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Burden of loans: Pak cuts CPEC investment by $2 billion

Press Trust of India





Islamabad, Oct 2: Pakistan has slashed the Chinese investment in railways by USD 2 billion citing a huge burden of loans, giving credence to reports that the new government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan may scrutinise the multi-billion dollar CPEC, a media report said Tuesday.

Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad said that the share of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the railways has been reduced from USD 8.2 billion to USD 6.2 billion.

“Pakistan is a poor country that cannot afford huge burden of the loans,” Rasheed told reporters in Lahore.


“Therefore, we have reduced the loan from China under the CPEC for rail projects from USD 8.2 billion to USD 6.2 billion. The CPEC is like the backbone for Pakistan, but our eyes and ears are open,” he said.

The announcement gives credence to reports that the new government led by Khan intends to scrutinise the USD 62 billion infrastructure and power projects, which the PML-N government had initiated under the CPEC.

The Express Tribune reported that CPEC’s investment share for Pakistan Railways was USD 8.2 billion, which was to be utilised for upgrading Main Line-1 (ML-1) a colonial-era line stretching 1,872 km from Karachi to Peshawar.

Previous railways minister SaadRafique had termed the upgrading of ML-1 as vital for railways future as it would bring as many as 171 trains on track per day against the current 32.

Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, however, said that the CPEC share has been reduced to USD 6.2 billion.

“Pakistan is a poor country that cannot afford huge burden of the loans,” Rasheed told a news conference in Lahore.

“Therefore, we have reduced the loan from China under the CPEC for rail projects from USD 8.2 billion to USD 6.2 billion. The CPEC is like the backbone for Pakistan, but our eyes and ears are open,” he said.

Rasheed said the government remains committed to the Karachi-Peshawar project but he wishes to further reduce the cost to USD 4.2 billion from USD 6.2 billion.

Rasheed said he is the biggest supporter of the CPEC, but also wants minimum debt burden on railways as the nation has to pay back all the investments.

He, however, was unable to explain, which projects the management has skipped to bring down the investment.

The changes are part of Islamabad’s efforts to rethink the key Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in Pakistan, where Beijing has pledged about USD 62 billion in financing but the new PTI government is more cautious about the Chinese investment.

The government has pushed for deeply concessional loans for the ML-1 project. It has also invited third countries to join or for the Chinese to be investors in the project through the build-operate-transfer model that would rely less on debt.

The US has criticised the BRI projects, warning that the loans could turn into debt traps for poor countries unable to pay them back. Beijing denies the claims, saying the loans are a win-win situation for both the countries.



Convoy movement by road in JK to continue: MHA

Press Trust of India



New Delhi, Feb 17: Movement of paramilitary convoys by road for logistical and operational reasons will continue in Jammu and Kashmir as it is “necessary”, the Home Ministry said Sunday, even though it has increased air support to carry troops to the state.

The statement came after 49 CRPF personnel were killed and five injured on Thursday when a Jaish suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus, part of a 78 vehicle convoy, in the state’s Pulwama district.

In the wake of reports suggesting that the central government has rejected a proposal to ferry personnel of paramilitary forces from the Jammu-Srinagar sector by chopper, the ministry said it has significantly enhanced air courier services in all sectors to cut travel time of troops.


“Movement of convoys by road for logistical and operational reasons has been and will continue to be necessary. This is also the case with the army,” the Home Ministry said.

Reports appeared in a section of the media that air transit facility in the Jammu- Srinagar sector for CRPF troops has not been allowed. This is “untrue”, it said.

“Fact of the matter is, over the last few years, the MHA has significantly enhanced air courier services for CAPFs in all sectors to help troopers cut down on travel time during their journey to and back from home on leave,” it said.

In the Jammu and Kashmir sector, air courier service for transportation of personnel of Central Armed Paramilitary Forces (CAPFs) are already in operation for quite some time.

This initially included the Jammu-Srinagar-Jammu sector. Later, at the request of CAPFs in December 2017, the services were extended to the Delhi-Jammu- Srinagar-Jammu-Delhi sector with seven flights a week.

In December 2018, the ministry had approved enhancement of air support by increasing routes and in the Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar-Jammu-Delhi sector, four flights in a week were added to the Srinagar-Jammu-Srinagar sector. “In addition, air support is provided by the Indian Air Force as and when required. Several sorties were run for the CRPF in January 2019,” the ministry said.

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For ‘celebrating’ Pulwama attack: Sedition charges against 4 female students

Press Trust of India



New Delhi, Feb 17: Four female paramedical students have been slapped with sedition charges after being suspended from a private institute here for allegedly celebrating the Pulwama attack by posting “anti-national” messages on an instant messaging app, officials said Sunday.

The second-year students of the National Institute of Medical Science (NIMS), Talveen Manzoor, Iqra, Zohra Nazir and Uzma Nazir, were suspended for posting on WhatsApp a picture in which they were purportedly seen celebrating the attack in Kashmir that claimed the lives of 49 CRPF personnel.

The picture soon went viral, prompting the university administration to take action.


In the suspension order, the NIMS registrar said, “You have posted an anti-national message on your WhatsApp for celebrating killing of Pulwama attack martyrs. The university will not tolerate and strictly condemns such activities. The act is grave and serious in nature.”

Later, a case was registered against the four students following a complaint by the university administration, a police official said.

The students were booked under IPC sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity) and relevant provisions of the Information Technology (IT) Act. Senior officials are investigating the matter and appropriate action will be taken thereafter, SP (Rural) Harendra Kumar said.

The Aligarh Muslim University has also suspended an undergraduate Kashmiri student for his alleged objectionable tweet in connection with the Pulwama attack.

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PM on Lethpora attack: ‘Fire in my heart too’




New Delhi, Feb 17: The demand for retaliatory action following the suicide attack in Lethpora grew on Sunday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Bihar to inaugurate some central projects.

As NDA ally Nitish Kumar called for appropriate response, ally Ram Vilas Paswan said India should take “revenge” for “every drop of blood shed in Pulwama”.

The Prime Minister said he shared the nation’s outrage.


“To the people who have gathered here, I would like to say the fire that is raging in your bosoms is in my heart too,” he said.
Forty nine personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force died on Thursday as a suicide bomber of Jaish rammed a car, filled with explosives, into a 78-vehicle convoy.

The resulting explosion had ripped apart one bus and hit another, spreading metal debris and human remains over a 100-metre radius on the national highway.

There have been repeated demands for appropriate action from the shocked nation.

Slain Rajouri CRPF man: Guv announces ex-gratia of Rs 20 lakh

Jammu Feb 17: Governor Satya Pal Malik has announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 20 lakh to the next of the kin of CRPF Head Constable, Naseer Ahmed of district Rajouri.
Naseer Ahmad was one of the 49 CRPF troopers killed when a CRPF convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber.
The Governor prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul and expressed sympathy and solidarity with his family members.

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