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China offers to build Diamer-Bhasha Dam

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Pakistan’s ally China has offered to build the Diamer-Bhasha Dam after World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) refuses.

Pakistan’s state-run power utility conveyed this information to a committee of National Assembly on Monday.

Country’s National Assembly told news agency Reuters “Pakistan expects China to fund [the project]”

Diamer-Bhasha Dam Location

Diamer-Bhasha Dam location – © Wikipedia

The chairman of the state-run utility Muzamil Hussain said that because there were currently no mega hydropower projects included in the great China-Pakistan Economical Corridor (CPEC) so serious discussions regarding the Diamer-Bhasua Dam were in fact taking place.

Premier Nawaz Sharif approved the financing plan of the mega project last December and told his Water and Power secretary to begin preparations to start work on the damn before the end of 2017.

Diamer-Bhasha Dam location © Nihao-Salam

Previously, both the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) refused to fund the project because of Indian government cries over the location of the project, which is in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. India claims the region to be a part of Kashmir.

The project’s estimated cost is said to be around $14 billion and when completed, it will provide over 4500 megawatt of power. The project was announced in 2006 and the foundation stone was laid in 2011. Apart from producing electricity, the project is expected to regulate the flow of water to farmlands that are vulnerable to erratic weather patterns.

The project may start before the end of this year.

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Politics

US Conveys A Way Out Of The Aid Blockade

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The United States has laid down a forthright criteria that it reiterates Pakistan must clear to qualify for US aid programs.

“Our expectations are straightforward,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning told reporters.

“Taliban and Haqqani leadership and attack planners should no longer be able to find safe haven or conduct operations from Pakistani soil.”

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Only last week, followed by a rather delirious tweet from President Trump, US froze over $900 million worth of ‘Coalition Support Funds,’ the coalition funding is set aside to refund Pakistani spending on counter-terrorism operations, on account of Pakistan’s intentionally not “doing enough” to target Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network.

The United States has also suspended the transfer of $1 billion worth of US military equipment that has always allowed Pakistan to acquaint itself with the latest advanced military technology.

“The United States has conveyed to Pakistan specific and concrete steps that it could take,” Manning said.

“We stand ready to work with Pakistan to combat terrorist groups without distinction. We will continue these conversations with the Pakistani government in private.”

According to Pakistani Newspaper DAWNPentagon officials are waiting to see if Pakistan is going to retaliate against the US by cutting supply lines to US troops from its port at Karachi into Afghanistan. So far, Manning said, there was no sign Islamabad was preparing to take that course of action. He stressed that the suspension of funding was not permanent “at this time” and that the money was not being diverted elsewhere.

Here’s what CIA’s Director had to say about Pakistan:

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The Cupid Strikes Imran Khan Once Again

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Are there going to be any wedding bells before the general elections?

Reports claim that chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf Imran Khan is getting married again.

Imran Khan and Bushra Maneka. PHOTO: FILE

Imran Khan and Bushra Maneka. PHOTO: FILE

PTI issues an official statement

After much pressure, PTI broke the ice by tweeting that their chairman hasn’t gotten married yet but had surely sent the marriage proposal to a very respectable and private lady named Bushra Maneka, a 50 years old Pir (spiritual guide), whom Imran Khan often visited for faith healing. As the marriage proposal hasn’t been accepted yet, it would be wrong to make assumptions just yet.

Chairman Secretariat, following the code of ethics, has also requested media and other parties to avoid any kind of exasperating comments and to respect the privacy of related persons in the meantime.

PTI’s official Twitter account issued a statement on 7th January, in which it was humbly requested not to take the news into the limelight until Imran Khan announces this news officially as it is a sensitive matter. Furthermore, the statement also declared the publishing of such a sensitive matter “unfortunate” and “regrettable.” 

Statement issued on PTI's official Twitter account

Statement issued on PTI’s official Twitter account

PTI leaders not happy

Umar Cheema, the man who first published the news of Imran Khan’s marriage, also published some absurd and highly unaccountable news stating that Mr. Khan had secretly married on January 1. Several other reports even claimed that the couple had tied the knot in Lahore and that the Nikkah ceremony was performed by Mufti Saeed, a prominent member of the PTI.

PTI, on the other hand, strictly calls for a halt to all the baseless news and articles that are going viral on social media and television. The second largest political party, moreover, went on to call the news as “propagated by Jang Group,” and even threatened to take “legal action” against Geo News and its CEO Mir Shakeel ur Rehman.

PTI leaders Shireen Mazari and Awn Chaudhry also rejected the news stating that it is ridiculous to spread such irrational stories without any proof. Shireen Mazari took upon Twitter to her feelings:

Who is Bushra Maneka?

Bushra Maneka

 According to Express News, she is around 50 years old and belongs to the influential Wattoo clan from Punjab’s Pakpattan district. She is known as Ms. Pinki in the area and is an spiritual guide.

The report says that Imran Khan first met Bushra, shortly before the 2015 by-election in Lodhran for the NA-154 seat. She has recently divorced her former husband Khawar Farid Maneka, a customs officer and son of former federal minister Ghulam Farid Maneka. Bushra is a mother of five; two sons and three daughters

While Bushra Manika takes her time regarding the wedding proposal of chairman PTI, it is our duty and responsibility to let her take her time and to decide in peace.

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Maharashtra Shutdown: A Clash 200 Years in Making

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One of India’s largest states is burning. Over 16 FIRs were registered and over 300 people detained in Mumbai only on Thursday, furthermore, the strikes, as of 4th January, have spread to over 18 cities.

Clashes broke out between Brahmins and Dalit activists in some districts of Maharashtra during the bandh called by Dalit parties on Wednesday to protest against the violence during the bicentenary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle on Monday.

To understand why the two groups (Dalit and Brahmins) are clashing, one needs to go back exactly 200 years to the Battle of Koregaon.

The Battle of Koregaon and its significance

200 years ago, on 1 January 1818, a fierce battle between the British East India Company (EIC) and the Peshwa (Brahmins) fiction of the Maratha Confederacy was fought at Koregaon, on the banks of Bhima river.

Peshwa Raja Baji Rao II, who was earlier defeated near Pune, was relentlessly pursued by the company forces. He eventually turned towards Pune and, on his way, ran into a 800-strong British EIC force. The Peshwa sent around 2,000 soldiers to attack the company force, led by Captain Francis Staunton. The company troops fought Peshwa’s army the whole day, forcing them to retreat and eventual defeat.

The Battle of Koregaon has come to be seen as a symbol of Dalit pride because they formed much of the company force after siding with the British (Economic Times). The Dalits occupy the lowest place in the Hindu caste system and have been victims of generations of exclusion and extreme poverty. The Peshwas, made up from the higher Brahmin caste, were seen as oppressors of Dalits — so the victory is seen as a moment of Dalit self-assertion.

A pyramid diagram showing the Hindu Caste System. Dalits are considered to be Untouchables

 

Aftermath

The Maharashtra government has sent a report to the MHA, apprising it of the sequence of events that led to the protests.

“The Home Ministry and the Maharashtra government are in constant touch over the situation in the State. The Ministry has also received a factual report from the State government on the prevailing situation,” an MHA spokesperson said.

In its report, the State government is learnt to have linked Left wing extremists to the January 1 violence at Koregaon Bhima in the Pune district, where thousands of Mahars (a part of the larger Dalit community) congregated to commemorate the British victory 200 years ago. A senior Home Ministry official said the information was provided by the State government and the MHA had not made any independent assessment.

On Thursday, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, while alleging that the Maharashtra incident was part of a design to target India, said in a tweet, “Please remember, Brahmin, Maratha, Rajput, Gujjar, Dalits or backwards [Backward Classes] are not on target. Caste would change with the place as India is on target.”

When asked about alleged Maoist links to the incident, Mr. Rijiju said, “I am not aware.”

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