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The ongoing sit-in on Constitution Avenue by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) is taking a serious toll of the economy. Figures released by several federal ministers including Finance Minister Ishaq Dar vary between 500 to 800 billion rupees during the last 17 days with the business community of the country concurring with these estimates and warning that the toll is rising with each passing day that the political crisis is not resolved. The Finance Minister pointed out that the bulk of the loss - 350 billion rupees - was on account of the stock market, or in other words it was in portfolio investment, which is the most susceptible to political turmoil yet this too has major macroeconomic implications.

At the end of the day the buildings said to be state symbols are intact, but the institutions inside them are literally half-dead as they received severe battering at the hands of storm-troopers in garb of makers of 'Naya Pakistan' and harbingers of a 'Green Revolution'. Thousands of them walked through the main gate of the PTV headquarters - 'walked through' because nobody tried to stop them at the main gate - wrecked equipment; they also took away as many as 14 cameras. The defence of the nation's state television secured by a three-layered 30,000 plus crumbled like the wall of sand. Next door, the Main Secretariat, which houses ministers' offices and runs the federal government, was put out of action by the protestors who took control of its entry and exit points. Then comes the road that leads to the Aiwan-i-Sadr and Prime Minister's House that too was in their control. The Parliament building was accessible only from the backdoor, as its front lawns were occupied by the protestors. Of course, the Supreme Court was not shut out, though, according to a TV channel, a judge who is member of the bench hearing an important related constitutional petition came under stone-throwing mob. What else you need to do to bulldoze the writ of state. By Saturday night the security forces had effectively blunted the protestors' assault essentially by use of tear gas. And next morning as rain fell on the Capital rendering tear gas an impotent weapon and its defenders demoralised, the invaders had their field day. Within an hour they had occupied the PTV headquarters, put out of operation other high offices of the government, forced week-long closure of foreign missions. Thank God, they stopped at that, and were not looking beyond the Red Zone. This was not a case of peaceful sit-ins; it was a well-planned and meticulously executed invasion of the nation's capital to bring down an elected government by the use of force.
It seems that the Financial Restructuring Package or a bailout package of Rs 18.5 billion approved for Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) in April, 2014 has failed to make the promised impact. According to a news item in the Business Recorder on 27th August, 2014, government has released the fourth tranche of the package amounting to Rs 2.125 billion to the PSM for salaries and other financial needs, including procurement of raw materials. Out of this amount, an amount of Rs 1.3 billion was to be spent on the payment of salaries for the later half of June and for the month of July, 2014 while the remaining amount will be utilised for the procurement of raw materials and payment of utility bills including gas, power and water. It may be recalled that PSM chief Major-General Zaheer Ahmed (retd) had sough a bailout package from the government for the country's largest state-owned steel producing plant on the basis of certain commitments. Although, the government is releasing the amount of restructuring package as per the agreed schedule, PSM management has failed to retain the output of the enterprise as per commitment made at the time of the package. For instance, PSM's production was to be raised phase-wise, with its output to increase to 20 percent in July, 2014 and 60 percent in FY15. As against this, production was only 8 percent in July, 2014 and the current year's target was not likely to be achieved as the production was only 15 percent of the installed capacity at present. This was despite the fact that the Ministry of Finance had so far released about Rs 12 billion under the approved restructuring plan.
The political crisis in Afghanistan deepened on Wednesday when Abdullah Abdullah, who won the first round of presidential election but lost the run-off to his rival Ashraf Ghani walked out of the UN-supervised audit as well. Notably, the audit was part of a deal brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry after Abdullah had refused to accept the result of the June 14 second round, demanding a complete vote recount. The UN tried to save the situation following his boycott by requesting Ghani's team to withdraw its observers explaining that "underlying this request was a realisation that audit must not only have integrity, it must be seen to be evenhanded by all Afghans."
But for the looming threat posed by so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) the most intractable rivals in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Iran, may have persevered in their positions of antagonistic policies and hostile posturing on myriad regional issues, even a year after President Rouhani's ice-breaking first comment after election to improve ties with the Arab Gulf countries. They oppose in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain and try sorting out each other through their proxies in a number of other places, never hesitating to exploit the lingering Shia-Sunni sectarian divide. But no more, given the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a geopolitical upheaval critical to the future of the region as was the demise of the Ottoman Empire or the birth of Israel. Within weeks of its emergence the Islamic State has captured large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, at one point well in sight from the Iranian border; and it doesn't seem to be stopping at that. That is in terms of its territorial sweep; in terms of religious affiliation, however, it has declared Shia Muslims heretics and took their lives at show trials in Mosul. It is a no mean threat to moderate Sunnis, be they in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else. No wonder the commonality of threat took no time to ring alarm bells both in Tehran and Riyadh. The leaderships in those capitals rightly realised that Nour al-Maliki was an obstacle towards forging a unified Iraqi stand against Islamic State, and endorsed Haider al-Abadi's candidature for the job in Iraq. On its part, Tehran sent a new ambassador to Saudi Arabia, as foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and Qatar met to firm up a joint stand to confront and neutralise the threat of the Islamic State. The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian's meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal this past Tuesday is indeed a measure of the quality and size of the threat the Islamic State poses to regional stability. What Saudi counterpart Abdollahian said was 'positive and constructive' and in that meeting both sides sought to contain the militants and discourage others from joining the ranks of the Islamic State forces.
In modern times no people have paid such a high price to defend their freedom and way of life as have the Gazans; and they have won against one of history's ultra-sadist killing machines, Israel. Finally getting the message that its seven-week-long brutal armed assault had failed to breach the Gazans' resistance Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to hold fire and sit with the Hamas leadership to explore ways and means to co-exist in peace and harmony. The Cairo-brokered ceasefire, announced Tuesday evening, is expected to hold, essentially because the aggressor has been squarely put paid by the Gazans with a matching steadfastness and determination to fight back whatever regardless of the cost in terms of life and limb. Of course, it was an unequal fight; one side being a nuclear power, armed to the teeth and prone to convulsions for aggression patted by the West and the other side a small population, starving to death, rendered defenceless and deserted by its so-called allies. The 50-day-long Israel's land and air assault, punctuated by a couple of short breaks of ceasefire, was more an attempt at breaking down the morale of the Hamas defenders by murdering their children and women and by destroying their homes and businesses than taking them on in a war-like situation. Anybody who looked like a child, was on the street or at home, or had taken shelter in UN-protected compound, he was the prime target. Homes, schools, hospitals and mosques were bombed, piling shame on those who credited Israeli attacks saying what the 'hell of pinpoint' surgical strikes. Of some 2200 lives lost to Israeli aggression more than 70 percent were civilians, including 500 children. The number of Israeli casualties was 69, almost all men in uniform. Simply put, Netanyahu's forces were out to teach a lesson to Hamas by killing their families and destroying their homes, than to directly take on battle-hardened Hamas fighters who ultimately forced Tel Aviv to ceasefire and go for talks.
A half-truth is a deceptive statement that includes some elements of truth. That a half-truth is more dangerous than an outright lie is a fact that has found its best expression in prime minister Nawaz Sharif's 'explanation' that a visibly upset opposition and even the allies of PML-N government had sought from him following a highly significant development in the situation that was described by some impatient analysts as 'soft coup' a few hours after his meeting with army chief General Raheel Sharif. PTI chairman Imran Khan and PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri met separately the army chief at the GHQ on late Thursday night under an intense global and national media glare that declared that the army chief had stepped in to help resolve the grave turmoil on the request of no one but an elected prime minister. Unfortunately, however, the government did not deem it necessary to clarify the situation even when Imran Khan was 'informing' his supporters about the key elements of his talk with General Raheel. The government was still nowhere when Dr Qadri was seeking 'permission' from his so-called parliament of people to leave for the GHQ to meet General Raheel who, according to him, had agreed to play the role of a 'guarantor' and 'mediator' on government's request.


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Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-2.311 bln
Exports $2.027 bln
Imports $4.338 bln
WeeklyAugust 28, 2014
Reserves $13.582 bln