National articles

Gas outages to end by mid-March, says prime minister

Gas outages to end by mid-March, says prime minister

ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Thursday announced that gas load shedding would end by the mid of March, adding that 1,100 megawatts (MW) of electricity were in the pipeline which would be inducted in the main system in the near future.
Talking to a delegation of the Federation of the Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), the prime minister said the government had already inducted more than 1,700 megawatts of additional electricity since coming into

Increase in petroleum prices slashed by 50%

KARACHI – Following a day of hectic negotiations in Karachi between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the government announced a 50 percent reduction in the recent increase in prices of petroleum products late on Thursday night.
“The increase in prices of petroleum products now stands at five rupees, and a notification would be issued on Friday after formal approval from Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani,” Federal Finance Minister Dr Hafeez

Minister’s killing – PPP MPs stage rare show in National Assembly

ISLAMABAD – Law Minister Babar Awan led a token walkout of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) members of the National Assembly on Thursday against the government – which is led by the PPP itself – to join the Pakistan Muslim League-N, PML-Q, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement to condemn the murder of slain Minorities Affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti and hold the government responsible for it, just as Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced a three-day official

No immunity for Raymond Davis, judge decides

LAHORE – Additional District and Sessions Judge Muhammad Yousaf Aoujla on Thursday dismissed an application filed by Raymond Davis that claimed he enjoyed diplomatic immunity and could not be tried in Pakistan.
While dismissing the application, the court said Davis could not produce any document issued by the government which could prove his stance. As per details, the judge continued the hearing against Davis at Kot Lakhpat Jail on Thursday.
Earlier, Syed Zahid Bukhari

ISI director general to get extension again

ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has advised President Asif Ali Zardari to extend Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha’s service for another two years, Online news service reported.
Since Pasha is already serving an extension, extending his service further requires a favorable advice of the prime minister to be duly approved by the president. Therefore, Gilani has already moved a summary to the president, sources privy to

US likely to provide financing for Diamer-Bhasha Dam

ISLAMABAD – The US has assured Pakistan that it would take up the issue of financing for $13 billion Diamer Bhasha dam under the Kerry Lugar Bermen (KLB) bill disbursements for the next fiscal year 2011-12.
An official source said US had asked Pakistan to perform the ground breaking ceremony of the project that would help getting timely financing for the project from the US government from next fiscal year’s releases under KLB bill.
He said no details had been worked out

All PSEs to be audited as per rules, says PAC

ISLAMABAD – Expressing serious concerns over non-production of record by Frontier Works Organization (FWO) before federal audit authorities, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)’s special team on Thursday said all the public sector entities must be audited under the government’s rules of business.
Zahid Hamid chaired the committee meeting. The audit accounts of the Ministry of Defence and Defence Productions for the year 1992-93 and 2001-02 were reviewed. The auditor general of

Indo-Pak talks to resume at end of March

ISLAMABAD – The interior secretaries of Pakistan and India would meet in New Delhi on March 28-29 to resume the Indo-Pak dialogue, which has been suspended since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, Foreign Office spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua said in a weekly press briefing on Thursday.
“Following agreement to resume a full-spectrum dialogue between Pakistan and India, the first meeting under the resumed process will be held on March 28-29 in the Indian capital,” said Janjua. “[The]

Committee to resolve FBR seniority issues

ISLAMABAD – The government has decided to ponder over the seniority issues which were causing frustration among the customs and income tax group officers since last few months by constituting a departmental committee to get recommendations within three weeks.
A notification issued by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Thursday said that the FBR chairman had constituted a committee to resolve the issues of integration of the Inland Revenue Service. Administration Member Tahir

Balochistan lawyers continue protest against abductions

QUETTA – Lawyers in Balochistan continued to protest for the fifth consecutive day on Thursday against the police’s failure to find two abducted judges and four lawyers. They boycotted court proceedings throughout the province after 11am and protested outside Quetta Press Club, shouting slogans against the governments.
Balochistan Bar General Secretary Aminullah Kakar told the protesters that the government had failed to find the abducted judges and lawyers and there was no writ

SC doubts judiciary’s independence if PC rejects JC’s recommendations

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned the independence of the judiciary if the parliamentary committee (PC) on judges’ appointment could reject the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP). Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said this while conducting hearing on pleas against the rejection of one-year extension in the service of six additional judges of high courts by the PC.
Other members of the four-member SC bench are Justice Mahmood Akhtar Shahid

US examining ‘full range of options’ for Libya: Obama

WASHINGTON/AL-UQAYLA/CARACAS – The United States is examining the “full range of options” in dealing with Libya, President Barack Obama said on Thursday, saying he did not want to be “hamstrung.”
“In addition to the nonmilitary actions that we’ve taken, I want to make sure that those full range of options are available to me,” he said. Asked whether that included the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya, he said, “That is one of the options that we would be looking at.”

Don’t link minister’s murder to blasphemy: govt

GENEVA – The government on Thursday called on other countries not to link Wednesday’s killing of its only Christian government minister, Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, to the wider issue of blasphemy. Bhatti, who had called for changes to the blasphemy laws, was shot in broad daylight in Islamabad.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan said they had assassinated him as a punishment for blasphemy. “We believe it would not be helpful to link the highly regrettable killing squarely in

Shootouts claim another 8 lives in Karachi

KARACHI – Another eight people, including a policeman, were killed in several shootouts in Karachi and three corpses were found across the city on Thursday. According to a private TV channel, police constable Akram Abbas was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on a railway track near Zafar Town in the Latif Town police precincts.
A man was shot dead in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, while a youngster was shot and killed by robbers in Teeser Town when he tried to resist. A man named Akbar shot and

Bhatti’s assassination – Christians take to the streets in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD – Hundreds of people belonging to Christian community took to streets in Federal Capital on Thursday, burning tyres and blocking traffic in protest against the brutal killing of federal minister for minorities’ affairs Shahbaz Bhatti.
Two massive protest demonstrations were staged at IJP road and in front of press club, while small protests were also reported around the slum areas of the city.
Tyres were burnt to block the IJP road and slogans were raised against

Fake witness included in FIR of Bhatti’s killing?

ISLAMABAD – Conflicting accounts of two witnesses have raised doubts about the facts narrated in the first information report (FIR) lodged against the murder federal minister Shahbaz Bhatti, as one of the witness included in the report told Pakistan Today that he was not present in Islamabad at the time of the incident. It has been recorded in the FIR that the minister’s brother Sikandar Bhatti and his nephew Rehan Bhatti were following Shahbaz Bhatti in another car when he was

Obama, Hague seek justice for slain Bhatti

KARACHI – US President Barrack Obama and the United Kingdom have condemned and expressed deep sorrow and grief over the assassination of minorities’ minister Shahbaz Bhatti. “I am deeply saddened by the assassination of Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti today in Islamabad, and condemn in the strongest possible terms this horrific act of violence,” a White House statement quoted the president as saying. The statement was issued by Office of the Press Secretary on