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Will MENA Continue to Benefit from Turmoil in the Western World?

If you were to look back through modern history, the economies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have lagged behind their western rivals. The same applies to the geopolitical climate in this region, which has served as a platform for erratic policy and immense volatility over the course of the last 25 years or more.

Incredibly, we’ve seen this trend begin to reverse in recent times, as the more established economies of America, UK and Europe have imploded while those in the Middle East have started to thrive and diversify with sustained success.

In this post, we’ll ask how this has happened, and try to determine whether or not MENA can continue to benefit from turmoil in the western world.

How has the Landscape Changed in Recent Times?

The plight of western economies has been pronounced in recent times, and exacerbated by a combination of bad judgement and opportunism. The U.S. has been undermined by an increasingly aggressive foreign policy and the election of a decisive, populist President, for example, while the UK’s push to leave the EU has triggered widespread uncertainty and volatility throughout an entire continent.

In Asia, Myanmar’s security forces have been accused of committing acts of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority, with charges of ethnic cleansing likely to be levied by the United Nations.

Given this and the wave of extremist terrorism that has enveloped the western world in recent times, it’s clear that the geopolitical and economic climate outside of the Middle East is becoming increasingly turbulent.

These issues have become increasingly stark in the wake of significant developments in MENA economies, which has created a genuine platform for growth and prosperity within the region. In fact, the Middle East in particular is looking more stable than at any point in recent times, both from an economic perspective and a social one.

In terms of economy, most Middle East nations and the gulf states are working hard to diversify their interests. More specifically, they’ve pulled away from an over reliance on oil after this commodity has seen its value plunge due to an excess of supply, instead focusing on media, tourism and financial services. The region is also entering the fascinating world of cryptocurrency, while its stocks and currencies are being actively targeted by foreign investors from across the globe.

Will this Trend Continue, and how Can you Benefit?

Not only are these facts incontrovertible, but they’re also supported by social and political developments within the MENA regions. Saudi Arabia is also working to build a positive human rights record, while it’s also fair to surmise that Iraq and Iran have enjoyed a period of relative peace since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the former.

This draws a link between the actions of western nations and their impact on Middle Eastern economies, and history suggests that the trend for growth in MENA is likely to continue if the region is allowed to pursue its own path towards growth and prosperity.

From an investor perspective, this reversal of fortunes offers immense opportunities. This is particularly relevant in the case of derivatives and flexible vehicles such as cfd trading, as they enable investors to speculate on outcomes and profit from even short-term growth in the Middle East.

So, in addition for being exciting times for all MENA nations, this is also an excellent opportunity for investors to diversify their portfolios and boost their profits.

(Advertorial)

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Supreme Court disqualifies Nawaz Sharif as PML-N chief

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court on Wednesday disqualified Nawaz Sharif from leading the party after announcing verdict in the case related under article 62, 63 of the constitutions.

The apex court decision was another blow to the ruling PML-N after the supreme court given ruling in a case that disqualified person cannot head a political party.

A disqualified person under Article 62, 63 of the Constitution cannot head the party, the court elaborated and as per the court verdict, all decisions taken by Nawaz as PML-N’s president were canceled and declared null and void.

As a consequence, Senate tickets issued by Nawaz are also declared void, throwing the fate of March 3 Senate elections in doubt.

Earlier today, the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar concluded on Thursday the hearing of several petitions against the recently-passed Elections Act 2017.

A three-member bench had been hearing several petitions challenging specific clauses of the act that led to Nawaz Sharif’s appointment as party president following his dismissal as prime minister last year.

During today’s hearing, the chief justice remarked that the country’s leadership is respectable, adding that the media misreported the court’s remarks.

Chief Justice Nisar also observed that there is no reason for the apex court to use words like thief, adding that the fallout of the issue is unacceptable.

Addressing the Pakistan Peoples Party counsel Latif Khosa during the hearing, the chief justice remarked that there would be a difference in rallies held by you or [slain party leader and former prime minister] Benazir Bhutto.

Another petitioner’s counsel, Farogh Naseem, argued that there is a precedent of a court order against a political party’s head.

The chief justice remarked that in other countries intra-party elections are held but the situation is different in Pakistan.

“The party head is an important position,” the chief justice observed, adding that in Pakistan people are willing to sacrifice their lives for their leaders.

Following Nawaz’s disqualification as prime minister in July 2017 in the Panama Papers case, the ruling party managed to amend the Constitution to allow the former premier to retain his chairmanship of the PML-N.

As a result, the Elections Act 2017 was passed by Parliament bringing Nawaz back as the party president despite his disqualification from the National Assembly.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, MNA Jamshaid Dasti, National Party and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), among others, challenged the law for allowing a disqualified parliamentarian to become a party head.

The petitions, challenging specific clauses of the Elections Act 2017, state that Nawaz’s appointment as party president is in violation of Clause-5 of the Political Parties Order 2002 and Article 17 of the Constitution.

 

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Asma Rani Case: SC gives authorities one-month time to arrest murderer

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Mian Saqib Nisar has ordered authorities to arrest Mujahidullah Afridi within a month, the prime accused in Asma Rani murder case.

CJP Saqib Nisar headed, a three-member bench of Supreme Court and during the today’s hearing of the suo motu case of Asma’s murder in Kohat.

KP Deputy Advocate General Abdul Latif Yousufzai informed the court that red warrant was issued against the accused and soon he will be arrested.

During the hearing CJP Saqib Nisar remarked that sympathy for an absconder wouldn’t last long as the suspect would be brought to justice sooner or later and adding that the law allowed no mercy for a person absconding from the courts.

On February 19, Mujahidullah Afridi was placed on Interpol’s most wanted list.

Asma Rani, a third-year medical student, was allegedly killed by Mujahidullah in Kohat after she had refused his marriage proposal.

Mujahidullah, the nephew of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Aftab Alam fled the country after the murder. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government then approached Interpol to aid in his arrest.

Mujahidullah’s brother Sadiqullah Afridi and two other suspects were also arrested by the police.

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Rashid Khan becomes youngest No.1 bowler in ICC rankings

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan has become the youngest ever No. 1 bowler in the International Cricket Council (ICC) One-day International rankings.

According to ICC, Rashid Khan, Afghanistan’s teenage leg-spinning sensation has become the top-ranked ODI bowler at just 7092 days of age.

ICC statement added that before Rashid, the youngest man to be No.1 in any of the ICC Player Rankings was Saqlain Mushtaq. The Pakistan off-spinner was 7683 days old when in January 1998 he ascended to top spot in the ODI rankings.

Both Rashid Khan and India’s Jasprit Bumrah have been ranked the top ODI bowlers with each having 787 points.

 

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NAB court rejects Sharif family’s petition for exemption from hearing

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing corruption cases against the disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family, on Wednesday issued its written order rejecting the suspects petitions to travel abroad and demanded exemption from the appearance before the court.

The ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law MNA Safdar had requested the NAB court to grant them exemption from appearance from February 19 to March 5 as they were planning to visit Kulsoom Nawaz, who is undergoing cancer treatment in London since August last year.

Earlier on February 15, the accountability court had rejected their petition.

Now on Wednesday the court issues a written order in the case, the court has stated that Nawaz’s wife’s ailment cannot be made a basis of being exempted from court proceedings. Similarly, the judge has ruled that going to London to finalise counsel for the recording of witnesses’ statements from there can also not be made a basis for exemption.

The next hearing of the case will take place on February 22.

Nawaz Sharif and his family are facing corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) including Al-Azizia Steel Mills, Flagship Investment Ltd and Avenfield properties in London.

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Royal Palm case: NAB to file reference against former generals

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Justice (Rtd) Javed Iqbal has approved to file corruption cases against former generals in Royal Palm lease case.

NAB decided to file corruption references against former Railway Minister Lt Gen (Rtd) Javed Ashraf Qazi and former Chairman Board of Railways, Lt Gen (retd) Saeeduz Zafar in the Royal Palm case.

Qazi Javed Ashraf, a former chief of the Inter Services Intelligence, and Saeed-u-Zafar, served as Peshawar corps commander, and the both the former generals are accused of giving land of the Pakistan Railways to the Royal Palm Golf and Country Club on a cheap lease.

Bureau issued a press release in this regard and according to it, the NAB Executive Board on Tuesday held a meeting in this regard. The NAB also included Maj Gen (retd) Hamid Butt and Brigadier (retd) Akhtar Ali Baig in the Royal Palm case.

The NAB chief has also directed to file references of misconduct against former WAPDA chairman Tariq Hameed and former member power Anwar Khalid. Moreover, references will be filed against former member water Mohammad Mushtaq and former member finance Imtiaz Anjum for alleged misuse of authority and costing the public exchequer loss of billions of rupees.

 

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Hand grenade attack on police post in Peshawar

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: Some unidentified gunmen attacked a police check post with hand grenades in Peshawar on Wednesday however; no loss of human life was reported.

Police personnel opened fire in retaliation after the attack but the gunmen managed to escape from the scene after committing the crime.

Security forces started search operation in the area to arrest the culprits.

Earlier in Lahore, Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) had foiled a terror bid and arrested three terrorists of banned organization during an operation.

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Sharif brothers trying pressurize judiciary again: Bilawal

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that the leadership of Pakistan Muslim League wants to dictate judiciary again.

This he said while issuing a statement, he said Sharif family is still living in past and they didn’t realize that people of Pakistan are aware now and they will not tolerate any attack and blackmailing the judiciary.

Sharif brothers had been dictating the decisions of courts against the former premier Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari, he blamed.

PPP chief added that during the hearing of Panama case, the Sharif brothers were continuously giving false information and terming the case as a conspiracy against the Pakistan but actually they were trying to save their skin as they have done masters in lying and hypocrisy.

 

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Mass grave of Daesh victims found in Achin

Monitoring Desk

NANGARHAR: Nangarhar officials claimed that at least 10 bodies of local residents were found in a mass grave in Achin district of Nangarhar.

The local people told the Afghan media that the deceased were killed by Daesh terrorist group.

 

Local officials confirmed on Monday that the bodies were found in Momand Dara area of Achin district which is said to be a stronghold of Middle East originated terrorist group.

Media office of provincial governor told the deceased had been abducted from Pachiragam district by Daesh militants more than a year ago and later they were moved to Achin district.

 

This comes after another nine bodies were found in Kot district on Monday.

Tribal elders in Nangarhar province said these victims had also been killed by Daesh.

Some tribal elders in Nangarhar have also accused government of failing to do anything about rescuing these hostages.

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US motion to put Pakistan on ‘grey list’ differed

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan remained successful with the help of its friends as a US-sponsored motion to place Pakistan on a terror-financing watchlist maintained by Financial Action Task Force and the meeting was concluded on no consensus.

The FATF meeting was kicked off earlier this week and it was expected that US will put forward a resolution with the backing of its allies including Germany, France, Britain, to put Pakistan on grey list by ignoring its losses and sacrifices in the war against terrorism.

The grey list is maintained for identifying countries, which are failed to take concrete steps to end money-laundering and terror financing.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif announced the major development on his twitter account and he also thanked the friends who helped in this situation.

Khawaja Asif said that the US resolution has been delayed for three months and the Asia Pacific Group has been asked to present another report in June.

The resolution was postponed after China, Turkey, and Russia, opposed the motion.  As per the schedule the US backed motion was set to be tabled in FATF for voting on Wednesday, but the plan has been dropped due to lack of consensus.

Earlier, Advisor to PM Dr Miftah Ismail blamed India for pushing America against Pakistan and adding that the recent move to put Pakistan on FATF grey list is for only political purposes.

Meanwhile, the financial sector experts, any move to place Pakistan on the watch-list would enhance scrutiny level of the financial transactions that the country’s banking sector would undertake with the rest of the world.

This will increase the cost of opening letter of credits (LC) for trade purposes. The negative decision by FATF will have the force to affect the international credit ratings, which will in turn increase cost of borrowings for the government.

At present, the 11 jurisdictions are on the high risk and monitoring list of the FATF, which include North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Ethiopia. Pakistan was on the FATF grey list from 2009 to 2015.