Saturday, November 17, 2012

Photo: Obama Is Not Impressed

President Obama proves, once again, that he’s as cool as can be. In a photo op with the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics team, Obama and McKayla Maroney did a joint impression of her famously “not impressed” face after she received a silver instead of gold medal in the vault during the London Games 2012. “Did I just do the Not Impressed face with the President … ?” Maroney tweeted along with the picture, which, just like her original picture from this summer, quickly went viral.

Bhagat Singh Chowk: LHC dashes hope of immediate name change

Two months after the announcement to rename Shadman Chowk after the revolutionary hero Bhagat Singh came from the City District Government Lahore (CDGL), supporters of this change in name commemorating his role in the struggle for independence against the British colonial rule faced yet another disappointment as the Lahore High Court on Friday stopped CDGL from issuing a notification of renaming Shadman Chowk after Bhagat Singh. This stay order adds to the disappointing saga of renaming Shadman Chowk because ever since CDGL announced the decision in late September to make the name change, opposition groups have been proactively seeking to block the decision. This opposition bore fruit when a single bench comprising Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh passed the order on a petition filed by Tehreek-e-Hurmat e Rasool (PBUH) challenging the decision to name Shadman Chowk after Bhagat Singh. The court also sought a reply from CDGL till November 28. The petitioner’s counsel Aftab Ahmad Bajwa argued before the court that it was previously believed that the chowk would be named after Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, the iconic figure who suggested the name of Pakistan during the independence movement. He accused human rights organisations of pressuring the CDGL into renaming it after Bhagat Singh instead. He further argued that CDGL had established Dil Kash committee to take suggestions of the citizens for this purpose, but had went on to rename the chowk after Bhagat Singh despite severe opposition to the idea. He maintained that the renaming of Shadman Chowk is not only illegal but goes against the principles of the Freedom Movement. The court after hearing the arguments barred the CDGL from issuing a notification till November 28 and sought a reply. The Tehreek e Hurmat e Rasool has been among the biggest voices of opposition to this renaming. Last week, they put up plaques across the chowk, demanding the name change to be stopped immediately. The announcement in September was welcomed not only by citizens but also by groups who had been demanding this name change for many years. This renaming is important to such groups because it was at this place that the iconic leader, as a young man, was hanged for his role in the resistance against the British rule. When the announcement came from CDGL, opposition groups moved to block the change, because of which CDGL established the Dilkash Lahore Committee to seek the recommendations of citizens. While initially the Dilkash Lahore Committee received more recommendations against the move than in favor, over the past few weeks, citizens actively wrote to the committee head Salima Hashmi demanding that the name change was justified as Bhagat Singh was an inspirational figure in the independence movement whose sacrifices and struggles should be honored. Opposition groups, including Tehreek-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool, to the contrary, have argued that this renaming is an attempt to appease the pro-Indian elements of Pakistan and is an insult to the ideology of Pakistan. They further argued Pakistan was a Muslim country hence its major roads and squares should be named after Muslims, not Hindus or Sikhs. They had also threatened to protest against the decision. Reacting to the LHC stay order, one citizen told Pakistan Today, “The Lahore administration’s decision to accept this demand of progressive activists to re-name the chowk in the name of a revolutionary hero brought great joy to myself and members of the Bhagat Singh Memorial Committee. It is disappointing that this name change was then considered to be against the ideology of Pakistan when Jinnah, Pakistan’s founding father himself reiterated secularism and wanted to keep state and religion apart. He himself had appreciated the struggles of each and every individual who had sacrificed for freedom.” Another citizen, Sana, said, “LHC just sounds like a bearer of bad news sometimes. I do not see why this particular chowk should not be renamed after Bhagat Singh. He died here, hung by the colonial powers he was fighting against. How can we not honor that? It is shameful enough that he is not mentioned in our history books. They had to spit on his name like this too?” Rizwan, another concerned citizen, said that it was appalling how a chowk that had been neglected for decades became suddenly became the object of a struggle between two opposing forces just because Bhagat Singh’s name became involved. “This just goes to show how determined we are to teach our children we want to stay ignorant, and we don’t want to give them inspirational heroes, just more and more bitterness.”

Afghanistan says Pakistan will help in peace talks

Associated Press
A top Afghan peace mediator hailed Pakistan's recent decision to free nine members of the Taliban who favor negotiations, saying Saturday it was a sign Islamabad is willing to help bring the militant group to the table and end Afghanistan's 11-year-old war. The cooperation of Pakistan, which has longstanding ties to the Taliban, is seen as key to jumpstarting the stalled Afghan peace process. The Afghan and U.S. governments accuse Islamabad of backing insurgents — an allegation Pakistan denies — and say many militant leaders are hiding in the country. Afghanistan needs Pakistan's help in reaching out to top Taliban leaders, but still insists that peace talks be led by Afghans, saying it will fight those who try to interfere. Salahuddin Rabbani, the head of the High Peace Council who led a delegation to Islamabad this week, said Pakistan's prisoner release marked a shift in the neighboring country's policy. In the past, the Pakistanis have arrested Taliban figures interested in peace talks with the Afghan government, he said, but now the government is releasing them and pledging to give them safe passage to negotiations. "It seems that Pakistani officials have realized that a close cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan can be effective for the peace initiative," Rabbani said. "Of course, this is a vision we have been insisting on for a long time." Rabbani, whose delegation spent four days in Islamabad this week meeting with high-ranking government, political and religious leaders, said Pakistan has pledged to release additional Taliban prisoners who will be allowed to stay in Pakistan, return to Afghanistan or seek residence in a third country. While nothing can guarantee they won't rejoin Taliban fighters, Rabbani said he was confident that they would continue to cooperate with the peace council. "We will be in contact with those released," he said. Some members of the peace council suggested that Pakistan's religious and political leadership might be having a change of heart — in part because of violence committed by Pakistan's branch of the Taliban movement. "This is the first time that we really saw some changing of the minds while we were speaking," said Qayumuddin Kashaf, a member of peace council and head of the top religious council in Afghanistan. He said that in the past, Pakistani religious leaders insisted that insurgents were waging a holy war in Afghanistan. "Now we see some changing of the mindset because the security situation in Pakistan is very bad if not worse than Afghanistan." Others in Kabul believe, however, that Pakistan may simply be playing a waiting game, trying to appease Afghanistan with small gestures until international troops leave Afghanistan and the Taliban can try to mount a comeback. Despite the prisoner release, the peace process still has little traction and has experienced many setbacks, including the assassination of Rabbani's father in September 2011. Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former Afghan president and the first leader of the peace council, was killed in his Kabul home by a suicide bomber posing as an emissary from the Taliban. It's unclear whether the Taliban are interested in negotiating peace, but the insurgent group welcomed the release of the prisoners. "Without a doubt, releasing prisoners fosters confidence between two neighboring countries and their nations," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement issued Friday. During the delegation's trip, both countries appealed to the Taliban to join the peace process and sever ties with al-Qaida and other international terror networks. They said Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States would provide safe passage to members of the Taliban who want to talk with negotiators. They agreed to work with the international community to remove prospective Taliban negotiators from the U.N. sanctions list so they can participate in any peace talks. The sanctions include a travel ban, arms embargo and assets freeze. Afghanistan and Pakistan also agreed to hold a conference of religious leaders and scholars from Islamic countries to address violence in the name of Islam, council members said. The peace council did not identify the prisoners who were freed, but an Afghan official familiar with the peace process gave The Associated Press a list of eight. They were: —Nooruddin Turabi, former Taliban justice minister. —Jahangirwal, a special assistant to Taliban leader, Mullah Omar. —Qutub, a Taliban leader. —Abdul Salaam, former Taliban governor of Baghlan province. —Maulvi Matiullah, the Taliban's director of the customs house in Kabul. —Mahamad, the Taliban's former governor of Kunduz province. —Sayed Saduddin Agha, a former Taliban commander. —Allah Dad, the Taliban's former deputy minister of communication. The ninth prisoner released was Anwarul Haq Mujahid, the son of the late Mohammad Yunus Khalis, who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He has joined his family in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, according to a cousin and family friend who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Afghan officials are still hoping for the release of the Taliban's former deputy leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was captured in Pakistan in 2010. Baradar was reportedly conducting talks with the Afghan government that were kept secret from the Pakistanis.

Pakistani lawyer beaten after taking on army chief
A Pakistani lawyer accused the military of sending thugs to beat him up after he challenged the army chief in court. Inam Ur Raheem, a retired military lawyer, said three vehicles surrounded his taxi Wednesday night in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. Several unidentified men jumped out and attacked him with sticks, leaving him with cuts and bruises. He claimed they said they were there to teach him a lesson. The attack came a day after Raheem filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court challenging the validity of a three-year extension given to army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in 2010. The army denied any role in the attack Friday, calling Raheem's allegations baseless. Read more here:

Pashto writer Prof Azam passes away

Noted Pashto writer and poet Professor Mohammad Azam Azam breathed his last at the age of 72. He will be laid to rest at his ancestral town of Rajar in Charsadda district today (Saturday). Professor Azam’s friends and colleagues in literary circles have offered condolences on loss of a learned educationist, playwright and poet who have been rewarded Tamghaa-i-Imtiaz, a civil award, for his performance. “Professor Azam led a full life. Sittings with him always increased my knowledge,” said Pashto Academy Director Dr Salma Shaheen. Ms Shaheen, who is also famous Pashto poet, said Professor Azam had command of Pashto literary techniques and proverbs and was famous for ghazals, which had symbols and rhythm. “He was a man of knowledge and like any creative person always remained restless,” she said. Professor Azam left behind a widow, three daughters and a son. Born on December 21, 1940 in Rajar village, he did his PhD in Pashto Literature and began career as a lecturer in historic Islamia College, Peshawar in 1963. He also served as the chairman of Pashto Department at University of Peshawar and Dean of Faculty of Oriental Languages. After retirement from University of Peshawar in 2000, he joined Academy of Letters as the regional director of Peshawar in August 2006. Professor Azam, author of 11 books, had rendered meritorious services to Pashto language and literature for 45 years. He was a writer known for unique style and for having introduced and contributed to modern literary trends both in subjects and style in Pashto prose and poetry. Among his books are Pashto Afsana, Tahqeeq Auo Tanqeed, Pashto Adab Ke Kerdarnigaaree, Lashey, Rehman Baba Da Ulas Shair, Pukhtanee Romanoonah, Da Aqidat Guloona, and Andazoonah. Radio Pakistan, Peshawar and PTV, Peshawar Centre aired more than 500 songs and ghazals of Professor Azam. They are still popular with the people. Professor Azam is considered a trendsetter in Pashto drama on both radio and television. He is known for his Pashto plays that portrayed a true picture of Pashtun culture and society. At the start of PTV, Peshawar Centre in 1974, he wrote the first-ever Pashto TV serial ‘Rukey Laarey’ (The lost paths). Another popular play ‘Namoos’ (Honour) in both its Pashto and Urdu versions are also very popular. As for his poetry, Professor Azam claimed to be inspired by the Progressive Writers’ Movement.

Pakistan Takes Step, Not Leap, Toward Afghan Peace

In a move intended to encourage the Taliban to join stalled peace negotiations with the Afghan government, Pakistan this week released at least eight jailed members of that militant group.
The releases, granted by Islamabad after repeated requests, is seen by some as a sign that Pakistan is finally prepared to play a constructive role in jump-starting reconciliation efforts that have yielded little since they began several years ago. Skeptics -- including the Afghan government -- say that while it is a positive step, Islamabad must do much more to prove its commitment to the Kabul-led peace process. The Afghan government and its Western allies have stepped up efforts to find a political solution to the ongoing battle against Taliban militants. There are fears that the country could descend into civil war or face another Taliban takeover if militants are not brought into a serious peace process before 2014, when the majority of U.S. and NATO-led ISAF troops will leave. Releases Welcomed Islamabad is seen as a crucial player in the process. Pakistan's ties to the Taliban date back to the 1990s, when it provided arms, training, and intelligence to the militants. Islamabad was one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban government after it took power in Afghanistan in 1996. After the regime's fall in 2001, following the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, many Taliban leaders took shelter inside Pakistan. Pakistan's release of the prisoners, who were reportedly freed late on November 15, has been met with widespread praise -- from the Afghan government to the Taliban to U.S. officials in Kabul. According to media reports, among the released prisoners are three prominent Taliban: Mullah Nuruddin Turbai, a former justice minister; Allahdad Tabib, former deputy minister of communications; and Mullah Jahangirwal, a special adviser to Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Also reportedly released were former Baghlan Province Governor Abdul Salam; former Konduz Province Governor Mowlawi Muhammad; two former government officials, Haji Qutub and Mowlawi Matiullah; and a former senior commander and deputy minister, Sayed Saduddin Agha. Michael Kugelman, South Asia associate at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, says that although Pakistan's action is a positive step, the release is only "a single goodwill measure and nothing else." Kugelman says Pakistan needs to develop a clear policy before it can be said that it has changed course and is willing to play a positive, constructive role in ending the war in neighboring Afghanistan. "If there's one thing we can say about the Pakistani government, it is that it really doesn't have a clearly defined or strategic policy in terms of how it wants to proceed toward an Afghanistan endgame," Kugelman says. "On the one hand, there's been a lot of talk about having a key role at the negotiating table, but on the other hand there have been mixed messages coming from Islamabad for a number of months and years. It's still unclear what Pakistan wants from all of this." Taliban Cracks? Kugelman adds that the Taliban itself is sharply divided on the issue of peace talks. The Taliban, which he describes as a "very diffuse and complex" group, disagrees on how it should proceed with the peace process, with some hard-line Taliban protesting vehemently against participating in negotiations of any kind. David H. Young, a Washington-based conflict-resolution expert and adjunct fellow at the American Security Project, says Pakistan is unlikely to abandon its policy of maintaining strategic influence in Afghanistan via the Taliban. Young, who was a civilian adviser to the U.S. Army in eastern Afghanistan, says the prisoner deal is in keeping with Pakistani interests but is unlikely to help the peace process. Referring to Pakistani intelligence's long-rumored support for the Taliban, Young says that if the country really wants to encourage reconciliation in Afghanistan it should stop the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from financing and arming the Afghan Taliban. Another step, Young says, would be for Islamabad to release Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's former deputy leader who was arrested in Pakistan's southern city of Karachi in February 2010. Baradar was reportedly at the top of the 40-man wish list of prisoners Kabul wanted Pakistani authorities to release. Young says the fact that Islamabad has neither released nor transferred Baradar for the past two years indicates how reluctant it is to hand over the one figure who is likely to facilitate reconciliation efforts. Baradar was reportedly arrested for facilitating secret talks between Kabul and the Taliban leadership. Young predicts that Pakistan will drag out the peace process until the Taliban is in a stronger bargaining position, namely after 2014 when international troops leave. For now, he says, small gestures like the release of Taliban prisoners strike a good balance for Pakistan between securing its own interests in Afghanistan, where it seeks a more Islamist government in Kabul, and appearing agreeable to facilitating the peace process. Mixed Signals Assuming that Pakistan wants to play an active role in the peace talks, Young says the country will only accept a political settlement in Afghanistan that gives it strategic influence in Kabul and minimizes the role of archrival India. "[A policy] that involves high-level Taliban involvement in the government, guaranteed number of officials in the various ministries, and something that enables them to save face and say that we have overthrown the [Afghan President] Karzai government or instilled a more fair and stable government," Young says. "A government that is more reflective, in part, of Taliban values in order to keep Pakistan's buffer in southwest and southeast Afghanistan." The release of the Taliban prisoners in Pakistan came after Salahuddin Rabbani, leader of the Afghan High Peace Council, the presidentially appointed body tasked with negotiating with the Taliban, held talks with senior Pakistani government officials. Afghanistan's ambassador to Pakistan, Omar Daudzai, has welcomed the release of Taliban prisoners and announced on November 16 that Islamabad has agreed in principle to release even more. The Taliban has likewise hailed the freeing of its members. "We consider this as a good step and welcome it," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was quoted as saying. "We wish to have more prisoners released. This will undoubtedly increase trust between two countries and people." The release of Taliban prisoners comes after a string of setbacks. In March, the Taliban said they were suspending talks with the United States only weeks after they opened a political office in the Gulf state of Qatar. Kabul objected to the Qatar talks on the basis that they were not Afghan-led. The Taliban said in a statement that the U.S. approach was "erratic and shaky" and accused Washington of going against their word.

Quetta: Doctors strike enters 32nd day

According to reports, the doctors in Balochistan including Quetta boycotted work at OPDs of government hospitals for the 32nd consecutive day for the recovery of their abducted colleague Dr Saeed Ahmed Khan. The general operation theaters were also shut.The strike is being observed on the call of the Pakistan Medical Association (Balochistan) and other organizations of doctors. According to the PMA, the strike will continue until Dr. Saeed is recovered.The provincial government has failed in making any headway in recovering Dr Saeed Ahmed Khan, an eye specialist and head of LRBT Hospital, who was kidnapped on October 16 from Saryab Road in the provincial capital

Pakistan: ‘Banned organisations involved in target killings more than Taliban’
Members of banned organisations are involved in incidents of bank robberies and other crimes in Karachi, more than the Taliban, said CID Functional Crime Unit head Raja Umar Khitab. Speaking to Roznama Express, SSP Khitab said there was no proof of Taliban’s presence in the Old City area or Lyari, however, reports have been received regarding the presence of banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). On the issue of rising extortion cases, the SSP explained that summoning information regarding extortionists’ hideouts takes up to one week and till that time, the suspects have already shifted to another place. Members of banned organisations team up with Lyari gangwar suspects and distribute chits among businessmen and traders. The chits have their numbers on them, which are used by police and other agencies to locate them, he detailed. Locating the extortionists takes up to 5-7 days and within that time, people have already paid extortion after coming under immense pressure and the same happens in kidnapping cases, the SSP said. The kidnappers take ransom within a week and release the kidnapped person, while most of the families do not even register kidnapping cases. The SSP lamented that the technology available to the law enforcement agencies is not up to the mark and a great deal of crimes can be curbed in the city if the technology if upgraded.

Pakistan: Release of Taliban prisoners

EDITORIAL : Daily Times
Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (HPC) delegation led by chairman Salahuddin Rabbani has returned to Kabul with a partial success in getting some middle level Taliban prisoners released from Pakistan’s custody. Differences on the list of prisoners were reported during the HPC’s sojourn in Islamabad. The HPC was desirous of more senior Taliban prisoners being handed over, considering this a necessary condition for pushing the potential peace process with the Taliban forward. Of particular interest to the Afghans was the release of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Mulla Omar’s one time second-in-command, and Mullah Toorabi and two other insurgent commanders. However, despite Islamabad not acceding to this request, the door has been left open for their later release should the initial process yield positive results. The responses to the development have been fairly predictable. The Afghan government has welcomed it, while the Taliban have dismissed it out of hand, saying the released prisoners are no longer part of the Taliban and therefore their release will make no difference. Besides, the Taliban spokesman reiterated, they still stand by their position that the Karzai government is a puppet and they will only negotiate with the US. Deputy Chief of the US Mission in Pakistan Richard Hoagland too has welcomed the release while carefully distancing Washington from any hint of a role in the outcome. Hoagland was at pains to stress that this was a bilateral mater between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but expressed the hope that it may open the door to meaningful negotiations. It may be recalled that the US efforts in the past to open a channel of communication to the Taliban foundered because, in the case of Mullah Baradar, our ISI did not deem it fit to allow unfettered access to the Americans and reportedly sat in on the meeting, while the Qatar initiative for talks proved abortive when the US dragged its feet on the release of five Taliban prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay. The 12-point joint statement at the end of the HPC’s visit, while it failed to reveal the names of the released prisoners, emphasised the long standing demand of the Afghan government that the Taliban sever links with al Qaeda and other international terror networks. The proposal has been mooted that in order to facilitate the process of contacts, the Taliban negotiators’ names could be removed from the UN sanctions list, which inhibits their ability to travel. As the Qatar initiative’s failure demonstrated, it is not clear what the Obama administration’s policy on this issue is. Mulla Omar’s still being on the wanted list of the US is considered one obstacle, while the recent designation of the Haqqani network, a group closely allied to the Taliban, as a terrorist organisation by both the US and the UN could prove another stumbling block. There is little doubt that all parties to the conflict have their eye on the looming withdrawal of ISAF forces from Afghanistan by 2014, with any residual US military presence in the country still far from a settled matter. Clearly, the apprehension that Afghanistan might well spiral downwards into more chaos and conflict after 2014 has all regional and international players worried. If the partial acceptance of the HPC’s request for prisoner releases by Islamabad is any guide, it may be that these apprehensions are finding expression in the willingness of the Pakistani military establishment to explore the possibility of a different, negotiated course rather than continued reliance on proxy actors to ensure an outcome favourable to Pakistan’s interests. The proxies strategy is by now clearly yielding diminishing returns in the shape of the home grown Taliban movement in Pakistan, with a nexus and support from at least the Haqqani network. When the openly declared enemies of the Pakistani state are being helped and supported by the one time protégés of the military establishment (the Haqqanis), there could not be a more cogent argument for a rethink in the interests of peace and stability in Afghanistan, which cannot but help something similar emerging in Pakistan too.

Pakistan: Tax amnesty scheme

Editorial:The Frontier Post
If state institutions that are supposed to ensure rule of law and socio-economic justice are themselves involved in legalizing corruption, this will lead to institutionalizing fraud and irregularities to inculcate the worst dishonesty that would strengthen corrupt practices as a culture to further destabilize Pakistan. The question arises out of a the Federal Board of Revenue scheme to allow tax evaders to whiten their black money and assets at home and abroad within three months against a nominal one-time charge. The federal cabinet astonishingly approved the damaging scheme the other day and also granted blanket exemptions to tax dodgers from investigation by the National Accountability Bureau and the Federal Investigation Agency. The schemes will now be presented to parliament through a bill probably hopefully next week. FBR believes that the schemes will bring 3.1 million more people into the tax net, including frequent travelers, owners of multiple bank accounts and those living in posh areas but not figuring on the tax roll. These corrupt people will be able to benefit from the Tax Registration Enforcement Initiative and the Investment Tax Scheme, 2012, within three months. Black money will be whitened if a tax evader pays Rs40,000 to legitimize assets worth up to Rs5million in the first month. Those availing the offer in the second month will have to pay Rs50,000 and in the third month Rs70,000. The scheme is the brainchild of the new FBR chief Ali Arshad Hakeem who probably thinks that one corrupt practice can be fought with another. But as two wrongs cannot make one right, his novel plan cannot work, at least in a society which is now embracing the norms of democracy and institutional supremacy to move to a civilized culture. The FBR should have been worried about affluent Pakistanis paying one of the lowest tax in the world. Pakistan is a home of around 180 million people and only 260,000 of them have paid tax consecutively for the last three years. Their overall contribution has been a paltry 9.1 per cent of GDP last year, among the lowest in the world because the country has one of the least effective fiscal regimes across the globe. The government should, instead, have cracked down on tax-evaders, not letting them off the hook particularly when the FBR chairperson says that he is in possession of the entire data of tax evaders including politicians, businessmen, cricketers and showbiz people. But he has preferred to wait for the parliamentary approval of the new scheme that, according to him, would create an environment where it would not be difficult to hit them. If the data of all tax evaders is already available, the government should publish a tax directory and shame the evaders instead of bringing out this scheme that is bound to destroy an already fragile tax system that is afraid of the big and the powerful. And who can be sure of the parliamentary approval of the plan when influential people are there to frustrate the passage of any law hitting their vested interests. This seems difficult also because the next parliamentary elections are not far away and the country’s elite club would have a great leverage in its hands. Nevertheless, the whole legal edifice of the scheme is tilted in the favour of a particular class and, therefore, unfair to those who pay tax. It is also discriminatory in favour of cheaters and evaders and certainly falls within the mischief of the violation of the constitution. The International Monetary Fund bailed Pakistan out with an $11.3 billion loan package in 2008, but the deal was ended last November after Islamabad rejected strict reform demands, largely over tax. The IMF has repeatedly warned Pakistan that it needs to make urgent structural reforms to boost growth, currently scraping along at around three per cent, enough to absorb its rapidly growing population into the workforce. It also told Pakistan to introduce general sales tax, which it says could generate another three per cent of GDP in revenue and introduce property taxes. A shortsighted government is currently focusing only on meeting its target of collecting 2.37 trillion rupees in tax this year, 10.1 per cent of GDP, up from 1.33 trillion in 2008-9 for which the highly controversial amnesty scheme no matter how dangerous it would be in future.

Bilawal Bhutto greets new CPC head Xi Jinping

Radio Pakistan
Chairman Pakistan People's Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has felicitated the newly-appointed Secretary General of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping.Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed the hope that the Sino-Pak bilateral ties will continue to grow under the new Chinese leadership. In his message of felicitation‚ he said PPP will continue to strive to strengthen the ties with Communist Party of China. He said the PPP believes in peaceful transition of power and political leadership and derives immense satisfaction from the smooth transition of leadership in Communist Party of China during the recently held 18th National Congress. Bilawal Bhutto expressed the hope that the new leadership headed by Xi Jinping would lead his great nation to greater glories and successes.