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Even when a verbal warfare between the MQM and PPP in elected houses doesn't seem to be relenting, hopefully Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's direct intervention may defuse the tensions between them; and it may even help restore the status quo ante. In an hour-long meeting with a group of MQM leaders on Wednesday he did concede some space to their point of view and promised help in that; but he also pleaded with them to shun confrontation and go for a dialogue with the PPP, especially when Khursheed Shah has openly apologised for his absolutely wrong interpretation of word 'Mohajir'. According to the PM, their lingering confrontation would only encourage the anti-democratic forces. If required, he expressed willingness to act as a mediator between the two sides. The PPP is already asking for initiation of a dialogue with the MQM in the spirit of let bygones be bygones, an imperative also emphasised by Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq who has asked Pir Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi to ask his younger brother to mediate to end MQM-PPP dispute. Of course, there are some that are of the opinion that the MQM has overreacted to PPP leader's remark, but the reality on the ground in Sindh remains that the MQM feels being short-changed by its erstwhile senior governing partner in a host of administrative matters. Their beef with the PPP-led government is that they have little or no say in the affairs of the province even though the MQM is a coalition partner. During their meeting the prime minister promised them that he would weigh in to ensure timely completion of long-term mega projects such as Karachi circular railway, Lyari Expressway, regular supply of potable water and overhauling of sewerage lines.

Dr Tahirul Qadri flew from Lahore to Dubai Monday night en route to North America, missing out London because Shahbaz Sharif was there, and he didn't want 'another London plan to surface'. Ever since he wrapped up his sit-in staged at D-Chowk in front of the parliament building rumour has it that he has called it a day following an 'attractive' deal with Sharif brothers. So, as he was preparing to leave he was once again asked if there was a deal. 'No, there was no deal,' he insisted, and even wagered Rs 50 million to anybody who presents a copy of the deal document. According to him, he changed his strategy from protests politics to electoral politics to usher in revolution in Pakistan. And then his usual lament; 'these powers could not afford to see upright politicians in power as it was easier for them to manipulate the corrupt, the weak and the inept'. The question whether or not it was the work of same powers the government had insisted were behind the sit-ins, or some others, there is no clarity except for the fact that the security situation in the capital created by the sit-ins had forced the postponement of the much-awaited visit of President Xi Jingping of China. Qadri is required to tell people the names of those who forced him to change tack midstream - for the balance of speculation is still in favour of that he and his sit-in cousin, the PTI, were there on the ground to facilitate the so-called London Plan. But now when someone has moved the court to know how Qadri, who is nominated in a host of criminal cases, could be allowed to leave the country we may come across the existence of a sinister deal anytime soon. Anyhow, the question whether or not there is a deal is no more his worry. Before departing for abroad he assured his workers he would be back in Pakistan by the middle of next month, and fully participate in the local government elections.
A press release issued by the Prime Minister's office revealed that the country's chief executive has directed all ministers to brief the cabinet about the performance of their ministries and departments working under them since June 2013. A performance chart has been prepared and PML-N Chairman, Raja Zafarul Haq and Secretary General Zafar Iqbal Jhagra have been directed to assist in the review by ensuring that the party's manifesto promises are being implemented. There is no doubt that there is a growing concern amongst the treasury benches as well as the party's rank and file that the Sharif administration's performance for the last 16 months has been poor and that there is a need to make amends.
In his 'To be, or not to be' (Hamlet), William Shakespeare said, inter alia, that: 'To sleep: perchance to dream: Ay, there's the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come'. To accept, or not to accept, the resignations of Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) members of the National Assembly: that is the question. The PTI seems to be fully aware of the rub or the central problem or difficulty in a situation. But it still wants its members to resign and expects from the Nawaz Sharif government to accept the resignations obligingly. The theatrics of PTI members resigning en bloc from their seats in the National Assembly and Speaker National Assembly's reluctance to accept them are, therefore, not over by now. The government has found a legitimate refuge in law which is very clear: the intending member is required to inform the Speaker in writing of his intention to resign, who in turn will call him and verify his decision. The moment that is done the person ceases to be a member of the assembly. And who should be better informed of this than the PTI itself whose the then president Makhdoom Javed Hashmi's resignation from his seat in the National Assembly had not taken more than a day. But after almost two months it appeared certain that their resignations would be accepted. By last week whatever hurdles stood in the way had been cleared - the PTI had informed Speaker Ayaz Sadiq of its decision that its members would appear before him one by one and he could verify their resignations on an individual basis. But that was not so: on the 'D-day' the party leadership took a U-turn on its earlier commitment, insisting individual-basis verification was unacceptable and they would appear only if called collectively. The Speaker did not agree, saying he could not circumvent the legal requirement of verification on individual basis.
At the inaugural session of the two-day international investment conference organised by the Board of Investment (BoI), Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated that the present government encourages investment as a tool of economic development as well as long-term friendly co-operation. Foreign direct investment (FDI) is proactively sought by all countries - developing and developed alike - as it not only strengthens foreign exchange reserves but also lubricates the economy through enhancing productivity and employment opportunities. Thus the competition for FDI is intense and this is in marked contrast to portfolio investment, which is of short-term duration and subject to overnight flight not only in response to domestic economic and security considerations but also if better returns are available in another country. In this context, Pakistan's ranking as the 62nd FDI-friendly country must be a source of serious concern to the government, which needs to take appropriate measures to improve this low ranking.
Except for the unwanted distraction - that indeed is a dirty reflection of our national politics - the Kashmiris' 'million march' in London on Sunday was a great success. Thousands of people had turned up to join the march called by former AJK prime minister Barrister Sultan Mehmood to protest against human rights violations by the Indian troops in Held Kashmir. Coincidental with anniversary of the Indian invasion of Kashmir and a timely reminder to the world community of its promise to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir the march had taken place despite New Delhi's stiff opposition. India had it fears: a similar anti-Israel march in London recently had won the state of Palestine the British symbolic parliamentary vote for recognition. To many in Britain and elsewhere in the world the occupation of Jammu & Kashmir by India is no less barbaric than was the Israeli aggression of the Gaza Strip - so graphically captured on a video clip now viral which shows some Kashmiri youth being paraded naked by the Indian troops a la Abu Ghuraib. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had warned Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg that the Kashmiris' march 'does not bode well' for relationship between India and Britain, only to be told that banning the proposed march would be against the principles of free speech. "We have gathered here to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir and to invite the attention of the international community towards the Kashmir issue, and this struggle would continue till independence of Kashmir in accordance with UN resolutions," Sultan Mehmood told the gathering. After Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's call at the UN General Assembly for implementation of the UN resolutions the 'million march' for Kashmir in London is the most significant development - both the moves taken by New Delhi as a spanner in Modi's work of dismantling Kashmir's special status. Narendra Modi is feverishly working on his 44-plus formula, which envisages undercutting Article 371 of the Indian constitution, which grants the held Kashmir a special status through a resolution of the state assembly.
It may have been a deliberate policy of the present government to overlook the economic cost of the recent protest movement mounted by PTI and PAT, and refrain from taking appropriate action to outsmart these two parties. However, some of the stakeholders have termed the government's seemingly ignominious inaction as "public appeasing" which has badly hurt the country's economy. Representatives of trade and industry, in particular, have come down hard on the strategy of inaction and criticised the government for being weak in setting priorities. Dharnas and public meetings have shifted government's focus from the economy to public appeasement, they argue. According to a former president of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mian Muzaffar, and several other industrialists, traders are having a hard time and they are not prepared to listen to reason. In the past four months, they have exhausted all their resources to keep the industries afloat in the hope that the government would address their grievances but now they are mulling shutting down their units to nudge the government into action. In the present political melee, textile industry has taken the worst hit and lost its competitive edge while going for alternate energy solutions. Despite GSP plus status, textile exports have declined in September, 2014 which should be "an eye opener for the planners", while it has become almost a lost cause for the steel mills because they have been forced to shut down due to non-availability of energy. Similar were the conditions in most of the other industries. Pakistani products are not only losing share in their export markets but are also being challenged in the domestic market by cheap imports. Industries that cater to domestic market also cannot afford to remain afloat for a longer time. Although the remarks of the representatives of trade and industry would appear to be a kind of "run-of-the-mill" observations, these are very meaningful and carry a lot of weight for assessing the quality of public administration. The consequences of inaction, of course, have become doubly hazardous if seen against the present economic environment prevailing in the country. Acute energy shortages, for instance, over the last few years have depressed the growth rate of the country by few percentage points while direct and indirect costs to Pakistan due to incidents of terrorism have been estimated at dollar 102.51 billion or Rs 8,264.4 billion during the last 13 years. Losses only due to terrorist attacks were nearly dollar 30 billion during the previous three years. Such a situation underscores the need for a perfect harmony between various political forces to uplift the economy of the country, which is in dire straits but we have not been that lucky. Instead, the efforts by certain political parties to dislodge the present government have reached a pitch that the business community has been forced to make its concerns more public and biting. It increasingly appears that the business community chose not to protest in the first few weeks of the Islamabad stand-off because it understood the delicate position of the government but as the tensions are still rising and there is no chance of reconciliation as yet, business leaders are becoming edgy and showing their resentment which is understandable. They are right in blaming the government for appeasement and not fulfilling its responsibility to normalise the situation. It is true that various political parties have the right to protest but such a protest should remain within the limits of the law and protesters should not be allowed to interfere directly or indirectly in the day-to-day life of other people. In keeping with this principle, the government, even under pressure, should not have allowed the PTI and PAT to block the major roads of Islamabad and disturb the business activity all over the country. An argument could be clearly made that the government should not have adopted an appeasing policy. The proponents of this argument advocate the use of force to crush the demon


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Foreign Debt $61.805bn
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WeeklyOctober 27, 2014
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