Category Archives: Hyderabad

Cane growers send SOS to govt

HYDERABAD: A joint delegation of sugarcane growers’ association met Sindh Agriculture Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal to discuss issues faced by the sector amidst reports that mill owners are not willing to start crushing even by December due to surplus stocks.

The delegation comprised Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) Vice President Mahmood Nawaz Shah, Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) General Secretary Nabi Bux Sathio and Sindh Abadgar Ittehad (SAI) President Nawab Zubair Talpur along with others.

The representatives claimed that Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) had unilaterally announced that due to the presence of surplus sugar stocks, millers would not be in a position to start crushing by December this year and would only pay a price of Rs120 per 40kg to farmers.

The growers said that as far as sugar exports are concerned, they had already urged the federal government for rebate so that millers could deplete stocks.

However, there is no point in linking sugarcane crushing season’s commencement with exports, they stressed.

Meanwhile, SCA general secretary in a letter addressed to Sindh governor on Friday sought intervention of the federal government to save Sindh’s growers from incurring losses.

He urged governor to look into the matter as it is beyond the authority of Sindh government to allow exports or offer subsidy to millers.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Sathio said that when growers were demanding a ban on the movement of sugarcane last season, no one paid heed to it.

“We knew millers were procuring more and more sugarcane from Punjab to produce maximum quantity of sweetener and earn windfall profits as sugar price last year hovered around Rs70 per kg (ex-mill rate) and now it has perhaps slumped,” he said.

“We were told that 1.3 million tonnes of sugar out of some 3m tonnes of countrywide surplus stock is available in Sindh. By December, only 5m tonnes can be consumed so there will still be a surplus of 8m tonnes,” he explained.

“Growers are expected to raise a voice in favour of sugar millers so that the federal government would allow sugar exports with rebate,” said Mr Shah, SAB’s vice president.

“But how can the farmers support them (millers) unless there is a commitment given to them that crushing will start on time this season,” Mr Shah questioned.

He conceded that timely sugar exports could have led to earnings of $600m.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Talpur said the Sindh governor must intervene in the present situation and take up the matter with the federal government.

“If sugar millers remain adamant that they will be paying Rs120/40kg, it will be a financial crisis for farmers,” he said. He reminded that last year, over Rs200 per 40kg was paid to sugarcane growers.

PM Nawaz announces health package for Thatta, Sajawal

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday announced a special health package for Thatta and Sajawal.

Addressing a public gathering at Makli stadium, the premier promised on the behalf of the federal government that it will solve the health problems of the local people.

“These problems should have been solved at the provincial level, but if they are not able to resolve it then we will solve them,” the premier said.

Upon his arrival at Karachi’s Old Terminal earlier in the day, the premier was greeted by Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.

Last week, the prime minister had inaugurated the Kurram Tangi Dam in North Waziristan.

Footprints: Marvi’s daughter

JAMSHORO: The white doors of the rooms in Marvi Hostel have something or the other written on them. Colourful shiny alphabet stickers spell the word ‘Welcome’ on one. On another someone has written ‘Hai hai jawaani’ with a marker. But the door to room no 36 is clean, even though the big wall inside is decorated with stickers indicating a birthday celebration there.

There are five nawar beds lined up in the room, taking up most of the space inside. A chair lies fallen to one side on the floor beside a bed. There is a broken door latch on another bed. Above, one blade of the ceiling fan is slightly bent. There is an empty cardboard takeaway food box on the last bed in the room.

ROOM no 36 of Marvi Hostel.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
ROOM no 36 of Marvi Hostel.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

According to the hostel watchman, Naila Rind, the girl who was found hanging from the ceiling fan in this room, had ordered a burger for herself. In the small cupboard in front of her bed, there are a few of her clothes on one side and many books on the shelves.

What happened at the University of Sindh’s Jamshoro campus on Sunday has everyone speculating. People are saying all kinds of things and pointing fingers at each other as the dead student’s family looks for answers. They insist that she was not one who would give up on life so easily.

The police have also come under criticism for not having registered an FIR as yet and for failing to make any arrests. They are also taking the flak for having performed postmortem on the deceased without her family’s consent. But they say that they tried to call her home number, but no one answered.

According to police, the first contact with the family was made when one of Naila’s brothers called on her phone from Sukkur at night. That’s when he was informed that she was no more. By that time the body had been taken into custody and the medical procedure had already been carried out.

“All evidence points to suicide, but we are trying to handle the case and our investigations with caution,” says Jamshoro SSP retired Captain Tariq Walayat, who was one of the first people to arrive on the scene as his office is right on the campus.

“I and my men were in Marvi Hostel two minutes after being informed that a female student had seen another hanging from the ceiling fan through the crack in the curtains of the corridor window of room no 36,” SSP Tariq recalled. “As the door was latched from inside, we forced it open to save the student, but she had been gone for four to five hours by then,” he added.

There are two windows in the first-floor hostel room. One opens to the corridor and the other is at the back overlooking the grounds. Both windows have grills, which are intact. No evidence of anyone entering from that side was found. There was only the door which was latched from inside and only Naila, who was alone inside, could have done that.

Police are currently examining her phone data, which they describe as extensive.

“There are numerous Sindhi-language messages written in the Roman script. There are also pictures of a recent birthday celebration of another girl in the same room in her phone,” the SSP says, brushing aside rumours of room no 36 not being Naila’s room. “They are saying that her room was no 34, which is untrue. This was her room and she shared it with four other girls. Even her student ID card says ‘room no 36-A’,” he adds.

But the hostel is vacant right now as everyone is home and the few girls who were there, like Naila, were there over the weekend to either submit their final year thesis or for some other official work.

There is a long boundary wall around the University of Sindh and the Mehran University, which was built about two years ago by police and the Rangers to stop the land mafia from encroaching on university land. According to SSP Tariq, police know about the presence of “anti-state elements” in the area. There have been several clashes.

Dr Anila Naz Soomro, the hostel provost who is a grade 20 officer from Johi, expressed the hope that the incident won’t hurt the future of other female students in Sindh who dream of going to university. She remembers Naila as a quiet and studious woman who usually kept to herself. Although she had completed her Masters and should have vacated her room last month, she had sought extension of her stay there as she wanted to pursue further studies.

Outside, NGOs and political groups are protesting vociferously, calling upon the authorities to unearth the truth behind Naila Rind’s death. Inside, the police record statements of teachers and hostel staff. “She was born in 1989, making her 27 years of age. One can imagine the pressures on a Baloch girl with a rural background, who wants to study instead of settling down,” one teacher commented.

Some staffers fear that room no 36 will now be seen as haunted. “We also expect to hear about ghost sightings here now,” one of them whispered.

Zardari set to address Benazir death anniversary event after return from self-exile

LARKANA: Anticipation is in the air as Pakistan Peoples Party observes the 9th death anniversary of its slain leader Benazir Bhutto at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh Bhutto on Tuesday where former president Asif Ali Zardari will make his first major appearance alongside his son and party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari after return from an 18-month self-imposed exile.

Workers’ caravans were arriving in the dusty village from different parts of the country and were being guided by party volunteers to their designated camps established inside the main pindal.

Tricolour party flags, banners and life-size portraits of Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Asif Ali Zardari adorn the venue of the public meeting as well as the route to the pindal.

Reception camps have been set up in Larkana and adjoining towns which are welcoming participants with party songs being played at full volume. Almost all hotels have been booked to capacity though they had raised rent to take advantage of the event.

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah along with his cabinet members arrived at the Bhuttos’ mausoleum and held a meeting with party leaders and acting Sindh police chief Mushtaq Mahar to review security arrangements.

Meanwhile, PPP provincial chief Nisar Ahmed Khuhro held a meeting with mazar committee to finalise arrangements for the anniversary.

Security in and around the pindal, the mausoleum and the camp office of former president Asif Zardari at Naudero has been beefed up. Commandos have been deployed along the roads leading to the camp office and a number of roads had been completely sealed off.

Parking areas for the participants’ vehicles have been set up at a distance of about a kilometre from the mausoleum where caravans of zealous workers were seen pouring in from almost all nooks and corners of the country.

The first thing they do after alighting from their vehicles is to make a rush to the resting place of their revered leaders, offer fateha and lay floral wreaths on the graves amid full-throated slogans of Jeay Bhutto sada jeay.

Among the participants was a group of 10 cyclists who had pedalled all the way from Rajanpur in Punjab to pay homage to their slain leader. The group was led by Azizullah Anjum, president of Peoples Youth Wing, Rajanpur.

Earlier, PPP-W workers led by party leaders Safdar Abbasi, Haji Munawwar Ali Abbasi, Ms Naheed Khan and others arrived at the mausoleum in a large procession after conclusion of a workers convention in nearby Waleed village.

Amid loud slogans, they laid floral wreaths on the graves of Z.A. Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and other members of Bhutto family and offered fateha.

Talking to journalists after visiting the mausoleum, Dr Safdar Abbasi and Ms Naheed Khan said the party which Benazir Bhutto had strengthened with her 30 years’ struggle had now been confined to Sindh only thanks to Asif Ali Zardari.

Benazir fought against dictators to save the party but now it had been deprived of its genuine spirit, they said.

They said that Mr Zardari headed PPP-Parliamentarians while the case for the genuine PPP was pending a verdict in Islamabad High Court. “We will only consider the offer should it come from PPP after the announcement of court decision,” they said.

They said that party workers were dejected and the party itself was gradually losing popularity in Sindh. “We are here to pay homage to Benazir Bhutto who laid down her life for the sake of democracy and supremacy of law in the country but never compromised her principles,” they said.

Earlier, two-day workers’ convention was held in Waleed village which was chaired by party president Dr Safdar Abbasi. The convention decided to accelerate party’s organisational work in the country.

According to party sources, Dr Abbasi would hold an important press conference on Wednesday.

Murad wants long-delayed NFC award announced forthwith

MIRPURKHAS/MITHI: Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Tuesday urged the federal government to finalise and announce the 9th National Finance Commission (NFC) Award without any further delay, arguing that “it has nothing to do with the population census”.

Mr Shah was speaking to newsmen in Naukot town, which he visited to condole the death of MNA Faqeer Sher Mohammed Bilalani’s mother.

The chief minister said that the 9th NFC Award had already become overdue but the federal government was further delaying it on the grounds that the population census should be held first. He, however, expressed his confidence that the award would be announced soon. “The previous award was announced during the Pakistan Peoples Party government and the new one will also come within its term,” he said. He held out the assurance that the 9th award would be even better than the previous one.

He said that the Sindh government was disappointed by the delay being caused by the Centre in finalising the award. He noted that the smaller provinces were desperately waiting for it. “It should be announced forthwith,” he said.

In reply to several questions regarding powers of local government representatives, the CM said that the Sindh assembly had already discussed the issue, adding that LG representatives would get all powers as provided under the relevant law.

When his attention was drawn to the protest, for more than 40 days now, by residents of villages falling close to the Thar coal project sites with regard to a reservoir believed to be hazardous for cultivable land as well as public health, Mr Shah said that reservoir was being laid according to its feasibility. “The mega project was extremely beneficial to the entire population of Tharparkar,” he said, adding that the provincial government was supposed to ensure provision of every facility required for the execution of the project because it would ultimately benefit the people of Thar in particular and Sindh in general.

The chief minister said that Thar coal was a national project and, as such, people should prefer national interests over their personal ones. “Some sacrifices will have to be offered by everyone of us in the greater national interest, progress of the country and our own prosperity,” he said, adding that he did realise the problems being faced by the people of Thar at this stage.

In reply to a question about water shortage, Mr Shah said that more allocations were being made in the budget to ensure availability of adequate irrigation water to the tail-end areas. He said the problem would hopefully be resolved soon.

Responding to some questioners, the CM said that he was visiting Tharparkar to apprise himself of the problems being faced by the local population. “We will soon announce the ‘Thar package’ aimed at development of this desert region,” he added.

Earlier, Mr Shah drove to Fakeer-jo- Dhoro village, some 45 kilometres from Mithi and visited the Bilalani family to offer his condolence to MNA Faqeer Sher Mohammed Bilalani on the recent demise of his mother.

Speaking to newsmen in the village, Mr Shah said his government was fully committed to provide all basic amenities to the people of Tharparkar.

Some local newsmen also asked the CM about possibility of a settlement between residents of Gorano (and about a dozen other villages) and the mining company with regard to the site of the controversial reservoir. Mr Shah said that the site selected for the reservoir was the only one found feasible and, therefore, the reservoir could not be shifted to any other site.

He said he had formed a three-member committee comprising Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla, Senator Gayanchand and MPA Dr Khatoo Mal Jeevan to persuade the villagers to end their protest.

Manzoor Wassan, Imdad Pitafi and other senior PPP leaders accompanied the chief minister during his visit.