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As the inter-state conflicts take back seat the ethnic, extremist and fanatic non-state entities and movements have come to the fore with agendas that profoundly impact regional and international peace. Given they are spawned transnationally to check their terror-driven clout - with few exceptions like Pakistan's total war on extremists and terrorists - remains a global challenge. If in Africa the Boko Haram and al-Shabab remain free to destroy societies in the Middle East and Asia it is al Qaeda and its variants including the Daesh who periodically conduct blood-soaked orgies to be watched by a helpless world. Of course, there have been UN sanction and the concerned countries' joint moves to counter these non-state actors, but that were with limited success. More so in case of small countries who on their own find themselves inadequate to fight back. Hence this idea that UN peacekeeping missions should help strengthen capacity of the beleaguered countries to counter extremist groups, which was on the table for some time, has now materialized. The UN Peacekeeping Summit hosted by some 50-member countries, including Pakistan on the sidelines of the General Assembly session, has decided not only to raise the strength of UN peacekeeping missions but also to drastically upgrade their fighting skills by better training and modern weaponry. Commonly known as 'Blue Helmets', some 125,000 UN peacekeepers are now on duty in 16 missions at a cost of $8.2 billion. The participating countries have pledged 40,000 additional troops for the UN peacekeeping missions, with China taking the lead by offering an 8,000-strong standby police force. President Xi Jinping in his address to the UN General Assembly also promised one billion dollars for the force over the next decade. Pakistan, currently the top contributor to the UN peacekeeping missions, has pledged an additional infantry battalion and unarmed drones "to enhance capabilities related to protection of civilian and military personnel".

That the fall of Kunduz has showcased the Tailbone insurgency's potential to expand beyond its rural strongholds in the south of Afghanistan is a fact that has found its best expression in the success of their strategy that has been found to be aimed at tightening their grip across northern Afghanistan. President Ghani says there is "vast presence" of foreign militants in and around Kunduz. In August, a suicide-bomber exploded himself in Khangarh district killing 21 people. And at times when the government in Kabul finds itself short of boots on ground in Kunduz province it requisitions services of local militias to fight "fire with fire". So, at the moment it would be hazardous to predict its outcome. Not only does the brutal advance of Tailbone suggest growing presence of Tailbone in northern provinces, it also authenticates pre-eminence of the Mulla Mansour-led faction over rival Tailbone factions. In a statement on Monday he congratulated his fighters over a "major victory". Moreover, the Tailbone offensive seems to have undermined the popularity of President Ashraf Ghani.
Managing Director of Central Power Purchase Agency (CPPA) tendered his resignation before the Eid holidays, thereby making him the third casualty of the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi-led LNG import plan inclusive of imports from Qatar, transport, sale and financing of the commodity.
At their annual gathering at the UN world leaders adopted new sustainable development goals aimed at ending extreme poverty within the next 15 years in place of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that run out in the current year. Applying to both developed and developing nations, the revised agenda is designed to make the world a better place in the next 15 years by ending poverty, improving healthcare, promoting education and combating climate change at a cost of $3.5-$5 trillion per year. The rich countries are to share the cost with $3.5-$5 trillion in development funds. As Pope Francis - who made a moving speech at the UN raising issues that affect ordinary people everywhere in the world - pointed out "solemn commitments, however, are not enough, even though they are a necessary step towards solutions." There are numerous instances where affluent nations failed to keep their commitments, the latest example being that of humanitarian help they had promised for the Syrians who have taken refuge in some of the neighbouring countries, and delivered only a fifth of the $6.5 billion asked by the UN.
Business as usual cannot continue since it is becoming unsustainable. Operations and governance of Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs), on analysis, reveal that they continue to under-perform. Because of a lack of clarity on the part of government, multiple layers of accountability inclusive of PM Secretariat, line ministries, regulators if applicable, public accounts committee (PAC), Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) and also the media. The management of these PSEs spend significant amount of time responding to these multiple layers. At times they have to contend with contradictory guidelines. These PSEs were initially established to fill investment gaps in key economic sectors. Later on they grew and became natural monopolies for sheer profit motives of the government - since their dividend earnings provide a non-revenue resource.
Finally, taking notice of the loud objections raised by opposition parties, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has stopped implementation of the 'Kisaan Package' announced by the Prime Minister on September 15, ie, three weeks - close to the start of polls - after the announcement of local government elections schedule for Punjab and Sindh. The ECP secretary told reporters on Wednesday that the schemes already included in the budget had not been touched, but three components of the package that were over and above the budget were found by the Commission to be in violation of the code of conduct. These include Rs 5,000 direct cash support for farmers who cultivate an area less than 12.5 acres; 2 percent reduction in the rate of interest on loans for farmers growing rice and cotton; and relief in prices of agricultural inputs.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) board of directors approved the release of the ninth tranche under the 6.64 billion dollar Extended Fund Facility - an approval considered a mere formality subsequent to the announcement of the success of the mandatory staff review talks with the Pakistani authorities held in Dubai. The board also granted the authorities request for waiver of two of the end June performance criteria namely the ceiling of the budget deficit and government borrowing from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). These two waivers were expected as the authorities not only claimed to have failed to meet the budget deficit by a small margin but presented data which showed that reliance on borrowing from the SBP was markedly reduced during the period under review. The IMF board also agreed to a modification to adjust the end-September 2015 performance criterion on net domestic assets of the SBP target. The seventh IMF staff review noted that "a significant increase in the issuance of T-bills led to a decline in government borrowing from the SBP well below the programme ceiling (by Rs 252 billion)." No doubt the issuance of T-bills and purchase by the commercial banking sector has risen and does raise questions about the feasibility of such heavy borrowing.


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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 $-1.998 bln
Exports $1.835 bln
Imports $3.823 bln
WeeklySeptember 21, 2015
Reserves $18.726 bln