Rohit Kumar's Views

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Karachi calling

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ZoneAsia-Pk

Urban violence has become a permanent affliction in Karachi. Anyone explaining the roots of this violence to you would say ‘it’s complicated’ – and that is indeed an accurate summary of the bloodshed that erupts across the city in random spurts. The plague of violence in Pakistan’s biggest city and commercial hub is multifaceted. From ethnic strife to gang wars to politically motivated crimes to just petty theft – Karachi has it all. Where does it start? And more importantly, where would it end?

This is strange because less merely 25 years, Karachi was the land of opportunity in Pakistan. Once the capital of the country, this economic hub bustled with life and activity with little thought spared to the horrors awaiting citizens a few years down the road. Fast forward to 2012, Karachi faces (in the words of Bilal Baloch) feeble security, over-population, poor public transportation and housing, weak law and order, abuse of public services by the wealthy and powerful, illegal land-grabbing and squatter settlements, pollution so pervasive that it contaminates food and water for all, ethnic divisions, sectarian divisions, meager education; in short, institutional inadequacies on a grand scale. At the same time, it is this city that allows unbridled port access to NATO, fishermen and businessmen. The city has seen the likes of Alexander the Great, Sir Charles Napier, Muhammad Bin Qasim, poets, authors, bloggers and artists. The City of Lights continues to function under such paradoxical circumstances, with violent bloodshed in one corner of the city and celebrations in another.

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MQM slams US for Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s sentence

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KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain deemed the United States responsible for the unrest in the world, demanding the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.


Pakistan said it would leave “no stone unturned” in trying to bring home Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who was sentenced to 86 years in jail by a US court.

Hussain addressed the scores of people, estimated to be 300,000 by the MQM, who gathered on his call at MA Jinnah road, near Tibet centre, on Tuesday to condemn an American court’s verdict of Siddiqui’s case.

On September 23, she was sentenced to 86 years in prison on seven charges, including the attempt to murder US military personnel.

The rally was declared successful as members of MQM-opposing groups including the Sunni Tehreek and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam also participated in the rally. Representatives of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, Karachi Bar Association, trade unions also joined to condemn the verdict of Dr Siddiqui’s case.

Claiming that Siddiqui is innocent, Hussain demanded her release. “The Americans are responsible for what they have done to the world. America has killed innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he decried.

“The allegations against Dr Siddiqui are false as they could not prove them. America is answerable [not Dr Siddiqui],” he said, slamming the US. Hussain claimed that ninety percent of the world’s population is against the US and its policies.

The MQM showed solidarity with Dr Siddiqui’s cause in more than one way – representatives of MQM’s Rabita Committee were sitting with Dr Siddiqui’s sister, Fauzia Siddiqui. Altaf Hussain called for a united stand on Dr Siddiqui’s case, urging all civil society groups to join in the “struggle”. “Dr Aafia is the daughter of the nation and a symbol of pride [as she] stood courageously and faced the trial. It was exemplary to see a Muslim woman not give up and fight,” Hussain claimed.

Security arrangements

A few hours before the rally, men in yellow caps guarded the entry and exit points of the venue, while a heavy contingent of police and other law enforcing agencies were also deployed. MQM’s security personnel searched each and every participant of the rally at the entrance. The police was seen on the roofs of buildings around MA Jinnah road while the paramilitary Rangers took their resistant positions after the rally ended.

Rallies across Sindh

Several rallies were organised in various parts of the province to protest against Dr Siddiqui’s sentence. Activists of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Muslim Students Federation held a demonstration outside the Hyderabad Press Club to condemn the sentence. Protesters shouted slogans against the verdict and claimed that the government has not taken the issue seriously.

Meanwhile, in Sukkur, a rally was led by Qutubud Din, the MQM Sukkur Zone incharge, during which protesters marched from Jinnah Chowk to the press club. Activists of the Sunni Tehreek and the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz also participated in the rally.

Three more legislators found guilty of fraud

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By: Hafeez Tunio

The degrees of at least three more public representatives – one MNA, and two MPAs (from Sindh and Punjab) – were found to be bogus on Tuesday. All three denied the charges when approached by The Express Tribune.


All three have denied the charges, pointing to a conspiracy.

The verification procedure currently under way at University of Karachi has thus far found the degrees of two public representatives to be bogus.

The degrees of Yaqoob Bizenjo, Member National Assembly from the Balochistan National Party (Awami) and Stephen Peter Member Provincial Assembly (Sindh) from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) face disqualification, but the two termed the discovery to be a conspiracy.

Official sources in the university said that the process of verification has almost been completed and that of the 106 degrees received by the university, most had been verified, and at least two found to be fake.

Talking to the media Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of Karachi Dr Nasiruddin Khan said that the university had received about 106 degrees from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and their six-stage verification process has almost been completed. He added that, after the final process, the results would be sent to the HEC by July 13.

When asked about the degree of Bizenjo, he said the case of his degree is sub judice, and therefore he could not comment on it.

However, Bizenjo, a resident of Turbat, Kech district in Balochistan struck a defiant note. “I swear that my degree, bearing roll No. 685933, is genuine and I have done my BA from the University of Karachi in 2007,” said the MNA from BNP (Awami), while talking to The Express Tribune.

He said that he still remembers that his results had been announced on 17 July, about seven months before the general election. According to Bizenjo, Zubaida Jalal, who he defeated in the general elections, had previously challenged his degree, but the election tribunal decided in his favour and now the case is in the Balochistan Court.

“The officials of Karachi University had recorded their statement before the tribunal that the degree is genuine, so how they have declared it fake [now],” he questioned.

He termed it a conspiracy against him and added that he is ready to face every challenge.

Meanwhile, MPA Stephen Peter, who had been nominated for a reserved seat on the quota of the MQM, said that he had submitted his graduation degree at the office of Election Commission for verification, and claimed that it was genuine. When asked when he had graduated, the MPA did not answer – and asked The Express Tribune to call him back. However, he did not attend the phone later and his assistant said that he will present his version in a press conference to be held very soon.

It may be mentioned here that a three-member committee has been constituted the KU Vice-Chancellor Prof Pirzada Qasim to ensure that the degrees of legislators are authentic and valid.

KU Pro Vice-Chancellor Dr Nasiruddin Khan, Registrar Prof. Kaleem Raza, and Department of Computer Science Chairman Dr Aquil Burney are members of the committee.

The degree of Samina Khawar Hayat, Member Provincial Assembly (Punjab) from the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) was also found to be fake.

According to the records of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Hayat had submitted a BBA degree, which was dated 2004, from University of Rafa in Islamabad. However, the university had not even started the BBA programme till 2005. The stamps and spellings on the degree are also incorrect.

Hayat, however, insisted that she had gained admission to the university and obtained a degree. She said she was being targeted by certain elements. Nominated on a reserved seat for women on the PML-Q’s quota, Hayat came into the limelight after a quarrel with another MPA Sheikh Alauddin and allowing her husband to have a second marriage.

The disclosure that her degree was bogus came as a surprise for her fellow party members. “I am surprised to know that she got a fake degree,” said Seemal Kamran adding that, if Hayat is disqualified, then the PML-Q would nominate another female party member to the seat. “In queue, Humaira Owais Shahid would be elected on the seat,” said another PML-Q MPA Mohsin Leghari.

Meanwhile, over in Quetta, the University of Balochistan (UoB) received around 60 degrees of federal and provincial legislators for verification on Tuesday. For this purpose a committee had been constituted to investigate into the matter.

Sources said that the committee has started the procedure and that it would take about one week to complete the scrutiny of MNAs and MPAs’ degrees. “The names of the committee members were kept secret in order to avoid any outside influence of powerful people.”

They said that the process would be transparent, adding that the UoB has complete records about its students, so there are no chances of injustice.

It may be mentioned that a sizeable number of the legislators of Balochistan possess degrees from religious seminaries, which is viewed with great suspicion.

P3C Orion Aircraft inducted into Pakistan Navy

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KARACHI, The induction ceremony of two modified P3C Orion aircraft acquired from the United States was held at the Pakistan Navy Base Mehran here on Tuesday.Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Noman Bashir, was the chief guest at the simple but impressive ceremony. US Brig. Gen. Mike Nagata of the Office of Defence Representative in Pakistan, and the Consul General of United States in Karachi Stephens G. Fakan also attended the ceremony. Speaking on the occasion, the Naval Chief termed this as a historic day on many accounts.

He said with the induction of these aircraft the capability of Pakistan Navy and its Aviation Wing would be enhanced.

Admiral Noman Bashir stated that we have to contribute to make the areas that surround our country on land and the sea safe and secure and that we take this as our responsibility as well as moral obligation.

He further pointed out that today’s capability would help us infurthering this very effort.

Admiral Noman Bashir said that these fully modified aircraft are capable of undertaking the missions that they are designed for.

He stated that with the induction of these aircraft the friendship of Pakistan and the United States has been further cemented.

The Naval Chief pointed out that the cooperation between the navies of the two countries has also flourished and would continue to flourish.

He said that we already have our crew in the United States to take over one frigate hopefully by the end of August and after necessary repair work it will sail for Pakistan by January next year.

Admiral Noman Bashir also asked the aviation crew of Pakistan Navy to maintain these and other aircraft in a professional and able manner.

He also said that the P3C programme that we desired in the 1990s has been materialized in 2010.

The Naval Chief said that the next set of these aircraft would also be arriving in the later part of this year.

Speaking on the occasion, the US Brig. Gen. Mike Nagata said that these aircraft are equipped with modern mission systems and avionics will help enhance Pakistan Navy’s capability to conduct maritime operations.

” These aircraft are symbols of your commitment to your people, to your mission of protecting your way of life and to be great part of the international community”, he remarked.

Mike Nagata said that these are also symbol of a partnership that has grown deeper and enriched in recent years between nation of Pakistan and the United States- the one that we are confident would continue to strengthen and deepen in the years ahead.

He also pointed out that Pakistan Navy is a credible international partner and a leading coalition maritime forces security operations in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and Indian Ocean Mike Nagata said that Pakistan Navy currently leads the Task Force 150 and this is the fourth time it is doing so.

Earlier, Commander Pakistan Fleet Vice-Admiral Tanveer Faiz, presented the welcome address.

The Naval Chief presented the documents of the aircraft to Commander Ahmed Shuja.

Most retailers continue to fleece consumers

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* Flour, sugar, other kitchen items being sold at high rates despite drop in wholesale prices

By Tanveer Sher

KARACHI: Most commodity retailers of the city have failed to pass on the relief of declining rates of flour, sugar and other kitchen items during the last one-month to the consumers.
It transpired during a survey of several wholesale markets of the city that during the last one-month sharp decline was registered in prices of some kitchen items especially sugar and all varieties of flour but despite fall in their prices, retailers have been charging higher rates from consumers.

Ironically officials of Sindh Bureau of Supply and Prices, who are responsible to keep an eye on overcharging, are silent over the situation.

The declining price trend of different varieties of flour was witnessed in the market on account of bumper wheat crop during the current year, which has plunged to Rs 2,300 per 100 kilogrammes (kg) bag in the open market as compared to official rates of Rs 2,375 to Rs 2,400 per 100kg bag.

In view of large supply of wheat from interior Sindh, flour mills have made downward revision in prices of ex-mill to Rs 26 per kg as against old rates of Rs 29 to Rs 30 per kg.
Similarly, chakki flour, which was previously supplied to retailers at higher prices of Rs 32 to Rs 33 per kg, is now provided to them at lower rates of Rs 30 per kg.

However, large number of retailers appear reluctant to pass on the price benefit to consumers on account of lack of vigil by the concerned department of the provincial government, giving them a free hand to charge whimsical rates from buyers.

Consequently, ex-mill rates charged by the retailers continue to be on the higher side of Rs 29 to Rs 30 per kg while chakki flour is available to buyers at exorbitant prices of Rs 33 to Rs 34 per kg.

Similarly, consumers are compelled to pay higher sugar prices, which have declined considerably in the wholesale markets to Rs 58 per kg as compared to old rates of Rs 65 to Rs 67 per kg, which is now available to retailers at Rs 58 per kg from wholesale markets.

Majority of retailers in different areas of the city are still charging Rs 65 to Rs 70 per kg from their buyers.

Karachi Retailer and Grocer Group General Secretary Fareed Qureshi talking to the scribe acknowledged about the declining price trend of sugar and all varieties of flour claiming that an overwhelming majority of retailers are selling these items at reduced rates while a handful of them are indulged in massive profiteering.

Pakistan can use coal as substitute for gas

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By Fasahat Mohiuddin

KARACHI: There is an acute gas shortage all over the country besides power, and we have to use our indigenous coal reserves to convert into natural gas to overcome the shortage instead of importing gas at very higher rates.

The natural gas reserves in Pakistan will be exhausted in the next six years against the high demand, while the government claims that reserves are for the next 20 to 25 years, which is not a factual position.

This was stated by alternate energy expert, Manaullah Khan, consultant of an American firm ATCO based in Houston, Texas, USA. Khan these days is working in the Middle East for oil companies.

Natural gas plays an important role in Pakistan’s economy, as it contributes around 50 per cent of the total commercial energy supply in the country.

Pakistan’s total remaining gas reserves are estimated at 29.80 trillion cubic feet (2008) which are adequate for meeting the gas requirement of Pakistan for 6 years at the current rate of production.

The present constrained demand of gas for 2008-09 is 5.28 trillion cubic feet. Pakistan’s gas demand and supply projections indicate a widening gap of approximately 600 MMCFD by the year 2010-11. The gap starts to emerge in 2007-08 and builds up to 1000 MMCFD by 2010-11, as the current gas fields gradually go off plateau.

It should be noted that the present international rate of natural gas is around $6.00 per 1000 cubic feet. When the cost of import plus the cost of transportation and distribution is added, it will cost 5 times higher than the present gas price in the country.

Unless we start using coal directly as a substitute for gas consumption in the power plant and other related industries, we may not be able reduce the growing demand of our natural gas.

Coal gasification and coal-to-liquid are some proven technologies available which can be successfully employed in Pakistan to reduce dependence on imported oil and natural gas.

In addition to coal, there are many waste materials like cow dung, municipal solid waste, industrial waste, rice husk, wheat and rice straw and other composite materials which can be used to produce bio gas, which can be used a substitute of natural gas for winter heating and CNG filling stations for vehicle fuels. If this waste-to-energy technology is adopted in Pakistan on a fast track basis, then the problem of gas shortage can be overcome within a few years.

Coal gasification offers one of the most versatile and cleanest ways to convert the energy content of coal into electricity, hydrogen, and other energy forms.

Rather than burning coal directly, gasification breaks down coal, or virtually any carbon-based feedstock, into its basic chemical constituents.

In a modern gasifier, coal is typically exposed to hot steam and carefully controlled amounts of air or oxygen under high temperatures and pressures. Under these conditions, carbon molecules in coal break apart, setting into motion chemical reactions that typically produce a mixture of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and other gaseous compounds.

Gasification, in fact, may be one of the best ways to produce clean-burning hydrogen for tomorrow’s automobiles and power-generating fuel cells. Hydrogen and other coal gases can also be used to fuel power-generating turbines or as chemical “building blocks” for a wide range of commercial products.

The pioneering coal gasification electric power plants are now operating commercially in the United States and in other nations, and many experts predict that coal gasification will be at the heart of future generations of clean coal technology plants for several decades into the future.

A coal gasification power plant, however, typically gets dual duty from the gases it produces. First, the coal gases, cleaned of their impurities, are fired in a gas turbine, much like natural gas, to generate one source of electricity. The hot exhaust of the gas turbine is then used to generate steam for a more conventional steam turbine-generator. This dual source of electric power, called a “combined cycle,” converts much more of coal’s inherent energy value into useable electricity. The fuel efficiency of a coal gasification power plant can be boosted to 50 per cent or more.

As early as the 1890s, lamplighters once made their rounds down the streets of many of America’s largest cities lighting street lights’ fuel with “town gas,” the product of early and relatively crude forms of coal gasification (town gas is still used extensively in some parts of the world, such as China and other Asian countries). Once the vast fields of natural gas were discovered and pipelines were built to transport the gas to consumers in the 1940s and 50s, the use of town gas phased out.

Coal gasification-based power concepts got their biggest boost in the 1990s when the US Department of Energy’s Clean Coal Technology Programme provided federal cost-sharing for the first true commercial-scale IGCC plants in the United States. Pakistan must take a similar initiative if it wants to solve the energy shortage problem.

Coal plays a major part in the world’s energy system and hence in global economic and social development. Coal currently supplies over 38 per cent of the world’s electricity and 23 per cent of global primary energy needs. Coal-fired electricity drives the economies of the two most populous and fastest growing countries in the world today, China and India, as well as a number of key industrial economies, such as the USA and Germany. Coal consumption is expected to grow by around 1.4 per cent per year over the next thirty years.

Another important local fuel which can be used is fuel grade ethanol which is a by-product of sugar mills. Brazil, India and other countries are using 20 to 30 per cent fuel grade ethanol with petrol to reduce the dependence of important fuel.

If we reduce the cost of petrol by using fuel grade ethanol, then it will reduce the use of CNG in motor vehicles. The cost of production of fuel grade ethanol can be reduced by using bio gas as fuel in place of natural gas or fuel in their boilers. The bio gas can be produced from the process waste of fuel grade ethanol plant, thereby reducing the cost of production.