Govt agrees to increase defence budget up to 20pc
ISLAMABAD: In light of the changing internal and external security situation, the government has decided to review the allocated budget to defence.
On Saturday, Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar and country's Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif met in Islamabad. According to a press release of the meeting, the two discussed budgetary requirements of the army for the year 2014-15.
According to DawnNews Ishaq Dar and Raheel Sharif agreed to increase the defence budget from 15 to 20 per cent for the coming fiscal year.
With a 15 to 20 per cent increase, the final figure for the country's defence budget is likely to exceed Rs700bn - a significant boost to the existing Rs627bn for the current fiscal year.
Currently the country's defence spending stand at Rs627.2.
According to press release, Dar acknowledged the need to ensure fulfillment of requirements of defence in the light of current security situation.
He assured the army chief that defence is of paramount importance to the country and hence necessary resources will be allocated.
The meeting comes at a time when the military is gearing up for a possible offensive in the tribal areas.
It may be mentioned here that the Pakistan archrival India has raised its defence budget by 10 percent for the fiscal year 2013-14.
India's Finance Minister P Chidambaram announced that the defence budget was being raised to a staggering Rs2.24 trillion - with about Rs8.9 billion set aside for acquisitions by the armed forces and Rs1.34 trillion earmarked for payment of salaries and pensions and other expenses.
Previously, the Indian government, engaged in a massive programme to upgrade the country's ageing military hardware, increased defence spending to Rs1.93 trillion rupees ($40 billion) for the financial year that ended in March 31, 2013.
Direct talks with Taliban
Centre seeks KP’s representation
NOWSHERA: Chief Minister Pervez Khattak on Saturday said the federal government has taken Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government into confidence over its decision to open direct negotiations with Taliban and sought the name of a representative from the province in this regard.
Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, while talking to media persons in Manki Sharif, Nowhera, confirmed that he has been approached by the federal government to name a public representative to be included in the government committee.
"We have sent three names to the federal government in which one name will be picked to have our representation in the talks committee for direct talks with the Taliban," Khattak said.
He said that an announcement regarding the name would be made only after the approval by the federal government.
The chief minister said that talks with Taliban have entered second phase and hoped that these efforts would help restore peace.
"There will be direct talks with Taliban now, however, the decision regarding its place has not been fanilised yet," Khattak said.
He said this is the first time that the centre has taken the provincial government into the confidence over the issue.
Khattak said the PTI stand has been clear since the beginning that all disputes can be resolved though talks.
"Neither war is solution to problems nor peace can be restored through it," he added.
He claimed the law and order situation has improved in the province and performance of the police is enhancing with each day passing.
He said steps have been taken to make police of the province a strong force, adding the government is making new legislation so that terrorism can be controlled.
He linked good governance with the end of corruption in the province.
NJC for shifting courts to secure premises
ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee was held on Saturday with Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani in the chair.
The committee condemned the incident which took place in the Islamabad district courts where precious lives were lost and courts are dysfunctional since then.
The committee recommended for immediate shifting of courts and asked the government to house the courts in a secure and gated premises so that courts could perform their functions in a peaceful environment.
The Chief Justice, who is also chairman of the committee, said constitutionally, provision of inexpensive and expeditious justice was foremost responsibility of State but Judiciary was also equally responsible to deliver speedy justice which is essential for rule of law in the society.
The committee reviewed the performance of district judiciary with reference to old cases and noted that the district judiciary has decided a good number of cases.
The chairman appreciated the judicial officers and observed that it all happened due to their whole-hearted efforts.
The committee also reviewed the implementation status of its recommendations regarding allocation of additional funds to strengthen district judiciary in terms of human resource and infrastructure.
The Chief Justice of AJK informed the meeting that the buildings of Supreme Court and High Court of Azad Jammu & Kashmir at Muzaffarabad were badly damaged in the earthquake of 2005 but due to lukewarm response of government, the courts are functioning in the dilapidated buildings despite the fact that the Building Department of AJK in its three reports has declared both the buildings unfit for use.
The chairman took serious note of the situation and asked the relevant Government for reconstruction of buildings.
The committee also considered different suggestions regarding expeditious disposal of cases of Overseas Pakistanis.
The Chief Justice observed that the overseas Pakistanis are contributing in the socio-political and economic development of the country through remittances and are our ambassadors but unfortunately due to weak law and order situation and tedious procedures, they have to face difficulties in pursuing their cases in the homeland.
Realizing the difficulties of expatriate Pakistanis, a Wing in the Human Right Cell of Supreme Court Pakistan has been established to entertain their complaints for quick relief.
The D.G Human Rights Cell, Supreme Court of Pakistan briefed the meeting about the working of Cell.
The Committee was informed that the courts have been directed to decide all such civil cases within a period of six months in which an expatriate Pakistani is a party.
After deliberations, the Committee recommended the Government to consider desirability of establishment of separate police stations preferably at divisional levels to entertain complaints of the expatriate Pakistanis.
The Committee also recommended that help lines may be established in each High Court to provide legal assistance to overseas Pakistanis and awareness about remedies available under laws.
The meeting was briefed about the working of Mobile Courts established in the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for expeditious justice by resolving disputes at local level through Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism.
The Committee appreciated the innovated approach and termed it a unique experience in Pakistan.
The Secretary, Law and Justice Commission informed the meeting that pursuant to decision of Full Court of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, an International Judicial Conference is being organized on 18-19 April.
The meeting was informed that to make the event meaningful and result-oriented, chief justices, judges and jurists from other jurisdictions have been invited.
In addition, renowned jurists/scholars have been requested for presenting papers on the selected topics in the conference.
The Committee appreciated the idea and observed that previously such events proved fruitful and provided opportunity to evolve strategies for improving the performance of administration of justice.
The Committee also considered the complaints of district attorneys regarding their deficient service structure and non-availability of promotion venues beyond BPS-19.
After deliberations, the Committee referred the matter to provincial governments for improving the service structure of district attorneys. - APP
PM takes serious notice of Kh. Asif’s statement
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday has taken serious notice of defence minister Khwaja Asif’s latest statement regarding launching a full-fledged operation against Taliban if violation of ceasefire continues.
According to a private television report, the PM takes notice of the statement because he still wanted to resolve the problem through dialogue.
The PM thinks to impose a ban on ministers not to give any statement regarding dialogues and operation against Taliban.
Asif told a foreign news agency on Saturday that the government would not hesitate to bomb TTP hideouts or send forces into the tribal areas if the Taliban did not abide by the ceasefire announced last weekend.
"It will not take months now. We'll have to march in the month of March," Asif said in the interview, describing the government's response if insurgents persisted in their attacks despite the ceasefire.
"If there is a ceasefire, it has to be complete. Without that, we just can't afford to have talks with the Taliban." - INP
Malaysia plane carrying 239 ‘crashes into sea’
KUALA LUMPUR: An airliner carrying almost 240 passengers and crew has 'disappeared' during a flight from Malaysia to China.
Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 took off at 12.41am local time on Saturday from Kuala Lumpur and was due to land in Beijing at 6.05am the same day.
But air traffic controllers lost communication with the plane shortly after it left Malaysia.
Two of the passengers on board were travelling on stolen Italian and Austrian passports, it has emerged.
Luigi Maraldi and Christian Kozel were thought to have been on the the plane, but have since been reported safe and well.
Investigators are not ruling out any explanation for the missing flight.
A Vietnamese navy officer initially said the plane had crashed 153 miles off the coast of Vietnam's Tho Chu island.
These reports were later denied and a major search is now underway to try and locate the missing plane in the South China Sea.
A 12-mile oil slick has been spotted by Vietnamese Navy crews off the south coast of the country and is being investigated.
The Boeing 777-200 jet's passengers on the 2,746-mile journey totalled 239, including two infants and 12 crew members.
There were 14 different nationalities on board.
Malaysian Airways confirmed the plane had lost contact with Subang Air Traffic Control at 2.40am (SAT) local time - or 6.40pm (FRI) around 120 miles off Kota Bharu over the South China Sea.
The airline said in a statement: "Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft.
"The airline will provide regular updates on the situation."
A weather map of the area where the plane was last reported did not show any storm activity.
Well-wishers and worried relatives left almost 4,000 comments on the airline's Facebook page. - Agencies
Sindh govt reshuffles baboos in drought-affected areas
23 children died so far: NDMA
KARACHI: Sindh government who has waked up after media reports regarding drought related sufferings and casualties in Thar, now has taken cosmetic move and shaken up bureaucracy in drought affected areas.
According to notification issued by Chief Secretary Sindh, Sajjad Saleem Hotiyana, Commissioner Mirpurkhas Ghulam Mustafa, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Tharparkar Makhdom Aqeeluz Zaman and Superintendent of Police (SP) Tharparkar Abid Qaim Khani have been removed from their posts.
Jamal Abro has been designated as new Commissioner Mirpurkhas, Asif Ikram designated as deputy commissioner Tharparkar and Munir Shiekh will be the new SP of Tharparkar.
Conflicting reports have emerged that all three men have been suspended on the negligence whereas other said they have only been removed from their positions.
PM pledges support
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has pledged full support to the Sindh government in assisting people suffering from severe shortages of food, water and medicines in large areas of the Tharparkar district.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the prime minister said all available resources should be brought to use in order to assist the large numbers of women nursing their sick children and hungry people waiting for food in villages.
As many as 23 children have died in the villages of Tharparkar since the start of February, Kamran Zia, National Disaster Management Authority's chief spokesman, said Saturday. He said it was unclear whether the children died from a shortage of food or medical problems. Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon has rejected reports about Sindh government having refused to accept Punjab's offer of assistance in the backdrop of famine-like situation in Tharparkar district.
The minister said that neither the Punjab government extended such an offer nor the Sindh government rejected that.
Meanwhile, relief teams of Pakistan Army have reached Mithi and Tharparkar to help the drought affected population.
First polio case detected in SWA
PESHAWAR: The first polio case was surfaced in South Waziristan Agency (SWA) was detected on Saturday. National Institute of Health (NIH) said that a six-month old girl hailing from tehsil Bairmal of SWA was found affected with polio virus.
With recent case total number of polio cases since Jan 1, 2014 has reached 24 in FATA.
It should be mentioned that most of the polio cases have been detected in FATA where children were deprived of anti-polio vaccination due to militancy and suspicious about the vaccine.
Surge in polio virus in FATA has increased the worries of health authorities which are struggling to clear the country of the virus. - INP
Report on death of judge Rafaqat Awan released
ISLAMABAD: Additional Sessions Judge Rafaqat Ahmad Khan Awan (Shaheed) received bullets from the official revolver No.522228D issued on 23.01.2014 to his gunman Constable Babar Hussain, C/4311, Security Division, Islamabad, said a police report on Saturday.
The investigation of tragic incident of F-8 district courts is underway, under different teams of police and the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).
According to initial evidence, Rafaqat Awan was martyred inside chamber behind his courtroom, where his blood was found on the floor, with no signs of dripping blood anywhere else.
There is no evidence of any distant gunshot of Kalashnikov 7.62 mm (used by terrorists) in the courtroom, on the door of the chamber or any place/wall inside the chamber, the report said.
It further said there was evidence of contact shot (with gun-powder blackening) on the door of the chamber, which suggested a small entry and not a 7.62 mm bullet (Kalashnikov).
"There is also evidence of another shot of revolver on the wooden wall of the chamber fired from inside; slug has been recovered from the scene.
"There is corresponding evidence of two shots on the clothes of the Shaheed (martyred) ASJ. The entry hole on the vest clearly shows blackening, which proves a near-contact shot from a small arm and not a 7.62 mm bullet (Kalashnikov)," the report added. - APP
‘India has serious concerns over terrorism in Pak’
NEW DELHI: India on Saturday said it has serious concerns over terrorism in Pakistan and it has to deal with it in the best possible manner as terrorism "cannot be responded by terrorism".
"We have to deal with Pakistan in the best manner possible given the circumstances given the fact that we cannot respond terrorism with terrorism. We are seen as a force for moderation, reason, stability and the good sense and that is a huge asset that we should never let go," Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh told journalists.
She also talked about "harsh realities" in Pakistan which need to be recognised. "We still have serious concerns about terrorism in Pakistan. We have serious concerns over many incidents that have happened that seemed to keep our efforts to normalise relations back," she said.
She was asked if India was soft on Pakistan because there was a 'disconnect' between the political will and foreign policy implementation in the country.
"We are all on the same page in the government," she added. INP
Afghan border police fire 25 mortar shells inside Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: Afghan border police on Saturday fired 25 mortar shells inside Pakistan territory on Saturday, military sources said.
The sources said the shelling continued from Tarkhobi camp on Afghan border intermittently from 09:30am to 11:25am.
However, no life or property loss was reported on Pakistan side. A protest has been lodged with the Afghan authorities over the incident. - INP
Hearing adjourned as prosecutor fails to appear
RAWALPINDI: The Rawalpindi anti-terrorist court on Saturday adjourned the Benazir Bhutto murder case to March 22 after Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) special prosecutor Mohammad Azhar Chaudhry failed to appear before it on account of security concerns, DawnNews reported.
The case was heard Saturday by ATC judge Pervez Joya within the premises of the Adiyala prison.
During the hearing, former City Police Officer (CPO) of Rawalpindi Saud Aziz, former SP Rawal Town Khurram Shahzad and Malik Safdar Javed Advocate appeared before the judge.
The hearing was however adjourned on account of the special prosecutor's absence.
Azhar, who took over as special prosecutor in the case just last year, assumed the position after his predecessor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali was shot dead in Islamabad's G-9 area in May 2013. - Agencies
© Copyright 2012 - Daily The Statesman - All rights reserved.
Bilal Town, GT Road Peshawar City
12 SNC Center, Fazlul Haq Road, Blue Area
22, 1st floor, Aiwan-e-Mashriq, 17 Abbortt Road
Room No 4, 1st Floor, Abdul Rusool Building