Friday, December 18, 2009

Pakistan's Modern Infrastructure

As Pakistan struggles to bring a sense of stability and security amidst daily carnage, it is important to recognize that there is more to Pakistan than meets the eyes of a casual consumer of the images and reports by the world's media. For example, Pakistan is a developing country with functional bureaucracy, well-organized police force, democratic institutions and a powerful army. And Pakistan has more advanced infrastructure than its neighbors, including India. Among the modern infrastructure pieces in place in Pakistan are its motorway system, extensive road network, mobile telecommunications systems, airports, high-speed Internet system, extensive railroad network, gas pipeline etc. A British writer William Dalrymple who visited and compared India and Pakistan on their 60th anniversary described Pakistan as follows:

"On the ground, of course, the reality is different and first-time visitors to Pakistan are almost always surprised by the country's visible prosperity. There is far less poverty on show in Pakistan than in India, fewer beggars, and much less desperation. In many ways the infrastructure of Pakistan is much more advanced: there are better roads and airports, and more reliable electricity. Middle-class Pakistani houses are often bigger and better appointed than their equivalents in India. Moreover, the Pakistani economy is undergoing a construction and consumer boom similar to India's, with growth rates of 7%, and what is currently the fastest-rising stock market in Asia. You can see the effects everywhere: in new shopping centers and restaurant complexes, in the hoardings for the latest laptops and iPods, in the cranes and building sites, in the endless stores selling mobile phones: in 2003 the country had fewer than three million cellphone users; today there are almost 50 million."

More recently, Alistair Scrutton filed a Reuters report about Pakistan's infrastructure, particularly its 367 Km long M2 motorway that connects Lahore with Islamabad:

"Indeed, for sheer spotlessness, efficiency and emptiness there is nothing like the M2 in the rest of South Asia.

It puts paid to what's on offer in Pakistan's traditional foe and emerging economic giant India, where village culture stubbornly refuses to cede to even the most modern motorways, making them battlegrounds of rickshaws, lorries and cows.

There are many things in Pakistan that don't get into the news. Daily life, for one. Pakistani hospitality to strangers, foreigners like myself included, is another. The M2 is another sign that all is not what it appears in Pakistan, that much lies hidden behind the bad news.

On a recent M2 trip, my driver whizzed along but kept his speedometer firmly placed on the speed limit. Here in this South Asian Alice's Wonderland, the special highway police are considered incorruptible. The motorway is so empty one wonders if it really cuts through one of the region's most populated regions.

"130, OK, but 131 is a fine," said the driver, Noshad Khan. "The police have cameras," he added, almost proudly. His hand waved around in the car, clenched in the form of a gun.

On one of my first trips to Pakistan. I arrived at the border having just negotiated a one-lane country road in India with cows, rickshaws and donkey-driven carts.

I toted my luggage over to the Pakistan side, and within a short time my Pakistani taxi purred along the tarmac. The driver proudly showed off his English and played U.S. rock on FM radio. The announcer even had an American accent. Pakistan, for a moment, receded, and my M2 trip began."


Here are another western tourist's impressions of M2 from nomadic-one.com:

A strange relief to get to drive 3 lane asphalt in such serene quietness! It was unreal, we had to pinch our arm if this was really happening. Is this Pakistan? We decided to spend the night at the 3rd big service area with restaurant, gas station, police and clean toilets. It was strange to see there was no trace of locals selling stuff on the curbs – something which is really normal in Pakistan. Probably these place are off limits to the small business men.

Going to India – something we have long looked out for. We’ve heard a lot about India from other travellers – good and bad experiences. One thing’s for sure – India must have a LOT of people, each and every traveller from India has mentioned this explicitly. With Pakistan and Nepal (1998) as context we’re curious and somewhat anxious how we will experience India. We’re not crowd maniacs and both appreciate a ‘bit of air’ between people. Anyhow India happened quicker than we expected – we left Islamabad on the 25th, the next day we already sat in the garden of Ms Bandari’s Guesthouse. The superb M2 motorway with overnight parking and the road to the Indian border was uneventful. We drove the canal bank road through Lahore a long drive on a straight road. But look carefully to find this road separated by a canal – it’s sign posted rather miniscule by “Wagah border”.

"The road to Amritsar was like wading upstream in extreme suicidal traffic – the independence day ceremony must be something special. It must be totally worth risking your life for this. Naturally we had our usual ‘end of the day – near dark – took the wrong turn in mega dense traffic’ exercise. Just to make our arrival in Amritsar a little bit more special. We arrived in the dark - asking directions many times. This way we came a few 100 meters closer to Ms Bandari’s guesthouse each time we asked. We nearly seen the golden temple by truck. Ain’t that a relaxed truck ride in the dark! Cool!
And yes, even with GPS coordinates of the place it’s still a nice puzzle to solve after a border crossing day like this."




According to BMI research, Pakistan has experienced a high level of activity in its infrastructure sector in 2008. This has mostly been focused on the power sector and the road network. In addition, construction of housing has been a top priority. However, the global downturn is hitting Pakistan hard, and the BMI's 2009 Annual Infrastructure Report for Pakistan is forecasting the construction industry to contract by 6.31% y-o-y in 2009. The power sector has been the major focus in Pakistan's infrastructure sector in 2008. Years of underinvestment in electricity generating and distributing infrastructure came to a head in 2008, when there was not enough supply to meet demand, further exacerbated by lack of rainfall almost knocking out Pakistan's large hydropower sector. It is currently estimated that there is a 3,300MW shortfall in capacity at peak hours; as a result, load shedding has been a common practice. In an attempt to combat the shortages, a US$30bn investment plan has been announced, which has seen the development of a number of projects. Construction started in 2008 on the 969MW Neelum-Jhelum power plant, which is being built by a consortium comprising Chinese Gezhouba Group Company and China Machinery Export Corporation. Construction of the Diamer Basha Dam, which will have a capacity of 4,500MW once completed, is expected to start in 2009. Within the transport sector, the roads have benefited from the majority of attention in 2008. This has been the result of the National Highways Authority's plans to invest US$5.36bn into the sector. The plans benefited from a US$900mn multi-tranche loan from the Asian Development Bank. The main project being pursued is the National Trade Corridor, envisaged as a main thoroughfare connecting the north of the country to the ports in the south; it is estimated to cost US$6.58bn. Construction of housing has been a major feature in 2008. Residential construction is being carried out under the prime minister's 'mega housing scheme' which involves the construction of one million low cost houses per year. Pakistan's economy has been hit hard by the global economic downturn and BMI's is forecasting real GDP growth of 2.5% y-o-y in 2009, down from 6.8% in 2007. In November 2008, the country received a US$7.6bn 23-month standby loan from the International Monetary Fund to "support the country's economic stabilization program". The move might help boost investor confidence in the short term; however, it may put off investors looking at long-term infrastructure investments.

Pakistan Energy Infrastructure (Source: PPECA)

The 2008 World Bank assessment says that Pakistan is one of the most water stressed countries in the world, and water resources are depleting rapidly. With its water infrastructure in poor condition, the report argues that Pakistan has to invest around Rs60 billion (US$1 billion) per year in reservoirs and related infrastructure over the next five years. In the energy sector, the country will face severe power shortages of around 6,000 megawatts by 2010. Similarly, inefficiencies in the transport sector cost the economy between 4-5 percent of GDP each year.

To overcome these constraints, the Government of Pakistan is tripling its annual infrastructure investment from an average of Rs150 billion (US$2.5 billion) to Rs440 billion (US$7.3 billion). However, the bank report points out that mega projects in the past have experienced frequent delays and cost overruns, illustrating a lack of capacity in the industry to plan, program, and execute large projects.

Many infrastructure projects in Pakistan, including power plants and motorways, are being built and financed on build-operate-transfer or BOT basis. Built on the BOT basis, the M2 motorway has already paid for itself and now generates revenue for Pakistan government.

Here's a video clip of British Writer William Dalrymple comparing India and Pakistan:



Here is a slide show of some of the infrastructure development projects underway in Pakistan:



Here is a video with pictures of Pakistan's extensive roads network:



Related Links:

Foreign Visitors to Pakistan Pleasantly Surprised

Digital Maps of Pakistan
Pakistan's daily carnage

Pakistan's Road Network
Life Goes On in Pakistan

Water Scarcity in Pakistan

Food, Clothing and Shelter in India, Pakistan

Urbanization in Pakistan Highest in South Asia

A Review of Global Road Accident Fatalities

Pakistan Leads South Asia in Clean Energy

Karachi Fashion Week

Is Pakistan Too Big to Fail?

Karachi Fashion Week Goes Bolder

More Pictures From Karachi Fashion Week 2009

Pakistan's Foreign Visitors Pleasantly Surprised
Start-ups Drive a Boom in Pakistan

Pakistan Conducting Research in Antarctica
Pakistan's Multi-billion Dollar IT Industry

Pakistan's Telecom Boom
Pakistan's Infrastructure Assessment by World Bank
ITU Internet Data

Eleven Days in Karachi

Pakistani Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley

Musharraf's Economic Legacy

Infrastructure and Real Estate Development in Pakistan

Pakistan's International Rankings

Assessing Pakistan Army Capabilities

Pakistan is not Falling

Jinnah's Pakistan Booms Amidst Doom and Gloom

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32 Comments:

Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from Pakistan's consumer electronics market report:

Pakistan’s consumer electronics market, defined as the addressable market for computing devices, mobile handsets and AV products, is projected to be worth around US$1.6bn in 2010. Underlying demand will grow at a CAGR of about 7%, but spending will be restrained by a sizable grey market of smuggled or illegally assembled products.
The market’s considerable potential is currently depressed by a large grey market, poor IP protection, an unstable economic and security situation and weak distribution channels. Growth will be driven, however, by improved ICT infrastructure, and more credit availability. Reform of often high national and provincial taxes and tariffs on products ranging from computers to prepaid mobile cards would also boost the market.
Computer Computers accounted for around 18% of Pakistan’s consumer electronics spending in 2009. BMI forecasts Pakistan’s domestic market computer sales (including notebooks and accessories) of US$283mn in 2010, up from US$264mn in 2009. Computer hardware CAGR for the 2010- 2014 period will be around 7%. The abolition in September 2009 of a minimum sales tax on imported computers should boost the market.
AV AV devices accounted for around 40% of Pakistan’s consumer electronics spending in 2008. Pakistan’s domestic AV device market is projected at US$632mn in 2010. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11% between 2010-2014, to a value of US$946mn in 2014. TV sets remain the core product in this category, but the growing availability of smuggled colour televisions is a market inhibitor.
Mobile Handsets Pakistan’s market handset sales are expected to grow at a CAGR of 1% to 18.8mn units in 2014, as mobile subscriber penetration reaches 91%. Revenue growth will be slower due to lower average selling prices (ASPs) of mobile handsets, with most handsets sold at a under US$40 price-point. Another issue is a declining growth rate of mobile subscriber penetration, which is now above 60%.

April 28, 2010 at 11:34 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

As per Economic Survey of Pakistan, roads have become the most important segment of transport sector in Pakistan. In 1947, reliance on roads was only 8%, however, currently, it accounts for 92% of national passenger traffic and 96% of freight. However, neglect of other modes of transportation (particularly Railways) in favor of improvement of the road infrastructure has been a prevalent problem in the country s transportation sector.

In the year 1996-97, Pakistan Railway had 10.45% share of passenger traffic and 5.17% of freight traffic, which has dropped to 9. 95% and 4. 72% respectively by the year 2006-07, according to Economic Survey of Pakistan.

Primarily on account of increasing preference for road transport by passengers as well as goods forwarders over rail transport and owing to a diversion of already scarce resources towards the expansion of the road network, the performance and condition of Pakistan Railways has declined and its share of inland traffic (if compared with the early 70s) has reduced from 41% to 10% for passenger and 73% to 4% for freight traffic.

The above qualitative and quantitative analysis reveals that Pakistan Railways has lost its significance and it is no more an attractive mode of transport. The railwaymen have to realise this fact and forget Railways has absolute benefits over road transport and that the Railways is the biggest mode of transport. It is a requirement today that rail transport is restricted to and enhanced on the corridors where long haul and mass scale traffic both for passengers and freights is available, and where there is sufficient revenue generation to bear the O&M (Operation & Maintenance) cost.

http://finance.kalpoint.com/economic-updates/exclusive-articles/railways-still-in-a-quagmire.html
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The government, in close collaboration with the World Bank, is preparing a detailed road map for revitalizing the cash starved Pakistan Railways that requires a multi-billion dollar injection over the medium to long term to ensure a complete turnaround, official documents available with The News disclosed on Sunday.

The government had constituted a Core Team, as specified by the Planning Commission, which was assigned to formulate a Pakistan Railways Issue Note (PRIN) based on a rapid governance analysis. According to the PRIN executive summary Pakistan Railways (PR) has been facing serious crisis since 2007-08 as its passenger traffic reduced by 16 percent and freight traffic (on a tonne-kilometer basis) by 70 percent. Revenues of PR has fallen by 6 percent while working expense increased by 80 percent with labor related costs and pensions being 120 percent of revenue in 2010-11.

Under the current organization structure and financial arrangement, the executive summary states, it would be very difficult for PR to even return to break-even on working expenses without radical surgery. In the absence of substantial reforms, PR will almost certainly suffer a continuing decline, slowly but steadily becoming almost irrelevant to the general economy of the country.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=10601&Cat=13

November 27, 2011 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Daily Times report on Pakistan joining international railway org:

As part of its endeavor to expand rail network to Europe, Central Asian Republics (CARs) and Middle East, Pakistan is set to become member of Intergovernmental Organization for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) soon, said Minister for Railways Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour on Sunday.

Talking to media, the minister said the federal cabinet had already given its consent for the membership.

Set up in 1985, OTIF was principally aimed to develop uniform law applicable to the international carriage of passengers and freight through traffic by rail.

Currently, 46 states are OTIF members. The European Union acceded to this uniform law, COTIF in July 2011.

The OTIF membership would help Pakistan to have contracts of carriage for the international carriage of passengers and goods, dangerous goods, use of vehicles, use of railway infrastructure and validation of technical standards and adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for railway material.

In this connection, a capacity building and awareness workshop was held here in which the top management of OTIF and ECO briefed the representatives of Ministries of Railways, Communication, Commerce, Finance and other stakeholders about the potentials of the membership and how to deal with the future matters.

Bilour said there was no bottleneck in getting the OTIF membership. He said now the Railways Ministry would move a summary to the Prime Minister for final approval and once the process is finalised, Pakistan would be in the position to expand its international rail operations to other regions.

The railways minister said the things were moving ahead smoothly and the membership process would be completed within two to three months.

He said as India was not yet a member of OTIF, Pakistan would also have a competitive edge to spread its trade route to the region that has vast potential for international trade.

The ECO countries route to Istanbul-Islamabad via Tehran is operating successfully, however some issues were identified while heading forward to other regions those would be resolved once the country becomes part of OTIF family, Bilour added.

He said currently eight trains were plying between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey having transit time of 11 days, but the service faced issues including lack of central monitoring mechanism to watch the running of trains, error in the preparation of railway receipts and mechanism to address the dispute between consignee, consignor and carrier. Bilour told media that the government was also working on new tracks including Peshawar–Jalalabad (140 km) and Chaman–Kandhar (107 km).

Bilour said the Railways Ministry was in touch with Islamic Development Bank involving the ECO Secretariat to rehabilitate Quetta-Taftan link to curtail transit time.

He said Pakistan having its border links with Afghanistan, Iran, China and India has the shortest link to Arabian Sea, as besides Karachi, Bin Qasim and Gawadar sea ports help increase maritime activity and bulk transportation to landlocked countries.The minister said the WTO regime, reconstruction of Afghanistan and rising trade links with CAR are compelling the needs to develop international corridors.

He said the government was now encouraging the private sector to invest in railways under public-private partnership mode in conformity with the assets especially shortage of locomotives, though efforts are also underway to restructure and corporatise the railways.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\12\12\story_12-12-2011_pg7_17

December 11, 2011 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from "Back to Pakistan" by Leslie Noyes Mass talking about the extensive telecom coverage in remote Northern areas of Pakistan:

"The Eagles Nest is aptly named: it perches on top of a ridge amid rocky scree and jagged peaks. Behind us are 24000-feet snowcapped summits, soaring into the sky. Below, the valley where we have spent the past few days is recognizable by its row of cell phone towers and the Hunza River. I have been astonished that, remote as we are in Hunza, first-class cell phone and Internet connections are available 24/7. We are as close to civilization as the briefest click and as far away the loosest stone on that crumbling highway north or south."

http://books.google.com/books?id=_BtWtuLlDXoC&pg=PA44&lpg=PA44&dq=inquiry+based+learning+pakistan&source=bl&ots=6DRcWG5-r7&sig=7_vsfOS2Xet_zFFmqRmduY-hR24&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6rEHT93tEeqFiAKO_aWyCQ&sqi=2&ved=0CFEQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=cell%20towers&f=false

The highway Mass is referring to is the world's highest called Karakoram Highway at an altitude of over 15000 feet. It's currently being repaired and expanded with Chinese help. Talking about it, she writes:

"I wonder what a wide, asphalt highway would do to this area--bring more tourists and trade and change forever the lives of the people in the distant villages hidden among the rocks, I imagine."

January 26, 2012 at 6:14 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a 2011 Dawn Op Ed on cement industry by Pakistan Cement Industry Association leader Tariq Saigol:

While the private sector performed magnificently whenever provided with an enabling environment, the response of the present government remains mired in confusion and inertia. Installed capacity was a paltry nine million tons in 1990, much of it being grossly inefficient as it was based on the outmoded wet process technology. As demand rose, the industry responded by launching a massive expansion programme. Over time, the installed capacity rose to nearly 44 million tons, a magnificent feat by any standards and a credit to the entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector.

However a number of adverse developments from 2007 onwards have brought the GDP growth to some two per cent. It is being reported by the media that the revised allocation after the latest cut, is a measly Rs180 billion. High inflation combined with slump in real estate and increase in the cost of production due to weakness of the dollar, resulting in a spike in coal prices, electricity and freight rates and accounting for 70 per cent of the cost, has adversely affected consumption while production cost soars, retarding construction activity in the private sector.

The current economic environment including low public spending has had disastrous consequences for the cement sector.

Local sales during the first half of the current fiscal year have witnessed an eight per cent year on year drop to around 10.1 million tons. Simultaneously, exports fell from 5.6 million tons to 4.6 million tons. The bad news does not end here. On top of low volumes, the average cement FOB prices fell to $48 per ton during the corresponding period— a level low enough to hardly break even.

Consequently cement sales through the sea route alone declined by about one third. Cement sales to India were also hard hit on account of non renewal of BIS certification (a quality control licence). Burdened with high energy and freight costs as well, the manufactures are desperate for some government support.

But no support is forthcoming. One would expect the government’s economic planners to appreciate the tremendous odds against which the industry is battling. If care of the cement industry is in short supply, then some thought may be given to the enormous exposure of the banks which have provided financing to the tune of $1.5 billion to the sector during 2003-2008.


http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/14/opportunities-missed.html

January 27, 2012 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a blogger' view Pakistan's cement industry:

Cement is one of the most important industries of Pakistan. Limestone and gypsum are the main raw materials for manufacturing of cement and they are present in abundance in Pakistan along with good supply of Natural gas. This great potential makes the country capable of producing cement not only for local use but also for export as well. Pakistan cement industry has exporting cement to the neighbouring countries like U.A.E, Afghanistan, India, Iraq and Russia.

At present there are 22 cement plants are operating in Pakistan with the production of approximately 9.403 million tonnes. Out of these 22 cement plants, 17 are private and 5 are publicr. 11 new plants are also in planning stage and the capacity of these plants is estimated around 12.988 million tonnes. The industry has achieved a growth of 32% with the domestic demand increasing by around 24.95% and the exports by nearly 111.86% according to the financial year end June 30, 2007 ratings. Recently the country has been able to export to some of the African countries as well.

Cement industry is divided into two main regions; the northern and the southern region. Northern region is producing 35.18 million tonnes and southern region is producing 8.89 million tonnes of cement per year.

Per capita consumption of cement is an indicator of rate with which any country is developing. Unfortunately per capita consumption of cement in Pakistan is less if we compare it with other developing countries. It is about 131 kg per person annually; whereas world average is about 270 kg. This less consumption is due to the negligence given to the construction sector. However in last few years consumption of cement showed some rise due to increased commercial activities, infrastructural development and increasing demand of constructing houses.

Local demand for the year 2007-2008 was 20 million tonnes. Pakistan has started exporting cement few years back and has earned repute as a premium quality cement producer in the global market in this short period. Pakistan exported around 7.716 million tonnes of cement in 2007-2008 and earned a foreign exchange of 459 million dollars. There is surely a great potential of growth in this industry in Pakistan.


http://pakistan360degrees.contentcreatorz.com/cement-industry-of-pakistan/

January 27, 2012 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here are highlights of a presentation on Pakistan's cement manufacturing sector:

Beginning with just 500,000 tons in 1947, Pakistan's cement production almost tripled from 16 million tons in 2000 to 44 million tons in 2010.

At 145 Kg per person, Pakistan's cement consumption is up from 75 Kg in 2003, but still about half of the world per capita consumption average of 270 Kg.

http://www.slideshare.net/msaadafridi/cement-industry-of-pakistan

January 27, 2012 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan launches luxury train for business travelers, reports Telegraph newspaper:

The luxury service – complete with flatscreen TVs, wifi and lavatories that would put some British trains to shame – was launched today in an effort to turn around the dire fortunes of Pakistan's railways, and restore it to its former colonial glory.

More than that, the story of the railway's decline mirrors that of the country itself, and the Business Express, with its mix of public and private enterprise, is being championed as a new model that could revive Pakistan's moribund state sector.

Waiters in waistcoats and bow ties served afternoon tea as passengers boarded for the 800-mile, 18-hour journey.
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Pakistan inherited a rail network stretching more than 5000 miles at independence in 1947.

But years of corruption and mismanagement has seen the state-owned business taken to the brink of collapse.

Executives say its fleet of 146 locomotives is 500 short of what it needs.

The resulting delays and cancellations have seen a once popular railway marginalised; used by only those that cannot afford travelling by air or road.

This year, the business is expected to lose more than £200m.

Arif Azim, chairman of Pakistan Railways, said he wanted to turn back the clock to a time when the railways were both reliable and elegant.

"Our aim right now is to offer a service in the best traditions of the line – whether it was in the British time or after independence," he said.

Construction on the line began in 1858 when Sir Henry Edward Frere, the commissioner of Sind, realised Karachi would form an ideal port.

The first stretch opened in 1861, running 100 miles inland before connecting with steamers on the Indus.

John Brunton, the chief engineer, described in his memoir the challenges of buying off hostile princes and the day a rabid wolf ran through his camp outside Karachi.

"In India a record is kept of all fatalities arising from attacks of wild beasts, snakes etc – and on this occasion the return gave 12 men bitten, of whom 10 died, and a large number of cattle," he wrote.

"The brute was hunted down and killed by the natives, the day after our interview with him."

Pakistan has different troubles today.

A bomb blast closed the railway last year not far from the spot where those rabid wolves once roamed and the Business Express carries armed guards.

It may not be quite the Orient Express, but the daily sleeper with running water, a dinner service, and pillows for the bunks are a vast improvement on the squalid, broken-down carriages that usually make the stop-start journey.

The service is provided by a private company in a deal that gives it 14% of the £35 single ticket price.

Javed Salim Qureshi, chairman of Four Brothers, the private partner: "Pakistan has had a disaster on the railways. This is a new departure.

"I just hope it gets there on time."

A trial run a week earlier fell eight hours behind schedule even before leaving Lahore after a carriage derailed.

Some of the two hundred or so passengers aboard the maiden trip said they were impressed by the facilities but would reserve judgment until their arrival in Karachi.

Khurram Ali, a financial analyst, said he was surprised by the first-world standards.

"It's cheaper than flying and this new service seems really good," he said, as the lush farmland of Punjab flashed past the window at 70mph.

"But then again we all know how bad the delays have been so ask me again what I think tomorrow morning."


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9059475/All-aboard-Pakistan-turns-back-the-clock-with-luxury-train-travel.html

February 3, 2012 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

PIA, Pakistan's national airline, is a victim of corruption and incompetence from political patronage. Here's a Reuters' report on it:

PIA (PIAa.KA), like Pakistan, always seems to be on the brink of disaster. But now that seems closer than ever for the national flag carrier, once a source of pride for the country.

The airline is haemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars a year while being pummelled by competition from sleek Gulf giants like Emirates EMIRA.UL, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

A quarter of its 40 aircraft are grounded because the airline can't find enough money to buy spare parts. Flights are regularly cancelled and engineers say they are having to cannibalise some planes to keep others flying.

"The situation has worsened to the extent of rendering this airline almost financially unviable," said the State Bank of Pakistan in a report on the state of the economy.

In many ways the airline mirrors the way Pakistan -- a strategic U.S. ally often described as a failing state -- is run.

The same inefficiency, nepotism and corruption that critics say have prevented the government from tackling a Taliban insurgency, crippling power cuts, ethnic violence and widespread poverty also threaten to bring down the airline.

PIA lost 19.29 billion rupees in the first nine months of 2011, almost double the losses in the same period in 2010.

The airline, like the Pakistani economy, has relied on bailouts to stay in the air, and is negotiating with the state for another rescue package.

"Just like PIA has the potential to do well, Pakistan's economy does too. But both haven't because of mismanagement. In the end that is the story -- mismanagement," Salman Shah, a former Pakistani finance minister, told Reuters.

PIA officials were not available for comment on the challenges facing the airline despite repeated requests.

HUGE WORKFORCE WEIGHS DOWN AIRLINE

Over the years, critics say, governments have manipulated state corporations like PIA for political and financial gain, giving jobs to so many supporters that the size of the workforce has become unsustainable in the face of mounting losses.

"We don't have people in the right places in typical Pakistani fashion. It's about who you know not what you can do," said a PIA pilot, who like other employees asked not to be identified for fear of being fired.

Today, PIA has a staggering employee to aircraft ratio of more than 450, more than twice as much as some competitors. In the first nine months of 2011, employee expenses drained 16 percent of turnover.

"Politically motivated inductions have been the major cause of the significant increase in human resource burden in this organisation," said the central bank.

"It cannot be corrected without taking drastic steps for rightsizing and increasing operational efficiency."

That is unlikely in a country where political expediency and interests often undermine efforts to make everything from governments to corporations successful.

Frustrations with those realities are palpable at PIA.


http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/14/uk-pakistan-airline-idUSLNE81D02820120214

February 14, 2012 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a report by Daily Mail on Indian trade delegation's Pakistan visit:

....When Indian journalists and members of a business delegation flying from Lahore to Karachi on board a PIA flight asked the flight attendant for a vegetarian meal, they were told that there was only non-vegetarian fare in the packet.
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However, a smart attendant pointed out that while one of the sandwiches in the food packet was 'chicken', the other was 'cheese'. 'So you can have the cheese sandwich,' was his solution.

Of course, he overlooked the fact that two were part of the same dish and their proximity far too disturbing for the vegetarian mindset. Similarly, on the early morning PIA flight from Karachi to Islamabad the air hostesses were quite apologetic about not having any vegetarian breakfast on board.

While the world over, commercial airlines factor in dietary preferences, it appears PIA still has to move up the learning curve.
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Pakistan deserves credit for building an excellent 8-lane expressway from Islamabad to its cultural capital Lahore.

With a permissible speed limit of 120 km an hour, cars cruise through the 370 km distance in four hours.

There is a 15 km stretch through the salt range where vehicles have to slow down as there is danger of disturbing the rocks due to vibrations.

Speed cameras placed along the expressway ensure that motorists do no exceed the maximum speed limit.

Interestingly, there are prominently displayed signs on the highway which warn drivers that there is a 'speed camera ahead' which tends to maintain discipline.

This is in sharp contrast to the approach of Delhi police, who believe in hiding behind bushes with their speed cameras to catch motorists unaware as though the main objective of the exercise is to make money instead of ensuring the safety of motorists.

The signage on the highway is up to the best global standards and boards at overbridges carry intelligent advice for motorists ranging from 'check your gauges frequently'; 'Retire the worn out tyres'; 'Drive slow in fog and rain.' A Lahore-based industrialist told Mail Today that he prefers to go to Islamabad by the motor way instead of catching the flight.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2102861/Splendid-roadway-makes-sub-standard-airline-Pakistan.html

February 17, 2012 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' report on Singapore company buying stake in Karachi's container terminal operator:

Singapore's International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTS) said on Tuesday its subsidiary plans to acquire up to 55 percent of a Pakistan container cargo terminal operator.

ICTS's unit ICTSI Mauritius Ltd is intending to buy 35-55 percent of Pakistan International Container Terminal Ltd , whose terminal is located at the Karachi port, it said in a statement.

The company did not say how much it will pay for the acquisition, but noted that the Pakistan firm handled a total of 669,806 twenty-foot equivalent container units for the year ended June 30, 11 percent higher than the year before.


http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/06/icts-idUSL4E8E63HR20120306

March 6, 2012 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

NHA to implement 82 highway schemes at Rs 569bn, reports Daily Times:

National Highway Authority (NHA) is implementing 82 highway schemes at the cost of Rs 569 billion, while 14 new projects are in pipeline costing Rs 95 billion.

The participants of 11th Senior National Management Course visited NHA head office here on Wednesday where

NHA’s member (planning) Sabir Hasan while briefing about the functioning of the NHA to visiting faculty members of the 11th Senior National Management Course said 98 Toll Plazas have been approved on NHA, out of which 84 were operational.

NHA is striving hard for availability of National Trade Corridor (NTC), in the country. Practical advancement is being made for achieving North South economic corridor, providing linkages with Gwadar and up gradation of Karakoram Highway in particulars.

Under NTC programme highways, Motorways, Expressways are being constructed from ports to borders with the view to provide linkages for the Transit Trade. NTC will reduce 50 percent travelling time, decrease 10 percent transportation cost and reduce 70 percent road fatalities.

Rs 300 billion will be spent during the next 5 to 7 years for this gigantic programme. Toll Collection System is being established on modern lines, he added.

He said pragmatic steps have been taken to save asset of highways from bad effects of overloading. To this effect weigh stations have been set up at specific locations to check the overloaded vehicles. In order to ensure construction of durable roads state of the art and advanced technologies are being employed. NHA is attaching great importance to make journey safe and sound on its network, he added.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\05\08\story_8-5-2012_pg5_5

May 7, 2012 at 6:19 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation report on Karakoram Highway progress:

HUNZA - Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Friday launched two landmark multi-million dollar strategic projects at the Karakorum Highway (KKH), aimed at restoring the historic road linkage with China that was severed due to the artificial Attabad Lake created as a result of landslides.The Prime Minister performed the ground-breaking of realignment of a 17-km long section of the Karakoram Highway (KKH). He also inaugurated the 510.42 million dollars upgradation of a 335 km long section of the road from Raikot to Khunjerab that has now been widened and meets international standards of construction.Prime Minister, who earlier had an aerial view of the Attabad lake, the upgraded road and the proposed road alignment site, said that the new roads were part of an effort of the government to provide the people of remote areas a fast and easy linkage with the rest of the country. He said that the road would not only ease travel, but also help provide all facilities of life. He said it would further deepen the strong ties between Pakistan and China. Raja said that road links were known to bring progress and prosperity to the areas they touch and hoped that a new era of development would usher in.He said that road links were a priority of the government and recalled his meeting with Chinese leaders during his recent visit to China where the KKH's upgradation and re-alignment were discussed. He appreciated and thanked the Chinese government for keeping its promise of despatching the required heavy machinery for completion of the project....

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/29-Sep-2012/raja-launches-projects-to-restore-karakorum-highway

September 29, 2012 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR report on WB and ADB financing infrastructure projects in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has signed eight new projects worth $2.24 billion with the World Bank while six projects of $69 million have been signed with Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) during the last fiscal year.



Documents obtained by this correspondent showed that the Project of Tertiary Education worth $300 million, Social Safety Net TA Additional Financing of $150 million, Tarbela (Fourth Extension) worth $840 million, Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Project $250 million, Natural Gas Efficiency Project $200 million, Punjab Education Sector program worth $350 million, Sindh Skill Development of $21 million and Highway Rehabilitation Additional Financing project worth $130 million were signed between Pakistan and the World Bank during 2011-12.



The projects of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Emergency Road Recovery Project worth $8 million, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Fata Economic Revitalisation Project $20 million, KP Fata Governance Support Project of $6 million, Fata Rural Livelihood and Community Infrastructure worth $12 million, Fata Urban Centre Project of $7 million and the project of Revitalizing Health Services in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa worth $16 million are the projects signed by Pakistan with MDTF.



Documents also showed that the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) active portfolio in Pakistan comprised $3.3 billion in loans for 23 ongoing projects: $143 million in grants and $9.37 million in technical assistance as of June 30 this year. In terms of lending modality, the Multi tranche financing Facility accounted for 49 percent of the portfolio and project leans at 41 percent while disbursement achieved during FY 2011-2012 amounted to $429.4 million.



One of the key pillars of reform in the power sector of Pakistan is to enhance power generation, replacement of inefficient plants and improve the transmission and distribution system. In this regard, ADB has committed a financing facility of $2.9 billion over medium-term.



Documents also showed that the ADB organised 55 capacity-building initiatives for 2011-12 for Pakistan in areas of irrigation, energy, transport, environmental safeguards, gender statistics, poverty reduction, regulatory practices, financial inclusion approaches, sustainable and millennium development goals, taxation, public sector management, planning, budgeting and evaluation, foreign direct investment, procurement, project processing and regional integration.


http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/1-front-top-news/84391-pakistan-wb-sign-eight-new-projects-worth-224bn-.html

October 8, 2012 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's KMC's release regarding 4 planned flyovers on Shahrah-e-Pakistan:

Karachi: Sept02: KMC Administrator Muhammad Hussain Syed has said that the construction work of flyovers at Shahrah-e-Pakistan and S.M Taufeeq Road will be started this week and will be completed within the estimated time which is 6 months. He said this during an inspection visit at the construction place of four flyovers at Shahrah-e-Pakistan where he was accompanied by Director General Technical Services Altaf G. Memon, Sr. Director Mass Transit Rasheed Mughal, Sr. Director Transport & Communication Muhammad Ather, Project Directors Syed Muhammad Taha, Abdul Rehman Shaikh, Noor-ul-Haq Shaikh and other high officials. He said that planning for construction of four flyovers at Shahrah-e-Pakistan was already made and offices of concerned contractors have been setup whereas traffic diversion plan was also made final. He said that construction work of four flyovers will be started at the same time with least effect on traffic and no inconvenience for people whereas service road will be widened after removing encroachments. Administrator Karachi Muhammad Hussain Syed was informed by Project Director Syed Muhammad Taha that construction of flyover at Water pump will cost 383.37 million rupees and flyover at Aisha Manzil will cost 378.20 million rupees and the length of flyover at Water pump will be 140 meter long with 3 lanes for each side of traffic which will consist of 11.80 meter width whereas the length of flyover at Aisha Manzil will be 590 meter long for both sides. Project Director of S.M Taufeeq Road Dakhana, Abdul Rehman Shaikh informed that the construction of flyovers at this road will cost 385.5 million rupees and the length of the flyover will be 497 meter long whereas two tracks with 11.80 meter length will be made whereas 5 spans, 78 piles and girders will be made. Administrator Karachi on this occasion directed engineers and contractors to take special care of quality and time during construction of flyovers. He said that the construction of these flyovers will maintain traffic flow on this road and provide transportation facilities to the citizens.

http://kmc.gov.pk.sv2.premiumwebserver.com/News/NewsDetail.aspx?id=898

October 16, 2012 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story on multi-screen theaters construction boom in Pakistan:

KARACHI, Pakistan—At the brand-new Nue Multiplex here, chauffeured cars drop families at the door. Excited squeals of children reverberate from the games arcade. Hollywood and Bollywood movies play on five screens.

"We wanted to have something of international standard," said Tariq Baig, executive director of the $100 million multiplex that opened in August, replete with a Canadian sound system, Danish carpeting, and chairs and screens imported from the U.K. "We didn't go for anything local."

Nue is part of a wave of Western-style cinemas that are opening across Pakistan, aiming to serve the entertainment-starved middle classes in a country where movie houses were traditionally dilapidated, seedy, and shunned by families.

The blossoming of Western cinema in Pakistan is something of a phenomenon, taking place even as Islamist militants—who view all cinema as sinful— increasingly target the country's moviegoers.

There are just 104 movie screens in all of Pakistan, a country of 180 million people. Still, that is a jump from 20 screens in 2005, according to various distributors and cinema owners. There are another 100 screens under construction, they say.

Pakistan's cinema renaissance began in 2006, when the then military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, loosened a law dating back to the 1965 war between India and Pakistan that banned the import of Bollywood films. Though imports of Indian movies are still restricted, Mr. Musharraf's ruling allowed them to be granted a "No Objection Certificate" by the government in special cases. The ordinance also created a loophole in the law that allowed Indian films to be imported via another country.

"Everyone wants to go to the cinema," says Nadia Jamil, a popular TV and film actress based in Lahore. "It's the Indian films that have created the market that everyone wants to rush to."
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Cinema construction has been on a tear over the past few years in a number of developing countries where growing middle classes are flocking to theaters. China last year added 5,077 new film screens, boosting its total to 18,200, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
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Peshawar's cinemas are a far cry from the multiplexes of Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi. The only defense against the intense summer heat are ancient fans. In the winter patrons come with their own blankets. The audiences are exclusively male, and many of the theaters show porn, crudely dubbed into Pashto, the local language. Audiences are small and profits are slim. Tickets cost around 50 rupees (50 cents), depending on how popular the film is.

Habib ur Rehman, the manager of the Picture House cinema, the first theater to be attacked by the Taliban, said in conservative Peshawar being in the cinema business isn't something you boast about. He said the modern multiplexes springing up in other parts of the country would never come to the city. "They will not succeed here. The people don't like Hindi and English films. They want Musarrat Shaheen, " he said, referring to a famous Pashto actress.

Despite the Taliban threats, Rehan Shah, who works at the Shama Cinema, the second Peshawar theater attacked, said people are eager for these cinemas to reopen.

"People are already asking, 'Why are you not open? We want entertainment,' " he said.



http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303546204579439371307729670

March 20, 2014 at 7:49 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on World Bank report on infrastructure deficiency in South Asia:

ISLAMABAD: South Asia should spend as much as $2.5 trillion on infrastructure by 2020 to bring its power grids, roads and water supplies up to the standard required to serve its growing population, said a World Bank report on Wednesday.

“If South Asia hopes to meet its development goals and not risk slowing down — or even halting — growth, poverty alleviation and shared prosperity… it is essential to make closing its huge infrastructure gap a priority,” the report said in probably the first analysis of the region’s infrastructure needs.

The report, entitled “Reducing poverty by closing South Asia’s infrastructure gap”, says that “infrastructure deficiencies in South Asia are enormous, and a mix of investment in infrastructure stock and implementing supportive reforms will enable the region to close its infrastructure gap”.

Pakistan should invest $165 billion over ten years in improving infrastructure in transport, electricity, water and sanitation, solid waste, telecom and irrigation sectors, according to the report.

For the required investment in electricity sector of up to $96bn, Pakistan should generate funds through government-private sector partnership, the report said.

The average share of Pakistan in the total infrastructural investment in South Asia is only 12 per cent compared to 79 per cent by India, the report says.


http://www.dawn.com/news/1097656/s-asia-should-spend-more-to-serve-its-growing-population-report

April 3, 2014 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

From Hindu: Comparison of Azad Kashmir and Indian Occupied Kashmir:

As a resident of Baramulla, I should have been able to make it to Muzaffarabad, the capital on the other side, within five hours by road, had the governments of India and Pakistan allowed our three-member delegation to travel on the much-vaunted cross LoC bus.

However, the walls between the two sides built over 60 years forced me to travel via Delhi-Lahore-Islamabad — the journey thus took me almost three days.

Nevertheless, this longer route was interesting in itself. The 180-km Islamabad-Muzaffarabad road reminded me of the winding Srinagar-Jammu highway, while the mountainscape and the gushing waters of the Jhelum resembled Patnitop and the waters of the Chenab.
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Muzaffarabad, with a population of just over 6,00,000, looks cleaner than Srinagar (PoK has 10 districts with an estimated population over three million in 2009). Even during my previous visit in 2004, I found that the stories of “under development in PoK,” fed to us on this side, are off the mark. This time, I noticed road connectivity and power supply to houses even on the upper reaches of a hill. In contrast, many villages in Jammu and Kashmir even today are without basic facilities. Neither does Muzaffarabad seem to be lagging behind in education and health compared to the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir though progress is more in tune with Pakistani literacy rates. In the past few years the development in these two sectors has been rapid. The literacy rate in PoK has touched 65 per cent which is higher than for any other area in Pakistan. In conversations, both the young and old in Muzaffarabad say that Pakistan has “never discriminated” against the region.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-other-kashmir/article2101764.ece

September 17, 2014 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Indian airline SpiceJet hits buffalo during take-off

Correspondents say animals straying into Indian airports over the years have led to serious safety concerns. In June 2008, close to 100 flights were disrupted on a single day after a family of monitor lizards crawled out onto the Delhi airport runway, forcing its closure for an hour.

On other occasions, reports said jackals, antelopes, peacocks, porcupines, snakes, monkeys, foxes and dogs have strayed onto runways.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-29947409

November 7, 2014 at 5:14 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

HAVELIAN - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday performed the ground breaking ceremony of 60 km long Hazara Expressway costing Rs 33 billion, besides announcing a university.

Addressing a large gathering here after performing the groundbreaking, he said that the expressway was part of his vision for a bright Pakistan. The prime minister amidst thunderous applause and slogans also announced reduction in the price of petrol by Rs 9.63 dropping it to Rs 84.53. He said that the price of high octane was also being slashed by Rs 10.61, kerosene oil by Rs 4.34, and high speed diesel by Rs 7.12. The decisions, he hoped, would also go well with the few participants of the sit-ins as they opposed anything positive. The price slash, he expected, would be translated into decline in the prices of other items.

He said that the politics of sit-ins had been rejected by the masses, who knew that the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) was working for a prosperous Pakistan. He assured that the Hazara region would be provided natural gas as soon as possible. He said that the motorway would be part of the road infrastructure that would link it with the rest of Paksitan. Hazara, he said, would be connected with Islamabad through tunnels, making it easily accessible.

He said that work on the Bhasha Dam, which would be the largest type of project of its kind in Pakistan, would commence soon. Some 1000 schools, he said, would be constructed in the entire area, while work on Lahore-Karachi Motorway would start soon. He also announced construction of a motorway from Peshawar to Landi Kotal that would eventually extend to Kabul.

He said that this was the real “naya-Pakistan” - new Pakistan - in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and not merely a fake slogan. He said that the sit-ins were only leading to backwardness and unemployment. He said that spate of lies, allegations and dirty language had now become a full time job of those who used the sit-ins to vent their frustration. The young generation was being spoiled with the foul language being used at the sit-ins, he said.

“This important road link forms part of Pakistan China Economic Corridor agreement. The four-lane fenced expressway would cost Rs 33 billion. The Hazara Motorway would reduce the drive from Islamabad to Havelian to 30 minutes, and provide access to the Havelian Dry Port project.” The prime minister said that the area would serve as a hub of all economic activity, and the people would soon see the real change.

The project would create thousands of employment opportunities, and lead to socio-economic uplift of the whole region, he said. National Assembly Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi also spoke on the occasion. Earlier, the PML-N leadership of Haripur, Abbotabad, Kohistan and Battagram received the prime minister.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/29-Nov-2014/pm-performs-ground-breaking-of-hazara-expressway

December 3, 2014 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Karachi: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday laid the foundation stone for the Karachi-Lahore Motorway (M9) that would connect this southern port city with the northern parts of the country.
The first phase of the mega project is expected to be completed in two-and-a-half years and cost 36 billion rupees (Dh1.2 billion).
At the brief inaugural ceremony, Sharif said that it was his earnest desire to begin the work on the motorway project.
In the first phase, the Karachi-to-Hyderabad section would be completed within two-and-half years and then work would begin on the Hyderabad-to-Sukkur section of the grand road.

The length of the road will be more than 1,100 kilometres once complete.
The prime minister said that the government was trying to shore up the resources for the next phases of the eight-lane motorway so that faster communication means could help the country enter the next development phase.
He also mentioned the work on the other roads, which were being constructed in the Hazara division of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Sharif said that work on Khunjerab-to-Gwadar road was being carried out and it would be part of the Pakistan-China corridor.
He vowed to set up a network of motorways all over the country so that all the provinces could be interconnected, with a faster means of travelling between them.
The construction of M9 has been awarded to the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) for the next 25 years on built-operate-transfer basis.
According to the contract agreement, the existing four-lane Karachi-Hyderabad Super Highway would be converted into six-lane 9M meeting international standards.
The project is being on public-private partnership basis and this would be the second-largest project in the country to be built on such basis.
FWO would pay 143 billion rupees to the state-run National Highway Authority (NHA) and another share of 109 billion rupees as tax to the government of Pakistan.

http://gulfnews.com/news/world/pakistan/karachi-lahore-motorway-foundation-stone-laid-1.1470433

March 11, 2015 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

A new international terminal at Multan airport, Pakistan, will now enable citizens to take direct international flights.
Expansion work for the new terminal, which began in 2010 during the tenure of former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, was aimed at facilitating accommodation of wide-bodied aircraft including Boeing 747 and Boeing 777, to cater to direct international passengers and cargo flights.
With 30,700m2 in covered area, the terminal has a composite steel structure with double halls, as reported by Geo TV.
Carried out in two phases, the first phase saw investment of about $2m to upgrade air side facilities including runway taxiway tracks and apron, while the second phase recieved around $7m that involved construction of new terminal building and allied facilities.
The new 10,500 feet (900 feet overrun on both sides) runway of the international terminal has a width of 150 feet (25 feet shoulders on each side). It can accommodate aircrafts such as Boeing 747, 777.
The newly designed apron will be able to handle two wide bodied and two narrow bodied aircrafts with an area of 36,356m2.
The new terminal will have four bridges out of which two have already been completed. Its new car parking will have a space for 400 vehicles.
The government hopes that the expansion will boost the exports of fruits, particularly mango, as the airport now boasts a new cargo complex with a storage capacity of 10,000 tons, reports Dawn.
Geo TV quoted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who inaugrated the terminal, as saying that since Multan was a major agricultural and industrial centre, it would greatly benefit from direct air linkage with the rest of the world which would have a positive impact on the national economy.
The airport can now cater to one million passengers annually from an initial 0.1 million. The expansion has also provisioned for cargo handling capacity which could be increased by 30,000 metric tonnes per year with the passage of time.

http://www.airport-technology.com/news/newspakistans-multan-airport-gets-new-international-terminal-4528205

March 15, 2015 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

PM #NawazSharif inaugurates #Islamabad Metro Bus project: 'This is a changing #Pakistan' Free #WiFi onboard

http://www.dawn.com/news/1186130

The 23-kilometre line, where 68 air-conditioned buses will carry an estimated 135,000 passengers a day along exclusive, signal-free lanes, links the neat, leafy capital with its sprawling twin city Rawalpindi.

The project was built in 13 months — six months longer than planned — at a cost of 44.84 billion rupees, and will use buses from Turkey.

With gleaming grey tiles, escalators, elevators and modern glass and steel structures with wavy red roofs, the 24 stations of the new line would not look out of place in a more developed country.

June 4, 2015 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

A startling sight in #Pakistan: Fast, affordable, air-conditioned buses #Islamabad #MetroBus http://wpo.st/IY8L0

For hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis, the miserable, sweaty, cramped commute is coming to an end.

Pakistan, one of the world’s fastest-growing countries, has long lacked an efficient public transportation system. Instead, Pakistan’s 180 million residents have jammed onto unreliable buses and vans prone to breakdowns and grisly traffic accidents.

The haphazard transportation system — which sometimes involves passengers riding on the roofs of buses or sitting on top of each other in taxis or passenger vans — has been the butt of jokes here and abroad. But now, in two of Pakistan’s largest cities, residents are enjoying new mass transit options that even commuters in Western nations might envy.

Rapid-bus systems that together cost $700 million are running in Lahore and the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the capital. In both metropolitan areas, more than five dozen air-conditioned buses circulate in dedicated lanes that use new bridges and tunnels to avoid traffic lights. Commuters wait no more than three minutes for a bus, reducing overcrowding while slashing average commute times by half. And at about 20 cents a ride, the heavily subsidized systems are accessible even to the poor.

Riders “feel respected, they feel more at home, and they can commute with dignity,” said Sibtain Fazal-i-Haleem, chief executive of the Punjab Metro Bus Authority, which manages both bus systems. “It’s a step toward modernization, it’s a step toward development, and it’s an improvement we should have done much earlier.”

---
In 2013, Shahbaz Sharif’s provincial government spent $300 million to open the 17-mile Lahore bus route. Ridership has grown to about 140,000 passengers daily, officials said. Last year, the two brothers pooled provincial and federal money to construct the 14-mile, $400 million Islamabad-Rawalpindi route.

Using a 24-hour labor force, it was built with Dubai-like speed, opening last week after just 13 months of construction. The route includes 24 stations between working-class Rawalpindi and the wealthier capital, where most well-paying jobs and government agencies are located.

Within hours of its launch, residents flooded into the stations. Now, in a country where the average income is just $1,513 per year, the new service is offering a window into how transformational mass transit can be for the poor and middle classes.

The buses feature rechargeable fare cards, screens that show their current location, recorded messages announcing next stops and a cooling system that showers passengers with a final burst of chilled air before they disembark into the hot Pakistani summer.
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Sardar Muhammad, 85, emerged from one station carrying a shepherd’s stick.

“I never imagined I would see such facilities in my life,” said Muhammad, a farmer who lives on the outskirts of Lahore. He said he recently learned how to use the system for trips into town. “Traveling earlier was very slow, like using a donkey cart.”

Despite all the glowing reviews, questions remain about whether Pakistan’s chronically cash-strapped governments will be able to maintain the subsidized service.

But Kaiser Bengali, a prominent Pakistani economist, said the cost of the system should also factor in what he expects will be heightened productivity from the workforce.

“They used to have to spend an hour-and-a-half, two hours getting to their office in crowded buses, hanging out of buses,” Bengali said. “By the time they reached their office, their mood was as crumpled as their clothes.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/a-startling-sight-in-pakistan-fast-affordable-air-conditioned-buses/2015/06/09/cd735702-0df3-11e5-a0fe-dccfea4653ee_story.html

June 9, 2015 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday said the Peshawar, Karachi motorway under the China, Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project should be completed by 2017.

“Work on different sections of the Peshawar, Karachi motorway should be completed by 2017,” the premier said, while chairing a meeting to review the progress of projects under the China, Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

During the meeting, PM Nawaz directed authorities to expedite work on the projects under the CPEC to materialise the dream of a prosperous Pakistan.

“Energy projects under CPEC should be completed on fast-track,” the premier said.

Read: CPEC to be completed at all costs: Army chief

“Railway stations from Peshawar to Karachi should be upgraded and maximum facilities should be provided to the passengers,” he added.

PM Nawaz also upheld that the Gwadar International Airport should be completed in the shortest possible time.

Earlier this week, Army chief General Raheel Sharif visited Panjgur area of Balochistan and vowed to torpedo the campaign run by the country’s enemies against the CPEC and help get the project off the ground.

Read: Eastern CPEC route unfeasible: report

Emphasising the importance of the CPEC, the army chief said construction of these roads would link Gwadar port with the rest of the country at Chaman and the Indus Highway.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/927215/peshawar-karachi-motorway-to-be-completed-by-2017-pm/

July 27, 2015 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan — the world’s best-kept secret, writes a foreign vistor. #Lahore #Islamabad

http://tribune.com.pk/story/958632/pakistan-the-worlds-best-kept-secret/ …

I have been an extensive traveller, a true backpacker, having visited numerous countries on all continents. Pakistan had never figured in my calculus until I developed friendships with two Pakistanis; one gentleman from Lahore and the other from Karachi. These two shared a dormitory with me during my studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS). I found these individuals to be poles apart from the general depiction of Pakistanis that the media regularly portrays. What I had always gleaned from the media was that Pakistan was a country mired in terrorism and religious extremism, and was a highly unsafe place, especially for foreigners. Stories about how women were treated in the country were just as dismal. In stark contrast to these images, my Pakistani friends exuded warmth and wit; they were generous, well-meaning and easy to relate to. My curiosity about their country often led me to lengthy discussions with them. Their advice to me was that the only way to truly understand Pakistan was by paying it a visit. As my Lahore-based friend returned to Pakistan upon his graduation from NUS, I thought of grabbing a chance to visit the country. His response was very encouraging. My biggest problem, however, was my mother, who when learning of my plan, screamed and proclaimed me to be crazy. I cannot blame her, as her only knowledge about the country was through the media, which is solely interested in displays of violence and misogyny, thus missing 99.9 per cent of the Pakistan story.

However, as I had made up my mind to visit Pakistan, nothing was going to stop me. Since I desired to visit the Northern Areas as well, my friend from Lahore not only lined up a visit for me, he also took a break from his office to give me company. My journey from Singapore to Lahore (via Bangkok) felt strange, or rather unique, as I was the only foreigner on the flight. The gentleman sitting next to me was a doctor from Lahore. His amazement as to why I had chosen Pakistan as my holiday destination unhinged me for a moment. Later I understood that this was genuine curiosity rather than a voicing of concern regarding my security.

I was received at the airport by my friend. While driving to his home, I saw alleys of trees and greenery, clean streets and orderly traffic — quite unlike how I imagined Lahore to be. The next day, I woke up to a beautiful sunny morning and went around the city: to the historic fort and the Badshahi Mosque. I was wearing the traditional shalwar kurta that my friend’s father had kindly gifted to me. Contrary to my expectations, nobody on the street gave me strange ‘look-there’s-a-foreigner’ looks. The evening was spent sitting on the rooftop of a restaurant on food street, listening to live instrumental music against the backdrop of the splendidly-lit Badshahi mosque, presenting an awe-inspiring spectacle. The desi cuisine was delicious and the spices were toned down at my request. The decor and architecture of the street were indescribably beautiful. I visited shopping areas, busy malls, high-end restaurants and roadside dhabas. There was not a moment, which gave me the feeling that I was at a dangerous or a conservative place. People were open, cheerful and absolutely normal while they went about their daily lives.

The bus ride from Lahore to Islamabad on the motorway was an experience in itself. Passengers were offered complimentary high-speed WiFi internet, sandwiches, juices and headphones, should they want to listen to music or watch a film. While in Islamabad, a visit to a local coffee shop was an eye-opener. I could see petite girls, walking in re-assuredly, hanging out with their friends late into the night, giggling and chatting. My stereotypes as to how women in Pakistan lived were now gradually fading away; more so when I saw so many of them all alone and independent, trekking the woods of the Astor Valley.

September 17, 2015 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Indian Sikh visitor's view of Pakistani roads:

The Lahore Ring Road is much like the Delhi Ring Road, only much wider and with lesser traffic. It merges into the Lahore-Islamabad motorway which is even bigger and better. The drive to Nankana Sahib was pretty smooth through the town of Sheikhupura and the only roadblock we hit was on the outskirts of the town which was in a state of lockdown due to the rush of Indian devotees. Massive police presence could be seen and street after street was cordoned off with cement road blocks and razor wires to prevent access to the Gurdwara. -

See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/blogs/a-surreal-drive-through-pakistan-discussing-modi-bihar-and-patiala/

December 9, 2015 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

#UAE- #Pakistani Friendship Road opens in Pakistan's tribal areas- #FATA #Waziristan #Infrastructure

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/general/uae--pakistani-friendship-road-opens-in-pakistans-tribal-areas


The UAE- Pakistani Friendship Road, with length of 72 km and width of 9 metres, is one of the biggest development projects in the tribal region, and links south and north of Waziristan regions.
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The UAE- Pakistani Friendship Road, funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development at cost of US$60.6 million, has been inaugurated in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan.

The move follows the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and follow up by His Highness Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, to provide the humanitarian and development aid to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The UAE- Pakistani Friendship Road, with length of 72 km and width of 9 metres, is one of the biggest development projects in the tribal region, and links south and north of Waziristan regions. The project opened by General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Army, in the presence of, Abdullah Khalifa Al Ghafli, Director of the UAE Project to Assist Pakistan (PAP), members of the project, senior Pakistani army officers, senior local government officials of the tribal areas, and tribal dignitaries.

During the inauguration ceremony, the audience thanked the UAE President for his kind gesture. General Sharif extended his thanks to Shaikh Khalifa for continuous support, citing the UAE- Pakistani Friendship Road, deemed one of the development projects in Pakistan. He delivered the message of gratitude on the behalf of inhabitants of the tribal areas to the UAE leadership.

For his part, Al Ghafli stressed that the bilateral relations between the UAE and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan have a unique and special character demonstrated through the fraternal spirit, appreciation, mutual respect and shared vision between the leaders and peoples of the two countries.

He pointed out that the opening of "this vital road is nothing but the product of a long history of love, togetherness and cohesion between the leaders and peoples of the two friendly countries."

Al Ghafli said that the directives of the political leadership of the UAE have leveraged the success of the project and translated it into a reality. He appreciated the kind gestures of the UAE President and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, which focussed on helping the poor and needy in Pakistan.

He also praised the support and continuous follow-up enjoyed by the PAP by His Highness Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs. He stressed that the support and follow-up by Shaikh Mansour was a catalyst for the successful implementation of 416 development projects in Pakistan.

Al Ghafli referred to the success of partnership, cooperation and coordination with the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, which has been keen to contribute to several development projects in the areas of roads, bridges, health, education being implemented by the UAE Project to Assist Pakistan.

A number of beneficiaries told Emirates News Agency (WAM) that they were appreciative about the UAE leadership's stance to offer all forms of assistance in time of their need. While welcoming the opening of the road which would facilitate transport in the tribal region, the beneficiaries noted that the naming of the project, the UAE- Pakistani Friendship Road, "reflects intimacy in the relationship between the peoples of the UAE and Pakistan."

June 25, 2016 at 10:14 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Renovation of M2 to be completed by May 2016

Re-carpeting and renovation work of Islamabad-Lahore Motorway (M2), scheduled to be completed by December this year, would be completed by much ahead of time by the end of next month.

Talking to APP on Thursday, an official source said that the work is in full swing and it would be completed by May or June.

The total cost of the project is Rs30.935 billion, which includes renovation of toll plazas weigh stations workshops, as well and the total length of the M2 being recarpeted is 714kms. An official of the National Highway Authority (NHA) said the expenditures incurred on re-carpeting of the M2 were made from the revenue generated through toll tax; therefore, no expenditure is made from other development heads of the NHA.

Renovation and overlay work on the M2 had started in January last year by MORE (FWO) the build operate transfer (BOT) concessionaire of the project.

M2 was handed over to FWO on December 15, 2014 for operation and maintenance for the next 20 years.

Signing ceremony of the BOT agreement between the NHA and the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) for redesigning and beautification of Lahore-Islamabad Motorway (M2) was held in April 2014. He said that the overlaying fencing beautification of the road would make travel along it all the more a wonderful experience.

The government is not seeking any loans from abroad for the construction of the road, he said.

On the contrary, the FWO would pay an amount of Rs206 billion to the government of Pakistan over the agreement period, besides looking after the road.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/114349-Renovation-of-M2-to-be-completed-by-May#

January 23, 2017 at 10:42 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) becoming popular mode of road construction in Pakistan

https://www.app.com.pk/bot-becoming-popular-mode-of-road-construction-in-pakistan-2/

ISLAMABAD, Jan 14 (APP): National Highway Authority (NHA) has been focusing on Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) projects to involve private sector in highway building projects as the present government wants to upgrade road infrastructure in the next five to seven years.
The government wants to double the road density till 2025 and this mammoth development goal can only be achieved with the support of private sector, an official of National Highway Authority ( NHA ) told APP on Saturday . He said that public private partnership is becoming an essential component of NHA development strategy.The objectives set by NHA,he said, include development,off-budget financing, efficiency, investment, sustainability and revenues generation.
Re-carpeting and renovation work of Islamabad-Lahore Motorway (M2) completed recently is one of the big achievements of NHA on BOT basis, he added.
The total cost of the project was Rs30.935 billion, which includes renovation of toll plazas, weigh stations workshops, as well and the total recarpetted and renovated length is 714kms.
Renovation and overlay work on the M-2 had started in January 2015 by MORE (FWO), the build operate transfer (BOT) concessionaire of the project.M-2 was handed over to FWO on December 15, 2014 for operation and maintenance for the next 20 years.
He said another major under-construction BOT project of NHA was 136 km Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway (M-9) which connects Karachi to Hyderabad and would cost about Rs. 24 Billion. The project work started on March 16,2015 and will be completed by December 2017. Its 80 km portion would be opened for traffic within a week time.
Among the upcoming BOT projects, he said construction work of 296 km Hyderabad-Sukkur Motorway is likely to start soon . The project would be executed on BOT basis and its estimated cost is over Rs 160 billion.
The motorway project starting from Sukkur will touch Khairpur, Nowshehro Feroze, Nawab Shah, Mitiari, Hala and Jamshoro and terminate at Hyderabad.
About 90-kilometre Sialkot-Lahore Motorway would cost Rs 56 billion and will be built on BOT basis and it would be completed in three years. The proposed motorway project would help link remote areas with big cities and reduce the distance between Sialkot and Lahore.
Starting from Sahowala-Sambrial,the motorway will end at Kala Shah Kaku via Daska, Gujranwala and Kamonki.
Moreover the NHA plans to undertake the up gradation and dualization of Multan-Muzaffargarh-D.G. Khan Section of Multan-Qilla Saifullah Highway (N-70) on BOT basis.
The NHA invited bids for undertaking upgradation and dualization
of the section and a Concession Agreement has been finalized, the official informed.
The Concession Agreement has been signed, and the construction work shall be commenced after achievement of Financial Close by the Concessionaire. He said that the project construction period will be 24 months from achievement of financial close.
The existing 20 km of Tarnol-Taxila section of Grand Trunk Road (N-5) would be improved and widened to provide a fast track facility of international standard is among the BOT Projects at Procurement Stage. Scope of work also includes a flyover at Tarnol railway crossing. Concession agreement is at negotiation stage.
About 111-kilometre four-lane Pindi Bhattian-Faisalabad Motorway (M-3) and Faisalabad-Gojra Section of Faisalabad-Multan Motorway (M-4) would be converted into a 6 lane facility and overlay on existing 4-lanes would also be done.Land and 6-lane structures are of the project are already available.
Yet another upcoming BOT project is 32 km existing 2-lane Tarnol-Fatehjang section of Rawalpindi-Kohat Highway which would be converted into a 4- lane, divided highway and the project is at preparation stage.

January 23, 2017 at 10:56 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan to set up #infrastructure bank with $1 billion capital to finance private sector development. #IMF #IFC

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1394404/pakistan-set-1b-infrastructure-bank/

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has announced that the government will set up Pakistan Infrastructure Bank with a paid-up capital of $1 billion, which will give financing to private investors for development projects.

Pakistan government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would have 20% shares each in the bank and the rest would be held by global organisations such as the International Finance Corporation, he said.

AJK plans tourism corridor along CPEC
He was speaking at a briefing held for the Pakistani media towards the end of his visit to Washington DC during which he attended spring meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.

Dar also revealed that the government would soon be launching Pakistan Development Fund (PDF) and its shares worth Rs100 billion would be offered to Pakistani diaspora in order to channelise their remittances effectively.

Later, these shares will be listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange. “After the success of Sukuk (Islamic bonds), the PDF will be another attractive investment for overseas Pakistanis,” he remarked.

Giving a detailed round-up on the plenary sessions with the IMF and World Bank, the minister said there was positive sentiment about the tremendous economic rebound experienced by Pakistan over the last four years.

“Pakistan was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2014 and today it is likely to achieve approximately 5% growth during the current financial year,” he said. “Both IMF and World Bank are on the same page with the Pakistani government in these projections.”

Promotion of it: Work on innovation centres begins

Global credit rating agencies have upgraded the rating of Pakistan from negative to stable and from stable to positive in the last four years to an extent that the country is likely to be included in G-20 countries by 2030.

April 26, 2017 at 10:24 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

#Karachi-#Hyderabad: M-9 #motorway likely to be opened on August 14 2017 #CPEC The Express Tribune

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1431001/karachi-hyderabad-m-9-likely-opened-august-14/

ISLAMABAD: The National Highway Authority (NHA) is all set to complete the Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway (M-9) by August this year, almost seven months ahead of its scheduled completion date.

The project is likely to be inaugurated on August 14, well before the time in view of its unusual importance as around 80% of the trade activities in the country are going to be linked with this route.

The cost of the project is Rs44 billion and, once completed, it is likely to bring a revolution in terms of connecting the country’s vital economic centres with the upcountry by facilitating the movement of heavy commercial vehicles originating from the Karachi Port and Port Qasim.

It will also facilitate the traffic coming from Karachi Northern Bypass (KNBP) and Makran Coastal Highway (MCH), say the documents available with The Express Tribune.

Connecting the country’s two important commercial centres – Karachi and Hyderabad – the M-9 will carry around 35 thousand vehicles every day. These vehicles include 18-20 thousand heavy commercial vehicles originating from Karachi Port and Port Qasim, according to the documents.

The project was started in September 2015 under public-private partnership as the government was short of funds to finance this project. The Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) is its contractor and concessionaire.

The first 80km-long section of the motorway has already been successfully completed. It was inaugurated in February 2017. “It is one of the mega projects on which the government has not spent a single penny,” said NHA spokesperson Kashif Zaman.

He said the M-9 was being built according to the best international standards along with a 200 km-long 4-lane service road, which means 2-lanes on either side of the motorway. “This is the first motorway in Pakistan that will have four-lane service roads on either side, as usually there is fencing,” he said.

He said it will have 8 new interchanges at Malir, Dumba Goth, Lucky Cement, Power Cement, Noriabad, Thano Bulla Khan and Bolari. These interchanges will link the adjoining areas with the motorway thus facilitating the movement and boosting economic activities.

Meanwhile, in order to facilitate smooth movement of traffic and minimise risks of accidents, provision of proper diversions has been ensured during the construction.

“The rest areas will be equipped with all essential facilities such as restaurant, medical centre, mosque, fuel station, mini workshop, business centres and toilets,” he added.

June 9, 2017 at 8:22 PM  

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