Pakistan News

اسلام آباد: سعودی عرب کے ولی عہد سلمان بن عبدالعزیز اعلیٰ سطح کے وفد کے ہمراہ پاکستان کے تین روزہ سرکاری دورے پر اسلام آباد پہنچ گئے ہیں۔

ڈان نیوز کے مطابق سعودی ولی عہد کی راولپنڈی چکلالہ ایئربیس آمد پر وزیراعظم نوازشریف نے خود ان کا استقبال کیا۔ اس موقع پر انہیں انیس توپوں کی سلامی بھی دی گئی۔

ولی عہد سلمان بن عبدالعزیز کے وفد میں خزانہ و منصوبہ بندی کے وزیر محمد بن سلمان، وزیر تجارت طوافک بن تفضان اور وزیرمملکت برائے امور خارجہ نذار بن عبید بھی شامل ہیں۔

سلمان بن عبدالعزیز تین روزہ دورے کے دوران وزیر اعظم نواز شریف اور صدر ممنون حسین سے بھی ملاقاتیں کریں گے جبکہ دونوں ممالک کے درمیان دفاع اور تجارت کے شعبے میں اہم معاہدوں کا امکان ہے۔

پاکستانی قیادت سعودی شہزادے سے پاکستانی افرادی قوت کو سعودی عرب میں مواقع فراہم کرنے کی بھی بات کرے گی۔

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will get the associate membership of CERN by June this year which will be beneficial for industrial sector, human resource development and technology transfer in key areas of radiofrequency technology.

Head of CERN delegation Dr Sergio Bertolucci said this while addressing a press conference here today along with Chairman Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Dr Ansar Parvez.

Dr Parvez said it will raise the collaboration level between Pakistan and CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research laboratory Geneva.

He said that Pakistan fulfills all the criteria for becoming a CERN associate member, adding that the industrial base and experience of high precision manufacturing enables Pakistan to make significant contributions to the CERN program.

Replying to a question, the PAEC chairman said that collaboration with CERN is not limited to scientific organisations such as PAEC and National Center for Physics (NCP).

“As soon as Pakistan becomes associate member of CERN, it will provide new and innovative avenues of research and development for our scientists and researchers,” he said.

Briefing the media, Dr Bertolucci said Pakistan has incredible potential for advancement in science and technology, adding that Pakistani scientists are talented and there is hope for more sustainable future.

Replying to a question, he said that Pakistan meets the criterion for becoming associate member of CERN, which includes ability of scientists and engineers, capacity and thirdly clear understanding of stakeholders.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced Wednesday that his government would pursue peace talks with Taliban militants despite a recent spate of attacks, naming a four-member committee to facilitate the talks.

Addressing a session of the National Assembly after a span of six months, Sharif said the government wanted to give peace another chance.

The premier announced the constitution of a four-member team – comprising his Advisor on National Affairs Irfan Siddique, veteran journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai, former ambassador and expert on Afghanistan affairs Rustam Shah Mohmand and former ISI official Major (Retd) Amir Shah – to holds talks with the militants.

He said that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan would assist the committee.

Sharif also called on the militants to observe a ceasefire in the televised speech. He said that he would personally supervise the performance of the committee, adding that he was sincerely trying to restore peace in the country and expressed his hope that the other side would reciprocate in a similar manner.

The announcement came the same day Taliban militants targeted paramilitary soldiers, killing at least three Rangers personnel in separate bomb attacks in Karachi.

Speaking to Dawn.com from an undisclosed location via telephone, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Shahid said the Taliban have convened a meeting of the Shura (council) to “assess the committee formed by the federal government for peace talks.”

“Taliban are united under Fazlullah and rumours about rifts are baseless,” he said.

Sharif long has supported talks as the best way to end the years of fighting with the Pakistani Taliban. But after a spate of attacks in January, he has been under pressure to take steps to bring the country’s violence under control.

His speech came amid speculation that the government would soon authorise a large-scale military operation against militants.

Speaking to parliamentarians on Wednesday, Sharif said the entire nation – including all state institutions – stand united if the government decides to react to terrorism with full force.

“Since the other side has shown intent to negotiate, we also wish to give peace yet another chance,” he said, adding that bitter experiences of the past propelled the government to hold peace talks to bear fruit.

“The acts of terror must stop. Terrorism and talks cannot continue simultaneously,” he told parliamentarians.

He said peace was not a choice but the ultimate destination at which the government wanted to arrive and it would achieve it at all costs.

The prime minster said that all state agencies were also united on the stance that the war against terrorism must end.

In an apparent allusion to former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, Sharif alleged that a dictator and his unconstitutional government had put the country in a despicable state.

The premier said his government was doing all it could to stop US drone strikes on its soil. However, he said that at the same time there was no justification for continuing the acts of terror in reaction to the drone strikes.

“Are the innocent children who fall prey to acts of terrorism, or the innocent civilians who die in such attacks, responsible for conducting the drone strikes?” he remarked. “Murder of innocent people cannot be tolerated anymore.”

Dialogue to be ‘open, transparent’

Sharif further said that he agreed with the proposals of opposition leaders to set a time-frame for dialogue and make it open and transparent.

“I desire that dialogue should be open and transparent. I appreciate the proposals of opposition leaders,” he said in response to points raised by leaders of two major opposition parties, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI).

He said that to ensure transparency and take along all stakeholders, the federal government had included a nominee of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in the four-member committee. “I hope Rustam Shah Mohmand will continuously be briefing Imran Khan and KP government on the progress of dialogue.”

“Moreover, I also invite the opposition leaders to sit with me and give their proposals. I am also ready to sit with you. Invite me to your residence and I shall come to listen to you. Your proposals will be supportive,” said the prime minister.

He, however, said he did not deem it suitable to give a time-frame to the dialogue process at this moment. “If the process proceeds, a time frame can also be set,” he said.

Rahimullah Yusufzai told news agency AFP: “Our role will be of facilitators and we will pave the way for negotiations between the government and the Taliban.” But he cautioned: “I am not attaching any expectations with the process right now because we are not aware of our mandate and other details, including the timeframe that will be given to the committee.”

Another member of the committee, Rustam Shah, said: “It is difficult to have an optimistic view about any success because of deep mistrust on both sides.”

”The success of the negotiations will depend on how much support the government gives to the committee and how wide its mandate is.”

مظفر آباد + ہٹیاں بالا (اے این این) بھارت کی جانب سے منشیات سمگلنگ کے الزامات کے بعد کنٹرول لائن پر تجارت کا مستقبل خطرے میں پڑ گیا، 49 ٹرکوں کو مقبوضہ کشمیر، 27 کو مظفرآباد میں روک لیا گیا۔ منشیات سمگل کرنے کے الزام میں ایک ٹرک ڈرائیور گرفتار کر لیا گیا۔ ملزم کو پاکستان کے حوالے کرنے سے انکار کر دیا گیا جبکہ پاکستانی حکام نے الزام کو مسترد کرتے ہوئے کہا ہے کہ بھارت کا الزام کنٹرول لائن پر تجارت کو سبوتاژ کرنے کی سازش ہے، پہلے بھی ایسے الزام لگائے جاتے رہے آج تک کوئی ثبوت نہیں دیا گیا۔ تفصیلات کے مطابق سرینگر مظفرآباد دوطرفہ تجارت کے ذریعے آزادکشمیر سے مقبوضہ کشمیر جانے والے مال بردار ٹرک سے ایک ارب سے زائد مالیت کی ہیروئن پکڑنے کے بھارتی الزام، بھارتی انتظامیہ کی جانب سے ٹرک اور ڈرائیور آزادکشمیر کی انتظامیہ کے حوالے نہ کرنے پر آزادکشمیر سے مقبوضہ کشمیر جانے والے 49 ٹرکوں کو مقبوضہ کشمیر اور مقبوضہ کشمیر سے آنے والے ٹرکوں کو آزادکشمیر میں روک دیا گیا‘ ٹریول اینڈ ٹریڈ اتھارٹی آزاد کشمیر نے مذکورہ تاجر کو پولیس حراست میں رکھوایا جس پر بھارت کی جانب سے ایک ارب سے زائد مالیت کی منشیات بھیجنے کا الزام ہے۔ جمعہ اور ہفتہ کی رات تقریباً ساڑھے بارہ بجے دونوں اطراف کے حکام کے درمیان امن برج پر میٹنگ ہوئی جس میں بھارتی انتظامیہ نے آزاد کشمیر حکام کو بتایا کہ جس ٹرک سے منشیات برآمد ہوئی اسے ضبط کر لیا گیا ہے اور ٹرک ڈرائیور کو حراست میں رکھا ہے۔ باقی 48 ٹرک واپس بھیجے جا رہے ہیں لیکن متنازعہ ٹرک اور ڈرائیور کو آزاد کشمیر کے حوالے نہیں کیا جائے گا جس پر ٹی ایف او چکوٹھی کراسنگ پوائنٹ بشارت اقبال نے کہاکہ ایس او پی کے مطابق دونوں اطراف کے ٹرکوں اور ڈرائیوروں کو معاہدے کے مطابق بیک وقت آر پار ہونا ہوتا ہے جسے بھارتی انتظامیہ نے ماننے سے انکار کردیا۔ ٹی ایف او نے بھارتی انتظامیہ کو کہا کہ اگر اس قسم کاکوئی معاملہ ہے تو ٹرک‘ ڈرائیور مع ثبوت ہمارے حوالے کئے جائیں ہم خود قانون کے مطابق ان کے خلاف کارروائی عمل میں لائیں گے جسے بھارتی انتظامیہ نے ماننے سے انکار کر دیا جس کے بعد دونوں اطراف کے خالی ٹرک آر پار بند ہو کر رہ گئے ہیں۔

اسلام آباد (فصیح الرحمن خان/ دی نیشن رپورٹ) سابق صدر پرویز مشرف کی سکیورٹی ٹیم سے تعلق رکھنے والے دو اہم ارکان نے حال ہی میں امریکہ کیلئے ملٹی پل ویزا حاصل کئے ہیں۔ انکے ایک قریبی نے عندیہ دیا ہے کہ پرویز مشرف کی ٹیم نے انکے بیرون ملک عارضی قیام کیلئے روانگی کی کوششیں تیز کردی ہیں، ممکنہ طور پر وہ بحر اوقیانوس سے پار کسی ملک میں جائیں گے۔ دونوں سکیورٹی معاون پرویز مشرف کی سکیورٹی ٹیم کا اس وقت سے حصہ ہیں جس وہ صدر اور آرمی چیف تھے، فوج سے ریٹائرمنٹ لینے کے بعد بھی انکے ساتھ ہیں۔ ان دو افراد نے گزشتہ ماہ امریکہ کا 5 سال کا ملٹی پل ویزا حاصل کرلیا ہے۔ اس حوالے سے صورتحال سے واقف ایک اہلکار نے بتایا کہ ان افراد نے مشرف کیلئے اپنے کیریئر کی قربانی دی ہے۔ اس نے نام ظاہر نہ کرنے کی شرط پر بتایا کہ پرویز مشرف ملک سے فرار نہیں ہونگے بلکہ عدالتی عمل کے ذریعے جائیں گے۔ اس ذریعے کا کہنا تھا کہ مشرف کوئی فرار کا محفوظ راستہ نہیں چاہتے نہ ہی وہ مستقل طور پر جلاوطنی قبول کرینگے۔ پرویز مشرف کے سابق سیاسی ساتھی انکی باعزت طور پر ملک سے روانگی کیلئے سرگرم ہو گئے ہیں۔ اس ذریعے نے ساتھ یہ خبردار بھی کیا کہ اگر ٹرائل جاری رہتا ہے تو یہ وزیراعظم ڈاکٹر نوازشریف کیلئے انتہائی خطرناک نتائج کا حامل ہو گا۔ ڈاکٹر نوازشریف کی زیرقیادت مسلم لیگ (ن) 1999ءکے واقعہ کے پیش نظر انتہائی محتاط ہے۔ نوازشریف اس وقت مشرف کے ہاتھوں قید ہوئے اور پھر سعودی عرب جلاوطن کردیئے گئے۔ پرویز مشرف اس وقت اے ایف آئی سی میں زیرعلاج ہیں، ابھی انہیں خصوصی عدالت کے سامنے پیش ہونا باقی ہے۔ کئی کیسز میں انکی ضمانت ہوچکی ہے۔ انکے وکلاءنے عدالت میں جو رپورٹ پیش کی اس میں انہیں 9 بیماریاں بتائی گئی ہیں تاہم اس رپورٹ میں بڑی دل کی بیماری کا ذکر نہیں مگر امریکہ میں مقیم ایک ڈاکٹر نے حال ہی میں ایک نوٹ جاری کیا ہے جسے مشرف کی ٹیم نے خصوصی عدالت میں پیش کیا، اس میں کہا گیا ہے کہ سابق صدر کو ہارٹ اٹیک کا خطرہ درپیش ہے، انہیں بیرون ملک ہسپتال (امریکہ) میں علاج کیلئے بھیجا جانا چاہئے۔ خصوصی عدالت 24 جنوری کو فیصلہ کریگی کہ آیا مشرف کو اے ایف آئی سی کی سفارشات پر بیرون ملک علاج کی اجازت دی جائے یا نہیں۔ ادھر وزیراعظم ڈاکٹر نوازشریف کی کچن کیبنٹ کے قریبی ذرائع کا کہنا ہے کہ حکومتی کیمپ مشرف کو محفوظ راستہ دینے کے حوالے سے منقسم ہے۔ حکومت میں شامل سخت گیر عناصر (ہاکس) اس بات پر اصرار کر رہے ہیں کہ مشرف کے معاملے پر غیرملکی ضمانت کاروں سے یہ ضمانت لی جائے کہ وہ سیاست میں حصہ لینے کیلئے کئی سال تک پاکستان واپس نہیں آئیں گے اور اعتدال پسند (فاختائیں) نوازشریف کو یہ مشورہ دے رہی ہیں کہ وقت ضائع کئے بغیر اس ایشو سے چھٹکارا حاصل کر لیا جائے اور عدالتی طریقہ کار سے مشرف کی بیرون ملک روانگی کی مخالفت نہ کی جائے۔ وزیراعظم کے قریبی حلقوں نے قیادت کو مشرف کے ٹرائل کے حوالے سے فوج کے نچلے حلقے میں پائی جانیوالی بے چینی کے بارے میں آگاہ کیا ہے۔ انکا کہنا ہے کہ اعلیٰ فوجی قیادت شائد خاموش رہے تاہم نچلے حلقے میں پائی جانیوالی بے چینی کو نظرانداز نہیں کیا جاسکتا۔ ایک اہلکار نے نام نہ بتانے کی شرط پر کہا کہ بعض غیرملکی حکومتوں خصوصاً سعودی عرب نے شائد خود کو مشرف کیس سے علیحدہ کر لیا ہو تاہم وہ اس حوالے سے وزیراعظم کو اپنی مضبوط رائے دے چکے ہیں کہ اس ایشو سے جتنی جلد ممکن ہو چھٹکارا حاصل کرلیا جائے۔ دریں اثناءامریکی اخبار ”وال سٹریٹ جرنل“ لکھتا ہے کہ طبی وجوہ پر مشرف کے ملک سے جانے سے عدالتوں، فوج اور حکومت کیلئے محفوظ راستہ نکل سکتا ہے۔ مشرف کے خلاف غداری مقدمے نے حکومت اور فوج کے درمیان دوبارہ کشیدگی کے خدشات پیدا کر دیئے ہیں۔ مشرف کو مجرم ٹھہرایا گیا تو پھانسی کے ذریعے انہیں سزائے موت کا سامنا ہوسکتا ہے کیونکہ غداری کی سزا موت ہے۔ سزا کی صورت میں حکومت کیلئے فوج کے ساتھ تصادم کا راستہ نکل سکتا ہے۔ عدالتوں کیلئے اس طرح کی سزا بے چینی کے سوالات کھڑے کر دیگی، عدالتوں نے ہمیشہ فوجی حکومتوں کو تحفظ فراہم کیا ہے۔ ایک اعلیٰ حکومتی عہدیدار نے اخبارکو بتایا کہ حکومت غداری کے الزامات ثابت کرکے مشرف کو ایک مثال بنانے کیلئے بے چین ہے لیکن وہ اسے پھانسی پر لٹکتا ہوا نہیں دیکھنا چاہتے اور انہیں کچھ رعایت دے کر ملک چھوڑنے دیا جائیگا۔

KARACHI: In a bid to strengthen bilateral relations, Pakistan and India Saturday decided to allow greater trade through land route, signalling a thaw in relations after a year’s standoff over military tensions on the border.

They agreed to allow round-the-clock movement of trucks and containers through Wagah-Attari border, the main border crossing between the two South Asian neighbours.

Trade ministers of the two countries meeting in New Delhi also approved a liberalised visa policy for businessmen to help expand two-way trade, which was barely $2.5 billion in 2012/13fiscal year against a potential $10 billion.

Both sides hope closer integration of Pakistan with India's giant economy would help lay the ground for a lowering of political tensions between them.

“We have agreed that we will open Wagah-Attari border 24/7for trade,” Anand Sharma, India's trade minister told reporters.

The border gates at the moment are open only from dawn to dusk.

Pakistan also agreed to provide non-discriminatory market access to Indian companies.

Over the last year there was little movement on trade because of a series of incidents over military control of the line dividing Kashmir between the two countries.

Two years ago, the two countries set a goal of taking bilateral trade to $6 billion by 2014, which now seems difficult to attain.

Pakistan's Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said the country's central bank had proposed its Indian counterpart grant banking licences to three Pakistani banks, a move which would be reciprocated by his side.

“In the banking sector we are hoping to have some progress, very rapid progress,” he said.

Both Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif who took power last year are keen to rebuild ties.

Pakistan's economy grew at 3.6 per cent in 2012/13 and the government was forced to borrow $6.7 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to avert a default of payments.

Sharma said he will lead a business delegation to Pakistan next month.

ISLAMABAD: Allocated during the Musharraf era as an international goodwill gesture, financial assistance worth $300 million for reconstruction in Afghanistan has become the subject of intensive wrangling and investigations within various arms of the Pakistan government.

Interviews and documentary evidence suggest that the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenues (AGPR) has formally blamed the Ministry of Finance and the Planning & Development Department for the violation of public procurement rules, illegal change of contractors, over-payments and non-observance of audit and accounting procedures in the implementation of GOP-funded projects in Afghanistan.

In fact, the AGPR has filed a reference to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for launching investigations “to determine the extent and quantum of irregular/wrong/excess payments” and fix responsibility of “illegal/unlawful acts while effecting [the] recovery of the over-payments,” according to official records available with Dawn.

“The entire responsibility for over-payment/wrong payment/irregular payment lies with both the planning division and the finance division,” said Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue, Tahir Mahmud, who was removed twice by the government from the post and reinstated by the Islamabad High Court. He has alleged in court that he was being victimised for referring the case to NAB for investigation even though he did this on the orders of the Supreme Court.

But those in the finance and planning ministries contend that even if all these allegations were proved, the office of the AGPR was part and parcel of whatever might be considered wrong because it did not raise objections at the right time. It highlighted them at the last stage of project implementation and final payment.

Some senior officials even question the allocation of such a huge amount (about Rs32 billion at the current exchange rate) by the Musharraf administration between 2001 and 2007 to a neighbouring country without prior consultations between key stakeholders such as the ministries of foreign affairs, finance, defence and planning when millions of Pakistan’s own people lived in absolute poverty.

The AGPR has stated that the Frontier Works Programme (FWO) was appointed by the Planning Commission as the original contractor for the construction of a hostel for 1,000 students at Rehman Baba High School in Kabul, a 100-bed Naib Ameenullah Khan Logari Hospital at Logar, and a 200-bed Jinnah Hospital in Kabul under the $300m financial assistance scheme to Afghanistan through four separate announcements as part of international donor financing. The FWO engaged M/S Airrs Associates Limited as the sub-contractor.

“Subsequently, the FWO — the main contractor — withdrew and the Planning Commission, instead of re-tendering under the PPRA Rules 2002, awarded the sub-contractor the whole quantum of work in violation of the PPRA rules while also changing the terms and conditions of the contract to the benefit of the sub-contractee,” the AGPR said in the reference.

Moreover, the Planning Division continued preparing “loose bills without documentation and verification” by the consultant — Nespak — and submitted them to the pre-audit counter of the AGPR without fulfilling codal formalities. “In this backdrop, the contractor has been overpaid millions of rupees,” which was pointed out to the director-general of the Planning Division along with a number of pre-audit observations to address concerns.

Under the law, original running bills (IPCs) duly verified by the consultant Nespak were required to be submitted to the AGPR for pre-audit and payment along with all documents such as the contract agreement, amendments and foreign exchange certificate, etc, to determine the authenticity of the contractor’s claims.

“Unfortunately, the Planning Division in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance has been preparing loose bills while retaining the original copies of the IPCs with them,” thus making the AGPR release the payment on the desire of the Planning Division.

The allegation is that a part recovery of overpayment was made in a recent bill “while releasing 75 per cent of the bill amount” ahead of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Afghanistan.

Deputy accountant-general Afnan Malik is reported to have observed in writing that “it transpired that heavy overpayments were made to the contractor from the public exchequer” and that he had asked the Planning Division to conduct a “thorough probe to determine the extent and quantum of over-payments” and provide evidence to the AGPR to scrutinise the claims in the light of laid-down procedures and applicable laws. The office of the AGPR had earlier pointed out that in one instance a payment of Rs239.43m was effected through a post-bid change in contract and hence it was unauthorised and irregular payment. In another case, the project cost was converted from the rupee to the dollar amount with the approval of the prime minister but an amount of Rs239.45m “was found invalid, being contrary to the summary approved” by the prime minister.

In yet another instance, an amount of Rs220m was paid to the contractor through a post-bid change in contract and hence declared unauthorised by the AGPR.

Planning Secretary Hassan Nawaz Tarar and AGPR Tahir Mahmud did not return calls made by Dawn to speak on the issue. The director-general of the Planning Division, Jamil Ahmad, who heads the relevant section said he had recently joined the office but PPRA rules had been set aside under “special circumstances” in the past because common contractors were not available to do the job in Afghanistan; the government had the power to give the contract to the FWO as a public-sector entity and the rules also allowed a contract with a premium in special circumstances.

He said all the audit observations were not entirely misplaced but it would not be appropriate to comment on the issue currently under various stages of investigation and audit. “What we are trying to ensure is that whoever is responsible should be taken to task but this should not affect the continuity of the programme,” he said. “So we are working to put in place a system that is transparent.”

The spokesman and adviser to the Ministry of Finance, Rana Assad Amin, strongly refuted the AGPR’s allegations but declined to comment officially in detail. A source close to him said the contractor had filed a complaint against the AGPR before NAB.

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