Tag Archives: Motorway

No Motorway wide enough

The Army is in Islamabad, surrounding all significant government buildings. The Punjab chief minister’s house in Lahore has been secured by the troops. War anthems play on television. Politicians embarrassingly try to outdo one another in tireless sycophancy to the ‘Chief’. Remind me again, what is a ‘coup’?

All of this has happened before; however this time there is one major difference. The elected government has ‘requested’ the Army to come take over Islamabad. Article 245 of the Constitution is being invoked in Islamabad. The Army is to take over Islamabad. Yes, one can phrase it in any way one likes, called to ‘assist’, ‘support’, etc. The Punjab chief minister sometime back ‘requested’ the Corps Commander Lahore for military security to be provided to the chief minister’s residence.

All of this is for what? Is it for the ‘feeble threat’, ‘storm in a teacup’ of His holiness Dr Qadri and Mr Imran Khan? Mian Nawaz Sharif persists with the habit of creating disasters, pretending to ignore them and finally simply grossly overreacting; a habit which has cost him very dearly in the past. The motives of Dr Qadri are not questionable, they are unquestioningly anti-democratic and his methods unscrupulous. Mr Khan does not know what he wants, except for trouble, and all around, and yes, at some stage in life to be prime minister. However, Mian Sahib’s response to this, like his response to almost everything is curious; oscillating between denial and panic. Invoking Article 245 is indeed panic-inducing and dangerous. To deny that this is in response to the potential havoc likely to be wreaked by Qadri, Khan and other assorted mischief makers is disingenuous and not convincing. The motives and the antics of the marchers are admittedly unpleasant. However, it comes with the job, prime minister. Mian Sahib, leaders do need stronger nerves than supervising motorways and flyovers, tasks which most contractors are able to accomplish quite adequately.

It is not only the lack of nerve which is disconcerting. It is the fundamental confusion that surrounds Mian Sahib’s policy. Mian Nawaz Sharif came into government with the visible intent of setting the civilian-military balance right, and that was exactly the right thing to do. However, in less than a year, there has been descent into utter confusion and contradiction. The PML-N government maintains that the trial of the Commando is ‘nothing personal’, and it is about holding a usurper to account. Central to Musharraf’s trial is the question of civil-military imbalance and proceeding with it displays the determination to rectify it. It would have been grounds for some minor celebration and the triumph of democratic ideals; had it been part of any broader trend so as to make us believe that the Commando’s trial is indeed ‘just business’. Alas, it is not. Firebrand members of the Cabinet look to storm the Bastille and triumphantly fly the flag of civilian supremacy one day, only to eat their words and mumble excuses the next.

This government is strong enough to try a former army chief/dictator, yet weak enough not to handle political acrobatics in Islamabad? Mian Sahib’s model of opposition was to do nothing really. While, Mian Shabaz Sharif sat in tent offices in Lahore and lead protests against oppressive Islamabad. Since after all the power crisis was simply caused by the inefficiency of the previous federal government, right? The real opposition was being done by the Supreme Court and the Media. Well, now the villains are gone, and Mian Sahib has to finally do something, anything, do not hold your breath though.

Suspension of fundamental rights, military courts and troops on the roads of Islamabad, Mian Sahib has watched this movie, and perhaps will remember the ending with no fondness. The Protection of Pakistan Act was a sign of the government’s plan of dealing with problems, essentially to allow excess force to be used by the civil law enforcement and military and that will make militancy go away. Now, the same model is applied to political problems.

The military offensive in North Waziristan was the opportunity to set the civil-military balance on the right course. Mian Sahib was required to take ownership of the offensive, give out policy, rather than read the ISPR press release in Parliament, when clearly his heart and soul were not in it.

The businessman in Mian Sahib dominates. The businessman looks at finished products, marketing and visible deliverables, the glossy and the glamorous. A flyover is visible in a way that meaningful legislation is not. The Model Town debacle did not lead to any policy or legislative discussion on police and administrative reforms. The Waziristan operation is accompanied by no debate on amending the FCR. The wind out of Mr Khan’s sails could have been taken out somewhat by having an expedited and meaningful public debate on reforming the electoral process (which does not mean that Mr Khan would have stopped agitation and protests, he has the remarkable ability to find something to protest about; it just would have been less effective). No overhead bridge can fix Balochistan, engagement and policy reform just might.

Mian Sahib is ceding more space to the military by invoking Article 245 and the Protection of Pakistan Act than he is regaining for democracy by the Commando’s trial (the Commando certainly needs to be tried in any event). Mian Sahib displays weakness by trying to sit out the war, while certainly gaining piety points for sitting it out in Saudi Arabia. Mian Sahib is trying to buy survival at the price of weakening democratic institutions and the progress of the past few years. Dr Qadri and Mr Khan have less than innocent intentions, yet, the fight has to be fought politically. Unfortunately, Mian Sahib has forgotten how to do this, certainly, without the support of a belligerent media and a hostile judiciary. The Army is a fickle ally (nobody knows it better then Mian Nawaz Sharif), if it is an ally to Mian Sahib at all at this point.

Pick yourself up, Mian Sahib. The fight has just started. The legitimacy of your government and mandate is not the issue. Your willingness to defend it is, so Mr Prime Minister get to it, fight the fight politically, having faith in yourself and your government. In any case, Mian Sahib, if your approach does not change there is no motorway wide enough to make get your government out of this.

Tailpiece: The June 19 Judgment of the Supreme Court by My Lord the former Chief Justice Tassaduq Jillani on the rights of minorities is what deserves the government’s attention; an excellent judgment by an excellent judge. The recommendations in that judgment are what good policy advice looks like and one dearly hopes that the government listens and implements it.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2014.

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Huge cache of arms, ammunition recovered from vehicle on Lahore-Islamabad motorway

RAWALPINDI: A huge amount of arms and ammunition were recovered from a vehicle on the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway near Chakri Interchange, Express News reported on Wednesday.

The law enforcement agencies stopped a vehicle on the motorway and seized 200 pistols, 19 Kalashnikovs and 23 other guns from it.

Around 48,000 bullets and 45 night visions telescopes were also recovered.

Two suspects, Noor Zaman and Israr, were also taken into custody and shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation.


Road safety: Motorway police to check unfit vehicles

National Highways and Motorway Police (NHMP) will launch a campaign against mechanically-unfit vehicles, said a press release issued on Thursday.

NHMP Inspector General Zulfiqar Ahmad Cheema said unfit vehicles will be banned from motorways and highways as mechanical faults often results in fatal accidents.

Cheema directed the police to check passenger-overloading, particularly during Ramazan and on Eid holidays.

“Accident analysis of the last six months shows that drowsiness, brake failure and tyre bursting are the major causes of accidents on highways and motorways.”

Zonal commanders attended the operational meeting, while officers from remote formations joined the meeting through video link.

The IG directed zonal commanders to take preemptive measures and sensitise road users through awareness campaigns.

Separately, NHMP has banned another 50 vehicles including seven buses, 12 wagons, four coasters and 27 trucks from entering motorways for 15 days. These vehicles had violated speed limit or lane discipline on five or more occasions.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2014.


Development schemes: Rs45b allocated for Malir Motorway

KARACHI: 

A high-level meeting was held at the Governor House on Thursday to persuade Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to allocate more money for development schemes in Karachi.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, Corps Commander Sajjad Ghani and provincial chief secretary Sajjad Saleem Hotiana were among the officials who attended the meeting.

Some of the projects for which funding was sought include K-4, SIII, Karachi circular railway and Malir Expressway, which has now been renamed Malir Motorway. This motorway starts from DHA and links up with the Super Highway via Quaidabad and Port Qasim Authority.

“A total of Rs45 billion will be spent on this project which will be built in different phases. But cantonment areas falling along the motorway are an impediment to the development process,” said the chief minister.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2014.


ECNEC approves construction of 387 km leg of Karachi-Lahore motorway

ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of National Economic Council on Thursday approved a dozen development schemes worth Rs428 billion including projects related to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and raising of Balochistan Constibulary.

Under the chair of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the ECNEC also approved the construction of Karachi-Multan-Lahore Motorway (KLM) Project’s Sukkur-Multan leg. The approval came just days before a Pakistani delegation is set to leave for China to discuss financing issues of infrastructure and energy sector projects that will be completed under the economic corridor project.

The 387 kilometer long Sukkur-Multan project will be completed at a cost of Rs259.4 billion. 90% of the project cost will be funded by China, according to a handout issued by Ministry of Finance after the ECNEC meeting. The remaining cost of the project will come from PSDP.

The project is expected to be completed by October 2017 and will be executed by National Highway Authority. The project envisages construction of 387 km long, six lanes, Sukkur-Multan section and is part of 1,148 km Karachi-Lahore Motorway.

The body also approved land acquisition, affected properties compensation and relocation of utilities for construction of the Motorway. This will cost Rs51 billion.

With the approval of the land acquisition and construction of a section of the Karachi-Lahore motorway, the issue of Pak-China corridor route has been settled. In order to address security concerns on the old western route through Balochistan, the government has opted for the new Eastern route despite protestations from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Balochistan parliamentarians.

The old route was along the western lines of the country but passes through some restive areas. Pakistan and China have agreed to construct the economic corridor that will give access to western parts of China to Gwadar port for international trade and secure energy supplies for the future.

Balochistan projects

The ECNEC approved a project for raising the Balochistan Constabulary at a cost of Rs5.2 billion. The project is aimed at assisting police and district administration in maintaining law and order in the crisis hit province.

The project will see a 10,000 strong Balochistan Constabulary for which 6,000 personnel will be recruited. 4,000 reserve police personnel will be merged into this force to raise it to 10,000 members.

The constabulary will also be responsible for ensuring security along the economic corridor.

Gwadar free trade zone 

The body also approved acquisition of land for establishment of Free Trade Zone in Gwadar at a cost of Rs6.5 billion.

The project aims to acquire 2,281 acres of land for establishing a free trade zone at Gwadar Port. 1,627 acres of the required land would be acquired from private land owners.

The meeting also approved the widening and improvement of the 250 km long Kalat-Quetta-Chaman Road section of National Highway N-25 with a revised cost of Rs19.2billion.

Other projects

At a cost of Rs30.5 billion the ECNEC cleared the Hasanabdal (Burhan)-Havelian Expressway.

A project for flood emergency reconstruction of bunds and canals was approved at a cost of Rs26.9 billion. Almost Rs19.2 million of the funds would acquired from foreign loan.

The body also approved a project for evacuation of power from Wind Power Plants at Jhimpir and Gharo Wind Clusters located in district Thatta and Jamshoro in Sindh with a modified cost of Rs11.3 billion.

Rs4.9 billion, in principle, was also approved for Prime Minister’s programme for provision of laptops. The program aims at distributing 100,000 laptops amongst students studying in any public sector higher education institute across the country.

The ECNEC approved rehabilitation and up-gradation of Trimmu Barrage and Panjnad Headwork’s with a rationalised cost of Rs16.8 billion including Rs14.9 billion loan by Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The meeting also approved dualisation and improvement of 64 km long Mandra-Chakwal Raod project at a revised cost of Rs4.7 billion. The project was originally cleared by former Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf but became controversial afterwards.


Stern punishment: Habitual violators banned from motorway

The National Highways and Motorway Police (NHMP) have banned the entry of eight buses, 34 wagons, five coasters and three trailers on the motorways for 15 days for violating speed limits or lane discipline on five or more occasions.

A press release issued here on Wednesday said the NHMP have started computerising records of all vehicles and traffic rule violations for better implementation of the rules.

After a number of public awareness drives, NHMP has announced to take strict action against violations of rules such as seat-belt, speed limit, and lane discipline. It has particularly warned drivers of public service vehicles.

Earlier, NHMP warned it would suspend driving licenses for six months for three violations of speed limits.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2014.


Assist them: ‘Help with Karachi-Lahore Motorway construction’

KARACHI: 

The Sindh chief secretary, Sajjad Saleem Hotiana, has advised the Board of Revenue and the Works and Services Department to extend their full cooperation to the National Highway Authority (NHA) during the construction of the Karachi-Lahore Motorway by the federal government.

The motorway is being constructed to provide an international standard road network between the two megacities.

Hotiana expressed these views while presiding over a meeting on Tuesday in his office, which was attended by the National Database and Registration Authority chairperson Shahid Tarrar, Board of Revenue senior member Malik Asrar Hussain, planning and development additional chief secretary Muhammad Waseem, among others. The total length of the Karachi-Lahore Motorway will be 1,147km. The NHA chairperson said the preliminary proceedings for the motorway’s construction will be completed in the first week of July. 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2014.