Thursday, May 26, 2005

Baloch resources plundered by Pakistan

Provinces and Islamabad still deadlocked over NFC award formula

By Kaleem Omar

KARACHI: Talking to the editors of Sindhi newspapers and the electronic media at Governor’s House here on Sunday, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said the new National Finance Commission (NFC) award required agreement amongst the provinces, and that the federal government had tried and was still trying to resolve the issue.

Referring to the divisible pool, he said the "size of the pie" has to be increased in order to give each province its due share in the NFC award.

Doubts have been expressed in some quarters about whether the provinces will be able to iron out their differences on the NFC award in time to incorporate the new revenue-sharing formula into the federal budget for fiscal 2005-06.

With only a little over a week to go before the budget is due to be announced on June 6, and with the budget-making exercise now in its final stages, it looks increasingly likely that the provinces’ share of government revenues in this year’s budget will have to be based on the old NFC award formula.

Referring to this issue, Aziz said, "We have told the provinces that if they can reach agreement even after six months, we will adjust the NFC formula accordingly."

In a series of meetings of the National Finance Commission held last year to resolve the revenue-sharing issue, the Centre had agreed to increase the provinces’ share of the Central Consolidated Fund divisible pool from 37.5 per cent to 50 per cent to enable the provincial governments to meet the burgeoning cost of law and order, education, health and infrastructure construction.

The problem, however, is that the provinces are still at loggerheads over how this 50 per cent is to be divided amongst them.

Punjab, the country’s most populous province, wants the money to be divided on a population basis (as in the case of the previous NFC award), which would give Punjab 57.5 per cent of the provinces’ total share.

Sindh, however, wants the new NFC award formula to be based on each province’s contribution to revenue-generation. This would give Sindh a much bigger share than it would get on a population-basis alone – an idea opposed not only by Punjab but also by NWFP, Balochistan and the Centre.

NWFP wants the NFC award to be based partly on population and partly on each province’s level of development.

NWFP Senior Minister Sirajul Haq, who also holds the finance portfolio in the provincial government, told reporters in Kohat on Sunday that the finance ministers of Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan will be meeting on May 27 to work out a solution to the issue of the distribution of resources based on the formula mentioned in the 1973 Constitution.

He said that due to the "wrong policies" of previous rulers, the country faced a deadlock on the NFC issue every year because of the billions of rupees in arrears payable by the Centre to the provinces.

He added that, had previous governments been paying the provinces their due share since 1973 regularly, the problem, today, would not have been so complicated. In this context, he pointed out that the present NFC award was only Pakistan’s sixth, whereas India had already disbursed its 12th award, although both countries had got independence at the same time.

Commending President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Aziz for their willingness to solve the issue, the NWFP senior minister expressed the hope that the federal government would release the Rs 2 billion promised to the NWFP by former prime minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali from the NWFP’s net share of profit from electricity generated by hydel power stations located in the province.

Reiterating NWFP’s claim on "Rs 345 billion from the net hydel profit," Sirajul Haq said that the provincial government had calculated this figure after adding an interest of 15 per cent a year on the amount due since 1973.

Balochistan, the country’s biggest province in area but the smallest in population, as well as the least developed, says the NFC award revenue-sharing formula should not be based on population alone but should include such factors as resource availability and levels of development of the various provinces.

Another contentious issue facing the NFC is that of the gas development surcharge (GDS).

Balochistan, which is the biggest recipient of the money generated by the GDS, wants its share of GDS funds increased by 300 per cent. The Centre, however, says that if Balochistan’s demand were met, the price of gas across the country would go up to a level where the majority of consumers would be unable to afford it.

Of the total annual GDS of Rs 15 billion, more than Rs 7 billion goes to Balochistan. The calculations are based on the 2002 petroleum policy prices and at the rate of 12.5 per cent of the gas wellhead price – that being the percentage fixed under the 1973 Constitution.

Balochistan is demanding that the GDS should be calculated at the rate of the newly discovered gas fields in the country and wants to make the price fixed for the Ratana gas field in Punjab as the base price instead of the decades-old price of the Sui gas field.

But if the demand is accepted, Balochistan’s share of the GDS would go up to Rs 20 billion a year, or nearly three times the province’s current share of Rs 7 billion a year.

Given the fact that the total GDS fund currently amounts to only Rs 15 billion a year, Balochistan’s demand cannot be met without a sharp increase in the GDS rate. This, in turn, would lead to a corresponding increase in the price of gas, making it unaffordable for most consumers, or so federal officials argue.

Ratana’s wellhead price is around Rs 200 per mmbtu, while the wellhead price at Sui is around only Rs 50 per mmbtu.

The Balochistan government says that, in 2003, the federal government had agreed to consider GDS calculations on the basis of the Ratana gas field price and had even carried out an exercise in
this respect, but had backtracked after the firm of consultants appointed by the federal government to examine the issue submitted its report.

Federal officials, however, say no decision had been taken to link Balochistan’s GDS with that of Punjab or Sindh. They say the Ratana gas field is a small field and lies in a high-risk area, and that its higher wellhead price does not affect overall gas prices in the country as a whole.

They argue that it would be an "oversimplification" of the issue to say that Balochistan’s Sui field’s GDS should be market-based just because the new gas fields in Sindh and Punjab have higher rates.

Balochistan, however, argues that it has been put at a disadvantage compared to Punjab and Sindh despite the fact that it is Pakistan’s "largest" gas producer and has been supplying gas to the country since the early 1950s.

By contrast, Punjab and Sindh, both relatively new producers, are getting higher GDS rates because their gas fields have a higher wellhead price, which – under the 2002 petroleum policy – is now linked to international oil prices.

The linkage was agreed to by the federal government three years ago to attract more foreign investment in the gas sector. The policy seems to be working, judging from the number of foreign energy companies that have invested in gas exploration and production operations in Pakistan since 2002.

The National Finance Commission is governed by Article 160 of the 1973 Constitution, which, among other things, stipulates that: "The President shall constitute a National Finance Commission consisting of the Ministers of Finance of the Federal Government, the Ministers of Finance of the Provincial Governments, and such other persons as may be appointed by the President after consultation with the Governors of the Provinces."

Article 160 (2) stipulates: "It shall be the duty of the National Finance Commission to make recommendations to the President as to: (a) the distribution between the Federation and the Provinces of the net proceeds of the taxes mentioned in clause (3); (b) the making of grants-in-aid by the Federal Government to the Provincial Governments; (c) the exercise by the Federal Government and the Provincial Governments of the borrowing powers conferred by the Constitution; and (d) any other matter relating to finance referred to the Commission by the President."

Article 160 (3) stipulates: "The taxes referred to in paragraph (a) of clause (2) are the following taxes raised under the authority of Parliament, namely: (i) taxes on income, including corporation tax, but not including taxes on income consisting of remuneration paid out of the Federal Consolidated Fund; (ii) taxes on the sales and purchases of goods imported, exported, produced, manufactured or consumed; (iii) export duties on cotton, and such other export duties as may be specified by the President; (iv) such duties of excise as may be specified by the President; and (v) such other taxes as may be specified by the President."

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Bugti says accord is not being implemented

Bugti says accord is not being implemented

By Azizullah Khan

QUETTA: Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Akbar Bugti told Senator Mushahid Hussain on Tuesday that decisions made in the Dera Bugti accord were not being implemented while paramilitary forces had started taking certain unilateral decisions in Dera Bugti.

Senator Mushahid Hussain of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) visited Sui and Dera Bugti on Tuesday to monitor the implementation of the accord between the federal government and Nawab Akbar Bugti. Mushahid Hussain was heading the implementation and monitoring committee formed especially for Dera Bugti after Bugti tribesmen and Frontier Corps officials exchanged fire on March 17 in which many were killed and injured.

Mushahid told reporters that he delivered PML President Shujaat Hussain’s message to Nawab Akbar Bugti and inquired about his health. He said that he found certain encroachment in Dera Bugti

FC soldiers kill 3 over parking

QUETTA: Three people were killed in firing between Frontier Constabulary soldiers and residents in Quetta, said police chief Salman Syed on Tuesday. Syed said police had arrested two FC soldiers and two others. He said the clash took place after a dispute over parking a car outside an FC camp in Saryab, adding that the FC men stopped some young men from parking their car. The men brought more people and the two sides traded fire. As a result, three men were killed. Nni

Protest against killing of three

By our correspondent

QUETTA: An angry mob torched furniture and tents of the Drivers Training School (DTS) on a link road in the Satellite Town area on Tuesday to protest against the killings of three people on Sariab Road. DIG Police Suleman Syed Muhammad told The News that the mob torched only old furniture and tents and added that the fire-fighters put out the fire timely. He said that the police was investigating the Monday’s night incident in which three persons were killed. Police had detained two people for investigations, he added.

Mushahid holds talks with Nawab Bugti

By Saleem Shahid

QUETTA, May 24: Pakistan Muslim League Secretary-General Senator Mushahid Hussain held talks with Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti on Tuesday. Sources said the meeting in Dera Bugti reviewed the process of implementation of an agreement reached between Nawab Bugti and PML president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and the senator for normalizing the situation in the area.

It was observed during the meeting that the Frontier Corps had established some posts in violation of the agreement. The PML leader is reported to have taken serious notice of the situation and assured the JWP chief that he would take up the issue with the authorities concerned. Nawab Bugti’s nephew Sardar Sher Ali Mazari attended the meeting.

Senator Hussain told journalists after taking an aerial view of the area: “I myself felt that encroachment still exists in some areas.” He said reservations of the tribesmen would be removed and the encroachment would be abolished. He said he had delivered a message from Chaudhry Shujaat to Nawab Bugti. “I came to Dera Bugti to give the message and inquire after his health,” he said.

“Implementation of decisions on settled issues of Sui and Dera Bugti would be ensured,” he said. The senator regretted that the local telephone exchange had not been repaired over the past three months. He said steps would be taken to restore the telephone link as soon as possible.

Nawab Bugti said the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere, the process of implementation of settled matters was reviewed and notice taken of violations of the agreement by the Frontier Corps which had established new posts.

He said the PML leader had visited various places in the area to assess the situation and held out the assurance that he would take up the matter with the quarters concerned. He said the senator had told him that past mistakes would not be repeated but he did not promise that new mistakes would not be made.

In reply to a question, he said decisions on settled matters had not been implemented so far. He said the PML secretary-general had informed him that he had submitted the report of the parliamentary committee on Balochistan to the government but the constitutional committee headed by Senator Wasim Sajjad had not completed its work.

ARD plans meeting on Balochistan

By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, May 24: The opposition Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) will organize a “Balochistan conference” in Islamabad to work out a political solution to crisis in the province. This was announced by the alliance’s secretary general Iqbal Zafar Jhagra after a meeting of the ARD leadership here on Tuesday. He said all political parties belonging to Balochistan province would be invited to the conference, adding that its date would be announced later.

Mr Jhagra demanded withdrawal of troops from Balochistan, and said: “Military operations are no solution to the problems being faced by the people of Balochistan.”

He said an ARD delegation which had recently visited Dera Bugti found the situation in the province quite serious and alarming. He said Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) chief Nawab Akbar Bugti had briefed the ARD delegation on the meetings between him and ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. Mr Bugti, he said, told them that Chaudhry Shujaat had not fulfilled promises made during his visits to Dera Bugti.

Mr Jhagra said the ARD had decided to continue its mass mobilization campaign against the government and a public meeting would be held in Abbottabad in the third week of June.

He said an ARD delegation would soon visit all political prisoners in the country and strive for their early release. He urged the government to withdraw ‘false cases’ against Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani and Afaq Ahmed.

The ARD secretary general said that the alliance would not accept any elections if Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif were kept out of the process. He said if the government sincerely wanted a reconciliation with the opposition it must allow Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto to return to Pakistan.

Meanwhile, a source in the ARD told Dawn that at one point during the meeting, the leaders of the People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) traded allegations and accused each other of trying to strike a deal with Gen Pervez Musharraf.

PML-N leaders Raja Zafarul Haq and Syed Zafar Ali Shah, the source said, asked the PPP leadership to clarify its position about reports of talks between the party and the government. The PML-N leaders were of the view that the PPP-government talks were damaging for the ARD.

At this point, the source said, a PPP office-bearer tauntingly told the PML-N leaders that everyone knew that Hamza Shahbaz, son of Shahbaz Sharif, was in contact with the regime.

The PPP leaders, however, said the party was holding talks with the government on principles and it would not strike any deal unilaterally. The sources said that there were differences between the PPP and the PML-N on the issue of participation in the protest day called by the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal on May 27 against the desecration of Holy Quran by US troops in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre. The PML-N was in favour of full participation in MMA protest rallies while the PPP was against the idea.

While briefing reporters Mr Jhagra, avoided mentioning MMA and said that the ARD would support the call of the international community to observe a protest day on May 27 against the desecration of Holy Quran.

PPP spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar, when contacted, categorically stated that his party condemned the Guantanamo Bay incident, but it would in no way take part in any meeting with the MMA.

Mengal supports jobs for locals in oil, gas exploration firms

Says portion of royalty could be allocated to dist govts for social uplift

By our correspondent

SUKKUR: Federal Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources Mir Muhammad Naseer Khan Mengal on Tuesday said he supported the idea of providing jobs in exploration firms to the local people.

Speaking as chief guest at the inauguration ceremony of Petronas’ Rehmat Gas Plant at Sardar Garh (district Ghotki), about 130 kms north-east of here, he suggested that technical training programmes could be launched to provide necessary training to the un-skilled local youths to prepare them for the jobs.

"This will ultimately remove the sense of deprivation in certain areas," Mengal said, and added a portion of royalty, which is given by the government, could also be allocated to the district governments, he said. "This amount should be utilised for carrying out social reforms at the local level," he said.

Mengal said the de-regulation and privatisation policy of the government had yielded positive results, terming the private sector’s participation in the oil and gas sector "quite promising". "There is a lot of potential in the oil and gas sector and the government has introduced a very liberal policy of granting exploration licences, especially in Sindh and Balochistan."

He said that the government had taken a number of measures to speed up the oil and gas exploration, in view of increasing demand. "The country needs more oil and gas resources for its future requirements as in 2010, Pakistan would need 4.5 billion cubic feet gas against the present day demand of 3.2 billion cubic feet."

He hoped that the stakeholders in the oil and gas sector would extant full cooperation to the government to achieve its objective of alleviating poverty from the country by boosting investment here. "Income tax on the exploration companies in the oil and gas sector has also been reduced from 55 per cent to 40 per cent to give them further incentives," he added.

The minister appreciated the Petronas, Malaysia’s national petroleum corporation, and its joint-venture partners Eni Pakistan Ltd and the Government Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, for opening the Rehmat Gas Plant in Ghotki, which he had earlier formally inaugurated.

Earlier, Ali Gohar Mahar said that the Ghotki was among the top revenue earning districts of Sindh province, contributing through its four gas plants, a power plant, and two fertiliser plants, still it lacked funds for improving living standard of the people.

Speaking on the occasion, Abdullah Karim, Vice-President Petronas said that the Rehmat Gas Plant was part of the Rehmat Gas Development Project, which had been completed within 12 months. "The Rehmat Gas Field is being developed for a production of 70 mmscfd of gas and 80 barrels per day (bpd) of associated condensates," he added.

He said the project is one of the major international milestones for Petronas and marks the successful partnership the company has forged with its co-ventures Eni Pakistan and the Government Holdings.

Balochistan PA to debate law, order situation on 27th

By our correspondent

QUETTA: The Balochistan Assembly on Tuesday admitted a joint adjournment motion moved by ruling PML’s legislators regarding deteriorating law and order situation in the province. Moving the joint adjournment motion, former chief minister Mir Jan Muhammad Jamali, drew attention of the House towards an incident in Notal area of Naseerabad district where armed dacoits had killed four passengers in a dacioty bid on Monday last. Similarly, two policemen had been killed in the same area a couple of days ago, he added. The other movers included Mir Tariq Magsi, Sheikh Jaffar Khan Mandokhel and Shah Zaman Rind of PML. The motion was admitted for two hours debate on May 27. Later, Law Minister Mir Abdul Rehman Jamali moved the Balochistan Urban Immovable Property Tax (Amendment) Bill 2005. The speaker referred the bill to the standing committee concerned.

Mushahid, Bugti review pace of accord execution

JWP chief blames unrest on army action

Muhammad Ejaz Khan

QUETTA: Secretary-General of Pakistan Muslim League Mushahid Hussain Sayed Tuesday met chief of Jamhoori Watan Party Nawab Akbar Bugti at Dera Bugti and reviewed the pace of implementation on the understanding reached between Bugti and PML chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

Talking to newsmen after his meeting with Mushahid, Bugti cited little development on issues reached between the government and JWP in the wake of the March 17 incident. But at the same time, he categorically stated there was no implementation on 'certain things.'

Bugti said Mushahid had not only personally inspected the "encroachments" made by the Frontier Corps (FC), but also took strict notice of it. He said that other matters pertaining to Dera Bugti situation were also discussed during the meeting.

To a query whether there was any assurance from Mushahid pertaining to the removal of alleged encroachments from Dera Bugti, the JWP chief said he (Mushahid) himself inspected them. He (Mushahid) held out the assurance to submit his report to the quarters concerned because he could not issue any order in this regard on his own.

"Let us see what happens to the report of the parliamentary committee," Bugti said.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued here, Bugti said the three military operations of the past in Balochistan backfired and are the real cause of present unrest in the province. He alleged the injustices, use of extreme force to calm down the Balochs were factors behind the agitation.

"The use of carrot and stick in the province could not restore peace and, on the contrary, completely alienated the Baloch society."

He said many simpletons keep parroting that restoring the original 1973 constitution would work wonders. The constitution was not acceptable then and none takes it seriously, today, he added.

"Either consign it to the dustbin of history or put together an entirely new one, or through major drastic surgery try and make it acceptable to the people," he suggested.

Bugti said in Balochistan the core issue pertains to the Baloch national wealth and who the master of Baloch destiny is - the Baloch or others?

He said so far, the authoritarian regime has been drumming that it would give this and that to the Baloch, which is much more than they can dream about. "But all these promises are not worth the paper (they are) written on", he observed.

Bugti said the Baloch people are certain they would not get anything substantial, but at best only "crumbs" from the table.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Balochi exploited in the name of islam

We have been robbed, tortured and looted for 57 years in the name of Islam and Quran. Our leaders were hanged after taking oath on the Quran that they will not be harmed. Quran say "don't oppress", but you all Punjabis don't believe in Quran and continue to torture our people and our student when they ask for their just rights. I think you all punjabis need to go to hell with your fake Islam. Don't try to teach us your Quran any more. We don't believe in your Islam. We have our own religion, and it says we must fight you all the oppressor Punjabis, who are using Islam as a cover to loot our resources and subdue our people.

According to a news report on Daily asaap website, Attaullah Mengal has welcomed the call of Nawab Akbar Khan for a unified political party. I think,practically,Nawab Akbar Bugti and Attaullah Mengal don't go together on one platform. They must stay separate. They however, can form a working body (a kind of coopration on certain issues that matter the most).

A unity between JWP and NP -as Dr Tawghi proposed before- will be very practical. Attaullah Mengal can seek unity with BNP-Awami. At the same time people like Sayad Sher Jan Baloch, BNMs, Ehsan Shah, Dr Jumma Khan Marri and Zubaida Jalal must join any one of these two groups to further strengthen the democratic politics in Balochistan. Nawab Khair Baksh Marri camp don't seem to be very much interested in party politics. But if they were they can be more useful with JWP+NP unity.

It must be noted; A political party that include both Nawab Bugti and Attaullah engal is bound to suffer set backs.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Video: Interview with Mir Ahmad Dehani

Click here to see:

Every Baloch should resist settlement of outsiders in our Land

If this is the case of the government trying to build
the infrastructure of trying eventually to settle the
Punjabis and make the Baluchis a minority in their own
God given land then the uneducated brothers and
sisters in our lands should be warned not to sell
their lands to any outsiders and not to allow anyone
as they might use our own brothers to buy them
properties especially those who have no zest or dreams
of one day being independent and try to make a fast
buck.Also we should be vigilant and not allow
outsiders(daraamard) to enter our lands and settle in
our lands but to force them out by warning them to
leave peacefully or face the music and the wrath of
the Baluchis.Every effort should be made to resist the
Government from making any progress in realizing this
goal and in the meantime if the brothers have the
means and through a system we should donate cash to
obtain the weapons to defend ourselves from any form
of retaliation from the rogue government through
acquiring surface to air missiles and other forms of
defense mechanism to protect our brothers and sisters
and the elderly from the air strikes.The brothers
should get any form of technology and help from our
pushtuns and afghan cousins to fight against the rogue
government and it should be the duty of all these
sardars to recruit youngsters and train them in a full
millitary training and the art of sword fighting and
bows and arrows horse riding and swimming and all
kinds of modern army training so that the whole
population is knowledgeable in the use of these
fighting equipments.We saw the US army deploying horse
riding in the rough terrain in Afghanistan.It may seem
a laughable matter when I say bows and arrows but if
used effectvely no one will know what hit them and
also we can obtain the weapons of the enemy after
shooting them.This is another way of building our
inventroy.It has also been recommended in the Hadith
of our noble Prophet(P.B.U.H.)to teach our children
these things.If we need to deploy people in Gwadar we
need Seals to be able to swim and launch a devastating
blow to these rogues who think they can enter our
lands and plunder our wealth and keep us silent but
let it be known that we Baluchis are educated and
gifted with intellectuals and that we may be
outnumbered but our prowess is second to none.We may
have been cheated with empty promises and have become
victims to these means of manipulation and
intimidation but the only solution is to put an end to
these types of negotaitions and fight like this is the
last day on this earth by all means.I hope that our
brothers will also build border posts and other sytem
of communication on certain frequency that can reach
all the fighters in seconds in order to deploy them
whenever needed.These are my thoughts brothers and
this is the way to rid ourselves from the clutches of
these rogues.Hit them and hit them hard.In order to
kill a snake you need to crush its head and by that
you know where the head of the snake is!So go for it.
Allah Hafiz.

Monday, May 02, 2005

FC man killed in mine blast

FC man killed in mine blast

QUETTA: A Frontier Corps (FC) personnel was killed in a landmine blast in the Kahan area on Wednesday. FC spokesman Lt Col Rizwan Malik said the incident happened on Wednesday morning when a paramilitary personnel stepped on a landmine. He would not say who had planted the mine, although authorities have blamed tribesmen for similar attacks in the province.

Malik said another group of paramilitaries defused a landmine in the same area. Separately, police commandos were deployed on trains travelling in Balochistan, an official said. Five police commandos would guard each passenger train and metal detectors were installed at stations, said Railways police official Naeem Kakar. Meanwhile, Jafarabad police official Naseebullah Khan said that two Baloch were arrested in connection with Tuesday’s railways explosions, which injured a civilian and three policemen.

Shaukat Aziz asks for quick work on Gwadar Port

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has ordered work on Gwadar Port to be quickened in order to complete it without any delays.

A meeting was held at Prime Minister’s House on Wednesday to review the progress on the port’s construction. The prime minister was told that dredging work to deepen Gwadar Port had started and would be completed by 2006.

The meeting also reviewed the progress on road construction and was told that work to link the port to several parts of the country would be quickened.

The meeting was told that Gwadar airport was being upgraded and that work on the telecommunications network to link Gwadar to the rest of the country was also being quickened.

The National Highway Authority (NHA) chairman briefed the meeting on roads, saying they were being constructed so that goods could be transported upcountry quickly.

The meeting decided to speed up work on the Special Economic Zones to attract investors and provide incentives to them to generate more employment opportunities.

The meeting also decided to provide ancillary facilities as well as utilities at Gwadar on priority.

Shaukat Aziz said the Policy Board on Gwadar should meet every month so that work could be monitored and accelerated.

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Yousaf, Ports And Shipping Minister Babar Khan Ghauri, Industries Minister Jehangir Tareen and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Salman Shah attended the meeting.

Enlightened moderation not in conflict with Islam: President Gen Pervez Musharraf’s enlightened moderation is not in conflict with the teachings of Islam, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told Ejazul Haq, minister for religious affairs, who met him at Prime Minister’s House on Wednesday. Mr Haq presented to the prime minister a report on the targets and performance of his ministry, Online reported.

Mr Aziz and Mr Haq also discussed Haj and Umrah policies.

The prime minister said Islam stood for love, peace, amity and tolerance and that there was need to highlight the true spirit of Islam so that wrong perceptions prevailing in West about Islam were removed.

Babar Khan Ghauri, the minister for ports and shipping, also called on the prime minister and discussed the situation of Sindh with particular reference to Karachi and Hyderabad, NNI reported. agencies

Land business in Gwadar has no legal security: SC

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday questioned the excessive sale and purchase of land in Gwadar district and observed that every transaction and deal was being made without any legal cover and was a form of fraud. Justice Khaliur Rehman Ramday, a judge on a three-member SC bench, observed that the Balochistan government had no right to sell any part of land without legal cover. “A plot is being purchased and sold again and again without any record. Neither is the plot shown to anyone nor is the exact location being pinpointed. No deal has a concrete foundation or record,” Ramday said. He added that after some time it would be very troublesome to accommodate these cases. A three-member bench of Justice Hamid Ali Mirza, Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday and Justice Nasirul Mulk was hearing identical appeals regarding a dispute over 700 acres of land in Gwadar. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Balochistan Board of Revenue have appealed against the order of the Balochistan High Court, which had confirmed that compensation to the respondent was not in accordance with prevailing market rates. At the last hearing, the Supreme Court had stayed the construction of an international airport on the land in question.

Gwadar port dredging to be completed by 2006

By Our Reporter

ISLAMABAD, April 27: Dredging work on Gwadar Deep-Sea Port has commenced and is expected to be completed by 2006. According to a press release, this was informed in a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz here on Wednesday to review the progress on Gwadar Deep-Sea Port.

Reviewing the progress with regard to construction of roads, the meeting was told that work on roads to link the port with different parts of the country would be expedited.

The meeting was informed that the Gwadar Airport was being upgraded, while work on the telecommunication network was also being expedited to link Gwadar with the rest of the country.

The meeting decided that work on special economic zones would be accelerated to attract investors and provide incentives to them for generating more employment opportunities. Similarly, it was decided that ancillary facilities as well as utilities would be made available in Gwadar on priority basis.

The prime minister directed that the Policy Board on Gwadar to hold meetings on monthly basis so that work on the port could be monitored and accelerated.

Balochistan govt wants ride on Mercedes Benz

Ansar Abbasi

SLAMABAD: The Balochistan government has formally moved a case for permission from Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to purchase two bulletproof Mercedes Benz, a senior official source told The News from Quetta.

He said the case has been referred in black and white to the federal government by the province. Security of VVIPs and dignitaries has been given as reason for buying the bulletproof Mercedes Benz that cost several times more than the ordinary one.

It is not yet clear as to which model of the Mercedes Benz the Balochistan government is eyeing but if the province has to buy what the federal government has ordered, each limousine would cost Rs 70 million and that, too, in foreign exchange.

The Balochistan government is already having a few Mercedes including the one belonging to the federal government. During his tenure as premier, Jamali allocated two Mercedes, one each in Quetta and Karachi for his use. However, none of these limousines were returned to the federal government.

Within the last couple of years, the Balochistan government has already purchased two Lexus - the most expensive model of the Toyota Make - for the provincial chief minister and the governor.

But, according to sources, the Balochistan government has been inspired by the federal government's decision to buy 61 bulletproof Mercedes, each costing Rs 70 million, for the security of the VVIPs.

At the federal level, the Cabinet Division is in the process of buying 31 bulletproof Mercedes including 10 Jeeps. A few of these have already been arrived. Besides these 31 Mercedes of the Cabinet Division, the Interior Ministry is also purchasing 30 bulletproof Mercedes Benz. All these Mercedes are being bought for VVIPs' security.

Twenty 5-door Land Cruiser Jeeps with jammers are also being bought for the VVIPs security on federal government's initiative but the provinces would foot the bill for this purchase. The prime minister had to use his discretionary power to relax the ban and allow this purchase.

The provinces are free to purchase the locally assembled vehicles on their own but for foreign assembled vehicles, they are bound to get clearance from the federal government. In 1998, while General Musharraf was the chief executive, the government had imposed complete ban on the purchase of new vehicles.

All the government departments and agencies were barred from buying new cars. However, it was left to the discretion of the chief executive/prime minister to issue a no objection certificate (NoC) where such a purchase was considered unavoidable.

NCHD striving to end illiteracy in Balochistan

By our correspondent

QUETTA: The National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) has determined to remove illiteracy from Balochistan by 2015.

Briefing newsmen here the other day, General Manager NCHD district Pishin Malik Anwar Saleem Kasi said initially the NCHD had launched its work in 2003 in four districts of Balochistan - Pishin, Killa Saifullah, Mastung and Jaffarabad - to promote education and ensure provision of basic health facilities to the people of these areas.

The NHCD efforts, he said, resulted in 30 per cent increase in enrolment rate in Pishin, enabling the children of remote areas to get education. He added that currently in Pishin 2,080 volunteers, trained by the NCHD, were engaged in the promotion of education in the district.

Kasi said work was in progress on projects pertaining to health and education in these districts. He added that NCHD was striving to bridge gaps between Education Department and communities to advance its agenda of increasing educational ratio.

Replying to a question, he said NCHD was prepared to introduce this programme in other districts with an objective to promote education in the province.

Regarding health projects, he said the NCHD was making efforts to create a system of indigenous cooperation and management to ensure provision of fundamental facilities to masses.

Kasi said the NCHD has two types of major areas of work in health, Primary Health Care Extension (PHCE) and Oral Dehydration Solution (ODS).

The goal of PHCE is to reduce the infant and maternal morality rate by educating communities, especially mothers, he maintained.

JSQM chief fears for his life

By our correspondent

JAMSHORO: Chairman of the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz, Bashir Khan Qureshi claimed on Wednesday that a conspiracy to kill him and launching an operation against their activists had been hatched. Addressing a press conference, he gave a province-wide protest call against the incident of attack on him in Sann. Chairman of the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz, Bashir Khan Qureshi alleged that during the anniversary programme of GM Syed in Sann, two policemen had attempted to kill him but his activists protected him and they were caught and handed over to police with the request of lodging a case against them. But a case was not registered, he said.

Magsi asks people to support nationalists

By our correspondent

SUKKUR: Chairman Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party Dr Qadir Magsi on Wednesday asked the people of Sindh to support the nationalists and cast vote in their favour. Only true nationalists can safeguard the rights of Sindhi nation, he said this while addressing a press conference at Daharki. He claimed that the people of Sindh were deprived of their rights because they always cast vote in favour of vested interests, who did nothing for the people of Sindh in parliament. Criticising the 1973 Constitution, Dr Magsi said: "It does not provide rights to the Sindhi nation, therefore, we are opposing it." "We will take active part in the forthcoming local bodies elections," he said and asked the Sindhi nation to vote for the true nationalists.

Machh grid station, rail track, attacked

Mach, Pasni grid stations sabotaged

By Muhammad Ejaz Khan

QUETTA: The Mach and Pasni grid stations were attacked while a railway track was blown up by unknown saboteurs in a fresh upsurge of attacks on the vital government installations in the province, sources said on Sunday.

Police officials said unknown saboteurs fired three rockets from unknown direction that landed near the Mach power supply grid station.

"Two of the rockets fell inside the boundary wall of the station, while another landed outside the wall, injuring one Khalil Ahmed who was asleep in an open space," the officials said. They added that the attack did not cause any damage to the grid station.

In another incident, the Pasni grid station was attacked by unknown saboteurs in Pasni Tehsil of Gwadar district, some 832km off here.

The unknown saboteurs resorted to indiscriminate firing on the grid station with sophisticated weapons. Resultantly, the grid station developed some fault and power supply to the area was suspended.

On being informed, officials of the administration and police reached the scene to probe into the incidents.

Also, some unidentified men planted a powerful explosive device on the railway track between Bakhtiarabad Domki and Damboli railway stations.

The device went off with a big bang, blowing up around one-and-half-feet track, causing suspension of rail traffic for several hours. The Railways technical staff repaired the dismantled part of the track.

APP adds: Inspector-General of Police Balochistan, Chaudhary Muhammad Yaqoob on Sunday said law and order situation was under control in the province due to the drastic measures taken by them to curb the trouble-makers.

"There is a lot of improvement in the law and order situation during the past three months and we are confident that in coming months things will be quite normal," he told APP here.

The Balochistan police chief said it was wrong to say that the law and order situation was not under control. Yaqoob said the incidents of damaging national installations and bomb blasts were common in the province but now due to the effective measures taken by the police these incidents had considerably reduced.

"We have arrested many people in this regard and with the help of information provided by them we unearthed groups supporting these activities and we are still following few others to eliminate incidents of terrorism in the province," he said.

He said the people of Balochistan are peace-loving and they want to see peace prevailing there. "They have always supported those activities of the law-enforcement agencies which aim at promoting peace," he added. "To prevent attacks on national installations we have evolved a plan to guard them round-the-clock and by improving our vigilance we gained success by stopping all such incidents."

Yaqoob said the government was trying to find a political solution of the current situation in the province and hopefully the matter would be resolved soon.

Machh grid station, rail track, attacked

By Azizullah Khan

QUETTA: Unidentified people fired three rockets targeting a grid station in Machh and injured a man, while a bomb exploded on a railway track near Sibi, officials said on Sunday.

The rockets were fired from nearby hills in the Machh town, 60 kilometres south of Quetta. Two rockets fell in the grid station area while one fell out of the boundary and injured a man. However, power installations remained safe in the attack. Baloch Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the attack.

A man who identified himself as Azad Baloch told authorities by phone that the attack had been carried out by BLA activists who demanded more rights for the Balochistan province.

A railway track was damaged when a bomb exploded on the track between Sibi and Bakhtiarabad, around 140 kilometres southeast of Quetta. Railway authorities said that about one-and-half feet track was damaged. No body has claimed responsibility so far, they said. Another bomb was found about one kilometre from the site of the explosion and was defused, an official said.

It was the third attack on the train track in the last few days. Two bombs exploded three days ago in Dera Allah Yar where four people were injured, including three policemen. Two paramilitary personnel were injured two days ago when unidentified people fired five rockets in Kohlu, some 340 kilometres east of Quetta.

Body on Balochistan looks at sub-committees’ report today

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Balochistan will meet today (Monday) at Parliament House to discuss reports by its two sub-committees. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the committee chairman and Pakistan Muslim League president, will chair the meeting. Senate leader Wasim Sajjad, who is also the chairman of a sub-committee on constitutional recommendations, will submit its report to the committee on constitutional amendments on provincial autonomy and the National Finance Commission award. PML Secretary General Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who also heads the sub-committee on political and development affairs in Balochistan, will also present a report to the committee. online

May Day observed across Sindh, Balochistan

Rallies taken out; leaders demand labourers’ rights

By our correspondents

LARKANA: May Day rallies were taken out here on Sunday to mark the World Labour Day in which hundreds of workers and members of various trade and labour unions of Sukkur, Jacobabad, Ghotki, Dharki, Larkana, Shahdadkot, Ratodero, Shikarpur, Kamber, Ratodero, Mirokhan, Kandhkot, Thull and other localities participated.

Veteran trade union leaders, including Muhammad Shafique Qureshi, Abdul Aziz Abbasi of Watan Dost Mazdoor Federation Pakistan (WDMFP), Comrade Abdul Qadir Malgani and Manzoor Ahmed Ahir of Watan Dost Mazdoor Employees Federation separately led the rallies.

The rallies started from Lahori Regulator and Lahori Muhallah Larkana and terminated at Jinnah Bagh Chowk, where a public meeting was held. Prominent labour leaders addressed the public meeting.

More than 20 trade unions, including the Municipal Workers Union Larkana, Rickshaw Union, Taxi Union, Rice Mills labour unions, Highways labour Union, Berri Mazdoor Federation, participated in the May Day rallies to pay homage to the martyrs of Chicago.

Addressing a big public meeting at Jinnah Bagh, Sindh Minister Haji Altaf Hussain Unar said the present government under the leadership of President Musharraf has determined to provide facilities to the labour class because they play vital role in boosting the economy of the country.

He said all the projects were being completed with the efforts of labours performing their duties day and night, adding the government was trying to provide facilities to them under the labour laws so that they would be able to live in a respected manner. He said the provincial government would provide all assistance to the workers to get their due rights.

He said his party would continue struggle to secure the rights of the working class. The minister said the government had already increased the salaries of low-paid servants and hoped that in the new budget their salaries would further go up. He paid rich tributes to the martyrs of Chicago.

Meanwhile, speaking at a meeting at Railway Station Larkana, Muhammad Shafique Qureshi, President Watan Dost Mazdoor Federation Pakistan (WDMFP), Abdul Aziz Abbasi and others said the struggle to secure the rights of workers would continue despite all odds.

They said the IRO negated the basic and fundamental rights of workers.

They lamented that thousands of workers had been taken out in the name of downsising from banks and other state-run units, creating frustration and starvation for their families.

They paid rich tributes to the struggle of Chicago martyrs, who sacrificed their lives for the rights of their community.

In Sukkur, on the call of National Labour Federation of Union, hundreds of workers took out a rally, which after passing through main thoroughfares of the city reached at the press club, where they staged a protest demonstration.

The protestors holding banners and placards were raising slogans against price-hike and unemployment.

Speaking on the occasion, the leaders said that, 25 employees of scarp tube-well Ghotki were not paid their salaries for last 16 months due to which their families were facing starvation.

They alleged that the officials were demanding bribe for disbursing the salaries to the labours.

They demanded immediate disbursement of salaries to the Ghotki labours and asked the government to control the ever-rising price hike and unemployment.

Similar rallies were also taken out in Jacobabad, Thull, Kandhkot, Shikarpur, Ghotki and Daharki.

In Jacobabad, activists of the Shahree Ittehad and labour wing of Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party took out separate rallies. The participants of both the rallies marched various roads of the city and reached at the press club, where they dispersed peacefully.

In Ghotki, Ubauro, Daharki and other areas, the labours took out similar rallies, and marched through various roads of the city to pay homage to the Chicago martyrs, who sacrificed their lives for their community. They were carrying banners and placards, demanding of the government to increase the salaries of labours.

In Quetta May Day was observed in the provincial capital and other parts of Balochistan here on Sunday.

Various labour organisations, including Pakistan Workers Confederation, Pakistan Wapda Hydro Electric Central Labour Union, PWD Employees Union, BDA Employees Union, Irrigation and Power Employees Union and the unions of various other departments, took out the rallies in connection with the May Day in the provincial metropolis.

The participants of the rallies, most of them the government employees of the low grades, were the part of these rallies that were taken out separately. They marched through various roads of the city including Liaquat Bazar, Mezan Chowk, Shahrah-e-Iqbal, Jinnah Road and Prince road. They carried placards, banners and posters inscribed with slogans for the rights of the employees and labourers.

A big public meeting of the day was held under the aegis of Pakistan Workers Confederation and PWHECLU at the Imdad Chowk where the labourer leaders, including the senior vice president of the PWC, Haji Muhammad Ramzan Achakzai, Haji Syed Muhammad Lehri, Haji Muhammad Ashraf, Sher Jan, addressed the meeting.

In their speeches, they highlighted the importance of observance of the May Day paying homage to the martyrs of the Chicago, who rendered their lives for the rights of the labourers in 1886. They said that the labourers were waging struggle for their rights. They alleged that the labourers are still deprived of the basic rights and consequently are facing immense problems.

Railway track blown up

By Saleem Shahid

QUETTA, May 1: A portion of the main railway track linking Quetta with the rest of the country was blown up near the Domboli area of Nasirabad district early on Sunday morning seriously affecting the rail traffic. Also on Sunday, rockets were fired at installations of the Quetta Electric Supply Company in Pasni and Mach.

According to Pakistan Railways authorities saboteurs had planted a powerful bomb on the railway track near Domboli, about 250 Km south-east of here. It went off at around 2.50 am blowing up a portion of the railway. All Quetta-bound passenger trains were stopped at the Jacobabad station. It took several hours to replace the damaged track and service on the main line was restored.

Three rockets were fired at the Grid Station in Mach. Two of the rockets exploded in an open place, while the third hit the main gate of the grid station, smashing window-panes and doors. A man passing was hit by splinters. A generator of the power house in the sub area of Pasni was damaged when some people fired on the plant.