Last update: Mon, 24 Oct 2016 07pm

Articles and Letters: Letters


It was on Saturday that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi called on Chaudhry Pervaiz Illahi to thank him for supporting PTI's November 2 Islamabad protest. A day earlier, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) announced its support to PTI in its sit-in against the government.Talking to media afterwards, Pervaiz Illahi said that the entire opposition should help PTI in its sit-in against the government. He reportedly added that the people of Pakistan still remembered the 16 people who were martyred in Model Town.
It is all the global corporately fostered media rage. The zeal to equalise. As if anything that does not originate, or develops or ends on perceptibly equal margins, is a universal abomination. What is said does not matter. How is it practiced does. It is practiced that uniformity and equality are the only true alternatives to politics today. Whatever does not confirm to one of the two, confirms to the other. The furious enthusiasts for the heck of the moment, waving their fingers in your face (dangerously close) forget to notice their unequal lengths.
This is apropos a letter 'The final IMF review" carried by the newspaper recently. Here one must not lose sight of the fact that the report appears to dismiss the importance of raising exports by excluding exports from its extreme test scenario, (defined as one in which downside risks simultaneously materialise and external debt would rise over the medium-term and external financing would peak at 8 percent of GDP, above the medium-vulnerability risk benchmark). In its footnote 10, the fund assumes the following: (i) lower remittances and sadly remittances fell by 5 percent in the first quarter of the current fiscal year - a trend that is in keeping with the global scenario; (ii) higher profit repatriation with the SBP website giving total repatriation on profits/dividends at 34.1 million dollars in August 2012 which rose to 58.5 million dollars in August 2016 (it is unclear whether this refers to sukuk issuance as well which would imply a steeper rise); (iii) a sharp decline in Foreign Direct Investment and as per the SBP website FDI declined from positive 106 million dollars in June 2016 (not a significant amount by any stretch of the imagination) to negative 49.4 in July 2016 and negative 53.2 though these are cited as provisional estimates; (iv) equity portfolio inflows which have been rising due to what many maintain is the low rate of taxation on this sector - in India stock markets reportedly generate up to 200 billion rupee as tax revenue whereas in Pakistan the amount is around an appallingly low 2 billion rupees; (v) higher external financing costs and these are expected to rise given that Pakistan would no longer be on an IMF programme; and finally (vi) lower medium term growth and in this context it is relevant to note that the rate of GDP growth as estimated by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, under the administrative control of the Ministry of Finance, has been repeatedly challenged due to a lack of rationalisation with other sources of existing data - government as well as credible industry sources. There has also disturbingly been no effort on the part of the PBS to clarify its data to a panel of well informed economists or economic journalists in spite of repeated requests for a meeting.
In the second session of the HSD a female scholar from the United States, Christine Fair, was a panel speaker. This woman is an Associate Professor at the George Town University. She's a known Pakistan baiter. She opened up with an attack on Pakistan. I have no issues with criticism of our policies but the foul language she used in her talk was as follows:
I am shocked to hear that so far the bail pleas filed by Dr Asim Hussain, the former petroleum and natural resources minister have not been heard. This is very astonishing and raises many questions about the sufferings of the accused in various cases. Already the legal procedure in our country is too long and in many cases, the accused has to wait for years for judgement.
The mission leader of the 6.64 billion dollar Extended Fund Facility (EFF) Harald Finger while briefing the media via a video link after uploading the twelfth and final review on the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) website acknowledged that exports are likely to decline because of poor business environment, an overvalued rupee by 5 to 20 percent and energy problems. Pakistan's current account deficit would widen, he further stated, due to a rise in oil prices and higher imports on account of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Such a succinct analysis presents a picture is not different from the one highlighted by this newspaper frequently during the first eleven reviews under the EFF, the objective being to bring it to the notice of the policymakers that the road to reform undertaken by the government under the EFF may lead to some favourable macroeconomic indicators but they would not be sustainable.
In a highly important regional development, Chinese President Xi Jinping has signed loans and investment deals with Bangladesh worth about $20 billion with a view to increasing Beijing's influence in a country closed to rival regional power India.