Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Musharraf : Told Ya ! - Lawyers rough up Former Parliamentary Minister Sher Afghan

Musharraf : Told Ya !

- Lawyers rough up Former Parliamentary Minister Sher Afghan
- ‘Black coats’ or ‘Blackshirts’!
- Third Act of assult by Lawyers is an eye opener. Writer Naeem Bokhari and
Former Senate Chairman Wasim Sajjad were the first ones

IF Monday’s incident inside the Sindh assembly was despicable, the treatment meted out to veteran politician Sher Afgan Niazi by a group of ‘lawyers’ in Lahore yesterday has perhaps put the entire nation to shame.The images of Arbab Ghulam Rahim being thrashed by an unruly band of PPP activists in Karachi were still fresh in the minds of most people, when the television screens started to flash some of the most disturbing images of people in black coats beating, abusing and humiliating a former minister. Sher Afgan’s only crime was that he didn’t agree with the lawyers’ movement, sided with President Musharraf on the issue of proclamation of emergency, and even lost his seat in the elections after being dumped by the then ruling PML-Q.Perhaps in civilised societies even criminals are not treated the way some of the people treated Sher Afgan outside a lawyer’s chamber.

During the chaotic situation in Lahore on Tuesday, when this group of lawyers refused to listen even to their leader Aitzaz Ahsan, there were clear signs that if not checked at this stage the ‘black coats’ may soon be replaced by what were once known in Europe as the ‘Blackshirts’.Indeed, what was being dubbed as a movement for restoration of democracy and rule of law was clearly showing signs of fascism.Sher Afgan Niazi has always been a controversial person, and the way he had taken upon himself the task to defend all of the President’s actions earned him the reputation of being more loyal than the king.At a time when most leaders of the previous governments were clearly avoiding taking a position on President Musharraf’s move to impose emergency, Sher Afgan was perhaps the only minister in the previous cabinet to publicly support or justify the presidential action. Of course, it made many people in the country quite angry. But could that justify such uncivilised behaviour? Certainly not.One can argue about the real causes for this kind of intolerance in the society, and there is every reason to believe that because of repeated disruptions in the democratic process, many people have adopted violent means to voice their grievances.

Still, there can be no justification for the way senior politicians and lawyers have failed to control their supporters, who are bent upon settling scores the way they feel is the right way.Perhaps the first signs of such ‘fascist’ trends were seen when after the restoration of Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry the first time a group of lawyers in Rawalpindi took upon itself the task of enforcing their style of justice system.

During this period, at least one pro-Musharraf writer, and a lawyer, Naeem Bukhari, who was author of a controversial letter against the chief justice, were badly thrashed by this group.

Former Senate Chairman Wasim Sajjad was roughed up at the Supreme Court, and at one point some lawyer activists burnt the copy of an apex court verdict simply because it was not acceptable to them. One can always argue these were aberrations in what had come to be known as one of the most forceful lawyers’ movement for restoration of the judges and rule of law. Had these incidents been condemned at that stage, those who took the law in their own hands in Lahore on Tuesday wouldn’t have dared to do so.

Ironically, most of those linked to the lawyers’ movement, and the opposition parties of that time, preferred to recognise and condemn such fascist trends.The result is that today those who in the past had been directly responsible for supporting and promoting military rule, dictatorial actions and dismantling the rule of law in the country, are now coming forward to present themselves as better democrats. They are certainly not democrats. If anything, they are the people who are directly responsible for destroying everything that is democratic in the country.

Most observers of democratic struggle in this country are of the view that these incidents, serious as they are, should prove to be a wake-up call for both the democracy-loving politicians and lawyers. And if one can dare say, also for the media, especially the independent television networks, to take a step back and think how the name of freedom and democracy is being used by some to damage or destroy the very basis on which these lofty ideals are set.Pakistan’s chequered political history is witness to the fact that the opponents of democracy have always used such incidents to their advantage to disrupt the efforts for the establishment of rule of law in the country. Until two days ago the whole nation was in an upbeat mood, celebrating the restoration of democracy, and hoping for a better future.

These incidents have somehow disturbed them, if not dashed their hopes outright.However, there is still hope. It’s mainly because there exists in the country a very strong coalition of political forces who have suffered in the past at the hands of dictators. But these seasoned politicians and leaders of the lawyers’ movement need to rise to the occasion and instead of getting involved in petty issues and score-settling, deliver democracy and rule of law.They are quite capable of delivering, provided there is realisation about the gravity of situation, and a will to do so. If they fail, the real loser will be democracy, and the people of Pakistan.

Nuclear Plants from China to add 1280 MW

Nuclear power plants of 1280MW: Pakistan to seek financing from China

By Zafar Bhutta ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has decided to seek major chunk of financing from China for setting up four new nuclear power units of 1280MW to bridge gap between supply and demand, sources told Daily Times on Tuesday.Sources said that Pakistan would place request before Chinese authorities during the upcoming visit of President Pervez Musharraf to China.Sources said that proposed nuclear units of 320MW each would be set up to generate 1280MW power by nuclear resources under the vision 2030. Two units of 320MW each will be set up in Chashma and two units will be established in Karachi.They said that Finance Ministry is working on the process of getting financing from different countries including China and it would also chalk out the strategy to generate financing through joint venture by different countries.The first phase project of Chashma Nuclear Plant was commissioned in September 2000. Chinese Company is already working on second phase of Chashma nuclear power plant and in May 2004,Pakistan and China signed a contract to jointly build the second phase project of Chashma Nuclear Power Plant. China agreed to provide $350 million credit and will complete the project in 2011.They said that the current installed electricity generation capacity stands at 19,400MW that would be increased to 162,590MW by 2030 as the energy consumption would rise to 7 fold by 2030.Government has planned a major shift to coal, nuclear and renewable resources to achieve the set target of electricity generation.At present Pakistan is mainly depending on hydel power generation that has dropped to 2000 MW power due to water shortages in the country. Pakistan is now looking towards wind, coal, and nuclear and solar resources to increase the power generation. Pakistan is said to face around 1400 MW power shortfall constantly by 2010.At present the country is facing a power shortfall of 1500MW to 2000MW.The power crisis emerged as the private sector has not increased its power generation capacity and new Independent Power Producers (IPPs) were not set up for many years. Sources said that Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO) authorities have given briefing to the Prime Minister about the plan of adding 2200 MW power to the current power system in one year. Premier has directed the concerned authorities to carry out the plan. Prime Minister has also directed the public sector also to go side by side with the private sector for setting up power plants so that the dependence on the private sector could be minimised. On the other hand, PEPCO would add 1100MW power to the current power system by rental plants during current calendar year. 450MW by rental plants would be added by June 2008 and the rest power would be added by December 2008.The capacity of current existing power generation system would be enhanced by 309MW during 2008.Two IPPs that include Saif and Orient would add around 500MW power to the current power system. Saif IPP would start providing power supply by July whereas Orient would supply power by October 2008.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Basha Dam to cost $8.5 billion

Basha Diamer Dam Project: Setting up of 4 hydropower stations recommended
By Zafar Bhutta ISLAMABAD: Bhasha consultant, the German Company Lemhyer has recommended the government to set up four hydropower stations of 1,150MW under Bhasha Diamer Dam Project for the royalty to North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Northern Areas, sources told Daily Times on Wednesday.The German Company Lemhyer has recently completed the draft of detailed engineering design of Bhasha Dam Project.

The draft has been circulated to concerned departments and ministries. However, the final engineering design would formally be issued by June 30. Bhasha dam is one of the five major reservoirs that President Pervez Musharraf announced in 2005.In the detailed draft engineering design circulated to different concerned departments, sources said, the company has recommended to keep flow rate of water at the level to fill the dam in four years. According to the initial design, it was recommended to fill the dam in two years. The company has also recommended storing 60 percent water in the dam from the water inflows and release 40 percent water from dam to generate power and irrigation, sources said. The official informed that German Company has also recommended to the government to maintain outflow of 35,000 cusecs water from the dam every month. In the draft, the company has asked to keep 1,160-meter height of the dam instead of 1,170 meters height set earlier.

The company has said that this change in height will help to store the water at the time of sudden melting of glaciers.The company will give the presentation to the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) on April 7 on the resettlement action plan in which recommendations have been made to resettle the affected population followed by the construction of Bhasha dam.They said the company in the draft had indicated that 27,000 families would be affected by the construction of the Bhasha dam. The company has recommended setting up nine model villages near Gilgit to accommodate these affected families.

The company has also recommended allotting five Marlas for residence per family and six canals to one family for agriculture purpose. “The company will brief the WAPDA on April 30 about the environmental impact of the dam’s construction and all stakeholders will hold meeting to review the environmental impact of the dam construction in the third week in Gilgat,” sources said. Diamer Bhasha consultants in the detailed engineering design have indicated cost of $8.505 billion at present against the earlier projected cost of $6.5 billion in year 2005.Government had allocated Rs 2 billion for the land acquisition of the Bhasha dam under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2007-08 that has not been released to acquire land, an official added. Government will also generate funds from foreign financial institutions to carry out the project.“We are waiting from the call of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government and will provide money whenever NWFP government calls for it, official said adding that the work on the land acquisition of Bhasha dam has not been started so far.Official said that the work on a Karakuram Highway to link Bhasha dam was in progress but no progress on land acquisition has been made because not a single penny had been spent in this regard so far. Karakuram Highway for Bhasha dam project would be upgraded at cost of Rs 11.578 billion to link Karakuram Highway with Bhasha dam, official said.

New Govt setting up company to generate $355m for 525MW power plant

ISLAMABAD: The government will set up a special purpose company to generate financing worth $355 million from both local and foreign financial institutions for carrying out the 525-Megawatt gas based thermal power plant at Chichoki Mallian, sources told Daily Times here on Tuesday.They said that cost of the project is $355 million that was negotiated between Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO) and Chinese company Dong Fong. They said that a special purpose company would be set up to generate financing of $355 million from local as well as foreign banks.At present the country is mainly depending on hydel power generation and due to water shortage the hydel power generation has dropped to around 2300 MW per day from 3200 MW. The officials are of the view that the country would be facing around 1400 MW power shortfall by 2010.At present the thermal power generation stands at 4800 MW by IPPs and 3000 MW by Wapda. After the completion of the thermal power plant at Chichoki Mallian, 525 MW thermal power would be added to the national power system in the next two years. Sources said that the cost of electricity generated through the project would stand at $0.67 million per MW and added that it would be the lowest cost than the electricity generated through Independent Power Producers (IPPs). They said that the cost of electricity generated through IPPs was $1.2 million per MW.Sources further said that the plant would be operated on gas and the per unit cost of the electricity generated through Chichoki Mallian thermal power plant would be 5.35 cents per unit or Rs 3.31 per unit. Sources also informed that PEPCO was receiving power from HUBCO at 17.50 cents per unit or Rs 10.40 per unit. “By setting up 525 MW gas based thermal power plant at Chichoki Mallian, public sector will be able to provide electricity at cheaper rates than the electricity being provided by IPPs, sources added. He said that the project would be completed within two years by 2010.They said that 450 MW power project at Nandipur (Gujranwala) was also being set up by public sector at the cost of $ 329 million and 525 Megawatt gas based thermal power plant at Chichoki Mallian would be the second project that would be owned by public sector.Chinese company Dong Fong Electric Corporation has already completed the hydro power plant at Ghazi Barotha project that is delivering 1450 MW power. The company is also recently working on five other power projects of 869 MW. A 4-member Chinese delegation headed by Si Zefu, Chairman M/S Dongfang Electric Company called on Federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf here on Tuesday. The minister invited the firm to participate in the power sector and asked to complete the projects by the company in Pakistan in the stipulated time.The minister said “we recognize the professional experience of the company and expressed the hope that the Chinese government would extend its support and assistance enabling Pakistan to overcome the power crisis. The Chairman of the Company said that his company is well aware of the power situation in Pakistan and assured that it would complete the project as per schedule.