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

(Photo courtesy: British High Commission - Islamabad)
Updated 13 February 2018
0

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.


Pakistan's National Assembly passes bill to merge FATA with KPK

Updated 6 min 52 sec ago
0

Pakistan's National Assembly passes bill to merge FATA with KPK

  • Government supported by all opposition parties but opposed by two allies.
  • The bill was passed despite opposition from two government-allied parties.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s National Assembly on Thursday passed a constitutional amendment bill allowing the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province. 
This despite opposition from two government-allied parties: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) and the Pukhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).
“This issue needed a national consensus, and thank God we achieved it today,” Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told the National Assembly after the passage of the bill.
The merger will greatly impact development in FATA, which borders restive Afghanistan, he said.
“This is the beginning of the process,” he added. “We have to win the trust of the people of FATA, and we can achieve it through infrastructure development in the area.”
Abbasi announced a tax exemption for FATA for the next five years, and promised a 100-billion-rupee ($864-million) special infrastructure development package.
“We need to build hospitals, schools and roads in FATA to bring it at par with other parts of the country,” he said.
The government required a two-thirds majority (228 votes) in the Lower House to pass the bill, and got the support of all opposition parties.
The bill will become law after it is passed by a two-thirds majority in the Senate, and by the KP Assembly.
The bill envisages the abolition of Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) — a special set of colonial laws that governs FATA — and representation in the KP Assembly.
The assembly will have an additional 21 seats from FATA “provided that elections to the aforesaid seats shall be held within one year after the general elections 2018.”
JUI-F legislator Naeema Kishwar said her party had asked Abbasi to hold a referendum in FATA. The merger “will not augur well for Pakistan” as it is fulfilling a “foreign agenda,” she added.
The government allocated 100 billion rupees for FATA in last year’s budget, but only 10 billion were released, she said. 
“How can we trust the government that it will fulfil all its promises of development in the tribal area?” she asked.
PkMAP legislator Abdul Qahar Khan Wadan said the people of FATA want a separate province, not a merger with KP. “We will fight for our rights, as the government has betrayed us,” he added.