Saturday, September 12, 2009

Christians targeted again!

We must take note of the fact that the Christians of Punjab have been attacked for the fourth time in two months for alleged desecration of the Holy Quran. Normally the media responds to frequency of occurrence by ignoring the topic, but in this case alarm must be raised before the terrorists virtually take over our lives.

A village in sub-district Sambrial in Sialkot has experienced the torching of a local church after clerics on mosque loudspeakers accused a Christian of causing a few pages of the Quran to fall into the drain. The holy pages were carried on the street by a child in the form of a “sipara”, which fell from her hand as a Christian boy allegedly brushed past her.

A mob soon gathered, beat up the Christians of the village, and burned the church. Christians, alarmed by the possibility of a mass murder of their co-religionists, took out a protest demonstration in Sialkot but were allegedly fired upon by the police. The protest wanted to point out that the siege of the village by a fanatic mob should be lifted to save people’s lives.

The Christian community in the area is understandably perturbed and is venting its anger on the Christian ministers at the provincial and federal levels. They want them to resign after mobs burned and killed in Gojra and Bahmani Wallah near Lahore. A similar fate for the Christians of Chichawatni was avoided by citizen committees this month.

When Pakistani scholars assert that Pakistan is in the grip of extremism, they are pointing to two locations where it is gestated and spread around: the madrassa and the mosque. Alas, both places are free of activists carrying the moderate message of the state. Equally sadly, the Christian community has lost all faith in the state and is demanding repeal of the Blasphemy Law. The government has weakly conceded only “procedural changes” while admitting that the mischief lies in the Law.

5,000 Uzbek militants hiding in Waziristan

ISLAMABAD: The government informed a Senate committee on Saturday it had credible evidence that there were more than 5,000 Uzbek militants hiding in North and South Waziristan.Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), FATA Additional Chief Secretary Habibullah Khan said these militants were known to travel through Balochistan as well. He also said there was evidence that US, Israel and India were involved in nurturing the insurgency in FATA.To questions, he said Taliban warlord Mangal Bagh was still threatening people through his FM radio station in the Khyber Agency. He said Bagh had threatened khasadars to cease their duties or have their families killed, adding this had resulted in around 800 khasadars refusing to perform their duties. Referring to the senior Taliban leadership, he said both Hakimullah Mehsud and Qari Hussain were dead, denying media reports that the two Taliban leaders were still alive.Next meeting: In response, the committee expressed surprise over why the government had not taken up the issue of alleged interference in FATA with the governments of the countries concerned. It also decided to invite Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Interior Minister Rehman Malik to its next meeting for a briefing on the security situation in FATA and on the government’s plan to control militancy in the troubled areas. It also suggested a thorough reform and development package for FATA, with “time-bound” reforms, to remove the sense of deprivation among the people.FATA had been neglected and exploited by past administrations, leading to this situation, the region could become another Darfur if the government did not take timely steps to remedy the situation. The committee also suggested the government announce a compensation package for the people of FATA, saying they had rendered great sacrifices in the war against terrorism. It said extending facilities and privileges to FATA would help restore durable peace in the troubled areas and bring an end to the exploitations of the past. SAFRON Minister Najumuddin Khan said there should be an investigation into the budget utilisation for the Tribal Areas.

Wildcat oil well in pukhtunkhwa(NWFP) to start production soon

It is very rightly said that North West Frontier Province is blessed with natural resources; its north is rich in mineral, marble, forest and water resources while its southern parts have vast plains replete with plenty of oil, and gas and uranium deposits.

The latest discovery of oil and gas in the Nashpa block in Karak where second well may become operational even before Eid will enhance the daily oil production of the Karak-Kohat zone of the block by 4,000 barrels and gas production by another 20,000 million square feet (MMSCF).

An official engaged with the project said the well was nicknamed Wildcat for being located in Salkhani Forest area, is about to be completed during the current month.

He said the entire country has been divided into different zones in which Zone-1 is the high-risk zone with high investment requirements; hence the wellhead value is on high side. The gas and oil fields in NWFP are mostly in Zone-1 and 2.

The official, who wished not to be named as he is not supposed to reach media on the project, said the Nashpa Block covers 979.69 sqkm and forms the southern part of Kohat plateau. The block is located in district Mianwali and Attock of Punjab province and district Kohat, Karak and North Waziristan, he said.

He added that besides large uranium mine, the gas has also been recently discovered in Shakardara, Gurguri Makori and Nashpa banda areas.

The most recent discovery in Zone-1 is the Salkhani Wildcat well on which 4,500 meters drilling has been completed and as hoped by the project officials it may be made operational within the next two weeks.

First well in the Nashpa structure has already been functional with the daily production of 3,000 barrels oil and 10 MMSCF gas.

The official said, the second well, that is Wildcat will produce 4,000 barrels oil daily while its daily gas production may be around 20 MMSCF.

He said that after the commencement of the Wildcat the total daily production of the two wells may go up to 7,000 barrels, while their gas production will be around 30 MMSCF.

He went on to add that further study was going on in the area and after the completion of the second well drilling at the distance of one kilometre would initiated forthwith.

The official quoted the in-charge of the project and said that the well will start functioning till Eid.

The well-head wise data of the Nashpa structure shows that during the year 2008 the Chanda well (Shakardara in Kohat) produced 1,464,000 billion barrels (BBLS) oil, while its gas production remained 5,856 MMSCF, Manzali well (Karak) produced 180,072 BBLS oil and its gas production was 18,000 MMSCF and Makori well (Karak)’s oil production during the year stood at 599,874 BBLS, while its gas production was 7,096 MMSCF. The entire yearly oil and gas production of the structure remained 2,243,948 BBLS and 30,952 MMSCF respectively.

The latest discovery on one hand pleased the government circles as it will increase oil and gas production in the province, but it saddened the locals on the other as they said they were not being afforded their constitutional rights and facilities in return for the oil and gas being extracted from the area.

Hajat Shah, social worker, councilor Isam Gul, Malik Fazal Rahim, Subedar Major (Retd) Nadir Khan, Malik Aziz Khan, Farid Khan and other residents of Speena Banda, Alwargi, Shaheedan and Nashpa Banda, the catchment areas of the well, while talking to The News, raised a number and objections and grievances with regard to the project and said that from the very beginning they were denied their rights.

The said their land was acquisitioned for the project on lesser lease prices than other wells in the project. Similarly, their requirements were squarely ignored by the official they at the concernment of the project. They, however, added that talks for the lease of land on appropriate price readjustment were still underway.

Hajat Shah also referred to the Article 158 that reads “Priority of requirements of natural gas the province in which a wellhead of natural gas is situated shall have precedence over other parts of Pakistan in meeting the requirements from the wellhead, subject to the commitments and obligation as on the commencing day.|”

The locals said as per the obligations and commitments reached before the commencement of the well the authorities will have to provide gas to the localities falling in the five kilometre radius of the well free but so far they did not get any intimation in this regard.

About other facilities as pledged by the project authorities they said no hospital was built in the areas to treat those affected by the radiation from the well and no school and drinking water facility has been provided to them.

They also sought relevant technical training, skill optimising and employment opportunities enabling them to run the project in the future.