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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) disbursed around 506.4 million dollars. The Fund is satisfied with the progress made in terms of macro-economic stabilisation despite several "legal, political and security challenges"; it also derives satisfaction from the fact that macroeconomic imbalances facing Pakistan are being gradually addressed. And, the Fund would like Pakistan to build on these gains and make economic reforms sustainable. All the pre-disbursement steps that needed a prior action have been taken in the Budget FY16 passed by the National Assembly. While the monetary policy has remained appropriate, it is waiting for the amendments in the State Bank Act which provides the central bank more autonomy, according to the Fund. Further, structural reforms especially in the power sector to deal with arrears (receivables) need to continue as well as the efforts towards privatisation of PSEs which need to expedite while steps to improve trade and business climate are undertaken.

Balochistan took the much-needed step towards peace and reconciliation last week when the Balochistan Apex Committee formally announced general amnesty for militants fighting the State since the 2006 assassination of Nawab Akbar Bugti. Both the federal and provincial governments are to work together for the rehabilitation of those who lay down their arms. The decision was announced at a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch and attended, among others, by Commander of Southern Command, Lieutenant General Nasser Khan Janjua. This is a significant development regarding the long drawn-out stand-off between the insurgents and the security forces. In fact, going by some recent media reports about militants laying down their arms before government leaders, the process has already begun.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears to be dissatisfied with the performance of his Cabinet colleagues and has therefore asked the Planning Ministry to come up with a plan which details performance criteria and targets - against which their performance can be evaluated. PM's action is a manifestation of result of growing realisation among the electorate that the federal and provincial governments are increasingly becoming dysfunctional and cannot timely react to issues that are erupting with alarming frequency. The only saving grace, perhaps, appears to be the Armed Forces which is apparent from the increasing reliance of the civil side on them. However, one needs to realise that even the khakis do not have solutions to all our problems. And they too, are greatly dependent on bureaucracy. Unfortunately, however, it is the woeful deterioration in the quality of civil servants we have - for a host of reasons - which lies at the root of poor governance.
Ritualistic as it is, the Pakistan government observed this past Friday yet another International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as top officials and concerned authorities made commitments to persevere in the fight against the lingering malaise of drug addiction in the country. If anything in this fight between any two anniversaries happens we know nothing except for some reports of seizers - and, occasionally, beheading of Pakistanis drug-mules in Saudi Arabia. It is not for use to hold any official or department responsible for this massive failure. But we cannot help taking note of the fact that the monster of drug abuse and illicit trafficking remains not only alive, but kicking. Oft-repeated determinations and various plans to reduce drug supply, control demand and co-operative steps with others seem to be making no real headway. And this is aptly reflected in the comparative figures and some new surveys. The first heroin manufacturer arrived in Peshawar in 1980 as he had fled the Islamic Revolution in Iran and by the end of the year some 30 heroin addicts had reported at Peshawar Lady Reading Hospital. Today, there are no less than 860,000 chronic heroin users. And, among the newcomers not the rejected refuse of society, but students of posh academic institutions. "A survey of 10 colleges and two universities in Lahore, conducted recently, highlights some terrible facts related to drug abuse among students. The majority of students surveyed (57 percent) reported using one or more drugs," says a specialist in the field of narco-terrorism and global heroin economy. One would have no beef with President Mamnoon Hussain's pride that Pakistan is among top three countries in the world in global narcotic seizures and is among the leading countries who effectively interdict through stepped up border surveillance. But, isn't because of the fact that Pakistan is a principal transit route for the Afghan produce and a huge consumption market itself. Even when the Pak-Afghan border is now under stiffer surveillance the problem remains that during the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan the opium production returned to its normal of 45,000 plus tons, which was earlier brought down to almost zero during the Taliban rule.
People love their land but they love their lives more. They flee war, famine and persecution, taking risks sometimes deadlier than the ones they flee - a bitter reality now on display in a shaper relief than ever before. In 2014, there were 51.2 million refugees as compared to 37.5 million a decade ago, says the UNHCR's annual Global Trend Report released last week. On average, 42,500 people became refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced every day during the past year, the report said. Of these hapless people Turkey hosts the largest number, nearly 2 million, of whom Syrians are the biggest in number. Pakistan, the second in that order, is still having nearly a million and a half of Afghan refugees on its soil, as the lingering instability in their homeland tends to impede their speedy return. The number of fleeing refugees who perish before making to their dreamlands is several thousands. There is no dearth of reports on ships carrying illegal migrants from Libya being sunk in the Mediterranean and Rohingyas fleeing persecution in Myanmar being starved to death at sea. Barring a few exceptions they are never welcomed in their dreamlands, a reality that moved Pope Francis to tears. He slammed hostility towards migrants, as he said "It brings tears to one's eyes to see spectacle of these days, in which human beings have been treated like merchandise". But that would hardly impress Nobel laureate Aung Sun Sui Kyi - she won't risk her political future in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar by disapproving persecution of Rohingya Muslims. Of the present refugee population nearly two-thirds are the internally displaced by conflict or forced out of their homes and hearths by natural disasters like earthquake, flood and drought. The rest have fled their countries fearing for the lives or as economic migrants to escape deprivation generated by warlike conditions.
In a press statement issued on Thursday Federal Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan dealt with the issue of extreme weather conditions, like the heatwave wreaking havoc in Karachi and some other parts of Sindh. Pointing out that climate science has already established that because of global warming such events would be more frequent and intense, he said he has decided to "set up an experts study and investigative groups of scientists and planners, including officials of national and provincial disaster management authorities, who will examine the situation from all angles and propose strategy for tackling similar situations in the future." Seeking expert advice to address environmental issues is a laudable step, indeed. Recommendations of the experts and the proposed action by the ministry need to be made public so progress can be monitored to ensure better results.
Democracy is good for Pakistan provided it delivers on the mission assigned to it by demo. If two years on the present National Assembly of Pakistan has delivered even half of what ideally it should have, from the citizens perspective the answer is a big 'no'. Thanks to the close monitoring of its performance by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) during its second year performance of the National Assembly is declined, albeit 'marginally', over the previous. During this year it received an overall score of 48 percent in an evaluation of its performance based on a framework developed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), says the PILDAT report, adding that except for the prime minister's comparatively more visits it 'declined on all indicators'. On average, it met only for three hours when it did meet, and there too it met only for 108 sittings against 130 required by its Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business. It passed only 8 bills - surrendering space to the Presidential Ordinances - as against 11 in the previous year, which is a 75 percent decline compared to the last National Assembly's performance. Given that it did not pass any Private Member Bill, as per last year, fewer such bills were introduced, snuffing out spirit to introduce new thinking and innovative ideas for legislation. The PILDAT report is particularly disturbed over the National Assembly's reluctance to be accountable to the people who elected them to sit in deep revolving chairs under the twinkling dome and make laws for their welfare and betterment. "Under this aspect, the National Assembly has received a low score of 38 percent, and has dropped by 3 percentage points from the 5-year average" of the last National Assembly. On average even its best attended sessions were never above 43 percent of the total attendance. Then there is also erosion of parliamentary oversight over the Executive and its reduced focus on budget.


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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 $-1.894 bln
Exports $1.953 bln
Imports $3.847 bln
WeeklyJune 25, 2015
Reserves $17.457 bln