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Mobile phone import decline by 5.78%

ISLAMABAD (APP): The import of mobile phones during fiscal year 2016-17 fell by 5.78 per cent as compared to same period the previous year.

Mobile phone imports during the period under review were recorded at $709.69 million against the import of $753.224 million in July-June (2015-16).

According to latest data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics(PBS), on month-on-month and year-on-year basis, mobile phone imports in June 2017 however, increased by 12.02 per cent in May 2017 and 9.97 per cent in June, 2016. Imports in June 2017 were recorded at $72.549 million as compared to imports of $64.762 million in May 2017 and 65.972 million in June 2016.

Similarly, overall telecom import also decreased by 0.38 per cent in July-June (2016-17) to $1.356 billion from $1.361 billion in the same period of the preceding year. Likewise on month-on-month and year-on-year basis telecom import also witnessed a downward trend as it fell to $102.796 million in June 2017 from $117.618 million in May, 2017 and $104.441 million in June, 2016 thus showing a decrease of 12.6 per cent and 1.58 per cent respectively.

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Pakistan’s economy expected to subside: IMF

DUBAI (AFP): After a better than expected performance with five percent growth in 2016, the economies of countries in the Middle East and North Africa as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan will subside to just 2.6 percent growth this year, the International Monetary Fund said on Monday.

Economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa is forecast to slow considerably over oil prices as the Saudi economy slides, it said. Last year’s healthy regional economic performance was mainly attributed to Iran’s strong growth estimated at above 6.5 percent because of higher crude production, the IMF said.

In its World Economic Outlook update, the IMF lowered economic growth of Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, to just 0.1 percent in 2017, down 0.3 percent on its April projections.

This will be Saudi Arabia’s worst growth since 2009 when its economy contracted by 2.0 percent on the slump of oil revenues following the global financial crisis.

“The recent decline in oil prices, if sustained, could weigh further on the outlook for the region’s oil exporters,” the IMF said. After recovering to over $55 a barrel following a production reduction agreement by producers, oil prices receded on strong inventory levels and a pickup in supply.

The IMF projected that regional growth will rebound to 3.3 percent in 2018, however.

Saudi economic growth is also forecast to rebound to 1.1 percent next year, down 0.2 percentage points on April projections, it said. Saudi Arabia’s economy, the largest in the region, grew by 4.1 percent and 1.7 percent in 2015 and last year respectively.

MENA oil exporters have lost hundreds of billions of dollars since the mid-2014 crash in crude prices, transforming huge surpluses into shortfalls.

They have since implemented some economic reforms that have included raising fuel and power prices. Gulf states, which earn more than 70 percent of their revenue from energy, have been posting budget deficits since oil prices fell.

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PML-N degraded Pakistan’s minority community, PTI tells SC

ISLAMABAD (Monitoring Desk): Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on Monday contended before the Supreme Court that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has degraded Pakistan’s minority community by raising objections over PTI receiving funds from non-Muslims.

Anwar Mansoor Khan counsel for PTI submitted a reply in the Hanif Abbasi case wherein he stated that the petitioner’s statement is “a slap on the face of the great minority community of Pakistan”.

“It seems to be objectionable that the PML-N counsel while referring to PTI’s documents said the party’s foreign funding sources include names like Yadav,” said Khan. PTI submitted that such names exist in Pakistan and they are also citizens of the country, adding that the constitution does not distinguish between Muslims, Hindus and Christians in its definition of ‘citizen’.

Further, PTI rejected PML-N’s allegations that the party received funding from foreign countries. However, the party admitted that it received funds from dual nationals.

Expressing his inability to submit a money trail of his London flat, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan claimed on Saturday that English counties he had played for in the 1970s and 80s do not maintain salary records of their players beyond 20 years.

“I do not have any record of the exact schedule of my employments,” reads a concise supplementary statement submitted by Imran’s counsel in a case pending before the Supreme Court seeking his disqualification for non-disclosure of assets, ownership of offshore companies and receipt of foreign funds for the party.


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Resolution seeking removal of SBP Governor Tariq Bajwa submitted in Senate

ISLAMABAD (NNI): A resolution seeking immediate removal of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa, having signatures of 40 Senators, has been submitted in the Senate on Monday.

The resolution claims the incumbent governor is not eligible to the post since the SBP rules have been transgressed for making this appointment.

It asserts that section-10 of the State Bank of Pakistan Act 1956 has been violated with the appointment of Bajwa. “No person shall hold office as Governor, who is employed in any capacity in the public service of Pakistan or of any province of Pakistan or holds any office or position for which any salary or other remuneration is payable out of public funds,” Section-10 of the act says.

Retiring as the secretary of Economic Affairs Division and Finance on June 18, Bajwa joined the Civil Services of Pakistan back in 1981. He was appointed as new governor of the SBP via a notification on July 7preceding by Ashraf Wathra who retired on April 28.

Riaz Riazuddin was serving as SBP’s acting governor till July 7 as the top slot of the central bank fell vacant following the retirement of preceding SBP governor Wathra.

Bajwa’s appointment came in the wake of sudden depreciation and subsequent appreciation in the value of the rupee against the dollar. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had termed the depreciation artificial, which was the largest drop in the rupee value in nine years.

Previously, Bajwa was appointed as a director at the SBP and was also member Bank of Punjab’s board of directors.

He is the brother of Asif Bajwa, chief statistician in the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) who conducted the recent population and housing census. Another brother Dr. Rashid Bajwa is the CEO of National Rural Support Programme.

The resolution has signatures of 40 senators belonging to the PTI, PPP, ANP, and others excluding PML-N’s senators.

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Provocative speech case: Nehal Hashmi’s lawyer puts blame on Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD (APP): Senator Nehal Hashmi’s lawyer Hashmat Habib on Monday laid blame of his client’s threatening language against the judiciary and public servants on Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf chief Imran Khan.

During the hearing of the suo moto case against Senator Hashmi’s controversial speech, the lawyer argued that the entire incident happened because of Imran Khan.

“What does Khan has to do with this case? His matter is not with us,” said the judge.

Nehal Hashmi’s lawyer Hashmat Habib requested the court to provide time for submitting reply to the charge sheet and finding witness in the case. He asked to adjourn the hearing of the case till the fourth week of August.

“Shouldn’t we postpone the case until 2019?” Justice Ijazul Ahsan inquired in a criticizing tone.

He remarked that nothing more would be present in the CDs than the material already submitted in court by Hashmi. “Nehal Hashmi committed contempt of court prima facie,” pronounced Justice Ijazul Ahsan.

Hashmat Habib told that they have also filed a plea against TV channel. “You did nothing and the footage was made by the channels itself,” the judge sternly remarked.

Director General Pemra presented the list of channels which aired Hashmi’s speech. “The broadcast of various channels was checked for around one hour. We always take notice ourselves if the speech is against the code of conduct,” he explained to the court.

Attorney General told the court that no channel aired the complete speech but rather different parts.

“We understand what is happening. Are you yourself a hostage or making the witness as one,” said Justice Azmat Saeed while expressing severe displeasure.

“If the TV channels have aired the speech more than the record submitted in court, then DG Pemra will be going to jail instead of home,” said the judge.

The court while adjourning the hearing till August 21 has summoned reply from Nehal Hashmi in two weeks.

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Supreme Court stays execution of convict sentenced to death by military court

ISLAMABAD (Monitoring Desk): The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the execution of a convict who was handed death sentence by a military court.

The accused, Mohammad Akbar, was convicted of murdering two soldiers in 2009. He had challenged the military court verdict in 2016.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, after staying the convict’s execution, issued notices to the attorney general and the petitioner’s counsel.

At the time of his arrest, five kilogrammes of explosives were also found from Akbar, whose appeal against the death sentence was dismissed by Peshawar High Court.

The convict’s counsel contended before the SC that the military court did not take legal provisions into consideration while handing down the punishment, adding that his client was not given the opportunity to defend himself.

The Supreme Court subsequently stayed the implementation of the execution order after suspending the military court’s verdict. The hearing of the case was adjourned for an indefinite period.

Military courts

Military courts were disbanded on January 7, 2017, after the expiration of a sunset clause included in the legal provisions under which the tribunals were established.

However, on March 31, President Mamnoon Hussain gave his formal assent to the Pakistan Army Act 2017 and the 23rd Constitutional Amendment Bill ─ the two pieces of legislation aimed at granting legal cover to military courts ─ after they were cleared by the parliament.

The courts were subsequently revived and given legal cover from the day of their disbandment.

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Pakistan to face political instability if PM removed through undemocratic process: Sanaullah

LAHORE (NNI): Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah  has said on Monday that Pakistan will become unstable if the Prime Minister is removed from office in an undemocratic and non-public manner.

“If such a leader who has been elected by millions as prime minister is removed in an undemocratic and non-public manner, it will create political instability in Pakista,” he said.

While requesting the Supreme Court (SC) to thwart the conspiracy against the government, Sanaullah said that the opponents are trying to have the support of SC to fulfill their aims.

“People are coming to Supreme Court as if the government is being distributed,” he criticized.

He warned that the public will not approve the move if article 62 and 63 is used in the capacity of 58-2B.

Whether 58-2b is utilized by a dictator or article 62, 63 is used in its form, it is not acceptable for this public as it is their right,” said Sanaullah.

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Oil tanker owners on countrywide strike

KARACHI (Monitoring Desk): All Pakistan Oil Tankers Association (APOTA) announced to go on a countrywide strike starting Monday in protest of the safety rules imposed by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA).

The decision has been taken to also protest the fines being levied by the Motorway police, APOTA Chairperson Yousaf Shahwani said.

“OGRA and the Motorway police are being unfair,” he said, adding the owners of oil tankers pay advance tax for three months to the government, but it was not giving them any relief. “They’re instead exploiting us.”

Besides, the Motorway police was bent on levying penalties, while the patrolling police was harassing the oil tanker owners in Punjab, Shahwani said. In Sindh, he added, the excise police was extorting them.

There has been no meeting among the heads of OGRA, oil marketing companies and oil tankers owners association ever since the petroleum ministry handed over the matters of oil tankers to OGRA, Shahwani maintained. “Whatever decisions are implemented are made behind closed doors.”

The association members have decided not to supply oil to fuel stations in protest for an indefinite period, until their demands are met.

On the other hand, OGRA will start checking the tankers being used by oil marketing companies. According to sources, it is feared many oil tankers do not fulfil the quality criteria.

OGRA decided to implement the safety rules after the horrific incident in Ahmedpur East, which claimed lives of over 200 people.

On June 25, an oil tanker overturned in Bahawalpur’s Ahmedpur East. The oil that leaked from the toppled vehicle attracted people from the surrounding areas who rushed to collect oil. It was then that the spilled oil exploded in an inferno, killing several dozens on the spot.

‘Ample Oil reserves at stations’

According to Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association Abdul Sami Khan, oil in sufficient quantity is present in reserves of fuel stations.

While talking to Geo News, Sami Khan said measures have been taken to avoid any inconvenience to the public.

Another official of the association, Malik Khuda Baksh, has advised the public to not get more fuel filled in their vehicles, than what is required.

According to an official in the Ministry of Petroleum, there is no shortage of oil in the country as the current stock of petrol stands at 210,000 metric tonnes. Moreover, he added there are four ships available with 1,106,000 metric tonnes of petrol and over 400,000 metric tonnes of diesel.

However, the supply of oil from Keamari and Port Qasim has been nearly suspended.

At least 600 tankers at Port Qasim have been stopped from transporting oil to different parts of the country while 300 others have been put on a standstill, Oil Tanker Contractor Association’s Babar Ismail said.

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No objectionable content in Volume 10 of JIT report: PM’s lawyer

ISLAMABAD (APP): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris has said that there is no objectionable content in Volume 10 of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report.

Khawaja Haris stated that a specific part of Volume 10 is about Nescol and Nelson companies, and the letter of July 16 has also been attached with it. He also said that details of Volume 10 have been mentioned in Volume 1 as well.

PM’s lawyer told that JIT had requested British Virgin Islands (BVI) to give details about the ownership of London flats. BVI had pointed out JIT’s mistakes in attorney general’s letter, he remarked.

Khawaja Haris added that he has requested the apex court to give its verdict after listening to Sharif family’s stance if any document comes. He said the objection on Volume 10 was made only to keep his client aware of the proceedings.

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Won’t let Imran hide behind welfare institutes: Khawaja Asif

SIALKOT (Online): Defence Minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader Khawaja Asif has said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan will not be allowed to hide behind welfare institutions.

The minister expressed his views while talking to media after holding an open court at the Muslim League House in Sialkot, and demanded Imran Khan to give details of the assets that he inherited.

Khawaja Asif said there is a difference between welfare institutions and politics, and we won’t allow PTI chief to misuse institutes like National University of Modern Languages (NUML) and Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKCHRC). Politics is a cruel thing, he remarked.

The defence minister continued that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is being held accountable for those things which are not even linked with him, but Imran Khan is being asked about his own particulars. We have proven our money trail, he commented, now it is Imran’s turn.

Asif said Imran Khan has changed three to four statements on his Bani Gala palace. He advised PTI chairman to not run away as he will be chased down by PML-N.

The minister said Imran has lodged a defamation case again me for seeking details about the donations that he received. Khawaja Asif let it be known that he is still standing firm on his viewpoint, and will question Imran Khan in the court.

It is worth mentioning here that Imran has always rubbished PML-N’s claims of corruption in the donations that Shaukat Khanum Hospital and NUML receive, and has time and again challenged the incumbent government to take action against him if it has got any proof of embezzlements of funds.

PTI chief also said that he never committed tax evasion and money laundering, and that is the reason why people give donations worth millions of rupees for his cancer hospital and university.