Pakistan News

KARACHI: A speeding passenger bus smashed into a tractor-trailer in southern Pakistan yesterday, killing 42 people including 14 children and injuring more than a dozen others with many in critical condition, police said. Several passengers were trapped inside the pink bus that was left badly mangled after the high-speed crash in the town of Sukkur, 425 kilometers (266 miles) north of Karachi in the province of Sindh. Excavators were used to pull the tractor-trailer from the bus, as rescuers struggled to pull out the stranded passengers.

One eyewitness said he saw several passengers pleading for help. “They were screaming and shouting: ‘save us, save us’,” he told reporters. Muhammad Faisal, a senior police official, said: “Most of the passengers were trapped between their seats, we rescued them by cutting the bus body with metal cutters.” He said the speeding bus was trying to overtake the tractor-trailer when it veered out of control. The collision was so severe, he added, that 25 passengers died on the spot.

The dead included six members of a 10-member family who were travelling on the bus to visit their relatives in Karachi. “We were ten members of one family. Six of them died,” said 18-year-old Maryam Bibi, weeping. Bibi survived the crash along with her six-year-old brother. The dead included 14 children and 13 women, said Fida Hussain Shah, a senior Sukkur police officer, adding that the bus driver was killed on the spot while the driver of the tractor-trailer sustained serious injuries.

Shah confirmed that over speeding by the bus was the cause of the accident. Most of the 17 injured were in critical condition and several were transferred to a hospital in Karachi after initial treatment in Sukkur. Pakistan has one of the world’s worst records for fatal traffic accidents due to poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving. Sixteen people were killed and 49 injured when an overloaded truck crashed into a ravine earlier this month in the central province of Punjab. A collision between two buses and a petrol tanker killed 35 people in southwest Pakistan in late March. —AFP

حکومت پاکستان کی جانب سے ایجادات اور اختراعات ( انوویشنز) پروجیکٹ کے عالمی مقابلے میں پیش کردہ منصوبے کو اعلیٰ ترین انعام ملا ہے۔

بہاولپور سروس ڈلیوری یونٹ ( بی ایس ڈی یو) کو ایک عالمی ایجادات کے مقابلےکا فاتح قرار دیا گیا ہے یہ پروجیکٹ عمران بلوچ اور بہاولپور پنجاب کے ڈسٹرکٹ کوآرڈینیشن آفیسر( ڈی سی او) عاصم فیاض نے پیش کیا تھا۔

اس پروجیکٹ کا مقصد وسائل کی کمی اور تنازعات والے اور ڈیٹا کی کمی کے شکار علاقوں میں مجموعی کارکردگی کو بہتر بنانا ہے۔

' ہمارے پروجیکٹ کے ذریعے ( تعلیمی اداروں میں ) مانیٹروں کی جانب سے محض والدین کو فون کیا گیا اور ٹیچروں سے رابطہ کیا گیا تو اس کے بعد طالبعلموں کی کلاس میں شرکت 78 سے 92 فیصد تک پہنچ گئی،' عمران بلوچ نے فائنل ہونے والے دس پروجیکٹ کے تعارف میں اپنے پروجیکٹ پر بات کرتے ہوئے کہا۔

پوری دنیا سے 196 پروجیکٹ جمع کرائے گئے تھے اور ان میں سے پاکستانی پروجیکٹ کو انعام کا حقدار قرار دیا گیا ہے۔ اس کے لئے آن لائن ووٹنگ کرائی گئی تھی۔

انعام جیتنے والی ٹیم کو 65,000 برطانوی پونڈ کی رقم ملی ہے۔

'یہ پروجیکٹ ٹیکنالوجی کی وجہ سے ممکن ہوا لیکن وہ حتمی نتیجہ نہیں ۔ ہم پیسنٹھ ہزار پونڈ کی رقم سے اپنے پروجیکٹ کو صحت، لائیواسٹاک اور زراعت میں بھی استعمال کریں گے،' بلوچ نے مزید کہا۔

جیوری کی سربراہ، ڈاکٹر شیلا اوشگبوجو نے کہا،' یہ پرفارمنس مینجمنٹ سسٹم ( بی ایس ڈی یو) میں تین اہم حصے ہیں، اول یہ نتیجہ خیز ہے، دوم اس میں آزمائی ہوئی ٹیکنالوجی استعمال کی گئی ہیں، تیسرا یہ کہ یہ ماڈل پاکستان کے علاوہ دیگر ممالک میں بھی استعمال کیا جاسکتا ہے۔'

اس جیوری میں انفارمیشن سسٹم اور گورننس کے ماہرین اور دیگر ججز شامل تھے۔ آٹھ ممالک سے دس پروجیکٹ کو فائنل فہرست میں شامل کیا گیا ۔ یہ پروجیکٹس، کینیا، جنوبی افریقہ، پاکستان ، گھانا، بنگلہ دیش، تنزانیہ اور موزمبیق سے آئے تھے۔

اس کے علاوہ دو رنر اپ پروجیکٹ جنوبی افریقہ اور انڈونیشیا سےآئے تھے انہیں پینتیس ہزار پونڈ دیئے گئے۔

گلوبل انوویشن کمپی ٹیشن میں ایسے پروجیکٹ کو اہمیت دی جاتی ہے جو ایک جانب حکومتی جوابدہی اور شفافیت کو ٹیکنالوجی کے ذریعے ممکن بناتے ہوں۔ آل وائسز کاؤنٹ نامی اس مقابلے کو ڈپارٹمنٹ آف انٹرنیشنل ڈویلپمنٹ (ڈی ایف آئی ڈی)، یوایس ایڈ، اور دیگر اداروں کی حمایت اور فنڈ حاصل ہوتے ہیں۔

ISLAMABAD: In view of security threats to former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s Chak Shehzad farmhouse, a bomb-proof security wall is being constructed, DawnNews reported.

Earlier today, heavy machinery and bomb-proof concrete blocks were transported to the former president’s farmhouse.

The construction work is expected to be completed by evening.

Musharraf had been receiving several threats to his life since his return to Pakistan and explosives have been recovered from around his farmhouse residence on a number of occasions.

Last year, in April 2013, 45 kilograms of explosives had been discovered in a car abandoned near his farmhouse when he was being taken back there after his appearance in an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi.

Meanwhile, police had discovered five kilograms of explosive materials, weapons and ammunition close to the route that former dictator was due to take from his house to the court on Dec 24 whereas on Dec 30, the police had recovered four packets of explosive materials near Musharraf’s farmhouse.

As recently as March 10, the Islamabad police chief, the chief commissioner and the Interior Ministry had warned that terrorists affiliated with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Al Qaeda had planned to target the retired General based on a letter sent to Home Secretary Punjab.

Consequently, the ministry advised extreme vigilance and fool-proof security measures be taken to avoid any untoward incident.

ISLAMABAD: A powerful explosion on Thursday hit Faizabad bridge just after the convoy of the former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf passed by it, DawnNews reported.

Musharraf was being shifted late night from the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) to his farmhouse when the huge blast occurred just after the convoy crossed the bridge.

According to sources, almost four to six kilogram of explosive material was planted in a pipeline of a nearby footpath.

The intensity of the blast caused about a foot deep hole in the ground at the site of the incident.

Moreover, the police claimed that the attack was aimed to target the former president.

However, no casualties were reported in the incident.

Musharraf's spokeswoman, Aasia Ishaq, said the retired general was fine and reached his home safely but that it was up to the authorities to make sure nothing happens to him.

''All extremist and terrorist forces want to kill Musharraf,'' said the spokeswoman. ''If anything happens to Musharraf, the government will be responsible.''

The police had registered a case in Islamabad's Secretariat police station against the incident.

The former military dictator was admitted to the AFIC on Jan 3 when he was on his way to a special court set up for his high treason trial for abrogating the constitution and detaining judges in 2007.

However, the general’s convoy took a detour to the hospital in Rawalpindi when he suddenly started suffering from chest pain.

Musharraf had been receiving several threats to his life since the time his trial began.

In April 2013, 45 kilograms of explosives were discovered in a car abandoned near Musharraf’s farmhouse when he was being taken back there after his appearance in an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi.

Furthermore, in the same year on Dec 24, the police discovered five kilograms of explosive materials, weapons and ammunition close to the route that former dictator was due to take from his house to the court meanwhile on Dec 30, the police recovered four packets of explosive materials near Musharraf’s farmhouse.

This year on March 10, the Islamabad police chief, the chief commissioner and the Interior Ministry warned that terrorists affiliated with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Al Qaeda have planned to target the retired General based on a letter sent to Home Secretary Punjab.

Consequently, the ministry advised extreme vigilance and fool-proof security measures be taken to avoid any untoward incident.

Moreover, the officials in the capital police, interior ministry and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) said yesterday that Musharraf’s personnel security in-charge visited the farmhouse and security around his farmhouse in Islamabad is also being enhanced over his expected arrival there.


ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia loaned $1.5 billion to Pakistan last month to help Islamabad shore up its foreign exchange reserves, meet debt-service obligations and undertake large energy and infrastructure projects, Pakistani officials have told Reuters.

The Saudi assistance has contributed to a sharp recovery of the Pakistani rupee, which rose to a nine-month high of 97.40 from 105.40 against the dollar between March 4 and 12, its strongest rally in 30 years.

“On a personal guarantee of the prime minister, Saudi Arabia has given $1.5 billion, which has helped bail out the rupee,” one senior Pakistani government official close to the deal told Reuters, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to disclose the source and purpose of the funding.

The governor of the Saudi central bank declined to comment, and officials gave no details of the loan terms.


Another top official who is based in Lahore said the money went into an account known as the Pakistan Development Fund set up to channel money from “friendly countries” like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“We have a promise of a total $3 billion, of which $1.5 billion has been received so far,” the second official said. “Most recently, we got $750 million from the Saudis.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has long enjoyed close relations with the Saudi royal family. After his second term as prime minister was ended by a military coup in 1999, he was sent into exile in Saudi Arabia.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi financier and member of the House of Saud, has described Sharif as “Saudi Arabia''s man in Pakistan”.

Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar confirmed on Wednesday that $1.5 billion was received under the development fund but declined to comment on the source.

“Why do you want to expose our friends?” he told reporters. “The countries who have helped us don''t want us to disclose the source.”


Dar announced the creation of the new fund on Feb 18, the same day Saudi crown prince and deputy prime minister Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud concluded a three-day-visit to Pakistan.

Pakistan's new army chief, General Raheel Sharif, also met King Abdullah and top Saudi military commanders during a trip to the kingdom two weeks before the new account was set up.

Other high-profile Saudi visitors to Pakistan this year have included Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal and Prince Salman bin Sultan, the country''s deputy defence minister.

According to the finance ministry, gross official reserves - including the latest injection of $1.5 billion - stood at $9.52 billion on March 11. A third loan tranche of $550 million from the International Monetary Fund, expected before the end of March, will push reserves close to $10 billion.


Pakistan is expected to receive $150 million from the Islamic Development Bank in March, as well as $150-200 million under the Coalition Support Fund, reimbursements for assistance in the U.S.-led coalition''s Afghanistan war effort.

Pakistan will also launch eurobonds of $500 million in May and plans to raise billions of dollars in privatisation revenue by June.

An increase in foreign investment and remittances by overseas Pakistanis have also helped lift the rupee. Remittances increased by 11 percent to $10.2 billion during the first eight months of this fiscal year.

The finance ministry has also attributed the currency's recovery to punitive action against exporters withholding export receipts abroad and warnings to foreign exchange speculators.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Internet campaigners said Thursday there was no excuse for the government to maintain its ban on YouTube, after a US court ordered the removal of an anti-Islam film.

The video-sharing website has been blocked in Pakistan since September 2012 over its failure to take down the “Innocence of Muslims” movie that sparked furious protests around the world.

A US appeals court on Wednesday ordered Google, which owns YouTube, to remove the film after a lawsuit brought by an actress who says she was tricked into appearing in it.

Pakistani technology think-tank Bytes for All said that with the removal of the crude movie, regarded as highly blasphemous by many Muslims, the government had no reason to maintain the ban.

“We think that now the government of Pakistan has been left with no excuse to continue blocking access to YouTube,” Shahzad Ahmed from Bytes for All told AFP.

“But the ban on YouTube has got more to do with the government's desires and efforts to impose censorship, content filtering and moral policing and we are fighting against them in court through a constitutional petition.”

There was no immediate response from the government.

Religion in Pakistan, where 97 per cent of the population are Muslims, is a very sensitive topic and perceived insults to the faith can spark violent reactions.

The American-made “Innocence of Muslims”, triggered protests across Pakistan that left more than 20 people dead.

Free-speech campaigners in Pakistan have complained of creeping censorship in the name of protecting religion or preventing obscenity.

In November 2011 the telecommunications authority tried to ban nearly 1,700 “obscene” words from text messages, which included innocuous terms such as “lotion”, “athlete's foot” and “idiot”.

In 2010 Pakistan shut down Facebook for nearly two weeks over alleged blasphemy.

It continues to restrict hundreds of online links.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will hold long-awaited auctions for 3G and 4G telecoms licences this April, the finance minister said on Friday, a step that could help boost the cash-strapped country’s foreign reserves.

A 3G licence will cost $295 million and a 4G licence will cost $210 million, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said.

He said the government would be looking for full payment, or a 50 per cent payment with the rest to be paid in five equal installments over five years, with an interest rate of three per cent.

There are about 132 million mobile phones in use in Pakistan, a country of 180 million people, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

The telecommunications market was deregulated in 2004 and foreign firms such as Etisalat have invested heavily in recent years.

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