US assures support to arrest, kill Fazlullah, Senate committee told
COAS informed US of Indian interference, panel told
ISLAMABAD: Defence officials said Monday that the United States has assured Pakistan that Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) chief Mullah Fazlullah would either be arrested or killed in Afghanistan, adding that in case of an arrest he would be subsequently handed over to Pakistan.
Briefing a Senate Defence Committee in Islamabad, defence officials said that during his long visit to the US, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif had also presented vital evidence of Indian involvement in subversive activities in Pakistan by using Afghan soil to top US intelligence and defence officials.
Defence officials said US would also give Pakistan 1 billion USD this year under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF).
The committee was briefed that the US would further give Pakistan used defence equipment to meet its security challenges for which the process had already begun.
Committee chairman Mushahid Hussain and members expressed displeasure over the absence of Defence Minister Khawaja Asif from the meeting.
A day after the Peshawar school attack, Gen Raheel had also visited Kabul where he sought handover of Mullah Fazlullah.
On Jan 14, the US State Department had designated the TTP chief as a ‘global terrorist’.
Fazlullah was elected TTP commander in November 2013, following the death of former leader Hakimullah Mehsud.
Under the leadership of Fazlullah, TTP claimed responsibility for the December 16, 2014 attack on a school in Peshawar that resulted in the deaths of at least 150 people, mostly students.
Prior to becoming TTP leader, Fazlullah claimed he was behind the killing of Pakistani Army Major General Sanaullah Niazi in September 2013, as well as ordering the shooting of schoolgirl and activist Malala Yousafzai in 2012.
Pak fuel crisis weighing on credit worthiness
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s ongoing fuel shortage that has led to worsening power blackouts is weighing on its credit worthiness and hindering its ability to meet key reform targets laid out by the IMF, ratings agency Moody’s warned Monday.
The country is currently in the grip of one of its worst power crises in years due to a shortfall in imported oil, with the situation exacerbated Sunday by an attack on a key powerline in restive Balochistan province.
Moody’s said that increasing energy imports without addressing structural issues that create so-called circular debt “will further strain Pakistan’s budget and balance of payments, a credit negative”.
“Fuel shortages also reflect the strained finances of state-owned distribution companies and the fuel importer, Pakistan State Oil corporation, and are a setback to the sector’s progress on reforms made so far under Pakistan’s financial support program with the International Monetary Fund.”
The IMF granted a $6.6-billion loan to Pakistan in September 2013 on the condition that it carry out extensive economic reforms, particularly in the energy and taxation sectors.
Moody’s, which in July 2014 upgraded Pakistan’s rating outlook from “negative” to “stable” in a boon for the shaky South Asian economy, said that structural reforms had been a “key driver” in its decision last year.
“Circular debt” — brought on by the dual effect of the government setting low electricity prices and customers failing to pay — is at the heart of the crisis.
State utilities lose money, and cannot pay private power generating companies, which in turn cannot pay the oil and gas suppliers, who cut off the supply.
The fuel crisis began last week when Pakistan State Oil was forced to slash imports because banks refused to extend any more credit to the government-owned company, which supplies 80 per cent of the country’s oil.
The shortfall led to long queues of angry motorists at petrol stations, though these have since dissipated as fuel supplies have reached the pumps.
But Moody’s warned that the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which made solving the energy crisis a key campaign pledge, had so far failed to offer policy solutions and increasing oil supplies would only add to the fiscal burden.
“The government’s targeted fiscal deficit of 4.5 per cent of GDP in fiscal 2015 from 4.7 per cent in fiscal 2014 is already impeded by delays in implementing electricity tariff adjustments and legal challenges related to tax collections,” it said.
Increasing fuel imports, which currently comprise 35 per cent of total imports would further weigh on Pakistan’s import bill, it added. - AFP
Begum Kulsoom Saifullah passes away
PESHAWAR: Prominent political figure, social activist and Pakistan’s first female federal minister Begum Kulsoom Saifullah Khan passed away on Monday.
Begum Kulsoom was the Peshawar patron of Saif Group and Chairperson Saifullah Foundation for Sustainable Development.
She is survived by five sons, Humayun Saifullah Khan, Anwar Saifullah Khan, Salim Saifullah Khan, Javed Saifullah Khan and Iqbal Saifullah Khan.
Her funeral prayer would be offered at Karnal Sher Khan Stadium Peshawar today at 3pm.
She was commended for her distinguished services to Pakistan in a career spanning the corporate, social and political spectrum.
An active worker, a participant in the Pakistan Independence Movement and a founding member of the All Pakistan Women’s Association(APWA) since 1947, Begum Kulsoom served as an advisor to the founder of APWA Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan till 1951.
She was a founding member of the Sarhad Handicapped Children’s Association and also served as the NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) president of the craft council and as a member of the National Council for Population Planning.
From 1964 till 1990, along with being the Chairperson Saif Group of Companies, Begum Kulsoom was a founding member of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WCCI), a founding Member of the Pakistan Association of Women Entrepreneurs and the NWFP(now KP) President of the Pakistan Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Association.
She has also represented Pakistan as a delegate at the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations International Council on population and at the World Conference to review and appraise the achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace.
As a public representative, Begum Kulsoom served as a Member of the Provincial Assembly NWFP (now KP), Member of the Federal Council and also as a Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan.
The first woman federal minister in Pakistan’s history, she served as the Minister for Population Welfare and Organisation and Methods (Management Services Division).
She had also served as the Minister of State for Commerce.
During a glittering ceremony held at the Aiwan-i-Sadr on the occasion of Pakistan Day in 2008, former President Pervez Musharaf had conferred the prestigious Hilal-i-Imtiaz civilian award upon Begum Kulsoom for her meritorious and distinguished services to Pakistan.
ATC declares Fazlullah, Shahid as POs
KARACHI: An Anti-Terrorism Court on Monday declared banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Chief Mullah Fazlullah, spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid and six others as proclaimed offenders in Karachi Airport attack case.
Police produced three accused Asif Zaheer, Sarmad Siddiqui and Nadeem alias Burger before ATC judge under tight secutity. During the investigation the court declared Fazlullah and Shahid as proclaimed offenders.
At least 28 people, including personnel of the Airport Security Force (ASF) and 10 foreign militants were killed during the attack on Karachi airport on 8 June 2014. TTP and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (UMI) had claimed the responsibility for the attack.
The main case 87/14 was registered under Sections 302, 324, 353, 427 (mischief casing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage, etc), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc), 109 (abetment) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code and 4/5 of the Explosive Substances Act read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 at Airport police station. - PPI
PHC orders govt to maintain services of teachers
ABBOTTABAD: Peshawar High Court (PHC) Abbottabad bench ordered to maintain the services of 2300 Subject Specialists (SST), Secondary School Teachers (SST) at their posts and promote the affected teachers in the province.
The previous government in 2007 inducted 2300 SS and SST on temporary basis and later on regularized them, affecting hundreds of regular teachers waiting for promotion in the province
The induction and regularization was later challenged by the teachers association in PHC Abbottabad bench.
The bench comprising Justice Seth Waqar and Justice Musarrat Hilali while giving the detailed verdict ordered provincial government to continue the services of the 2300 SS and SST teachers where they were inducted and also ordered to compensate the affected teachers through departmental promotions. - APP
Pakistan is our irreplaceable all-weather friend: China
Beijing: Calling Pakistan an “irreplaceable” all-weather friend, China on Monday pledged full support to it amid the high-profile visit of US President Barack Obama to India.
The comments came as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi other leaders met visiting Pakistani army chief General Raheel Sharif. According to Pakistan army spokesman Asim Bajwa, during the meeting Yi told Sharif, “Pakistan is China’s irreplaceable all weather friend and both countries part of community of shared destiny.”
Sharif’s visit to China comes as Obama warmed up to India with an unprecedented second visit. Pakistan is under pressure from both India and the US over the issue of terrorism with calls to impose a complete ban on Jamaat-ud- Dawah and its chief, Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed.
Sharif, who is here on a two-day visit, also met Chairman of the People’s Conference Yu Zhengsheng and senior leader Meng Jianzhu. Meng, member Politburo — the second highest council within the Communist Party — assured Sharif that China has consistent policy on Pakistan that is beyond individuals, adding that Pakistan’s concern is China’s concern. “Mr Meng Member Politburo to #COAS: On #Pak, #China has consistent policy beyond individuals. Pak concern is China’s concern,” Bajwa, Director-General Inter Services Public Relations, tweeted.
Zhengsheng said that Pakistan has always stood by China and termed it as its “the most reliable partner”. The Chinese government and the people will help Pakistan in all respects, he said. Sharif thanked the Chinese leaders for inviting him, saying the world must understand the evolving environment. “Greater international focus, coordination is needed to end the fight against terrorism,” he said. - Agencies
Pak-Afghan comdrs discuss border security at GHQ
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan’s military commanders on Monday met at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi to discuss security-related matters of the two countries’ border. A high-level delegation of the Afghan Border Police (ABP) was led by Lt Gen Shafiq Fazli while Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmad led the Pakistan army in the talks.
“Matters relating to border security and measures to enhance the existing border coordination mechanism were discussed,” according to a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
The Afghan commander apprised Pakistan about the joint operations launched against suspected terrorist hideouts in Afghan territory and said hundreds of militants have been killed by the army.
The ISPR said the visit by the Afghan delegation is a sequel to the series of meetings planned on both sides of the border after the recent visits of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif to Afghanistan and his meetings with senior Afghan civil and military leaders in the aftermath of the Dec 16 deadly assault in Peshawar’s Army Public School that killed 150 people, most of whom were children.
Nawaz pens letter to Modi in attempt to thaw icy relations with India
ISLAMABAD: While India celebrated its 66th Republic Day — with a high-profile official visit by the US president — just weeks after trading heavy crossfire on its borders with Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif got his words across with a letter of felicitations for his Indian counterpart.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has written a letter to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, expressing his desire to forge “friendly and cooperative” relations between the two neighbouring countries.
Felicitating, on behalf of people and government of Pakistan, Modi and the people of India on their 66th Republic Day, the prime minister wrote, “It is our sincere wish to forge relations between our two countries.”
Reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to developing friendly relations with India on the basis of sovereign equality, respect and common interests, the premier said that Pakistan believes that both countries can work together for the well being of people of countries, development and attainment of common goal of peaceful and prosperous region.
“I avail myself of this opportunity to you, and for the happiness and prosperity of the people of Indian,” Nawaz wrote.
The year kicked off with an escalation in deadly border violations, with two soldiers being killed in cross-border firing with Indian border guards near the Sialkot working boundary on January 1, spurring a ‘strong’ protest from Islamabad.
Islamabad has blamed New Delhi for ceasefire violations along the LoC and working boundary in a bid to distract its security forces from the ongoing fight against terrorism.
Asfand to demand full poll audit if PTI commission is formed
CHARSADDA: Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali on Monday said that his party would demand a complete audit of the 2013 general election if a judicial commission is formed upon protests of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Speaking at a public gathering organised to mark death anniversaries of former ANP chiefs Wali Khan and Bacha Khan, he warned the government against forming the judicial commission on PTI Chairman Imran Khan's demand saying the party would demand a probe into rigging allegations of the 2013 polls across the country including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Imran Khan's PTI is the ruling party in the province.
The ANP president said that some forces were creating hurdles in the way of implementation of newly formed National Action Plan (NAP) to eradicate terrorism form the country.
He claimed that the KP government was responsible for the deadly Dec 16 Taliban attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar. He added that the provincial government, however, was denying their negligence in the incident.
"The provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa tried to shift the responsibility of APS attack on army while ignoring the fact that the terrorists reached the school using civil areas of the district," he said.
He said it was a great failure on part of the provincial government that they had no monitoring system of terrorist activities in civil areas which resulted in APS tragedy. ANP president said the federal and provincial governments should pay attention to difficulties of displaced persons of Waziristan and take pragmatic measures for their early resettlement.
Asfandyar said India has greatly progressed by implementing Bacha Khan's philosophy of nonviolence. Whereas, he added, terrorism and unrest have flourished in Pakistan due to negligence of the Bacha Khan's philosophy.
Five die in Nasirabad landmine blast
DERA MURAD JAMALI: At least five persons, including two brothers, died and one sustained injuries in a landmine blast in Soonwah area of Nasirabad district on Monday.
According to police, a Chithar-bound pickup coming from Dera Murad Jamali, stumbled over a landmine. Five persons including a retired police sub-inspector died while Syed Irfan Shah was wounded.
The dead included ex sub-inspector Muhammad Saleh Shah, Qurban Shah, two brothers Yar Muhammad and Muhammad Ibrahim, and a Hindu trader Lal Chand. The injured was shifted to a nearby hospital.
Local administration officials and police reached the blast site and cordoned off the area. - APP
Surprise searches conducted on 2 PIA planes in London
LONDON: Two planes belonging to national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were searched by British authorities as they landed in London on Monday.
Customs and immigration authorities searched the two PIA planes without disclosing details regarding the reason for the search.
Sources said passengers and flight crew were thoroughly searched along with luggage after flights PK 785 from Islamabad and PK 787 from Karachi landed in London. Aircraft equipment was also searched by customs authorities, with the raid lasting approximately one hour.
Sources added that the British authorities were in search of a specific person or item, but did not divulge details regarding the identity.
PIA spokesperson Rana Hanif told the spontaneous search of PIA passengers and aircraft by British authorities is ‘routine’.
“These searches have become the norm. They check us whenever they want, even after the passengers have gone through their security checks. They offload passengers from the plane too. When they find nothing, they allow them to board and the plane to take off,” he said. He added that the last such incident occurred about a month ago.
“PIA has taken this up with British authorities through the Home Ministry,” Hanif said, “Our country manager has also complained and a letter has been sent asking why these searches happen when the passengers have already gone through security checks at the airport.
He added: “As a nation we are humiliated, but we cannot put pressure on them.... look at the state of our country’s security.”
Religious Affairs minister draws ire for delaying PIA flight
KARACHI: After Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Rehman Malik, it is Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Mohammad Yousuf who invited passengers’ wrath for what appears to be a delay in the take-off of PIA flight PK-741 on Monday.
The said flight was scheduled to depart from Islamabad to Jeddah but there was a delay of about 30 minutes. Some politicians were also said to be present among the passengers.
It later emerged that the flight was waiting for the religious affairs minister who was due to come to the airport. Angry passengers protested at the airport’s waiting lounge against what they called was an example of ‘VIP culture’ that allows influential people to call in favours, and also chanted ‘Go Nawaz Go’ slogans.
Sensing the sensitivity of the situation upon his arrival at the airport, the federal minister is said to have issued an apology but passengers still continued with their protests after which they boarded the plane. The take-off was subsequently delayed by an hour.
Last year in September, former interior minister Rehman Malik and PML-N MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar Wakwani had sparked outrage over the delay of PIA’s flight PK-370. The two were accused of holding the plane back while other passengers waited for hour.
The incident — which was filmed and uploaded to video-sharing site Dailymotion — created a storm on Twitter and Facebook, with users applauding the passengers of PK-370 for successfully barring the lawmakers from boarding the aircraft.
MD NESPAK tasked to probe into power outage in 48 hours: Asif
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Monday said that Managing Director NESPAK has been tasked to submit inquiry report with in 48 hours into country wide power breakdown.
Addressing at a press conference here flanked by State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali, the minister refuted that shortage of furnace oil was the cause of power outage. He said blowing up of transmission and gas pipelines to power plants caused tripping to national grid system.
He said power supply to maximum areas have been restored and the whole system would be fully restored till evening.
The minister said technical help were also sought from USAID and China State Grid to isolate the system in case of sabotage activity and avoid such situation in future.
He said load-management would be restricted 6-8 hours in urban and rural areas respectively in next two days.
He said hydel generation has also started improving and after opening of canals closed for annual de-silting in few days, it would be significantly improved.
Asif refuted the news item regarding shortage of furnace oil to the power plants and clarified that furnace oil was regularly supplied to all thermal power plants.
“Sufficient stock of furnace oil has been taken from Pakistan State Oil and other oil companies,” he added.
He said that 12 more cargo of furnace oil have already been booked and no crisis would emerged due to shortage of furnace oil. - APP