Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Interest-based business punishable in Balochistan

QUETTA: The Balochistan cabinet on Monday declared conducting interest-based business in the province as a punishable offence.

The provincial cabinet, which met with Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch in the chair, also clamped a complete ban on the transportation of fuel and other inflammable substances via public transport in the wake of Saturday’s tragic accident in Hub in which dozens of people perished. It directed the police and Levies force to ensure implementation of the ban.

The chief minister observed that the death of dozens of people in Hub was a tragedy, adding that the transportation of fuel in the passenger bus caused the massive fire. He underlined the need to stop the recurrence of such incidents in the future.

Dr Malik announced that his government would not allow transportation of petrol, diesel, gas and other inflammable substances through passenger buses. The provincial cabinet also prayed for the departed souls.

The cabinet decided to fill the vacant posts in districts of the province and directed the Balochistan Services and General Administration Department to approach the Federal Establishment Division for lifting the ban on government jobs in the federal departments, semi-government and autonomous bodies.

Dr Malik Baloch vowed to come up to the expectations of the masses and said appointments on the vacant posts on district level would be made on the basis of merit.The cabinet also reviewed the pace of work on the development projects and directed to gear up the pace of work on them.

< The News >

Saturday, 12 April 2014

In Pictures: Passing out Parade 55th batch of FC Balochistan

Passing out parade of 55th batch of Frontier Corps Balochistan was conducted on 6th March 2014 at Frontier Corps training centre at Loralai and Governor Balochistan Muhammad Khan Achakzai was the chief guest.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Two squash events in Balochistan this year

File Photo: The Pakistan Squash Federation  function at Mushaf Ali Mir Squash Complex to mark the World Squash Day

Balochistan Squash Association (BSA) is going to hold two national-level events, for juniors and seniors, later this year.

President BSA Sher Ali Kakar told ‘The News’ that they had decided to hold two events — for juniors in June and for seniors in August.  Sher added that the volatile security situation was discouraging players from visiting Balochistan. “We have requested Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to lend their courts to the association for these events in the secure cantonment area of Quetta. We hope that by doing this we can successfully hold the events,” he added.

Besides, Sher said that Safiullah of Balochistan had been granted special permission by the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) at the recently held Annual General Meeting to attend all national camps in order to get the required training for national and international events.

< The News >

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Baloch militants attack on Jaffar Express in Sibi leaves 16 dead, 44 injured

SIBI / QUETTA: A woman and five children among 16 people were killed when the United Baloch Army (UBA) detonated a bomb on the Quetta-Rawalpindi passenger train Jaffar Express at Sibi railway station.

The deadly bombing left 44 people injured, five of whom with critical wounds. They were transported to Quetta. “The blast took place inside bogie number 9 of passenger Train Jaffar Express, which was on its way to Rawalpindi from Quetta,” Qazi Hussain, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) police Sibi told Express Tribune. Railway employees and police officials detached the bogie from other bogies in order to keep the fire from spreading.

Police investigators said around 20 kilograms of explosive materials were used in the blast. “It seems the explosive materials were planted inside the passenger train at Sibi railway station,” a railway official said.
The bogie caught fire and 16 people inside the bogie were burnt to death while more than 40 others sustained injuries.

The United Baloch Army claimed responsibility for the attack, BBC Urdu reported.
Charred beyond recognition, the bodies of the deceased were transported to Quetta so that their identities could be determined by DNA testing.

Rescue workers, fire fighters, police and security forces rushed to the station and transported the injured and deceased to Civil Hospital Sibi. Fire fighters managed to bring the fire under control after 40 minutes of struggle.

Some of the injured were shifted to Combined Military Hospital Sibi, while five injured with critical wounds were transported to Quetta by army helicopters.

Jaffar Express later left for its destination Rawalpindi after the conclusion of rescue operation in the blast site.
“We received 12 dead bodies and 41 injured and most of them are in critical condition. Women and children are among the injured,” said Ghulam Sarwar, Medical Superintendent (MS) of Civil Hospital Sibi told The Express Tribune.

President Mamnoon Hussain condemned the killings in the blast which occurred ten minutes after the train stopped at the railway station.

Railway Minister Khwaja Saad Rafiq said that the attack could be in retaliation of yesterday’s search operation by security forces in Balochistan in which 30 suspected militants were killed.

Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch has strongly condemned the incident and sought a report on the incident. “An investigation comprising officials of Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps (FC) and police has been formed,” an Balochistan government official said

< Express Tribune >

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

FBR collects Rs 15bn against target of 12bn for FY14 in Balochistan

QUETTA: The Inland revenue department of the Federal Board of Revenue has collected Rs 15 billion, tax revenue, during the first half of the Fiscal Year 2013-14 against the revenue target of Rs 12 billion set by the government.

Notices have been issued to 1500 owners of the vehicles purchased under the immensity scheme of the government for submission of written files, said Commissioner Income Tax Balochisan Sahidzada Abdul Mateen here on Wednesday.

Talking to APP, he said that government had set revenue targets for the first half of the fiscal year as Rs 12 billion and through plugging the weaknesses and reforms tax collection system, we have been able to collect Rs 15 billion till the January 2014 in Balochistan.

Terming low literacy rate, unawareness, difficult outreach to the people living in far-flung areas and tribal society of Balochistan as major impediments in enhancing the tax network, he said that drastic measures were being put in place to broaden the taxpayers network.

Mateen said that for not paying the withholding ten percent taxes, plenty of notices have been served to hotel owners, private schools and marriage hall administration. Rs 400 million tax revenue was recovered from Reko Dic in recent past while on account of nonpayment of taxes, the account of Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) was also seized.

Stressing the need for improvement in the resources available with FBR office in Balochistan, he said there is need to mobilise our resources for the economic progress of the country.

Commissioner emphasized that government has devised new tax policy to ensure that the taxes are collected from each person according to his or her capacity. He said that tax to GDP ratio in our neighboring countries is 13 percent whereas the same in Pakistan is 9 percent. With reform policies and steps taken by the incumbent government, tax to GDP ratio would proportionally be increased.

To expand the taxpayer net FBR is in contact with the WASA, SSGC, Excise and Taxation department and other relevant departments to get the data and take bring them in the taxation network.

He noted that FBR has its sub offices in Hub and Sibi while government has been asked to allocate piece of land in Gwadar for FBR office.

To a question Abdul Mateen said that FBR has initiated rewarding system under which individual who comes up with information along with documentary proof of tax defaulters would be awarded 25 percent of the tax collected from the defaulter.

Business Recorder >

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The children of Balochistan

Statistics may not tell the complete story but they are sufficient to show just how neglected the children of Balochistan are. The country has an official literacy rate of 58 percent but Balochistan lags behind at 46 percent, with female literacy rate at only 23 percent. Half a million children are out of school, compared to just above one million who are enrolled in public or private schools.

Part of the problem is geography. Balochistan is the least densely populated province in the country and villages are often little more than a handful of households. The distances between villages can be so large that parents may not have the incentive or the means to send their children to schools that are far away. An added problem is the political and social isolation of Balochistan from the rest of the country. Urdu became the official language of the province much later than the rest of the country, with Persian originally serving as the language of instruction in schools.

The center has so completely ignored and alienated the province that universities and schools were not constructed till long after the rest of the country. Education may be a constitutional right in the country but for Balochistan it remains an aspiration rather than a reality.

The neglect runs all the way from primary school to higher education. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has, like all other institutions in the country, failed in its duty to treat Balochistan at par with other areas.

Since being founded in 2002, the HEC has allocated only 48 projects out of a total of 737 to Balochistan. These projects have also tended to be smaller in scope and financing than those in other provinces, despite the fact that the dire state of education in Balochistan should garner it greater funding. The little money that is available for Balochistan’s schools and universities tends to be misused, with economist Kaiser Bengali, who is an adviser to the chief minister saying that funds meant for the upgrade of schools tend to be misappropriated by unscrupulous bureaucrats and politicians.

New political administrations tend to want to start afresh rather than building on previous work, resulting in greater delays. The central government has so far seen the separatist problem in the province as a solely political issue which can be dealt with through force. If instead they focused on education and other social issues they may understand just why the Baloch feel so alienated and mistreated. Balochistan will only feel like a member of the federation if the centre treats the province as a welcome part of the country.

< The News >

Monday, 7 April 2014

Festivity in the air: Making headlines for the right reasons

Quetta: The valley that usually makes headlines for bombing, sectarian killing and ethnic violence buzzed with activity and was in the spotlight for the right reasons, as many football teams gathered to show their talent in the Sports Festival organized by the Balochistan Government in Quetta.

Despite the rainy weather that hampered several matches of football and cricket, the festival concluded on time amid a huge crowd of sports lovers.

“Balochistan always makes headlines in the media for bad things happening here. The Sports Festival helped us send a positive message that the situation is not as terrible as it is made out to be,” said Mujeeb Ur Rehman Mohammed Hasni, Provincial Minister for Sports and Cultural.

As many as 33 football clubs from different parts of the province participated in the football tournament, one of the 22 games played in the Sports Festival held from March 22 to 29, 2014 in  Quetta. This was the biggest sports event held in the provincial capital after the National Games 2004. Naushki Football Club defeated Jaffarabad and won the title.

Most of the games were organized in the Nawab Nauroz Sports Complex. However, football matches were held in the Quetta Cantt, military garrison.

“There was a 99 per cent participation in the football tournament solely across the province. It indicates the keen interest of people in this game,” said Qazi Jalal, football coach of Quetta club. The stadium was packed with football fans from Quetta and nearby districts. Sportsmen of every district were given an opportunity to demonstrate their talent in the provincial capital to attract the attention of the coaches who may in due course recommend them for provincial or national teams.

“Organizers had to take tough decisions to drop some teams so that the tournament ends in accordance with the given schedule,” said Qazi. His team was defeated in the semifinal.

Around 2,200 players across Balochistan took part in different games including athletics, badminton, basketball, bodybuilding, cricket, cycling, football, hockey, karate, boxing, chess, rifle shooting, squash, table tennis, shooting ball, volleyball, weightlifting and water sports.

Mohammed Irfan who represented Pakistan’s under-17 football team in India said the Sports Festival had been a great opportunity to see the talent in Balochistan.  “It is very encouraging. Such events will improve the quality of sports in the province,” he told The Express Tribune. He added that people here had forgotten dozens of sports legends like Juma Khan, Mir Ghaus Buksh Bizenjo, Qayyum Changezi, Akbar Baloch and Ayub.

The Festival may thus help revive those good days.

Stringent security measures were put in place with huge deployment of police, Balochistan Levies, paramilitary troops, Frontier Corps (FC) and Pakistan Army. “Besides security forces, around 1,700 police personnel were deployed during the week-long sports festival,” said a Capital City Police Officer.

However, sports lovers argued that there was no need of foolproof security as there is no chance of sports events being targeted in Balochistan. When asked why such events were not being held in Quetta, Irfan said he does not know, but added that not a single team was attacked in Balochistan. “Miscreants are also football fans,” he quipped.

“Our top politicians were very good footballers,” said Qazi, adding that the main issue why the game is not getting due attention is lack of funding and of better playgrounds. “Only cricket is paid attention in this country. There would be thousands of fans in even ordinary football matches if we only have good football grounds and comfortable stadium.”

Another senior football coach Niaz Baloch said that there are four players in the national football team who hail from Balochistan. “Our male and female footballers are doing well in the game,” he added.

Baloch said that it would have been better if the Sports Festival was held in April after the rainy weather was over. “Most of the matches were adversely affected due to the rain,” he told The Express Tribune.

The Provincial Government also observed Media Day, Martyrs’ Day, Artists’ Day, Teachers ‘Day and Special Children’s Day during the festival.

The Chief Minister of the province said that the sports festival is being held while Balochistan is going through a difficult situation. “Such healthy activities will help us to restore peace and divert the attention of youth towards sports,” he told The Express Tribune.

“At least we have been provided with an opportunity to cheer and see some healthy activities,” said Imran Ahmed, a spectator at the Nawab Akbar Bugti Cricket Stadium. “People should know that Balochistan has a lot to offer besides bombing and killings.”

Governor Balochistan Mohammed Khan Achakzai was the chief guest at the closing ceremony. He praised the government for organizing this mega sports event.

< Express Tribune >