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ImageNo wonder, as soon as the government lent clarity to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) roadmap the country's political leadership lost no time in giving its go-ahead signal, giving a shut-up call to the project's detractors at home and abroad. The government had failed to clinch a political consensus on the raison d'etre of the project even though it has all the elements to become a game changer for the country - and certainly the much-needed morale-booster in these lean days. Barring the ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League (N), nearly all parties had voiced concerns, particularly accusing the government of deviating from what they called the 'original' route of the corridor. The government had been facing a wild allegation that a national plan has been hijacked by the Nawaz Sharif government to turn it into a Punjab-specific plan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was duly anxious to remove this misunderstanding but left to the ministers he had not succeeded. He did so at the last all-party conference where he sought to soothe frayed feelings which of late were quite high on decibels.

ImageIf peace has held in South Asia for nearly two decades, despite some serious provocations, it is essentially because of the 'minimum nuclear deterrence' that Pakistan acquired on May 28, twenty years ago. On that day, Pakistan detonated seven nuclear explosions at Chaghi, Balochistan, which had become inevitable after India conducted a string of explosions earlier that month. On May 28 ever since Pakistan became the seventh member of the elite class of nuclear weapon states, the Pakistani nation therefore proudly celebrates Youm-e-Takbeer. It was India's atomic tests in 1974 which put Pakistan on the path to nuclear-weapon capability and now it was India again that compelled Pakistan to go for these tit-for-tat explosions. Licking wounds suffered at the hands of Chinese in border skirmishes in 1961 and browbeaten by China's atomic tests three years later Indian leadership decided to develop nuclear weapon capability. Indian leadership was now making up its mind to go nuclear; it refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), denied access to its nuclear facilities for international inspections, crystallising an "elite consensus" to carry out atomic explosions, although New Delhi continued to harbour 'ambivalent' feelings about nuclear weapons. During these years Pakistan was, one must say quite credulously, vouchsafing for embracing the NPT and turning the region into a nuclear-weapon-free zone. But the 1974 explosions shook Pakistan out of its sweet dreams, and it was then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who called scientists for a meeting at Multan and decided to acquire a matching capability. Since India had adopted the plutonium route by stealing fissile material from the reactor gifted by Canada, and Pakistan being beneficiary of Canadian assistance and had suffered, vicariously, denial of fuel it was decided that Pakistan would go for the uranium route. Dr Abdul Qadeer was called in to set up a uranium enrichment plant, and the country was on the way to become a nuclear weapon state. But even when it had acquired the desired potential to go nuclear the explosions were never on the cards, until India carried out its explosions in 1998.
Islamabad's attitude that 'big brother knows best' needs to change without any further loss of time. How can one contribute meaningfully if papers for a meeting are circulated among participants 10 minutes prior to its commencement?
As if bad news has become our national lot; it comes in quick succession, quite often generated by situations that otherwise appear to be so much amenable to a peaceful resolutions. The latest in that stream is the murder of two lawyers of Daska at the hands of a local police officer, which soon sparked province-wide anger, and at some places violent protests. What led to this tragic happening, the task is being assigned to a judicial inquiry and a joint investigation team (JIT), announced by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif within hours of the incident. A kind of graphic scene has been portrayed by the Daska-based media as to what triggered the deadly clash. According to it, the refusal by the local Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) to attest a lawyer's nikahnama - saying this was beyond its jurisdiction - was contested by the applicant. The disagreement between the two sides soon turned into a scuffle between the TMA staff and members of the local bar; and police were called in. There was an exchange of hot words between lawyers and police. The brawl led to the murders of two lawyers by a policeman who happened to be the Station House Officer of that area. Accepted, in the plains of Punjab the summer heat raises tempers, but that is generally among the villagers working on farms and not at an important urban centre and among the sections of society that are expected to help strengthen tranquillity and harmony among the general public. Something of that nature happened at Model Town, Lahore last year in which about a dozen of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) supporters were killed in clashes with police. The government lost no time in setting up a joint investigation team, whose verdict has been rejected by the aggrieved party and criticised by the mainstream media. In this particular case, lawyers' community being an aggrieved party it should be invited to join the investigation. And it should not take as long as it did in the case of the Model Town killings.
Many project establishments, privatisation endeavours and promotions of bureaucrats have been reversed/annulled/cancelled by courts simply because the government of the day chose to ignore following the laid down procedures. This has led to shying away of prospective investors because they fear that matters will go to litigation and reversed by the courts. The reported bypassing of the Planning Commission by the Punjab government in implementing key projects has been much in the news after the PML-N formed a government in the centre as well as in the Punjab. The latest example is that of the 169 billion rupee 27-km-long Lahore Orange Line Metro Train, a project signed during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Pakistan, which did not, as per procedural requirement of projects with an estimated cost greater than 300 million rupees, have a feasibility study that included impact and outcomes, performance indicators, deliverables and stakeholder consultations. While funding from multilaterals as well as Western bilaterals require feasibility studies that include these elements the same is not true for China; but significantly it is required for Pakistan as per our own procedures.
That India uses terrorism as weapon of choice to destabilise Pakistan is a fact that has been admitted by no less a person than its defence minister, Manohar Parrikar. And New Delhi is in boil over his confirmation, not because he has exposed true face of Indian secularism; it is fuming as it tends to confirm Pakistan's stance that the latest spike in incidence of terrorism in Karachi is the handiwork of Indian intelligence agency RAW. Pakistan would be perfectly right in taking this statement by the Indian minister to the United Nations and other world forums that what an irony that pot is calling the kettle black. It is not that Parrikar has justified his strategy of "Kante say kanta nikalo" (Remove thorn with thorn) for the first time. Earlier, he had admitted using of terrorists against Kashmiri freedom fighters in Occupied Kashmir. But it seems he has bitten more than cabinet colleagues would like to chew, at least publicly. After RAW chief Ajit Doval tried to play down his statement it is now the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh's turn to water down his colleague's rather bold confession. What rankles with the Modi government is the compelling logic of PM's Advisor Sartaj Aziz's assertion that Parrikar's comments "confirm Islamabad's apprehensions that India is involved in terrorism in Pakistan ... it must be the first time that a minister of an elected government openly advocates use of terrorism in another country on the pretext of preventing terrorism". Indian intelligence agency has been busy all the time in fomenting trouble in Pakistan, particularly in Balochistan, and the issue has been in discussion between the two countries at diplomatic levels. It was taken up even at the highest level when the then prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani took it up with his counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh. But it goes to the credit of Narendra Modi's government that not only is it employing terrorists to achieve its foreign policy objectives, it is also openly admitting the merit of this policy - just like what President Obama does in defence of drones as weapons of choice.
Former Governor of State Bank of Pakistan and present Dean of Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, Dr Ishrat Husain, underscores the need for making the constitutional bodies such as Council of Common Interest (CCI) and National Economic Council (NEC) effective forums for better co-ordination between the federal and provincial governments to draw up budgetary plans and then have a co-ordinated approach towards development and drawing up of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). The centre - the federal government - is unhappy with provinces where PML (N) has been unable to form governments, and would, therefore, like to go back to the old ways, ie the constitutional arrangement prior to the passage of the 18th Amendment and the agreement under the 7th NFC award. The bureaucracy in Islamabad is used to passing orders and having the provinces fall in line. They conveniently forget that Pakistan is a federation and does not have a unitary form of government that Islamabad had become used to. The 1973 constitution created the CCI and NEC because there was a PPP-led government at the centre, in Punjab and Sindh. But a coalition comprising National Awami Party (NAP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) was in power in NWFP (now KPK) and Balochistan. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had his tutelage under the military regime of Ayub Khan and could not practice real federalism. What was conveniently forgotten that All-India Muslim League fought for freedom and agitated for a weak centre and strong provinces while the Congress had the reverse in mind. Unfortunately, both parties had to change their stances once in power.


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Banking Review 2014

Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-1.795 bln
Exports $1.995 bln
Imports $3.790 bln
WeeklyMay 28, 2015
Reserves $17.494 bln