal of the Jamia Imamia.

In time he made a name not just as a religious scholar but also as an orator.

18th Amendment needs to be ‘reviewed’: PM

• Imran says it is against spirit of devolution that all powers are enjoyed by CM who has become a kind of dictator
• Murad wasn’t invited to any official meeting

KARACHI: Amid growing concerns of opposition parties and speculation surrounding the fate of 18th Amendment after recent statements from key government functionaries, Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke his heart out on Wednesday while ruling out any plan to roll back the devolution plan but clearly hinting at his intentions over the subject and called for reviewing the 10-year-old reforms which, he said “needed to be fixed” along with the concept of National Finance Commission (NFC) Award “that carries anomalies”.

The PM openly shared his thoughts probably for the first time during the first leg of his visit to Sindh, where the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has vowed to resist any move against the 18th Amendment by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government at the centre.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah was not invited to any official meetings that PM Khan held during his visit to the province.

“We came to know through media that PM is visiting Karachi on Tuesday,” Sindh CM advisor Barrister Murtaza Wahab told Media “So the CM kept his schedule open, anticipating his engagements with the prime minister. But the prime minister landed here on Tuesday evening and the CM was not invited for any meeting.”

He said the provincial government was also not informed about the schedule of the prime minister’s engagements in Karachi or Larkana.

Talking to journalists at Governor House, PM Khan said: “Devolution is always effective for a good governance system.”

“I have no objection to the 18th Amendment nor am I against it. But they have included several things in that reform in haste. They definitely needed to be reviewed and fixed. There are several things wrong in it [18th Amendment] and they are not practical.”

To strengthen his argument, he referred to several areas of administration which had become challenging after the 18th Amendment and the centre was helpless to fix problems in those sectors. The prime minister mentioned environment, drugs and food standardisation where the provinces were managing their regulations under their different policies creating hurdles in smooth operations in these areas.

“In the devolution system, powers are transferred from provinces to local administration,” said PM Khan. “But here we see that our local bodies don’t enjoy any power. All powers are enjoyed by the chief minister and he has become a kind of dictator. He’s not offering powers to the local administration. The effective devolution functioning requires a three-tier system but here it’s stuck in two tiers.”

The 18th Amendment, passed during the PPP government in 2010, has devolved powers to the provinces in key areas of public services, including health, women development, social welfare and local government.

The PM did not end here. He spoke about the concept of over half-a-century-old NFC Award, questioning its effectiveness and utility. He said it was not serving the purpose it was supposed to achieve as it originally aimed at controlling financial imbalances and equally managing financial resources of the provinces to meet their liabilities while alleviating horizontal fiscal imbalances.

“For instance, there is the system of the NFC,” he said. “What kind of system it is that under this the government goes into Rs700 billion deficit. After paying 65 per cent to the provinces and over security and debt servicing, we start the budget with Rs700bn deficit. We design our budget depending on loans. This is absolutely unfeasible. There is a wrong impression being created that we are rolling back 18th Amendment or thinking anything wrong about the NFC. But there is a strong need to discuss this serious issue. We only want to remove the anomalies and fix things.”

Asked about his policies to meet the challenge of coronavirus pandemic and a consistent tussle-like situation between the federal and Sindh governments, he regretted that elements were “playing politics” and in a soft way blamed the PPP leadership saying it always backed out of its words after agreeing over different measures at on national forums.

“Unfortunately, some elements are consistently playing politics on this very sensitive and serious issue,” the prime minister said. “From the very first day we set up the NCOC [National Command and Operations Centre] which is meeting regularly and taking decisions about the measures to contain the contagion in consensus with all the provinces. Similarly there’s a National Coordination Committee where all chief ministers have representation. At that forum Murad Ali Shah agrees with all decisions and then the next hour Bilawal [Bhutto-Zardari] comes up with a different statement [showing differences between the centre and the provincial government.] I can’t understand that.”

The PM said from the day one he was against strict lockdown in the country to stem the spread of the virus as he was worried about the labour class, particularly daily wagers. The government, he said, had double responsibility of taking steps to contain the spread of Covid-19 and at the same time to ensure that the poor segments of society did not face financial challenges.

“I can say this with authority the way we have handled the situation no one couldn’t in the world. We imposed the lockdown and at the same time saved people from extreme poverty,” he said.

Later, Mr Khan spoke about joblessness in Larkana. In a tweet said: “PM Relief Fund in Larkana, I found a large no of unemployed were chaabrri-wallahs whom police had stopped from working. I have asked Gov Sindh to take this up with the CM as these poor people do not violate social distancing & their families survival depends on their daily income”

To a question about the locust attacks, the prime minister said the emergency was declared back on January 31 and for the five months the federal government was making all out efforts to eliminate the locust swarms. The government, he said, was constantly in contact with the neighbouring countries, including Iran and India, and it had taken the provinces on board to devise a strategy for combating the locusts.

To a question about the sugar inquiry commission report, he vowed that the government would not leave any stone unturned to expose the people behind this huge scam. He wondered over the power of “sugar mafia” and how they “operate in nexus with the national institutions”.

“The sugar report exposes the political elite which mints money through this trade,” he said. “They have enjoyed Rs29 billion subsidy in four years…They earn again through rebate in the name of exports. It’s a huge scam. The regulators which are supposed to keep check on them are their partners. Everyone whether its FBR, SECP or CCP. Because they are so powerful. And I wonder how a stay order can be issued over the report of an inquiry commission? They do have political differences but when it comes to money and their business interests they are all on same page.”

Meets delegations, visits Larkana

Earlier, in a meeting with a delegation of PTI members of the Sindh Assembly, the prime minister urged them to play an active role in resolving problems of the masses in their constituencies. The MPAs gave suggestions on strengthening ties between the federation and the provinces.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismael, Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Zaidi and Special Assistant to the PM Dr Sania Nishtar were present.

After meeting with the leaders of the allied parties, Prime Minister Khan left for Larkana where he also held a meeting with the PTI members.

He also visited the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Disbursement Centre in Sachal Colony, Larkana. The prime minister interacted with beneficiaries and inquired about their financial condition, particularly in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak.

Dr Nishtar briefed the prime minister about disbursement of cash assistance among deserving people in Sindh.

The prime minister was also accompanied by Federal Minister for Privatisation Mohammedmian Soomro, SAPM on Information Lt Gen (Retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa and PTI Sindh president Haleem Adil Shaikh.