Saudi, UK groups fund solar power panels for Pakistan’s KP schools

(Photo courtesy: British High Commission - Islamabad)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Saudi, UK groups fund solar power panels for Pakistan’s KP schools

ISLAMABAD: The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) on Tuesday announced an agreement to provide solar panels for schools in Pakistan’s northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
The agreement, which will provide energy for primary schools in KP’s southern districts, was signed in Islamabad with the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
Over the next two years, UNOPS will implement the project on behalf of KP’s government, with £6.5 million ($9 million) of funding jointly committed by the DFID and SFD.
The grant will cover nearly 2,000 government schools in seven districts in KP: Bannu, D.I. Khan, Karak, Kohat, Lakki Marwat, Tank and Hangu.
Of these, more than 700 are girls’ schools with more than 81,000 students already enrolled, the British High Commission said.
The Saudi ambassador to Pakistan, Nawaf Saeed Ahmad Al-Maliki, said at the signing ceremony that the project will be extended.
He is looking forward to working closely with Pakistan and investing in the country, he added.
In his address, SFD head Yousef Ibrahim Al-Bassam said the project will be a turning point in the implementation of large-scale renewable energy projects.
“It will empower the students, provide them with opportunities and lead the province to economic and social development,” he added.
Al-Bassam said he is delighted to launch the project in collaboration with the DFID. He thanked UNOPS and KP’s government for their continuous support and cooperation in its implementation.
In his speech, KP’s Education Minister Mohammed Atif Khan lauded the SFD’s involvement and contribution, and expressed hope that it will further cement the brotherly relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
“Education is one of the top priorities of the KP government, and we’re committed to providing quality education in every single district of the province,” Khan said. “Lack of facilities in schools directly affects children’s education.”
Lack of basic facilities in government schools in Pakistan is one of the main reasons for low enrolment and high dropout rates. The problem can be particularly acute in remote areas.
With the DFID and SFD funding the provision of solar panels in these schools, KP’s government can focus its funding on other facilities, the British High Commission said.
While addressing the signing ceremony, DFID head Joanna Reid expressed confidence that providing electricity in schools in KP’s southern districts will improve enrolment rates and education quality.


Trump blacklists critical ex-CIA chief Brennan

Updated 15 August 2018
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Trump blacklists critical ex-CIA chief Brennan

  • In a highly unusually directive, Trump claimed that Brennan had become “erratic”
  • Brennan, a frequent Trump critic, could now lose access to classified information, a courtesy usually afforded to former senior officials

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump revoked the security clearance of former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan Wednesday, warning several other prominent critics they too risk being blacklisted.
In a highly unusually directive, Trump claimed that Brennan — a former station chief in Riyadh who rose to lead the formidable spy agency — had become “erratic.”
Brennan is a frequent Trump critic. Just hours before this presidential edict, he accused Trump of failing “to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity.”
Brennan, who has briefed Republican and Democratic presidents, could now lose access to classified information, a courtesy usually afforded to former senior officials.
The White House has been besieged by a scandal over a former aide’s tell-all memoir in recent days and often tries to defuse crises by stoking new controversy.
It said that eight other critical officials could also lose their clearances.
They included former director of national intelligence James Clapper, former CIA director and four star general Michael Hayden and ex-FBI director James Comey.
The group was accused — without details — of politicizing and monetizing their public service and security clearances.
“Historically former heads of intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been allowed to retain access to classified information after their government service so that they can consult with their successors,” Trump’s statement read.
“At this point in my administration, any benefits that senior officials might glean from consultations with Mr.Brennan are now outweighed by the risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior.”
Following the president’s summit last month with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Brennan, who headed the CIA under president Obama, described Trump’s behavior as “nothing short of treasonous.”
The move to pull his security clearance prompted immediate outrage, with former secretary of state John Kerry accusing the president of “putting personal petty politics ahead of patriotism and national security.”
“You expect this banana republic behavior in the kind of countries that the State Department warns Americans not to travel to, but not at home in the USA.”
National security lawyer Brad Moss said it is not certain that Trump can legally rescind clearances on the grounds stated by the White House.
Hayden said Trump’s threat would have “no impact on what I think, say or write.”
He went on to tell CNN that “it’s almost as if they wanted us to implicitly sign a no disparagement agreement” — a reference to gag orders which Trump often insists on for civilian staff.