PM approves increase in stipend for BISP beneficiaries
Nawaz announces compensation package for deceased and injured PIA employees
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has approved increase in the annual stipend to Benazir Income Support Progamme (BISP) beneficiaries from Rs. 18,000 to 18,800 per annum.
Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, in a statement here Saturday, said that he had detailed discussion with the Prime Minister regarding increase in the stipend for BISP beneficiaries.
The increase was in accordance with the increase in CPI during the last year, the minister said and added that the decision would help mitigate the effect of inflation on the BISP beneficiaries.
He said the stipend at the enhanced rate of Rs 4700 per beneficiary per quarter would be payable with effect from July 1, 2015.
The arrears, he added, would be paid along with the next installment and the Finance Division had already issued instructions to the BISP to ensure disbursement of quarterly stipend at the enhanced rate.
The present government, he said, was fully committed to protecting the most vulnerable segments of the society and it had enhance the annual allocation for BISP from Rs 40 billion to Rs 105 billion.
The annual stipend had been enhanced from Rs 12,000 to Rs 18,000 during the last two years, which were now further increased to Rs 18,800, the minister said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has announced financial assistance of Rs. 2.5 million each for the heirs of the families of two deceased PIA employees.
These employees were killed during a firing incident outside Karachi airport. The Prime Minister stated that loss of life of these PIA employees is not only a loss for their families and friends but also for the national carrier.
The Prime Minister also announced half a million rupees each for the injured. The Prime Minister also announced one job each for the families of the deceased in PIA; according to their qualifications.
“The government will pursue the investigations to find out those responsible for the murders of late PIA employees”, assured the PM. The families will be kept informed on regular basis about the progress made in the investigations.
On Friday, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said that the recently signed agreement with Qatari government for import of Liquified Natural Gas was a breakthrough for Pakistan's self sufficiency in energy.
"The recent landmark LNG Agreement, that has been signed with the Government of Qatar with complete transparency at a very low price, will not only cater for the CNG sector, industrial, commercial and domestic consumers but will also help in reinvigorating country's non-efficient power generation plants into high efficiency low cost power plants," he said. - Agencies
Indian summons US Ambassador over decision to sell Pakistan F-16s
NEW DELHI: In an angry move, the government summoned U.S. Ambassador Richard Varma to South Block to express its disappointment over the U.S. government's decision to sell Pakistan a new batch of F-16 Fighter jets in a deal worth $700 million.
The decision that was conveyed by the Pentagon to the U.S. Congress on Thursday, and announced on Friday. Early on Saturday morning, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
"We are disappointed at the decision of the Obama administration to notify the sale of F-16 aircrafts to Pakistan. We disagree with their rationale that such arms transfers help to combat terrorism. The record of the last many years in this regard speaks for itself."
Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar met with U.S. Ambassador on Saturday morning at the Ministry of External Affairs to convey the message to Washington. The meeting lasted for 45 minutes.
While the Indian outrage is unlikely to bend the U.S. decision, opposition to the F-16 deal that will add to the approximately 70 F-16s Pakistan's airforce currently operates, has also come from members of the U.S. Congress. In a letter on February 9th Republican Senator Bob Corker who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Secretary of State John Kerry that the decision was "problematic". Senator Corker and other lawmakers have vowed to block any move to subsidise the sale through the U.S.'s counter-terror reserve funds as well.
"I do not want U.S. taxpayer dollars going to support these acquisitions," Mr. Corker said in an interview to the Wall Street Journal this week, after returning from Afghanistan, adding "While we're spending tremendous amounts of U.S. dollars and certainly tremendous sacrifice in our men and women in uniform and by other agencies, they are working simultaneously to destabilise Afghanistan."
Between 2002 and 2014, the United States has sold around $5.4 billion worth of military equipment to Pakistan, according to the Congressional Research Service. In that same period the U.S. Congress has okayed more than $20 billion in aid to Pakistan. The aid, half of which comes from the Coalition Support Fund, is meant to combat terrorism, but India has consistently maintained that it is used to bolster Pakistan's defence capabilities instead.
The decision to sell Pakistan eight F-16s has been imminent for some months, as the U.S. State department had informally notified Congressmen in April 2015, and it first came to light during PM Nawaz Sharif's visit to Washington in October 2015.
In December, when the Obama administration issued a formal notification of "Foreign Military Financing", several Congressmen had put up a stiff opposition to the deal. Friday's notification means the U.S. Congress has 30 days to veto the transfer of F-16, but that is a veto rarely used after the State department's clearances. An official expressed surprise that India had not expressed its opposition publicly in the run-up to the deal. "However the sale will take some time to be concluded, it has only been notified thus far," the official added. - TOI
Pakistan-based terror outfits using IS’s name to gain momentum: Ch Nisar
ISLAMABAD: The country’s top security czar on Saturday reiterated that Islamic State (Da’ish) had no presence in Pakistan, saying terror outfits already functioning in the country were using the outfit’s name to further their activities.
“I have said this time and again that Da’ish [Islamic State] is a middle-eastern organisation … Da’ish does not exist in the country the way it is perceived,” he said.
The statement comes following a rare admission from Director General Intelligence Bureau Aftab Sultan who claimed Islamic State’s presence is growing in Pakistan.
The interior minister said the country has to remain upbeat about its pledge to defeat terrorism. Further, Nisar said those using Islam’s name to foment more terrorism in the country should be treated like enemies.
“What does Islam say about those attacking innocent people, institutions and mosques,” Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan questioned while addressing a news conference in Kallar Sayedan tehsil of Rawalpindi district. “Are those people [terrorists] Islam’s followers or the worst enemies of the religion’s spirit.”
“I will ask whether these enemies of Islam go to heaven or hell, and what does the Quran and the Prophet (pbuh) say about them [terrorists],” he added.
Talking about the registration of religious seminaries, Nisar said there is already a consensus on the registration of madaris [seminaries] in Pakistan.
“We will summon a meeting of Wifaqul Madaris while also inviting the Army chief [Gen Raheel Sharif],” he said.
Nisar also said: “I am speaking on the basis of facts and will not give up relying upon the fact that the seminaries are in fact an obstruction in the way of terrorism.”
In a veiled jibe at Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), he said the opposition should at least commend the development works that the government has undertaken and should not resort to criticism for the sake of criticism.
“I am doing everything in my constituency to build it and will continue to do so despite the fact that doctors have asked
Two more fall prey to swine flu in Karachi
KARACHI: Swine flu is rapidly spreading in Karachi as two more patients died due to the disease on Saturday.
Keeping in view the alarming situation, the health ministry stated that awareness campaign would be soon launched to combat the disease.The ministry has further directed the patients to take precautionary measures and cover mouth and nose while sneezing.
In 2009-10, the H1N1 swine flu pandemic spread from central Mexico to 74 other countries including India, killing an estimated 284,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 2,700 died in India of swine flu between May 2009 and December 2010. Last year, India recorded 218 swine flu-related deaths and 937 cases, down from 2013, when 699 died. - NNI
‘Avoid’ Valentine’s Day, President tells youth
ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain has urged the nation to refrain from celebrating Valentine's Day, while other officials blasted it as "vulgar and indecent" as they moved to outlaw festivities.
The president made the remarks to a crowd of students on Friday, saying the day -- traditionally celebrated in the West by lovers -- had no place in the Muslim-majority nation.
"Valentine's Day has no connection with our culture and it should be avoided," the president told students at a gathering held to honour one of the country's heroes of independence.
President Mamnoon Hussain urged the young people to focus on their studies instead.
In Peshawar, on Friday members of the district assembly unanimously passed a resolution to ban Valentine's Day celebrations.
"A particular segment of our society wants to impose Western values and culture on our youth by celebrating Valentine's Day," said the resolution, which was presented by a member of Jamaat-e-Islami.
"There is no place in our culture and in our civilisation for such an unnecessary and rude day, which aims to spread vulgarity and indecency amongst the youth," it said.
Authorities in Kohat district also instructed police to halt any celebrations of Valentine's Day.
Despite the ban, an AFP reporter in Peshawar witnessed shops openly selling red balloons, toys and chocolates. - AFP
Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to expand bilateral trade
ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Afghan Ambassador Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal discussed current profile of Pak-Afghan economic cooperation.
During their meeting in Islamabad on Saturday, they discussed steps with particular emphasis on promotion of trade and developing communication linkages between the two countries.
The Minister welcomed the newly appointed Afghan Ambassador and felicitated him on assuming his responsibilities.
Zakhilwal, it may be mentioned has also served as the Finance Minister of Afghanistan and Economic Advisor to the Afghan President.
The Minister on this occasion discussed with the Afghan Envoy current profile of Pak-Afghan economic cooperation with particular emphasis on steps taken for trade facilitation and developing communication linkages.
The Minister said Pakistan took great pride in relations with the brotherly Islamic country Afghanistan. He made special mention of projects that Pakistan had undertaken in Afghanistan as a goodwill gesture and added that majority of these projects were nearing completion. The Minister reiterated the mutual desire of leadership of both countries to take Pak-Afghan all round cooperation to a new high.
The Afghan Envoy said he looked forward to making all out efforts to further strengthen bilateral cooperation. He agreed that there is great scope to build up volume of bilateral trade and augment economic relations. He added he would particularly focus on these areas. He also thanked the Finance Minister for receiving him for the meeting.
Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance were present on the occasion. - NNI
PPP, PML-N clash leaves two dead, six injured in Kotli AJK
Army contingent deployed in Nakyal
KOTLI: At least two persons were killed while six others sustained severe injuries as scuffle broke out between the workers of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in Kotli Saturday.
The brawl took place when PPP activists organised a workers convention at degree college’s ground in Nakyal. The PML-N workers hurled rocks over them, retaliating to which Munshi Khan was killed while six others also got severely wounded.
Police officers resorted to aerial firing and tear gas to disperse the angry workers while heavy contingent of security personnel also cordoned off the entire area.
According to reports, Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Chaudhry Afzal Majeed was on his way to address an election rally of PPP contestant Javed Ludhianvi, when PML-N supporters attacked.
Meanwhile, contingent of Pakistan Army have been deployed in the Nakyal area of Azad Kashmir after the clash between workers f the PPP and PML-N.
Deputy Commissioner Kotli Adnan Khurshid confirmed that the troops were called in to maintain peace in the area.
He said Azad Kashmir Chief Secretary Arbab Sikandar Sultan has set up a judicial commission to probe the incident that led to killing of two people.
Police said they have registered a murder case against N-League workers and made some arrests.
Sources said Farooq Sikandar, son of former Azad Kashmir prime minister Sikandar Hayat Khan, has also been nominated in the FIR.
Zardari condemns killing
Former President Pakistan and President Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians Asif Ali Zardari Saturday condemned the killing of two PPP workers in Nakial, Kotli Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The former president condemning the killing of PPP workers in strongest possible words said that it has become norm for PML-N to kill opposition which shows the dictatorial mindset of its leadership.
He said that several PML-N ministers had been delivering hate speeches against PPP for some time now during their Kashmir visits. Storming of PPP convention seems to be the result of these hate speeches, he said.
Zardari has asked for detail report from the AJK Government and instructed to arrest and bring the culprits to book as soon as possible. He said that the supreme sacrifices of PPP workers will not go waste.
The former president expressed his sympathy for the families of martyr PPP workers and asked PPP AJK leaders to visit the residences of martyrs and show solidarity with them. He also instructed them to provide best medical care to the injured.
He prayed for eternal peace for the departed souls and strength and fortitude to the bereaved families to bear this irreparable loss with equanimity.
Bilawal condemns attack
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned armed attack on PPP workers convention in Nakial, Kotli district in Azad Jammu and Kashmir by the goons of PML-N in which PPP workers martyred and injured with bullet wounds. - NNI
PPP Chairman took notice of the fact that some PML-N Federal Ministers were using foul and filthy language and was seen instigating violence against the PPP workers and supporters in AJK.
He said that PML-N has adopted dictatorial tactics and let loose its armed goons to mount murderous attacks on political gatherings of the PPP ahead of the general elections.
He warned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to bridle his Ministers from promoting violence and use of lethal weapons against opponents otherwise he would be held responsible for the consequences.
He further said that those who killed and maimed PPP workers in Nakial won't go scot-free and all the legal means should be utilized to bring them to book.
He expressed sympathies with families of martyrs and those injured and added that their sacrifices won't go in vain. NNI