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SHC restrains PTCL transfer to Etisalat

KARACHI: A division bench of the Sindh High Court on Tuesday passed a prohibition order restraining the transfer of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL)’s assets to Etisalat and issued notices to the government of Pakistan, Privatisation Commission, Etisalat and other parties for May 15.

The bench comprising SHC Chief Justice Sabihuddin Ahmed and Justice Gulzar Ahmed also directed the Privatisation Commission to inform the court about the bid money paid by Etisalat to the government.

Haji Khan Bhatti, president of the PTCL Lions Staff Union, challenged the privatisation through a constitutional petition submitted by Advocate MAK Azmati. The petitioner says the privatisation process of PTCL contravened the law as there was no justification for the government to privatise 26 percent shares of the profit-earning company of national strategic importance, and so the sale deal should be struck down.

The petition alleges that the privatisation was carried out in a “mala fide and non-transparent manner” and favoured Etisalat as PTCL was being sold at a “throwaway price”, and that too not paid according to the terms of the bid.

According to the petitioner, Etisalat, which was required to pay the bid money within two months, will instead pay instalments in Pakistani rupees over the next five years, “and obviously the amount will be earned from the business of the PTCL”. The said exercise did not conform to any norm of privatisation.

Instead of cancelling the bid because of its non-fulfilment, the government handed over the company to the respondent in a “secret manner” as the contents of the bargain were not made public, says the petition.

Azmati contended that the assets of the company could not be handed over to Etisalat as it had bought only a 26 percent stake in PTCL. He argued that the privatisation process violated Article 173 of the Constitution.

The case is reminiscent of the Supreme Court’s decision in June last year to stop the sale of Pakistan Steel Mills.

(Daily Times-A1, 18/04/2007)

Home for elderly opened

KARACHI, April 27: A 40-bed Irfan Mowjee Home for the Elderly Poor was inaugurated at the Ida Rieu School and College for the Deaf and Blind on Friday evening.

The entire construction cost of over Rs10 million was donated by Yasmin and Sultan Mowjee, in memory of their son Irfan, who died of a blood disorder at a very young age.

Earlier, Mr Mowjee, Admiral (retd) Khalid Mir, Mahar Alvi and Qudsia Khan of the Ida Rieu Welfare Association spoke.

They said that the building of the existing home for the poor elderly which was constructed over 80 years back was in a bad shape so the number of inmates had been restricted, but now with the new building more poor elderly people would be accommodated.

They said that specially trained attendants took care of the elderly inmates who were provided food, medical care, clothing, etc.

On the occasion, a brief resume of the Ida Rieu was also given. The speakers said that established in 1920 the school having a staff of over 135 specially trained teachers provided education from Class I to postgraduate level to over 850 deaf and blind students. Over 200 male and female students stayed at the school’s hostels.

They said that other facilities at the Ida Rieu campus, located on Nizami Road at Old Numaish, were computer training; tailoring and embroidery; cane workshop; music classes; book binding workshop; wood working; clay moulding workshop; Inner Wheel Medical Clinic; Ibn Hasan Burney Old People Home; gymnasium; Hatim Alvi Memorial Braile Library; Poor People’s Home.

They said the students had been participating in sports events and had won medals in martial arts and Ida Rieu’s cricket team had won the national championship.

(Dawn-18, 28/04/2007)

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