Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pakistan court issues arrest warrant for finance minister

A Pakistani anti-corruption court on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for Finance Minister Ishaq Dar after the veteran politician failed to turn up for several court hearings.
The warrant comes at an awkward time for Pakistan, which wants to raise in excess of $1 billion on international debt markets through a Sukuk and a Eurobond in coming months and has been trying to woo international investors.
Dar, who has been charged with amassing wealth beyond his known sources of income, has missed three weeks of court hearings conducted by the anti-graft agency the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Judge Mohammad Bashir issued the warrant on the grounds of “continued absence” from the court, according to a court statement.
Dar, who has pleaded not guilty, is receiving medical treatment in London and now faces arrest upon his return to Pakistan.
The case has been adjourned until Nov. 21.
The charges against Dar followed an investigation into the finances of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted in July after the Supreme Court disqualified him for not declaring a small salary from his son’s off-shore company.
The finance minister is one of Sharif’s closest political allies and Dar’s son has married Sharif’s daughter. Both men deny any wrongdoing.
Dar has rejected growing calls to resign amid his legal woes and a worsening economic outlook for Pakistan, which is battling to stave off a balance of payments crisis due to dwindling foreign currency reserve and a widening current account deficit.
Dar was initially lauded for steering Pakistan out of a balance of payments crisis in 2013 and returning the nuclear-armed country toward a higher growth trajectory.
But over the past year he has faced criticism for his refusal to allow the rupee to weaken to ease macroeconomic pressures. He has also been accused of eroding the central bank’s independence.


Deobandi cleric Samiul Haq is now seeking that banned Deobandi takfiri terrorist outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASWJ), mother of all terrorism, should be made part of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal.

“My party wants a broader alliance of all religious parties and groups and that they contest the next elections from a joint platform,” he said, adding that the MMA should not be confined only to six parties. Darul Uloom Haqqania in limelight as efforts under way for MMA revival
He said that other religious groups and alliances, including Difa-i-Pakistan Council and Milli Yakjehti Council, should also be included in the MMA — a defunct six-party religio-political alliance that is likely to be formally restored next month.
It is relevant to add here that banned terrorist group ASWJ (Sipah-e-Sahaba) is part of Difa-e-Pakistan Council hence he wants its inclusion in the MMA, otherwise, MYC parties are already welcome to the MMA and many of them are part of the Milli Yakjehti Council.
Darul Uloom Haqqania in Nowshera has become a hub of political activities with the expected revival of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, as political figures, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, went there to meet chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Maulana Samiul Haq.
According to an official statement issued here on Monday, CM Khattak visited the seminary at Akora Khattak and held a one-on-one meeting with Sami. It said the chief minister thanked the JUI-S chief for supporting the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf candidate in the NA-4 (Peshawar) by-election and his contribution towards removal of mistakes from textbooks.
Earlier, former officer of the Inter-Services Intelligence retired Major Mohammad Aamir called on Sami and held discussion on various issues, including electoral alliance among religious parties ahead of the next general election.
“During all these meetings and discussions we reviewed the current political situation, including restoration of the MMA,” Sami said by phone from Akora Khattak.
The alliance’s leaders, including Fazlur Rehman of the JUI-F and Sirajul Haq of the Jamaat-i-Islami, have agreed in principle to restore the MMA and a formal announcement in this regard would be made in December. The alliance, which was formed in 2002, fell apart in 2007.
Sami said the executive council of JUI-S met at Akora Khattak on Monday and deliberated on joining of the six-party alliance, adding that a meeting of the party’s general council would be held in Lahore on Nov 28 to decide whether or not to join the MMA.
“We believe that the JUI-F and Jamaat-i-Islami should quit coalition governments at the Centre and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, respectively, otherwise revival of the MMA would be useless,” he said, adding: “Political parties always form alliances against sitting governments. It looks strange that on the one hand they (JUI-F and JI) are in the federal and provincial governments and, on the other, they are cobbling an alliance against the very parties with which they are sharing the governments.”
Responding to a question, Sami said he and the KP chief minister also discussed cooperation between the PTI and JUI-S in the next elections.
He said Major Aamir was also in favour of a broader alliance of religious parties.
Pervez Khattak also belongs to Nowshera and his government had allocated Rs300 million in the 2016-17 budget for the construction of new buildings and upgrade of Darul Uloom Haqqania.
Our Correspondent in Swabi adds: Maj Aamir told the media that he would meet Senator Sirajul Haq soon to pave the way for restoration of the MMA and contesting the next elections from a joint platform.
He said three religious leaders —Sami, Sirajul Haq and Cleric Tayyab — would play greater role in the present situation. “This is the time to put our heads together and work collectively for the rights of Muslims and against those who want to harm this pious religion,” he added.


Pakistani woman in America

Dr Zamurrad Awan
There is a vast difference between Pakistani and American societies in nearly all walks of life. However, we can find some commonalities as human nature remains the same, in terms of reacting over situations, quest for knowledge and desire to know more about the world and beyond. These human traits are found in every society irrespective of their nature of socio-economic and political structures. For ten days in July of this year, as a team leader of a project titled “Assimilation Challenges of Pakistani Diaspora in United States” under “GLCA-Library of Congress Faculty-Student Research Program”, I visited Library of Congress (LOC), in Washington D.C. Apart from understanding the research techniques required to utilise the rich resources available in various sections of the library, my intention was to compare and contrast the social behaviours and academic environment of the host and home countries. When I first entered the building of LOC, I was not only thrilled by the artistic interior but also excited by its mesmerising academic environment. My first encounter there was with the library staff, who guided me through various stages of attaining the membership. I was delighted to see fresh and joyful faces at the information desk of Jefferson building (one of the three buildings). The feature which inspired me most during my first interaction was the gender balance of the staff. The senior female staff members were well-versed in their assigned task and professionally dealt with the responsibilities of the job. I instantly compared this with an average old woman of my country, who with advancement of age lacks energy, either because of unattended diseases at early stage or malnutrition. Another reason of their non-participatory role outside home is that the socio-cultural set-up of our society emphasises that a senior female citizen should only perform religious rituals, confining their activities within the house hold chores.
During first two days, I spent most of the time in the Asian Reading room as my research was on Pakistani community living in the United States. However, while finding the material from LOC Online Catalogue, I noticed that the library was well-equipped with vast material on different topics in various languages. Interestingly only about 5% of the LOC’s complete holdings are in digital form. Before arriving at LOC, I was informed that the vast nature of resources at library often distract the researcher from their focus. Conscious of the fact, I prepared a detailed research manual of my topic and communicated in advance with the assigned librarian, which helped me to organize my search at different sections of the library. At the same time, my objective was to even visit those collections of the library, which might not have been directly useful for my chosen area of research. Therefore, I planned my 9 days of research to explore those sections in Jefferson and Madison building, which were helpful for my research. Apart from scanning 37 requested books on my topic in the main reading hall of LOC, I spent time in three main reading rooms; Newspapers and Periodicals section, Prints and Photographs division and Motion Pictures & Television section. Although, there are 24 reading rooms in Jefferson, Madison and Adams buildings of LOC, the reason to select these sections after the tutorial by LOC staff was the unique nature of on-site accessible resources of these reading rooms. Each section has numerous online databases, which a researcher can select from as per the nature of the study. After discussing the topic with the librarian, I was able to search and download the material from the relevant databases of mentioned sections, which were otherwise inaccessible off-site.
The books which directly dealt with my research topic were, “Portrait of a giving Community: Philanthropy by the Pakistani-American Diaspora”, “ Pakistanis in Michigan: A Study of Third Culture and Acculturation” and “Geographies of Muslim Identities: Diaspora, Gender and Belonging”. In Motion Pictures and Television section, I found a drama “Green Card”, broadcasted on Pakistan Television in 1991. It was about an American woman , married to a Pakistani man but because of huge cultural differences between the two societies, she faced a lot of difficulties. Another interesting documentary, which inspired me was “ Point of Attack”, based on post 9/11 conditions of Pakistani immigrants in United States. In Newspapers and Periodicals section, the most interesting on-site database was “Pro-Quest Historical Newspapers”, which helped me to find out the related news, articles, and editorials from 2001 to 2010.
To me, my visit to Washington, D.C in United States was both, social and academic. On one side, it provided me an opportunity to use vast resources of LOC, while on the other it enabled me to visit significant nearby places. Another thing which inspired me most was the behaviour this developed nation has towards life. Women with their toddlers were on the streets crossing the roads, with ease. Pregnant women were walking freely and without fear of being hit and harassed in all kinds of dresses. As a researcher on women rights, I immediately compared them with the women of my country. In my country, once a woman is pregnant, she is treated differently. If I say “abnormally”, then it will not be wrong either. Every member of the family reinforces that a pregnant woman’s mobility should be restricted. For a mother of a toddler, even for educated and professional women, going overseas for professional and academic pursuits is usually out of the question. If they succeed to break these stereotypes, even then they are tagged with labels like “selfish” and social structures pose a stiff hindrance to her independent postures.
Concluding my fruitful experience at LOC, I will say that as a researcher, apart from enhancing my horizon of learning, this visit enabled me to compare and contrast the facilities as well as attitudes of the two divergent societies. After this exposure, as a social scientist, I am convinced that my countrymen have the capability to come at par with international academic standards once they become aware of modern techniques and approaches as adopted by the developed countries like the United States.

Pakistan - The MMA revival - Ugly role of Pakistani military establishment in Politics.

The revival of religious parties’ alliance under the banner of the Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) is on the cards. Among the parties included in the alliance are the Jammat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), which have been at loggerheads on a range of issues for quite some time now.
The fact that the leaders of these and other parties have agreed to work towards forming an alliance out of nowhere indicates that there are some hidden factors at play.
The political developments of the past few days should be enough for all stakeholders to realise that political alliances made under pressure to fulfill temporary agendas do not get to see the light of the day. The fate of the merger of Mutahidda Qaumi Movement — Pakistan (MQM-P) and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) is a case in point. In a matter of days, leaders of both parties have gone back on their initial announcements. Both Farooq Sattar and Mustafa Kamal are now claiming that the security establishment was behind the move. Therefore, it goes without saying that any external effort to bring together religious parties for the revival of MMA will similarly remain futile.
Even if there are no external factors at play in efforts to revive the MMA, it is important to note that religious parties were hardly anywhere to be seen in the last general elections or the recent by-elections, even in areas once considered their strongholds. Based on their recent performance, therefore, religious parties are unlikely to pose any serious challenge in the electoral arena.
Instead of reviving a formation that has little to its credit in terms of governance, the parties set to come together in the alliance will do well to do some introspection. When they had been established, these parties — at least the Jamiat-e-Ulema — served as platforms for debate on a range of issues of public concern. Their leaders did not shy away from studying and debating ideas from across the political spectrum. Now, these parties exist mostly as personality cults or as groups of men removed from the exigencies of everyday life in the country.
Whether or not the revival of the MMA will take place is yet to be seen. However, it is quite clear that the constituent parties are in no position to pose any serious electoral challenge. One cannot help but say that zero plus zero is after all equal to zero

World Bank says Pakistan ranks lowest among countries with women entrepreneurs

Pakistan has the world’s lowest rate of women’s entrepreneurship with only one percent of female entrepreneurs compared to 21 percent of male, the World Bank said, terming job creation, access to jobs and economic opportunities for women as the three key challenges.
The Bank said less than 12 percent of firms in Pakistan have female participation in ownership compared to more than 18 percent in south Asia and 34 percent globally. Of these, only six percent of firms have majority female ownership, which is nearly half the south Asian average of 11 percent.
“Entrepreneurship can play a bigger role in meeting these challenges: through more productive self-employment, a more vibrant SME (small and medium enterprise) sector, and greater opportunities for women and youth,” it said in the latest twice-a-year Pakistan Development Update report.
The Washington-based lender said more than two million people are expected to join the labour force every year over the next 20 years with one million women expected to join the labour force every three years “thereby accentuating the need to stimulate entrepreneurship that can provide labour force entrants with variable job opportunities.”
“The challenge is to help those self-employed or potential entrepreneurs who aspire to grow by helping them overcome the barriers to entry and subsequent growth,” it added. “Some of the current self-employed could benefit from comprehensive entrepreneurship or personal initiative training as well as access to finance to improve the productivity of their activities and earnings.”
The World Bank emphasised youth bulge, low female labour force participation and slow progress in improving the quality of jobs and labour productivity characterise the country’s job challenge.
“With continuously high fertility rates, Pakistan’s working-age population is expected to continue growing at 2.1 percent per year for the next decade,” it said. It said female labour force participation is 57 percentage points lower than that of males and “is especially low in urban areas.”
“The nature of jobs has changes very little over the last 15 years in Pakistan,” it added. “Youth, despite being more educated, have significantly worse employment outcomes compared to older workers, as evidenced by a higher unemployment rate and a higher share of young workers in informal and unpaid jobs.”
The Bank further said deficiencies in the investment climate drives lack of entry and dynamism among SMEs, reflecting in the country’s low ranking on the doing business (DB) index.
It said the country’s ranking against DB indicators has fallen substantially in recent years. As of 2006, Pakistan’s business climate was considered generally more favourable than those of India, Indonesia, Turkey or Vietnam.
“But the most recent rankings suggest that deficiencies in Pakistan’s investment climate now inhibit firm growth,” it added. The World Bank, however, said the federal and provincial governments are taking steps to improve investment policies and promotion strategies to support general linkages between local and foreign firms.
The country has embarked on an ambitious investment climate reform initiative, which includes the implementation of a three-year doing business reform strategy as well as the simplification, streamlining and automation of regulatory interferences with the private sector.

Pakistan - #PPP women wing holds #KP govt responsible for D.I. Khan incident

Holding Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government responsible for Dera Ismail Khan incident, women folk of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Saturday asked supreme court of Pakistan to take Suo Motto action against those involved in this heinous crime.
It is worth mentioning here that few days back, a teenage girl was forced to walk nakedly in streets of village in Dera Ismail Khan at behest of influential people in family dispute.
Speaking at a news conference at Peshawar press club, provincial president women wing and member provincial assembly of PPP, Shahzia Orakzai, strongly castigated the inhuman incident with a teenage girl in DI Khan and urged relevant authorities for forthwith justice to affected family.
Accompanied by Shahzia Tehmas, Saima, Ashbar Shahab and other women of PPP, she came hard on chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan and KP government for their irresponsive and careless response towards tragic incident in DI Khan with a 14-year old girl. She reiterated and saying provincial government was accountable for what happened in DI Khan.
PPP MPA blasted KP government for its tall claims of good governance and reforms-oriented mandate and rising questions pertaining to good governance of provincial government. She asked why provincial government was mum over the incident and did not take action against perpetrators so far?
“Where was government and its departments when a naked girl was forcibly walked in streets of village in DI Khan and nobody stopped influential people” she questioned. Accusing provincial minister of PTI, she claimed Ali Ameen Gandapur was involved in backing culprits.
Flaying PTI on the occasion, PPP provincial president said that those who were hell-bent on initiating protests and sit-ins over piety issues are now present nowhere. However, she announced that PPP provincial parliamentarians and activists would conduct visiting DI Khan and meet an ill-fated family in order to extend their patronage after incident.
She demanded PTI chairman to seek apology over his controversial remarks pertaining to affected girl and also asked Supreme Court to take Suo Motto action on DI Khan incident.


Pakistan - Action Against Gandapur - D.I.Khan, Poor Girl Paraded Naked - Imran remains silent

PTI’s MNA Dawar Khan Kundi has accused PTI’s Revenue Minister for KP Ali Amin Gandapur of facilitating the eight people accused of involvement in the case of the girl who was paraded naked in Dera Ismail Khan. Allegedly Kundi visited the family and carried out his own personal investigation to ensure Gandapur’s involvement. While many facts are uncertain and accusations remain accusations until concrete evidence is provided, the fact that a fellow party member is levelling such serious charges should be of everyone’s concerned.
At the same time, PPP’s women wing in KP has staged a sit in protest against the crime outside the residence of the victim. They are adamant that they won’t budge an inch unless Imran Khan himself comes to her house. They are also demanding strict action against Gandapur. They have also called out the silence of the KP women caucus in this case, labelling the KP assembly a rubber stamp.
Tension is building up in this case because there was a lag in action on part of the authorities. Due to political influence, the local police refused to register an FIR until mainstream and social media started reporting the story. People are calling out Imran Khan to push for justice in this case and he must. The fact that his own party leader might be an accomplice in this heinous crime surely must concern the PTI Chairman.
The fact that none of the party leaders have taken notice of this issue shows how the party lacks a coherent ideology and the moral high ground that they talk about. Up until now eight suspects have been arrested, out of which four have confessed to their crime.
Imran Khan’s absence of a stance on the matter is only making things worse for the party. If scrutiny does not begin from home, then how does the leader promise of cleansing the country of its ills? PPP women wing is rightly highlighting the situation. As long as Khan remains silent, their sit in protest will make accountability a necessity.
The party cannot shy away from the issue, especially when it is so pertinent and goes against all moral codes of the society. Or will they stick to their usual silence on issues related to women? A party that bills itself as a harbinger of a progressive Pakistan must address this festering situation in its own ranks.

Establishment should have no role in politics: Bilawal Bhutto

Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday said, in reference to the MQM-P and PSP saga, the establishment should have no role in politics.
“Establishment should have no role in politics. They should explain and justify the discrepancies in regards to what happened in Karachi.”
The PPP scion, while speaking to the media, added that a strange game was being played in the metropolis. He added that the PPP wants to bring development, justice and a ‘clean’ governance to the city.
Bilawal said the political game being played in Karachi will fail as the PPP will provide leadership to the city after the general elections.
“I do not know what drama is being played in Karachi some people want to stop the PPP in elections,” added Bilawal.
Criticising Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan, Bilawal referred to him as a puppet said he would fail like the ‘puppets in Karachi’.
The PPP chairman, while talking in regards to former president Pervez Musharraf, said he is an absconder and needs to return as he has cases pending against him.
“He needs to return in handcuffs and be presented in court. No one is above the law,” stated Bilawal.
Referring to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, he expressed hope that the courts would serve justice in Nawaz’s cases and further stated that the Model Town case should be picked up by the courts.
On Sunday, Bilawal said that Karachi’s citizens will not give any importance to ‘puppet politicians.’
“Karachi’s political situation is odd,” he said, adding “a strange game is being played with the people of Karachi.”
“We are struggling to give Karachi a sense of ownership and we know Karachi’s citizens won’t pay heed to puppet politicians,” said Bilawal while speaking to media after attending the death anniversary of former PPP Secretary General Jahangir Badar.
The PPP scion was referring to developments this week between the Pakistan Sarzameen Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, which announced a political alliance and then proceeded to hurl serious allegations against each other, including that the two were brought to the table by the ‘establishment’.