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Dhabeji Industrial Zone project hits impediments.

• Award of contract challenged in Sindh High Court
• Provincial govt says the project does not have SEZ status

ISLAMABAD: The recently awarded contract for the Dhabeji Industrial Zone (DIZ) project that falls under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is in the doldrums after being challenged before a court of law.

The Sindh High Court will take up on Monday (today) a petition submitted to it challenging that the rules of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) had not been followed in the award of the contract.

The provincial government claims that since DIZ has not been given the status of SEZ so far, the rules of special economic zones do not apply to it. The CPEC Authority also had submitted an official statement to the high court, expressing satisfaction over the bidding process and claiming that no irregularity had been committed in the award of the contract.

According to a document of the Sindh Economic Zones Management Company (SEZMC), however, the DIZ will be declared a special economic zone (SEZ).

The multibillion DIZ, which will be developed under Public-Private Partnership by the successful bidder Zahir Khan & Brothers (ZKB) and the Sindh government, is part of CPEC and may be given the status of a special economic zone later.

The project, spread over 1,500 acres, is being executed jointly by the Centre, Sindh government, and CPEC Authority with an aim to make it a hub of major economic activities in the province.

The Sindh government received bids for the project in February this year. However, after a two-month evaluation, one of the bids was declared ‘technically unfit’. The provincial government then went for re-bidding in which ZKB emerged successfully. Subsequently, the government issued a Letter of Award (LoA) to the winning firm.

However, the award of the contract was challenged before the court that would take up the matter on Nov 29 (today).

Earlier at a meeting held on Nov 23, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed the hope that all economic zones, including Dhabeji Industrial Zone, would be completed at the earliest and economic activity started there.

He, however, lashed out at the Sindh government for the slow pace of development work in the province.

When contacted, the Sindh government’s spokesman Saeed Ghani said he was not fully aware of the project’s details, but believed that there was nothing wrong with the award of the contract.

Meanwhile, a senior SEZMC official said the provincial government had ensured transparency and fair play in the award as the successful bidder had quoted Rs16.25 billion while the second-lowest bid was Rs13.75bn.

He said the total income to be generated from the project was Rs32bn and the successful bidder would have to pay Rs16bn to the provincial government in five to seven years. The remaining amount would be paid to the provincial government by selling plots in the economic zone, he added.

The official believed that like 17 other industrial zones in the country, the DIZ had so far not attained the status of SEZ but the provincial government would apply for it later.

“Allama Iqbal Economic Zone in Lahore was established in 2006 but got the SEZ status in 2016,” he said, explaining that economic zones did not get the SEZ status right away.

The official said unfortunately the court had been misled by the petitioner, who was claiming that rules of SEZs had not been followed while awarding the contract for DIZ.

Meanwhile, it has been learned that due to litigation, the DIZ project is being delayed as the successful bidder has still not signed the agreement with the Sindh government even a month after the issuance of the LoA.

Under the contract, the successful firm will undertake designing, financing, construction, operation, and maintenance of DIZ on a build, own, operate and transfer basis.

The DIZ is located on the N-5 National Highway, close to Bin Qasim and Karachi ports as well as about 700km from Gwadar Port, which connects the Central Asia Republics, Middle East, Europe, and Africa. According to the layout plan, the DIZ will have 130 heavy, 145 medium, and 211 light industries, 82 warehouses, commercial areas, office areas, grid stations, roads, lanes, mosques, recreation areas, captive power generation facilities, and PTCL/SSGC/K-Electric intake points.

Over 800 suspects detained as hi-tech sting leads to global crackdown on organised crime

Global law enforcement agencies hacked into an app used by criminals and read millions of encrypted messages, leading to hundreds of arrests of organised crime figures in 18 countries, officials said on Tuesday.

The operation by Australian and European police and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ensnared suspects in Australia, Asia, Europe, South America and the Middle East involved in the global narcotics trade, the officials said.

Over 800 suspected members of organised crime gangs were arrested and $148 million in cash seized in raids around the world. Tons of drugs were also seized, the officials said.

Named Operation Trojan Shield by the FBI, it was one of the biggest infiltrations and takeovers of a specialised encrypted network.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the operation “struck a heavy blow against organised crime — not just in this country, but one that will echo … around the world”.

“This is a watershed moment in Australian law enforcement history,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said police there had arrested 224 people, including members of outlawed motorcycle gangs, while New Zealand said it had detained 35 people.

In Europe, officials said 75 Swedish suspects were arrested and over 60 detained in Germany. Forty-nine were arrested in Holland.

The operation was conceived by Australian police and the FBI in 2018, under which officials in the US took control of the An0m messaging app used by organised crime networks.

When an Australian underworld figure began distributing customised phones containing the app to his associates as a secure means to communicate, police could monitor their messages. The gangs believed the system was secure because the phones did not have any other capabilities — no voice or camera functions were loaded — and the app was encrypted.

Criminal groups in more than 100 countries were given the phones, an FBI official said.

“We have been in the back pockets of organised crime,” Kershaw said at the media briefing. “All they talk about is drugs, violence, hits on each other, innocent people who are going to be murdered.”

The messages were brazen and there was no attempt to hide behind any kind of code, he said.

“It was there to be seen, including ‘we’ll have a speedboat meet you at this point’, ‘this is who will do this’ and so on.”

Marked man

Kershaw said the Australian underworld figure, who had absconded from the country, had “essentially set up his own colleagues” by distributing the phones and was a marked man.

“The sooner he hands himself in, the better for him and his family,” he said.

One murder plot that authorities got to know of involved plans to attack a cafe with a machine gun, while a family of five was also targeted. Authorities said they were able to prevent these attacks.

Executing Australia’s largest number of search warrants in one day, police on Monday seized 104 firearms, including a military-grade sniper rifle, as well as almost 45 million Australian dollars in cash. Around $7 million Australian dollars was found in one safe buried beneath a garden shed in a Sydney suburb.

A total of 525 charges have been laid but authorities expect more in the coming weeks.

Malik Muhammad Ashraf Awan New President Sialkot Chamber of Commerce & Industry

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Sialkot – President Malik Muhammad Ashraf Awan Sialkot Chamber of commerce and Industry Continue receive Congratulations oppointed President from Chamber members prominent businessman Mr Sodager Ali and Ijaz Hashmi meet and Congratulaate to his victory .

Impact of initiatives supported by USAID’s Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program

 

 

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–Ijaz Hashmi— Representatives from organizations working throughout Pakistan gathered in Islamabad to celebrate the impact of initiatives supported by USAID’s Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program. Since the funding program was established in 2010, grants have provided assistance to organizations working in some of the most remote and underserved geographic locations in the country and encouraged communities to participate in the local decision-making processes. At the event, beneficiaries told their stories through music, documentary film, personal testimony, traditional arts, and sign language. Their challenges and achievements are now captured in a photo-rich book entitled “Creating Opportunities and Inspiration.”

The Ambassador’s Fund focuses on high-impact, quickly implemented, community-based initiatives. Funding priority areas have included Women’s Issues, Cultural Preservation, Entrepreneurship, Disaster Preparedness, and Wildlife Conservation. While the Small Grants Fund provided relatively larger grants in the areas of Economic Growth, Education, Energy, Health, Civic Participation, and Governance.

U.S. Ambassador Paul Jones, Charge d’Affaires, a.i., noted “The full impact of assistance sometimes takes a while to reveal itself. The most extraordinary thing about the success stories we are celebrating today is they are very likely just the beginning of a much longer tale. In many cases, the good work each of your organizations has done will continue to impact your communities well into the future in ways we may not yet imagine. ”

Roughly 200 guests including representatives from the Governments of Pakistan and the U.S., civil society representatives, development practitioners, community leaders, grant recipients, and project beneficiaries attended the event. USAID Pakistan #USPAK #USinPAK #AFCP#SmallGrants