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Public Accounts Committee needs to examine the present system of approval of governmental projects instead of just going into history of projects on the basis of Auditor General of Pakistan's audit objections because the present system is not working and AGPR is merely looking at expenses already incurred as per existing rules and regulations.

That Islamabad has been built strictly in accordance with its master plan - designed by a reputed firm of Greek architects - will be nothing but a misleading statement. Different sectors or neighbourhoods on the capital's peripheries such as Golra and Bara Kahu and a large number of slums certainly do not fit into the original plan that was aimed at building one of the world's picturesque capitals; these are strongly characterised by utter poor planning. Rapid urbanisation of Islamabad, which attracted a large number of people from across the country and beyond over a period of time, turning it into a cosmopolitan town, has deprived it of considerable flora and fauna that was otherwise the hallmark of every street and artery of the capital. Nor has the humungous Metro Bus concrete infrastructure in the middle of the capital added to its natural beauty and nor will the abandoned tunnel plan through the Margalla hills that aptly reflected the prime minister's tunnel vision. That Lahore and many towns alongside the GT Road, for example, showcase more green foliage or vegetation at this point in time than Islamabad is a statement that cannot be termed outlandish.
Three major developments with regard to regional and domestic peace have taken place in one single day: (a) in a jungle of southern Punjab's Muzaffargarh district, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) chief Malik Ishaq, his two sons and 11 fellow militants are killed in what the Punjab government claims a `shootout with police'. Under his leadership, LeJ claimed some of the bloodiest attacks on Shias in country's recent history and the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore; (b) spelling out the successes of the Zarb-e-Azb operation, the army chief, General Raheel Sharif, has told the world community that not only will the operation help establish sustained peace in Pakistan, it will also contribute towards global efforts aimed at obtaining peace in the entire region; and (c) the Afghan government has made a startling claim, which was later confirmed by Taliban themselves although they had initially maintained a studies silence. According to it, Taliban supremo died two years ago due to an illness. Looking deeper into these developments, one comes across a bigger picture that has emerged following these developments: peace in Pakistan and Afghanistan is a sine qua non or something that is absolutely needed.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has shown political maturity to advise his party stalwarts to work for strengthening the democratic system and shun from petty squabbling with the opposition. He has urged Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) to withdraw their motions that the two parties have moved in the National Assembly to seek de-seating of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MNAs. It increasingly appears that political leadership may have learnt lessons from the past. They may want to put behind the era of dependency on the establishment for winning elections. Holding of transparent elections to ascertain the will of the people and not toeing the line of the establishment is an important element in a democracy. But elections are only the first step. The real test of the political party, in power, is its performance. Winning or losing the next election depends on this. And, the judicial commission's report would be a forgotten event by 2018. The electorate will judge PML (N) in its ability to reduce or eliminate altogether loadshedding of electricity. Thus, the real test would be turning blackouts into brownouts, thus ending the curse of power outages as promised frequently by PML (N) leadership. Taking the civilian opposition along and into confidence is an important tool to ensure continuity of democracy in the country.
It is for the first time that any senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader has unveiled the real objective behind the party's protracted protest that eventually led to the setting up of a Supreme Court judges-led commission to inquire into the vote rigging allegations with regard to the 2013 general elections. The statement is a sardonic comment on the propriety of practitioners of politics in Pakistan. Responding to the scathing criticism in the National Assembly by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who had accused PTI chief Imran Khan of reneging on an agreement that the government and PTI inked on the setting up of the Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk-led inquiry commission, PTI's deputy parliamentary leader in National Assembly, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, made a startling disclosure: "Let me say on oath that PTI's only objective behind the setting up of the judicial commission was to highlight chronic operational flaws of the Election Commission of Pakistan, and not to derail democracy". According to him, his party never expected that the government would be wrapped up as a result of the report of inquiry commission. Earlier, opening the debate, Leader of the Opposition Syed Khurshid Shah had welcomed the fact that both PTI and PML-N had accepted the commission's findings. "It is heartening to note that both sides have accepted the commission's report, but as leader of the opposition I suggest the report must be laid before the house for a detailed discussion and its maximum utilisation for future elections", he was quoted as saying in National Assembly.
Almost the entire country is in the grip of intermittent spells of rains. Chitral was the first target of unprecedented rains and flash floods that were mainly caused by a dangerous climate or environmental change. The damage in mountainous terrains and valleys of northern areas was massive: a very large number of bridges and roads connecting various valleys were swept away. The damage inflicted on the houses of residents was also colossal in addition to loss of precious human lives. The monsoon phenomenon is playing out on the plains of southern Punjab and Sindh in full fury where standing crops spreading over thousands of acres of land are under deep water. Economic estimates in terms of agriculture output and the livestock numbers, the mainstay of the country's economy, will be surely subject to a downward revision once the floods are over. Trains are running behind schedules while the inter-provincial and inter-city communication through various modes of transportation is also under tremendous strain.
Giving fiscal incentives to develop a certain geographical under-developed area or attract investment in a desired sector have been a time-honoured tool. A five-year holiday or exemption from income tax as well as customs duty on imported machinery have been the means to achieve the desired objective. It does lead to the heart- burning of companies located in non-tax exempt areas or a sector having already established units. In order to create an even playing field the government of the day has had to play the role of a neutral umpire when competing interests agitate for and against it. There is no simple solution. However, clarity of purpose should be the motivating force for the decision rather than the clout of the investor which usually has been the norm so far.

 



 
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Banking Review 2014


Annual2013/14
Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
MonthlyJune
Trade Balance $-2.378 bln
Exports $2.016 bln
Imports $4.394 bln
WeeklyJuly 23, 2015
Reserves $18.677 bln