Month: July 2013

Gilgit-Baltistan: Policies to Curb Smuggling of Wheat

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GILGIT (Dawn): The Gilgit-Baltistan food department has stopped wheat supply to flour mills to curb its smuggling which has created flour shortage locally, said an official on Sunday.

Talking to Dawn, the regional director of food Mohammad Ikram said the department took the step after public complaints regarding shortage of flour in the local markets. He said short and long term policies would be evolved to curb smuggling of wheat.

The official said some 45 mills were registered with the department which would now have to procure wheat from the open market.

“Wheat being provided by the government to flourmills on subsidised rates is being smuggled to rest of the country to get extra bucks,” he said.

“We have terminated all reserved quota of mills and now wheat will be supplied to residents directly,” said the official.

Mr Ikram said wheat was being given to mills under fixed quota and then dealers distributed flour to retailers in their respective areas.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Two Mountaineers Attempting K-2 Missing

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Skardu (ET): Two New Zealanders who had come to Pakistan on a mountaineering expedition were reported missing on Sunday, confirmed an official of the Alpine Club of Pakistan.

Martin Walter Schmidt and Denali Walter Schmidt went missing on the afternoon of July28 while on an expedition to scale the world’s second highest mountain, K-2 (8,611 metres).

Martin along with his son Denali had successfully reached Camp III at 7,400 metres on July25 even though the rest of the climbers had decided to descend the peak.

The accompanying Sherpas had turned back because of adverse weather conditions and the threat of being hit by an avalanche. Avalanches had reportedly struck Camp IV, present at 8000 metres.

On the afternoon of July26, base camp group leader Australian Christopher Mellor Madden Warner lost contact with the Kiwi mountaineers.

A Nepali Sherpa, who was sent to Camp III a day later to ascertain the location of the Kiwi mountaineers, reported on July28 that they were nowhere to be seen in the Camp III tent.

He further said that the tent showed signs of having been hit by an avalanche. However, the mountaineer’s ice axes and crampons were found intact.

Search for the missing mountaineers is set to start tomorrow with assistance from the base camp.

Martin and Denali were on a mission to summit K-2 after successfully climbing Broad Peak two weeks earlier.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Teacher Mapping & Projection Model Project Launched in GB

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GILGIT (ET): The ‘Teacher Mapping and Projection Model’ (TMPM) project was launched in Gilgit on Saturday. The project hopes to improve data collection methods in the region.

“The initiative aims to bring in modern data collection software tools to generate better and reliable information for institutions,” said USAID Teacher Education Project’s Provincial Director Jawad Ali at the inauguration. The project has been sponsored by USAID.

G-B’s Education Planning Director Muhammad Abideen remarked with the increasing number of schools, enrolment and teachers, old techniques can no longer be relied upon to maintain and update information.

He said an authentic data record is vital to develop an education planning document. “It is encouraging that the Education Management Information System (EMIS) department, G-B has recently upgraded its data collection and processing facilities,” Abideen said.

Explaining the project, he said the teachers mapping exercise provides details of teachers and their qualification at district and provincial levels. “This is something we have been lacking in the past.”

“With district wise information available, the district managers will be able to better plan future recruitment and infrastructure needs,” Abideen further said.

He hoped the initiative will also facilitate provincial authorities in planning and monitoring educational activities in the province. A large number of staff from districts of G-B was trained during the teacher mapping exercises, he informed.

“I also recommend that all district managers learn how to operate the data processing and projections software used by EMIS,” he said, adding this will keep them updated about the figures pertaining to their areas.

Abideen also appreciated the hard work of the EMIS staff and hoped that data collected during the mapping will be regularly updated.

The project has also extended support in provision of scholarships to trainee teachers, capacity building of the faculty of Government College Elementary Teachers, provision of equipment and furniture, and establishment of a directorate for staff development.

The TMPM project is part of the comprehensive US education assistance programme for Pakistan, which includes building or rehabilitating more than 850 schools across the country, establishing centres for advanced study at three Pakistani universities to focus on applied research in energy, agriculture and water, and expanding English skills of more than 5,000 students from low-income backgrounds.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Locals would be Preferred for DBD Recruitment

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ISLAMABAD (APP): Federal Minister for Gilgit Baltistan and Kashmir Affairs Chaudhry Barjees Tahir Wednesday said that maximum number of local people of Chillas would be employed in Diamer-Bhasha Dam project. During a meeting with two members of Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly here, the minister said that when the work on project would begin local people would be given priority in recruitment. He said that all the employees of class-IV and under would be from Chillas adding maximum eligible people in technical cadre would also be selected from the area. He said that the remaining seats of the project would be fulfilled from rest of the country on merit.

Barjees asked the Chief Secretary GB to look into the matter and update him about the latest situation. He said that the government would take all decisions in the larger interest of the people.

Earlier, the members informed the minister about problems being faced by the people of the area.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Financing of Wahabi & Salafi Militants Across the Globe

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Gilgit (Dawn): It is not merely the faith or oil that flows out of Saudi Arabia. The oil-rich Arab state and its neighbors are busy financing Wahabi and Salafi militants across the globe.
A recent report by the European Parliament reveals how Wahabi and Salafi groups based out of the Middle East are involved in the “support and supply of arms to rebel groups around the world.” The report, released in June 2013, was commissioned by European Parliament’s Directorate General for External Policies. The report warns about the Wahabi/Salafi organisations and claims that “no country in the Muslim world is safe from their operations … as they always aim to terrorise their opponents and arouse the admiration of their supporters.”

The nexus between Arab charities promoting Wahabi and Salafi traditions and the extremist Islamic movements has emerged as one of the major threats to people and governments across the globe. From Syria, Mali, Afghanistan and Pakistan to Indonesia in the East, a network of charities is funding militancy and mayhem to coerce Muslims of diverse traditions to conform to the Salafi and Wahabi traditions. The same networks have been equally destructive as they branch out of Muslim countries and attack targets in Europe and North America.

Despite the overt threats emerging from the oil-rich Arab states, governments across the globe continue to ignore the security imperative and instead are busy exploiting the oil-, and at time times, blood-soaked riches.

The European Parliament’s report though is a rare exception to the rule where in the past the western governments have let the oil executives influence their foreign offices. From the United States to Great Britain, western states have gone to great lengths to ignore the Arab charities financing the radical groups, some of whom have even targeted the West with deadly consequences.

While the recent report by the European Parliament documents the financial details connecting the Arab charities with extremists elsewhere, it is certainly not the first exposition of its kind. A 2006 report by the US Department of State titled, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report – Money Laundering and Financial Crimes, reported that “Saudi donors and unregulated charities have been a major source of financing to extremist and terrorist groups over the past 25 years.” One of the WikiLeaks documents, a cable from the US Consulate in Lahore also stated that “financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from ‘missionary’ and ‘Islamic charitable’ organisations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.”

Gilgit-Baltistan:Three Mountaineers Missing after Ascending the Peak

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ISLAMABAD (Dawn): The head of a mountaineering club says rescuers have called off their search for three Iranian mountain climbers who went missing in northern Pakistan.

Manzoor Hussain, president of Pakistan’s Alpine Club, said Sunday his outfit was coordinating the expedition, and that the three Iranians successfully ascended the 8,051-meter (26,414-foot) summit of Broad Peak.

He says the men sent a call for help last Tuesday while descending the peak, saying they were exhausted and had run out of food.

Hussain says rescue teams were dispatched, but failed to find them. A helicopter search Sunday has been called off.

He says the three men were last in touch with their homeland via satellite phone on Saturday.

Gilgit-Baltistan: RCC Bridge Between Ghanche and Skardu

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Gilgit (RP): Construction work on first ever double way RCC Bridge on river Indus between Skardu and Ghanche would be started next week.
Spokesman of PWD told our Skardu correspondent on Tuesday that 140 million rupees would be spent for construction of this bridge.
He said that after completion‚ the way between Skardu and Ghangche would be reduced and big vehicles would be allowed to go to Khaplu Siachan area.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Parliamentary Peace Committee Proposes Advisory Council

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Gilgit (RP): Parliamentary peace committee in its meeting held in Gilgit approved code of conduct for setting up of Ulema Advisory council in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The meeting was chaired by Deputy Speaker Jamil Ahmed and attended by members Legislative Assembly Raziuddin Rizvi‚ Maulana Sarwar Shah and members of Gilgit Baltistan Council Amjad Hussain and Maulana Attaullah Shahab.
The meeting decided that the strength of council will be 15 to 19 members and act in this regard will be presented in Legislative Assembly session.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Romanian Mountaineers Scaled Nanga Parbat

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GILGIT (ET): A group of Romanian mountaineers scaled Nanga Parbat on Friday, becoming the first expedition to achieve the feat after last month’s massacre at the foot of Pakistan’s second tallest peak.
Ten foreign trekkers and their Pakistani guide were mowed to death by gunmen in paramilitary fatigue at a base camp of Nanga Parbat, in Gilgit-Baltistan on June 23 in an attack claimed by both the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Jundullah sectarian extremist group.
“We learnt around Friday noon that three of them [mountaineers] had reached the summit while another two were about to scale it,” said Muhammad Ali, the expedition organiser.
The ascent of the 8,126-metre-high Nanga Parbat – known as the ‘Killer Mountain’ – came nearly a month after the June 23 massacre which has already resulted in the cancellation of nearly 30 foreign expeditions.

The Romanian team was near the peak when the June 23 tragedy struck. However, the climbers decided against cancelling the expedition despite pressure from the country’s embassy in Islamabad.
“It was a tough moment to make a decision … but we did it with the support from the Gilgit-Baltistan home department and the Alpine Club,” said Ali, who runs a travel company, the Karakoram Magic Mountains.

He added that the Romanian Embassy wanted the team to return, while the climbers also had security concerns. “We are extremely thankful to the government of Pakistan and all others for their support that made this feat possible.”
Zsolt Torok, the Romanian citizen who also climbed K-2 in 2010, was leading the five-member Romanian team of climbers. The expedition had set out on June 6 from Islamabad to G-B to try their luck.

Ali said that the climbers would descend in two or three days to make their journey back to Islamabad. “It’s good news for the whole world that the sport has won, and the terrorists have lost again.”

Gilgit-Baltistan: GB Proposes Dates for Shandur Polo Festival

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GILGIT (ET): Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) has proposed new dates to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government for the Shandur polo festival.
“We have proposed August 20, 21 and 22 to K-P,” said Ghizer Deputy Commissioner Sibtain Ahmed on Friday. We hope the event takes place on the proposed dates, he added.
The K-P government had earlier postponed the festival on G-B’s request because a main road in Sosat had submerged after rains in June. The festival was initially scheduled from July 3 to 5.

The submersion not only suspended traffic between G-B and Chitral, but also stranded more than 20,000 people in the valley for more than a month. In July last year, a massive landslide swept away a portion of the same road, stranding people returning from the Shandur polo tournament. They were stuck for days until the government finally repaired the road.
“The road is currently open for light vehicles, but it will be fully repaired before the tournament starts,” Ahmed said.
Following the restoration of traffic, the stranded villagers were also delivered food and medicine as compensation for the shortage that occurred during the blockage.
Many people set camp at the polo ground. The festival also includes folk music and dances and attracts nearly 10,000 people every year, including celebrities and public figures.
Teams from G-B and Chitral have played polo since the early 20th century in Shandur Top, the highest polo ground in the world, which lies at 3,700 meters.