Rah-e-Nijat IDPs to return to South Waziristan from March 16
PESHAWAR: The repatriation process of internally displaced people (IDPs) to South Waziristan will begin on March 16, a government official said Saturday.
The Assistant Political Officer (APO) of South Waziristan, Nawab Safi said that people displaced during the military operation Rah-e-Nijat will return to their home from next month.
Registration for the families will take place from March 8-11 in Tank and each family will receive Rs25,000, he added.
Nearly 70,000 people had left South Waziristan during Operation Rah-e-Nijat ("Path of Salvation"), the Pakistan military's air and ground offensive against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants in the Mehsud tribal area of South Waziristan that began in 2009.
Safi added that in the first stage of rehabilitation, around 8,000 IDPs will return to their villages in districts Sararogha and Sarokai.
In July 2012, the repatriation of IDPs from Dera Ismail Khan and Tank to South Waziristan started under the supervision of army and civil administration.
Brig. Mansoor Aziz had told media representatives on the occasion that 426 families comprising 1,659 individuals had returned to their areas and were given food, dry ration and shelter kit containing tents and household items.
He had also said that in the previous four phases of repatriation, 8,177 families comprising 38,277 individuals had returned to their respective areas.
The IDPs of South Waziristan in Islamabad last year, demanded that the government should rehabilitate them in their native towns.
They had said the military operation launched in 2009 remained a futile exercise as the writ of the government was yet to be established in the area.
The IDPs had also staged a protest demonstration outside the National Press Club in Islamabad last year, chanting slogans and urging Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the then chief justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani to take notice of the plight of the children, elders and women who had to leave their ancestral places.
The five tehsils of the Mehsud area of South Waziristan, the Sararogha, Sarwakai, Tayarza, Makin, and Lahda tribes got displaced as a result of Operation Reh-a-Nejat in 2009.
The official said the areas where the IDPs families will be repatriated is not only clear, but they have also been provided with facilities, and different development work has been done in the area.
So far, 11,924 families have been repatriated. About 79,000 families were displaced from South Waziristan due to the Operation.
No dramatic results expected from Jaishankar’s Pakistan visit: India
NEW DELHI: India is not expecting any dramatic results from Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar's visit to Pakistan scheduled to be on Tuesday, Indian senior officials said emphasizing that his visit was a "SAARC Yatra and not a Pak Yatra".
Jaishankar will be travelling to Bhutan today and go to Bangladesh next day before flying off from Dhaka to Islamabad on March 3, as part of India's initiative to reach out to SAARC countries.
With the media focus centred on the Pakistan visit which comes seven months after India had called off foreign secretary-level talks with that country, officials underlined that while the basic objective of the trip was the Saarc outreach, bilateral matters would also come up there.
"I would be surprised if there are any dramatic results in terms of bilateral ties when Jaishankar talks with the Pakistani side. How the visit impacts on the ties was difficult to predict at this point," said an official.
He pointed out that Pakistan was going to be the next chair of the eight-member Saarc. It would be important from Pakistan's point of view to have good relations with India.
Undoubtedly Jaishankar would meet his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry. Who else he would meet there was being worked out.
Asked if the visit would lead to the bilateral dialogue being put back on track, the official said, "frankly, I do not know."
India had cancelled foreign secretary-level talks in August last at the eleventh hour because the Pakistan high commissioner here held consultations with Kashmiri separatists. - NNI
Fazl scared of 22nd Amendment: Mazari
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader and spokesman Shireen Mazari on Saturday said that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman was scared of the proposed 22nd Amendment which will eliminate horse-trading in the Senate elections.
Mazari was responding to statements by the JUI-F chief accusing the PTI of using the 22nd Amendment as an excuse to re-enter the National Assembly from which they had resigned last year.
In a statement, the PTI spokesman accused Fazl of being a "slave to power".
Mazari said that JUI-F leader’s morals did not stop him from joining a government which allegedly came to power through rigging, but they will not allow him to support an amendment that will curb ‘horse-trading’ in the Senate.
Criticising Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Mazari said his entire politics revolve around the Kashmir Committee and a few other ministries.
The PTI spokesman said her party's lawmakers had decided on principle to resign from the National Assembly. - Statesman
JUI-F refuses to back 22nd Constitutional Amendment
Terms 22nd Amendment excuse for PTI to return to NA
ISLAMABAD: JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Saturday accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of using the proposed 22nd Constitutional Amendment as an excuse to return to the National Assembly.
Fazl was speaking alongside Federal Ministers and PML-N leaders Pervaiz Rashid and Khawaja Saad Rafique.
The PML-N leaders had to come to visit the JUI-F chief to build consensus on introducing the 22nd Amendment to close the doors of horse-trading in the Senate elections for good. However, while almost all the other political groups support the government's move for introducing the 22nd Amendment, the JUI-F chief says he has reservations with the amendment.
Fazl accused PTI chairman Imran Khan of using the amendment as an excuse to re-enter the assembly now that "nobody took notice of their protests and that their dharnas had failed".
He said that if PTI leaders return in this manner, they will be considered "strangers and not members" of the National Assembly.
Fazl said that he had no reservations against anyone's presence in the National Assembly, but that he will not allow anyone to enter the House using the amendment as an excuse.
"Either they should say that they did not resign - whatever was presented in those envelopes was a lie. Or if they accept it, it should happen according to the law and the Constitution," he said.
"We have no reservations against anyone's presence in the Assembly. We will welcome them if they return," he added.
PML-N leader Pervaiz Rashid said that the JUI-F's reservations over the 22nd amendment will be conveyed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
PTI announces final candidates for Senate polls
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Saturday announced the final list of candidates for the upcoming Senate elections.
The candidates are; Mohsin Aziz, Shibly Faraz, Noman Wazir, Liaquat Khan Tarakai, Samina Abid, and John K William.
A day earlier, PTI leader Arif Alvi was also present at the APC meeting regarding curbs on horse-trading where PTI showed its support for proposed Constitutional amendments which are to be presented on Monday.
PTI leader Arif Alvi said, "It will be clear after the decision of amendments in the constitution that who is serious to stop horse-trading."
Senate elections will be held on 11 seats each in Sindh and Punjab and 12 seats each in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Elections will also be held on four seats in FATA and two in Islamabad.
PML-N, JUI-F form alliance for Senate polls
QUETTA: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the opposition party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) on Saturday formed an alliance in Balochistan to contest the upper house of Parliament polls, due on March 5.
It was announced during a joint news conference by PML-N Balochistan chapter chief Sanaullah Zehri and JUI-F General Secretary Ghafoor Haideri in Quetta that "the PML-N and the JUI-F have formed the alliance in order to end the horse-trading in Senate elections."
PPP, MQM candidates will be elected unopposed: Rehman Malik
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Senator Rehman Malik on Saturday said that a first step has been taken in the new working of a PPP and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) coalition for the upcoming Senate elections.
He went on to say that candidates from both parties will be elected unopposed.
He further said that, under the formula designed by the coalition parties, on the technocrat seat MQM's Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif will replace him (Rehman Malik).
He also said that similarly, MQM's Abdul Qadir Khanzada has withdrawn in favour of PPP's Farooq Naik.
The PPP senator added that Syed Zafar Ali Shah, the lone candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) from Sindh, has taken back his nomination papers.
Meanwhile, on the women's seats, PPP's Sassui Palijo and MQM's Nighat Mirza have also withdrawn.
Earlier it was reported that members of both parties, including MQM leader Syed Sardar Ahmed met Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah in Karachi to discuss the Senate elections. The political situation in Sindh was also discussed during the meeting.
According to sources, members of both parties decided to work jointly with regard to the upcoming Senate elections.
The MQM also finalised four candidates to contest the elections, including Khushbakht Shujaat and Mian Attique for general seats, and Barrister Saif and Nighat for the technocrate and reserved seats, respectively.
Case to be sent to military court for trial, says Qaim
KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah announced on Saturday that the Shikarpur blast case will be sent to military court for trial.
Addressing a press conference in Karachi, Shah said the suicide bomber came from Dera Murad Jamali and stayed in Khanpur where he was trained for at least 15 days. He was associated with a banned outfit.
The chief minister appreciated the efforts made by the police, Rangers and intelligence agencies for arresting two people involved in the Shikarpur attack,
Shah announced a reward of Rs 5 million for security agencies on arresting the culprits of deadly incident.
Condemning the attack, he said it was a henious act and the government was successful in taking immediate action in this regard.
The Sindh government also imposed a ban on transfer postings and recruiting police personnel for three months.
"Every police officer should remain at one post for at least one year," Shah said.
On January 30, at least 61 people were killed and 50 others injured in an explosion at an imambargah in Shikarpur. The blast had occurred during Friday prayers at Karbala Maula Imambargah in Lakhi Dar area.
ECP finalises list of 131 candidates for Senate polls
ISLAMABAD: Anticipating that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government will fail to muster enough support for its proposed changes to the procedure for Senate elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday issued a final list of 131 candidates for Upper House polls.
Among the 131 candidates in final contest, with two candidates each from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on technocrat and women seats were elected unopposed from Sindh Assembly. PPP candidate Farooq H Naik and Sassui Palijo while MQM's Barrister Ali Khan Saif and Nighat Mirza were elected on the two reserved seats for technocrats and women.
Hence, the ECP will be sending names of the remaining candidates to the Printing Corporation of Pakistan for printing of over 3,000 ballot papers for voting under existing single transferable vote system.
In the 104 member Upper House, half of the members will be retiring in mid-March after completing their six year term. They will be replaced by 52 new members, with some of the retiring ones making their way again. And as four senators were elected unopposed on Saturday, 48 seats will be up for grabs in polls scheduled for March 5.
Senate polls to feature secret ballots
A bid to change the way the Senate elections are held has apparently failed.
The move sponsored by ruling PML-N and its arch rival Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to institute an open voting system as opposed to the secret ballot system, fell through after it failed to woo support from PPP and JUI-F to secure two thirds majority vote in both Houses of parliament to force a constitutional amendment. The two parties and few other smaller parties had opposed the idea in a huddle organised by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday.
The government accosted these parties once again in an aborted attempt but has vowed to continue its efforts to cajole these parties.
This failure will put up a daunting challenge for PML-N and PTI to maintain discipline among their MPs and ensure that they vote for party ticket holder candidates in the provinces.
Alleged target killer arrested from Peshawar airport
PESHAWAR: An alleged target killer being identified as Khawer was arrested from the Bacha Khan Airport here on Saturday.
FIA officials said Khawer who has several pending cases against him, is a resident of Sialkot and was attempting to board an Oman-bound flight.
There was a Rs400,000 award for his arrest.
IED blast injures 12 security men
PESHAWAR: Twelve security personals were injured on Saturday when a security forces convoy came under an IED attack in the Sarwakai area of South Waziristan, a security official confirmed to The Express News.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far, and the injured have been shifted for treatment.
Opp dubs budget ‘dhan wapsi’ programme
NEW DELHI: The Opposition on Saturday slammed as "hollow and plain" the Bharatiya Janata Party's first full-year Union Budget, saying it lacked vision and alleged that it was "repayment" by the BJP government to the rich and the corporates.
"The budget is only for big corporates and industries. It is not a pro-poor budget. This budget is a repayment by the BJP government to the rich and corporates who had supported them during Lok Sabha polls. The budget is all about promises," Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said.
While Jyotiraditya Scindia termed the budget "plain and hollow", Congress leader Jairam Ramesh described the budget as "dhan wapsi" programme. "You [BJP] had taken in elections. You are paying back," Ramesh alleged.
Criticising the budget for failing to provide "achche din" to poor, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said, "Budget is aimed at helping corporates. It has been made keeping in mind only the rich and big capitalists. It is not in the interests of the common man."
Giving 2 out of 10 for the budget, Biju Janata Dal leader in Lok Sabha B. Mahtab, said it was very disappointing as it did not do much for farmers but significantly, his views were contradicted by his party colleague Jay Panda, who termed the budget as "big bang", which will "encourage the economy and boost the prospects of industry and manufacturing". - PTI
India raises defence budget by 7.9pc
NEW DELHI: India announced on Saturday a modest 7.9 percent increase in defence spending for the fiscal year starting April 1, suggesting that it will move only gradually with the military’s long wish list for fighter jets, ships and artillery.
After years of neglect, India is trying to narrow the military gap with China, which has been building up its fleet of ships and submarines making forays in the Indian Ocean.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, unveiling the federal budget for 2015/16, said defence spending will rise to 2.47 trillion Indian rupees ($40.07 billion). For the current fiscal year, the allocation was 2.29 trillion rupees, a jump of 12 percent over the previous year.
“Defence of every inch of our land is above everything else,” Jaitley said. But the limited rise in the military budget - three-quarters of which is spent on maintaining the world’s third largest standing force - means only some new weapons will be ordered this year. Gurmeet Kanwal, a retired brigadier and fellow at the Vivekananda International Foundation, a New Delhi think tank with ties to the government, said the state has to make initial down payments for a range of pending orders.
He listed them as 126 fighter aircraft from Dassault, 197 light helicopters, 145 Ultra-light Howitzers, 15 Apache attack helicopters and 22 CH-47F Chinook medium lift helicopters.
The navy needs new submarines and stealth ships to counter the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean, which New Delhi has long seen as its sphere of influence.
China is expected to authorise robust 2015 defence spending this coming week despite its slowing economy, largely to beef up the navy with anti-submarine ships and develop more aircraft carriers beyond the sole vessel in operation. Last year, the two giant neighbours were locked in a stand-off on their disputed Himalayan border. - AFP