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"When liberty comes with hands dabbled in blood it is hard to shake hands with her."-Oscar Wilde

So far, few details have emerged about the scandalous discovery of 26 small girls aged between five and 11 from a house in a Karachi neighbourhood. According to media reports, all 26 of them from the tribal areas Bajaur Agency lived sardined into a two-room madrassah housed in a property whose owner owed some money to the madrassah proprietor. The money dispute is irrelevant to the context, though. The question that begs an answer is, who are these girls? The police say they would hand over them over only to their parents, which is fine. It is hard to believe though that any parents would hand over Pushto-speaking little girls to anyone to be taken all the way from the one end of the country to the other for religious education. Maybe they are orphans of the war going on in their part of the country. It is possible also that they were abducted and sold to someone. But who brought them to Karachi, and why? These questions may soon have answers since the seminary teacher is also in police custody. They should know or be able to provide clues as to the identity of those involved. Bajaur Agency's assistant political agent too is reported to have arrived in Karachi to help find the parents.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while addressing the two-day 18th South Asia Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) summit in Kathmandu proposed a "dispute-free region" that would allow member governments to focus on the aspirations of the peoples of their respective countries to achieve prosperity and end the existing malaise of poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, disease and unemployment.
Stark irony indeed it was that while the Zarb-e-Azb military operation against terrorist outfits in North Waziristan was making significant gains there was no end to the clatter in Washington that the targets were selected. The unrelenting dirge was that Pakistan military being pro-Haqqani network, its fighters were spared for use in Afghanistan. There were many takers, and may still be there of the claim, that but for the Haqqanis' resistance, the coalition forces would have won the war in Afghanistan, and that it were Haqqanis who killed more American soldiers in that war than any other Taliban group. For quite sometime Pakistan has been trying both at political and diplomatic levels to assure the United States government that Pakistan's efforts to root out terrorism from the region do not brook such a discriminatory approach. But the other side being colour-blind on this, more inclined to take this position as a subterfuge to hide behind its colossal failure in Afghanistan, these efforts have remained unrewarded. How callous on the part of the US Department of Defence (the Pentagon) that instead of acknowledging the Pakistan army's enormous sacrifices in its campaign against terrorist networks in North Waziristan, the Pentagon chose to demean these sacrifices by alleging that Haqqani network was being spared. So it fell to the lot of the army chief, General Raheel Sharif, that during his visit he should try removing long-drawn blinkers from its eyes. Otherwise a soft-spoken, calm-minded general couldn't have been blunter in asserting that the war is against extremists and terrorists irrespective of their colour and creed. "These miscreants, these barbarians played football with the heads of our soldiers, and that scene never went off my mind," he told guests at the dinner hosted by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, at the end of his third day of meetings with US defence and military leadership. The Zarb-e-Azb operation, he repeatedly told his American interlocutors, both at the military installations and political offices, was a "concept to defeat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations."
According to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Large-Scale Manufacturing (LSM) growth was 1.86 percent in the first quarter of the current fiscal year (July-September) over the corresponding period last year. The growth though small was led by automobiles (13.9 percent), electronics (7.45 percent), chemicals (6.2 percent), textiles (1.03 percent), food and beverages (2.71 percent), paper and board (2.9 percent), rubber products (6 percent), pharmaceuticals (2.75 percent) and petroleum products (0.94 percent).
There may be quite a few sources for the turmoil currently buffeting our polity, but the one that stands above all is quality of the national electoral process. The last general elections, held in June 2013, had then won appreciation both at home and abroad, not only because the voters had turned up at the polling booths daring dire threats the turnout was clearly above the normal. Among factors that generated so much acclaim for the event the most outstanding was the unbounded faith the masses had in the then Chief Election Commissioner former Justice Fakhruddin G Ebrahim's tested sense of impartiality - though it is a different matter that he resigned soon after - the cause for it being more about jurisdiction of his office than his personal integrity. For the last many months search is on to find a suitable permanent substitution, while making a go by having judges of the Supreme Court as temporary fillers. Not that filling up the post of Chief Election Commissioner is a difficult legal hassle; there is a clearly-laid down constitutional process and if followed earnestly Fakhru Bhai's successor would have been there in just a fortnight or so. In fact, unbelievably, the issue is about the availability of suitable candidates or any legal and constitutional intricacy. The issue, perceptibly, is the unspoken yet unmistakable mindset on the part of the two constitutional consultees, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Leader of Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah, that the stuff called Chief Election Commissioner can be casted the shape one liked. But no more of it; challenging the unending dithering on the part of the 'consultees' the Supreme Court has ordered the government to appoint a Chief Election Commissioner by December 1, 2014, as the officiating Chief Election Commissioner Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali will vacate that office and return to the court.
At a time when the economy of the country is beset with a host of problems, there is at least one sector, which is working efficiently and performing its role with used aplomb. This is the sort of impression one gets after going through the quarterly Compendium of the banking sector released by the State Bank on 20th November, 2014. The aggregate profit (before tax) of the banking sector reached a historic high level of Rs 176 billion during end-September, 2014 quarter, showing a hefty increase of 44 percent over the same quarter last year. Consequently, the return on assets (ROA) and return on equity (ROE) went up to 1.4 percent and 15.9 percent respectively, up from 1.1 percent and 12.3 percent a year earlier. Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) of the banking system improved to 15.5 percent in September, 2013 as compared to 15.1 percent a quarter earlier, largely on the back of healthy profits. However, it did not denote any change compared to the same quarter of the previous year. It may, however, be noted that CAR in Pakistan is well above the minimum ratio of 10 percent set by the SBP to implement strict Basel-III capital standard. Encouragingly, stress test results also show that capital base of the banking system is strong enough to withstand unusual shocks on account of credit, market and liquidity risks. Indicators of asset quality, with marginal changes, also reflected stability. Non-performing loans (NPLs) to loan ratio (net of provisions) at 3.2 percent in September, 2014 was far below its peak of 6.4 percent in September, 2011.


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Banking Review 2013

Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-2.380 bln
Exports $2.181 bln
Imports $4.561 bln
WeeklyNovember 13, 2014
Reserves $13.268 bln