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Sindh cabinet approves Rs50 billion to build flood-ravaged houses

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KARACHI:

The Sindh cabinet on Wednesday approved Rs50 billion for the construction of damaged houses in flood ravaged areas.

The meeting, chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and attended by provincial ministers, advisors and special assistants also decided to engage well-reputed NGOs to make the process transparent.

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After the meeting, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said at a press conference that 1.7 million houses have been damaged by the flood and the construction of all the damaged houses would cost Rs160 billion.

“The houses are being built with the help from the World Bank, which has pledged RS110 billion. The remaining amount is being arranged by the provincial government from the federal government and through donors and other sources,” he said, adding that each and every owner of the damaged house would be given Rs50,000 to start the construction, and when the construction would reach the plinth level the remaining amount of Rs250,000 would be transferred to the house owner’s bank account to complete the construction.

Also read: World Bank to provide financial support of $1.3b to Pakistan

During the meeting the issue of subsidy for the rabi crop again came under discussion. CM Advisor on Agriculture Manzoor Wassan told the cabinet that 3.6 million acres of standing crops have been damaged in the recent floods and the farmers have suffered losses worth Rs421 billion.

Wassan said that it was agreed to begin with the provision of free wheat seed for which Rs13.5 billion was required.

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He added that the Sindh govt provided Rs8.39 billion while the federal govt was contributing Rs4.7 billion.

About reimbursement of Rs5,000 per acre, Wassan said that Taluka and district committees have been formed for this purpose. A provincial committee is established at DG, Agriculture Extension.

Read more: Floods sweep future from schoolchildren

In order to expedite the process, an additional layer of the committee may be incorporated at tappa level where, tapedars, field assistants of agriculture, members of district council and notables may be added to help in data collection.

The cabinet directed the agriculture dept to collect the data at the earliest so that funds could be provided to the growers.

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Village electrification

Sindh Energty Minister Imtiaz Shaikh, presenting the village electrification agenda in the meeting, said that the provincial government was continuously taking necessary measures for the electrification of villages under the Annual Development Programme and villages having a population of 100 souls and above will be selected for electrification process. The preference would be given to villages within half kilometer distance from the HT line.

The cabinet was informed that HESCO has been given Rs6,609.161 million for the electrification of 10,890 villages of them HESCO has provided electricity to 5,108 villages at a cost of Rs5,613.593 million, electrification work was in progress in 337 villages for Rs754.204 million and electrification order for 5,445 villages for Rs6,367.797 million were under feasibility stage.

Imtiaz Shaikh said that Rs151.737 million were in balance, which may be allowed to utilise for the electrification of more villages. The cabinet approved the proposal.

Shaikh told the cabinet that SEPCO was given Rs3,499.634 million for the electrification of over 1.5 million villages. The SEPCO has provided electricity to 2,909 villages for Rs2,952.209 million. Work order has been issued for 3,893 villages, electrification of 3,227 villages has been approved, 151 villages are under the approval stage, and work on 318 villages is in progress.

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Similarly, K-Electric has been provided Rs103.180 million with which 12 villages have been electrified.

The cabinet directed the energy dept to expedite the electrification of the villages through Alternative Energy Solutions like Solar PV technology for solarization through mini/microgrids, provision of solar home systems, solar-based streetlights, solar tube wells, and other multiple uses.

The cabinet-approved solarization would be carried out through the Energy Department and the provision of new/additional transformers with allied accessories is also included in the village electrification program.

Formation of media commission

Information minister told the cabinet that the Sindh Protection of Journalists and other Media Practitioners Act, 2021 has been enacted by the Provincial Assembly and notified in August 2021 and its rules have also been notified.

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He presented a 14-member draft commission under retired justice Rasheed Rizvi as chairperson with four non-ex-officio members, including secretary Information, Home Secretary, Secretary Law, and nine non-official members – Fahim Siddiqui of KUJ, Kazi Asad APNS, Dr. Jabbar Khatak CPNE, Athar Kazi PBA, Ayaz Tunio Sindh Bar Council, Prof Tauseef Khan HRCP, Shazia Umar MPA, Syeda Marvi MPA, and Ghuma Fariduddin APNEC.

The cabinet approved the formation of the commission.

The home dept presented amendments in Sindh Prohibition of Preparation, Manufacturing, Storage, Sale, and Use of Gutka and Manpuri Act -2019 in the cabinet and said the amendments in the bill were pending before the standing committee of the provincial assembly.

The cabinet approved the amendments as per the order passed by the Sindh High Court, in a Constitutional Petition No. S-349/ 2021, regarding the incorporation of certain additional amendments in the existing Act, in order to create deterrence against unlawful preparation, manufacturing, storage, sale, and use of gutka, manpuri, and betel nuts.





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Pakistan

Imran’s right of defence struck out in defamation case

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ISLAMABAD:

Additional District Judge Lahore Chaudhry Muhammad Asif struck out the right of defence of former prime minister since concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff were not submitted on Thursday.

“This court has been left with no option except to strike out the right of defence of the defendant (Imran Khan) in this case due to non-submission of requisite replies by the defendant regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff. So, the right of defence of the defendant is hereby struck out in this case accordingly,” the order stated.

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The court asked the plaintiff to submit a list of witnesses on November 29.

It has been learned that the court has so far conducted 78 hearings of the case.

The order stated that the counsel for the defendant submitted an application for adjournment on the ground that the defendant was going to file a revised petition against the order of the court regarding the dismissal of concerned objections of the defendant.

Also read: ‘No objections’ to Imran’s helicopter landing at Parade Ground: GHQ

“From the perusal of record, it reveals that various reasonable opportunities have been provided to defendant to submit the requisite replies to concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff but the defendant has not done the needful,” it stated.

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“Vide previous order dated 17.11.2022, one more opportunity was granted to the defendant in this regard with the clarification that in case of submission of requisite replies from the defendant’s side regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff on the next date, the right of defence of the defendant shall be struck out. No lawful justification exits for the grant of further adjournment,” it added.

The court rejected the adjournment plea of Imran’s counsel.

According to details, the defamation suit states that Imran started uttering false and malicious statements against the plaintiff (Shehbaz) that the latter offered Rs10 billion to the former through a common friend in exchange of withdrawing the case of Panama Papers pending before the Supreme Court (SC).

Also read: President Alvi in Lahore to consult Imran over COAS appointment

​​​It pleads that the baseless and defamatory statements by the defendant widely circulated by media lowered the integrity of the plaintiff and caused him extreme mental torture, agony and anxiety. The court has been requested to issue a decree for recovery of Rs 10 billion as compensation for the publication of defamatory content in favour of the plaintiff.

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In his written statement, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief states that one of his friends told him that someone known to him and also the Sharif family approached him with an offer to pay billions of rupees if he could convince him to stop pursuing the Panama Papers case.

Imran says that he disclosed the incident for the consumption of the public at large and in the interest of the public good does not constitute any defamation.





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Pakistan to send armed helicopter unit to UN peacekeeping mission

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UNITED NATIONS:

Pakistan and Bangladesh will each be sending an armed helicopter unit to the UN peacekeeping operations in Mali, which faces serious problems as several countries have withdrawn or announced plans to pull out their personnel, a UN spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Farhan Haq said that India will supply a utility helicopter unit to the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, and all three are expected to be deployed by March next year.

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“These provide much-needed support to our forces and are critical for early warning and rapid response to protect civilians,” the spokesman told reporters at the regular noon briefing at the UN headquarters in New York.

“The UN continues to discuss with member states the deployment of new assets and plans to fill longer-standing gaps in addition to those resulting from recent announcements” of withdrawals, he said.

Set up in 2013, MINUSMA has 17,622 personnel helping the Malian government combat terrorists operating in the country.

MINUSMA is one of the deadliest operations having claimed the lives of 292 peacekeepers.

France completed its withdrawal earlier this year and it was followed by Egypt in August.

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Germany said that it was withdrawing its personnel, who numbered 595 in the latest UN roster, from MINUSMA by May next year.

Also read: Who is country’s new army chief Asim Munir?

Britain is also pulling out its 249 personnel.

Ivory Coast also said that it would discontinue the participation of its personnel, who numbered 898, in MINUSMA when the current deployment ends because of a separate dispute with the Mali government over the arrest of its soldiers who went there on a mission unconnected to the UN.

Despite the dangerous nature of the Minusma, Pakistani military doctors serving in Mopti, a town in the fifth administrative region of Mali. have continued to serve, earning praise for their work. They operate a state-of-the-art hospital staffed with 75 medical personnel, including 10 women and 65 men, according to the UN.

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The hospital operates 24 hours a day, every day, and they are always on alert. All specialities are covered, from pharmacy to gynaecology. However, its main purpose is to perform life-saving and urgent surgery when peacekeepers are injured, it was pointed out.





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Imran urges ‘all Pakistanis to participate’ in PTI long march

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Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday urged all Pakistanis to participate in his party’s much-hyped long march on Saturday (Nov26) in what appears to be his final showdown with the incumbent government to force it to announce early election date.

“Dear Pakistanis, I want all of you to participate in our haqeeqi long march in Pindi at 1pm on Saturday,” he said in a short video statement.

Imran, who was removed from power through a vote of no confidence in April, said that only a nation which has justice in it will get real freedom. “When there is justice, there are rights. When there are rights, a nation is free. Only an independent nation is prosperous,” he went on to say.

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Read more: Interior ministry warns PTI of threats, urges postponing Pindi march

The former premier said that the nation will not stay silent until it gets real freedom. “I am coming for you despite my [health] condition and all of you need to come to Pindi for me,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Asad Umar presided over a meeting regarding the party’s preparation for the long march in Rawalpindi. Senior PTI leadership including Umar Ayub, Shibli Faraz, Ali Nawaz and others participated in the meeting.

The meeting discussed the overall preparations for the long march in Rawalpindi. The security plan, long march route and other significant matters came under discussion during the meeting.

The meeting was briefed that a caravan had left from Karachi for Rawalpindi whereas two others were ready to begin their journey to the garrison city from Quetta and Gilgit-Baltistan.

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A briefing was also given in the meeting regarding the accommodation of the participants.

Issues regarding the provision of all basic needs including food and accommodation to the participants of the march were also discussed in the meeting.

“The nation is fully united and eager to achieve real freedom,” Umar said, adding that the party would welcome caravans from all over Pakistan in Rawalpindi.

“The captain [Imran Khan] will lead the ocean of people in Rawalpindi on November 26,” he further said.





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