Friday, October 19, 2018

Imran Khan wants to create a Medina-like Pakistan but he is no sentinel of human rights

Imran Khan’s die-hard fans refuse to acknowledge the infinite contradictions in the man and his less-than-holy rise to the top.
Imran Khan has promised to deliver to his citizens a Naya Pakistan based on Medina, a city founded by Prophet Muhammad in the 7th Century. Cynically manipulating the sense of prevailing deprivation and inequality, Khan offered them a grand mirage by locating the country in the golden era of a perfect Islamic society.
In his victory speech, he referred to the humanitarian and egalitarian grounds on which Medina was built and the rights given to the downtrodden, the widows, the orphans in the city.
Khan invoked the traditional Islamic Hadith about the Khalifa Hazrat Umar (one of the most powerful caliphs) who had said he could not sleep easy at night even if a dog went hungry in his administered state. I immediately thought of Imran Khan’s own poor dog, who he is said to have almost run over and not given a toss about while driving home with his second wife Reham Khan.
Of course, the responsibility of a hungry dog was also invoked by Gen Zia ul-Haq in his post-coup speech.
I also thought of the donkey his supporters painted Nawaz Sharif’s name on and tortured to death – and the lack of any statement from Imran Khan over the inhuman and cruel treatment of a helpless animal in a vile and puerile game of political scoring. Such is his detachment in reality from the notions of a kind society that he did not even think to condemn supporters of his arch-rival and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when they shot a dog after painting Imran Khan’s name over its body.
Setting aside donkeys and dogs, Khan has never raised a voice for human rights activists and journalists abducted and tortured for dissenting against or criticising his patrons’ political meddling. He has not stammered out a defence once for the Pakistani media, which is in fetters because it is instructed to censor speeches and events of his opponents and protect Khan and his party. Khan has implicitly encouraged attacks, abuse and threats against his detractors on social media by never condemning them and he has encouraged vigilante violence on his opponents by accusing them time and again of blasphemy.
Khan speaks of Medina as a utopia, a heaven for human rights and an egalitarian society that he wants to replicate in Pakistan. If his records on these issues in the recent past are any indication of his future conduct, one shudders to think of the Medina he will create.
It would be too embarrassing to mention all the nominated speakers and cabinet members of the new Medina, but to name just a few: the speaker of the Punjab assembly Pervaiz Elahi is someone Imran Khan had nicknamed ‘Punjab ka sabb se bara daku’ and is now busy taking back corruption charges he filed against the man back in the day. The chief minister of Punjab Usman Buzdar has criminal records for murdering six men and getting off by paying blood money. The chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mehmood Khan was kicked out of the KP cabinet for corruption charges against him, proven by Imran Khan himself. Defence minister Pervez Khattak is someone who has massive cases of corruption against him.
In his widely-praised victory speech after the elections, Khan remained at pains to drive home to the audiences that he drew his inspiration for a new Pakistani state from the welfare state created by the Prophet Muhammad; that his government policies would revolve around upliftment the weak, like the labourers and farmers who do not get their due and are not able to feed their children.
The mention of farmers brings to mind Khan’s right-hand man for the past five years, Jahangir Tareen, a prominent actor within the sugar producers’ cartel in Pakistan. The cartel is alleged to have regularly cheated farmers out of their due by refusing to buy crops on time to depress prices. Tareen is also a convicted insider-trader, having bought and sold stock market shares through his cook and gardener after having manipulated prices whilst being a minister in General Musharraf’s regime. He got away by simply returning the swindled money to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan instead of being fined and jailed, because he was part of the dictator’s cabinet. The ‘weakest of the weak’ mention also brings to mind transgenders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who were killed with impunity throughout the Khan government’s tenure in the province. KP was the only province which caved into Islamist pressure when it came to legislating against violence that women faced, and sent the women’s protection bill to the Council of Islamic Ideology instead. All other provinces fought to successfully legislate for protection of women, children and minorities.
Khan also made an abrupt reference to China’s success in alleviating poverty, rather incongruously, while talking about his mirage of an Islamic welfare state. He mentioned ‘rule of law’ and ‘equal before the law’, but he has trampled upon it and climbed on the shoulders of those not considered ‘equal before the law’ to reach the top.
It is ironical that this ‘rule of law’ and ‘equality before the law’ exonerated Imran Khan and his cronies. No matter how many offshore companies, undisclosed properties or bank accounts, fake no-objection-certificates or affidavits, perjury in court, undisclosed offspring in election nomination forms, the ‘rule of law’ smiled upon Imran Khan and his party. Conversely, it frowned upon opponents for supposed misdemeanours 30 years ago, or it simply arrested his opponents to prevent them from contesting elections before charges were framed against them.
Khan has climbed the rubble of the Pakistani constitution, law, institutions, and democracy created by military gunships and tanks to reach the top of a pile of a sorry mess to croon of a Medina to a divided country. His die-hard fans refuse to acknowledge or reconcile the unforgivably infinite contradictions about the man and his less-than-holy rise – in an era where he could have fought an honest battle.

Where’s the money for Imran Khan’s ‘promised land’ of 5 million new homes?


No one expected Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to ‘launch’ this Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds housing scheme. But he did.
Karachi stock market has been on a roller coaster. It crashes one day and recovers to an extent the next, lurching from negative sentiment to opportunity-buying the next day, but is essentially on a downward spiral.
One would not be off the mark in saying that investors are confused and frightened by the ineptness and cluelessness of the new PTI government. There are daily negative signals of confusion and a display of vindictiveness, instead of a focus on the future.
The colossal stupidity was exhibited in just one interview that the government’s newly appointed spokesperson on economy, Dr Farrukh Saleem, gave on the housing project worth $180 billion, under which five million units will be built. The response was a study in ignorance, cronyism and impending disaster.
No one actually expected Prime Minister Imran Khan to ‘launch’ this Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds housing scheme. But he did. It’s not fleshed out, there is no clear financing plan for low-cost housing for the poor. But it’s billed as a project that will kickstart and form the backbone of Pakistan’s economic future, stimulating 35-40 ancillary industrial sectors and providing millions of jobs to the country’s youth.
His adviser on this scheme, Cheshire-based tycoon Aneel Mussarrat, has been reticent on the details but ordinary Pakistanis are asking some very basic questions about Khan’s grandiose vision.
The yearly cost of this project is $36 billion, almost the same as Pakistan’s annual tax revenue (approx. $36.8 billion at the current exchange rate). The scale is so huge that if you forget about hospitals, defence expenditure, schools, roads, metros, administrative government expenditure, you’d barely manage to build the ‘promised land’ of 2,739. 7 homes per day, and even then it cannot be done.
But wait. Dr Farrukh Saleem tells us that the government does NOT plan to provide low-cost housing to the poor on its expense or to subsidise it in any way. The government will merely be a ‘facilitator’, the money will come from the private sector (mortgage lending by commercial banks), and the beneficiaries of the scheme will be those with an income of Pakistani rupees 100, 000 or less.
Imran Khan had said only the land will be provided by the government, but it isn’t clear if that will come at market price, or free of cost, or somewhere in between. No one knows what’s cooking or how big a scam this could turn out to be, given it’s his buddies who (the likes of Aneel Mussarat) have been entrusted with executing the scheme.
Imran Khan had claimed that while mortgage financed housing was high in the West, it stood at 0.25 per cent in Pakistan, and that the new scheme will attract foreign investment of at least $20 billion. Meanwhile, it’s not even clear whether the $180 billion total cost includes the cost of the land or not.
Meanwhile, housing wizard Mussarat said the scheme has houses under various brackets, costing $10,000, $20,000, $50,000, $75,000 and $100,000. There is no information on what discount rate will apply, the magnitude of monthly repayments, among other details.
With the current discount rate at 8.5 per cent, and that is expected to rise to at least 14 per cent by the middle of next year (to avoid negative real interest rates if IMF prediction of inflation rising to 14 per cent is taken as a base), which commercial banks will lend to those with incomes of say Rs 30,000 or even Rs 100, 000 for these homes?
Even if by some magic, banks were to start lending $180 billion to a single sector and crowd out all others, they don’t actually have that kind of money in their deposits. The current total gross national savings stand at $17.19 billion (5.5 per cent of $304.95 billion). These are the simple numbers this government hasn’t crunched.
A great critic of corrupt politicians and the in-house economic wizard of the PTI, Dr Farrukh Saleem has long been derided for coming up not only with cooked-up numbers, but also cooked-up economics. But the cringe-worthy moment came when he was massacred by TV show host Shahzeb Khanzada who asked him where the money will come from.
Was the scheme realistic, given the size of the project was nearly half of the economy itself?
“There is a dearth of 10 million houses, and if nothing is done, this number will double in the next five years. Five per cent live in pucca homes, 95 per cent in kaccha or are homeless. The average cost of a unit is Rs 15 lakh, to be financed with 90 per cent mortgage and 10 per cent equity. In developed countries, the housing sector leads the economy. Thirty five to forty ancillary industries like steel, cement, labour, fabric (for curtains) will take off,” he replied.
Khanzada reminded him of the size of the economy, and that the average cost of a house is actually Rs 50 lakh, not 15 lakh. And, that Pakistani banks have total deposits of Rs 13, 032 billion and 57 per cent of that is already loaned out in advances, and the rest in investments. So, where would he find Rs 24,000 billion? Instead of answering this very basic question, Farrukh Saleem began to waffle about the rich and the poor, the West and the politics of change. Then he said: “This has nothing to do with the size of the economy. World over, profitable business of mortgage lending happens”. To which Khanzada hilariously replied, “If there’s no linkage with the size of the economy, at least there is a linkage with the money in the economy, no?”
This was the gaslighting moment. The adviser suddenly started talking about corruption, citing a US State Department Study on International Narcotics Control, which states that $10 billion is laundered out of Pakistan every year. And multiplied by 10, that makes $100 billion, which can be brought back, and the current and future savings of $10 billion a year could be made and “extra capital created”.
It is an entirely different matter that the report mentions no such thing, but the PTI government never allows facts to interfere with its plans.
The adviser also added another $30 billion of corruption in government contracts that the PTI could stop, and create “extra capital” for the housing project. Gone was all talk of bank deposits, national savings, tax revenues. But the savage Khanzada politely reminded him that the $30 billion saving from ending corruption would be government money. And the government doesn’t plan to fund the project, right? He ended with: “Ye hai hukoomat ki tayyari?”
The future of Pakistan under this Government-by-Claims doesn’t look pretty.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Gawah | Ghani Khan | Sardar Ali Takkar | ګواه | غني خان | سردارعلي ټکر

maykhana | Abdulrahim Hotak | Sardar Ali Takkar |ميخانه | عبدالرحيم هوتک | سردارعلي ټکر

US Congressman seeks immediate designation of Pakistan as state sponsor of terrorism

Congressman Ted Poe said in the House of Representatives that Pakistan will not receive any financial support from the US if terrorists continue to live safely in the country.
A top Republican lawmaker has urged the Trump administration to immediately designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism and terminate its non-NATO ally status, asserting that Islamabad consistently defends Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and condemns US' counterterrorism efforts.
Congressman Ted Poe said in the House of Representatives that Pakistan will not receive any financial support from the US if terrorists continue to live safely in the country.
"Now is the day of reckoning. All assistance to Pakistan must end, its Major non-NATO ally status must be terminated, and the State Department should immediately designate it as a state sponsor of terrorism," Poe said last week, according to Congressional records.
In his remarks, the Republican Congressman from Texas slammed Pakistan's Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi for what he described as lecturing the US on aid.
"While I do not oppose open engagement with Pakistan, our position must be clear: Pakistan will not receive a dime of US support if terrorists continue to live safely on their soil," he said.
"For too long the opposite has been the case. Fortunately, President Donald Trump has disrupted the status quo and suspended most of the funding we give to Pakistan, specifically calling them out for their support to terrorism. But more should be done," he said. Poe said if Qureshi was truly interested in restoring the relationship between the two countries, he would accept responsibility and acknowledge that countless terrorists still live inside Pakistan.
"His country has been the epicenter for extremism for decades, where extremists are still able to hold massive public rallies to incite young men to violence. This isn't conjecture, the evidence is well documented," he asserted. Poe said Mumbai terror attack mastermind and the founder of the US and UN-designated terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba Hafiz Saeed operated freely in Pakistan.

Aid to 11 million at risk as Pakistani intelligence gives 18 charities and NGOs their marching orders

By Ben Farmer
Pakistan risks losing at least £100 million worth of aid by kicking out a group of UK charities and international development organisations, it has been claimed.
Eighteen foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were told earlier this month that they had 60 days to wind up operations after being denied official registration.The organisations, including UK-based charities Plan International and International Alert, were given no official reason for the interior ministry ban.
However it is thought Imran Khan's government made the decision under pressure from Pakistan's powerful military spy agency which has accused foreign aid organisations of being a front for espionage.
Previous expulsion notices have accused organisations of “pursuing an anti-state agenda”.
Diplomats are understood to be trying to persuade Islamabad to reverse the ban, with the British government describing the evicted organisations as “important partners for the UK”. The aid groups deny wrongdoing and say their programmes are carrying out vital work that helps Pakistan's government and people.
An assessment of the ban's impact drawn up by aid groups and seen by the Telegraph estimates the expulsion will deprive Pakistan of at least £100m of aid programmes and halt projects helping up to 11 million people. Between them, the expelled organisations also directly employ more than 1,100 staff in Pakistan.
The aid organisations are trying to win a reprieve, but have only been told they can reapply in six months. A source familiar with the negotiations said there appeared to be no pattern to the evictions. Both religious and secular organisations have been targeted, from several different countries. The aid groups are carrying out work ranging from emergency relief to tackling mental health, child labour, governance and agriculture.
Much of Plan International's work has focused on better education, particularly for girls, and helping young people improve their livelihoods. The charity has also worked on sanitation and providing emergency relief.“We are deeply saddened by the government decision and extremely concerned about the impact it will have on communities, particularly hundreds of thousands of children the organisation is currently supporting, as well as our own staff – who are all Pakistani nationals,” said a spokeswoman for Plan International. The charity said it had helped 1.6 million children since starting work in Pakistan in 1997.
A spokeswoman for World Vision said: “Whatever the reason, we believe that the price will be paid by the children of Pakistan whom we will no longer be able to reach with life-saving help.”
Pakistan has hardened its stance on foreign aid and advocacy organisations and in 2015 asked them to re-register so they could better be monitored.
The expulsions comes as human rights activists have raised increasing concern about freedom of expression in Pakistan.
ActionAid, a Johannesburg-based charity among the 18, has called the expulsions “a worrying escalation of recent attacks on civil society, academics and journalists”.Shireen Mazari, minister for human rights, has called those allegations absurd and arrogant and likened the strict registration process to strict visa controls for Pakistanis heading to Europe. Officials have pointed out that dozens of other NGOs had successfully been granted registration.The unsuccessful NGOs were first told they must leave in December 2017, but then allowed to appeal after international pressure. None of the appeals seemed to have succeeded.
An intelligence official told Dawn, a leading daily paper, that some of the NGOs were contributing to a “hybrid war” against Pakistan and also “encouraging sectarianism, promoting a foreign agenda, supporting hostile spy agencies, collecting illegal data and operating without any legal backing.”
A spokesman for the British High Commission in Islamabad said: “These organisations are at the forefront of vital humanitarian and development work and are important partners for the UK. We are urgently working with the Pakistani government to resolve these issues.”

#Karsaz - #ShuhadaEJamhuriyat - Democracy in the country is due to martyrs of Karsaz: Asif Ali Zardari

 Former President of Pakistan and President Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians said that democracy which was restored after sacrifices of hundreds of martyrs is once again under threat. Asif Ali Zardari paid glowing tributes to the martyrs of Karsaz tragedy in a message on the anniversary of the disaster.
On 18th October 2007 the caravan of democracy led by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was attacked at Karsaz in Karachi but hundreds of loyal democrats saved their leader but lost their own lives.
Former President said that because of the supreme sacrifices of these martyrs democracy was restored in the country and dictatorship was defeated. Today is the day to pay rich tributes to those martyrs who defeated the extremists and terrorists’ design. It also showed that terrorists and extremists are the enemies of the nation. More than three million people came to welcome their leader on the roads of Karachi on that day and displayed that they support the ideology of Quaid-e-Azam, Quaid-e-Awam and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as they wanted Pakistan to be a democratic, peaceful and prosperous country.
Former President said that the PPP government during 2008-2013 restored 1973 constitution, made Parliament supreme, provinces were given sovereignty and people of KP and GB were given their identity.
Asif Ali Zardari expressed his resolve to defend parliament elected by the people of Pakistan.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


Pakistani revolutionary poet Habib Jalib's daughter runs taxi to earn livelihood

Daughter of Pakistan's revolutionary poet Habib Jalib is compelled to run taxi after stipend of her mother was stopped in 2014.
According to reports, Tahira Habib Jalib is serving as a captain of private taxi service in Lahore to earn their livelihood. The taxi, which she runs was also purchased after getting loan from a private bank.
The monthly stipend of Tahira's mother was Rs25,000, which was stopped in 2014 in the government of Shahbaz Sharif. The government of Punjab used to pay the stipend from the quota of the poets.
Talking to private TV channel, Tahira said, "The stipend as stopped days before my mother's death in 2014."
Tahira went on to say that she does not feel any shame in running the taxi as she is the daughter of Habib Jalib, who never compromised on principles till his death.
She vowed to follow the principles of her father and never compromise on these.
Tahira Habib urged the government to resume the stipend and introduce poor-friendly system so that the poor earn their livelihood without difficulty.

What Is Saudi Arabia's Grand Plan for Pakistan?

By Arif Rafiq 

 Saudi Arabia's strategic use of aid and investment has heightened under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s influence.
Pakistan’s new government has been in a mad dash to attract foreign aid and investment—most notably from Saudi Arabia—to offset a widening current account deficit, rising foreign debt repayment obligations, and avert a balance of payments crisis. Pakistan’s external financing needs will approach or exceed $30 billion this fiscal year.A return to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—for the twenty-second time in Pakistan’s history—has been all but certain for much of this year. But Pakistan’s new quarterback, Prime Minister Imran Khan, came late into the game and decided to throw a few Hail Mary passes to his country’s traditional receivers of wish lists, hoping to avoid the fund altogether or pursue a smaller bailout and avoid strict conditionality.
Khan’s first foreign visit since coming into office was to Saudi Arabia. During the visit, his delegation proposed to the Saudis a series of energy and mining investment opportunities. It appears that Islamabad asked Riyadh to park funds close to $10 billion with the State Bank of Pakistan—well before these investments achieve financial close—to shore up Pakistan’s forex reserves in the interim. In this context of Islamabad’s scramble for dollars, Pakistani officials have claimed—and subsequently denied—that Saudi Arabia was invited to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a “strategic partner.” Time has now run out for Pakistan. And on October 4, after Pakistan’s main stock exchange index declined for the sixth consecutive day, the finance ministry finally announced that it intended to begin formal talks with the IMF for a bailout. But discussions between Islamabad and Riyadh on investments, including projects related to CPEC, will continue. For both sides, these potential investments have economic and strategic value, but they are also fraught with risk—both legal and geopolitical.
Potential Risks and Rewards of Saudi Investment in Pakistan.
Pakistan has floated five sets of potential investments to Saudi Arabia. These include the Reko Diq copper and gold mine in Balochistan, valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars. In 2017, Pakistan lost an international arbitration case to the Tethyan Copper Company, which held an exploration license for Reko Diq, but was denied a mining lease by the Balochistan provincial government in 2011. The tribunal is expected to determine Pakistan’s liability this year. The figure could exceed $11 billion. Should the project move forward, the new concession holder would likely provide Pakistan with the funds to pay the penalty, which—depending on its size—could result in a major cut to Pakistan’s royalties. On top of the financial and legal risks, the mine is located less than one hundred miles from Pakistan’s border with Iran.
Reko Diq would certainly be a target for insurgent violence, though the Pakistani state is equipped to reduce physical risk with the right mix of political and security measures.
Resource nationalism is a driver of the ethnic Baloch insurgency, but it also receives support from regional states.
In August, a suicide bomber with the Balochistan Liberation Army attacked a convoy transporting Chinese engineers to the Saindak copper and gold mine, leased by the Metallurgical Corporation of China. The attacker used an Iranian vehicle. Militants with several Baloch separatist groups combatting the Pakistani state are believed to be in Afghanistan or Iran. Projects linked to the Saudis would become targets in the same way Chinese projects have been over the past fifteen years. Before moving forward with extractive projects in the province, Islamabad must factor in geopolitical risk. And it should develop an inclusive and redistributive economic framework that results in a share of the earnings going directly into the hands of local citizens.
The second set of projects includes two government-owned operational regasified liquified natural gas-fueled power plants in the Punjab province. Riyadh reportedly expressed interested in purchasing equity in the plants on a government-to-government basis, but that may not be legally possible. Instead, a Saudi power company, ACWA Power, could take part in open bidding for the plants. Sale of the plants could earn Islamabad much-needed cash, but there are geopolitical complications tied to that sale too. These power plants are fueled by liquified natural gas (LNG) from Qatar. Sale of the plants to a Saudi public or private entity would likely require an alternate source of LNG and could even impact Pakistan’s fifteen-year LNG supply contract with Qatar.The third potential Saudi investment in Pakistan is a Saudi Aramco refinery in Gwadar, the site of a Chinese-operated port and industrial zone. Like the Reko Diq mine, Gwadar is located close to the border with Iran. Gwadar is a competitor to Iran’s Chabahar port, where India will operate a terminal that will be used to bypass Pakistan to access Afghanistan and Central Asia. It is an end node for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which begins in Kashgar, located in China’s Xinjiang region.Economic activity and investment in Gwadar have progressed tepidly when compared to other regional upstarts like Duqm in Oman and Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi, which have received significant inflows from China, with the potential to exceed $10 billion. Investment from a global energy giant like Saudi Aramco would catalyze other investments and boost port activity. A refinery in Gwadar would give the Saudis an economic foothold in a strategic location—just outside the Strait of Hormuz but close to Persian Gulf shipping lanes—and could lock Pakistan into purchasing Saudi crude.
There, however, may be limits to the scalability of the investment. Earlier this year, Saudi Aramco signed a memorandum of understanding with a consortium of Indian state-owned oil companies for a $44 billion oil refinery and petrochemicals complex in India. Still, a Gwadar refinery would meet domestic demand in Pakistan, helping it boost deep conversion refining capacity and enabling it to import cheaper crude oil, resulting in savings on its import bill.
In Gwadar, too, there are geopolitical complications for both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Saudi investment in Gwadar reduces Pakistani dependence on China for the port’s success. And it could constrain China’s future options for the city.Whether it’s infrastructure development, energy trade, or defense hardware sales, China is ubiquitous across the Middle East and has been an equal opportunity partner to both Iran and its Gulf Arab adversaries. Iran is crucial to China’s Silk Road Economic Belt. And the Gulf Arab states, especially the United Arab Emirates, could be critical to its Maritime Silk Road.Assuming China does indeed have a plan for Gwadar, its plan could include eventually developing the port to replace or supplement major Persian Gulf transshipment hubs. Or China could seek to fold Chabahar and Gwadar into a single Makran coastal region economic belt, in the event Iran tires of Indian lethargy. But if Pakistan and Saudi Arabia move forward with a refinery in Gwadar, it may make it difficult for China to integrate Iran into energy projects in or through Gwadar. (Examples include: a Sinopec refinery in Gwadar using Iranian oil; a gas pipeline running from Iran to the China-Pakistan border via Gwadar.)Pakistan has apparently also proposed Saudi investment in the North-South gas pipeline , which would transport gas upcountry from Karachi to Lahore. Pakistan signed a government-to-government agreement with Russia to build the pipeline and supply the LNG. The two countries, however, have not come to agreement on pricing, and Rostec has struggled to find financing for the project, though reports last year indicated that China’s Silk Road Fund could finance it. Russia may have difficulty supplying the LNG. In any event, what role the Saudis could or would play in the pipeline project—as an addition to the consortium or a replacement for an existing member—is unclear.
Finally, Pakistan has invited Saudi Arabia to take part in open bidding for exploration in ten oil and gas blocs. Fuel makes up the single largest imported commodity group for Pakistan. Reducing its dependence on imported fuels by ramping up domestic oil and gas exploration is critical for Pakistan to escape its boom-bust cycles that bring it to the IMF’s doorstep every few years. Pakistan may actually have enough recoverable natural gas to not only meet domestic demand but also export it. But does Saudi Arabia see an energy independent Pakistan as in its interests?
Separating the Economic and Strategic is Easier Said than Done.
The biggest question for Pakistan might be: what are the noneconomic costs of Saudi money? Gulf Arab states have not shied away from using aid and investment to shape a regional order that aligns their major strategic interests. In recent years, especially under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s influence, the strategic use of aid and investment has heightened.There is indeed an economic basis for Saudi investment in Pakistan. Saudi companies have been investing in Pakistan for decades. The Saudis are keen on diversifying overseas investments, moving beyond its own domestic extractive industries. But now more than ever, strings are likely to be attached. Riyadh has made clear that its main priorities are to contain what it sees as its main threats: Iran, Qatar (and the Muslim Brotherhood) and Turkey.So Pakistan must consider what the Saudis want in return and whether it is a price it is willing to pay. Pakistan has deftly insulated itself from the Iranian-Saudi cold war, especially in the wake of the Saudi-led Yemen operation. But it needs more foreign direct investment (FDI) and from more diverse sources. FDI from China has been growing amid a decline in net inflows from Gulf Arab states. Sympathy for Iran runs high in Pakistan, but neither has Iran made significant investments in Pakistan in the past nor is it in a position to do so today.
For Pakistan, there is no escape from geopolitics, even when it comes to issues like connectivity and trade. And that is true in a global sense as well as the United States adopts a tougher posture toward the Belt and Road Initiative, digs deeper into a tariff war with China, and continues to use economic sanctions or lawfare to force Iran to capitulate.
Calls for Pakistan to become a “normal” state that puts its economic interests above its strategic are outdated, reflecting a view of globalization that is now passé. The economic and the strategic increasingly blur once again, thus making Pakistan’s ability to address its economic challenges even harder.

EASO Publishes Report On Pakistan’s Security Situation

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published Tuesday a Country of Origin Information (COI) Report entitled ‘Pakistan security situation’. The report is the third update of the security chapter of the EASO COI report on Pakistan, Country Overview, published in August 20151 subsequently updated in July 2016 and August 2017. The report provides information relevant for the protection status determination of Pakistani asylum seekers.
In 2017, Pakistan ranked in the top 5 of countries of origin in the EU+ countries 2, with a total number of about 32,000 applicants. By the end of 2017, more than 47,000 cases remained pending at all instances. Throughout 2018, the country maintained this ranking in the top countries of origin and the total number of Pakistani applicants has remained stable.
The EASO COI Report ‘Pakistan security situation’ provides a general description of the security situation in Pakistan, covering the following topics: an overview of the recent conflicts in the country; actors in the conflict; an overview of recent security trends and armed confrontations; the impact of the violence on the civilian population; and the impact of the violence on the state ability to secure law and order.
The second part of the report provides an overview of the security situation in a more detailed description of the different regions in Pakistan. In each regional chapter, a short description is given of the region, the background of the violence as well as the actors present in the region, followed by a description of the security trends, and the impact of the violence on the population.
The main findings of the report include an overall decrease in total numbers of violent incidents and casualties throughout 2017 and 2018. However, security operations and armed clashes were still reported in all four provinces of Pakistan and in the FATA in the context of operation Radd-Ul-Fasaad. Militant groups also continued to conduct attacks in 2017 and 2018, including suicide attacks, targeted killings, and sectarian-related violence. In the run-up to the general elections held in July 2018, several violent incidents and some major attacks occurred throughout the country.
The report was drafted by the Belgian Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (Cedoca, Centre for Documentation and Research) in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology 3. It was reviewed by experts from the Office for Country Information and Language Analysis in the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Immigration and Asylum Office Documentation Centre in the Hungarian Office of Immigration and Nationality, the Department of Documentation and Foreign Cooperation in the Slovakian Migration Office, Lifos, the Centre for Country of Origin Information and Analysis in the Swedish Migration Agency and EASO, in order to ensure the highest quality.
It is EASO’s intention to continue to produce such reports on important countries of origin and to update them on a regular basis in order to raise and harmonise COI standards in the EU and to further support the practical implementation of the Common European Asylum System.

Video - #Pakistan - #PPP leader MNA Syed Khurshid Shah addresses in National Assembly Session

Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto speech at Asma Jahangir Conference 2018 in Lahore

Video - Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto expresses his views about sweet home, Islamabad

#PPP striving to provide education to destitute children: Bilawal

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday said the PPP was striving to provide education and shelter facilities to the destitute children across the country.

Talking to the children of Pakistan Sweet Homes, Bilawal Bhutto expressed the hope that Sweet Home like projects would be carried out across the country and assured his full support for the purpose.

Bilawal Bhutto, along with former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, visited the Pakistan Sweet Homes here.

He appreciated the Sweet Home children for their efforts to attain education and taking part in co-curricular activities.

He said he had lost his mother in his childhood, which was very tough for him. He thanked Patron-in-Chief of Pakistan Sweet Home Zamurd Khan for fulfilling the vision of his mother Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

Speaking on the occasion, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said the establishment of Pakistan Sweet Homes was a blessing for the children whose parents have passed away orphans and Zamurd Khan deserved appreciation for it.

Zamurd Khan said as managing director of Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal, he had made the institution corruption free and distributed billions of rupees among the deserving people.

He said Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had taken oath from him that he would always serve the destitute children and the old citizens. There were around 450 orphan boys and 100 girls were residing in the Pakistan Sweet Homes Islamabad and getting education, he added.

#Pakistan - #PPP - Poverty, hunger biggest threats to peace, harmony among human race- Bilawal Bhutto

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that poverty and hunger are the biggest threats to peace and harmony among the human race adding that his Party has introduced revolutionary initiatives in Pakistan aimed poverty reduction.

In his message on the eve of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty being observed on Wednesday under the aegis of United Nations, he said that PPP was struggling for a vision of a peaceful, prosperous and progressive Pakistan for all our people and freeing them from hunger and helplessness under the philosophy of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto that “freedom is not an end, it is beginning.”

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pointed out that PPP launched a massive Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) in 2009-10 for eradication of poverty and elevating the status of marginalized and under privileged sections of society, especially women, through establishment of comprehensive Social Protection Net. People’s Federal government led by President Asif Ali Zardari had initiated BISP with an amount of nearly Rs 40 billion, which has now crossed Rs125 billion.

PPP Chairman further said that People’s government in Sindh started Union Council Based Poverty Reduction Programme (UCBPRP) in collaboration of non-profit organizations extending interest-free loans to women in the selected districts. The number of families who were benefitted and have been taken out of poverty rose to 600,000. They are now generating their own incomes through beginning small businesses, he added.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pledged that PPP would continue to assign priority to reduction of poverty through its poor-friendly policies by extending UCBPRP to more districts in Sindh province. “We shall replicate this programme in other provinces, whenever PPP comes to power there,” he added.

#سلام_شہداءکارساز - #SaluteToKarsazMartyrs - #Pakistan - Chairman #PPP Bilawal Bhutto pays glowing tributes to the martyrs of October 18 Karsaz massacre

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has paid glowing tributes to the martyrs of October 18 Karsaz massacre when terrorists bombed reception of three million people gathered to receive Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto eleven years ago in Karachi.

On the 11th martyrdom anniversary of 180 martyrs, the PPP Chairman said that his Party has crossed rivers of blood during its valiant struggle for restoration and strengthening of democracy.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that dictatorship and terrorists joined hands in conspiring and executing the terror bombing on the truck carrying Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and central leadership of the Party in the midst of millions of people.

PPP Chairman said that Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto continued to challenge the dictatorship and terrorists even after the Karsaz attack and eventually laid down her life on December 27, 2007.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that PPP leadership and workers will always remember the martyrs who sacrificed their lives fighting dictators and terrorists bravely.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Saqi | Ajmal Khattak | Sardar Ali Takkar | ساقي | اجمل خټک | سردارعلي ټکر

PM Imran Khan faces setback in Pakistan by-elections

Pakistan's opposition parties have gained ground in by-elections for three dozen seats in the national parliament and regional assemblies, officials said on Monday, in a setback to Prime Minister Imran Khan.

An opposition alliance led by the party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif won more seats in the national parliament than Khan and his allies in Sunday's polls, elections authorities said.

The by-elections indicate a dip in popularity for Khan, just two months after his Movement for Justice party took over following victory in national polls on July 25.

The by-elections were held for 11 seats in the national parliament and 24 in provincial legislatures, which were vacated by those MPs who won more than one constituency in the national polls.

An individual can contest more than one parliamentary seat under Pakistan's constitution, but can keep only one.

Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League party won four seats in the national parliament and is ahead in the battlefield province of Punjab, Election Commission of Pakistan spokesman Altaf Khan said.

Khan's party also won four national seats but was behind the opposition groups in overall results, the spokesman added.

Political analysts say Khan's popularity has suffered due to tough decisions his government has had to take to tackle an economic crisis, including seeking a bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Text of speech of Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at Conference on late Asma Jehangir in Lahore on Sunday.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a privilege and honor to be here in remembrance of Asma Jahangir.
She was a friend to my mother, a mentor to me and an inspiration for all the believers of democracy in Pakistan.
Asma Jahangir is synonymous with democracy, rule of law and human rights. Her voice could be heard when many others fell silent.
She continued to feel the pain that others grew accustomed to.
And till the end, never stopped pushing back. Fighting the good fight.
From bonded labourers, to women in abusive marriages; from victims of religious persecution to the sanctity of the will of the people- no fight was too big, no case too small for Asma Jahangir.
Her absence is felt more acutely now than ever before as a “selected” government desperately seeks to undo democratic gains made by Pakistan. The media is under assault and is facing the unprecedented censorship. Human rights are endangered today and rule of law and due process have been discarded in favor of rhetorical populism. Theatrics have triumphed over substance.
But it occurs to me that though Asma is no longer amongst us. Her ideals and her voice can not be allowed to die. They must resonate through you, through me, through us all.
Asma Jahangir was a warrior for a democratic, progressive, inclusive, modern and pluralistic Pakistan. If she was present here, she would never have left this despotism go unchallenged; and neither shall we.
Today our democracy faces serious threats. Not only from unelected forces but also from “so-called” democrats. I believe it was the Honorable Chief Justice who said,
“We know as a matter of historical fact, that democracy has always been a highly endangered specie in Pakistan. It has often fallen to the ground under assaults launched by anti-democratic forces waving the banner of ‘basic democracy’ or ‘true democracy’. These assaults have in the past been made by military dictators. But it should never be forgotten that the forces of authoritarianism need not always be in uniform. Democracy more than anything else is a cast of mind, a respect for the opinions and decisions of plurality of ordinary citizens ….”
The supremacy of the parliament and the sanctity of the constitution are under relentless attack. We still await clarity on the blatant manipulation of the 2018 election and for the uneven playing field which resulted in the imposition of an incompetent government.
A government which is attempting to address grave challenges to the economy by “chandanomics”, ignoring entirely that their lack of policies and consistent U-turns have not only failed to inspire confidence, but have in fact put this nation on a speedy track to further economic instability.
It was the PPP which strengthened the Federation of Pakistan and it is the PPP which will defend and strive for a more vibrant and stronger federation. We, the people, who believe in the ideals of a federal, democratic Pakistan must come together and resist any nefarious designs to undermine this.
Let us not forget how the 18th Amendment sought to protect the Constitution and rule of law on the one hand, and strengthened the federation, on the other.
It has done away with the powers of the President to dissolve, at whim, the Parliament, the symbol of the collective will of the people.
It has conferred upon the provinces due rights over their resources for which they were agitating for the past 6 decades.
It has restored the balance in the distribution of fiscal resources between the federal government and the provinces by a more equitable NFC Award. Instead of making population as the sole criteria, backwardness of a province and other factors have also been given weightage.
I should therefore like to warn against any attempt to roll back the 18th Amendment or the NFC Award.
The PPP will stoutly and resolutely resist any such move. Let there be no doubt or mistake about it.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Civility and democratic norms in politics have been replaced by hysteria and abuse.
This government has neither the will nor the capacity to deliver on the false promises made during its campaign.
The rule of law is the soul of a democratic system. The judiciary has the responsibility to inspire confidence that justice will be done, that everyone will be treated fairly and that fundamental rights will be upheld.
Sadly, in the past, our judiciary has failed to inspire this confidence.
Millions of people wait for their cases to be heard while the justice system appears focused on trivialities, rather than dispensing justice.
I am a victim and a witness to the inequalities of our justice system.
As a child, I remember accompanying my mother to visit my father in jail; my father was imprisoned for eleven and half years’ despite being innocent. My grandfather’s judicial murder remains a blot on the history of our judiciary. I still wait for justice for my martyred mother.
The PPP has faced trials, tribulations and victimization throughout its history, however, we have remained steadfast and, unlike others, we have never ransacked the Supreme Court.
The PPP has sacrificed lives and has borne the pain of confronting tyranny to build a just society and I being my mother’s son, will continue to do so, InshaAllah.
Although, this justice system has failed me like it has failed millions of Pakistanis, I will continue the struggle for an equitable, constitutional and fair justice system where the courts decision is based on the law and not politics and where trials are free and fair and not reduced to witch hunts. We must have a system that focuses on prosecution and not persecution.
I am heartened by the words of one of Pakistan’s most eminent jurists, who, in a note he penned, warns against, and I quote,
“A vehicle for judicial aggrandizement of power at the expense of the elected representatives of the people. On the conceptual plane, it is devoid of merit and amounts to little more than a vessel into which the Judges can pour whatever economic, political or social theory as may their fancy or whim at any give time…
Constitutions in free societies are made by the people, for themselves and through their chosen representatives…
It is for the chosen representatives and no one else to act in such matters. Why should that power not be exercisable by such representatives in their collective wisdom, and why should its exercise be at the mercy of unelected Judges? The decisions of elected representatives have been wrong and have occasionally brought us close to disaster. Is the record of the judiciary that much better? The elected representatives at least need to have their mandate renewed periodically. What of Judges, who in any polity are the least accountable branch and in Pakistan in particular are, in a quite literal sense, a closed brotherhood?…
The constitution does not end (it certainly did not begin) with the Judges, and the courts would do well to remember that. Every institution and each organ of the State has its own role to play. That realization and acceptance ensures that the constitutional balance is maintained. The Court should not do anything that unbalances the Constitution. It should never assume in its own favor that it is the ultimate arbiter in all constitutional matters.”
These insightful words by our Honorable Chief Justice Saquib Nisar, in his additional note on the petition on the 18th and 21st Constitutional Amendment case give me hope that sanity will prevail.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The legal fraternity has always been the first line of defense against the undemocratic forces be it against the autocratic rule of Zia-ul-Haq or the dictatorship of Musharraf. It is the bar that holds the judiciary accountable and is the first to point out deviation from the path of constitutionalism and rule of law. And Asma Jahangir led the bar with incredible courage and unimpeachable integrity to also hold the judiciary accountable.
Seldom before has the need for an accountable judiciary been felt as strongly as it is felt today.
Whether it is the appointment of judges or the division of powers between state institutions or the vast but un-restrained powers under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution, there are issues that need to be looked into and questions that need to be answered.
An accountable judiciary is not a political slogan nor is it a manifestation of politicians seeking to expand their own powers. It is for upholding the majesty of law and the dignity of courts.
History has taught mankind the wisdom, that the greater the power, the greater the need of restraint and greater the need for accountability.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The leaders of the bar must now pick up Asma’s mantle and resist again today, the erosion of rule of law, the undermining of democracy, and the shrinking of Human Rights, as she did in the past.
Today we are only democratic in name, the mindset, the tactics bear all the hallmarks of autocracy.
The legal community has a special responsibility to resist any attempts to undermine the spirit of the constitution.
The objective of the present government is to establish a fascist one-party dictatorship; where criticism is treated as a crime and where democratic opposition is threatened with intimidation. However, dear friends, no amount of victimization and coercion will weaken our resolve and our commitment to democracy.
When democracy and constitutionalism were under threat, Asmas’ voice was always the loudest. And now there is a deafening silence.
Asma Jahangir was guided by the belief in fundamental rights of life, liberty, due process and equal opportunities. As the son and political heir of SMBB, I too, hold these principles as my shining light and hope to live up to them.
The best tribute to Asma Jahangir is to follow in her footsteps and fight for constitutional supremacy, equality and democracy.
This is a debt that we owe to SMBB and to Asma Jahangir and InshaAllah we will succeed, lest we be left at the mercy of dangerous duffers.
Rest in Peace, Asma Jahangir

#Pakistan - #PPP - Political parties not given even opportunities in elections: Bilawal Bhutto

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Sunday lamented that political parties were not given even opportunities in elections.

Addressing a conference held in honour of late human rights warrior Asma Jahangir, he said that democracy was facing serious threats and supremacy of parliament was being targeted.

“Today our democracy faces serious threats. Not only from unelected forces but also from so-called democrats,” he said without naming anyone.

Bilawal said that the PPP wanted to strengthen the federation. He requested political parties to gather together for protection of 18th Amendment and warned against any attempt to roll back the 18th Amendment or the NFC Award. “The PPP will stoutly and resolutely resist any such move. Let there be no doubt or mistake about it.”

He said that the incumbent government was trying to run the financial matters through collecting public funds. “Such government strategies will lead to catastrophe,” he said. “A government which is attempting to address grave challenges to the economy by ‘chandanomics’, ignoring entirely that their lack of policies and consistent U-turns have not only failed to inspire confidence, but have in fact put this nation on a speedy track to further economic instability.”

He added that the government had neither the will nor the capacity to deliver on the false promises made during its campaign.

Bilawal went on to say that the media was under assault in Pakistan. “Human rights are endangered today and rule of law and due process have been discarded in favour of rhetorical populism. Theatrics have triumphed over substance,” he said, adding that late Asma Jahangir would never have left this despotism go unchallenged had she been alive.

The PPP chairman said that the judiciary has the responsibility to inspire confidence that justice would be done, that everyone would be treated fairly and that fundamental rights would be upheld.

“Sadly, in the past, our judiciary has failed to inspire this confidence. Millions of people wait for their cases to be heard while the justice system appears focused on trivialities, rather than dispensing justice. I am a victim and a witness to the inequalities of our justice system. I still wait for justice for my martyred mother,” he said while referring to the Benazir Bhutto murder case.

“We expect the Supreme Court will deliver justice in this case.” He said that no decision had been given regarding Pervez Musharraf, who was currently out of the country. Bilawal rued the officials nominated in the case had again been restored on their duties. The PPP chairman recalled the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was facing threats during her entire election campaign in 2007, but no measures were taken to protect her.

Upping the ante against the ruling PTI, he said that the objective of the present government was to establish a fascist one-party dictatorship; “where criticism is treated as a crime and where democratic opposition is threatened with intimidation”. He expressed resolve to stand up to “victimisation” and “coercion”.

Paying tribute to late human rights defender, Bilawal said Asmas’ voice was always the loudest when democracy and constitutionalism were under threat. “Her absence is felt more acutely now than ever before as a ‘selected’ government desperately seeks to undo democratic gains made by Pakistan.”

He said that Asma Jahangir was guided by the belief in fundamental rights of life, liberty, due process and equal opportunities. “As the son and political heir of SMBB, I too, hold these principles as my shining light and hope to live up to them.”