. .

 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Dec 03 - 09, 2001

Kharrazi links peace to broad-based govt

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on Thursday said that Islamic Republic of Iran was averse to the idea of deployment of foreign troops in Afghanistan, saying "it could prove counter-productive."

"We have rejected the idea of deploying foreign troops in Afghanistan because of its highly sensitive nature," said Mr Kharrazi in an interview. Mr Kharrazi had arrived on a two-day official visit.

The question posed to Mr Kharrazi was that whether Iran was apprehensive about the presence of the United States troops close to its borders.

The Iranian minister, who had already met Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar, said that regional situation was an important item on the agenda of their talks. Mr Kharrazi is meeting President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Friday.

Commenting on the United Nations initiative for the establishment of a broad-based government in Kabul, the Iranian minister said: "I believe after so many years of civil war, it is time for reconciliation and establishment of a broad-based government."

It was a goal of the United Nations and a goal of Islamic Republic of Iran. Peace and tranquillity could return to Afghanistan only through the establishment of a broad-based government, he emphasized.

Mr Kharrazi saw no divergence between the views of Pakistan and Iran over the idea of setting up a broad-based government in Kabul. In reply to a direct question to the effect, he said: "I think everybody is looking forward for a stable government in Kabul."

He admitted that there had been differences between Iran and Pakistan over the question of supporting the Taliban. "We had been saying that it could not be a lasting policy, and sooner or later you have to change your policy. "Now it is quite understandable that Pakistan has changed its policy, and Iran and Pakistan can work together for a stable government in Afghanistan."

Islamabad to prepare tax system for Kabul

Pakistan would formulate taxation system for Afghanistan when a new broad-based government is installed in Kabul.

Under the scheme, the Pakistani taxation authorities will provide technical assistance as well as a plan for an effective taxation establishment to be put in place in Kabul, a highly informed source told on Thursday.

The project has been initiated following the decision of the US-led coalition to start reconstruction of the war-ravaged country. Some taxation officials of Pakistan, along with other countries officials, are already working in the East Timor under the aegis of the United Nations.

Rs35bn WAPDA rescue package likely

The federal government is expected to approve a Rs35 billion rescue package for WAPDA on Thursday to prepare its 12 corporate companies for privatization, official sources told.

A high-level meeting, to be presided over by President Gen Pervez Musharraf, would be given a comprehensive presentation on the performance of WAPDA's military management and financial and regulatory problems faced by the utility, these sources said.

KESC selloff plan finalized

The federal government on Thursday finalized a plan for restructuring of Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) with a target to complete its privatization by Dec 31, 2002.

The plan that envisaged issuance of bonds and involvement of Asian Development Bank (ADB) as equity shareholder to the extent of about seven per cent was finalized at a meeting presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz.

UK ready to play role in Kashmir, says Straw

Britain has again called for resumption of a dialogue between two South Asian neighbours for solution of Kashmir dispute and expressed its readiness for a role if acceptable to them.

"The crucial point is that, in the real world, the dispute can be resolved only by bilateral negotiations between India and Pakistan. That is what we want to happen," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told the House of Commons during the question-hour session on Tuesday.

Japan to provide Rs5.3m for DPs

The Japan government will provide Rs5.3 million assistance for child health-care and provision of clean drinking water to Afghan refugees, living in the NWFP and Balochistan.

The agreement was signed by the Japan Ambassador, Sadaaki Numata, and President of Family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP), a non-governmental organization, Syed Munir Hussain at a local hotel on Sunday.

10 EoIs received for 49pc ABL shares

The Privatization Commission has received 10 Expressions of Interest (EoIs) for the disinvestment of remaining 49 per cent shares in the Allied Bank of Pakistan (ABL), but the authorities concerned are reluctant to give the names and other details of the interested parties.

EU to restore insurance cover

Pakistan has been assured by the Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt of increased trade and economic cooperation including insurance cover for western investors to invest in the country.

Official sources said that during the meeting between the Belgian prime minister and the ministers for finance, trade and Kashmir Affairs on Saturday issues relating to better trade and economic ties were discussed.

KPT chief assures cut in port charges

Karachi Port Trust (KPT) chairman Rear Admiral Ahmed Hayat on Thursday promised to bring down port charges by making the operations efficient and cost effective.

In a meeting with the delegation of Pakistan Bedwear Exporters Association (PBEA), led by its chairman Shabir Ahmed, the KPT chief said that at present the port was over burdened with labour and other overheads which needed to be resolve.