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"Our hands are clean; come look at them." This should have been the reaction of the PPP leadership to the arrest of Dr Asim Hussain and arrest warrants for Yousuf Raza Gilani and Makhdoom Amin Faheem. A party that has a history of bravely facing difficult times was expected to keep its cool, instead of showing signs of panic to the utter delight of those to whom it is suggestive of guilty conscience. How come, to Syed Khursheed Shah, the arrest of Dr Asim Hussain means implicating Asif Ali Zardari, a threshold, if crossed, would mean an open war. And, Zardari feels the PPP is being pushed against the wall just because the corrupt are being held accountable. It is not the first time that the top leadership of a political party in Pakistan, or anywhere else in the world, has been accused of committing corruption. It is for the prosecution to establish the guilt, and if the PPP's hands are clean there should be no problem. But if the National Action Plan (NAP) under which the action is being taken is used as a tool for political victimisation, then its capacity to stem the tide of terrorism would diminish and it would go to the benefit of terrorists. But for that to happen it is imperative that the PPP leaders should face them in the courts and courts should see to it that they not only deliver justice but are seen to have delivered justice. Frankly speaking, there are not very many takers of claim that the PPP is being victimised in order to subvert its rejuvenation drive now in progress under its new leader, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Somehow, the man in the street believes that not only the PPP but almost all political parties have crooks and thugs under their wings, and if some of them are involved in anti-state activities he is not greatly surprised. Rightly then it would be in the larger interest of all political parties, including the PPP, to help the courts weed out such criminals from their ranks.

One after the other, election tribunals hearing PTI petitions challenging results in three of the four most controversial constituencies - where soon after the elections the party had started demanding vote audit - have annulled the results, ordering fresh polls. In each case they have pointed out massive irregularities in the conduct of elections. Even though, the Judicial Commission declared the 2013 general elections to be, in large part, fair and in accordance with the law, its report too noted a large number of 'shortcomings' in the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) conduct of the electoral exercise, saying the PTI was not entirely unjustified in requesting the establishment of a body to inquire into its suspicions and allegations regarding the general elections. The three tribunals' verdicts underscore the flaws in the present electoral system.
We are happy that Karachi Electric (KE) - the sole supplier of electricity to Karachi city of teeming millions has finally agreed to renegotiate the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) for purchase of electricity from the national grid and a Gas Supply Agreement (GSA) with Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC). The contentious issues are not only mathematical in nature but also require a mechanism to be put in place not only with regard to future receivables but also payment of past dues which have given rise to circular debt. It is the Sindh government that continuously throws a spanner in the works that are geared towards the resolution of past dues to KE and other two Discos, Sukkur Electric and Hyderabad Electric, in the southern province of the country. Unfortunately, however, these issues could not be resolved even when the same political party, PPP, was in governments in Sindh and Islamabad. Now, with two different parties in control in Sindh and Islamabad, the issue needs to be resolved amicably at the level of Council of Common Interest (CCI). The Sindh government's complaint that Discos are over-billing them warrants a thorough probe. Sindh is not prepared to settle even at 50 percent of the billed amount. This attitude appears to be unreasonable and needs arbitration by a retired higher judiciary member acceptable to both parties.
Following the Supreme Court's direction, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a new code of conduct on Friday, amending the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Rules, 2009. The new code raises more concerns and confusion than addressing the existing issues. To begin with, the court had taken a serious notice of the fact that the authority charged with regulating the electronic media affairs was without a permanent chairman and a complete Council of Complaints. The issue remains ignored. As a matter of fact, the committee formed by the government to prepare the code held consultations with representatives of different media bodies but did not bother even to invite the regulating authority, thereby demonstrating that the information ministry regards Pemra as a mere handmaiden.
Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbassi while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee made an extremely disturbing observation: since 2011 the locals of district Kohat and Karak (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) have been stealing around 10 billion rupee worth of gas annually. There is no writ of the government in these two districts, Abbassi added, while Arif Hamid, Managing Director of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), told the members of the Standing Committee that the locals had illegally constructed a 1600kilometre-long pipeline.
Having fled military Operation Zarb-e-Azb the militants, both local and foreigner, took refuge in the high altitude Shawal Valley of North Waziristan. Thick forest, treacherous terrain and deep ravines it has everything they needed to remain in business of fighting the forces. But that was not to be - with rest of North Waziristan cleared of militancy the Shawal Valley couldn't be left in control of militants to be used as a launching pad for forays into the cleared areas. After a heavy pounding from air to soften the targets a ground offensive has been launched, and for all the reasons it is going to be very tough. The Shawal Valley is the last redoubt of militants and they would spare nothing to fight back. And for the forces the battle for Shawal has to be won whatever it costs, because without taking it back from the militants the Operation Zarb-e-Azb remains incomplete. Obviously there are heavy battlefield casualties; the military losses include death of Lieutenant Colonel Faisal Malik who embraced martyrdom along with a soldier in a clash with militants. The militants' losses are reported to be in many scores. Located as it is on border with Afghanistan the control of Shawal Valley is expected to shut the back door on the anti-Pakistan militants who keep moving in and out at will fomenting trouble in the tribal areas. A day before this clash, the Afghanistan-based terrorists had launched a rocket attack on a Pakistani checkpost killing four soldiers. Given probability of militants fleeing the military action in Shawal Valley to seek shelter in adjoining region of Afghanistan the government in Kabul should undertake a matching military action on its side. Since the licence to crisscross international border is one of the militants' potent weapons it is essential that appropriate steps are taken to enforce strict border control.
World markets reacted sharply to the Chinese stock market plunge that wiped out 3 trillion dollars globally by Monday 24th August. The plunge was reflective of market perception that the Chinese influence on global markets would be compromised with its demand for imports and domestic output curtailed as a consequence. International oil price also plunged sharply in reaction to the Chinese stock market crash premised on fears that with the decline in output and therefore growth of the Chinese economy its energy demand would decline considerably thereby impacting negatively on world demand for the commodity.


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Banking Review 2014

Foreign Debt $62.649bn
Per Cap Income $1,512
GDP Growth 4.24%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-2.378 bln
Exports $2.016 bln
Imports $4.394 bln
WeeklyAugust 27, 2015
Reserves $18.509 bln