The Express TribuneSindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said on Saturday that close allies of dictators are joining Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Sharif brothers are the ‘kings of corruption’ in the country. He said that the audit report for the year 2008-9 showed that Rs8.5 billion were misappropriated by the Punjab government. “The scale of corruption during the tenures of Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif is unprecedented – they break all previous records.” He also pointed to the confession made by Ishaque Dar, a senior leader from Sharif’s party, who said that Nawaz had ordered money laundering. Memon added that National Accountability Bureau has started re-opening the cases against politicians and it is obvious that most of them would be against the Sharif brothers. Memon also said that the Punjab government has totally failed to control law and order situation in the province. “Around 10,000 people have been kidnapped in Punjab for last one year now.” He was also of the view that no one had the right to criticise the Pakistan Peoples Party leadership. Memon refuted all the claims that Nawaz Sharif made at a press conference on Saturday in London. “Nawaz Sharif is speaking about the murder of Hakim Saeed by alleging that workers of a political party in Karachi are involved, but I want to ask him what progress his government has made in the kidnapping case of Shahbaz Taseer,” he said. He asked if the Sharif brothers were not guilty then why did they feel the need to apologise to former dictator General Pervez Musharraf and then flee the country? Regarding the performance of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Memon said, “How can the people of Punjab expect positive things from a man who holds the portfolios of 16 different ministries?” He also said that President Zardari has immunity and every prime minister from his party will follow the law by not writing to the Swiss Courts. Memon said that the people who had made the constitution of Pakistan know how to defend it and are fully aware of its spirit. “No other party but Pakistan Peoples Party will bring change in the country,” he said. “We will not accept the double standard meted out to our party and leadership apparently because law is equal for everyone.”
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Raja laments dictators ruled country for years but no one stopped them from unconstitutional actions Country’s future lies in increasing hydropower generationPrime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Saturday said that dictators ruled the country for more than 10 years in one go, but no one stopped them from their unconstitutional actions, but an elected government was unnecessarily being targeted. Addressing a function after inaugurating 72MW Khan Khwar Hydropower Project in Bisham, the prime minister asked the opposition parties to shun differences and come forward for holding of free, fair and transparent elections in the country. Election is the only process to reach the power corridors, he said, adding that he did not have differences with any opposition party and all should make collective efforts for holding free and fair elections. He said no effort should be made to destabilise the government, stressing the need for collective efforts to steer the country out of present crisis. He said that a consensus chief election commissioner had been appointed because “we do not want any hanky panky in the polling process.” He said that he had never made any effort to manipulate the elections rather “we are victims of conspiracies”. Some people had been giving time and date for the departure of the government but all such speculations fizzled out with the passage of time, he said, adding that he was sincere in establishing cordial relations with the opposition parties. He said that all the hydropower projects, including Neelum-Jhelum, Dober, Kohala and Dasu, would be taken up for overcoming the energy crisis. The future of the country lies in increasing hydropower generation, he said, adding that work on the Thar Coal Project had already been initiated. The prime minister, referring to the energy crisis, said that demand for power was increasing whereas the previous regimes did not add a single unit to the national grid, leading to the present situation. He said whenever the PPP came to power it had to face tremendous challenges, which it faced with courage and determination. He referred to the electricity crisis in 1993 when Benazir Bhutto was in power. In order to overcome the crisis, she had given the task to the independent power producers (IPPs), but that programme was subjected to criticism, he added. Resultantly, the investors stopped investment in the IPPs, while some investors were put behind bars, he added. However, he said, Benazir Bhutto government managed to add 4,000MW to the national grid through IPPs. Had the IPPs not been introduced, the country would have been in severe power crisis until now, he said. The prime minister said that there should be no politicking on the matters of national interest and propaganda that damages the country, should be avoided. After Mangla, Tarbela and Ghazi Barotha (initiated by BB), which other scheme in the hydropower sector has been initiated, the prime minister questioned. “I also want to install a tent in Thar area for the execution of coal project,” he said, adding that “we do not believe in hollow slogans, we all are patriotic people”. Meanwhile, Raja took an aerial view of the Tarbela Lake and hoped that waterpower generation would improve with increased inflow of water in the lake. At Shangla, the prime minister was briefed by the WAPDA chairman that the inflow of water in Tarbela had risen to 218,000 cusecs and with rising temperatures it seemed that the dam would fill soon.
Lee A. Saunders"I believe in America" has become one of Mitt Romney's favorite catch-phrases. "I believe in America," he says in speeches, interviews and debates. In a recent four page fundraising letter, Romney writes, "I don't apologize for America because I believe in America," and mentions at least six other times that, yes, he "believes in America." When I hear that Romney line I'm reminded of the opening scene in The Godfather. The camera is focused on the face of the undertaker Bonasera, who has come to ask Don Corleone's help in revenging an attack upon his daughter. Bonasera begins his speech with these words: "I believe in America. America has made my fortune." Romney's fortune was made buying companies, building up their debt, bankrupting them and walking away with millions of dollars in personal profit. He was a corporate raider, a Wall Street vulture. As the head of Bain Capital, he implemented the so-called "destructive power of capitalism." In other words, he spent his career destroying companies and communities -- not to mention the lives of workers -- in order to make massive amounts of money for himself and his cronies. Mike Earnest certainly knows it. He worked for Ampad, a paper company in Marion, Ind. After Romney's firm acquired the company, Earnest was asked to build a 30 foot stage in the company's warehouse. Days later, Romney's colleagues from Bain came out and used the stage to announce that everyone was fired. "Mitt Romney made over a hundred million dollars by shutting down our plant, and devastated our lives," Earnest says. "Turns out that when we built that stage, it was like building my own coffin." Romney fired people to build something different: a monumental personal fortune. His worth is estimated to be $250 million, and he's created a trust fund for his five sons that is said to be worth at least $100 million. A mystery company he controls in Bermuda is among several that Romney has never fully disclosed. The company recently posted $1.9 million in earnings, although previously Romney's campaign had said the value of the asset was less than $1,000. How many assets of less than $1,000 produce nearly $2 million in earnings? Something is very fishy. The Associated Press reports that Romney has failed to report at least 20 investment holdings on federal reports. At least seven were foreign investments. Why has Romney been hiding these holdings? What is he hiding now? Earlier this year, Romney told an audience in Maine: "I have not saved one dollar by having an investment somewhere outside this country." Only the release of several years of tax returns would let us know if he is telling the truth, or if, as usual, he is distorting reality. The American people deserve to see Mitt Romney's tax returns. Not because we're jealous of his wealth or because we have a problem with success. No, we need to see his tax returns because he needs to be accountable and transparent. The voters have a right to know how he's made hundreds of millions and what he has done with them. We know from the limited amount of information he released under pressure earlier this year that serious questions have been raised about Romney's remarkably high income and his ridiculously low tax rate. We learned that Romney had investments in off-shore tax havens like the Cayman Islands, along with a Swiss bank account. Why would a man who says he believes in America need a Swiss bank account? How many millions did he stash there before closing it down two years ago? What were the tax implications? While educators, nurses, correction officers and home care workers paid taxes on every dime they earned, was Romney hiding money in tax havens to shelter his income from taxes? These are serious questions that require honest answers. Only his tax returns can provide them. His tax rate averaging 14 percent is lower than the rate paid by the average American, thanks to tax laws that are written to help the wealthy while socking it to the middle class. Romney doesn't want to fix those laws, in fact he wants even more tax breaks for the wealthy, and he doesn't mind if those tax cuts rip open a bigger deficit. All he cares about is making sure that the folks at the top of the pyramid aren't required to pay their fair share. And what about Romney's IRA? Like all Americans, Romney's contributions to his IRA were limited by law. In the 15 years he worked at Bain, he was able to contribute $2,000 a year into the IRA and up to $30,000 per year in a different kind of plan that the company may have used. How then did the value of his IRA grow to $102 million? That's right, he has an IRA valued at $102 million. Something more than compound interest must be at work here, because it is difficult to see how the account could have grown to $1 million, yet alone $102 million. How it grew to such a size is a Romney secret. He's not saying. I think we all deserve an answer. We need to see his tax returns. When you open to the first page of Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather, the first words you read are by the French writer Balzac: "Behind every great fortune there is a crime." Maybe Mitt Romney really does have a reason to keep his tax returns secret. We'll never know until we see them.
The Express TribuneAbout 10,000 tourists are attending the five-day Swat Summer Festival that started in Kalam Valley on Thursday.
The Express TribuneThis is one of the few advantages of the Pakistani financial system not being intertwined with global capital markets: the downgrading of the country’s sovereign credit rating by Moody’s is unlikely to become an immediate crisis, or have any serious short-term impact on the economy. Moody’s decision to downgrade Pakistani government bonds from B3 to Caa1 comes as a surprise to most analysts, many of whom feel that the decision does not take into account recent improvements in the country’s macroeconomic stability – most notably the rapprochement with Washington – and falling international oil prices. Nonetheless, a downgrade is a downgrade, and the consequences are something the economy will now have to live with; especially since Moody’s has made it clear that they have no intention of revising Pakistan’s rating upwards anytime soon. The most immediate impact is likely to be minimal: both the government of Pakistan as well as large Pakistani corporations borrow negligible amounts from international capital markets. The cost of borrowing will most definitely go up, but given the fact that Pakistan’s rating is already well into ‘junk’ territory, the one-notch downgrade is unlikely to make a massive difference. Nor are international investors in Pakistan’s bond markets likely to be affected by this downgrade for one simple reason: there aren’t any. Pakistani investment bankers in the Middle East, as well as Pakistani asset management companies based in Karachi, have been trying to get international institutional investors to buy Pakistani rupee-denominated government bonds for at least the past five years, and have had almost no success. While the yields on Pakistani treasury bills are much higher than the meagre rates on offer in most other parts of the world, their credit rating was too low even before this downgrade for institutional players to be interested. Institutional investors are mindful of the average rating of their overall portfolio. Many are not even allowed by their own rules to invest in junk-rated bonds. Even if buying Pakistani bonds would push up their yields, their average rating would be dragged too far down for it to be worth it. The real damage to Pakistan’s economy is likely to come from the problems of perception of having that low a credit rating. The last time Moody’s decided this low a credit rating – after Pakistan’s nuclear tests in 1998 – the country’s economy was in a bad shape. Foreign investment slowed to a trickle and the rupee plunged over 40% in the following two years. Some analysts worry that that may happen again. “It will likely add to the pressure on the Pakistani rupee, which is already down 5% since January,” said Burj Capital, an investment bank, in a note issued to clients. Yet that is unlikely to happen. With the resumption of NATO supplies, Washington will once again resume Coalition Support Funds payments, which in turn will likely stabilise the rupee. The real concern about the downgrade should come not from the announcement, but what led to it: the government of Pakistan’s persistent inability to pay its bills on time; the short attention spans of politicians who are too busy playing power games to actually govern the country; and the absolute unwillingness of virtually anyone in the country to pay their taxes. There are many ways to fix the state of the economy, and most of them do not rely on Washington doling out money to Islamabad. But they do require Islamabad to speak the truth to its people: that the era of wasteful, untargeted, distorting subsidies is over and everybody needs to start paying their taxes. If we do that, even an investment grade rating is not out of the question; though one suspects that we may have to wait quite a while before that happens.
by Lal KhanThe latest strike of the young doctors has not only shaken the healthcare system in the Punjab but has laid bare its extreme decay and the callousness of the ruling elite towards the wellbeing of ordinary people. There have been a series of doctors’ strikes in the recent period particularly in the Punjab. Above all this exposes the rapid decline of the living conditions of professionals and the pauperisation of the once relatively prosperous middle classes. Burgeoning inflation, the rising cost of living, has made it difficult for especially young doctors to make ends meet. In its customary reactionary role the bourgeois media portrayed the doctors as the baddies. It shaped so-called public opinion by instilling malice into the social mindset against the striking doctors and then used it to ridicule the strike and protect the ruling elite and their rotten system that are really to blame for this wretched healthcare system. In the absence of an experienced leadership and with the isolation of the strike, the doctors were forced into a compromise under the enormous pressure of the situation that the media and the propagandists of the ruling classes had brought to bear on them. The judiciary was quick to play its role as an institution of the state to protect the status quo and its verdict, true to form, was against the strike. The military was called in by Shahbaz Sharif to bolster its dwindling image and once again present it as the saviour of society. These institutions have hardly ever in the country’s history carried out successfully the duties assigned to them. However, at the same time, they are very keen to play roles that are not related to their profession as they amass huge bounties by intervening in civilian affairs. Whereas the armed forces have failed to stop the drone strikes, they are used to break a strike where the young doctors were striving for wages of a liveable existence and demanding a structure for their jobs. The police and other repressive agencies of the state once again exhibited their real character as the custodians of this exploitative system. Their brutalities against the doctors exercising their fundamental right could be seen on the television screens. These incarcerations and atrocities are a clear proof of the nature of the present state and which class it is there to protect and who to crush when there is a slightest hindrance to the process of looting and plunder on which this system is based. One of the main arguments used by the stooges of the ruling class was the constant reminder of the ancient Greek Hippocratic oath that physicians have had to take for centuries and which has become a ritual in the medical profession. This was really pathetic in a society and in an epoch where everywhere in the state and society such oaths are meant to be broken. Their validity, authenticity and credibility have eroded almost to extinction. In a society drenched in corruption and crime it is the norm rather than the exception for the political elite in power to break oaths to the top brass of the state institutions. Those who were yelling at the young doctors about going against their Hippocratic Oath are themselves involved in massive corruption and coercion of society. The doctors were struggling with their backs to the wall. They only came out on strike when they had exhausted all other means to attain their minimum demands. The real cause of this devastation of the health sector is the failure of the state to grant the people their fundamental right to decent healthcare. According to a UNDP report 82 percent of the Pakistani population is forced into non-scientific medication. More than half a million women die every year during childbirth due to lack of basic obstetric facilities and 1132 children die every day on average due to hunger and deficiency of paediatric care. Pakistan’s budget allocation to the health sector is probably the lowest in the world. And the conditions in the rural areas are even worse. Instead of developing heath facilities successive regimes after Z.A. Bhutto’s government in the 1970’s that spent 42.3 percent on healthcare facilitation, have only eroded the state health system. With the free market reforms and aggressive “neo-liberal” economic policies, the vultures of private capital have intruded into the health sector. It is one of the most profitable enterprises and chains of private hospitals and clinics have sprung up since the 1980’s. The plight and salaries of the young doctors in the private sector are even worse. The commercialisation of healthcare has deprived large sections of society of proper treatment. They simply cannot afford scientific medication. A putrefying society, where filth and garbage are piling up due to the decaying sanitation infrastructure, exasperates the spread of diseases and infections. But there is also a stringent class divide amongst the doctors. The senior doctors and the established practitioners are making lucrative profits and accumulating enormous wealth. Not only do these senior doctors leech off the patients, they also receive huge ‘incentives’ from the pharmaceutical companies and the mushrooming laboratories. It has become a norm to write excessive prescriptions and tests that are mostly unnecessary, because they enhance the profitability of the corporate drug industry. This class contradiction also came out clearly when these established doctors, who always try to lure the patients from the public hospitals to their private clinics, acted as strike breakers supporting the right-wing conservative government. The reality is that health education and other basic necessities are not a preference of the present rulers and the political elite. Almost all mainstream political parties had a contemptuous attitude towards the doctors’ strike. Even if the rulers wanted to impart universal health to all the citizens there is no room for this in the present economic system. In a crisis-ridden capitalism the lust for more profits is accentuated even further and every sector of society is targeted to fulfil this insatiable lust. The doctors have to learn the lessons that they are also part of the working class. They will have to shed all the prejudices of profession and institution. If other sectors of the proletariat had joined in the strike the outcome would have been different. The whole of society is suffering from the calamities produced by this rotten system. It will; be the working classes who will have to rise in a united class struggle to overthrow this system and end misery, poverty, deprivation and exploitation.
Chairman NAB has requested an Accountability Court to reopen 3 cases against Nawaz Sharif. According to Dunya News the chairman Friday issued formal request to an Accountability Court to start proceeding regarding three cases against Mian Nawaz Sharif. The cases pertain to Hodybia Paper Mills, Ittefaq Foundry and understatement of assets. The cases have been pending with the trial court since 2001. According to sources it is expected that more cases against the Sharif Brothers will be reopened in the coming days.