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Aug 20 - 26 , 2001

CE gives roadmap for democracy

President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday unveiled a roadmap for the restoration of democracy, under which elections to the national, provincial and the senate would be held in October 2002.

The election process, which will be completed in four phases, will also incorporate several amendments to the Constitution. Speaking at the gathering of newly-elected Nazims and Naib Nazims at the Convention Centre, the President said the election process would be completed through a "strategic plan" within the parameters provided by the Supreme Court.

No exact date was given by the President for National and provincial assemblies elections. "These elections will be held between October 1 to October 11, 2002," he said. "Today I have fulfilled one of my major promises to hold elections within the timeframe given by the Supreme Court," he stated.

Although the President did not specifically point out the constitutional amendments in his speech it is widely expected that the Eighth Constitutional Amendment would be restored with a provision that instead of the president dissolving the entire National Assembly, the Leader of the House (prime minister) could be dismissed for saving the system.

Giving details of his plan, Gen Musharraf said the first phase towards restoration of democracy has been completed with the installation of district governments which have become functional from today. During the second phase, he said, which starts from Sept 1, 2001 and ends on June 30, 2002, the constitution of Election Commission and commencement of delimitation of constituencies would be finalized by October this year. The finalization of proposed constitutional amendments to introduce checks and balances and their release for public analyses/comments would be completed by May 2002.

US company to invest $2.4m

A US petroleum exploration company has entered into a joint venture with the Government Holdings to invest $2.4 million in the oil and gas exploration sector in Jacobabad and Shikarpur districts, covering an area of 1,215 kilometres.

Petroleum Ministry secretary M. Abdullah Yousuf, the Government Holdings (GHPL) chairman, Dr Mehmoodul Hasan, and resident director/vice-president of Hycarbex Iftikhar Zahid, signed the agreement, says a press release issued on Saturday.

Under the agreement the joint venture will make a risk investment of over $2.4 million during the initial three years. Hycarbex will carry out geological and geophysical studies in the first year and will conduct 100km seismic study in the second year.

Pakistan asked to meet IMF criteria

Saudi Arabia and China have asked Pakistan to meet the IMF performance criteria for seeking 2 to 2.5 billion dollars new funding line in the shape of Poverty Reduction Growth Facility (PRGF).

Official sources said on Thursday that both China and Saudi Arabia, who are extending generous financial assistance to Pakistan, had asked the government to satisfy the IMF officials about the state of the economy so that the existing 596-million-dollar Standby Arrangement (SBA) could be replaced with PRGF before the end of this year.

The sources said Pakistan would have to manoeuvre hard to resolve some of the political issues with the G-8 countries. "Although the US and the West have cautiously welcomed President Pervez Musharraf's announcement to hold general election in October 2002, they are still to be satisfied on the return of democracy," they added.

Unicef to provide $0.2m to NWFP

The NWFP government and Unicef would shortly sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) under which the former would be extended a grant of $0.2 million for carrying out a province-wide survey to develop socio-economic indicators of the 23 districts and one tribal agency.

Official sources told on Thursday that the exercise had been necessitated to compile data primarily for its onward use by the provincial finance committee (PFC) for the purpose of evolving a formula for distribution of resources among the 23 district governments and one tribal agency under the devolution of power plan.

$150m ADB loan likely for judicial reforms

The Asian Development Bank is likley to extend $150 million by December this year to help Pakistan undertake judicial reforms. A six-member team of the bank is arriving on Aug 20 to discuss and finalize the" Access to Justice Programme (AJP) Loan". It will also review proposed police reforms and dovolution process.

The overall objective of the loan is to help improve access to justice so as to: (i) provide security and justice to people, particularly the poor; (ii) strengthen legitimacy of state institutions; and (iii) create conditions for the revival of growth by fostering confidence of investors.

Karachi City Govt begins working

The city government, headed by Naimatullah Khan, the City Nazim, started formal functioning on Wednesday. The first day of City Nazims and Naib Nazims began with briefings in their new offices by the District Coordination Officers on the working of different departments.

The City Nazim presided over a meeting at the Civic Centre. Later, Naimatullah Khan and Naib Nazim Tariq Hasan met Sindh Governor Mohammedmian Soomro at the Governor's House.

PTCL, UBL sell-off

Privatization Commission Board approved the pre-qualification criteria for the parties participating in the privatisation of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), United Bank Limited (UBL) and National Investment Trust Ltd (NITL) on Saturday.

According to a handout issued, the Federal Minister for Privatization Altaf Saleem chaired the meeting. PC received eleven Expressions of Interest for PTCL, 21 for UBL and 11 for NITL from prospective bidders of national and international repute.