Saturday, May 27, 2017

Budget 2017-18: Rs180 billion allocated for CPEC, Gwadar projects


by Dawood Rehman | Published on May 27, 2017 🔗

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has allocated 180 billion rupees ($1.71 billion) for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and different projects in Gwadar during the 2017-18 financial year which will begin on July 1.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who presented the Rs 4,757 billion budget on Friday, announced several CPEC projects in his speech in parliament. He told the National Assembly that the development of Gwadar city in Balochistan province was “fundamental to development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”.

A comprehensive plan is being implemented for the road link networks, expansion and modernisation of the airport, and development of the area. Thirty one projects for development of Gwadar are provided in 2017-2018 budget which include implementation of Gwadar master plan, New Gwadar international airport, a 200-bed hospital, 200 MW power generation, and desalination plant,” he said in his speech.

“CPEC projects would enter into their third year of implementation during 2017-2018,” he added.

Gwadar airport

The government recently also invited the tenders for the construction of the New Gwadar International Airport (NGIA).

The airport costing Rs 22 billion is said to be almost 40% complete while the rest of the construction will be finished in about two years time.

Total 4300 acres of land has been earmarked for the airport. The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has been assigned responsibility for the execution of scheme on fast track basis. The airport would be developed as a major hub for all aviation activities in the region.

CPEC projects

Dar told the National Assembly that Rs231 billion were already spent on the mega-corridor project; out of which Rs160b were spent on construction of roads and bridges under CPEC.

The federal government has allocated Rs44b for western route of CPEC, while 1.8 billion rupees have been set aside for CPEC security.

Dar said imports have been recorded at $37.8 billion during July-April, showing an upward trajectory compared to the same period last year.

“This vibrancy in imports is attributable to over 40 per cent increase in capital machinery, industrial raw material and petroleum products and the increased investment under the CPEC projects focused on energy and infrastructure sectors. All of this augurs well for Pakistan’s economy in the near future.”

Pakistan’s defence expenditure in the next financial year will be around 7 per cent higher than it was in the outgoing year at Rs 920.2 billion.

The minister said Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves currently stand at Rs 16 billion despite a larger than expected trade deficit, mainly due to increased import of capital goods

Iranian mortar shell kills Pakistani man in Balochistan

May 27, 2017

QUETTA: A mortar shell fired from Iranian side of the border in Balochistan killed a Pakistani civilian on Saturday morning.

The mortar shell landed on a vehicle in Panjgur district of the province, killing the man and caused extensive damage nearby, District Commissioner Abdul Jabbar has confirmed.

The man killed in the incident has been identified as Khuda-e-Rahim.

He said Pakistan authorities have lodged strong protest with Iranian border officials and flag meeting will be held with them on Sunday in this regard.

Last Sunday, five mortar shells fired from Iran landed in the Chaghai area of the province, however, fortunately no casualties were reported in the incident

India won’t allow IoK to be part of CPEC'


Published: May 27, 2017

AJK President Sardar Masood Khan termed Indian objections over CPEC as fake and disingenuous. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABADWith the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor continuing to be built, the president of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has raised questions over Indian concerns over the project.

Addressing a one-day international seminar on the ‘’ Belt and Road Initiative: CPEC and regional integration”, organised by the Institute of International and Cultural Affairs in Islamabad, AJK President Sardar Masood Khan termed Indian objections over CPEC as fake and disingenuous.

India ‘must address Kashmir issue to become part of CPEC’


A recent UN report has stated concerns that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor may create more tension between India and Pakistan.

The report titled ‘The Belt and Road Initiative and the Role of Escap’ was released by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap) at China’s request.

The report considers the Pakistan-India dispute over Kashmir as a source of concern, stating CPEC might create “geopolitical tensions with India and ignite further political instability.”

However, China on Thursday played down a UN report stating concerns that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) may create more tension between Pakistan and India.

Speaking during a regular press conference on May 25, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said, “CPEC is neither targeted at any third party nor related to territorial disputes

Profile: Brig.Usman

At the time of partition, Usman being a Muslim officer in the Baluch Regiment, was under intense pressure from the newly born Pakistan’s leadership to opt for the Pakistan army. But so strong were his ideals of his motherland that even the ultimate bait of becoming the Pakistan Army Chief proved unsuccessful in convincing Usman.

When the Baluch Regiment was allotted to the Pakistan army, Brig Usman was transferred to the Dogra Regiment. But war had already been thrust upon India when Pakistan sent tribal irregulars and its soldiers into Jammu & Kashmir. Even as the situation in the Kashmir valley stabilised the threat continued to be serious in the Jammu region. Brig Usman, commanding 77 Parachute Brigade, was sent to command the 50 Paraachute Brigade, deployed at Jhangar in December 1947. On 25 December 1947, with odds heavily against him, Jhangar was wrested by the Pakistanis. Located at the junction of roads coming from Mirpur and Kotli, Jhangar was of strategic importance, but more compelling was Brig Usman’s fierce pride in his men and determination to restore their honour. On that day the brigadier took a vow to recapture Jhangar – a feat he accomplished three months later, but at the cost of his own life.

During the defence of Naushera against overwhelming odds and numbers, his fiery leadership had resulted in major defeat of the enemy at and around Naushera with 2000 casualties [about 1000 dead and 1000 wounded] while he suffered only 33 dead and 102 wounded. That battle earned him the title Naushera ka Sher. The same Pakistanis, who had earlier tried to motivate him to join the Pakistan Army and make him its chief, announced a then astronomical sum of Rs 50,000 as a prize for his head, in 1948. Unaffected by praise and congratulations, the Brigadier continued to sleep on a mat laid on the floor as he had vowed that he would not sleep on a bed till he recaptured Jhangar, from where, outnumbered by a large force of infiltrators inducted by Pakistan Army, he had to withdraw earlier.

The then Lieutenant General K M Cariappa [later General and C-in-C, Indian Army/Chief of Army Staff and years after retirement made Field Marshal], who had taken over as Western Army Commander, brought his tactical headquarters forward to Jammu to oversee the conduct of two important operations, the capture of Jhangar and Poonch. The capture of Jhangar was of special significance for Brig Usman. The operation commenced in the last week of February 1948. 19 Infantry Brigade advanced along the Northern ridge, while 50 Para brigade cleared the hills dominating the Naushera-Jhangar road in the south.

The enemy was eventually driven from this area, and Jhangar was recaptured. Pakistan brought its regular forces into the fray in May 1948. Jhangar was once again subjected to heavy artillery bombardment, and many determined attacks were launched on Jhangar by the Pakistan Army. Brig Usman however frustrated all enemy attempts to recapture Jhangar. It was during this arduous defence of Jhangar that Brig Usman was unfortunately was killed on July 3, 1948, by an enemy 25-pounder shell. His last words were ‘I am dying but let not the territory we were fighting for fall for the enemy”. For his inspiring leadership and great courage, he was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously. [16]

The nation was so overwhelmed by the sacrifice of Brigadier Mohammad Usman that Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his Cabinet colleagues attended the funeral of the hero — “the highest ranking military commander till date” to lay down his life in the battlefield. He was given a state funeral of a martyr. [17][18]

A man of simple taste and a teetotaller, Usman remained a bachelor throughout his life. He used to donate a large part of his salary  to support poor children and pay for their education. Brig Usman was indeed an epitome of valour, a great patriot and nationalist.