League Cup: Liverpool relishing Chelsea clash

LONDON: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he is relishing the prospect of facing Chelsea in the League Cup semi-finals.

Rodgers’ side moved into the last four with a much-needed 3-1 win at Championship side Bournemouth on Wednesday, which saw them get paired with Chelsea in the last-four draw just minutes after the final whistle at Dean Court.

Taking on Chelsea will bring back bad memories for Rodgers after Liverpool famously blew their chance to win the Premier League title with a 2-0 home defeat, featuring Steven Gerrard’s famous slip that led to Demba Ba’s goal, at Anfield last season.

Jose Mourinho’s team, currently top of the Premier League, also won 2-1 at Anfield this season, but Rodgers, who has been under pressure after Liverpool’s poor showing this season, is confident his side can make amends with a place in the Wembley final at stake in the two-legged tie in January.

“It will be a fantastic tie,” Liverpool manager Rodgers told Sky Sports. “If you want to win this competition you have to play against the good sides.

“We’re into the semi-final, it’s over two legs and it didn’t matter who we got. We needed to get there, it’s Chelsea and we look forward to it.”

Mourinho won his first trophy in England by beating Liverpool to the League Cup in 2005, and Chelsea will be away in the first leg.

League One side Sheffield United will face Tottenham in the other semi-final.

 

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K-Electric considering offering shares to Korean firm

ISLAMABAD: Minister of Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Thursday informed a parliamentary panel that the K-Electric management was mulling over selling shares to a South Korean company.

“The management of K-Electric invests some amount in the entity and sells shares at double the price to another investor,” Asif said while giving a briefing to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Water and Power, chaired by MNA Arshad Leghari.

According to the minister, the government had also reservations about the sale of shares by the company, earlier called Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC), back in 2005 and 2009. He argued that the company was purchasing electricity at cheaper rates and selling at higher prices to the consumers. It was consuming furnace oil after a decline in natural gas supplies, but was getting price differential from the federal government. “And if the government takes action against K-Electric, courts issue stay orders.”

Talking about water reservoirs, Asif said the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government had sent a list of 11 small dams and the centre would extend all possible support to complete these projects.

Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project Chief Executive Officer Lieutenant General (Retired) Muhammad Zubair told the committee that the 969-megawatt project could drag on if funds were not arranged immediately by the government. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.

“Funds are not available and if the situation persists, the project will not be completed on time.” It is facing a financial gap of 5 million and various avenues are being explored by the government.

“Negotiations with the Exim Bank of China are going on for reaching an agreement on additional financing and the Economic Affairs Division has requested for 0 million,” Zubair said. A delegation of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development is visiting Islamabad for the past few days for talks on million worth of financing. The amount will be spent on completion of the dam and the switch yard. According to Zubair, 68% development work on the project has been completed while 78% work on the tunnel has been done. Total cost of the project is estimated at Rs136 billion and Rs3 billion is needed every month.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2014.

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Frontmen: ‘PIOs vital for enforcement of RTI Act’

PESHAWAR: 

The role of public information officers (PIO) is imperative for successful implementation of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Right to Information (RTI) Act 2013, said K-P RTI chief information commissioner Sahibzada Muhammad Khalid.

He was addressing a two-day workshop for PIOs organised by K-P RTI Commission at the Pakistan Provincial Services Academy (PPSA) on Thursday. “We have one of the most comprehensive RTI laws in the world. It is now the people’s responsibility to exercise their rights and the PIOs to address queries within the stipulated time,” he added.

The workshop aimed to train PIOs in utilising the newly-developed web portal. It also highlighted salient features of the legislation and the role and responsibilities of these officers in its implementation.

Also speaking on the occasion, RTI commissioner Abdul Mateen said that as of December 16, 255 complaints are pending while 167 have been cleared.

RTI commissioner Professor Kalimullah said it is the duty of all PIOs to maintain a record of the applications, respond to them within 10 to 20 days, ensure proactive publications and update the official website. “Negligence could result in legal action,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2014.


Squash: Farhan Zaman crashes out in Malaysia

KARACHI: Pakistan’s lone survivor at the 3rd Royal Lake Squash Championship, Farhan Zaman, succumbed to a 3-2 semi-final defeat against Egypt’s Zahed Mohamed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Farhan, seeded fifth in the event, failed to capitalise on his good start as he led 1-0 initially.  Second seed Zahed fought back to turn the match in his favour, winning the next two games to make it 2-1. Farhan, however, refused to go down easy as he levelled the score to take the match into the decider.

Not willing to give away points, both the players took the match right down to the wire, but unfortunately for Farhan, Zahed claimed victory with the smallest of margins as his scoreline read 8-11, 11-2, 11-6, 7-11 and 9-11.

Zahed will now take on top seed Nafizwan Adnan in the final.

 

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Market watch: Index posts slight recovery

KARACHI: The index posted a recovery as news of PTI ending its country wide sit-in and the IMF releasing the loan tranche of .05 billion helped investor confidence.

At close, the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) benchmark 100-share index increased 0.52% or 160.31 points to end at 30,827.45.

Elixir Sercuities analyst Faisal Bilwani said Pakistan equities opened to a cheer. “Moreover, IMF’s final nod to the installment and rebound in oil prices helped investors regain confidence,” said Bilwani. “This also helped investor’s ignore the large foreign outflow.”

“Oils led the show while wider market closed positive with trimmed gains after mid-day institutional selling.” Bilwani added that cements bounced back on local interest while volumes were led by retail driven plays.

“We see volatile trading with foreign flows guiding market direction as any large outflow can easily spook investors. However, excitement over macros and positives from the political front would help absorb selling in index names.

JS Global analyst Muhammad Mobeen added that bulls dominated the KSE-100 Index.

“Intraday profit taking was witnessed in the market as at one point in time the index was trading 485 points in the green,” said Mobeen.

“Pakistan Petroleum Limited rallied to close up 2.1% following a discovery of hydrocarbons in exploratory well in Gambat South Block, where the company has a 65% working interest.”

Trade volumes declined to 195 million shares compared to 199 million on Wednesday.

Shares of 374 companies were traded on Thursday. Of these, 144 companies declined, 206 closed higher and 24 remained unchanged. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs10.9 billion.

K-Electric Limited was the volume leader with 15 million shares, losing Rs0.04 to close at Rs8.65. It was followed by the WorldCall Telecom with 10.2 million shares, staying constant to close at Rs1.64 and Maple Leaf Limited with 9.7 million shares, gaining Rs0.76 to close at Rs41.48.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers of Rs341 million worth of shares during the trading session, according to data compiled by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan Limited.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2014.

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Sufi Muhammad’s acquittal application dismissed

PESHAWAR: An anti-terrorism court on Wednesday dismissed an application for the acquittal of Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi chief Maulana Sufi Muhammad and his accomplices in a police station attack case.

The reserved judgment was pronounced by Judge Abdur Rauf Khan inside Central Prison Peshawar. The hearing was adjourned till January 5 next year. Moreover, the court has summoned prosecution witnesses on the next date of hearing.

The application for acquittal was submitted under Section 265-K of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Under this law, the court can acquit the accused before the trial concludes if there is a lack of evidence against him.

According to case details, on June 18, 1995, Muhammad and his accomplices held a protest outside a police station in Kabal and then allegedly attacked it.

The Kabal police registered a case against the cleric and 800 unidentified people under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code. They have been booked for attempted murder, waging or attempting to wage war against Pakistan, collecting arms with the intention to wage war against Pakistan and Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. The other case against him involves an anti-government speech he delivered in Grassy Ground, Mingora, on July 30, 2009.

Earlier, on Saturday, the anti-terrorism court reserved its judgment for December 17 on the police station attack case. Moreover, it had issued an arrest warrant for the investigation officer (IO) pursuing a case of sedition against Muhammad. The court had summoned Inspector Gul Rahim, the IO in the case, many times. However, he had not showed up in court.

A total of 12 cases have been registered against Muhammad for murder, treason, arson and sedition. However, he has been acquitted in 10 cases and only two are currently being heard.

Maulana Sufi Muhammad is the father-in-law of the chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Mullah Fazlullah. He is known for trying to impose Sharia by force in Swat and Malakand and sending volunteers to fight US forces in Afghanistan in 2001.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2014.