Saudi-funded office block inaugurated in quake-hit Rawalakot city

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The complex includes the offices of district government with 25 blocks and was inaugurated on Monday April 22, 2019 - (Photo Courtesy - Saudi Embassy))
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The complex includes the offices of district government with 25 blocks and was inaugurated on Monday April 22, 2019 - (Photo Courtesy - Pakistan’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority)
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A high-level delegation from Saudi Fund for Development were present at the inauguration ceremony of District Complex Rawalakot on April 23, 2019 (Photo Courtesy - Pakistan’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority)
Updated 23 April 2019

Saudi-funded office block inaugurated in quake-hit Rawalakot city

  • Complex opened in Rawalakot on Monday, has 25 blocks for district government offices
  • Saudi Arabia major partner in reconstruction efforts since devastating October 2005 quake in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) and the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) completed a complex to house government offices in Rawalakot city in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a spokesperson for ERRA said on Tuesday.
Rawalakot was among the areas hit by a devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake on Oct. 8, 2005, which wrought widespread death and destruction in Kashmir and parts of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.
The death toll from the 2005 quake was more than 75,000 while tens and thousands of buildings, including schools, hospitals, and other state infrastructure, were damaged.
The Saudi-funded complex, inaugurated on Monday, has 25 blocks and will house district government offices, the ERRA official said.
“Government and people of Pakistan highly value the timely contribution of our brotherly country to alleviate miseries of earthquake affected Pakistani people,” the Acting Deputy Chairman of ERRA, Brig Muhammad Latif, said in a statement.
A high-level delegation from SFD, ERRA, officials from the Economic Affair Division, and the Azad Kashmir government were present at the inauguration ceremony of the complex.
“It was the professional commitment and dedication of Adviser Engineer Abdullah M. Al-Shoaibi, Yasir Al Bakri Project Manager Engineer SFD, and Faisal Al Yahya, engineer operation department SFD, that led to the successful completion of the projects,” Latif said.
Saudi Arabia has been an active partner of ERRA in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of earthquake affected areas after October 2005.
“SFD provided a grant of US $160 Million for the construction of educational and health facilities in Kashmir and KP, while at present out of 6 mega projects, 5 mega projects have been successfully completed in governance and education sectors in Kashmir,” ERRA said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia is also funding the King Abdullah University in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which is currently under construction and slated to be completed by June 2019, according to Latif.
ERRA’s acting deputy chairman thanked the guests, including the Deputy Head of Mission Habeeb Ullah Al Bokhari, for their support.
According to a UN Financial Tracking Service report released in October last year, Saudi Arabia is ranked fourth among the world’s major donors of humanitarian aid.
In Pakistan itself, the Kingdom has provided assistance amounting to $107.3 million, used in the implementation of 85 projects for displaced people affected by floods and earthquakes between 2005 and 2018, the report said.
In April 2018, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki inaugurated the King Abdullah Teaching Hospital in Mansehra, another earthquake-hit district of KP province.


Government hopeful to avert opposition protest through dialogue

Updated 24 min 18 sec ago

Government hopeful to avert opposition protest through dialogue

  • Says it’s opposition’s right to protest, but the government won’t allow anyone to create chaos
  • Analysts maintain the JUI-F chief has acquired political relevance by mounting pressure on the government

ISLAMABAD: The government has started contacting opposition parties to dissuade them from launching a mass protest in the federal capital, said defense minister Pervez Khattak on Thursday.
“We have started negotiating with all opposition parties and hopefully [the effort] will yield positive results in the next couple of days,” he said in an informal chat with journalists in Islamabad.
The prime minister on Wednesday announced to form a committee led by Khattak to hold talks with the opposition factions, especially the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) that has announced to start its “Azadi March” on October 27 and enter the federal capital on October 31 to dislodge the government.
JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has been struggling to start an agitation against the government since the general elections in July last year wherein his party only managed to clinch a dozen seats in the National Assembly.
He has now received political support from other major opposition groups – the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) – who accuse the government of deteriorating the country’s economy and victimizing opposition politicians by slamming them in jails on corruption charges.
“Pakistan is a democratic country and we want to resolve all issues of the opposition through dialogue,” the defense minister said, though he also warned the opposition parties against creating an environment of chaos and turmoil in the country.
“It is their [opposition’s] democratic right to protest, but if the opposition only wants to spread anarchy in the garb of agitation we won’t allow it,” Khattak added.
Meanwhile, the JUI-F has ruled out the possibility of talks with the government until the prime minister resigns from his position. “This is an illegitimate government, a product of rigged elections and we may talk to them only after the prime minister resigns,” Hafiz Hamdullah, senior JUI-F leader, told Arab News.
He said that “all preparations for the anti-government march are in place and no force can stop us now from marching toward Islamabad.”
Political analysts said the government’s engagement with the opposition parties to stop their protest at this stage would not yield result, but some differences over issues, such as transparency in elections and improvement in governance, can be worked out.
“Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who was reduced to a nobody after the last year’s elections, has succeeded in garnering political relevance through mounting pressure against the government,” Zahid Hussain, a political commentator, told Arab News.
He said the opposition parties would protest against the government as per plan, but “they will neither succeed in getting the prime minister’s resignation nor a new date for fresh polls in the country.”