Pakistan News

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Monday that the two-day visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping will usher in a new era of development in Pakistan.

Talking to the top executives of three leading Chinese companies, China Huaneng Group, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Zonergy Corporation at the prime minister house, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the government would extend all possible facilitation to the Chinese companies to ensure timely completion of the planned projects.

The premier appreciated the role of the companies for undertaking various projects in Pakistan including ones that are part of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (PCEC) Project.

He said that Pakistan is facing acute shortage of energy and the government has made a commitment to the people of Pakistan to meet this shortage during its tenure, hence a lot of emphasis is being laid on timely completion of these projects, particularly those in the energy sector.

Nawaz was pleased to note that ICBC, the largest bank in the world, will look into the possibility of setting up economic zones in Pakistan.

Leaders of the Chinese delegation said the strong Pakistan-China friendship provides an excellent platform for boosting business relations between the two countries and said they are pleased to be part of building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Federal Minister for Water and Power Khwaja Muhammad Asif, Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan's Ambassador to China Masood Khalid and Secretary Water and Power Younus Dagha also attended the meeting.

Chinese president arrives in Islamabad on historic visit

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Islamabad on his maiden visit to Pakistan on Monday. The much anticipated visit is the first by a Chinese president to Pakistan after nine years.

The Chinese president was received at the Noor Khan airbase by President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif and members of the prime minister's cabinet.

Accompanying the Chinese president is a high-level delegation comprising businessmen, high-level functionaries of the Communist Party of China and senior government officials.

A 21-gun salute and guard of honour was presented to welcome the Chinese president.

Children clad in colourful traditional clothes waved Pakistani and Chinese flags and sang anthems of Pakistan-China friendship as the Chinese President and the first lady passed by, Radio Pakistan reported.

The Chinese President shook hands with the children who also showered rose petals on the visiting guest. Traditional folk dance was also presented on the occasion.

KARACHI: Pakistani lawmakers’ call for the government to remain neutral on the escalating crisis in Yemen has evoked a strong response from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“The vague and contradictory stands of Pakistan and Turkey are an absolute proof that Arab security — from Libya to Yemen — is the responsibility of none but Arab countries,” UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash said.

Speaking to renowned Emirati newspaper Khaleej Times, Garhash warned Pakistan of having to pay a “heavy price” for taking on what he called an “ambiguous stand”. He added that Pakistan should take a clear position “in favour of its strategic relations with the six-nation Arab Gulf cooperation Council”.

“The Arabian Gulf is in a dangerous confrontation, its strategic security is on the edge, and the moment of truth distinguishes between the real ally and the ally of media and statements,” Gargash tweeted moments after the Pakistani parliament passed the resolution insisting on neutrality in the Yemen conflict.

Gargash went to symbolise Pakistan’s resolution as equivalent of siding up with Iran instead of the Gulf. “Tehran seems to be more important to Islamabad and Ankara than the Gulf countries,” Gargash said.

“Though our economic and investment assets are inevitable, political support is missing at critical moments,” he added.

The statement comes a day after the Parliament passed a unanimous resolution vowing to defend Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity and the holy places of Makkah and Madinah. None of these locations appear to have so far been threatened by the conflict.

“Pakistan should play a mediating role and not get involved in the fighting in Yemen,” the resolution stated, adding that “the Parliament of Pakistan ... underscores the need for continued efforts by the government of Pakistan to find a peaceful resolution of the crisis”.

“[Parliament] desires that Pakistan should maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict so as to be able to play a proactive diplomatic role to end the crisis,” it stated.

The Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes against Houthi rebels on March 26 in support of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after they seized the capital and forced him to flee to Aden. The government of Pakistan has so far not announced a decision on Saudi Arabia’s request for Islamabad to join a coalition fighting Houthi rebels by contributing jets, navy ships and ground troops.

LAHORE: Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif has called for making collective efforts to give the next generation a terrorism-free and prosperous Pakistan and to provide them a conducive environment which could help them apply their knowledge and creativity to achieve optimum effects for national growth.

“Our young and upcoming generation is our future. And it can only be saved if we make joint efforts for giving them a terror-free and prosperous Pakistan,” the COAS said while addressing the third convocation of CMH Lahore Medical College on Saturday.

“We are taking menace of terrorism head on and will go anywhere in the country to eliminate it completely,” he pledged.

He said Pakistan Army besides performing its role as custodian of national frontiers had always been a forerunner in terms of its contribution to national development.


Raheel calls for collective efforts for prosperity


Gen Sharif said the entrenched role of Army Medical Corps in serious disasters, calamities and military operations against the evil of terrorism and extremism had been highly impressive.

He said physical, mental and social health was a prelude to a strong nation and provision of professional health services to the common man must be everyone’s priority. He said extensive and continuous research was the national need without which no institution could achieve excellence.

Later, the COAS gave away degrees and medals to students.

Commander Lahore Corps Lt Gen Naweed Zaman attended the ceremony.

ISLAMABAD: Two Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) planes are ready to depart for Yemen on Saturday in order to bring back the Pakistanis currently stranded there in wake of the military offensive launched by Saudi Arabia and its allies on Huthi rebels in Yemen, spokesman for the PM house told Dawn.

The planes will depart as soon as they receive clearance from aviation authorities and the Embassy of Pakistan in Sanaa, the spokesman said.

Upon directions of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a comprehensive plan has been devised for the evacuation of Pakistanis stranded in Yemen.

The spokesman said as state system is collapsing in the war-torn country, most airports are no more functional, because of which some families would be safely taken to Yemen's neighbouring countries in the form of convoys and airlifted to Pakistan from there.

The prime minister has directed the Embassy of Pakistan in Yemen as well as other concerned departments to take all possible measures for ensuring safety of each and every member of the Pakistani community living in Yemen.

In a statement the premier said, "our hearts beat with our brothers and sisters in distress".

The spokesman said the prime minister is himself monitoring the situation and has asked to be kept updated on an hourly basis.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Taekwondo black belt Ahmad Amin Bodla has broken two Guinness World Records for the most martial arts full contact knee strikes and most knuckle push-ups in one minute.

Talking to APP, Bodla said he broke the Guinness World Records for the most martial arts full contact knee strikes and most knuckle push-ups in one minute with 108 knee strikes and 66 push-ups.

“The record for the knee strikes in one minute was previously 79 and was held by me only while the record for knuckle push-ups was held by Bobby Natoli from USA with 58 reps,” he said, adding he broke the world records last week in Lahore.

Bodla said it is always an honour to break Guinness World Records. “I am thankful to my family, teachers and friends for their immense support,” he said.

Bodla said, due to his university routine he is unable to train properly for these feats but still tries to do his best. “I am looking forward to attempt tougher world records in the near future. “

Last year, Bodla broke the record of American Master Raul Meza with 355 kicks in one minute ─ a world record that was set over three years ago.

ISLAMABAD: The Aviation Division on Friday informed the National Assembly standing committee on planning, development and reforms that 80 per cent work on the New Islamabad Airport is complete and the facility would be operational in the last quarter of 2016.

However, a senior officer of the division had no satisfactory answer when asked how water would be arranged for the airport.

The airport project was conceived in 1984 for which the acquisition of land started near Fatehjang the same year.


Secretary Aviation Division Mohammad Ali Gardezi has no satisfactory answer to questions about airport water supply


In 2004, the then prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, inaugurated the work on the project. But the construction of the airport was started without the approval of any design.

The PC-I of Rs37 billion was approved in 2008 but it did not contain the establishment of the fuel system, radar and radio control building, aprons, sewage treatment plants, supply of electricity and water to the airport.

The new airport with 90 check-in counters and a parking facility for 2,000 vehicles will cater to nine million people every year.

Secretary Aviation Division Mohammad Ali Gardezi assured the committee that the airport would be completed in the last quarter of 2016.

In reply to questions, Mr Gardezi said initially the government of Punjab had agreed to supply water to the airport from Shahpur Dam in the Attock district. However, as the project faced delays, the provincial government diverted the water to the agriculture and residential sectors.

“Now the provincial government has refused to provide water from the dam to the airport. We have proposed that three small dams should be constructed to store rainwater but that water would be sufficient only for four months. There is another proposal to construct a big dam,” he said.

MNA Dr Nafisa Shah said she was not convinced that the airport would be operational even by the end of 2016.

“It is unfortunate that the basic necessity of water could not be arranged for such an important project,” she said.

Mr Gardezi said the cost of the project had increased from Rs37 billion to Rs81 billion. It might go up further due to the devaluation of the rupee and the price hikes. So far, he added, Rs40 billion had been spent on the project.

In reply to another question, the official attributed the delay in the completion of the project to the late appointment of the design consultant, the absence of an access road and the illegal occupation of the land acquired for the airport.

Mr Gardezi said the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had proposed to construct an access road from Golra Chowk to the airport, passing through sector E-16, E-17 and Haji Chowk. The proposed road would be 14.5 kilometres but due to unknown reasons it was decided that Margalla Avenue would be extended to the airport. The approved road passes through a number of housing societies,” he said.

Secretary Planning and Development Division Hassan Nawaz Tarar said the Cabinet Division on February 20, 2015, had requested his ministry to include the widening of Kashmir Highway from Golra Chowk to G.T. Road in the new airport road project being executed by NHA.

“It has been decided that the widening of Kashmir Highway will be included in the airport project,” he said, adding Rs1.2 billion were required for it.

MNA Sheikh Salahuddin told Dawn that it was strange that the issues of access road and water supply could not be resolved. All these basic requirements should have been included in the PC-I. “Now another Rs1.2 billion will be utilised for the construction of the access road,” he said.

ISLAMABAD: The Aviation Division on Friday informed the National Assembly standing committee on planning, development and reforms that 80 per cent work on the New Islamabad Airport is complete and the facility would be operational in the last quarter of 2016.

However, a senior officer of the division had no satisfactory answer when asked how water would be arranged for the airport.

The airport project was conceived in 1984 for which the acquisition of land started near Fatehjang the same year.


Secretary Aviation Division Mohammad Ali Gardezi has no satisfactory answer to questions about airport water supply


In 2004, the then prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, inaugurated the work on the project. But the construction of the airport was started without the approval of any design.

The PC-I of Rs37 billion was approved in 2008 but it did not contain the establishment of the fuel system, radar and radio control building, aprons, sewage treatment plants, supply of electricity and water to the airport.

The new airport with 90 check-in counters and a parking facility for 2,000 vehicles will cater to nine million people every year.

Secretary Aviation Division Mohammad Ali Gardezi assured the committee that the airport would be completed in the last quarter of 2016.

In reply to questions, Mr Gardezi said initially the government of Punjab had agreed to supply water to the airport from Shahpur Dam in the Attock district. However, as the project faced delays, the provincial government diverted the water to the agriculture and residential sectors.

“Now the provincial government has refused to provide water from the dam to the airport. We have proposed that three small dams should be constructed to store rainwater but that water would be sufficient only for four months. There is another proposal to construct a big dam,” he said.

MNA Dr Nafisa Shah said she was not convinced that the airport would be operational even by the end of 2016.

“It is unfortunate that the basic necessity of water could not be arranged for such an important project,” she said.

Mr Gardezi said the cost of the project had increased from Rs37 billion to Rs81 billion. It might go up further due to the devaluation of the rupee and the price hikes. So far, he added, Rs40 billion had been spent on the project.

In reply to another question, the official attributed the delay in the completion of the project to the late appointment of the design consultant, the absence of an access road and the illegal occupation of the land acquired for the airport.

Mr Gardezi said the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had proposed to construct an access road from Golra Chowk to the airport, passing through sector E-16, E-17 and Haji Chowk. The proposed road would be 14.5 kilometres but due to unknown reasons it was decided that Margalla Avenue would be extended to the airport. The approved road passes through a number of housing societies,” he said.

Secretary Planning and Development Division Hassan Nawaz Tarar said the Cabinet Division on February 20, 2015, had requested his ministry to include the widening of Kashmir Highway from Golra Chowk to G.T. Road in the new airport road project being executed by NHA.

“It has been decided that the widening of Kashmir Highway will be included in the airport project,” he said, adding Rs1.2 billion were required for it.

MNA Sheikh Salahuddin told Dawn that it was strange that the issues of access road and water supply could not be resolved. All these basic requirements should have been included in the PC-I. “Now another Rs1.2 billion will be utilised for the construction of the access road,” he said.

KARACHI: Pakistan on Friday successfully tested its first indigenous armed drone named Burraq, and its laser guided missile named Barq.

The drone has the ability to fly in all types of weather conditions and strike its targets with pinpoint accuracy.

Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif attended the ceremony and witnessed the test fire of the new missile on static and moving targets.

Speaking on the occasion, General Raheel said this newly developed arsenal will increase the military’s capacity in fighting terrorism. He commended engineers, scientists and technicians for their untiring efforts to develop this state of the art technology.

The army chief termed it a great national achievement and a momentous occasion in the history of the country.

“Let’s join hands to take Pakistan forward in respective fields,” General Raheel said in his message to the fellow countrymen.

The military announced that a very effective force multiplier had been added to the inventory of the armed forces.

In November 2013, the military had indigenously developed surveillance-capable drones. The induction of two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), called the ‘Burraq’ and ‘Shahpar’ systems, in the Pakistan Army and Air Force was seen as a landmark and historic event.

Pakistan already has several types of unarmed surveillance drones in operation, but ‘Burraq’ and ‘Shahpar’ were the first surveillance drones to be developed locally.

The drones have been developed in cooperation with the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) is a civilian controlled Pakistani scientific research organisation.

An unarmed version of the Shahpar was unveiled for the first time at the International Defence Exhibition (IDEAS) in Karachi.

Industry insiders say that the Chinese government has also reportedly offered to sell Pakistan an armed drone it has produced, the CH-3, which can carry two laser-guided missiles or bombs.

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