The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in its annual report 2012 said that it recovered Rs 25 billion through Voluntary Return (VR) and Plea Bargain (PB), and that despite budget and personnel constraints, mega corruption cases were being prosecuted as best as possible. NAB worked with the bureaucracy for restructuring and strengthening regulatory mechanisms, and for removing rule violations to prevent corruption in planned procurements and projects. Numerous bureaucratic committees were formed in major areas of governance to improve performance. Rs 1.5 trillion worth of projects and procurements were processed to save over Rs. 200 billion, as they involved planning and pre-tendering irregularities. The Bureau processed 7889 complaints, completed 392 inquiries and filed 95 references in the accountability courts. The influx of complaints increased during the year as the organization received 7,565 complaints reaching a total of 9353 complaints, including a backlog of 1788. The report further revealed that the bureau authorized 232 fresh inquiries in 2012, raising pendency to 978 including the backlog of 746 inquiries. “A total of 392 inquiries were finalized (including closures and conversion into formal investigation), whereas 586 inquiries remained pending,” said the report, adding that the bureau authorized 86 new investigations. Out of total investigation cases, 147 have been finalized while 232 were ongoing, said the annual report. During 2012, the NAB also recommended placing 192 accused individuals on the Exit Control List (ECL) through the Interior Ministry. Further, the bureau filed 95 references in the Accountability Courts, making a total of 719 cases, including 624 cases already pending in the trial courts. NAB Chairman Admiral Retired Fasih Bokhari said in his comments that for 65 years and through 59 different legislations ‘enforcement’ as the primary anti-corruption tool had failed. Pakistan’s absolute corruption index remained unchanged at 2.5/10 since the start of Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. Pakistan’s corruption was therefore, not party, event, or form of government specific. The constant corruption index was a clear indication of major systemic flaws in the constitutional, legislative, regulatory and governmental structure. The report stated that a focus on the politicians by NAB was unrealistic in the current politicized environment of Pakistan and a focus on the bureaucracy was the best starting point as they are the state’s regulators and need to be made independent of political and financial pressures. The state’s structures needed to be reviewed to remove discretionary and service anomalies.
The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday dismissed Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman Tahir Shahbaz’s posting petition and adjourned the hearing of the case relating to the transfer of other officers till the new government’s establishment. A 3-member bench of the SC presided over by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry heard the case. Justice Jawwad remarked,“The matter was disposed of, your issue is your period of service,” in response to which the counsel asked him to look at the April 18 order. The CJP declared, “If your tenure of service has been completed then you cannot be posted to some other place. We do not decide transfers and postings in the interest of transparency.” The counsel cited the Anita Turab case in his defence, but Justice Ejaz observed “The caretaker government is still functioning. The case will be heard after the new government’s installation. We adjourn the hearing for an indefinite period. We have issued notices with reference to your petition.” The counsel withdrew his petition and said he would approach the proper forum for this issue.
As the national energy crisis deepens, sectors G-9 and G-10 in Islamabad emerged as the most affected areas, suffering around 10 to 12 hours of load shedding daily. G-9 and G-10 residents expressed concerns about the persistent and unscheduled power outages, which were increasing as the weather got hotter. For the residents, there appears to be no practical solution to the problem: “There is no respite for us from this deplorable situation. We cannot complete our work properly and in time due to the heat which is made worse by load shedding. We don’t even get a good night’s sleep,” complained resident Muhammad Luqman. “Elderly people and children are suffering especially. Children are unable to wake up for school punctually as they are sleep deprived due to persistent load shedding,” said G-9 resident Ahsan Ali. Further, university student Humayon Raja said, “It is impossible for me to study because of frequent interruptions in the power supply.” A shopkeeper in G-9 expressed similar sentiments: “I don’t know what to do. Even generators are not an option for me because of high fuel prices.” The residents of these two sectors feared that the power cuts would become longer and more frequent as the temperature rose in the coming weeks. Moreover, Maulana Ahmed Ali said that the hot weather makes Jumaa prayers difficult for praying Muslims. He was joined by prayer leaders from various mosques in demanding the Islamabad Electricity Supply Company (IESCO) to reschedule load shedding hours during Friday prayers.
The posters, signboard and banners of different candidates had not been removed by Thursday from Barakahu town and Lethrar Road. The residents demanded that the authorities should remove all campaigning material from the vicinities promptly. Post elections, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) started removing political posters, banners and billboards which adorned the federal capital during the campaign period. A Barakahu resident, Ali Ahmed Khan called on the authorities to act in this regard immediately. A CDA official said that all the areas of the city would be cleaned of the posters and banners. He added that the process is expected to take three days.
Panic gripped the United Bank Limited (UBL) building on Friday as all office work remained suspended for almost two hours following a hoax bomb call. Police said that an anonymous call was received at UBL building warning the employees to vacate the areas within 30 minutes as a bomb would blow up entire building. The caller also threatened that following the explosion terrorists would launch an armed attack on the building. After this call, thousands of employees working in the UBL building, which also houses offices of some other companies, came out on roads. Kohsar Police Station Assistant Superintendent (ASI) Malik Sadiq said that each inch of the building was scanned with metal dictators and sniffer dogs during the half hour operation but no bomb was found. “After a thorough inspection, we asked all the employees to resume work. The police has started investigating the hoax call, so far we have traced it to a telephone booth in sector F-10,” informed Sadiq. Hoax calls often create panic amongst the public, particularly for the employees of the UBL building, which has received three hoax bomb calls so far.
Information Technology (IT) Federal Minister Dr. Sania Nishtar said on Friday in a press conference for the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) that the proactive role of traffic related agencies, car manufacturers and telecom operators was integral for developing road safety solutions. She said that technological advancements in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) field have created numerous opportunities for people around the world and this year's theme for WTISD "ICTs and improving road safety" was very relevant to the growing traffic and road accidents problem. IT Additional Secretary Ijaz Mian said the government was collaborating with ITU for affordable access to ICT based services to bridge the digital gap in the country. He said ICT applications can play a vital role in collision avoidance and to minimize distractions for drivers by ICT owned services. "The IT ministry and ITU are striving to develop and utilise ICT information structure and applications for civic betterment", he added. Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) President Walid Irshaid said that ICT is playing a catalytic role in bringing better opportunities for the people by improving health care and social and economic growth. WTISD is celebrated annually on May 17 to help raise awareness about the benefits of using the internet and other ICT can bring to societies and economies. May 17 marks the signing anniversary of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
It was learnt on Friday that the Mareer Chowk expansion project was proceeding very slowly due to the concerned authorities’ tardiness. Sources predicted that the project’s first half would not to be completed till June 30 despite announcements to the contrary. According to sources, half of the Mareer Chowk bridge would be constructed in the first phase, following which work on the other half would be started. Funds for the project have already been released. One reason behind the delay was that the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) was relying only on one deputy director for the project and the chief engineer and director engineering were not involved. Meanwhile, it seems impossible that that Shah Khalid Colony Railway Underpass would be completed before the May 31 deadline. Rawalpindi residents talked about the troubles the ditches in the construction work created for them. They called on the authorities to fill the ditches and said that the project’s slow pace showed that the RDA and the political leadership did not care about its timely completion.
Sanitation workers and other officials of Rawal Town administration on Friday removed 2200 political banners, posters and boards which had been displayed for election campaigning.
In an operation for this purpose, the officials also erased wall chalking by the candidates. Meanwhile, the administration’s Anti Encroachment Department in its ongoing drive vacated government property worth Rs20 million. They also fined 55 shopkeepers guilty of illegal encroachments on Iqbal Road, Raja Bazaar, Bara bazaar, Commercial Market, Sadiqabad and Pirwadhai.
The Higher Education Commission (HEC) will organize a national seminar titled `Future of Research in Pakistan and Projects Exhibition” on Saturday to showcase the research contributions of the higher education sector towards the country’s economy and community. The seminar would demonstrate the social and economic impact of research by Pakistani universities and provide stakeholders the opportunity to define the future direction and role of research and higher education institutions. Science, Technology, Education and Training Federal Minister Dr. Sania Nishtar would be the chief guest while HEC Chairman Dr. Javaid R. Laghari HEC and HEC Executive Director Prof. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed would speak at the event, which would also be attended by federal secretaries, vice chancellors, industry representatives, academia and non-governmental organizations. Since the HEC’s inception Pakistani universities have responded eagerly to its initiatives for promoting research and development. Academic employment and the number of doctoral scientists and engineers grew over the last decade due to these efforts, reaching a record high of 5,826 in 2011-12. Research activities also increased in public institutions with six times more published articles. Research quality also improved, and Pakistan has been acknowledged as a rising star by the international higher education community in a number of disciplines. Business and Technology Incubators are being established in universities across Pakistan for university-industry collaboration. Universities have initiated different research projects related to agriculture, business, industrial needs, which are shared with related stakeholders and other sections of the society. HEC has focused on research which can have a direct impact on the community’s wellbeing and economy.
The National Heritage and Integration Ministry has decided to establish a pavilion for Pakistan’s rare cultural heritage in Lok Virsa Museum at Shakarparian. Areas covered include Balochistan, Rohi, KPK, Sindh and Punjab. The pavilion is being established on the directives of caretaker National Heritage Minister Shahzada Jamal Nazeer. Executive Director Lok Virsa Khalid Javaid said that Pakistan’s was rich and diverse, and Lok Virsa tries to capture all its shades.
The Rawalpindi Arts Council (RAC) on Friday organised a three-day wood art workshop by Saleem Mughal for its students. Mughal is a renowned wood artist. He instructed the students in making small wood models using special wood carving tools. The students were also awarded certificates by Resident Director RAC Waqar Ahmed on successfully completing the training. Various wood art pieces by Saleem Mughal were displayed at the council. They included a wood model of Badshahi Mosque, calligraphy pieces and portraits of famous leaders which enthralled many visitors. Waqar Ahmed said that the Council organized such workshops for its students to introduce them to various art forms. He said tat they had taken keen interest in the workshop and made small wood models and calligraphy pieces. He added that such workshops would also be held in the future. Saleem Mughal said that a respectable living can be made through wood art training because these models are popular in market. He thanked the RAC for asking him to lead the workshop.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA)’s Fire and Disaster Management department is losing its utility and effectiveness because of negligence by the top officials.
According to CDA officials the Fire and Disaster Management department was specialised, therefore, a signed affidavit clearly informing that the post was non-transferable was taken from the firemen when they were recruited. They said that 214 firemen were hired in 2007, eight in 2009, 30 in 2012 and 50 in 2013, but 65 of them changed their cadre and become LDC, UDC or assistant.
Some of the firemen were also attached to other departments, while officers were transferred to other departments. Training Deputy Chief Imaduddin was transferred to estate management deputy director, and Physical Instructor Muhammad Iqbal was made enforcement deputy director, the officials added.
The officials held that the CDA chairman should take notice of the situation and return all transferred staff back to the Fire and Disaster Management department.
The Health Ministry on Thursday decided to withdraw free parking facilities in government hospitals due to the constant complaints of vehicular theft. The former government provided the free parking facility which acceleration car and motorcycle theft from the parking space. Sources said that the health ministry had sought approval to remove the security guards of private companies to control this trend. The ministry was considering terminating its contract with security companies due to increasing theft incidents, sources added.