Nepal Today

Sunday, March 17, 2013

DAHAL ARRESTED FOR FINANCIAL FRAUD Kathmandu, 17 March: Nepal Police Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested Pursottam Dahal of Kathmandu Gotamthok-3 on the charge of bank fraud. Dahal has been charged of embezzling Rs. 55.1 million in inter-banking transaction while he worked at the Himalayan Bank's Patan Branch Office. According to CBI Police Inspector Iswar Babu Karki, Dahal, who was arrested on Sunday, was found guilty by the Patan Appellate Court and sentenced to four years in jail along with a fine equivalent to the amount embezzled by him. Nnnn JUSTICE FROM STATE NEEDED TO REMOVE INSURGENCY SORROWS SAY VICTIMS Kathmandu, 17 March: Victims of the decade-long insurgency have said that real reconciliation between victims and perpetrators was possible if the state provides justice to the victims to wipe out their sorrows, RSS reports. . Speaking at an interaction programme organized by the Transitional Justice Service Center in the capital today, they said that the President has given an exemption to the criminals by issuing ordinance on Truth and Reconciliation. They also demanded that the ordinance should be withdrawn for amendment. Sabitri Shrestha, who lost her two brothers—Ujjan Kumar Shrestha and Ganesh Kumar Shrestha— during the insurgency complained that she was lone for not getting support from political parties, legal practitioners and the President. Likewise, widow of Arjun Lama, Purnimaya Lama said her husband was killed by giving torture for two months. Another victim of the conflict, Laxmi Koirala said she was not feeling justice by the recently signed political agreement. Rights activist Charan Prasai and advocate Dinesh Tripathi said the parties' decision to form the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was faulty. nnnn PAKISTAN GOVT. ENDS FIVE-YEAR TERM Kathmandu, 17 March: Pakistan´s government passed a major milestone Saturday, with the parliament becoming the first democratically chosen body to finish its five-year term in a country that has faced three military coups and persistent political turmoil, AP reports from Islamanad.. But after years of militant attacks, worsening electricity blackouts and faltering economic growth, the political party that took office five years ago on a wave of sympathy following the assassination of iconic leader Benazir Bhutto will likely find it more difficult this time to win voters to its side. Underscoring divisions, politicians failed to reach agreement on a caretaker government in time for the final session of parliament before new elections are held. The country´s constitution calls for a vote within 60 days, although no date has yet been set. ) Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, who maintains his position in the meantime, hailed the peaceful transition as a success for his Pakistan People´s Party, "We have strengthened the foundations of democracy to such an extent that no one will be able to harm democracy in future," Ashraf said during a nearly hourlong televised address to the nation. Ashraf portrayed the problems in the country as something inherited from the previous regime of ousted leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf. One of the ruling party´s main achievements has been its sheer survival — no small feat in a country that has experienced three successful coups and many more unsuccessful ones. President Asif Ali Zardari has shown a remarkable ability to hold together a warring coalition government whose members threaten to quit every few months or so. He´s also managed a balance between the need for U.S. assistance amid a deteriorating relationship between the two countries and rising anti-American sentiment. Washington needs Pakistan´s help fighting al-Qaida and stabilizing neighboring Afghanistan, but a series of recent scandals have severely damaged ties. CIA contractor Raymond Davis shot and killed two Pakistani men in Lahore, the U.S. unilaterally killed Osama bin Laden in the city of Abbottabad and American forces accidentally killed 24 Pakistani troops along the Afghan border. "That the government has survived five years, despite rumors every three months that the government is going, should also be viewed as a kind of achievement," independent political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi said. Zardari and the ruling party must share some of the credit. The army, traditionally eager to step in when they perceive Pakistan to be in crisis, has shown a reticence under Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to involve itself at least outwardly in politics. The main opposition party, Pakistan Muslim League-N led by Nawaz Sharif, has bypassed numerous opportunities to make life difficult for the PPP. Sharif has just as much invested in strengthening the civilian government as the PPP does, and is no friend of the army. Sharif´s party and one led by former Pakistani cricket star Imran Khan will present the greatest challenge to the PPP in the coming election. The government´s most high-profile accomplishments in the past five years have involved changing the power structure, rather than dealing with basic problems facing ordinary Pakistanis. Through a constitutional amendment passed in 2010 under pressure from the opposition, Zardari followed through on promises to strip the presidency of many of the powers it gained under Musharraf. The amendment prevents the president from unilaterally dissolving parliament and gives the prime minister a major role in appointing the country´s armed services chiefs. The amendment also transfers considerable powers from the central government to the provinces. But it´s questionable whether these moves will deliver many votes. It´s mostly the economy that will be on voters´ minds. "The economy has never been on the radar of the government. This was the most neglected area," said Ashfaque Hassan Khan, dean of the National University of Sciences and Technology´s Business School. He criticized the revolving door of ministers and officials in key economy-related government bodies. Many in the government argue that the economy hasn´t fared that poorly considering the catastrophic flooding of 2010, security problems that scare off foreign investors and the global economic downturn. But critics contend the government has failed to address major issues such as restructuring state-owned companies like the national airline, PIA. And then there are the blackouts. Pakistanis suffer from rolling blackouts — euphemistically referred to as load shedding — that can last as long as 18 hours a day in the summer. In the winter, natural gas supplies are intermittent at best. Under the PPP, the government has tried to address the energy crisis by employing so-called rental power projects under which the government imports power stations and links them to the national grid. But the projects have been unable to generate much electricity, and critics say they were just an opportunity for graft. The PPP insists it is tackling the energy problems. Zardari went to Iran on Monday for a high-profile ground-breaking ceremony on a pipeline intended to bring natural gas from Iran — despite American objections. One area where the PPP government has invested a lot of time and effort is the rural sector and helping the poor. Welfare programs like the Benazir Income Support Program have handed out small amounts of cash to the country´s most impoverished people and given small loans to businesses. The government has also tried to help rural communities by boosting the price of certain agricultural commodities, although that has contributed to price hikes in urban areas. nnnn


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