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Archive for June, 2016

Shaikh Rasheed’s Interview With Dr.Danish

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CASA-1000 deal with Tajikistan disastrous for Pakistan’

CASA-1000 deal with Tajikistan disastrous for Pakistan’

Chinese offer is the best option for Pakistan.CASA-1000 deal will make $ in Billions for Corruption Laden Nawaz Sharif Family

 
 
By Khalid Mustafa June  23, 2016
 
ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms termed CASA-1000 deal with Tajikistan disastrous and detrimental.  Pakistan’s electricity consumers will pay the mammoth amount of $1.5 billion in 30 years and will have to pay $50 million as transit fee to Afghanistan each year.
 
The Planning Commission also says that the transmission charge of US cents 2.91 is ten times higher than that of Pakistan’s (National Transmission Dispatch Company) NTDC and 3 times higher than that in Europe and the present CASA tariff is around Rs10 per kWh which is higher than the putative benefits claimed for this project originally.
 
This is expected to escalate as the feasibility study has been done in 2011. The Energy Wing of Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms in its submission to Nepra of which copy is available with The News has exposed the claims of Ministry of Water and Power that it has inked a good deal under CASA-1000.
 
It also unfolds that current hydro tariff in Pakistan is under 2.5 cents and identical is the case for hydro power tariff in India. Internationally, power purchase agreement parting to wind power and others have been signed in the US is around 2.5 cents.
 
And at present, Afghanistan is being supplied energy from three different countries in the region. “Kabul imports 500GWh at 3.5 cents per unit from Tajikistan, 200GWh from Iran at 4 cents per unit (including aid of 1 cents/unit) and from Turkmenistan at 3 cents per unit. “This is the main reason that Afghanistan is not very much interested in CASA project as it has surrendered the costly electricity of 300MW in the favour of Pakistan,” argues the Planning and Development Ministry.
 
The project being implemented, Energy Wing suggest, is quite different from the assumptions of the feasibility study by SNC LAVLIN which created and justified the project in the first place. The cost of supply of US1.5 cents per unit from Tajikistan had been assumed in the feasibility study while actual agreement is based on US5.15 cents per unit. In our view, the Planning Commission says, either average cost or hydro tariff should have been used, which would result in much less benefit-cost ratio.
 
The Energy Wing in its observation also says that the cost of the project excluding IDC (interest during cost) is estimated at $873 million based on current market conditions which may change over time in response to market volatility. And the CASA-1000 transmission project will transmit 1,300MW of surplus hydel power generated in the Central Asian States i.e. Tajikistan and Kyrgyz Republic through Afghanistan to Pakistan. The total distance covered by these transmission lines is 1,200km.
 
The full CASA-1000 transmission lines will move electricity at high voltages between the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan (the first 477kms) and from Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan (the next 750kms). Each country will be responsible for construction of transmission line in its jurisdiction. Out of 1,300MW of exported power, Pakistan will get 1,000MW of power while Afghanistan will receive the remaining 300MW.
 
The transmission lines covering a distance of 100km from Pak-Afghan border to Peshawar are to be constructed along with converter station.
 
The major portion of transmission line will be laid down in Afghanistan, whereas; small portion of 100km will be in Pakistan. The Pakistani side mainly consists of tribal areas or settled troubled areas. The source of energy with availability of surplus power from Kyrgyz and Tajik Republics, the tariff of US9.41 cents per kWh as mentioned by NTDC, Afghanistan disinterest in consuming power and safeguarding the interest of Pakistan by protecting the entire transmission line are some of the key issues needed to be resolved.
 
The Energy Wing says that only PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) using residual fuel oil (RFO) and diesel have been considered for tariff.
 
The rate for firm energy is 13.2 US cents per unit and the rate for non-firm is 9.2 US cents per unit. It also unfolds arguing, ”The low B-C ratio assumed no Afghan Transit fee, while we have agreed to 1.5 cents in this respect, which will further reduce the B-C ratio. Transit charges in Central Asia are in average of around 0.3 cents. It appears that no professional advice was available at the receiving end negotiators who apparently relied on hunch figures.”
 
The Ministry of Planning and Development also submitted that one should wait and explore the development of a full open access network regime where there were many buyers and sellers based on hydro and thermal sources which might result in a reasonable transmission tariff of below 1 cent as opposed to the proposed 2.91 cents, which is expected to rise exponentially in future with lesser availability of power supply as the power demand in exporting countries will increase.
 
In order to ensure energy availability in the later years, the exporter (Tajikistan) has demanded higher price of 5.15 cents which in the original feasibility was assumed to be 1.5 cents, mentions the Energy Wing of the ministry.
 
Planning and Development Ministry also mentioned that CASA-1000 was conceived to provide alternative to Pakistan obviating the need of gas import from Iran. With changing political environment and prospects of lifting of restrictions on Iran, the rationale for such projects may lose its appeal.
 
It went on to say that in addition, Chinese have also offered electricity exports via Khunjerab under CPEC programme. Although such an offer is at an initial stage and feasibility study is yet to be carried out, Chinese energy may not suffer from risks and instability issues as compared to CASA-1000 due to Afghanistan factor.
 
No wonder, project of CASA-1000 has been geared up knowing Chinese offer. And there is no collateral from the agencies which want to promote regional cooperation under CASA-1000. 

 

Additional Reading :

Unstable Tajikistan

 

Civil War Likely in Tajikistan; Part One

Being a Central Asian country, Tajikistan feels the largest threat from the religious hardline groups.

Tajikistan
Map of Tajikistan courtesy: lonelyplanet.com

(SALEM, Ore.) – Events in West Asia are developing fast, and the impact is affecting neighboring regions in Central Asia. Political observers and analysts remain confused.

The emergence of the ISIS terrorist group with a joint Western-Arabic design, as well as Turkey’s negative role in Syria and Iraq, has paved the way for the persistence and growth of the so called Islamic takfiri and ideological movement in the susceptible region.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan is among the most vulnerable countries open to the ISIS rise and development.

ISIS members are largely comprised of mercenaries only aim to make more money. Other members fight for their ideology. Combined, the movement would be able to access Central Asia, Tajikistan in particular.

Some experts familiar with the region’s development predict that that after a decrease in ISIS activities in Syria and Iraq and after settling down the Yemeni crisis, penetration of the ISIS in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan would be the priority of the US and its allies.

Touching on fast developments in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, many circulating reports are speculating on the existence or absence of the ISIS group in these countries.

The objective and neutral reporters claim that the US and its allies will make efforts to contaminate the Central Asia region especially Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan with extremist groups in the name of Islam, using the terrorist groups like ISIS and Afghanistan’s susceptible geography.

The attempt intends to engage powers such as China, Russia, and Iran in dealing with security threats to pave the way for the West to easily proceed toward its objectives.

The fact is that the security and political arena in Central Asia, including Tajikistan, is facing new challenges and security crises, and the activities of the takfiri extremists in the country could be interpreted as a continuation of war in Afghanistan and even developments in West Asia.

Recent attacks were carried out by a group led by Abdulhalim Nazarzadeh, Tajikistan’s former deputy defense minister, on the country’s security and government’s centers, resulting in the deaths of dozens of government forces.

The attacks have provided Tajikistan’s president Emomali Rahmon with the pretext to counteract and even try to remove the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan. The Tajik government argued that the recent terrorist attacks on the capital, Dushanbe, and Abdulhalim Nazarzadeh’s insurgent band, are both linked to the party.

There are two different viewpoints about the new developments in Central Asia.

The first viewpoint stresses that all regional development, including developments in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, stem from foreign interventions; insisting that the world’s domineering hegemonic powers utilize the regional governments’ weaknesses, ethnicism, poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment to spread chaos, and propagate Takfiri and extremist currents there.

The first view overcomes the second view which takes absence of a strong central government or inefficiency of the governments as well as internal differences and ignoring the political, religious and economic rights as the main factors helping create the grounds for the growing increase of extremism and insecurity.

Taking into account the issue of the Takfiri movement’s spill over into Tajikistan, some questions have been raised, such as: What is the aim of Takfiri groups in the present time? How susceptible is Tajikistan’s security and political circumstance to these groups? How the Tajikistan government, regional and international players would react to these groups?

Tajikistan’s Political and Security Situation

Being a Central Asian country, Tajikistan feels the largest threat from the religious hardline groups. The feeling of threat is serious for several reasons.

First, Tajikistan has a religious and conventional community, and there had been a religious and belief vacuum during the Soviet Union period, that provide grounds for the activity of extremist groups like Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Hizb ut-Tahrir and ISIS.

The second reason is that Tajikistan one the one hand shares borders with unstable Afghanistan, and on the other hand shares borders with other countries like Kirgizstan and Uzbekistan in Fergana Valley, where radical religious groups are active.

Moreover, since onset of the US-led campaign against terrorism, so many of the leaders of religious movements like Hizb ut-Tahrir and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan have established links with Al-Qaeda and Taliban, an issue which has added to Central Asian countries’ concerns.

A very crucial point to consider is the Tajikistan government’s concerns over the expanding wave of extremism and ISIS that urged it to imprison the members of extremist groups in the country. Meanwhile, in recent weeks, on the pretext of Abdulhalim Nazarzadeh’s terrorist actions, the government has mounted pressure on leaders of the moderate Islamist groups like Islamic Renaissance Party, they have also detained a religious leader and adopted anti-religious laws in the country.

These events come while the Islamic Renaissance Party has expressed its deep concerns over the security conditions and the recent conflicts in the country, asking its members and supporters to fully cooperate with the government to help ease the tense conditions in the country.

The leadership of the party, in a statement on September 11, has condemned any illegal, violent and anti-government action, expressing its condolences to the families of the victims of the 04 September attacks.

However, the Islamic Renaissance Party has blamed the 04 September attacks on government personnel. Tajik officials have detained dozens of people, charging them with having links to extremist and terrorist groups such as ISIS.

Meanwhile, Tajikistan’s Ministry of Justice issued a statement, accusing the country’s Islamic Renaissance Party of several cases of “systematic violations of the law”, and asked the leaders of the party to stop the party’s activities.

Omar Hussein, the deputy leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party, Tajikistan’s major opposition party and the only religious party in the country, was also detained by security forces. Intending to travel to Kazakhstan’s Almaty on September 16, Omar Hussein was detained while on board a plane at the Dushanbe airport.

Additionally, Muhammadali Hayet, another deputy leader in the party, had been arrested previously, and Rahmatullah Rajab and Vahed Khan Ghasedudinov, two activists in the party, were banned from traveling out of the country.

These arrests take place while the government is carrying out operations against Abdulhalim Nazarzadeh’s insurgent group. During a military operation in a mountainous area called Ramit Valley, government forces killed the insurgent leader Nazarzadeh and 11 of his accomplices.

Following the 2015 legislative elections, Muhidddin Kabiri, the leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, left the country, and since then has been living abroad, leaving his deputy Omar Hussein, in charge of the party’s affairs in the country.

During this period, Tajik officials have launched an expansive campaign to ban this opposition party, though some human rights institutions, including Human Rights Watch, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Central Asian Institute for Human Rights, in a joint statement, have warned that the closure of the party violates the rights and the political and civil liberties of the citizens, as it could possibly break the peace and destabilize the country. Being the second most influential political party after Tajikistan’s ruling People’s Democratic Party led by President Emomali Rahmon, and having over 40,000 members, the Islamic Renaissance Party was a major side in the five-year civil war from 1992-1997 in the country, which ended after signing a peace and power-sharing deal between the government and the opposition forces.

Nevertheless, the Tajik government’s pressures on opposition forces, specifically the Islamic Renaissance Party, have kept mounting, as the government published books of Sayid Abdullah Nuri, the party’s founder, labeled as sources of extremism.

Tajikistan’s security authorities accused the party’s leadership of planning the attacks against the security committee, airport, TV station and some other strategic organizations.

The government also claimed that the party’s Chief Muhiddin Kabiri has advised his supporters to hesitate for some more days until the ground and situation is proper to join the president Rahman regime’s opposition forces.

The claims come as government authorities detained 13 top leaders of the Islamic party on September 17, accusing them of having links to the insurgent group of former army general Abdulhalim Nazarzadeh. Denying the accusations, Muhiddin Kabiri has described them as politicized and biased, adding that the government’s objective is banning the Islamic Renaissance Party’s activities in the country.

The fact is that since the country’s independence, the Tajik government has opposed the Islamic movements, specifically the Islamic Renaissance Party, and recent attacks against government forces that resulted in dozens being killed, provided the government with the much-needed excuse to repress and remove the Islamic party, and at the same time adopt an iron fist and violent policy in dealing with the Islamists who possibly have links to the Islamic Renaissance Party.

The Tajikistan’s government launching a widespread propagandistic campaign against the insurgents, and relating them to the country’s Islamic party, and then arresting the party’s some top leaders as well as imposing travel bans on some others will only complicate and deteriorate the country’s political and security circumstance because the charges that the Islamic party had a hand in attacks against the security forces are not only unproven but also such measures, having in mind the West and US propaganda on the rise of ISIS in Central Asia, could trigger the extremism wave.

This, while the Islamic Renaissance Party has been involved in enlightening activities, and always resisted different plots arranged against it by the extremist takfiris in the country.

Being close to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the party has been a target of the government-backed Wahhabi and takfiri groups on the one hand, and on the other hand it has been exposed to the security authorities’ suspicions and repressions.

Participation of the party’s officials in religious and political conferences in Iran has led to an increase in the attacks on the party by the Tajik government and radical groups, causing remarkable problems for it.

Actually, the wave of arrests of the Islamic Renaissance Party members has began two years ago, when representatives of the party were detained in the early 2014 in Badakhshan, capital of Kharogh province, and Khujand, capital of Saghand province, and all of the businesses owned by the party were confiscated.

While Tajik Governments are detaining Islamic Renaissance Party’s leaders, the extremist groups linked to the terrorist group ISIS and Wahhabism or other fundamentalist movements, seduce the Tajik youths to join to Takfiri groups and be deployed to fight in Syria and perform the so-called jihad duty.

 

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Commentary: On Nawaz Sharif Zafar Iqbal & Nazir Naji: Pakistani Commentators

Article 2 PTT

 

 

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Pakistanis Petition to Gen Raheel Sharif to Help Fight Corruption @Change.org

 

Media Mug International's photo.

 

 

Overview of corruption in Pakistan

Corruption remains a substantial obstacle for Pakistan where it is still perceived to be widespread and systemic. Petty corruption in the form of bribery is prevalent in law enforcement, procurement and the provision of public services. The judiciary is not seen as independent and considered to be shielding corrupt political practices from prosecution. Various efforts over the past years have tried to develop institutional mechanisms to address these problems. A National Anti-Corruption Strategy, which was developed in 2002, offers a comprehensive plan for tackling corruption. The executing agency, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), is endowed with comprehensive powers to investigate and prosecute cases. However, a lack of political will, coupled with the perceived co-option of the judiciary and the arbitrariness of many anti-corruption proceedings, and the involvement of NAB Czar,Maj(Retd) Qamaruzzaman in conflict of interest and “double-dipping,”case, where he received Government pension from the Pakistan Army,as well as salary from corrupt Nawaz Sharif Government are major obstacles.
 
 
 

Pakistan: Overview of corruption and anti-­corruption efforts

U4 Expert Answer 2015:15

Pakistan has regularly featured near the bottom of international indices for corruption. Despite relatively strong legislation, the country is currently lacking in key areas, in particular regarding whistleblower protection and freedom of information. There is also a large gap between the legislative framework and the implementation, with a poorly funded police force and an anti-­corruption agency struggling with a lack of competent staff.

The newly democratically elected government has pledged to make fighting corruption one of its priorities. Recent anti-­corruption efforts have included setting up new regional offices for the national anti-­corruption agency and proposing draft laws on whistleblowing in government departments.

However, political interference in public institutions prevents independent and effective investigations into corruption. There is little indication of a firm political will to address and challenge undue influence across the public sector.

Reference

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Pakistan, Afghanistan Fail to Reach Border Deal After Deadly Clashes

Pakistan, Afghanistan Fail to Reach Border Deal After Deadly Clashes

Ceasefire Holding, But Thousands Stranded at Border

by

Jason Ditz,

Antiwar.com

June 20, 2016

 
 

The ceasefire between Afghanistan and Pakistan is holding at the Khyber Pass border,

Negotiations don’t seem to be making much progress either, with the two nations ending a full day of talks today without anything resembling an agreement resulting from them. Pakistani officials came out of the talks, however, reiterating their intention to build the border fence.

Afghanistan and the US occupation forces there have been pressuring Pakistan for years to “control” the border, and Pakistani officials believe that fence and gates will improve their control over traffic back and forth. Pakistani officials even tried to be amicable about it, building the fencing some 30 meters into Pakistani territory.

At least by Pakistani reckoning, and that’s the problem. The 1893 deal between Afghanistan and Britain, which defines the de facto border, is roundly rejected by Afghan officials, who insist that the “real” border is dramatically further south, at the Indus River, and that Afghanistan actually spans a large portion of Pakistan as well.

So when Pakistani government forces came to build the fencing, the Afghans started shooting, and the border patrols quickly got into open combat. With nothing resolved, it remains to be seen what happens when the construction crews return.

 

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