Karachi: … On Thursday, the prime minister announced that they would launch the Metro Bus Project in the city and will have Rs15 billion set aside for it. “We have decided to take over the green line project in the city,” he said. “The metro bus service will start on the same pattern as Lahore.”
A research study regarding an international railway project linking Pakistan with China’s Xinjiang province through Azad Jammu and Kashmir has been commissioned by China, according to a Times of India and China Daily report.
The rail link funded primarily by China would connect Xinjiang’s western city Kashgar to the Gwadar deep sea port of Pakistan, said state-run China Daily while quoting the director of Xinjiang’s regional development and reform commission, Zhang Chunlin on the subject.
“The 1,800-km China-Pakistan railway is planned to also pass through Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad and Karachi,” Zhang had said at the two-day International Seminar on the Silk Road Economic Belt being held in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital.
Due to geo-strategic implications the project would be hard to proceed with, as it would be a requisite for the rail project to run through the Pamir Plateau and Karakoram Mountains. Although once completed it would emerge as one of the most strategically beneficial transportation infrastructures on the China-Pakistan economic corridor, opined Zhang.
“Although the cost of constructing the railway is expected to be high due to the hostile environment and complicated geographic conditions, the study of the project has already been started,” he added.
President Xi Jinping had also spoken in favour of rejuvenating conventional trade routes connecting China, Central Asia and Europe.
A multi-billion deal has already been signed to initiate work on an Economic Corridor linking Kashgar with the port city of Gwadar through AJK. It also implied revamping the already in place Karakoram road link despite the cynicism expressed by political analysts in China.
The project exhibits tremendous potential as it would enable China to run a port alongside Gulf of Oman which is deemed to be a hub for activities relating to oil tankers.
India however has objected to the project citing concerns that the said route would involve a disputed territory. Pakistan had given the operational key of the port city of Gwadar to Beijing back in 2013, a move deeply detested by India as it alleged it could provide a chance to China to monitor its port activities.
A new project will give Pakistan the tools of globalization. Will it use them?
Historian Daniel Headrick made the crucial connection between means and ends in the projection of global influence. For instance, Headrick argued that the Suez Canal, which opened in 1869, acted a tool of empire for the great powers of the nineteenth century. The building of a canal through the Sinai Peninsula not only made trade and empire in Asia faster by avoiding the Cape of Good Hope, but more economical too. This was particularly the case for the world’s superpower, Great Britain. For Britain, the Suez was an important strategic consideration in its imperial outlook, making the transport of goods, officials and soldiers to Bombay and other key colonial hubs easier and affordable. At the same time, the canal aided the wider globalization process of the nineteenth century, which opened Asia up to the advent of Western adventure capitalists with exploitation and domination never far from the surface. The Suez Canal acted as a “tool of empire,” as Headrick put it, and in a small but important way, the world became that much more global—all to the benefit of those Western nations that could harness of the power of the sea.
Headrick’s argument turns on a profound if easily overlooked point: those with easy access to the sea-lanes of the world invariably have the tools for global power and trade. Even today, the laws of economic scale dictate that air and rail, while important in their own right, will always be poor cousins to the efficiency and capacity of container ships and waterborne trade.
Despite the fact that the free trade zone port of Gwadar in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan has been an unprofitable enterprise with operational control now in Chinese hands, its potential remains. If anything, the development of the deep ocean port and an associated international airport, as well as the creation of a transport corridor connecting Gwadar to China’s easternmost province of Xinjiang, is a game changer for the Central Asian region. In Beijing this February, President Mamnoon Hussain and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a series of agreements designed to breathe life to the corridor project. In the coming years, the once sleepy fishing enclave of Gwadar will become a staging ground for the geopolitical reorganization of the region.
Facebook-led project seeks Internet access globally for all
New York (Reuters) – Facebook Inc’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has enlisted Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Qualcomm Inc and four other companies for a project aimed at bringing Internet access to people around the world who cannot afford it, following efforts by Google Inc.
The project, called Internet.org, is the latest move by an Internet company trying to expand Web access globally. Facebook rival Google is hoping technology, including balloons, wireless and fibre connections will expand connectivity.
Internet.org, which was launched on Wednesday, will focus on seeking ways to help the 5 billion people – or two-thirds of the world’s population – who do not have Internet access, come online, the company said in a statement.
It added that so far, only 2.7 billion people around the world have Internet access.
The partnership’s potential projects will include the development of lower-cost smartphones and the deployment of Internet access in underserved communities as well as working on ways to reduce the amount of data downloads required to run Internet applications, according to Facebook.
Western World’s opposition to Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline is seen as a reiteration of its economic interests and geopolitical hegemonic designs in the region
By Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq
In the face of threats of sanctions from the United States, President Asif Ali Zardari and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on March 11, 2013 launched the groundbreaking work on the 781-kilometre-long pipeline on the Pakistani side of the border. The Iran-Pakistan (IP) Gas Pipeline Project, initialed in 1995, has been facing perpetual opposition from the United States and its allies. Heads of both the countries, in their speeches at the occasion, reaffirmed their commitment to go ahead with the project “despite threats from the world powers”.
President Zardari said that the project would promote peace, security and progress in the region besides improving economic, political and security ties between the two neighbouring states. Stressing that the project was not against any country, President Zardari said such steps forging better understanding would also help fight terrorism and extremism.
President Ahmadinejad, while pointing towards foreign states and criticising what he called “their unjustified opposition to the project under the excuse of Iran’s nuclear issue”, said: “They are against Iran and Pakistan’s progress and have used the nuclear issue as an excuse”. He added, “We never expected [Western] companies to make an investment in this pipeline which guarantees progress, prosperity and peace in the region; if they don’t want to join this project for any given reason, they are not entitled to rock the boat and disturb the project”.
Pakistan on the completion of IP is to receive 21.5 million cubic meters of natural gas on daily basis. Faced with extraordinary energy crisis, Pakistan needs natural gas badly — its shortage has caused miseries to millions of Pakistanis and closure of industries. Iran has already constructed more than 900 kilometres of the pipeline on its side. The Tehran-based Tadbir energy development group has undertaken all the engineering procurement and construction work for the first segment of the project. It will also carry out the second segment of the project and also extend the financing of $500 million to Pakistan. Iran and Pakistani are optimistic to complete the project by December 2014.
ISLAMABAD: As Islamabad and Tehran set up a joint contracting company to complete the construction of the $7.5 billion IP gas pipeline project within the next 15 months, Pakistan does not appear apologetic and says that any other government would have done what the PPP-led government did.
“Pakistan continues to suffer from huge energy deficiency and this directly affects our industry and GDP growth. Gas is the cheapest commodity to generate electricity. We need to look at all possible sources of energy including the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (Tapi) gas pipeline. The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline will meet only half the shortfall of energy needs of Pakistan and not our full demand. Pakistan has to do what it deems fit and what is in its national interest. Lack of economic growth has also seen peace stalled in the region,” Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told ‘The News’.
President Asif Ali Zardari is also credited widely for improving bilateral relations with Iran, investing in the region, and desperately seeking energy from a country facing severe sanctions from the West because of its nuclear policy under the guidelines of the IAEA.
Veteran politician fears Kalabagh dam project being revived
HYDERABAD, Oct 23: Awami Tehreek (AT) chairman Rasool Bux Palijo has claimed that the Thar coal project was being delayed to pave the way for the Kalabagh dam.
Speaking to reporters at the Palijo House in Qasimabad on Tuesday, he said that a petition had recently been filed in the Lahore High Court to seek the go-ahead for the Kalabagh dam project but the PPP government, which had been opposing it for years, was taking no notice of the move.
“The Kalabagh dam plan is a matter of life and death for Sindh,” he reminded the PPP, and told the media that under a conspiracy water downstream Kotri barrage was to be stopped and this would render Sindh’s agricultural lands barren forcing the affected landowners to dispose of their lands at cheap rates.
“This [Kalabagh] is the plan is for the destruction of Sindh,” he remarked, and said that millions of Sindhi people would oppose it tooth and nail.
Quoting the Lahore High Court observation that the government was not serious about building the dam, Mr Palijo apprehended that the court was going to give its verdict in favour of the petitioner.
“The PPP is very likely to continue with its lip service to the issue,” the veteran politician predicted. He spoke about the strong resistance to the project put up by the PPP when it was led by Benazir Bhutto, and said that the PPP along with the Awami Tehreek had staged a historical sit-in at Kammo Shaheed in Aug 1998 and declared that it would never allow construction of any dam on the Indus.
Pakistan Confirms China Pullout From Pipeline Project, Eyes Other Options
By RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan says the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has “no more interest” in funding a project to build a natural-gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan.
A Pakistani Finance Ministry spokesman said on March 14 that the Chinese institution had been negotiating with Pakistan’s Habib Bank over financing for the Pakistani section of the pipeline. He added that he did not know why the Chinese bank had pulled out of the deal. …
Read more » RFE/RL
Pakistan/Punjab: Water is life! But, life in Pakistans Sindh province has become extremely difficult due to unavailability of sufficient water. The problem has been created by Punjab, which is getting the lions share of Indus waters while denying Sindh’s rightful share. Sindh and other constituent units in Pakistan are battling serious water shortage, even as Punjab is going ahead with Chashma-Jhelum and Taunsa-Panjnad link canal projects. It is estimated that by June Sindh will face water shortage to the tune of 54 per cent as compared to 14 per cent by Punjab. A recent move by Punjab government to control water flows and forcible opening of flood canals has triggered widespread protests in Sindh and even Balochistan.
Courtesy: South Asia News » YouTube
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China won’t help finance the natural gas pipeline to Pakistan, apparently because of U.S. sanctions on Iran.
By Paul Richter and Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Washington and Islamabad, Pakistan—
China’s largest bank has backed out of a deal to finance a proposed Iran-to-Pakistan gas pipeline that is opposed by the United States, a potential sign of the lengthening reach of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran.
Pakistani officials confirmed Wednesday that Industrial and Commercial Bank of China had withdrawn from plans to head a consortium that would finance the $1.6-billion Pakistani portion of the cross-border pipeline, apparently over concern that the bank could be excluded from the U.S. economy.
My Fellow American is a film project in the United States devoted to recognizing that Muslims are our neighbors. My Fellow American project was created to offer a new narrative about Muslims in America and offer people a safe platform to discuss their opinions. My fellow American is hoping to share this message of tolerance. This 2 minute film is actually praising Muslims and showing how they are helping their fellow Americans. …
Courtesy: → Elizabeth Potter, Unity Productions Foundation,
– Gross Financial Irregularity in Punjab: Funds Allocated for Clean Drinking Water Project Diverted to “Sasti Roti” Project
Punjab Government Suggests Closure of the Foreign Funded Program
By: Aijaz Ahmed
Corruption and financial irregularities don’t seem to be limited to an individual or a single political party in Pakistan. One very often hears about the fabled corruption of the president of Pakistan and co-chairperson of PPP and also about the gross irregularities, mismanagement and corruption in the federal government. The accusers among others include the PML-N leaders who claim running a very clean government in the Punjab, the largest province in Pakistan. But as this report suggests their hands are not as clean either. They have engaged in financial irregularities and also seem to be playing gimmicks for short-term political gains at the cost of the welfare of the common men.
The much-hyped clean government of the iron man # 2, Mian Shahbaz Sharif has been involved in certain gross financial irregularities, ….
Read more : Indus Herald
by Nadeem F. Paracha
Plans are afoot to build the world’s first ever international Sufi university near Bhit Shah in Sindh.
The main purpose of the institution would be to promote interfaith and intercultural education to tackle extremism in the country.
Such a thought and project could only have come about in Sindh. Especially in the context of what Pakistan has beengoing through in the last many years. …
Read more : blog.Dawn
By Farooq Tirmizi
How valuable is one’s wealth if it is buried underground and one has no way of getting it out? And what would one say to somebody who came along and volunteered to extract this wealth, providing all of the technical expertise and putting up the entire investment costs, and letting you keep half of the profits? Would it be fair to say that this person was indulging in exploitative behaviour? Or would we say that a fair deal was on offer?
The above scenario is not hypothetical. It is exactly what is currently going on in the case of the Reko Diq mining project in Balochistan. The Tethyan Copper Company, a joint venture between Canada’s Barrick Gold and Chile’s Antofagasta, has spent $220 million to explore the Reko Diq area and, having discovered a feasible reserve of minerals, is now willing to spend the further $3.3 billion it would take to extract the minerals. And yet it is being treated like a neo-imperialist villain out to pillage Pakistan’s national treasures. …
Read more : The Express Tribune
By Feisal Naqvi
The interesting thing about the internet is that it is as great a force-multiplier for ignorance as for knowledge. Take, for example, the Reko Diq project. The average Pakistani newsreader is convinced that (a) the Federal Government is an evil stooge of western interests; (b) the people of Balochistan are being ripped off yet again; and, (c) it is now up to the Supreme Court to save us. All three beliefs are completely wrong. Here are some facts about the Reko Diq project.
Read more : Pakistan Today
Case of bogus science – By Pervez Hoodbhoy
COMSTECH is the Organisation of Islamic Countries’ highest scientific body. It has received millions of dollars from OIC countries, including Pakistan.
Comstech’s magnificent headquarters are located on Constitution Avenue in Islamabad. It has been headed by Dr Atta-ur-Rahman since 1996. Although its performance has been consistently mediocre, the organisation has now descended to an all-time low.
Recently Dr Rahman published an eye-popping article entitled HAARP (Dawn, Oct 17). The article claims that a physics research project, based in Alaska, may have been used by the US to trigger earthquakes globally, and could also have caused the catastrophic floods in Pakistan. Dr Rahman concludes with a chilling question: “Is the HAARP then, a harmless research tool — or a weapon of mass destruction far more lethal than nuclear weapons? We may never know.”
Given Dr Rahman’s prominent place in Pakistani science, and that he is fellow of the Royal Society, one must consider seriously his claim that HAARP can cause earthquakes and floods. But even the briefest examination makes clear his claims make no scientific sense.
HAARP stands for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Programme. Its website states it is a research programme run by the University of Alaska in collaboration with various US colleges and universities. If HAARP is a secret military project conceived by evil and diabolical minds, it is hard to see why visitors, including foreign nationals, are said to be allowed on site. The website says that the last open house was on July 17, 2010.
At least on the face of things, HAARP does not have the trappings of an American secret weapons facility. (Google Earth, which I used, blacks these out.) Readers will see a field of antennas, as well as some cars and two ordinary looking buildings.
No security barriers are visible. This does not appear to be a classified project.
But, of course, appearances can be deceptive. So let us simply use common sense and physics. Assume therefore that the power of the transmitters is many times that declared on the website (3.6MW). This may mean HAARP could potentially disrupt radio communications during war, or blind incoming missiles. But science cannot accept Dr Rahman’s claim that “It (HAARP) may also affect plate tectonics causing earthquakes, floods through torrential rains and trigger tsunamis.”
Does the good doctor believe in magic and demons? How else can massive tectonic plates be moved by radio waves? Will HAARP tickle a sleeping subterranean monster that awakes and sets off earthquakes? This kind of thinking was what irate and ignorant village mullahs used after the 2005 Pakistani earthquake. They blamed cable television, after which followers smashed thousands of television sets.
Weather change simply cannot be caused by HAARP’s radio waves. …
Read more : DAWN
Since Kalabagh Dam issue have been put to sleep [not to rest], here is a new crisis for Sindh, now you have to take on our “friends” in NWFP, besides Punjab.
The new government of Pakistan is considering another big dam project. The Diamer-Bhasha Dam on the Indus River in northern Pakistan comes with an astounding price tag of over US$8.5 billion. The 200-square-kilomete r reservoir would flood 100 kilometers of the Karakoram highway, and the villages and farms of over 35,000 people would disappear. Tens of thousands of thousand-year old rock carvings would vanish. The project, after an eight-year construction period, would provide 4500 MW of electricity for the national grid, but it would not address the far more pressing issue that half of Pakistan’s population (around 80 million people) have no electricity access whatsoever. Diamer-Bhasha is a costly project that would only benefit industries and wealthy Pakistanis.
… For Gorakh Hill project, it is proposed that commercial centers and small houses for residence purpose and small restaurants may be built up on the hill with necessary security so that tourism can take place and the purpose of the new project can be achieved in the very shortest possible time otherwise the cost of construction will increase and more financial burden will fall on the scant financial resources of the province of Sindh.