Monday, March 30, 2009

The rise of the Taliban, the fall of Karachi

By Kamal Siddiqi
The writer is editor reporting, The News

Earlier this week, a family friend got off from her car and walked to a chemist’s shop in a busy shopping area of Karachi. She was wearing a normal shalwar- kameez suit that most Karachi women wear in public areas. Nothing out of the ordinary. As she walked to the shop, a man approached her and showed her a pistol.

But instead of robbing her, he gave her a chilling message: “Next time you come in public, cover yourself from head to toe.” This happened in full public view on a busy Karachi street. But no one seemed to notice and the man did not in any way seem in any hurry or worry.

The reference of this incident happening to a family friend has only been done to make people understand that this is not an urban myth but a reality. It is happening in Karachi, the country’s largest and possibly most open city. There are more worrisome incidents than one can recall.

Many businessmen have received calls on their cell phones in which the caller does not identify himself but does confirm the name of the person he has called. After a couple of days comes another call. And then another. The businessman is told to contribute a certain amount to the Tehreek-e-Taliban.

One businessman shrugged this off as a hoax. But soon enough there were men who called at his house and made the same demand, only this time they also mentioned that they not only knew where he lived, but where he worked, which schools his children went to, and other details.

The man ended up paying. No one knows who these people are. Some say they are criminals who are using the name of the Taliban. Who knows?

A family in Clifton last month received a notice which was addressed to the father. In it, he was told to ensure that his daughters — who were described in the letter in very negative terms — should be told to stay home since they were seen to be of loose character. The letter warned the father to take action, otherwise the mosque will have to “do something.” The crime of these girls apparently was that they were seen too frequently moving around and that too in Western clothes.

The writers of this threatening letter even disclosed their identity. The claimed to be from a prominent mosque, situated in the market area of Clifton. The shaken family did as they were told. Many families have received such letters and in most instances they have complied. No action or questions have been asked of the people at this mosque. The police shrugs this off as nothing important.

Last year, this mosque was identified by the MQM when it made an outcry on the rise in Talibanisation in Karachi. But the People’s Party government has been denying the rise of extremist forces in Karachi for the year since it has been in power. Some say that the motives of the MQM are suspect. Their agenda is more political. But then again, who is right and who is wrong?

Stories continue to surface of the growing influence of such elements. Women who travel without their heads covered in public transport have been spat upon. In some instances by other women.

The media has helped confuse the people even more. Programmes aired by our leading channels on religious issues sometimes misguide instead of guide. They play on the sentiments of people only to get better ratings. After all, one of the most prominent religious show hosts ended up becoming a minister.

The tragedy, if one may call it that, is that there is a growing number of people in Karachi who welcome the arrival of the purveyors of quick and cheap justice. And are willing to defend, fund and shelter them. They sympathise with the soldiers of their brand of Islam because the government has let them down. And they are frustrated over the growing incidents of crime and lawlessness and have no hope in the government addressing these issues. Both the military junta and the elected peoples representatives are seen more interested in protecting and enriching themselves than providing good governance to the people. This is the public perception.

Two video clips that have been circulating on the Internet only add to people’s fear and plays on their insecurity. One clip, which is perhaps one of the most watched and forwarded clips in Pakistan this week, shows how a man is mugged while he is taking money out of an ATM in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi.

The clip, which was taken off a security camera of the bank, clearly shows the face of the man, the two men who rob him and the look of frustration and helplessness on the victim’s face once the deed is done. While there is no violence, except where the robber shows the poor man a gun and then hides it, it leaves one disturbed and it is chilling for anyone who has any care for Pakistan. Is this what we have been reduced to, and where do we go from here?

The other clip, which has not been seen by as many people, is violent and much more chilling. This clip was made from a mobile phone by the accomplice of a man who is currently in police custody. This is now known as the “Hajiano case” or the “White Corolla case.” This man robbed people and raped women at will for a year. This clip relates to one incident where a woman is being assaulted.

The clip numbs the brain and makes one bay for blood. After seeing this video, people have said that an exemplary punishment should be given to the perpetrator. One hopes this is done, but there are many who have expressed fears that the case will soon be forgotten. The women’s rights organisations which had earlier come out on the streets now seem to have been lulled into silence. Let us hope for justice. There are some who say that this matter would have been settled had the Taliban been in charge.

These are worrisome sentiments. In his speech this week, President Obama has committed more money to Pakistan to crush Al-Qaeda. He said in his speech that the Al-Qaeda and its extremist allies (like the Taliban) are a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within. The problem is that many Pakistanis do not see it like that anymore.

To defeat extremist elements, the US and Pakistan have to do more than pump in more military and economic assistance which never reaches the common man. There is a larger battle, for the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan, which needs to be fought. This is not being done.

We do not want any more VOA-TV type propaganda that, in its condescending way creates more enemies then friends. We want a proper dialogue with the US and the West over what its goals are and whether these are our goals as well. Whether we like it or not, the battle for a safer America cannot be won if the people of Pakistan are not convinced. This is the stark reality, no matter how many drone attacks are carried out on the one hand and assistance is given to our government on the other.

It was true of the Musharraf government and is becoming increasingly true of the Zardari government too. The people of Pakistan are not seen as stakeholders in the battle against militants and extremism. It is too often said that while the West talks to our leaders, Al Qaeda and the Taliban talk to the people. Sadly, this is an issue President Obama has not addressed.

Email: kamal.siddiqi@thenews.com.pk

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rs 250m required to run facility: Abbasi Shaheed Hospital in dire need of funds

By Irfan Aligi

KARACHI: The City District Government Karachi’s (CDGK) largest public health facility, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH), is in dire need of funds.

The ASH is currently facing the worst financial crunch ever and needs at least Rs 250 million; if the funds are not acquired urgently, everything at the ASH will come to a halt, sources in the CDGK Health Group of Offices told Daily Times.

A well-placed officer of the EDO Health Group of Offices told Daily Times that the ASH has an urgent need of Rs 250 million. The gravity of the matter can be gauged from the fact that the EDO Health Group of Offices has not purchased any medicine this year and it is purely through the city nazim’s efforts that the ASH is still functional.

City Nazim Mustafa Kamal has spent Rs 600 million from CDGK’s resources for the upgradation of ASH and has been keeping a keen eye on ASH’s affairs, even opting to stay at the ASH twice a week, said the officer. Replying to a question, the officer said that the city nazim has now learnt of all conspiracies that were being hatched to sabotage his efforts and, presently, is battling to keep the major public health facility under CDGK’s control. He has also increased ASH’s annual budget from Rs 40 million to Rs 110 million.

Health Group of Offices EDO Dr A D Sanjnani has taken over the procurement of medicines and other technical equipment for the hospital. Actually, the EDO, as per the law, has the power to procure medicines and technical equipment using 75 percent of the entire budget, while the medical superintendents are legally authorised to use the remaining 25 percent. However, this is not happening and Sanjnani is managing all procurements, claimed the officer.

CDGK Finance Group of Offices Executive Director Munawwar Imam told Daily Times that all the liabilities for the year 2007-08 were cleared from the budgetary allocations of the year 2008-09. This problem emerged due to the late opening of tenders for the procurement of medicines and other technical equipment by the EDO Health Group of Offices. The tenders for the procurement of medicines and other technical equipment for the fiscal years 2007-08 were invited in May 2007, which was very late. The approval of tenders took a couple of months and then orders were placed. This resulted in a delay and the new fiscal year had already started. Therefore, liabilities for the year 2007-08 were cleared from the budget 2008-09, commented Imam.

A week ago, Mustafa Kamal had asked the CDGK Finance Group of Offices to arrange for Rs 150 million, so that the previous year’s liabilities could be cleared. The funds have been arranged and liabilities up to Rs 110.25 million have been cleared till date. The remaining liabilities would also be cleared in a few weeks time, said Imam.

Last years situation will be repeated, as the tenders for the year 2008-09 have still not been invited, he added.

Talking to Daily Times, Dr Sanjnani sounded agitated as he said that the finance minister could not deliver the required funds to the CDGK on a phone call. Replying to a question, he said that there are thousands of patients admitted at the ASH and they all get free medicines. The fund generation for providing the medicines free of cost is our headache, he added.

This scribe observed that the patients reporting at the ASH were not given medicines owing to the lack of funds. The patients admitted in various medical and surgical departments are spending money out of their own pockets for medicines, as the ASH is presently providing them with beds and attending doctors.

The ASH A&E Department, Nephrology Department and Dialysis Unit, Medical ICU, Surgical ICU, Gynaecology Department and Paediatric Department are the worst hit by the financial crisis. There are around 2,000 personnel working in the ASH, including doctors, paramedics, technical and non-technical staffers, while the A&E OPD receives around 1,000 patients daily and the general OPD sees around 5,000 patients daily. (DT)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Senior Journalist Sabihuddin Ghausi Passes Away

KARACHI: Senior journalist and former President Karachi Press Club Muhammad Sabihuddin Ghausi passed away here on Thursday morning after short illness.

The deceased was born on December 8, 1943 and left behind a widow among others to mourn his death.

Late Ghausi had served various newspaper organizations including the Pakistan Press International (PPI), Morning News, The Sun and Business Recorder. He remained associated with the Daily Dawn for almost past two decades.

He was considered as one of the finest commerce reporters in the country.

Late Ghausi had served as the president of the KPC four times and had once remained its secretary besides holding other posts.

He was also elected as the president and general secretary of the Karachi Union of Journalists (Barna group).

Late Ghausi always remained in the forefront for the struggle for the freedom of the press.

His `Namaz-i-Janaza’ was offered at Masjid-i-Ghafooria in Garden East here after the `Zuhr’ prayers.

The president and secretary of the KPC, Imtiaz Ahmed Khan Faran and A.H. Khanzada have expressed deep sorrow and grief at his death.

They recalled the deceased’s immense services for the cause of journalism in the country as well as the journalist community and that these would be long remembered.

They also prayed Almighty Allah to rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage and fortitude to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss.

Chancellor Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology, Z.A. Nizami has expressed his profound grief over the sad demise of Sabihuddin Ghausi.

Chairman Korangi Association of Trade and Industries (KATI) Mian Zahid Hussain and S M Munir have also condoled the sad demise of Ghausi.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has expressed deep sense of grief over the sad demise of senior journalist of daily DAWN and former President of Karachi Union of Journalist and Karachi Press Club Sabiuddin Ghausi.

PFUJ in a statement said Ghausi was not only an outstanding journalist but a committed trade unionist who dedicated his life for journalism and for the welfare of his community. Ghausi went to prison during the journalist movement against General Zia ul Haq in 1978.
“With his death PFUJ lost one of the committed trade union leader and thorough professional,” it said.

PFUJ expressed its profound grief with the family and friends of Sabiuddin Ghausi.

Former Federal Information Minister Ms Sherry Rehman, Sindh Information Minister Shazia Mari, Central Information Secretary of PPP Fauzia Wahab have also sent their condolence messages to PFUJ on the death of Mr Ghausi.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Teenage boy murders father

KARACHI: The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) arrested a teenage boy and his two companions accused of killing his own father, who was a police inspector.

Waqas, 17, was arrested from his hometown Vihari while with his cousin, Sarfaraz, and childhood friend, Arshad, were arrested Karachi for assisting Waqas in murdering his father. The culprit confessed to committing the crime, stating that his father neglected him and his mother and remarried again in 2007. A TT pistol that Waqas used to kill his father was also recovered from his possession.

The bullet-riddled body of Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Ghulam Yasin was found from his house within the jurisdiction of Artillery Maidan police station on January 27. At first, the investigation division of the police station concerned investigated the case but was unable to probe the case upon which, it was transferred to SIU. The deceased had three children including the accused Waqas from his first wife who died a natural death in 2002 and a minor baby from his second wife.

In the initial investigation, the police suspected the deceased’s second wife and a hairdresser, who resided with the deceased at his house, of committing the murder. SIU Chief SSP Raja Omer Khattab told Daily Times that the deceased owned property worth more than 110 million rupees in his hometown. The police suspected the deceased’s second wife for committing the crime as it was revealed that the deceased was in an argument with his second wife regarding the matter that he should transfer the property to her name. While they also suspected the hairdresser as he was missing for a week before the incident took place, however, after questioning them and investigating the matter, the police found the two to be innocent.

Interestingly, the hairdresser was forced to confess that he had committed the crime, though he could not produce a murder weapon. SSP Khattab further said that the accused, Waqas, tried to make the incident look like a robbery while giving the impression that his stepmother was involved in the crime. The hairdresser went missing because he had borrowed cash from various people and could not repay the amount to them, SSP Khattab explained. The accused Waqas and his siblings lived with their grandparents. “I took advantage of the dispute going on between my father and Sarfaraz’s family and convinced him to assist me,” Waqas confessed. “I also wanted to get marriage to Sarfaraz’s sister.” “My father always considered me a step-son and never looked after my mother. Therefore, I decided to take revenge,” said Waqas. “We went there, had dinner and then I shot my father when he went to sleep.” (Daily Times Report)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Federal govt suspends NICVD director, staff goes on strike: Patients suffer due to 2-hr closure

By Amar Guriro

KARACHI: The staff of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) observed a strike on Friday, making the hospital a no-go area for cardiac patients, in protest against the removal of the NICVD director by the federal government on Thursday.

The strike forced hundreds of attendants of cardiac patients, not only locals of the city but also people hailing from various parts of Sindh and Balochistan, to wait for several hours outside the biggest cardiac hospital of the city. The federal government had issued the notification for the removal of NICVD Director Dr Shahzaman Khan on Thursday, appointing the senior-most doctor of the hospital, Dr Asadullah Kundi, as the new director.

Rejecting the notification, Dr Khan refused to handover charge to the newly appointed director. Sources said that the hospital employees that favoured Khan decided to protest against his removal and issued a strike call. For more than two hours, the hospital remained closed and the protesting staff did not allow any one to enter the premises, including patients who had come to get admitted. “Yes, I have still not handed over the charge, as most of the professors and hospital staff want to see me as director, but I did not manage the protest, it is a false allegation against me,” said former NICVD Director Dr Shahzaman Khan.

Upon being contacted, he told this scribe that he does not practice favoritism amongst his staff members. “All of them are my staff and I don’t discriminate between them,” he said.

NICVD is the biggest cardiac hospital with a capacity of 360 beds, however, in reality, the hospital has actually managed to accommodate more than 400 beds. It has three medical, one surgical, one pediatric ward, three coronary care units, one surgical intensive care unit and one Emergency unit with 28 beds. Hospital records reveal that the daily out-patient attendance averages 1,200 patients and an average of 250 patients are attended to in the emergency unit, out of which, around 30 patients, including 15 acute infarctions, are admitted on a daily basis.

Dr Khan further claimed that even the newly appointed director Dr Asadullah Kundi is not willing to take charge. “We conducted a meeting today and Dr Kundi said that the federal government is playing musical chairs and he does not want to be a part of the issue. Besides this, five professors are leaving on Saturday to meet with federal health secretary to negotiate the cancellation of my removal orders,” he said.

To a question, he admitted that he was not the most senior in the seniority list but he was appointed as the hospital director. “I am not getting any extra money for this position, I did a lot of work during my tenure and I am planning to start a new 100-bed ward, for which, I had told the federal government that if they cannot finance the project, I will manage the Rs 400 million for the construction of the ward. In such conditions, my removal is not fair,” he added.

Dr Khan also alleged that the ruling PPP government wants to appoint Dr Liaqutallah Cheema as the director of the hospital. (DT)

Fraudster caught at Al Asif Square

The Special Investigation Unit (SIU), in collaboration with an intelligence agency, arrested a man who duped various businessmen and industrialists into giving him millions of rupees by using names of higher authorities.

A SIU handout issued on Friday stated that, Khalid Hussain Solangi, son of Urs Solangi, was arrested when the SIU, along with intelligence officials, raided at a coach, Makka Coach, at Al-Asif Square in the Sohrab Goth area. The statement added that while Solangi was arrested, his two accomplices, Ramzan and Ghulam Mustafa, managed to escape. A TT pistol and drugs were recovered from his possession.

The handout further stated that during the initial course of interrogation, the culprit revealed that he, through a mobile phone, used to dupe various traders, businessmen and industrialists across the country including, Karachi, interior Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab, into giving millions of rupees as donations for earthquake victims, cancer patients and others, by using the names of various prominent personalities including former Inspector General of Police Shoaib Suddle, Brigadiers, Colonels, Generals and politicians.

The culprit further confessed that he was helped in the fraud and that he usually sent his accomplices to pickup the donations from businessmen and industrialists. Solangi used to dispose off the SIM cards after using them to make the calls; he has also been arrested before in Karachi, Raheem Yar Khan, Sukkur and Lahore. Solangi has now gotten into the drug business, as his donation fraud was not doing so well.

Friday, March 20, 2009

19 brilliant students get Japanese scholarship

Karachi: Nineteen brilliant students of Muhammad Ali Jinnah University (MAJU) Karachi have been awarded Japanese scholarships by the Consul General of Japan Akinori Wada in a ceremony held here Thursday.
Approximately cheques of Rs11 million have been distributed amongst the students of Muhammad Ali Jinnah University Karachi.
Addressing the students, Japanese CG Akinori Wada congratulated the students & stated that Japan always cooperate in the field of education, health & development in the world.
He said that Japan has allocated three hundred sixty million rupees for the higher education scholarship for the students of Pakistan in the filed of research, agriculture, business communication, social sciences & IT.
Dr. Abdul Wahab, the President of Muhammad Ali Jinnah University Karachi, confessed the cooperation of Japan in the filed of education everywhere in the world.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

KBCA cancels NOCs of Aman Residency and Highway City

Karachi: Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA) has cancelled No-Objection Certificate (NOC) for advertisement for sale of two private public sale projects besides imposing ban on their construction.
A KBCA release on Tuesday stated that the authority has cancelled NOC for sale and advertisement of Project‘Aman Residency ’ on plot No. 7 Block-E III, Nazimabad, and also suspended builder’s license of M/s Mahar Associates for six month owing to non-completion of the project within stipulated time. KBCA has also cancelled sale and advertisement NOC of another project ‘Highway City’ at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Town Corridor Scheme 33, Sector N.18 C and Sector No.19 C for violating the construction rules of the authority. Earlier, the layout plan of the same project was also cancelled.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Controversy over death toll of toxic liquor victims

KARACHI: More than two-dozen people have fallen prey to spurious liquor while doctors are trying to save the lives of other victims. There is a difference between the unofficial and official records regarding the deaths in this incident. At least seventeen people have died in last four days after the consumption of poisonous liquor on the occasion of Holi. The victims were initially taken to Civil Hospital, Karachi (CHK) from where some of the seriously affected patients were referred to others government and private hospitals in the city for further treatment. CHK Medical Superintendent (MS) Dr Hamid has said that 35 patients were admitted on Saturday with regards to the consumption of poisonous liquor. “Out of them 12 people have died. Some seriously affected people were referred to other hospitals as the CHK does not have the facility of the ventilators,” Dr Hamid explained. All the affected persons were brought to hospitals in a state of unconsciousness.
The MS said that the doctors are treating the victims making all efforts to save them but he fears that it would be hard as most of the victims are in a critical condition. Meanwhile, sources in the area have stated that spurious liquor has claimed three more lives on Sunday but their bodies were not taken to any hospital. On the other hand, Lyari Town SP Rana Pervez Mehmood told Daily Times that the death toll has risen up to 12 as one more became a victim of the poisonous liquor on Sunday. It is pertinent to mention here that the police have been ordered to register and ensure the arrests of those behind the supply of spurious liquor in the city. SP Mehmood said the police have arrested a group member, namely Israr while adding that Mahmoodabad area is the main source from where the liquor is supplied all over the city. The SP said that more raids in this regard are being conducted.

Friday, March 13, 2009

March Restricted; Detentions At Karachi Toll Plaza

KARACHI: Police have started detaining the participants of Long March at Toll Plaza, Super Highway Karachi, reported A Pakistan News here Thursday.
Heavy contingent of police, ranger and other law enforcement agencies is present at the Toll plaza that has been sealed off for vehicles to prevent lawyers’ long march from continuing its journey towards Hyderabad, the first stop of the rally destined at Islamabad.
Police started detaining lawyers and political activists, belong to Jamaat-i-Islami, Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and other nationalist parties, attending the march when they arrived at Karachi Toll Plaza at Super Highway.
Lawyers and political workers also scuffled with the law enforcers who brutally tortured the detainees. Police also baton charged the participants of long march at some points, says the channel.
Former Amir JI Karachi Mairajul Huda Siddiqui, President Sindh High Court Bar Association Rashid A Rizvi and Ex-President Supreme Court Bar Association Munir A Malik are also among the detainees arrested from the Toll Plaza.
SP Gaddap Town informed A Pakistan News that the participants of Long March will not be allowed to cross Toll Plaza. Police have also said to be possessed warrants of 11 top lawyers present in the march.
Police personnel snatched the keys of the vehicles present in the Long March

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Two alleged bandits killed in Police encounter at Karachi

KARACHI: Three persons were killed in different incidents in the city on Wednesday.

Two unknown dacoits were killed during a 'police encounter' in the jurisdiction of Gulistan-e-Jauhar police station.

Gulshan-e-Iqbal town SSP, Arib Mehr told Geo news that the incident occurred near the police station where a police party was busy in snap checking. He said two young men tried to escape when police signaled them to stop. He said the bandits were killed when the police retaliated the fire. He said the police recovered two TT pistols.

In another incident, a 24-year-old unknown motorcyclist was crushed to death when a hit-and-run vehicle knocked him at the ICI Bridge near Tower.

The body was shifted to Civil Hospital Karachi for autopsy.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Citizens deplore new utility tax

KARACHI: Citizens have expressed concerns over the newly imposed utility tax, terming it an additional burden on the masses as the majority of tenants, constituting 40 to 45 percent of city’s entire residential settlements, have been badly hit.
Talking to Daily Times, a number of tenants in various areas of the city said that no authority including the federal government; provincial government or the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) could curb the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities.
A retired government servant, Malik Nisar, said, “The tussle between dairy farmers and the CDGK over milk prices has been going on for the past two years. The dairy farmers have not bowed down and the helpless citizens continue to pay higher prices for milk. If the CDGK can recover the utility tax by force, why can it not do the same with dairy farmers?”
Misbahuddin, a tenant in North Karachi, said, “Except verbal claims and press statements, no party in the city ever produced a rally or held a protest sit-in against the hike in utility tariffs and prices of everyday goods. The imposition of utility tax is a blatant injustice towards the people of the city.”
A primary school teacher in Buffer Zone said, “The collection of the tax and the District Coordination Officer’s warning that the CDGK will take legal action and arrest those who fail to pay the tax was a mere show of autocracy. It is a matter of surprise that the provincial and federal governments are silent on the issue of utility tax imposition and forced collection.”
Meanwhile, a housewife in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Town, Block 13-D told Daily Times that the electricity and gas tariffs have already depressed citizens, especially tenants. “The laws pertaining to tenancy have been always in the landlords’ favour. The imposition of utility tax is a tyrannical act. The majority of the people directly affected by the utility tax belong to low-income groups, while the flyovers and parks are for the rich. The rich and the transporters should be asked to pay the tax because they use the roads,” she added.
Another agitated citizen, Qurban Soomro, said that it is the government’s responsibility to provide better civic facilities to its citizens by utilizing the already imposed taxes. “If this trend is allowed, then the government will start imposing taxes for every new development project.” A private health worker, Shaheena, said, “On top of the heavy utility tariffs, skyrocketing prices of transportation and essential items and this newly imposed tax, the KWSB has also increased water tariff by 9 percent.” CDGK Municipal Services Department (MSD) Executive District Officer (EDO) Masood Alam said that the MSD was only assigned to issue utility tax bills. “MSD has dispatched 1.2 million utility tax bills to citizens, thus, it is a 100 percent achievement. However, the recovery is the CDGK Finance Department’s responsibility.”
Replying to a question, Alam said, “There are some ambiguities regarding the residents of flats, as we are in a fix about whether it would be the landlord or the tenant who would pay the tax. In any case, the tenants are liable to pay the tax, while the unions have been taken on board only to serve as CDGK facilitators. The unions would collect utility bills in bulk and they will deliver the bill to the tenant, as the bill carries flat number etc.”
Meanwhile, CDGK Finance Department Executive Director Munawwar Imam said that the recovery target of utility tax is Rs 1.6 billion and the recovery till date is Rs 8.1 million. “There are different categories of taxpayers in terms of area of occupation, ranging from 60 square yards to 2,000 square yards premises. The process of recovery of utility tax is being continued and the target will soon be achieved.”
CDGK City Council opposition leader Saeed Ghani said that the imposition of utility tax was extremely unjust. “CDGK should review the tax because it has created problems for the people of the city. We have always opposed the imposition of utility tax on common citizens. We have often debated that the tax should be imposed only on the corporate sector but it is a pity that those who have earned billions and trillions from this city have been spared, while the tax paying masses have been exposed to this new injustice,” commented Ghani. (Irfan Aligi)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

2 Killed in Karachi paper market fire

KARACHI: A big fire erupted in paper market located opposite lighthouse cinema here on Saturday.

The fire engulfed two floors of Haji building resulting in death of two while four others were critically injured. The hospital Medico Legal Officer (MLO) also confirmed death of two persons.

Three motorcycles parked outside the building and eight shops were burnt. Area people held the fire brigade responsible since it arrived late on the spot.

Friday, March 6, 2009

KBCA moves Govt. for its court & Police station

The establishment of a Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA) Court and a KBCA police station, and conferring magisterial powers to senior officials will help stop illegal constructions, and end disputes between builders and allottees, KBCA Chief Controller Manzoor Qadir said.

According to a press release issued on Wednesday, he said this while presiding over a meeting of officials of the Authority. He further said that the summary of the plan has been sent to the Sindh government.

He also said that problems are being faced due to a shortage of technical staff in all 18 towns of Karachi, and added that recommendations have been made for the appointment of 400 technical staff in this regard. (Press Release)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Arms supplier arrested from Azizabad Area

KARACHI: A man accused of providing arms and explosives to outlawed outfits has been arrested in Azizabad area.

The accused’s name was included in CID police red book. Sources said Azizabad police had arrested two accused Rizwan and Samiuddin on February 9. They were sent to jail after initial investigations and registration of case.

During investigations, it was revealed that the full name of Rizwan is Qari Rizwan whose name is included in the most wanted red book of 2004 and 2007. CID and other sensitive agencies will further interrogate him.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Houston, Karachi to become sister cities

Houston and Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, will officially become sister cities on March 3.

The city council approved the establishment of a sister city relationship last month, and the Hon. Syed Mustafa Kamal, Mayor of Karachi, will visit Houston to sign a sister cities agreement with Mayor Bill White on March 3.

Karachi is a seaport and the financial capital of Pakistan.

The Houston-Karachi Sister City Association becomes the 17th “citizen diplomacy” relationship for Houston under the umbrella of Sister Cities of Houston, a program that develops intercultural understanding and promotes international trade and commerce, economic development and tourism.

Houston has sister city relationships with Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.; Baku, Azerbaijan; Chiba, Japan; Grampian Region (Aberdeen), Scotland; Guayaquil, Ecuador; Huelva, Spain; Istanbul, Turkey; Leipzig, Germany; Luanda, Angola; Nice, France; Perth, Australia; Shenzhen, China; Stavanger, Norway; Tampico, Mexico; Taipei, Taiwan; and Tyumen, Russia.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hamara Karachi Festival ‘Malakhda Competitions’: ‘Only the poor have kept this sport alive’

KARACHI: The civilisation of Sindh has sustained its primary characteristics and most of the themes from different eras, although, many have also vanished from the screen.
Traditional wrestling, which is an inevitable and integrated part of the Sindh civilisation, is as alive as it was thousands of years ago and it will remain so till the end of time. Gadap Town Nazim Ghulam Murtaza Baloch stated this while addressing a gathering of people from Gadap Town on the Hamara Karachi Festival ‘Malakhda Competitions’ held at Thado Dam in Gadap Town on Saturday.
Talking to Daily Times, Baloch said that Malakhda is a popular sport in rural areas of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab but only the poor have kept this sport alive. The competition attracted Malakhda wrestlers from all districts of Sindh including Karachi, district Lasbella in Balochistan and district Multan in Punjab.
The City District Government Karachi (CDGK) registered the Karachi Malh Association so that the sport can be promoted. However, there is an urgent need for an exclusive Malakhda Stadium in the city while the Malakhda wrestlers should be patronised and they should be given employment just like other sportsmen have been facilitated financially, suggested Baloch.
“I request City Nazim Mustafa Kamal to consider establishing a dedicated Malakhda Stadium in the city and offer jobs and other facilities to the wrestlers,” said Baloch.
Talking to Daily Times, CDGK City Council Treasury Bench Leader Asif Siddiqui, who represented the city naib nazim at the competition, said that it was nice to see the way the people of the rural outskirts of the city celebrated the festival and these joint celebrations will promote relations between the two social classes of the province.
The Malakhda competition is a traditional sport of Sindh and it will be ensured that such sports events are held in every town of the city during the next Hamara Karachi Festival, said Siddiqui.
CDGK City Council Member Advocate Sarwat Arif told Daily Times that Gadap Town has the largest number of rural people in the city. Malakhda is one of the most popular sports in these areas and it should be promoted. In this regard, the MQM members in the City Council will fully support a resolution tabled as Donkey Racing has already been patronised.
The unique and colourful show of Malakhda attracted thousands of people from all over Sindh while more than 40 Malakhda wrestlers from different districts of Sindh took part in the competition.
Malakhda wrestler Nadim Palari of Palari Goth near Sohrab Goth defeated Rahim Bux Sheedi of district Thatta and won the first prize in the competition along with Rs 10,000. Wrestler Sher Muhammad Sheikh of district Dadu defeated wrestler Shakoor Sheedi of district Thatta and was the runner-up, he was given Rs 7,000. Wrestler Lal Muhammad alias Guldasta of Karachi defeated wrestler Shafi Chandio of district Nawabshah and was given the third position with a cash prize of Rs 5,000.( Irfan Aligi)