Thursday, October 17, 2019

Video Report - How #Brexit is changing the #EU

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Virginity and menstruation myths behind Asia's tampon taboo

In a region where many communities chastise unmarried women for not being "virgins," tampons, believed by some to cause hymen breakage, are still rare.
It is a hot, humid day in Manila and 24-year-old Yen would like to go for a swim. While her male companions are free to splash around in the cool waters, she and her girlfriends can't indulge in this activity for about six days every month.
Yen, a university student, explains how a limited availability of tampons across the Philippines restricts many menstruating women from swimming or sports activities. "We miss out on the fun because we have our period … It's frustrating that tampons are not readily available."
Myths about menstruation
Menstruation has long been a taboo subject in many parts of Asia, widening gaps in knowledge about female reproductive health.
"Many women grow up in a society which doesn't facilitate talk about sex, the reproductive organs, the vagina, or sanitary issues," Varistha Nakornthap, founder of Cuppers Community Thailand, said. In some conservative communities, limited sex education and restricted dialogue feed myths and misconceptions about the female body.
Women are often forced to live outside their homes during their period
A common myth surrounding menstruation is, for example, that contact with a woman having her period brings bad luck or contamination. In Nepal, an estimated 19% of women aged 15 to 49 follow a centuries-old practice known as "chhaupadi,"in which women are forced to spend the days when they have their period in outdoor huts. In India, menstruating women are not allowed into temples.
In several Asian countries, the usage of tampons has also been linked to women's sexuality. Some unmarried women find themselves socially stigmatized if caught using a tampon. Speaking to DW, several women from different East Asian countries said that in the societies they lived in, virginity was highly valued and using tampons was often associated with hymen destruction. Some spoke about possible health threats, including toxic shock syndrome and urinary tract infections.
Virginity still a virtue
There are no conclusive studies to suggest that a tampon breaks the hymen and "takes away" a woman's virginity. However, that myth is still prevalent.
University student Yen feels the tampon has been unsuccessful in the Philippines because many people believe that using a tampon, "means you're not a virgin." In Filipino society, which is heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, Yen said, "It's better to hide you're having unsafe sex than for people to know you're sexually active."
She believes the concept stems from the Spanish colonization period when women were severely repressed. She spoke of Maria Clara, the national heroine of the Philippines, who was raped by a Spanish priest under Spanish occupation.
"Maria Clara was characterized as timid, lady-like, and very conservative. So the Filipinos say, 'You should act like Maria Clara.'" Yen added that unmarried women feel pressured to hide anything that could potentially signal sexual activity, including using tampons.
Twenty-seven-year-old Quan, a doctor at Vietnam's Can Tho Tumor Hospital said he'd never seen a tampon in his life and explained that "traditional" Vietnamese would "very likely assume" that any woman using tampons were not virgins.
Thi, his wife, knows only married women who use tampons. In neighboring Cambodia, Sonit Tholly from Phnom Penh said that many women don't use tampons for the same reasons and emphasized that "virginity values" are still "treasured" in large parts of Cambodian society.
Menstruationstasse (Colourbox)
Meanwhile, in Seoul, Juen, a 28-year-old businesswoman, attributes the unpopularity of tampons to South Korea's patriarchal culture. She explained that the country's "virginity pressure" deters some women from using tampons.
"Men still want to see a girl as a weak figure that needs to be protected,” she said, adding that the sexist mindset extends into women's sexual lives. "Men should always be the ones who want sex and girls must accept it in a passive manner," she said.
Emerging trends
From traditional woven cloths in Cambodia to reusable fabric pads in Thailand, a "pad-like" style for dealing with the monthly cycle has existed for centuries and remains the region's favorite.
Rena Park, a young professional from Busan living in Seoul, explained that some members of South Korea's younger generation believe that sanitary pad companies, which dominate East Asia's female hygiene market, have fabricated myths and perpetuated stereotypes related to virginity and hymen destruction in their bid to stay on top of the market.  She says it's possible that sanitary companies lobbied for a long time against the sale of tampons.
More recent discussions on women's hygiene, however, have turned towards the menstrual cup. The flexible vessel, made of silicone or latex rubber, collects menstrual blood instead of absorbing the flow and can be used several times over.
Heightened environmental awareness is increasing the cup's popularity in cosmopolitan cities across Southeast and East Asia because it is seen as an eco-friendly alternative to pads and tampons.
Nakornthap of Cuppers Community said that misinformation contributed to an overall lack of understanding and the exaggeration of myths around menstruation and the female sexual organ. She is hoping that advocating the menstrual cup and stimulating new forms of dialogue will change all that.

#Pakistan - #PPP - Anti-govt movement to be launched on Oct 18: Bilawal Bhutto

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday reiterated that the anti-government movement will be formally launched on October 18.

Addressing a luncheon meeting here at a local hotel, the PPP chief said after the October 18 public gathering in Karachi, public rallies will be held in Tharparkar and Kashmore, and then from southern Punjab to central Punjab and KP to Azad Kashmir. “We will give a message to the people which is not being shown on media. I had given a message during the last general elections that some forces will conspire to hijack people’s rights by making puppet alliances to win elections,” he said. “We have seen within one year how PTI and its allies have attacked democratic, human and economic rights of the people. Even media and judiciary are not independent now,” he said.

Bilawal said had the judiciary been independent, the reply would have been given on the presidential reference in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto case. “We have not been given justice in Benazir Bhutto murder case even,” he said.

The PPP chief said the current government is snatching the economic rights of the masses. “Every single man is tense. After snatching rights and resources of the provinces, the incompetent rulers are now trying to occupy the capital of Sindh, for which the PPP is fighting,” he said. “It is our responsibility to safeguard the constitution and economic and democratic rights of the people.

The government joins religious bigots against Ahmadis - Pakistan Ahmadi Muslims

Like any other part of the world, religion holds great importance in Pakistan, particularly for “Muslims.” To Muslims, not only their own religion but that of others (Ahmadis, in particular) is very important. Where “Muslims” defend their own religion, they also defend that of Ahmadis too and do not let them ‘deviate’ from their religion.
They make use of blasphemy law, street power, “mob justice,” social pressure, religious bigotry, fanaticism, even rumours to take strength to keep Ahmadis confined within their religious bonds “to establish rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.” Ahmadis are so important to the “Constitutional Muslims” of Pakistan that they became a reason to introduce the definition of Muslims in the constitution through they (Ahmadis) themselves have no religious definition in the legal codes of the country.
For giving them above-mentioned too much favours, the constitutional Muslims some time expect favours from Ahmadis in return. For some politicians, they are a good source to gain vote bank to make the opponents lose. If we recall some events of recent past, it reminds us that it was the opposition of Ahmadis, which brought Tehrik Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah into the parliament. On the other hand, it was the Ahmadi factor, which ended the political career of former law minister Zahid Hamid. It was the Ahmadi factor, which became the reason of throwing a shoe at three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a speech at a seminary as well as firing a bullet at former science and technology minister Ahsan Iqbal as their government was accused of paving way for Ahmadis to exercise their right to vote in the last general elections.
So far, apparently politicians, people at the local level, and even some government officers in their personal capacity have been involved in using Ahmadis. From time to time, some rights activists and Ahmadis have been accusing the government of patronising “hate campaigns” against them. However, the government never refuted such allegations.
Now the government, which is depending on populism only to complete its term, is openly spreading hatred against Ahmadis as well as attaching its opponents with them. The present government seems to idealise General Ziaul Haq and put itself in his shows in making the use of religion to prolong its tenure. No one else, Ahmadis, are here to be used as bait to save it from the current financial and political crisis. On one side, there are skyrocketing prices of commodities along with Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s muscles-flexing brigade.
''The government, depending on populism only to complete its term, is openly spreading hatred against Ahmadis.''
In this situation, the government is trying to kill two birds with one stone. On October 6, on Pakistan Television (state-owned television station), it ran a 30-second news item, comprising the statement of an Indian Sikh politician, which he issued in 2013 against Ahmadis. News anchors not only associated Ahmadis with terrorist activities in Pakistan and India. Language of the news was provocative and hateful seemed to aim at inciting violence against Ahmadis to divert the attention of the public from real issues. After six days of that news, a fake letter associating it with the head of Jamat-e-Ahmadiyya was widely circulated through social media giving directions to Ahmadis in Pakistan to participate in Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s protest against the government on October 31. Another fake letter was circulated two days later giving the impression that under the direction of its spiritual head, Jamat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan is directing all its members to support Maulana’s Azadi March financially and physically.
By doing this, the government not only is trying to divert attention from real issues but also trying to spread hate against its present opponent Maulana Fazlur Rehman. But don’t forget, facing the worst circumstances of this campaign would be Ahmadis, who have nothing to do with it in any case. Writer Christopher Douglas in 2018 wrote that religion is often the subject of fake news and often its targeted audiences are religious believers. The point of modern propaganda is not only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.
Keeping the words of Douglas in view with the current scenario in Pakistan, it seems that Pakistani government is well aware of consequences and benefits of ‘religious fake news’ and it must have expert advisors on the subject who are not only making such strategies but also implementing them. No objection over spreading fake news as it is a routine matter in Pakistan since fall of Dhaka, but please do not do it at the cost of tiny, peaceful, ostracised, and outcasted community already living in perils.

Fair trial concerns plague Pakistan sexual assault cases

By Zehra Abid
Family and lawyer of Pakistani man executed for rape and murder of six-year-old girl say he never received a fair trial.
Imran Ali, 24, was executed on October 17, 2018, for the rape and murder of a six-year-old Pakistani girl. But a year after his execution, questions remain whether Ali received a fair trial in what became the country's most high-profile child and sexual assault case in more than two decades.
Ali, a daily wage labourer, was arrested after the rape and murder of Zainab Ansari, a case that generated outrage across Pakistan and quickly saw an angry populace - and Ansari's family - demanding he be hanged in public.

In a country where investigations and legal cases usually last for years, and sometimes decades, Ali was arrested, tried and sentenced in less than a month. The trial lasted four days.
Lawyers say that while Pakistan's laws in this area have been strengthened, given systemic weaknesses, two almost paradoxical situations coexist: it is difficult to prosecute alleged harassers and abusers, but if public outcry is generated around complaints it is also simultaneously often difficult for them to receive a fair trial.
Ali's case is emblematic of the problems Pakistan's legal and investigative systems pose when it comes to cases of sexual assault. Similar issues are reported from across the South Asian region, including IndiaBangladeshSri Lanka and Nepal.
Since 2004, there have been four executions in India. Of these, one was for the rape and murder of a teenage girl. Sri Lanka has not executed prisoners in years, as the last hanging in the country was over three decades ago.
In Pakistan, meanwhile, 18 people have been executed after being convicted of rape, sometimes with additional charges such as murder, since 2015.

An emblematic case

Zainab, the youngest of Nusrat and Amin Ansari's four children, lived in Kasur, about 50km south of the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, the country's second-largest city.
On January 4, 2018, Ansari was walking down the lane near her home on her way to Quran reading classes when she disappeared, minutes after leaving her house.
Family members searched for Zainab all over the city, only to find her body five days later. It had been dumped in a pile of rubbish near their home.
Zainab's murder came to embody the deeply entrenched issue of child sexual abuse in Pakistan, where nearly 10 cases of child abuse are reported every day, according to child rights organisation, Sahil.
The killing prompted countrywide protests, with Ansari's family leading calls for Ali - who was arrested two weeks after the body was found - to be publicly hanged, well before his trial had even begun.
Pakistan is among the top executioners in the world. According to a report published by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan last week, the country's courts have sentenced 1,800 convicts to death since December 2014, with 520 people of these having already been executed. There is no provision in Pakistani law for a public hanging.
In recent years, Pakistan has enacted new laws to help prosecute cases of sexual violence. In 2016, for example, the country made amendments to laws to make a woman's sexual history inadmissible as evidence to question their credibility as a witness or accuser.
Sexual violence cases can now only be investigated in the presence of a female police officer, or a female family member if a female officer is not available.
The legal system now also provides protection against workplace harassment, although whether it manages to provide fair outcomes remains questionable, say lawyers who prosecute such cases.
Numerous cases are working their way through the legal system, each seen as a test of whether the new laws will be applied in letter and spirit by police, investigators, prosecutors and judges.

Fair trial concerns

Ali's family and one of his lawyers say he did not receive a fair trial, and that he was denied basic rights of legal due process. His court-appointed defence lawyer at the trial court says he is guilty.
"The first time we met [Ali] was after nine months, on October 16th, a day before he was hanged," says Parveen Bibi, Ali's grandmother.
Asad Jamal, a prominent rights lawyer who took up Ali's case on appeal at the Lahore High Court, says he suspected something was not quite right because of how quickly the investigation progressed.
"By the time I met him, he had already been awarded a death sentence," says Jamal, whose many requests to meet Ali were denied or ignored.
"When I met Imran Ali, he took a while to speak to me as he was surprised that anyone had come to visit him," Jamal recalls. "In his conversation with me, he said that a senior police officer had told him that if he confesses to the rape and murder of these young girls, he would be given a lighter sentence. 
Ali told Jamal that police had warned him that if he stepped out of the prison a mob would kill him, and possibly his family.
The case was tried by Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) behind closed doors, with no journalists or independent observers allowed to witness proceedings. Pakistan's anti-terrorism laws are broad in their definition of terrorism, and rape cases - especially high-profile ones - are often tried in this way.
Ali's state-appointed counsel at the trial court was proposed by the prosecution, says Jamal. That lawyer, however, maintains that his client was guilty.
"I put my life at risk by taking this case and this case made history," said Mehar Shakeel Multani, Ali's lawyer at the ATC. "This was undoubtedly a fair trial. Imran Ali confessed himself and the CCTV footage and DNA clearly implicated him."
According to the court's verdict, Ali's counsel did not challenge any of the evidence against him, including his confession. Rights organisations have documented the systematic use of torture by police in Punjab province, where Kasur is located, to extract confessions from suspects.
On appeal, Jamal says people were "shocked" to see Ali represented by a lawyer.
"When I asked for two weeks time to prepare my case, the judge said I don't even have two hours to give you," said Jamal.
At the Supreme Court, proceedings lasted 15 minutes before Ali's death sentence was upheld. Ali was hanged to death at the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore four months later.

Accusers finding themselves accused 

Despite the fact that Ansari's rape and murder led to nationwide protests and attention, lawyers say it has not become any easier to get justice in cases of sexual harassment or abuse.
A year into the #MeToo movement gaining momentum in Pakistan, many prominent cases have led to defamation charges being filed against those who accuse men of harassment or assault.
One of the most prominent cases is that of Meesha Shafi, a prominent Pakistani singer. Shafi accused Ali Zafar, also a prominent singer, of sexually harassing her when they worked together.
Her case was dismissed by a government official tasked with investigating such cases, however, with the official ruling that since Shafi was not employed by Zafar she could not file charges against him at that forum. Shafi has appealed the decision, and is facing defamation charges filed by Zafar.
"The threat of defamation has deterred people from speaking out on social media or otherwise about sexual harassment," says Sara Malkani, a lawyer and Asia advocacy adviser at the Centre for Reproductive Rights. "The effect is to silence people who have spoken out about harassment they faced directly, as well as those expressing solidarity with survivors."
A similar trend is visible in neighbouring India. After Mobasher Jawed Akbar, a former minister who still serves as a parliamentarian, was accused of sexual assault, he filed a criminal defamation case against one of the many accusers.
The outrage in the Ansari case in Pakistan appeared to have to do with the fact that justice is rarely seen to be done in such cases, but lawyers say little has substantively changed since.
"The attitudes of investigation authorities are very problematic," says Malkani, adding that victims and their families are often harassed for money while carrying out the investigation or pressured to "compromise" with the accused.
"As a result, it becomes impossible to get convictions for many cases due to the absence of credible evidence."
Pakistani police however, defended its investigation in the case. "This was a very successful investigation," Regional Police Officer at the time, Zulfiqar Hameed, told Al Jazeera.
"We managed to trace the main accused and close the case in a matter of weeks. This was also a very challenging case because there was a lot of pressure on us," he said.
Back in Kasur, residents of the small town say they feel satisfied with the outcome of Ali's trial, conviction and hanging.
Ali's family has returned to his small red-brick home, after fleeing violent attacks following his arrest.
"They lost their girl, we lost our boy," says Parveen Bibi, Ali's grandmother.
Bibi speaks haltingly of Ali, continuously retracting statements because, she says, she fears the media and social backlash for questioning her grandson's conviction.
"Only God knows what happened. God will do justice."

Will Pakistan’s Twenty-Second Package from the IMF Really Help?

Vaishali Basu Sharma
Islamabad is facing a challenging economic environment and a weak external position.
Pakistan has had more IMF programmes than all other South Asian countries combined, and none of the earlier twenty-one programmes appear to have left a lasting impact on its profligate bureaucracy and political leadership. The country’s budget deficit has remained stretched and there was no reform in increasing the tax base.
The latest bailout package is worth $6 billion, of which immediate disbursal, upwards of $1 billion, has been completed, while the remaining is due in the next three years.
The IMF’s fiscal programmes have shown remarkable effects on the economies of some countries. Yet in the case of Pakistan, there have mostly been negative effects. One of the main reasons for this is the non-compliance to the conditions agreed to at the time of obtaining the loan. Critical institutional and governance constraints also deter sustained growth.
Pakistan’s macro-economy
Islamabad’s debt and liabilities have peaked to a record 40.2 trillion Pakistan rupees (PKR), dangerously exceeding the size of its economy, equaling 104.3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a first in two decades. In 2000, the total debt and liabilities were equal to 106% of GDP.
Ironically, this dangerous threshold had been crossed during the first year of the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has long remained very critical of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) economic policies that led to massive piling up of the debt. Exactly a year ago, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government – after seeking electoral support on the basis of a new economic strategy of sustained growth through human development – approached the IMF for a bailout package.
Pakistan’s performance remains weak when compared to the rest of South Asia. Exports have hardly grown and development expenditure has been falling with a growing layer of aid-funded NGOs in a quasi-welfare state. The question is what plagues the Pakistani economy.
Restricted fiscal space
Pakistan suffers from debilitating revenue shortages which stand at PKR 3.8 trillion, hardly sufficient to meet the expenditures estimated at PKR 5.5 trillion in Budget FY2018-19. Government expenditure has been growing at a phenomenal rate, with the consolidated federal and provincial expenditure data indicating that actual government expenditure for FY2018-19 was around PKR 7.1 trillion. FY2019-20 budgeted PKR 7.288 trillion, indicating that growth in fiscal expenditure (BE over AE) is only PKR 188 million (2.6%). Such a small increase, if adhered to would imply near-zero fiscal impetus to a stressed low consumption economy.
State Bank of Pakistan’s latest data indicates that the government borrowed PKR 1.367 trillion from July 1 to Aug 2, 2019, as against net debt retirement of PKR 20.2 billion during the same period last fiscal year.
With banks parking their money in risk-free government securities in huge sums, the private sector has found no space to borrow from financial institutions since the beginning of this financial year.
Constraints in widening the tax base
The Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) tax to GDP ratio has sunk to just 9.9%, which is significantly lower than the 11.1% level that the PML-N government left Pakistan with. Lower taxes portend yet lower GDP rates for Pakistan.
Recently, Pakistan’s FBR attempted to initiate documentation drives to bring small scale traders, shopkeepers and undocumented sectors under the tax net. This un-regularised retail sector’s tax compliance and contribution to Pakistan’s economy is woefully marginal – a mere 0.25%, despite contributing 20% to the country’s total GDP and only 10-15% are legally registered. To widen the tax net, last month, the FBR introduced a simplified tax regime for traders, a fixed tax regime for small shopkeepers and a scheme for issuing business licenses to undocumented sectors.
These proposed measures of formalising the economy have already taken a toll on economic activity, given strong reaction through calls for strikes and shutdowns. At this stage, a settlement between the trade bodies and FBR appears uncertain.
The All Pakistan Traders Association has called these proposals ‘anti-business’ and have called for a long march in Islamabad on October 28-29. Traders claim that despite being labelled as ‘simplified’, the new tax regime is anything but, with various slabs within each category. They have demanded a simple tax regime with only one annual return. The revenues earned by the PTI government’s tax amnesty called the ‘Assets Declaration Scheme’ earned roughly PKR 55 billion ($350 mn) was far below expectations, even though the number of tax returns increased to two million, the highest ever in Pakistan.
What is more troubling for the PTI government is that those holding undeclared assets held under false names categorised as ‘benami’ availed of this tax amnesty in large numbers. Now the government claims to be initiating a belated crackdown against benami assets.
The large-scale misuse of ‘Iqama’, work permit based residential status, by many Pakistani nationals from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also surfaced. Pakistan’s Geo News made a startling revelation that 7,000 super-rich Pakistanis had acquired properties in the UAE by violating national law in the past eight years.
Attempts to raise dollar reserves
Khan’s PTI government is using an old, oft-used, developing-nation, method to raise savings by issuing a ‘dollar-based saving scheme’. The idea, floated by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) proposes to lower pressure on the dollar buying by issuing US dollar denominated certificates for deposits in rupees, on prevailing exchange rates. People’s trust in the local currency has already been shaken due to over 50% devaluation of local currency against the US dollar since January 2018 (PKR 146 from PKR 110 to $1).
Response to the scheme is lukewarm as yet, but if it takes off, it would strain Pakistan’s dollar reserves more when interest payments are made.
Foreign reserves of Pakistan are supported not by exports but by loans from friendly nations. Earlier this year, China provided $2.5 billion in loans to Pakistan to boost its foreign exchange reserves, which at $8.12 billion (as on March 1, 2019) was below the minimum level that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) prescribe. Pakistan has struggled to maintain reserves that are not currently sufficient to provide cover for even two months of imports, despite receiving $4 billion in loans from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Attempted reform in the public sector
In the practical beginning of an end to fiscal federalism, one of the structural reforms that the Pakistani government has initiated is giving the heads of federal ministries full autonomy to independently utilise development and non-development funds of all departments and projects under their control, and in effect disbanding the Financial Advisers’ Organisation (FAO). This should ideally reduce the red tape in the implementation of public sector development projects and schemes.
In an effort to improve the productivity and potential of state-owned enterprises, the PTI government has established the ‘Sarmaya-e-Pakistan Limited’ (SPL), a holding company to turn PSUs around by eliminating losses.
In FY 2017-18, cumulative losses of these state-owned enterprises crossed PKR 1.1 trillion (14% of AE). SPL is expected to gradually take over the management of these enterprises and would fast-track the restructuring of 20 loss-making public sector entities, apart from placing ten new companies in the fast-track privatisation list.
Power sector companies, particularly distribution companies and even large profit-making entities, like the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan (SLIC), are also in the consideration zone for privatisation.
However, these grand schemes soon lost steam when some members of the SPL Board tendered their resignations, alleging lack of interest from the top level of the government to undertake any serious efforts to revive loss-making state-owned entities.
Serious threat from FATF
Pakistan currently figures on the FATF ‘grey list’ and is up for a final review of its status at the FATF plenary meeting in Paris next week. The alarming prospect of being blacklisted by the OECD-based FATF has spurred action on part of the SBP, which is trying hard to ensure compliance with international banking regulations. The SBP imposed over PKR 184 million worth of penalties on four commercial banks in July 2019 for compromising rules related to anti-money laundering and foreign currency exchange operations.
Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Centre has seized several properties of UN-designated terror organisations, like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). However, as The Wire reported, FATF’s global reviewers are quite unsatisfied with progress.
IMF’s past facilities have failed to reform
The PTI government has been attributing the privations faced by the people of Pakistan to harsh IMF conditions.
Previous IMF programmes for Pakistan have consistently failed, even in achieving their claimed objectives of growth combined with reduced inflation through financial ‘stabilisation’. Some theorists have assessed that evidence shows that IMF programmes harm human development, they not only fail to bring reform, but act as a shield protecting Pakistan’s ruling class from the need to reform. Experts concur that investment by, and future expectations of, the private sector are determined not just by stable exchange rates and low inflation, but more fundamentally by the institutional structure of a country, particularly contract enforcement institutions and the control of violence in society.
Inflation is unlikely to be resolved through IMF conditionalities like high interest rates, reduced public expenditure and exchange rate depreciation, as past experience shows, because in developing countries inflation is triggered by cost-push factors such as the prices of fuel, electricity and food. In Pakistan’s case, there are additional physical constraints to growth beyond the financial sphere, such as a shortage of electricity, gas and water. Prices will, in fact, increase as exchange-rate depreciation will increase the rupee prices of imported industrial inputs and in the attempt to cut down the fiscal deficit.
The Pakistani state has always managed to obtain waivers for structural slippages during its implementation of IMF bailout packages. This should be understood in combination of unilateral US, Chinese, Saudi aid plus IMF and World Bank programmes, which provide Pakistan with what can be called “geo-political rent”. Unlike in other cases, the bailout package for Pakistan is not based solely on economics but has ‘implicit geo-political/security deliverables’ or implications based on the understanding of Pakistan and USA, its main donor and ‘explicit economic conditionalities’ of the IMF.
These unstated geo-political conditionalities have in the past diverted the economic reform substance of the bailout, resulting in no restructuring of the economy.
Unhappiness is spreading?
Meanwhile, resentment amongst common people is rising. Clamour against runaway inflation, lack of employment, shortage of essential commodities and higher utility prices, has reached the streets of Pakistan. This unhappiness, within just one year of a new government, is sure to explode as soon as the opposition manages to overcome its recent reverses, with most of its leaders in prison for various allegations (true and false) in money laundering cases.
To his credit, Khan has tried to address all that plagues the economy; be it the need to widen the tax base, the need to regulate benami assets, the reform of sick PSUs, the fact remains that the pace and intensity of a reformer’s zeal are missing. And, Pakistan’s historical environment of inept governance, unaddressed structural weaknesses, a chronically weak tax administration, lack of fiscal consolidation, large public debt and rising number of loss-making state-owned enterprises, amid a large informal economy, remain.

اسلام آباد سے لاپتہ ہونے والے 27 سالہ بلاگر گئے کہاں؟

سلیمان فاروق کے خاندان کا کہنا ہے کہ وہ سوشل میڈیا پر حکومت پر تنقید کرتے تھے اور شاید ان کی کوئی بات ’کسی کو پسند نہ آئی ہو‘، جبکہ ایک پولیس اہلکار کا کہنا ہے کہ ان میں شدت پسندی 
کے رحجانات تھے۔
راولپنڈی کے بحریہ ٹاون سے 4 اکتوبر کو لاپتہ ہونے والے نوجوان بلاگر سلیمان فاروق کو غائب ہوئے تقریباً دو ہفتے ہو چلے ہیں اور اب تک ان کے خاندان اور پولیس کو ان کے بارے میں کوئی معلومات حاصل نہیں ہو سکی ہیں۔ 
سی سی ٹی وی سے حاصل کی گئی فوٹج کے مطابق 4 اکتوبر کی شام ساڑھے پانچ بجے سلیمان فاروق بحریہ ٹاون فیز تھری میں ایک گھر سے ٹیوشن پڑھا کر نکلے تو ایک سفید کلٹس نے ان کی گاڑی کا پیچھا کرنا شروع ہو کر دیا۔
شاہدین کے مطابق سفید کلٹس کے ساتھ ایک اور ویگن نما گاڑی بھی تھی جس میں اسلحہ سے لیس جوان موجود تھے۔ انہوں نے سلیمان کی گاڑی کو روکا اور زبردستی اپنی گاڑی میں بٹھا کر لے گئے۔ ان کی گاڑی بعد میں ہائی وے پارک سے ملی۔
یہ ابھی واضح نہیں کہ معاملہ کیا ہے تاہم سلیمان کے اہل خانہ کو شک ہے کہ سلیمان کو سوشل میڈیا پر حکومتی اداروں پر تنقید کرنے کی وجہ سے نشانہ بنایا گیا ہے۔
انڈپینڈنٹ اردو سے گفتگو میں ان کی  بہن خالدہ نے بتایا کہ 6 اکتوبر کو 27 سالہ سلیمان کی منگنی تھی اور سب اس کی تیاریوں میں مصروف تھے، مگر اس رسم سے دو دن پہلے ہی ان کا اس طرح اچانک لاپتہ ہو جانا خاندان کے لیے بہت اذیت ناک ہے۔
خالدہ کے مطابق وہ پانچ بہن بھائی ہیں اور پڑھے لکھے خاندان سے تعلق رکھتے ہیں جن میں دو بڑے بھائی امریکہ میں ڈاکٹر ہیں جبکہ وہ خود تعلیم کے شعبےسے منسلک ہیں۔
ان کا کہنا تھا کہ سلیمان بہن بھائیوں میں چوتھے نمبر پر ہیں اور انہوں نے الیکٹریکل انجنئیرنگ کر رکھی ہے اور امریکہ کی یونیورسٹی سے بھی سکالر شپ حاصل کر رکھی ہے۔
خالدہ کے مطابق سلیمان آج کل سی ایس ایس کی تیاری میں مصروف تھے اور اسی سلسلے میں پڑھنے اکیڈمی بھی جاتے تھے جبکہ نوکری نہ ہونے کی وجہ سے ٹیوشن بھی پڑھاتے تھے۔
خالدہ نے کہا کہ انہیں نہیں علم کہ ان کے بھائی نے ایسا کیا جرم کیا کہ ان کا نام لاپتہ افراد کی فہرست میں شامل ہو گیا۔
سلیمان کی سوشل میڈیا پوسٹس کے بارے میں ایک سوال کے جواب میں خالدہ نے کہا: ’سلیمان بلاگز لکھتا تھا اور حکومتی پالیسیوں کا ناقد تھا، شاید یہ بات کسی کو پسند نہیں آئی۔‘
سلیمان کے ٹوئٹر اکاؤنٹ پر کوئی اتنی قابل اعتراض ٹویٹس نظر نہیں آئیں جن کی بنیاد پر ان کو کسی تفتیش میں شامل کیا جاتا۔ البتہ ان کے فیس بک اکاؤنٹ پر حکومت پر سخت الفاظ میں تنقید سے بھری پوسٹس ضرور نظر آئیں جن میں سے کچھ میں قانون نافذ  کرنے والے اداروں پر بھی تنقید کی گئی تھی۔
آن لائن متنازع مواد پوسٹ کرنے اور تنقید کرنے کے حوالے سے چئیرمین پی ٹی اے میجر جنرل ریٹائرڈ عامر باجوہ قومی اسمبلی کی کمیٹی میں پہلےہی کہہ چکے ہیں کہ ہر بات پر اکاؤنٹ بلاک نہیں کیے جا سکتے یا کارروائی نہیں کی جا سکتی اور نہ آزادی رائے کا حق ختم کیا جا سکتا ہے۔
سلیمان کے گھر والوں نے گمشدگی کی ایف آئی آر تھانہ لوئی بھیر میں درج کروائی ہے۔
اس معاملے پر جب پولیس سے رابطہ کیا گیا تو معاملہ حساس ہونے کے باعث پولیس اہلکار نے نام نہ ظاہر کرنے کی شرط پہ بتایا کہ سلیمان کے معاملے پر متعلقہ اداروں سے رابطے میں ہیں۔
 انہوں نےدعویٰ کیا کہ سلیمان میں شدت پسندی کے رحجانات تھے اور  وہی کچھ بلاگز میں بھی لکھتے تھے۔ تاہم پولیس اہلکار نے یہ بتانے سے گریز کیا کہ وہ اس وقت کہاں ہیں۔
 جب ان سے سوال کیا گیا کہ آیا صرف رجحان رکھنا ہی لاپتہ ہونے کی وجہ ہو سکتی ہے تو انہوں نے کہا کہ صرف رحجانات نہیں بلکہ کچھ مشتبہ رابطے بھی ملے ہیں۔
ان کا مزید کہنا تھا کہ سلیمان کی گمشدگی کی تحقیق جاری ہیں اور امید ہے کہ جلد ہی معاملہ حل ہو جائے گا۔
سلیمان کے لاپتہ ہونے پر سوشل میڈیا پر بھی کچھ پوسٹ موجود ہیں جن میں ان کے دوست یہ الزام لگا رہے ہیں کہ ان کی گمشدگی کے پیچھے قانون نافذ کرنے والے اداروں ہیں۔