PM announces reduction in petrol prices by Rs9.43
Refund of overcharged power bill money to consumers ordered
CMs told to ensure impact of reduction in POL prices reach common man
ISLAMABAD: Petrol prices have been reduced by 9.43 rupees per litre to provide relief to public, the prime minister announced on Friday while addressing the special meeting of Cabinet in Islamabad.
The prime minister said the government is drastically reducing petroleum prices despite sit-ins and protests causing huge losses to the national economy.
"The government is committed to bring economic change in the country and provide relief to the people," said the PM, adding that the country was moving towards economic stability, but sit-ins and protests had disrupted the development process.
Earlier, rejecting an audit report on inflated electricity bills, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered concerned authorities to refund overcharged bill money to consumers.
The audit report submitted to the premier revealed that energy consumers were charged over Rs2 billion in over-billing in July.
The report was presented during a special cabinet meeting called to discuss the issue of over-billing and performance of various ministries particularly Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ministry of Planning and Reform and Ministry of Railways.
According to the audit, the over-billing was a result of debt adjustment, wrong meter reading and incorrect bills.
The report, however, failed to hold any official responsible. The prime minister, however, rejected the report and called for a reassessment. Sources in PML-N said that the cabinet decided to form a high level committee to probe the saga.
Officials said the Cabinet meeting could continue for three days, and could possibly continue after Muharram and the prime minister's visit to China in the first week of November.
Distribution companies, which install electricity meters, had allegedly put up meters which functioned at a fast pace, hence increasing electricity costs. However, power companies were reportedly not aware of this issue.
As per government policy, meter readings for July should be taken again and additional money should be repaid to the consumers.
Commenting on the current economical state of the country, the PM said that there has been a halt in economic growth which Pakistan had begun to experience prior to the sit-in in the capital.
"The country would have been in a much better state economically. However, there are those who have been a hindrance to the country's growth and development," the PM said, while rejecting all rigging allegations made by protesters in Islamabad.
He attributed a good economy to reduced poverty, better streets, better projects and dams, and new motorways.
The premier stood firm in his stance that any given government should serve their five-year term before the next government comes into power.
"If we finish our five year term, we will work on improving and building a better Pakistan. We will then be able to give the next government a more stable Pakistan to build and grow further," the PM explained.
The PM expressed regret about the Chinese president postponing his visit to Pakistan and added that this has extended to the president of Maldives as well and Sri Lanka.
"Investors no longer want to come to Pakistan and the value of the rupee is declining," the PM said regrettably.
PM Nawaz concluded by touching upon petrol prices and urged the chief ministers of all provinces to focus on reducing transport costs so that the public could reap the benefits of lower costs.
ECP receives Speaker’s letter on PTI resignations
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday received a letter from Speaker of the National Assembly, informing it about the resignations of the members of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
The Speaker in his letter stated that despite efforts, resignations of the PTI members could not be verified, whereas the letter is being forwarded to the ECP for the sake of information.
Sources told that the commission cannot take any action on the basis of the letter written by the Speaker.
It was further reported that the letter had no mention regarding the fate of PTI resignations. - NNI
Opposition parties again boycott NA proceedings
OGDCL not being privatised, minister assures House
ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties including Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) on Friday yet again boycotted the proceedings of the National Assembly against the arrest of the workers of Oil and Gas Development Corporation Ltd (OGDCL).
These parties had also boycotted the proceedings of the lower house on Thursday in protest against the rude attitude of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who had left the house during the speech of opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah.
The protesting lawmakers were holding placards inscribing with slogans in favour of the OGDCL workers and against the privatization of the corporation, who later left the house soon after their brief speeches.
"We condemn the arrest and rejection of bail applications of the employees of the OGDCL and also condemned the abusive language used by the interior minister on the floor of the house against the opposition", said PPP lawmaker Shazia Marri, who spoke on behalf of her party on a point of order soon after the recitation from the holy Quran.
"The action against the OGDCL workers is condemnable and despite assurance to the opposition leader by the government to release the workers, their bail applications were rejected in the court," said Marri.
She said that serious violence was committed by police against the OGDCL workers during the protest for their genuine rights. She said that OGDCL is a profitable organization and selling of its share would be against the interest of the country.
"We will never leave these workers alone and PPP would support them at all the occasions", said Marri.
JI parliamentary leader Sahibazad Tariqullah said that privatisation of OGDCL is not only against the interest of workers, but also against the national interest to sall out a profitable organization.
He said that it is matter of concern that the protesting workers were not only beaten up by police, but cases were also furnished against them.
ANP leader Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said that political parties make hallow promises when they go for elections, but once they are elected to government they even snatch their fundamental rights.
He said that this is a double standard of the government that on one hand it arrests the peaceful workers of OGDCL, but those who protested in violent manner in the Red Zone are still enjoying governments' protocol.
Later, Sate Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab said that government has no plan to privatise the OGDCL and neither any worker would be laid off.
"We will protect the rights of workers anywhere in the country", said Sheikh.
Defending police action against the workers, he said, there was 144 imposed in Islamabad and the protesters not only violated it, but they also injured a DSP and police constable.
Sheikh said that the actual problem of the opposition to boycott the proceedings is not the OGDCL issue, but that they are not happy with the vision of Mian Nawaz Sharif for successful economic policies and programmes.
The minister said that the opposition parties know that the PML-N economic and energy policies would end the loadshedding and energy crisis in five years and the party will again win the elections in 2018 due to its performance.
He said that the opposition should respect the majority party in the Parliament as we did with the PPP during last five years despite the fact that it had no majority in the Parliament. "We invite opposition to come and work with the government to bring the country out of economic and energy crisis", he maintained.
Later, Hindu MNAs Dr Ramesh Lal and Dr Darshan took up the issue of abduction of a 13 years old Hindu girl from interior Sindh.
They said that minorities are not safe in the country, particularly in Sindh. Despite insistence of the minority MNAs, the deputy speaker did not form a joint committee to look into the issue and the chair referred the issue to the standing committee on law and justice.
The house was later prorogued.
Younis Khan waltzes his way into record books
Abu Dhabi: Never make a Pathan angry. Furious after being dropped for the ODI segment, it is Australia who have been left to face his wrath. The veteran coshed his third consecutive Test hundred as Pakistan seized the initiative on the first day of the second Test at the Shaikh Zayed International Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
His unbeaten 111 and his understudy Azhar Ali's first Test ton against Australia took Pakistan to 304 for two. The 36-year-old Younis Khan also waltzed his way into the record books on the back of his 27th century. He became the first man in 89 years and nine months since the late Englishman Herbert Sutcliffe to notch three hundreds on the trot. Younis had made 106 and 103 in the Dubai Test.
World War veteran Herbert Sutcliffe scored the first of his three hundreds on December 19, 1924 in the second innings of the Sydney Test. The opener had made 115. The Yorkshireman followed that up with 176 and 127 in the Melbourne Test on January 1, 1925. - Agencies
Altaf warns Pakistanis of IS threat
KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain said a new threat has been looming in Pakistan in the shape of Islamic State (IS).
Addressing party workers on Friday, Hussain said he who had earlier informed the nation about Talibanization in Karachi was going to disclose that the IS flags were being seen from South Punjab to Islamabad while the Taliban militants were also joining the militant group.
He said that the IS, which has been formed by its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by merging different militant groups, was far more dangerous than the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief said that the Taliban had also split into different groups. - Agencies
More than 1,75,000 people leave Bara due to operation Khyber-I
PESHAWAR: More than one lakh seventy five thousand people have been made homeless due to operation Khyber-I against the militants.
According to FATA DMA spokesman Haseeb Khan, registration centres have been established for Bara displaced people in Peshawar, Khyber and Orakzai agencies. He said arrangements have been made to accommodate between 500 to 100 Bara IDPs in Jalozai refugee camp but most of them are preferring to stay with their relatives or in rented accommodation.
He said the actual number of displacement would be known after the people have gone out as many people had left Bara before the start of the operation.
FDMA said that a request has been sent to the federal government for extending relief to Khyber IDPs on the pattern of NWA IDPs and hoped that a favourable response would be received. However a number of IDPs said that tall claims are being made by the federal and provincial governments but they do not expect any relief in the given situation.
Some of the IDPs complained that police was harassing them in the midst of the road and demanding money. It is worth mentioning that a couple of days back Governor and Chief Minister KP had directed the Police not to harass the Khyber IDPs in Peshawar city. - INP
Suspects involved in 2007 Karsaz attack arrested: Police
Three ‘TTP militants’ killed in Karachi police encounter
KARACHI: Crime Investigation Department (CID) of the Karachi Police on Friday said that two suspects involved in a 2007 deadly attack on former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's caravan have been arrested.
SP Usman Bajwa told media on Friday that the detained suspects have identified the attackers who had targeted the homecoming procession of PPP chairperson on October 18, 2007, killing over 170 people at Karsaz on Shara-e-Faisal.
Bajwa said that the two suspects identified as Jamshed and Abid were arrested from an address located on National Highway.
He said that the detainees have made important revelations about the militant attack. The SP claimed that explosive material for the attack was brought from Frontier Colony area of SITE Town while it was masterminded in Manghopir area.
Meanwhile, police claimed to have killed three alleged terrorists belonging to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in an encounter in Sohrab Goth area of the city.
SSP Malir Rao Anwar told media that a suicide bomber and Ameer of TTP Karachi chapter Sultan were also killed in the shootout.
He said that heavy arms, detonators and suicide vest were also recovered during the police action. Identities of the other alleged militants were yet to be known. - Statesman
‘Cyclone Storm’ Nilofar weakens into ‘depression’
KARACHI: Cyclone Nilofar has "weakened into a depression" which is most likely to weaken further into a "low pressure area" on Friday, according to the country's meteorological department.
The cyclone is currently located approximately 490 kilometres south-south west of Karachi, with an estimated wind speed of about 20-30 Knots.
Further, Nilofar is expected to move north-westward before it dissipates on Saturday.
According to NASA, "wind shear has been weakening Nilofar" and winds have "dropped beyond hurricane-strength".
Scattered rain and thunder showers are expected in Lower Sindh and the coast of Lasbella during the next 24 to 36 hours, and the conditions of the sea along the coast are expected to remain rough until Saturday, November 1.
Weather officials on Thursday downgraded tropical cyclone Nilofar by several notches, reclassifying it as a 'cyclonic storm'.
Nilofar will not hit any part of the coast, not even in India, the Met department and other officials said. The whole system will die down completely by Saturday, they added.
On a positive note, fishermen in Sindh and Balochistan may be able to resume activities on Sunday. Interestingly, residents of the coastal areas remain apprehensive about the potential destruction of their properties by Cyclone Nilofar, but dwellers of drought-hit Tharparkar are hopeful the tropical storm will at least endow them with much-needed rainfall.
In neighbouring India, Cyclone Nilofar is also weakening further and moving into a depression over the northeast Arabian Sea, according to the India Meteorological Department's Regionalized Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) forecast.
RSMC predicts that sea conditions along and off the coast of Gujarat will "be moderate to rough during the next 24 hours." Further, the Indian meteorological department has advised fishermen in Gujarat (along and off the coast) not to venture into the sea for the next 24 hours. – Agencies
JI chief ready to meet Imran to sort out misunderstandings
ISLAMABAD: Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq has agreed to meet Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan to sort out misunderstandings between the two party heads.
Vice Chairman PTI Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) Pervaiz Khattak phoned Sirajul Haq and convinced him to see Imran Khan for sorting out the misunderstandings between them.
The JI chief told Shah Mehmood during the phone call that he did not give any interview to any English newspaper. He said that the English newspaper has reported a fake story about him. "I have told the newspaper management to investigate the matter", said Sirajul Haq.
He said that he is a politician and cannot give up on the policies of reconciliation and friendship. He said that he considered Imran Khan to be a respectable politician and that is why he prohibited JI leaders to comment on the issue. He said that he will meet Imran Khan on return from Baluchistan.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan had urged Sirajul Haq to elucidate his position before the public if he is with the status quo or against it.
"JI should stop playing on both sides of the wickets and tell the people of Pakistan where it stands: for change or with status quo," PTI's verified twitter account quoted Imran Khan as saying.
Khan said that Siraj, whose party is in coalition with PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, has forgotten the number of NAB cases against both Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari. - NNI
Afghan President Ghani invites Taliban to join peace process
BEIJING: Afghanistan's new president invited the Taliban to join in a peace process backed by the international community on Friday, an unusual direct reference to the insurgents who have stepped up attacks in an attempt to bring down his month-old government.
Speaking at a conference on Afghan peace and reconstruction in Beijing, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai made no specific proposals and indicated government forces wouldn't back away from the fight.
However, his mention of the Taliban by name marked a departure from his usual public references to them as "political opponents".
"Peace is our highest priority. We invite the political opposition, particularly the Taliban, to join and enter Afghan dialogue, and ask all of our international partners to support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process," Ghani Ahmadzai said.
He added: "We must not and will not permit groups pursuing grand illusions to use our country as the battleground or launching-pad against the international system."
It wasn't immediately clear if there was any particular significance to Ghani Ahmadzai referring to the Taliban by name, beyond the fact that he was speaking to an international audience on his first state visit abroad.
Ghani Ahmadzai's attitude toward the Taliban has been a departure from that of his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, who habitually referred to the insurgents as his "brothers" and castigated the United States for its military presence in Afghanistan.
In response, the Taliban have intensified suicide bombing, roadside bombs and rocket attacks on the Afghan capital to give the impression that Ghani Ahmadzai's government can't protect the capital.
In his address to the gathering, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China has faith in Afghanistan's ability to solve its own problems, but that its neighbours should help create a peaceful environment without interfering in its internal affairs.
"The International community should respect Afghanistan's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, not interfere with its internal affairs and support Afghanistan's efforts to realize security and stability," Li said.
China's hosting of the annual conference highlights its growing role in Afghanistan as most US and international troops prepare to leave by the end of the year.
China said Wednesday it would provide $330 million in grants to Afghanistan along with professional training and scholarships for 3,500 Afghans over the next five years.
Beijing is keen to help develop Afghanistan's estimated $3 trillion in mineral wealth and wants a strong, stable government in Kabul. It is concerned that unrest could spill over into its restive northwestern region of Xinjiang, where radicals among the native Uighur population have launched a series of attacks in recent months.
China said earlier it had received a pledge from Ghani Ahmadzai to help combat a radical anti-China group known as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, which it blames for masterminding attacks in Xinjiang and elsewhere. It's unclear, however, whether the organisation has a presence in Afghanistan.
While China and the US are rivals for influence in the Asia-Pacific, Washington has welcomed Beijing's increased involvement in Afghanistan. Since 2009, the two have seen a growing convergence of views and the US now regards China as a "critical player" in the Afghan region, according to a senior State Department official who spoke to reporters on routine condition of anonymity.
"The US sees Afghanistan as an area of real cooperation with China and not one of competition," said the official.
The US and China have begun jointly training Afghan diplomats, the official said. The US also hopes China will use its good relations with Pakistan to convince Islamabad to crack down on elements accused of supporting Afghan insurgents, he said. - Agencies
Nov 3 emergency
Special court reserves judgment on Musharraf’s plea for joint trial
ISLAMABAD: Former president Pervez Musharraf's lawyer on Friday called for a joint trial of all those civil and military leaders who were part of the setup when emergency was imposed in the country on November 3, 2007, Express News reported.
A special court in Islamabad is hearing a treason case against the former military ruler who is accused of abrogating the Constitution and taking other emergency measures.
Musharraf's lawyer, Farogh Nasim, argued before a three-judge bench, headed by Justice Faisal Arab, that imposing emergency was a collective action taken in consultation with then civil and military leaders. "No one person can be held responsible for the November 3 emergency; targeting Musharraf alone is wrong," he added. The court has reached a decision on this request and will announce it on November 21. - Statesman
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