Zardari orders eradication of extortion at all costs
Shoaib A Raja
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday called for stringent measures to maintain law and order in Karachi, as well as eradicating extortionists at all costs.
Presiding over a special meeting convened to address the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, the president said that all those involved in or responsible for heinous crimes should be brought to book without fear or favour. He further suggested that existing cyber laws be revisited to make them responsive to the reality of electronic communication usage in modern crimes.
President Zardari directed that complaint cells be made effective and victims be provided all possible relief. He said that the safety and security of both victims and witnesses of all such cases must also be ensured, and that victims be encouraged to report cases of extortion.
Briefing media persons about the meeting’s proceedings, Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said that during the briefing the president was informed about the law and order situation in the metropolis and the measures taken so far to deal with complaints of extortion, target killing and other crimes. It was informed that in order to deal with “Bhatta” (extortion) related complaints, a Special Cell had been established in the police’s CIA branch, and that complaint centres had also been established in the offices of the home minister, FPCCI, KCCI, Additional IG Police Karachi range and office of DIGPs of zones.
The president emphasised the need to strengthen the police force, investigation teams, and information gathering systems as well as the prosecution. He advised the federal government to provide all possible support to the provincial government in dealing with the law and order situation and complaints of extortion. Later, the president also chaired two separate meetings, one on the progress of development projects – namely the construction of canals and small/medium sized dams, as well as work on the Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway, the M-9 project, and general road construction in Sindh.
Briefing the meeting on dams, Chairman WAPDA Shakeel Durrani informed the president that WAPDA had undertaken the construction of small/medium sized dams.
He said that the tenders for Phase-1 projects had been invited on an International Competitive Bidding (ICB) basis, and that the contracts for the construction of Darawat, Nai Gaj and Naulong Dams had been awarded. He informed the meeting that the construction of Darawat Dam was at full swing and the project would be substantially completed by June 2013. On Naulong in Jhal Magsi and Nai Gaj in Dadu, the chairman informed the meeting that contractors have been appointed and that work would start soon. He also revealed that the funding of these three dams, namely Darawat, Naulong and Nai Gaj, was linked with the Exim Bank of China.
President Zardari then directed Secretary EAD to sort out any and all procedural formalities with the Exim Bank for the flow of funds so that work on these dams was not hampered. The meeting was also briefed about the progress and current status of Winder and Ghabir dams.
During the third meeting, progress on the conversion of the four-lane Karachi-Hyderabad Super Highway into a six-lane Motorway, the M-9 Project, and other road projects in Sindh were duly reviewed. It was informed that for the M-9 project, the process of signing a concession agreement had been completed this January, and that the mutation/transfer of land in favour of the NHA had also been completed. The meeting was also briefed about the progress on the construction of roads in Sindh that had been damaged due to the floods.
The president declared that budgetary and financial constraints warrant the exploration of all possibilities of Public-Private Partnership in the infrastructural projects. He said that the government was encouraging direct private investment into the infrastructure of development projects. He expressed his hope that with the success of the M-9 project on BOT basis, the NHA would be able to deliver other projects on BOT/Public-Private Partnership basis to reduce the burden on PSDP resources which could then be diverted for the uplift of remote areas hitherto neglected.
Minister for Interior Rehman Malik, Governor Sindh Dr Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Home Minister Manzoor Wassan, Finance Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Interior Secretary KM Siddiq Akbar, Chief Secretary Sindh Raja Muhammad Abbas, DG Ranger Major General Rizwan Akhter and other concerned senior officers were also present during the briefing.