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In an exclusive interview to Business Recorder Federal Minister for Water and Power and Defence Khawaja Asif claimed that the Sharif administration has formulated a strategy to generate maximum power to cope with the country's future needs. He added that the government is determined to end loadshedding through not only enhanced generation but also reducing distribution losses; and maintained that appropriate steps have been taken for installation of gas conversion equipment on gas turbines for Nandipur power plant besides China's assurance to support Pakistan in the energy sector.

According to Imran Khan, come what may, his much-ballyhooed "decisive rally" will be held in Islamabad on November 30. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali finds no fault in PTI chief's plan so long it is peaceful. However, beyond these apparently concurring positions there are quite a few "ifs" and "buts", the most daunting being their difference on the venue of the rally. The PTI chief is determined to hold the rally on the Constitution Avenue/D-Chowk, which is part of the Red Zone, warning the government "if you create hurdles we will face them, and we are ready to go to jail". At his rally in Gujranwala two days ago he was more explicit: "On November 30, there will be a decisive battle between status quo and us. It will be decided on the day whether they (government) win or we form a Naya Pakistan". "If they (PTI) have plans for a political activity, they will be provided security. But if their purpose is to attack the government, the law will come into action," says Chaudhry Nisar. Unlike previously, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's patience seems to be wearing thin. He says it is the responsibility of the government to protect and preserve the law and constitution. Given its bitter experience, how the 'Azadi' and 'Inqilabi' marches violated the mutually agreed agenda as their marchers moved into the Red Zone in violation of the agreed venue and the timeline for their presence in the Capital, the government is now prepared to take a hard line. Nowhere else but at the D-Chowk would the PTI like to hold its November 30 show of force. The battle-lines have been drawn. Barring some kind of divine intervention or third-party 'advice', Islamabad is all set to be the venue of a possible Armageddon. While the self-assured hubris among minister that is inflated by their reading that 'dharna' politics has had its last hurrah, Imran's confidence is pumped by his massive rallies in Punjab and Sindh. Will he come heading a more spirited and better equipped march, we will know in case there is a battle royale. The government, however, is unwilling to take a chance. Some 15,000 police and paramilitary personnel would be deployed ahead of the rally. And should the need arise the government will call in the army in aid of civil power under Article 245 of the Constitution, which was there on the site till early this week when it was withdrawn at the completion of its three-month term, under a new ordinance.
Dr Hafiz Pasha, former Finance Minister during Nawaz Sharif's government, gave a damning indictment on the state of the economy during a conference organised by the Institute for Policy Reforms that he helped establish. None of the macroeconomic targets was met during the first quarter of the current fiscal year (July to September) with the exception of fiscal deficit and that was attained because releases under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) were only 8 percent against the benchmark of 20 percent of the total budgeted in the first quarter, Pasha argued. But by the end of the fiscal year the deficit would be higher by 1.1 percentage points than what was budgeted, he averred, or around 6 percent as opposed to the budgeted 4.9 percent. Growth target of 5.1 percent would also not be met and Pasha estimated actual growth at around 3.5 to a maximum of 4 percent.
The high treason trial of former military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf took a dramatic turn on Friday when the special court hearing the case accepted, albeit partially, the defence counsel's plea to include in the case those who advised him to impose the November 3, 2007 emergency. Directing the federal government to submit statements of formal charges against the then prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, the then Law Minister Zahid Hamid, and the then Chief Justice, Abdul Hameed Dogar, as the co-accused within a fortnight, the court aptly observed that "it would be against the public interest if a selective investigation is allowed to be made the basis of a criminal case." Although the defence's strategy right from the start of the trial was to widen the list of abettors to include the then Army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani and some others, the order rightly focused on the persons who had constitutional obligations vis-a-vis events of November 3, 2007.
Business Recorder has long been advocating the development of a consensus of all stakeholders including all political parties, the business community as well as trade unions on a common economic agenda. The objective is to provide safeguards to existing as well as potential investors - local and foreign - that would ensure there would be no attempt to overturn decisions taken by a previous government.
An anti-terrorism court in Lahore handed death penalty on Wednesday to four men for killing a young woman in the name of family honour because she had contracted a marriage of her choice. These men - the victim's father, brother, a cousin and former husband - bludgeoned her to death last May outside the Lahore High Court where she had gone to record her statement in favour of her husband who had been accused of abducting her. In his verdict, the ATC judge observed that the gruesome murder, reminiscent of dark ages, having taken place near the High Court created fear and outrage among people who come to courts to seek protection against oppression. It is worthwhile to note that the male relatives of the women acted the way they did because of loopholes in the law that makes so-called honour killing a compoundable offence. It has become an accepted practice for male relatives, like in the present case, to murder a woman for deciding on her own to marry somebody, even on suspicion of having a liaison. The 'honour' pretext in some instance has also been used to get rid of women - even men - to grab the victims' property. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, about 900 women fell victim to honour-related crimes during 2013 alone.
General Sergei Shoygu, the first Russian defence minister to visit Pakistan since 1969 (the then Soviet Union) was in Islamabad this week to personally convey his government's decision to sell Pakistan 20 Mi-35 helicopters. For its relatively cheap operational cost and enhanced orientation for mountain warfare Pakistan wanted Mi-35 for deployment in military operations against terrorists in tribal areas. But Moscow was hesitant to go for the deal given the long-frozen Pak-Russia bilateral relationship and New Delhi's stiff resistance. Now that the world has moved beyond the Cold War era; the United States is about to pull out of Afghanistan and New Delhi is cozying up to Washington the Russian leadership too is thinking its geopolitics, possibly giving preference to geo-economics over geo-strategic interests. Perhaps, the EU's pressure over the Ukraine crisis and threats of food sanctions contributed to Moscow's new strategy to look south and east; and reach Pakistan where its footprints in the shape of Pakistan Steel Mills and Oil and Gas Development Corporation remain indelible. No wonder then the defence co-operation agreement General Shoygu signed with his counterpart Khwaja Asif has been termed a "milestone" in a statement by Pakistan government, with a huge potential to translate this relationship into "tangible terms" to strengthen military-to-military relationship. "Apart from promoting bilateral defence relations the [minister's] visit will enable both countries to join hands in bringing peace and stability to the region," the statement added. Not only has Moscow lifted arms embargo, by sending a 41-member high-powered delegation headed by its defence minister, the Putin government has also shown willingness to overlook the bitter past and prepare for a mutually beneficial multidimensional bilateralism. The Russian move, in the words of The Moscow Times, amounts to "ending years of division over Islamabad's close ties with US and Moscow's with India". The question whether or not the Mi-35 helicopters will obviate the desideratum to put up with CIA's drones has no plausible answer. But the message Moscow gives does invite a pertinent question: How good is a strategic partnership bereft of transactional content?


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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