Sunday, October 6, 2019

#Pakistan - #PPP - #ANP - Bilawal meets ANP chief Asfandyar Wali

Pakistan People Party (PPP) would review the modalities of long march announced by the head of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazal ur Rahman in its core committee, said PP leader Farhat Ullah Babar on Sunday.
Addressing a joint press conference along with ANP leader Mian Iftekhar Hussain, following a meeting between the Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Head of the Awami National Party (ANP), Asfand Yar Wali, Farhat Ullah Babar said the PPP and ANP have decided to call an All Parties Conference (APC) to review the modalities of long march.

Leader of ANP Mian Iftekhar Hussain said that it has been decided that a meeting of All Parties Conference (APC) and Rahbar Committee would be called soon.
Fazal ur Rahman, he said, was making efforts to bring unity among all Opposition political parties. He requested the JUI-F chief to call APC before 27th October so that joint strategy could be finalized.

Growing vegetarianism in Pakistan — a choice or a necessity?

A recent report showed Pakistan to be the second-fastest growing vegetarian country in the world. Analysts say high inflation is impacting the food patterns of many Pakistanis, compelling them to give up eating meat.
Raja Ayub, a restaurateur in Islamabad, walks to a nearby shop every morning to buy vegetables for his restaurant. The 55-year old has been running the eatery for the past 10 years, but a new trend gaining popularity among Pakistanis is causing him concern – vegetarianism.
Many people in Pakistan are turning to a vegetarian diet for a range of reasons – the most obvious being rising prices of meat and growing poverty, as the economic activity in the South Asian country of 208 million people slows down.
The trend has Ayub both perturbed and anxious and has led him to change the meals offered at his restaurant.
"I don't know what happened to the Pakistanis. The transition in their dietary habits has forced a change in the menu of my restaurant," he told DW as he bought vegetables. "Their consumption of meat has significantly fallen and has already reached a new low."
But Ayub has some ideas as to what's behind the sudden change in the food demands of Pakistanis, who are usually known to be keen meat eaters.
He thinks that people might actually be concerned about their health and no longer prefer to have meat in their diet, or that they can no longer afford meat due to their shrinking wallets and earnings – a noticeable trend in the wake of a slump in financial activity and rising inflation.
Infografik Länder mit den meisten neuen Vegetarier 2016-2017 EN
Ayub's views match the findings of a recent research showing trends across the world, with more and more people going vegetarian, especially in last couple of years.
The market study conducted by Euromonitor showed Pakistan to be the second-fastest growing vegetarian country with more than 1,190,600 people turning to vegetables.
The shop where Ayub comes to buy vegetable stays crowded every day, from dawn to dusk. The owner Rehan Awan, confirmed that demand for vegetables has increased substantially and his store is overwhelmed and struggling to cope.
"We have been bringing vegetables in abundance every morning, and very often these fresh vegetables vanish from the shelves very quickly," Awan told DW. "Now, at least three salesmen have been hired to manage the increased inflow of customers."
Rising inflation
Pakistan has previously been known as a meat-loving nation with a wide range of meat dishes such as Karahis, and beef, mutton and chicken grilled over coals or served in a curry.
An affordability issue among a large section of the middle class and the lower class has meant these people have cut down or even stopped eating meat. DW spoke to people who confirmed they had not turned vegetarian by choice but because they cannot afford meat.
Pakistan Grillen & BBQ in Peschawar (Getty Images/AFP/A. Majeed)
Pakistan has previously been known as a meat-loving nation with a wide range of popular meat dishes
Shahnaz Begum, 40, a female domestic worker in Islamabad, told DW she is not happy about the rising meat prices. Even though she is earning more than last year, high currency devaluation means Begum struggles to feed her eight-member family.
"We were eating meat five times a month last year, but after Prime Minister Imran Khan came into power we now think many times [over whether] to buy meat once a month," Begum told DW. "Even the vegetable prices in Islamabad have risen double since Khan's government," she added.
Shahbaz Rana, an economic analyst, says it is "cost-push inflation that is gradually compelling people – mainly lower- and middle-income groups – to change their spending habits."
"About one-third loss in value of rupee against the US dollar in the past one year has led to a significant increase in prices of goods, including pulses that are also imported to meet domestic demands," Rana told DW. "The increase in cost of transport, gas and electricity has compelled the fixed income groups to readjust their spending within different commodities."
Pakistan Poultry Association officials confirmed the decline in demand for chicken due to current economic constraints and price hikes.
"The poultry business remained in loss. From the last nine months there was overproduction and the demand was too low, which never happened in the past," Saleem Akhtar, vice chairman of the Pakistan Poultry Association, told DW.
However, Akhtar believes the situation might get better over the next few years.
Declining meat business
Islamabad-based butcher Uzair Khan is not concerned about anything other than his business nowadays. After sitting in his meat shop with no customers for hours, he told DW that the rising prices have affected purchasing power, with unnecessary taxes imposed on millions of disadvantaged people.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) program has demanded structural reforms, which are hurting businessmen and low-income people.
Khan's government, which came into power in August 2018, is facing mounting economic pressures and hard austerity measures under a $6-billion bailout from the IMF, which is squeezing the lower- and middle-class people who brought Khan into power.
"The meat market is shrinking because of only one reason — the rising prices," Uzair Khan told DW.
Rana, who regularly writes on economy and financial markets, said the prices of red and white meat had significantly gone up in the last year due to inflationary expectations. The poultry feed, which is largely imported, and transport charges have also contributed to increasing prices of meat. This seemingly forced people to either reduce consumption or shift to a cheaper diet. The prices are unlikely to come down and there are no immediate signs of an increase in people purchasing power.
"Pakistanis may be turning to vegetables due to better health but it also because their meat-buying power has ended. The urban class is consciously increasing its intake of vegetables and fruits due to health reasons. Red meat and chicken prices have significantly gone up and there are no regulatory checks on these prices," said Rana.
Naeem Saleem has lost his chicken and pizza business due to higher taxes and a crackdown on businessmen. "We turned to vegetables and left eating meat after becoming jobless," Saleem told DW. "We are even using water to cook fish curry so that seven members of our family can eat. It should be fried or grilled."
Asghar Ali, an economics professor at the University of Karachi, estimates that more than 1 million people will lose their jobs and leave businesses, and more than 8 million could slip below the poverty line in the coming months.
"The economic situation remains in dire straits. The next two years, however, have been officially declared as years of economic stabilization, but there are very dim chances of economic recovery," Rana underlined.

Why Pakistan doesn’t have to choose between traditional ally US and newer friend China


Pakistan can play an important security and development role in the region and as a partner of the US, even as it maintains its separate relationships with its immediate neighbours, China, Afghanistan, India and Iran. Imran Khan’s apparent efforts to work with the military on national economic and strategic issues will stand him in good stead but they may also delay the establishment of civilian supremacy in a democratic Pakistan. The country and its surrounds have changed dramatically in the past two decades.
If current trends bear out, populations in the greater South Asia region will continue to become more politically and economically active. If its leaders can provide responsive governance and a clear and consistent economic direction, South Asia may be able to surmount over time its persistent security challenges, both within countries and from hostile neighbours. And they may be able to lay the basis for connectivity of their economies. The challenge for Pakistan will be to balance its internal battles with the need to create a more congenial regional atmosphere that fosters stability and economic growth.
Imprisoned by its geography, Pakistan must learn to live and thrive in its neighbourhood without becoming a vassal of surging India. Otherwise, it risks becoming a backwater and asterisk in future atlases. Especially if its centrifugal forces triumph over the centripetal forces holding it together. In fighting this hostile future, it needs to learn from its history and those of other countries that have struggled to establish a clear and sustainable national identity. And it will need to balance carefully its quest for security against its need to develop economically and to ask itself if its investment in defence has effectively purchased it adequate security.
Regarding its external relations, Pakistan does not have to choose between its traditional ally, the US, and its relatively newer friend, China. On its part, the US can take advantage of the presence in the same region of two relatively sophisticated military and political systems in India and Pakistan that together could provide stability and growth to the wider region.
The US cannot afford to create or encourage divisions in South Asia. Over the next ten to fifteen years, South Asia could be poised to play a pivotal role on the global economic and political scene. Given its size, India is in a position to take the regional lead, and Pakistan could end up playing either a major supporting role or the role of a critical spoiler, if its polity deteriorates instead of stabilizing and improving. Afghanistan also may well offer a springboard for a new regionalism, reverting to its historical role as the gateway to South and Central Asia. And Iran, if it can fully rejoin the global community, may successfully hook into South Asia’s economy, while playing a key role in the stabilization of Afghanistan and the neighbourhood. But only if the US reopens its discussions with Iran rather than taking the path of confrontation.
An economically and militarily stronger India may well work out a balanced relationship with arch-rival China, building on trade dependency to either dampen territorial disputes or to resolve them through quiet negotiations. Pakistan’s developing relationship with China under the China– Pakistan Economic Cooperation Corridor or CPEC, linked to China’s broader Belt and Road Initiative may give it a chance to connect with its neighbours too and become the ‘game changer’ that Pakistani leaders talk about. But that will demand much more preparedness and transparency in Pakistan. Much more than has been evident to date.
China will also need to give Pakistan breathing room to undertake and participate in the Belt and Road Initiative so that it brings investments into Pakistan rather than burdensome debt or commitments on the rates of return promised to Chinese investing firms that Pakistan may have difficulty in servicing. Deeds, not words, matter. Pakistan looks to reap some benefits from the emergence of the CPEC that will start bearing fruit in the next five years by creating jobs in the infrastructure sector and by alleviating the energy shortages that have held back the economy in the past decade or so. It remains to be seen if China reduces its reliance on its own labour to speedily complete the jobs or relies on Pakistani labour to build and maintain the projects. Another possible impediment might be the speed with which Pakistan can muster counterpart funding and institution building for these projects. Initial reports indicate that the development budget will be cannibalized to give priority to the CPEC effort, including funding the security forces to protect construction work. Much of the $46 billion investment promised by China over the next fifteen years is in the energy and infrastructure sectors, with energy taking the lion’s share at nearly $38 billion.
If the government can deftly manage the initial investment in the pathway from China to Gwadar on the Arabian Sea by not tilting the investment first towards the easternmost Punjab-centric highway, Pakistan could help knit the provinces together. It would behoove the government to begin work on the Baloch segment first, mandating the use of local labour and bringing the tribal populations into ownership, given the strategic location of Balochistan across three countries of the region. The US could lay the foundation for a long-term investment in Pakistan’s future by helping Pakistan undertake speedily the Western Corridor traversing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, and including a tributary linked to Afghanistan. Such a signature project would be a lasting symbol of US relations with Pakistan, much like the Mangla and Tarbela dams were in the 1960s and ’70s. The undisbursed KLB funds amounting to an estimated $2 billion and withheld CSF and other funding by the Trump administration might provide the seed money for this project.
To date, Pakistan has chosen to avoid making decisions on the $46 billion in Chinese investments that would speedily integrate its marcher regions into the economy and body politic of the country. Of these, some $36 billion are energy related and the remaining $10 billion are for infrastructure. It has favoured the Punjab for the main route connecting China to the Arabian Sea, given the presence of the current motorways.
The Western Corridor is supposed to be built with local financing. China did not provide loans for three infrastructure projects of the western route. Pakistan had to scramble to find funding for one of the three projects related to that segment of the CPEC corridor. But, lack of preparation has dogged it and many other projects. China has provided a number of heavy loans to Pakistan and some balance of payment financing. But nothing of the quantum that would meet Pakistan’s immediate financing needs to service its obligations and imports. Both Pakistan and China need to better publicize China’s investment flows into Pakistan as a counter to the impression that most of its funding is in the form of loans. At the same time, both China and Pakistan need to make a special effort to share openly and widely their plans and processing of contracts. This would help counter the surging conspiracy theories of those who oppose this relationship, both inside Pakistan and in other countries, near and far.

But in all this it would be critical for Pakistan not to present China as an alternative to the US and the West. Rather, Pakistan needs to reshape its regional and global alliances in light of the blueprint that Gen. Ashfaq Kayani had presented to the US and NATO in September 2011. Ending the no-war-no-peace condition in South Asia and working with friends, near and far, to help stabilize its own economy and polity will be key to Pakistan’s economic growth.
This excerpt from The Battle for Pakistan by Shuja Nawaz has been published with permission from Penguin Random House India.

Pakistan a safe breeding ground for terrorists: Mohammad Kaif slams Imran Khan

Terming Pakistan as "a safe breeding ground for terrorists", former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif lashed out at Pak Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif on Sunday lashed out at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and termed the country as "a safe breeding ground for terrorists."
Kaif shared an article of an Indian publication and wrote: "Yes, but your country Pakistan certainly has a lot to do with terrorism, a safe breeding ground for terrorists. What an unfortunate speech at the UN and what a fall from grace from being a great cricketer to a puppet of Pakistan army and terrorists."
Ever since his speech at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Imran Khan has been under severe attack from different quarters.
Ganguly had made the comment while replying to Virender Sehwag's tweet in which he had shared a video of Imran Khan.
"Viru...I see this and I am shocked...a speech which is unheard of...a world which needs peace, Pakistan as a country needs it the most...and the leader speaks such rubbish...not the Imran Khan the cricketer world knew...speech in UN was poor," Ganguly had tweeted.
You sound like a welder from the Bronx, says the anchor.
After the pathetic speech in the UN a few days ago , this man seems to be inventing new ways to humiliate himself.
Viru .. I see this and I am shocked ..a speech which is unheard of .. a world which needs peace ,pakistan as a country needs it the most .. and the leader speaks such rubbish ..not the Imran khan the cricketer world knew ..speech in UN was poor ..
5,553 people are talking about this
Former Indian cricketer Sehwag shared the video on Twitter in which American anchors can be seen slamming the cricketer-turned Prime Minister Khan.
Sehwag shared the video and captioned the post as "You sound like a welder from the Bronx, says the anchor. After the pathetic speech in the UN a few days ago, this man seems to be inventing new ways to humiliate himself."
You sound like a welder from the Bronx, says the anchor.
After the pathetic speech in the UN a few days ago , this man seems to be inventing new ways to humiliate himself.
19.8K people are talking about this
In an interaction with an American news channel, Khan mocked the infrastructure in the country, saying "You have to go to China and see the way their infrastructure is. In New York, I am watching the car bumping around here."
The anchors did not take Khan's comment in a good manner and blasted Khan by commenting "You don't sound like a Prime Minister of Pakistan, you sound like a welder from the Bronx".
On Wednesday, cricketers including Mohammad Shami, Harbhajan Singh, and Irfan Pathan slammed Khan for his speech at the UNGA and said his words did not reflect sportsmanship.
At the UNGA, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about India's growth and how the country has developed under his leadership, while Khan spoke about Kashmir issue and also warned India of a nuclear war.
On August 5, the Central government abrogated Article 370, withdrawing special status given to Jammu and Kashmir.
The Central government also brought in Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, bifurcating the state into two Union Territories -- Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.

Hard Times Have Pakistani Hindus Looking to India, Where Some Find Only Disappointment

By the time an angry Muslim mob stormed the local Hindu school and ransacked an adjacent temple a few weeks ago, many members of Pakistan’s dwindling Hindu minority had already been wondering whether it was worth trying to stay in a country where they felt increasingly unsafe.
In April, an angry mob vandalized a different Hindu temple, smashing its idols and chucking the pieces in an open sewer. In May, a Hindu veterinarian was accused of blasphemy in a neighboring town, his shop burned to the ground on the rumor that he was selling medicine wrapped in Islamic religious text.
More than 70 years after the partition of India and Pakistan, increasing violence in this officially Muslim country against the Hindu minority — about 1 percent of Pakistan’s 210 million people — is leading some Hindus to rethink the choices and fate that left their families on the Pakistani side of the line in 1947, residents say.
“Most of our elders at the time of partition did not migrate to India because they did not want to lose their businesses. But now they see it was the wrong decision,” said Kumar, a small-business owner from Ghotki District in Pakistan’s Sindh Province, where the attacks unfolded on Sept. 15. He asked that his last name be withheld, fearing mob violence.
“I am considering moving to India, where at least no one can kill me on the basis of my faith,” he said. The trepidation among Pakistani Hindus is mirrored in many ways among the Muslim minority in India, where a campaign of Hindu nationalism led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party has left many Muslims feeling targeted. Sectarian fears in both India and Pakistan always peak during times of tension, and hostility between the neighbors is running particularly high right now.
In Pakistan, local officials say the pressure for Hindus to weigh moving to India has not been this great since a wave of sectarian violence led many to migrate in the 1990s, after a Hindu mob in India tore down a 16th-century mosque, the Babri Masjid, leading to retaliatory attacks in Pakistan.
The current migration is because of Mr. Modi’s open appeals to Hindu identity in India, they say, stripping the country of the secular framework it was founded on to give supremacy to their religion.Since Mr. Modi’s election victory, Pakistani Hindus say they have had an easier time obtaining religious or pilgrimage visas to India, which they can then convert to long-term visas if they seek Indian citizenship. Though the exact number of Hindu migrants is hard to pin down, indications of a wider push to go to India can be seen in the numbers of those long-term visas. In 2018, the Indian government granted 12,732 long-term visas, compared with 4,712 in 2017, and 2,298 in 2016, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. About 95 percent of long-term visas are granted to Pakistani Hindus, officials say. Millions of Hindus remained in Pakistan when Britain carved out the state from the subcontinent to create a Muslim homeland at independence in 1947. They were unwilling to abandon their homes and businesses, like the millions of Muslims who ended up on the Indian side during partition, where now about 200 million live.
But angry sectarian mobs on both sides of the border sought to change those demographics at the nations’ birth, killing up to two million people and displacing 14 million. Trains packed with terrified Muslims and Hindus fleeing in opposite directions on the railway between India and Pakistan arrived full of corpses, passengers massacred mid-journey.
Train service between the countries was suspended when they went to war in 1965 and 1971, but eventually resumed. Last month, Pakistan suspended India-bound trains once again, protesting New Delhi’s move to strip the autonomy from the portion of Kashmir it controls, a Muslim-majority state the countries have long fought over. Even among Pakistani Hindus who are considering going to India, there are very real reasons to hesitate.
Kumar is one who is torn. Though he was shaken by the recent violence in his hometown, he said he was still reluctant to pick up and leave when the trains start running again. He has said goodbye to neighbors who have migrated to India, only to see them return to Pakistan months or years later, disappointed.
Bhagchand Bheel is one of the disappointed. When he migrated to India in 2014, he was grateful to leave the violence and pressure of Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial hub. He boarded the Thar Express to Zero Point Station, the last stop before the border, where he and his family lugged their bags by foot into India, settling in a camp in the city of Jodhpur.
He was among his people, he thought, and could finally be free. But he is of a lower caste, and when he tried to enter a Hindu temple, he was barred entry by the priest because of it, he said. And when a friend tried to drink from the community water well, he was physically assaulted by upper caste Brahmins who accused him of polluting it.“In Pakistan, the only thing that matters is if you are Hindu or Muslim,” said Mr. Bheel, whose last name is derived from his tribe. “Because we are Hindus, in Pakistan we were discriminated against. But in India, I face discrimination because I’m a Bheel.”
Like many Pakistani Hindus, Mr. Bheel migrated after Mr. Modi came to power in 2014, after a long campaign promoting Hindu nationalism. Muslims in India say life has gotten progressively harder for them, too. Mr. Modi’s government is accused of turning a blind eye to the scores of Muslim men lynched by Hindu mobs. When an 8-year old Muslim girl was gang raped and killed in Kashmir last year by Hindu men, local police officers allegedly helped cover up the crime.
But despite the discrimination Muslims face in India, they do not tend to migrate to Pakistan in the numbers their Hindu counterparts in Pakistan do. Indian Muslims tend to migrate to the West instead.
In the Al Kausar Nagar migrant camp in Jodhpur, huts made out of thin, wispy branches, like birds’ nests, nestle in clusters, with quilts with vibrant Pakistani tribal designs hanging off their sides.
Bands of Pakistani Hindu women crouch over unfinished quilts, stitching away, hoping to sell them in the market to wealthier Indians. They complain that they receive little government assistance, siphoning what little electricity and water they can off municipal lines, and that the quality of public schooling for their children is not as good as it is in Pakistan, a main source of grievance for the many who migrated to give their children better opportunities.
This is not the Hindu paradise they had crossed the border to join, they said. This is not the India Mr. Modi promised them.
Mr. Bheel is wracked by doubt, the same doubt his grandfather had when he chose to keep the family in Pakistan during partition. Did he make the right choice?He left his home and siblings in Karachi, trading a lucrative job as an administrator of a medical clinic there to live as a migrant in India. His medical diploma, one of the few possessions he brought with him, hangs proudly on a wall, although it is not valid in India. He struggles to make ends meet here.“You take these decisions sometimes out of excitement for what your life could be,” Mr. Bheel said, his daughter cuddling beside him on a bench. “Then you arrive and realize it’s much different on the ground.”
Mr. Bheel looked on as his wife struggled to contain rainwater leaking from the ceiling, after a monsoon swiftly obliterated the sunny sky. Eventually she gave up, running out of pots and buckets.
“Maybe this wasn’t the right decision for me,” he said. “But maybe my children will look back and say, ‘My father made the right choice.’”