Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pakistan has failed when it comes to trade with China

Pakistan has been unable to fully tap and utilise the concessions granted by China under the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA) and only used 3.3% of the total tariff lines, said a review of the first phase of CPFTA.
According to official sources, the Ministry of Commerce is reviewing the first phase of the CPFTA, which revealed that Pakistan could only export in 253 tariff lines out of the total 7550, where average export value was $500.
“Pakistan mainly exported raw materials and intermediate products such as cotton yarn, woven fabric and grey fabric while value-added products were completely missing,” they said. “This is why Pakistan has not benefitted from the CPFTA. Some of the value-added products like garments are included in the concessionary regime.”
The officials said that Pakistan shared its concern regarding the insufficient utilisation of concession and competition faced by the local industries due to cheap imports from China. They said it was agreed that the tariff reduction modalities of the second phase would be designed in a way to accommodate all the genuine concerns of both countries adequately.
Pakistan and China are already negotiating for the second phase of Pak-China FTA since 2011, however, Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir recently said that the negotiations had been halted as Pakistani businessmen were protectionists and Chinese wanted more liberalisation.
The CPFTA on trade in goods was signed on November 24 2006 and implemented on July 7, 2007. The FTA on trade in services was signed on February 21, 2009 and in operational since October 10, 2009.
Under the Trade and Service Agreement, Pakistan will open the first banking channel of Habib Bank Limited in China by the end of this year and the Chinese authorities have already given the approval by relaxing the reserve limit from $20 billion to $15 billion.
Bilateral trade volume, which amounted to $4 billion in 2006-7, reached an all-time at $12 billion in 2014-15. Pakistan’s exports jumped to $2.1 billion in 2014-15 from $575 million in 2006-07. Correspondingly, China’s exports to Pakistan increased to $10.1 billion in 2014-15 from $3.5 billion in 2006-07.
Pakistan’s major exports to China are cotton yarn/fabric, rice, raw hides and skins, crude vegetable material, chemical material, fish and fish preparations and crude mineral. Major imports from China are machinery (all sorts) and its parts, fertiliser manufactured, chemical element, yarn and thread of synthetic fibre, iron and steels, chemical material and product, vegetable and synthetic textile fibre, road vehicles and their parts, non-ferrous metals, tyres and tubes of rubber.

Another assassination in Pakistan, new determination to 'keep on keepin' on'

By Beena Sarwar
“They’ve shot dead Amjad Sabri” — the first words I heard on Wednesday morning marked news of yet another assassination in my beloved Karachi, still “home” despite living in the Boston area since 2011.
Sabri was one of the world’s most famous exponents of the devotional music known as Qawwali. On Wednesday, two gunmen intercepted his car and shot him dead at close range in the crowded locality near his house.
At a television studio nearby, another devotional singer, young Farhan Ali Waris, was waiting for Sabri to join him for a recording when he heard the news. As he headed home, his armed guards fired at assailants targeting their car. Waris escaped unhurt.
Sabri’s murder appears to be a continuation of the trend of killing Shia and Ahmadi doctors for their faith. But the list of those targeted in Pakistan is a long one, not restricted to Ahmadis, a sect that Pakistan’s parliament declared as non-Muslim in a Constitutional amendment in 1974, or Shias, considered as apostates by the extremist militants who have been on a killing spree in the country particularly over the last few years.
Actually it’s anyone they consider deviant or a threat to their extremist ideology in some way. Militants have also targeted Christians, Hindus, civilians at bazaars, hospital emergency rooms, universities, schools, mosques, funerals and of course "liberals," as my old friend Quatrina Hosein, a former newspaper editor based in Islamabad commented in a Facebook post.
I asked if I could quote her and her response was chilling: “It doesn’t matter. I know I will be killed in this war.”
In her post, Quatrina asked when Pakistan will “face the reality that extremism is woven into the fabric of our existence? Are you as shocked when an Ahmedi doctor is killed, as you were when 150 children were massacred in school? Do you grieve by numbers or by identities? Why do you buy into crap like Malala was a foreign agent? Wake up! The killers are extremist Sunnis.
"They want their brand of Islam at gunpoint, bombpoint, acidpoint. Stop absorbing the shocks. Each death is a virus that enters the body. It mutates. Its indigenous. Ours. It's killing us from within while we run around moaning ‘this is not Islam.’ Each and every person who doesn’t buy their brand is a target. Each and every one. We have let it reach this point because we have been digesting the poison a little bit every day.
"‘Won’t happen to me’ mentality got us here. News alert: Your body is now toxic. The only difference is level of immunity.”
I totally agree with her. In fact, the title of a report I wrote a couple of years ago on the target killing of Ahmedis was: Poison in the body politic, published in The News on Sunday (the weekly paper I started that I consider my first baby).
It is not surprising that musicians are being targeted. There have been other such killings in the past also, of folk and women singers in cities in northwest Pakistan closer to the Afghanistan border, a conflict area.
But Amjad Sabri was not just a "musician" and he was killed not in a small town in the war zone but in bustling Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, its business center and major seaport.
Another angle to this murder is the lack of rule of law and what happens when law enforcement agencies’ “energies are focused on political victimization instead of going after hard core criminals,” as another journalist friend Afia Salam in Karachi says.
Sabri was one of the most famous of Pakistan’s qawwals, exponent of a genre the extremist Saudi-inspired Wahabi mentality terms Qawwali as “haram” or forbidden by Islam. The mentality is typified by “fasadis‬,” creators of discord, to use a more accurate term for the criminals who call themselves “jihadis” or Islamic holy warriors.
It was a journalist friend in Delhi, an observing Muslim indignant at the hijacking of Islam, who suggested this term — let’s use fasadi instead of jihadi when referring to these groups that murder innocents and engage in violence in the name of Islam.
Not surprisingly, the Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for Sabri’s murder.
Sabri was one of the most visible and popular symbols of the Qawwali — part of the uniquely South Asian syncretic Sufi culture through which Islam spread in the region. This form of devotional music transcends religion and touches hearts belonging to all faiths — see this video of a Hebrew Qawwali in praise of Ali, the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson, at an Israel Sufi festival. 
At its best, Qawwali in any language is uplifting, inspiring, transformative.
“Tragic days for the world … a woman murdered here for her humanitarian causes and a man murdered there for his cultural traditions,” comments an old school friend from Karachi, a former classical dancer now working as a psychological counselor in London. “Nothing is sacred and no one is safe.”
“Outraged!!! Artists and creativity are under attack!!! And creativity is as important as literacy! So it’s an attack on education and our culture. Civil society really has to come out against this by celebrating him and our art and culture! In their face! This can’t be taken lying down … media needs to be galvanized and messaging for social inclusion and tolerance needs to be cranked up!” messaged another friend from Karachi who works with a non-profit and is himself an amateur singer devoted particularly to Qawwali.
I can’t help thinking at this time also of another dear friend, Sabeen Mahmud — she loved Qawwali passionately. In April 2015, a young man shot her dead, for her "liberal values," he said later.
At such times, it is all the more critical to keep hopelessness at bay. Despair is not an option.
Amjad Sabri and Sabeen Mahmud are only two of Pakistan’s over 50,000 civilian casualties of this war. The casualties include another 10,000 members of the armed forces. The love, inclusion and tolerance they personified rises above the hatred and violence of the fasadis.
It's an ongoing battle.
We just have to, as my friend the anti-nuclear activist Joseph Gerson in Boston says, "keep on keepin’ on.”

Bilawal Bhutto hints at street agitation against Nawaz

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has hinted at launching street agitation against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, should the government kept dilly-dallying on the terms of reference or the formation of probe commission to find out the truth about Panama Leaks.
During a meeting with the party’s opposition leader in the National Assembly and chief whip, Syed Khursheed Shah, at Bilawal House here Saturday, he made it clear that Nawaz Sharif will have to answer questions about his family’s involvement in allegations of money laundering, tax evasion and money transfers abroad.
Bilawal said, the PPP wanted across the board accountability, including of the Prime Minister. No one will be allowed to go scot free for white collar crime or corruption charges until he or she proved him or herself innocent of the charges against him or her, “he said. Bilawal- Khurshid shah meeting on Saturday dispels the rumours that the two leaders had different stance on Panama issue or that Khursheed Shah was soft on Nawaz Sharif.
Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah called on PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at Bilawal House and briefed him about the law and order situation and the provincial budget on Saturday.
Bilawal Bhutto, on the occasion, stressed that law and order situation should be the first priority of the government and any loopholes in the security of the citizens may be plugged and police and other law enforcing agencies may be put into more vigilant gear to stop the terrorists and other criminal elements to harm the society.
He said that war against terrorism was going on all over the country thus incident of terrorism in Karachi including the killing of renowned Qawwal Amjad Sabri and kidnapping of Awais Shah were not mere a law and order issue.
Speaking on this occasion, Shah said that adequate resources are being provided for maintenance of law and order and operation against terrorism being funded from the provincial resources.
Qaim Ali Shah said that lack of cooperation in the fields of finances and law enforcing was causing difficulties for the provincial government to cope the situation but pledged that PPP government in Sindh would try its best to pool all its resources to defeat terrorism and their sponsors with the cooperation of law enforcing machines.

Pakistan: Asif Zardari dismayed over allocation of public funds to a privately owned seminary close to militant Taliban

 Former President Asif Ali Zardari has expressed concern and dismay over the allocation of 300 million rupees out of public funds to a privately owned seminary in Nowshera known for its links with militant Taliban.
This is nothing but legitimization of militancy and militant Taliban that will undermine the nation’s resolve to fight militants to the finish, he said in a statement today.
Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the former President was deeply concerned over the use of public funds for legitimizing a private seminary known for promoting private jehad project.
The resources should have been spent on human development instead of on a seminary whose claim to fame lies in its promotion of militant Islam and the world view of Islamic militants.
That it should have happened around the time when a group of the militant Taliban reportedly claimed responsibility for the target killing of Sabri Qawwal in Karachi makes it all the more poignant, he said.
He said that the head of the Darul Uloom Haqqania in Nowshera is an acknowledged sympathizer and undeclared spokesperson of the Taliban.
During the government-TTP talks in 2014 the Taliban actually named the head of the seminary to negotiate on their behalf, he said. It is also widely known that a number of militant Taliban leaders have been students of this seminary.
He said that in the wake of killing of Mullah Mansoor Akhtar in Balochistan recently it appeared that some elements were reviving the jehadi project.
Explaining this, he said that recently conservative religious parties led by a proscribed organization held congregations in Islamabad protesting mansoor’s death. Now a privately owned pro-Taliban madrassah has been given 300 million..
Although the National Action Plan calls for disallowing banned outfits from resurrecting yet they have resurrected and openly promoting their militant agenda with impunity, he said and asked “is the revival of the jehadi project by design or by default?”

Rotary International Delegation called on the Rotary Ambassador for Pakistan Aseefa Bhutto

Rotary International Delegation called on the Rotary Ambassador for Pakistan Aseefa Bhutto Zardari and apprised her about the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and role of various stake-holders in it here on Sunday at Bilawal House.
On this occasion Rotary International Chairman, Polio plus Committee vice Chair the Rotary Foundation Michael Mc Govern, Ms. Carol Pandak, and Ms. Judith Diment and National Chair of Rotary International Aziz Memon ،Sindh government’s representatives Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Ahmed Bux Narejo (Secretary Health), Agha Ashfaq Khan (Project Director EPI, Health Department) were also present.
Talking to the delegation, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari stressed that all the stake-holders should join hands to make Pakistan a polio free and healthier nation.
The delegation was briefed that globally 18 new Polio cases have been confirmed from two endemic countries, 12 cases from Pakistan and 6 from Afghanistan. In the Sindh province of Pakistan, 4 cases have emerged in 2016; two from Shikarpur, one from Jacobabad and one from Karachi, while seven cases have been confirmed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one case in Balochistan.
Aseefa Bhutto Zardari appreciated the role of Rotary International and welcomed its cooperation in the worldwide campaign against polio virus.
She also said that strong partnership between Rotary and Pakistan can succeed in polio eradication and “A healthier Pakistan is in the best interest of not only one but of all the political parties of the country”.