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Establishing Rupee-CPEC linkage

Abandoning his favorite economic prosperity mantra, the  Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has started a public relations campaign to conceal the bitter facts about the government’s decision to allow the rupee lose its value against the US dollar and other major world currencies. He has also given up his often repeated theme of ranking the Pakistan’s economy at 18th position among the fast growing economies of the world.

He has now started a publicity campaign to offer a lollypop that rupee will regain its lost value when the CPEC investment would do wonders. However, he admitted that 9.4 percent loss of value by rupee over the past three months by a bulging current account deficit. But he did not elaborate the reasons of $12 billion plus trade deficit with China and $ 1.54 trade deficit with Indonesia. Almost 90 percent of deficit in external balance is the direct result of personal interest motivated Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China and Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with Indonesia. It will be naïve to assume that CPEC investment alone will make the rupee appreciate in value without improving the economic environment to boost productivity of the economy, reduce the cost of doing business and establish industries for producing raw material and intermediate goods for exportable commodities to make the exports competitive in the international market. Mere a generic statement does reflect the facts and it leads to wrong conclusion.

The Minister contended that a new middle class market will emerge in Pakistan as the country has achieved a growth rate of 6 percent in the gross domestic product. This allusive economic growth, calculated on expenditure method alone, hads no positive impact on the macro economic indicators which have worsened. Nor its trickle down effect has reached the common man. The ballooning current account deficit, stagnation of exports at $ 20 billion over the last four years and foreign debt of $ 90 billion amply elucidate the macro economic imbalances against which the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in their Report “South Asia Focus Fall, 2017.”But unfortunately this sane advice was despicably rejected by the same minister in August, 2017 and now the contents of the report are halfheartedly admitted. The decision of devaluation of currency was taken to seek a fresh IMF bail out loan facility to avoid the likely situation of insolvency.

The Interior Minister claimed that once CPEC project is fully functional, foreign direct investment in key areas are likely to pour in, resulting in greater opportunities for both the countries. The current technological base of civilian goods industries is not compatible with that of China. The Chairman State Engineering Corporation, in his visit to Islamabad Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), cautioned the entrepreneurs to take a quantum leap from their existing 2nd generation technology to 5th generation technology if they want to enter in joint ventures with Chinese business leaders in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The CPEC Center of Excellence has failed to produce even a single Research Paper how Pakistani entrepreneurs can bridge the gap between the 2nd generation and 5th generation technologies? And how Pakistani workforce will be trained to operate the 5th generation technology enabling them to avail employment opportunities in the high-tech industries to be relocated to SEZs under the CPEC frame work.? It is no longer a secret that construction work on certain road projects has been slowed down due to decline in Chinese funding and the approval of up gradation of railway main line Ml-1 from Karachi to Lahore has once again been delayed over dispute on cost estimates worked out by both China and Pakistan.

It is absolutely incorrect that CPEC was conceived by the PML-N government in 2013. In fact its spade work started in 2006 and the broad parameters of the project were finalized in the previous PPP government. It was mainly a connectivity project but the PML-N government converted it into energy project. Time will tell as to whether CEPEC loans of $ 62 billion will make the rupee appreciate in value or is weakened further. The principles of economics particularly that of monetary policy, public finance and international economics do not support the Minister’s theory that establishes linkage between the inflow of heavy interest bearing CPEC loans and rupee appreciation in value.

 

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Elections to be held in Afghanistan on 20th October

KABUL (Reuters) – Long-delayed Afghan parliamentary and district council elections should be possible this year despite major security and logistical challenges, Afghan election authorities said on Sunday as they confirmed Oct. 20 as the date of the vote.

Gula Jan Abdul Badi Sayad chairman of Independent Elections Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan, speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan April 1, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
President Ashraf Ghani, his credibility on the line with both Afghan voters and increasingly impatient international partners, has vowed to hold the elections before presidential elections next year.

But the elections, now three years late, have been repeatedly postponed and have been again pushed by from a July date announced last year as political disputes and wrangling over voter registration have blocked progress.

“Today the Independent Election Commission officially announces to the people of Afghanistan that the election will be held on (Oct. 20),” IEC Chairman Gula Jan Abdul Badi Sayad told a news conference.

International partners, desperate for signs of progress 17 years after the ousting of the Taliban, have exerted heavy pressure on the Kabul government and political groups to ensure the success of the elections.

But the vote, seen as a dry run before the even more important presidential election next year, has faced repeated delays and questions over the commitment of the Afghan political class to its success.

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Jehangir Tareen is ATM of Imran: Nawaz

SWAT: Deposed and disqualified former prime minster and Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif while criticising Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan said that Jehangir Tareen is ATM machine of Imran Khan. Nawaz asked Imran Khan about the money spent on Peshawar Metro buses and Billion Tree Tsunami project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The PML-N leader was addressing a public gathering in Swat on Sunday, where the rival PTI has a ruling government.

“Lahore Metro project was made from Rs40 billion but Peshawar Metro cost Rs70 billion, where is the rest of the money?” said Nawaz.

The former prime minister said that Imran personally used Jahangir Tareen’s helicopter and ‘used all his funds’.

In his address, Nawaz while calling Imran Khan ‘Ilzam Khan’, said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief will be ousted from the province as people have vowed to bring change.

Nawaz said that Imran’s government did nothing in the province. “Has any school changed here? No new schools have been constructed here,” said the former prime minister.

“If anyone has filled their pockets with your money, then Amir Muqam is about to come here and retrieve your money,” said Nawaz.

The former prime minister alleged that the PTI chairman has usurped the money of his aide Jahangir Tareen, who he referred as ‘Imran’s ATM’.

Nawaz Sharif said that if people of the province wanted to witness development they should go to Punjab.

PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz also addressed the rally earlier.

“People say that Nawaz’s narrative has gained popularity,” she said, adding that the former prime minister’s narrative was based on truth and against injustice.

She said that Imran Khan and former president Asif Ali Zardari didn’t unite for safeguarding the public’s agenda.

Maryam, in her speech, reiterated that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman and Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman have colluded, calling them ‘brothers’.

She said that whatever happened to the votes given by the masses ‘was a mockery of Pakistan’s law and Constitution’.

She said that when Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was surrounded by issues such as floods and dengue outbreak, Imran Khan was nowhere to be seen.

Maryam claimed that conspiracies are being hatched against the vote, adding that Imran and KP ministers are being used as pawns.

The PML-N leader said that former military ruler Pervez Musharraf violated the constitution and imposed emergency, which also disgraced the sanctity of the vote.

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Pakistan wins against West Indies as International cricket returns to Pakistan

Pakistan thrashed a depleted West Indies side by 143 runs in the first Twenty20 on Sunday at the National Stadium in Karachi, the first international match in the city after nine years. Pakistan, the world’s top-ranked T20 side, equalled their highest total in the format of 5-203 in 20 overs before bowling West Indies out for their lowest-ever T20 total – 60 – in 13.4 overs. West Indies, missing their regular skipper Carlos Brathwaite and stars like Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard, could not handle Pakistan’s varied bowling attack.
Australia fight but Test slipping away
Only Marlon Samuels (18), Rayad Emrit (11) and Keemo Paul (10) reached double figures. Pakistan’s margin of victory is the second-biggest in T20Is, behind Sri Lanka’s 172-run win over Kenya in Johannesburg in 2007. Previously, the hosts’ biggest victory in T20Is was a 102-run win against Bangladesh in Karachi in 2008, after scoring 5-203. Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz and Shoaib Malik got two wickets each. Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed praised his team’s performance in the series opener.

“I think we were excellent today,” said Ahmed. “We have an important match tomorrow and with another win we can seal the series win.” The West Indies’ new T20 skipper Jason Mohammad blamed the defeat on poor batting. “It was a tough day,” said Mohammad, who fell for nought. “We did well with the ball till the last two overs. It was a good wicket, but our shot execution wasn’t good.” The Windies’ previous lowest T20 total was 7-79 against Zimbabwe at Port of Spain in 2010.
Steyn reveals Test comeback plan
Debutant Hussain Talat top-scored for Pakistan with a 37-ball 41, hitting a six and two fours. He added 75 for the third wicket with Sarfraz, who scored a 22-ball 38 with a six and four fours. Opener Fakhar Zaman hit a 24-ball 39, while Shoaib Malik played a fiery knock of 37 not out, facing 14 deliveries and hitting two sixes and four fours. The late charge helped Pakistan hammer 66 runs in the last five overs. Despite this being the first international match since 2009 in Karachi – Pakistan’s largest city – only 18,000 people watched the match in the 33,000-capacity stadium. But those present were in a celebratory mood.

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Anti-India protests erupt in Kashmir amid deadly fighting

Kashmiri protester throw stones at Indian paramilitary soldier during a protest against the killing of rebels in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Sunday, April 1, 2018. At least eight rebels have been killed in fighting with Indian troops in dispThe Associated Press
Kashmiri protester throw stones at Indian paramilitary soldier during a protest against the killing of rebels in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Sunday, April 1, 2018. At least eight rebels have been killed in fighting with Indian troops in disputed Kashmir, triggering a new round of anti-India protests and clashes, officials said Sunday.(AP Photo/Dar Yasin)more +
Massive anti-India protests erupted in several parts of the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir on Sunday amid fierce fighting between rebels and government forces that left at least 12 militants and three army soldiers dead, officials said.

At least four civilians were killed and dozens injured in the latest round of anti-India protests, which broke out after Indian troops launched counterinsurgency operations targeting mainly the southern parts of disputed Kashmir, where new-age rebels have revived militancy and challenged New Delhi’s rule with guns and effective use of social media.

In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations against the militants. The protests have persisted despite the Indian army chief warning recently that tough action would be taken against stone throwers during counterinsurgency operations.

Thousands of Kashmiris hit the streets on Sunday, chanting anti-India slogans and demanding an end to Indian rule over Kashmir as troops launched anti-rebel operations in three southern villages.

By the time, authorities handed over the bodies of some of the slain rebels to their families, tens of thousands had gathered to attend their funerals while shouting slogans like “Go India, go back” and “We want freedom.”

The gunbattles — the deadliest this year in Kashmir — began overnight after government forces raided three southern villages following a tip that rebels were hiding there, police said.

They said that after the government forces came under fire, the militants tried to escape from a security cordon while firing their guns and grenades but were killed in the ensuing fighting.

Courtesy AP

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KP development ‘on ground’, not in advertisements: Imran

F.P. Report

LAHORE: PTI Chief Imran Khan in response to political rival Nawaz Sharif’s criticism said the development in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was ‘on the ground’ and not only in advertisements.

Lashing out at the ruling party, the PTI chief said unlike Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz’s (PML-N) development campaigns ‘only seen in advertisements,’ his party’s efforts were visible in KP — where the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) formed government after being elected in 2013.

Imran was addressing the membership campaign of his party in Thokar Niaz Beg vicinity of Lahore.

Lashing out at the Sharif brothers, Imran said that Nawaz and Shehbaz were not politicians but a ‘mafia’ who have been using the police for 30 years.

“Chota [younger] don is the biggest drama,” Imran said. “He sometimes wears hats and during the rain wears boots.”

Continuing the criticism of his political rivals, the PTI chief promised that he would get the funds of Sharif family, parked abroad, back to the country if his party forms the government in the federation in the upcoming elections.

“A country can never progress when its prime minister is involved in money laundering,” Imran said, adding that the green passport holds no respect in the world.

“Your captain will bowl out the wickets of all corrupt leaders in 2018’s elections,” Imran told his party workers, adding that his team will defeat Nawaz, Shehbaz, and Fazlur Rehman.

Imran also announced the formation of an anti-Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) alliance in Sindh — where the latter has a voter-stronghold.

Earlier today, while addressing a rally in Swat, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had criticised the PTI-led government in KP.

“Where did the two billion rupees for trees go?” Nawaz said, adding that the PML-N leader Amir Muqam would return the public’s money if leaders had filled their pockets with it.

The former prime said that new schools, universities or hospitals had not been constructed in KP during the tenure of the PTI-led government. He also alleged that the PTI chairman has usurped the money of his aide Jahangir Tareen, who he referred to as ‘Imran’s ATM’.

“Imran, you wasted five years in lying, you are not worthy of winning elections,” Nawaz said, adding that only God knows what would have happened to Pakistan had PTI won the elections.

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Shehbaz says NAB constitutionally mandated to probe irregularities

F.P. Report

SHEIKHUPURA: Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Sunday that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is a constitutional institution that is mandated to probe financial irregularities.

Speaking to journalists after his visit to the DHQ Hospital Sheikhupura for the inauguration of new CT scan machines and physiotherapy wards, he said that the provincial government should be appreciated for its developmental works.

The chief minister said that the Punjab government is bearing 100 percent expenses of the poor patients of the city, adding that with the modern state of the art machines in the hospital, a revolution is coming in the health sector of the province.

Sharif said that there should be accountability for those who are not working as per their mandate.

He said that though the pace of developmental projects has been affected due to NAB but the provincial government will continue to serve the people.

Sharif said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government has installed 3,600-megawatt gas power plants in the country, and alleged that the national exchequer was looted during the tenure of previous governments in the name of power projects.

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PFA seals various factories, food outlets in south Punjab

F.P. Report

MULTAN: The Punjab Food Authority (PFA) conducted raids in Multan, Vehari, Muzaffargarh and Khanewal on Sunday.

A factory located at Bosan Road in Multan was raided and sealed after it was discovered that the factory was involved in refilling empty bottles and selling them. A total of 1,440 filled bottles and 1,800 empty bottles were found in the factory.

Similarly, near the Bahawalpur bypass, Chaudhry Dairy Farm was searched and sealed after disposing of 300 litres of adulterated milk.

In Gogo Mandi, Decent Bakery was sealed after being found selling substandard milk.

Three sweet shops were also shut down in Khanewal after being found selling substandard food.

Last year, the PFA seized a factory unit producing cooking oil from animal offals in the Lahore’s area of Mozang. During the raid at the site, PFA recovered as much as 2400kgs of animal fats and offals and tins of different brands of Ghee and cooking oil.

Earlier in November of last year, PFA seized 2300 kg contaminated spices from a number of factory deposits in Rawalpindi’s area of Ganj Mandi.

The spices were sold under the brands; Iman, Machli and Mor. According to the PFA spokesperson, sawdust, textile colour, and other contaminating agents were recovered from the site during the raid.

In another raid at Naswari Bazaar, the authorities had sealed a jam warehouse as dead rats were found at the production site.

The jam ingredients were being supplied to a number of food production companies. As many as 3000kg jam ingredients were also immediately seized by the authority.

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Institutions become weak by meddling in each other’s affairs: Bilawal

F.P. Report

HYDERABAD: Institutions become weak by meddling in the affairs of each other, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Sunday.

While talking to journalists in Hyderabad, Bilawal spoke about the recent tiff between the executive and judiciary, saying the latter should do its work and leave the politicians to do their job.

If politicians are failing at their work then the public has the authority to vote them out, he added.

Bilawal criticised Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, saying the party has weakened institutions. But judicial activism should be decreased, he said.

Moreover, the PPP chairperson also said that space for politics of ideology was diminishing.

About Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s statement regarding the Senate chairperson, Bilawal said the premier should take back his words.

The premier, in a direct reference to Senate Chairperson Sadiq Sanjrani had said: “The Senate chairman also serves as the acting president and it is a disgrace to the country that a man who bought votes became the leader of the upper house. Can there be any respect for the country after that?”

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Senate election blot on country’s democratic history: Siraj

F.P. Report

HYDERABAD: Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq on Sunday said that the Senate election held last month has become a stain on the country’s democratic history.

Addressing media here, Siraj said the politicians who used money in the election process would only be interested in solving their own problems instead of the masses’.

“Certain corrupt politicians have hijacked country’s politics and democracy,” he said.

The Election Commission of Pakistan also merely played the role of a silent bystander, the JI chief lamented.

Various political figures, including those from the ruling party, have criticised “horse-trading” in the Senate election held on March 3.

Siraj also criticised the treatment meted out to the prime minister during his recent private visit to the United States, and said the government has insulted the masses by not giving any reaction to the incident.

PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was seen at an airport in the US without any security protocol during a visit to the country, Geo News reported on March 24.

He was reportedly made to go through security check at the airport like a common person.