Seraiki Province To Emerge Soon:
Prime Minister Gilani
Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said that his government was determined to set up a new province in the Seraiki belt.
"People are seeking their rights and it is my promise to them that a Seraiki province will soon emerge and the people of the area will soon get their own province and the assembly," the Prime Minister said while addressing a public meeting at Khanpur Maral.
He said that although some people in the opposition termed the issue of Seraiki province an election stunt of the PPP, but, he added, his party was sincere in its promise to set up new province.
"They (opposition) should suggest ways which should be used for creation of the Seraiki province. They should say whether they want the new province to be created through the ballot or through a protest movement." He asked the opposition to tell the people what course should be taken.
Cash Grants In Lieu Of
Power Subsidy Likely
The government is considering to follow the Iranian model of restricting fuel and energy subsidies under which market prices are recovered from consumers who are then compensated through a cash grant.
Under its economic reform plan, Iran recently replaced fuel and food subsidies with the cash transfer programme that was praised by most of its critics, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank whose largest shareholder, the US, maintains an aggressive posture towards it.
According to a news report published in an English daily Iran had adopted the cost-recovery approach under its reform plan last year, done away with subsidies on fuel and introduced the cash transfer programme to make policy changes feasible.
In the first year of implementation – that was delayed for a couple of months – Iran is reported to have saved over $6 billion, which is more than the reported Rs500 billion loss Pakistan's public sector corporations suffer every year.
Pakistan set a target of providing Rs50 billion subsidy to power sector consumers in the current year's budget, but the amount is now estimated to increase to Rs350 billion, owing to delay in implementation of a cabinet decision to pass on power tariff increases to consumers as the gap between sale price and cost of supply widened to about Rs2 per unit in the absence of any success in the loss-reduction programme.
The official said the Iranian government had complemented its subsidy withdrawal programme with a significant programme of public education and communication, explaining the changes and how people could gain from cash transfers.
Iran Sentences US Citizen To Death
An American ex-Marine, who also holds Iranian citizenship, sentenced to death by an Iran judge for spying for the CIA.
Amir Mirzai Hekmati, 28, was "sentenced to death for cooperating with a hostile nation, membership of the CIA and trying to implicate Iran in terrorism," the verdict said.
Hekmati, who was born in the United States to an Iranian immigrant family, was shown on Iranian state television saying in fluent Farsi and English that he was a Central Intelligence Agency operative sent to infiltrate the Iranian intelligence ministry. He had been arrested months earlier.
Iranian officials said his cover was blown by agents for Iran who spotted him at the US-run Bagram military air base in neighbouring Afghanistan.
But Hekmati's family in the United States told US media he had travelled to Iran to visit his Iranian grandmother and he was not a spy.
In his sole trial hearing, prosecutors relied on Hekmati's "confession" to say he tried to penetrate the intelligence ministry by posing as a disaffected former US soldier with classified information to give. The US has demanded Hekmati's release.
The State Department said Iran has not permitted diplomats from the Swiss embassy - which handles US interests in the absence of US-Iran ties – to see Hekmati before or during his trial.
Bill Gates Contacts Arfa's Father
Chairman of Microsoft, billionaire Bill Gates has made contact with the parents of the world's youngest Microsoft Certified Professional Arfa Karim for her treatment.
According to Arfa's father, Amjab Karim Randhawa, Bill Gates telephoned him and expressed his wish about Arfa's treatment in the US.
Gates has also directed his doctors to adopt every kind of measure for the treatment of the young genius Microsoft professional.
Gates' doctors contacted Arfa's Pakistani doctors and received details about the illness through the internet.
Meanwhile, Pakistani doctors are of the view that Arfa is on ventilator, therefore, it will be hard to shift her to any other hospital.
Musharraf To Return By
End Of This Month
All Pakistan Muslim League chief General (retd) Pervez Musharraf announced that he will be returning to the country any day between January 27 and January 30, ending his almost four-year-long self-imposed exile in London.
Musharraf made this statement while addressing a public gathering at Quaid-i-Azam's mausoleum through a video link from Dubai.
He said in his video address that Karachi was dear to him and that he was coming back to the country for the sake of the people since he knew how to bring the country back on the track of development and prosperity.
To Be Arrested'
Sindh Home Minister, Manzoor Hussain Wassan said former President Pervez Musharraf would be arrested upon his arrival.
Wassan added that no one was above the law and Musharraf would be sent to the Landhi jail where arrangements had been made.
Rupee Under Huge Pressure
The Pakistani rupee is under tremendous pressure because of the government's lack of attention, pressure on foreign payments, more imports than exports and an alarming reduction in foreign investment.
The value of the rupee against dollar has come down further by Rs0.45 and the dollar attained its highest level against rupee at 91.10 and 91.30.
Market sources said that the importers faced difficulties in the opening of LCs in the inter bank.
The forward booking rate had touched Rs93.55 because of the non-issuance of dollars by the banks.
Currency dealers are also of the view that the value of the rupee is gradually coming down because the government has to make foreign payments of $2.2 billion by June, while foreign investment is at its lowest in the last three decades and has reduced to $100 million.
Experts are also of the view that the government is deliberately reducing the value of the rupee to minimise the trade deficit. No doubt it helps reduce the trade deficit but inflation will also rise with the reduction in the rupee value and increasing poverty in the country.