Cheap flights to Europe set to return as AirAsia X buys $6.7 billion in long-range Airbus jets

Cheap flights to Europe set to return as AirAsia X buys $6.7 billion in long-range Airbus jets

Date   December 20, 2013
AirAsia X is likely to resume flights to Europe after announcing an order for 25 long-range Airbus A330-300 planes.AirAsia X is likely to resume flights to Europe after announcing an order for 25 long-range Airbus A330-300 planes.

Low-cost Malaysian airline AirAsia X announced Wednesday an order of 25 long-range A330-300 aircraft with a catalogue price of nearly $US6 billion ($A6.7 billion) as it looks to return to serving Europe.

“This order stamps our firm intent to dominate the long-haul, low-cost carrier space and marks the next phase in our development to be the undisputed global market leader,” AirAsia X’s director Tony Fernandes was quoted as saying in a statement.

Airbus said at a joint press conference in Paris it was the biggest single order for the widebody twin-engine aircraft from an airline, and would begin delivering the planes to the long-haul affiliate of the AirAsia group in 2015.

The order includes the latest version of the A330-300 capable of flying from Asia to Europe or the Americas non-stop.


“We need to come back to Europe and this aircraft is the right aircraft for us to come back,” Fernandes said at the news conference. AirAsia X had previously flown to Paris and London, offering connections from its Australian routes, but halted serving the routes in 2012.

As a budget carrier, the airline requires economy passengers to pay extra for food, entertainment and its ‘comfort kit’ (blanket, pillow and eye mask).

AirAsia X already had 26 of the planes on order and currently operates 16 A330-300 aircraft on routes from Kuala Lumpur to Asian and Middle Eastern destinations.

It also announced Wednesday it was leasing 6 of the aircraft from the US company ILFC.

Fernandes said the AirAsia X is well positioned to dominate the Asian market, and that an announcement of a return to flights to Japan is also close.

He said AirAsia X was looking to emulate the success of Emirates, which has made a success of carrying passengers between continents from its hub in Dubai.

“We will build the equivalent of Emirates in low cost,” said the AirAsia X chief. “We have bases and hubs in many countries, so the power of what we can build is much larger.”

The AirAsia group is one of Airbus’ biggest clients, with more than 120 medium-haul A320 planes in use and with several hundred aircraft on order.

In June 2011 the Malaysian company ordered 200 A320 Neo planes with a catalogue price of $US18.24 billion, one of the biggest ever orders of commercial aircraft.

It has also ordered 10 of Airbus’ future long-range aircraft, the A350-XWB.

AirAsia saw its third quarter net profit plunge by three-quarters to $US11 million in the third quarter of this year due to foreign exchange losses, but its operating profit and passenger numbers both rose.


Nawaz’s Youth Business Loan Scheme – Tough Conditions

Published 2013-12-20 07:22:24

THE widespread complaints against the tough conditions of the Prime Minister’s Youth Business Loan Scheme finally found their way into the National Assembly on Wednesday. This was expected because not every loan-seeker, particularly those from the lower income bracket, can apply for money under the scheme let alone obtain it. The initiative is probably one of the most appreciated and the most infuriating plans at the same time. The project promises to disburse Rs100bn in one year; 100,000 soft loans in the range of Rs100,000 and Rs2m amongst jobless young men and women to start their own small businesses.

Since its launch, the concept has been widely appreciated because it shows the government’s determination to take a chance and help the country’s youth access subsidised finance. But if the idea is to hold the hands of the poor, underprivileged young people, then the plan in its present form can hardly be expected to achieve this objective. The condition for loan-seekers to have a guarantor will exclude a large number of lower-middle-class young men and women with workable business ideas, who are willing to work hard to realise their dreams through the scheme. The initiative makes it mandatory for the loan-seekers to have a guarantor who can be a government employee at the level of BPS-15 or above, or someone with a net worth of 150pc more than the amount of the loan being sought. Not everyone can arrange for such a guarantor.

The ‘popularity’ of the scheme can be assessed from the number of downloads of loan application and other documents posted by the Small and Medium Development Authority on its website. By Dec 18, the number had already crossed the 5.5m mark. How the condition of guarantor is stalling the majority from applying for the loans is indicated by the negligible number of applications received by the two state-owned participating banks. So if the opposition legislators have brought the matter into the House on behalf of those who will be excluded from the scheme, the government should not be upset. It must listen to what the opposition parties, or any other stakeholder, have to say on this issue and allay their fears. Blaming the banks, whose money is involved, for tough conditions will not do. If the scheme was designed by the banks keeping their own interest before them, why is the government taking credit for it? Instead of getting emotional about criticism of the scheme, the architects of the initiative should work to find a way to accommodate those who cannot arrange guarantors and who do not have collateral for mortgage against the subsidised loan. And the solution should not put the banks’ money at risk like previous initiatives such as the Yellow Cab scheme had done.

Land record to be computerised by June 2014: CM

Land record to be computerised by June 2014: CM

LAHORE: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that the historic project of computerisation of land record would be completed by June 2014 in 140 tehsils and this modern system would be fully functional in all districts of the province. 
Addressing the inaugural ceremony of a land record centre at Lahore Cantonment on Sunday, Shahbaz said that computerisation of land record would eliminate corruption, bribery and forgery in matters relating to land as well as rid the people of the obsolete and exploitative system of patwari and tehsildar. 
He said that nothing was impossible if one was determined enough. He said that Pakistan was facing terrorism, energy crisis and a number of serious challenges, but “living nations come out of all the crises through hard work, honesty and continuous struggle”. 
He said there was a need for self-reformation to change failures into successes and become an invincible nation.
The chief minister said that Pakistan could achieve a dignified status in the comity of nations through determination, honesty and relentless efforts.
He said that the completion of the historic project of Punjab land record computerisation would enable citizens to obtain proprietary deeds of their lands as well as facilitate them in the matters regarding transfer of land, which would be a big change in the system. 
He said that former rulers did not pay due attention to the important project due to which a large sum of public money and time of the nation was wasted. 
However, he said, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government furthered the project of land record computerisation expeditiously and this project would be facilitating the people of the province from June 2014. 
He said that completion of the project would eliminate tehsildar and patwari culture. He said that the government was not against patwaris and tehisldars, but there was a need to change their mentality, which had been a source of problem for the people for centuries. 
He said that despite summaries of government officers, he had not recruited even a single patwari during the last six years, and had appointed honest, hardworking and talented persons though the Punjab Public Service Commission at the service centres, adding that the government had also adopted an effective check and balance system for the purpose.
The chief minister further said that those criticising the welfare projects of the Punjab government were least concerned about the betterment and uplift of the masses. He said that some elements criticised the metro bus project and termed it a jangla bus service, and also remained engaged in the propaganda of expenditure of Rs 70 billion on the project. “Today, 150,000 people are benefiting from this splendid project daily,” he said.
Shahbaz said that promotion of trade and economic activities was essential for the elimination of poverty, unemployment and terrorism. 
He said that Pakistan was facing a serious shortage of electricity, which was essential for promoting agriculture, trade, industrial and economic activities. 
He said that he was fully determined to rid the country of the energy crisis and agreements were being signed with foreign energy companies and investors for the purpose. 
He said that he was confident that efforts in this regard would be successful and the energy crisis would be overcome. He said that the former rulers did not take energy problem seriously and due to their criminal negligence the country was immersed in darkness. 
He said that due to corruption and greed of former rulers, an additional sum of Rs 30 billion from the public money was being spent on Nandipur power project. He said that work was being carried out expeditiously on the project and its one turbine would start operating from May 2014. 
Addressing intellectuals, journalists and columnists who were present at the function, the chief minister said that executive and press go hand in hand and the government takes guidance from analysis and comments of journalists. 
He said that the journalist community would have to play a key role in steering the nation out of despondency. 

Walled City of Lahore Authority officially launched on Sunday its guided tours inside the Walled City
LAHORE, Dec 15: The Walled City of Lahore Authority officially launched on Sunday its guided tours inside the Walled City after it trained over 20 tourist guides in its first Tourist Guide Course held in June this year.

According to officials, the WCLA conducted a guided tour for “Amateur Gardeners Club” (AGC). Almost 180 members of the club participated in the tour which started from Delhi Gate.

The tourists were taken through the narrow streets, recently restored by the WCLA, including Sabeelwali Gali, Gali Surjan Singh, Mohammadi Mohallah, Phoolonwali Gali, Gali Mian Sultan, Koocha Gubarchiyan, Gali Mian Sultan, Quraishiwali Gali, Katra Jawala Singh and Katra Neemwala. The tourists were taken to Masjid Wazir Khan and Delhi Gate.

Activities of interest were also made available on the site so that the tourists could get familiar with the culture of Walled City. Stalls of cultural and traditional items were put up in Sabeelwali Gali for the tourists. Colorful dhamal and monkey show fascinated the tourists.

Officials said the WCLA would regularly conduct these tours in order to attract domestic tourists to the rich city within a city. “The restoration work on Shahi Guzargah is near completion and a patch from Delhi Gate to Masjid Wazir Khan has been opened up for public,” an official said.

The PPP leader said that terrorists wanted to make Pakistan a “backward society”.

Mohenjodaro 2014 — peace through culture

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KARACHI: The nation hit by terrorism, sectarianism and ethnic tensions burst into applause on Sunday night when young leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party announced to use one of the richest cultures of the world for promotion of peace in the society.

“Terrorists want our country to have a primitive society …It is up to us to preserve our history and culture,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told a charged audience, comprising national as well as international dignitaries, at the Mohatta Palace in Clifton.

The PPP leader said that terrorists wanted to make Pakistan a “backward society”.

“We are promoting the culture of peace while terrorists want to impose their rules on us through the barrel of gun. We have been taught distorted history about our culture and religion by military dictators like Ziaul Haq and his protégés. But we won’t let them succeed,” Bilawal, who anchored the colourful event along with his sister Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, told the participants.

“Our heritage is under threat. Pakistanis are being dragged backwards, towards more regressive dark ages. A fictionalised and imported culture is being imposed on us despite that we have our own rich cultural heritage”, Bilawal said.

He lamented the gradual degradation of Mohenjodaro, the 5,000-year-old world’s last surviving Bronze Age city. “The great archeological site is disappearing before our eyes,” he said, and announced that opening ceremony of the Sindh Festival 2014 will be held in Mohenjodaro.

“Eyes of whole world will be watching and people across the world will know about Mohenjodaro for the first time,” Bilawal added.

“Let’s bask in the glory of Indus Valley civilisation. Let’s live in the Pakistan we want to see. Move away London 2012, we have Mohenjodaro 2014,” Bilawal said to a cheering audience.

“I’m proud to be a Sindhi, Muslim and a Pakistani. Let’s protect, preserve and promote Sindh. Let’s protect, preserve and promote our heritage,” he said as he invited his political rivals, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, PTI chief Imran Khan, and common people to participate in the Sindh Festival. “All Pakistanis are invited,” he said.

Bilawal also announced the ambitious plans to host the popular festival of Basant on the beach in the port city in February, five years after authorities in Punjab banned it.

According to Bilawal, the Basant in Karachi would be “Beach Basant”.

“Sindh estival is bringing all the cultural activities back that were closed by government in 2006,” he said.

“I have realised that Pakistan is gradually becoming ‘banistan’. If we find someone offensive on YouTube, we ban the website. If we can’t compete with the Indian cinema, we ban movies,” he said.

Unveiling the events to be held during the two-week festival, Bakhtawar said it would have ‘the best of what Sindh and Pakistan has to offer’.

Laws will be formed to avert accidents during Basant, such as those caused by metallic kite strings. Kite flying will be organised on the beach to avoid any untoward incident.

The festival will include Sufi music nights, cattle races, a donkey derby, handicraft carnivals, film festivals and cricket tournaments. The festivities would begin with a grand opening ceremony at Mohenjodaro, Larkana, on February 1 and would continue till mid-February.

On Valentine’s Day, a special ghazal night will be organised for couples and families. A painting exhibition of some of the top artists and the private collection of late Benazir Bhutto would also be held.

During the festival, a singing competition ‘Voice of Pakistan’ will also be organised. A bus would travel across the province to stage auditions for picking out the most talented singer from the rural areas.

For two weeks, Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim will house most of the activities, where stalls will be set up by artisans from rural Sindh displaying pottery, handicrafts and traditional souvenirs.

The closing ceremony of the Sindh Culture Fest would be staged at Keenjhar Lake with an open air concert and fireworks. The festival will be an annual event.

What Australian women need to fight for

Mehreen Faruqi
Published: December 16, 2013 – 12:12AM


Growing up in Pakistan, a poor developing nation underpinned by a patriarchal society, I always imagined prosperous countries like Australia having achieved gender equality in all spheres of life. So imagine my surprise when I arrived in Sydney 21 years ago and started my postgraduate studies in engineering, only to discover there was only one female academic amongst a fifty odd male teachers in the school of civil engineering at my university.

Of course, judging gender equality is much more sophisticated than just measuring numbers and ratios in one particular institution and profession; nonetheless it is a good indicator of existing marginalisation. This discovery was the start of my rose-coloured glasses getting less and less of a workout in the coming years as I made Australia my home.

There is no doubt that much has been achieved through the successive three waves of feminism over the last century. We’ve fought hard and won many battles – the right to vote and to run for parliament, to join the workforce and pursue careers in all professions. We have better access to contraception and abortion services. Laws have been enacted that attempt to create equal pay, equal opportunity and protect women from violence.

While these much needed reforms have vastly improved women’s rights and opportunities, change has been painstakingly slow, and inequality and discrimination still pervade many parts of our laws, workplaces, society and democracy.

Gaining the right to run for parliament has not yet led to equal representation. I sit in NSW parliament where only a quarter of the MPs are women. The first woman was elected to the lower house of NSW parliament in 1925. It is quite unacceptable that after almost a hundred years, there are only 18 more, in an assembly of 93.

It was this male-dominated chamber that last month voted to give foetuses legal personhood status in NSW. “Zoe’s Law” is an unnecessary and dangerous piece of legislation, and will have serious consequences for women’s reproductive health and their right to choose, especially since abortion is still an offence under the NSW Crimes Act.

Even though more women complete university degrees than men, they are less likely to reach higher management positions. The gender pay gap, shamefully, still stands at 17.5%.

Not only has our journey of equality been slow but even more disappointing is the fact that we are moving backwards and unwinding some of these hard-fought rights: The gender pay gap has actually increased by 2.6% since 2004.

Women’s rights to reproductive health are yet again under threat from conservative parliaments across Australia. Following the passage of foetal personhood law in NSW Lower House, South Australia attempted to do the same. The Victorian Liberal state council has decided to overhaul abortion laws and there are fears that abortion may again be criminalised.

This year the world economic forum ranked Australia 24th in their global gender gap report, well after the Philippines, Cuba and Nicaragua – countries which have a much lower GDP than Australia. Not only this, but we have slipped 9 places in the last 7 years.

Women’s participation in politics is a key measure of women’s empowerment but in our Federal Parliament women’s representation has dropped significantly, moving from 24th to 43rd in the world in the last 12 years. We lag behind developing countries such as Senegal, Nepal and Afghanistan.

No doubt Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s decision to allow only one woman in his cabinet will slide us even further down the scale in 2014.

Given this widening gap in gender equality and concerted moves to wind back women’s rights, it was especially inexcusable for the Prime Minister to try and justify his decision by highlighting that “There are very strong and capable women knocking on the door of the Cabinet.”

Of course, there has never been a lack of strong and determined women in society. Some recent examples include our first female Prime Minister and Governor General, and of course the young Pakistani woman, Malala Yosefzai, who is the role model for a whole generation.

But more of these “very strong and capable women” need to knock down more doors, call out sexism and gender-bias for what it is and take up their rightful place in politics and in society. It’s also time for me to pack away those rose-coloured glasses for now. It’s quite clear that women in Australia cannot take their rights for granted just yet.

Let’s make sure that in 2014 we all take responsibility for closing the gap.  Women’s empowerment and equal participation are a ‘whole of society’ responsibility. I already see supporters of women’s rights and social justice joining up across politics, class, gender and ethnicity It is extremely inspiring and energizing to see the fourth wave of feminists, young and old, men and women working together for equality. As a passionate feminist and the Greens NSW spokesperson for women, I will be standing up with them, and we will turn the tide, as we have in the past.

Mehreen Faruqi, Greens MLC and spokesperson for the Status of Women 

This story was found at:

Friend of PAK Army = Mirza Jamal = But I hate Brown Envelops

  • I feel very strongly about Taliban bombs and all the stuff isi do to us Pakistan and I say even Top army generals are under ISI and Jamaat control. I just hate ayub and zia and mushrraf not controlling lawlessness in Pakistan .


    please do not forget i m belong to army family my father was army officer and my big bro have on duty

  • Mirza Danish Jamal
    Mirza Danish Jamal

    I went too far. Just delete my comments.

    Listen BROTHER if we or you belong to army family we have more RIGHT TO ASK ABOUT CORRUPTION AND DISASTERS that happens in Army time. Last Army rule 9 years and same CORRUPTION and railway. Zia destroyed our right to ask questions. Too many late night knock at door. Brother feel FREE zia is dead. Complain and say army is MY FAMILY AND BLOOD I WANT ANSWERS when army rules why things are just the same?

    That’s all I am saying. You are not alone. Its like “ALL” Pashtoon accept that Taliban are our blood and brothers and all faults and brainwash is ONLY done by USA and POLIO teams ? Girl schools are allowed. Woman driving is allowed !!! We just DAMAGE ourselves by dreaming that PAKISTAN can get BETTER without EXPOSING frauds ? Including Army frauds ? My point ALWAYS is WHY only BLAME PPP and PML and PTI ? Army and ISI blackmail to press and politicians is just as bad and ruining our PAKISTAN daily. Who SAID I CAN NOT criticise ARMY or ISI ? Zia is dead no more late night door knocks at my home !!!

  • Mirza Danish Jamal
    Mirza Danish Jamal

    I left Pakistan just after zia died. I knew damage to Pakistan done by these born to rule army selfishness. As I say just like Pashtoon must not tell their children that Taliban are our brothers. Oh FB wouldn’t tell you but Taliban kill Army Everyday even now. This makes me Friend of Pak Army. But as a civilian ( you are civilian too) I have my rights to ask where is money for poor hospitals. Why Army kids are treated better than other Pakistanis?

  • Mirza Danish Jamal
    Mirza Danish Jamal

    These rulers have even made word civilian a dirty word. Why we disrespect Police? Army teach us what we see in newspapers. Army is above law in Pakistan.

    Sorry if I offend but I assure you everyone dislikes what I write. No one dare ask Army about disasters and low performance under Musharraf Ayub and Torture expert Ziaul Haq. Why civilian are to be only blame for disasters Taliban creation and …. Anyway I will write without fear or flavour . I point out bad things regardless of who does it.

  • Mirza Danish Jamal
    Mirza Danish Jamal

    From now on I will avoid writing on your ISI greatness photos. Maybe one day you will understand hidden corruption hands are taking Pakistani cash and wasting it. Poor Pakistani die with rubbish hospitals and we are told to keep cheating and cheering the way untouchable are. Brown envelopes.

  • Mirza Danish Jamal
    Mirza Danish Jamal

     Zia is dead. We shouldn’t fear those horror days. If you are army family you also have right to ask life is just the same as it was under Musharraf. Taliban kill our army but newspapers and ISI schemes have told us European are our enemies. Do not ask who destroyed railway? Why Taliban kill Army of Pakistan ?

    I am sorry. Pakistan has corruption as reality and just agree and say and agree whatever neighborhood says. Thats majority and we cannot go against majority of Pakistan. Our freedom of thought has been destroyed. That is why PEOPLE never find ANYONE dare to ask QUESTIONS to Pak Army failures ! Plenty of them. Out of control Taliban …..

  • Mirza Danish Jamal
    Mirza Danish Jamal

    I am one of few Pakistani who hates Zia and Taliban. This makes me Friend of Army and Pakistan Govt. Please open your mind. I love Pakistan Army. My relatives are in Pak Army too.

    But I hate freedom given to corruption in every government. If army goes in government and usa friends and politics I have right to ask any govt past and present what they did to wapda and railway.

  • Mirza Danish Jamal
    Mirza Danish Jamal

    PIA too. We are just batman of waddera and sardar and zamindar rulers. Their sons are in parliament openly and also in majority top positions of Army. You or I can not change this. But its better to know I am among few wishing and asking questions for betterment of Pakistan. If Pakistan has good hospitals and quantity of schools army families like yours will even enjoy better Pakistan. That all my effort is about. I destroy DREAMS created by ……..

  • Mirza Danish Jamal
    Mirza Danish Jamal

    Not only hope of Pakistanis is stolen but we are brainwashed too. Like we have become Wahhabis.




Sydney Electricity Prices – SMH and ABC

Grattan Institute calls for electricity distribution reform

Brian Robins
Published: December 11, 2013 – 3:00AM      SMH

Wholesale reform of electricity distribution is essential to ensure consumers are charged only for the costs incurred, while investment should be limited to matching demand, research by the Grattan Institute has found.

Specifically, it wants the guaranteed high returns of the likes of SP AusNet, DUET Group and Spark Infrastructure, which control Victoria’s network businesses, holding the likes of Powercor, United Energy and CitiPower, to be cut.

The institute has released a study on the impact of falling demand as the Australian Energy Regulator agreed to a further round of price rises averaging 2 per cent for 2014, down from 5 per cent last year.

”Changes to average network tariffs vary between reductions of $11.40 to an increase of $48.30, depending upon which distributor the customer is connected to,” AER chairman Andrew Reeves said.

Recent declines in electricity demand have not led to lower electricity prices, as would occur in most markets, the institute noted. Rather, the average household power bill has risen 85 per cent since 2006, even as demand has slid more recently.

”Australians are funding billions of dollars of infrastructure that falling consumption has made redundant,” the institute said.

When consumption falls, power generators must sell at a lower price or reduce output.

”But network businesses – which carry power from the generator to the business or home – are regulated monopolies not subject to market forces.”

In all, they take about 45¢ of every dollar spent by the household on electricity.

”For years regulators have allowed these companies to earn excessive profits by setting tariffs that are too high given the low risk they face as monopolies,” the institute said.

But, as electricity demand declines, the high cost of the network is then spread over the smaller volumes used, while continually rising prices may induce some users to disconnect from the network altogether.

”Enough disconnections would trigger a … ‘death spiral’,” it warned.

To avoid this, the institute said the Australian Energy Regulator, which is an arm of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, should cut the rate of return allowed for network companies, given the low level of risk they face.

”Network businesses have the incentive to build more infrastructure assets, and the customer bears all of the risk if they become redundant. If companies carried some of the risk of falling demand, they would have stronger incentives to avoid overbuilding.”

This story was found at:

Electricity pricing faces scrutiny in Grattan Institute report

Will Ockenden reported this story on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 12:42:00

ELEANOR HALL: A report by the Grattan Institute has today warned of a death spiral in electricity markets, unless complicated and expensive regulations are changed.

Because of the way this market is regulated, consumers are now facing the prospect of paying more for electricity despite using less.

As Will Ockenden explains.

WILL OCKENDEN: It’s a common gripe – electricity prices are always going up.

And according to a Grattan Institute report, the bills will continue to rise even if you use less power.

TONY WOOD: Across all of our homes and businesses, our electricity use is actually going down, as you said, for the first time in a long time.

WILL OCKENDEN: It’s causing big problems and was never anticipated by the people who wrote the rules for the system.

It’s also causes a shock for consumers, who are facing the prospect of paying more for electricity despite using less.

The industry terms it a death spiral.

Tony Wood is from the Grattan Institute.

TONY WOOD: The costs of owning that network and building it don’t change, because it’s been built for us if you like, over a long time. And we didn’t think about this. When electricity use was rising it wasn’t a problem. But now what we’re finding is that the cost of that electricity has to be, if you like, spread over fewer and fewer units of electricity that we’re using. So the unit price is going up.

WILL OCKENDEN: For the majority of the 20th century, the production, distribution and sale of electricity worked well.

Electricity networks expanded so the power could keep flowing even during the hottest of days.

It worked because electricity demand was increasing. More power was needed year on year.

TONY WOOD: If a business, for example, closes because times are tough, and we are seeing that in the manufacturing sector, the cost of the network that provided the electricity to those businesses also is spread across all the other consumers. So actual bills go up as we pay for that. Now that’s creating a very, very unusual and difficult problem which no-one had every anticipated.

WILL OCKENDEN: But now electricity usage is falling, everything’s changed. Electricity usage has fallen about 4.5 per cent since 2010.

The Grattan Institute report doesn’t go into the reasons for the decline in detail, but says it’s partly down to more efficient electronics and a switch away from old-school light-bulbs.

In the end, the reason doesn’t matter. The fact is that falling electricity demand has not resulted in lower prices.

And Tony Wood says that’s because the regulatory settings are wrong.

TONY WOOD: Someone once told me if you’re digging yourself into a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging. And what we need to do firstly is stop the expansion of some of that infrastructure in some parts of Australia and hopefully we might start to see some of that. But equally we’re now going to confront what we’re going to do about the fact that we’ve probably already built more wires and poles than we need.

The businesses need to charge us – you, me – on the basis of the load we put on the network. Our peak demand if you like, rather than the total amount of electricity we use. And that will give us the right incentives to start to change the way we use electricity, including things like putting in air-conditioners or putting in solar on our roofs.

WILL OCKENDEN: The Australian Energy Regulator plays a big role in the network pricing structure. And Chairman Andrew Reeves says the current settings do need to be overhauled.

ANDREW REEVES: The important thing is to note that we should be alert to this, that it’s a long way from being alarmed.

WILL OCKENDEN: He says changes are being made.

ANDREW REEVES: We propose changes to the rules to set rates of return that are much closer to the cost of finance of the business. We’ve been producing guidelines and next week we are publishing our guideline which will set out how we intend to set the rates of return for the next round of network price determinations, starting in 2014.

WILL OCKENDEN: Do you admit that the rates of return were set way too high back in 2006 which has led to this problem?

ANDREW REEVES: We were concerned that the rates of return were set too high because the rules set up that pricing structure. We propose changes to the rules and we think that the prices as they are reset should be at lower rates of return.

ELEANOR HALL: That’s Andrew Reeves from the Australian Energy Regulator, ending Will Ockenden’s report.

VIEW : Becoming hostage — Kahar Zalmay

Tuesday, December 03, 2013 E-Mail this article to a friend Printer Friendly Version

VIEW : Becoming hostage — Kahar Zalmay\123\story_3-12-2013_pg3_3

undefined Our sense of patriotism is unique too: stand up for the national anthem before watching an Indian movie, worship nuclear weapons and detest India, Israel, the US and anyone who is not Muslim, but remain dependent on their aid

Who would have thought 60 odd years ago that a country created for Muslims would become unliveable for Muslims? And who would have known that right after independence, Muslims would be struggling to prove themselves as Muslims for fear of being persecuted when the state decided to embrace a particular sect? Those who struggled to make Pakistan a reality had not imagined that their journey from being citizens of the new country to becoming subjects would be that swift. And who would have guessed that the rulers in the new country would rewrite history, advertently making the man who spearheaded the freedom movement an outsider?

I was prompted to pen this article because of a recent video showing the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid. He criticised the Pakistani media for showering praises on Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, recognising that he is a great player but, since he is Indian, he should not be admired. Misbahul Haq, however pathetic a player he is, should not be criticised as he is a Muslim. Apparently, it is un-Islamic and unpatriotic to praise a non-Muslim. The Taliban and their sympathisers are duly extending their mandate.

Right after the birth of Pakistan, its rulers embarked on the mission of Islamising every aspect of life, culture, art, literature and even history, hounding and harassing relentlessly those who did not fit into the grand scheme of a super delusional empire stretching from South Asia to the borders of Central Asia. However, after six decades, there is no realisation at all that what brought this country to this stage is still considered a binding force. It seems something is fundamentally wrong with us or perhaps we are just a bunch of super psychoneurotics living in a fictitious land.

On Page 323 of the Justice Munir Commission Report of 1954, after concluding the discussion of defining who a Muslim is, it is reported: “Keeping in view the several definitions given by the ulema, need we make any comment except that no two learned divines are agreed on this fundamental? If we attempt our own definition, as each learned divine has done, and that definition differs from that given by all others, we unanimously go out of the fold of Islam. And if we adopt the definition given by any one of the ulema, we remain Muslims according to the view of that alim, but kafirs according to the definition of everyone else.” The Munir Report should have been translated into the major local languages and taught in schools as this report identifies the core cause of our collective failure, but instead we have chosen to live in disconnect, shying away from reality.

On page 316, the report reads, “According to the leading ulema, the position of non-Muslims in the Islamic State of Pakistan will be that of zimmies and they will not be full citizens of Pakistan because they will not have the same rights as Muslims. They will have no voice in the making of the law, no right to administer the law and no right to hold public offices.” Need I make any comment?

This is what we have been doing, sticking to the constitution and leaving no stone unturned to alienate anyone who talks of logic and reason. However, on the other hand, the extremists who create havoc, the killers and the fasadis (mischief mongers) are appreciated and garlanded with flowers. No, wait a minute please, we went a step further and elevated them to the status of ‘stakeholders’.

We are unmatched in self-destructiveness. We hate our heroes like Malala Yousafzai and Dr Abdus Salam but we adore our villains, Hafiz Saeed and Mumtaz Qadri. We loath our martyrs, Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, but we tumble over each other to turn the killer Hakeemullah Mehsud into a martyr. Our sense of patriotism is unique too: stand up for the national anthem before watching an Indian movie, worship nuclear weapons and detest India, Israel, the US and anyone who is not Muslim, but remain dependent on their aid. It is okay to spend one percent of our budget on education but it is unpatriotic to cut down on our defence budget. Ironically, we became a nuclear power that does not possess electric power.

Everything logical is considered unpatriotic by the right wingers and our celebrated television anchors. Many thought the influx of television channels would open up society; it reversed the process and brought a cruel intolerance into public discourse. Many expected that the media would become an agent of change connecting us with the global culture; instead it became an agent of isolationism. The only good the arrival of private television channels did was that it exposed our well-kept secret: our intellectual bankruptcy.

If anything, we excelled in our mastery of hypocrisy and deception. Do anything immoral or unjust but seek refuge in religion and get away with it. In normal societies, one needs oxygen to breathe — we breathe religion. Our generals have pirs (holy men) for prayers and private militias for fighting and our sports players think they can win only when invoking God by reciting some religious scriptures.

Last December, before his death, prominent journalist Christopher Hitchens wrote a piece in Vanity Fair. Pakistan, he said, was “humourless, paranoid, insecure, eager to take offence and suffering from self-righteousness, self-pity and self-hatred”. I have come to the conclusion that what we could say a few years back, we cannot say anymore. Our space is dwindling. We are losing this battle. Our journey is stuck in reverse gear and it seems Pakistan has become hostage to its own ideology.

The writer is a freelance journalist and can be reached at

Mullah DESTROYING lives

Published 2013-12-04 08:20:54

PESHAWAR: The life of six-year-old Adnan changed forever after he stepped on a landmine planted on a dirt track leading to his school near his village in Kurram Agency. He lost both his legs in the blast.

Three months before the fatality, which befell him while going to school, Adnan was a normal boy. He was running, playing and studying in the school, but now he is disabled and under-treatment in Peshawar.

Like Adnan, more than 50 boys and girls hailing from different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata, who suffered disabilities in similar incidents, assembled at Pakistan Institute of Prosthetics and Orthotic Sciences (PIPOS), Hayatabad, Peshawar, on Tuesday to observe International Day of Persons with Disabilities. All of them narrated their ordeals.

Mohammad Aslam, a resident of Dera Ismail Khan, found a toy outside his home when floods hit the area in August 2010. He brought the toy and gave it to his four-year-old son Tayyeb Hussain. The toy, shaped like cover f the flask, exploded when minors started playing with it. Tayyeb lost his right leg while two other minors were injured critically in the blast.

Mr Aslam could not identify this hidden killer, which he spotted in the floodwater. “I thought it was a toy and gave it to my son to play with it,” he said.

Mohammad Farooq, a student of grade-VII, was caught in crossfire between militants and security forces in Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency about two years ago. A shell landed near Farooq and he got injuries. His right leg was amputated at a hospital in Peshawar.

These innocent human beings have become victims of the ongoing conflict, violence and acts of terrorism. Some amputees have got artificial limbs while some are waiting for their turn. Almost all growing disabled persons present in the function were school going.

Despite the growing number of patients, the government is yet to compile consolidated data about amputees in the province and tribal areas. The managing director of PIPOS, Aziz Ahmad, said that there were 6,000 registered amputees only in Peshawar.

Both the state and the government seem to be unaware of the agonies of these amputees. The people, who have disabled in the conflict and acts of terrorism, are paid Rs100,000 each by the government under the compensation package.

For the rest of the life they have to pay the price for themselves. There is no economic rehabilitation plan for them. Presently, these disabled persons are at the mercy of PIPOS and humanitarian bodies like International Committee of the Red Cross.

Fata is the frontline territory in the war against terrorism and its people have been bearing the brunt, but the region has only one amputation centre so far that is in Bajaur Agency. The affected people have to come to Peshawar and other centres in the settled areas of the province.

Prof Bakhat Sarwar, the chairman of PIPOS, said that 70 per cent patients visiting the institute for getting artificial limbs were victims of the conflict and terrorism and majority of them were children. Those people required treatment at their doorsteps, he said.

“Every amputee has to change artificial limb at least 30 times till he reaches the average age of 70,” he said, adding that the number of amputees was increasing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata and Balochistan because of the conflict and violence.

Prof Sarwar said that the institute had established centres in 15 districts of the province and one in Bajaur Agency. He said that such centres would be opened in the remaining districts and tribal agencies. There should be rehabilitation centres at tehsil level for disabled people, he suggested.

Beatrice Oechsli, the head of sub-delegation ICRC, stressed the need for awareness about problems of persons with disabilities.

She said that one could live with disability one day and society should support disabled persons. She said that ICRC would continue assistance for the rehabilitation of disabled persons.