Friday, 31 January 2014

Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif Visit to Baluchistan (30 January 2014)

The Prime minster visited Quetta on 30 January to assess the situation and confer with provincial leadership on ways and means for bringing about necessary improvements in this respect. The present government right from its inception is taking special interest in the development of Baluchistan Province. As such, the socio-politico-economic situation in the province has been given top priority in the developmental plans. Particularly, the law and order situation is the foremost concern of the government. It was in the larger interest of the province that the PML (N) despite numerical majority in the province facilitated the nationalist parties to from government in the province. This clearly shows the sincerity on the part of the party leadership in addressing the issue of Baluchistan. Baluchistan has been unjustly neglected in the past and therefore it is necessary that the people of the province are given their due rights to decide on their fate. Federal Government would however remain totally indifferent as far as the provincial politics is concerned, because it believes in the rule of democracy.
The province of Baluchistan has been suffering from severe law and order situation for the last more than two decades and the situation is worsening day by day. This has not only disturbed the peace and tranquillity of the Province but also raised serious alarms in the rest of the country. The federal government has therefore paid urgent attention to address this problem on urgent basis. The chaotic situation in the province is result of the injudicious and indifferent policies of the previous governments, particularly those implemented by the dictatorial regimes which denied the people their legitimate rights. As such, the disaffection on the part of the people is a natural outcome. The present government is however fully committed to do away with all the injustices done to the people of the province in the past.
It is unfortunate that the disturbed law and order situation in the province is being exploited by unscrupulous elements at the behest of the enemies of Pakistan. This situation is no more tolerable and government is determined to take all necessary measures to restore peace in the province so that the people may perform their daily chores with complete peace of mind.
Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif during his to Quetta pledged that the federal government would provide maximum resources for resolving all the long standing problems of Baluchistan. He said that the government is cognizant of the Baluchistan’s problems including shortage of electricity & gas, unemployment, etc and assured provincial assembly members that maximum resources would be provided for their earlier resolution. The federal government has already allocated funds amounting to Rs 8 billion for completion of Gwadar-Rato Dero and Khuzdar-Naag Highways. Construction work on these projects would soon be launched and completed within a year.
    The present government is making all out efforts to bring the disgruntled Baloch youth to mainstream by fulfilling their demands of employment opportunities and launching of development projects in their areas. For this purpose we have decided on constituting a committee, in consultation with local political leadership, for reconciliation with the disgruntled Baloch quarters. The government is highly perturbed on the ethnic and sectarian clashes in the province which has taken precious lives of hundreds of innocent citizens, particularly those visiting holy places and shrines. For this purpose the government has decided to provide alternate travel facilities like air and ferry service which is relatively safer. In order to improve the infrastructure of the province the government is taking all possible steps to bring the desired improvements in the Province. In this respect the Prime Minister has initiated a number of mega projects for construction of highways and road networks. During his visit to the Province the Prime Minster performed the ground breaking ceremonies of some mega projects like Kalat-Quetta-Chaman N-25, Surab-Khushab N-35 Highway and Gwadar-Turbat-Khushab N-8 Highway, besides inaugurating the Qila Saifullah-Zhob  N-50 Highway. It is obvious that these highways will improve the transportation facilities in the province and give necessary boost to its industrial and agricultural development in addition to providing easy, safe and faster means of travel facilities to the people.
Prime Minister said that the whole nation is appreciative of the invaluable sacrifices of our law enforcing agencies, particularly those soldiers who laid their lives for the protection of the life and property of innocent citizens and those killed in the terrorist and sectarian violence in the province of Baluchistan. The Prime Minister laid wreath of flower at the at Yadqar e Shuhada (Martyrs memorial) in Quetta to pay tribute to these brave solders.Prime Minister urged the civil and military leadership to devise joint strategy for ensuring durable peace in Baluchistan and to address the law and order situation in an effective manner.  He emphasized that a collective approach was needed to resolve the issue of Baluchistan and put it on the track to prosperity. He stated that the government is not only interested in the timely solution of the Baluchistan issue but wants to solve this on permanent basis. For this purpose, it has undertaken long terms plans that will bear fruit in due course of time. Government wants to give all possible autonomy to the province in the administrative, political and economic spheres of life in accordance with constitution of Pakistan.
   PM Stated that it is a matter of satisfaction that presently there is a representative government in the Province which is rendering valuable services to its people. He assured the provincial government fullest cooperation and hoped that the provincial government will extend maximum support to the federal government to promote the common welfare of the people of Pakistan. PM added that he is confident that with collective wisdom and mutual cooperation it would be possible to put Pakistan on the trajectory of development and prosperity.

Monday, 27 January 2014

The IMF conundrum

Courtesy:-  Malik Muhammad Ashraf

Beginning from 1958 till today almost all the governments in Pakistan have sought IMF loans under various arrangements to bolster balance of payment position and to meet other financial needs. The irony about these loans has been that the oppositions of the sitting governments have invariably used them as a whipping horse to castigate them for their wrong policies that necessitated approaches to IMF but when they had the opportunity to rule they also followed the suit. Some economists have also been critical of the conditions attached to IMF loans and term them as self-serving for the institution rather than accruing the desired benefits to the recipient country.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Frugality at the expense of national image

Courtesy:-  Malik Muhammad Ashraf

Traditional diplomacy has its own advantages and efficacy but it cannot match the power of public diplomacy, conducted through the media, in changing the perceptions and attitudes of the people and influencing their judgments

We often hear our leaders hankering after projecting a soft image of Pakistan internationally and calling for a paradigm shift in the conduct of our foreign policy, with greater emphasis on public diplomacy as an effective and indispensable ingredient of the strategy to achieve the desired objectives. However, an incisive look is needed at what has been happening over the years in regards to realigning our foreign policy objectives with the new emerging global realities and the new mechanisms evolved as a consequence of the ability of the emerging technologies to expand the horizons and options available to conduct public diplomacy. Our record shows a rather regressive approach steeped in a visceral aversion to well thought out and well researched decision making processes.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Rolling the ball in the right direction

Courtesy:-  Malik Muhammad Ashraf

According to press reports, a former Ins­p­ector General Police of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa Malik Naveed who is under custody of NAB and being investigated for filching Rs.1.8 billion in the purchase of weapons for the provincial police, has offered to return Rs.80 million as a plea bargain to secure his release.
According to NAB sources the agency has recovered Rs253.712 billion in cases related to Bank default, rescheduling and restructuring of banks, court fines and amounts voluntarily surrendered by the accused, including US$1.5 billion from the corrupt bureaucrats and politicians under the plea bargain, since its inception. On the face of it the NAB seems to have done a wonderful job in retrieving the national wealth purloined by the unscrupulous bureaucrats and politicians.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Six months of PML-N government

Courtesy:- Malik Muhammad Ashraf

In view of the formidable, intractable, convoluted and debilitating challenges inherited by the PML (N) government, six months are perhaps too short a span of time to judge its achievements in concrete terms. Nevertheless, it is an undeniable fact that this government has shown greater determination and commitment in dealing with those issues as compared to the previous regimes. To begin with, it made a conscious decision to persist with the policy of reconciliation and accommodation designed to choreograph a new political culture attuned to the real democratic values. Unlike the crass politics of nineties it demonstrated large heartedness by honouring the mandate of other parties in Sind, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and installing a Baloch nationalist as Chief Minister in Balochistan in spite of the fact that it was in a position to form the government there.

Monday, 6 January 2014

The briefing

Capital suggestion

On January 1, the minister for finance, revenue, economic affairs, statistics and privatisation gave a two-hour presentation to the PM, cabinet members and the media. The good news is that the minister appeared quite on top of things financial. The other good news is that transparency now seems a high priority at the ministry. Yes, the minister must be working overtime. Yes, he may actually be overburdened.

The other good news is that the minister rightly pointed out the budgetary deficit as the ‘root of all financial ills’. The bad news is that the ‘root of all financial ills’ was only mentioned once in two hours. The good news is that the minister seems determined to bring down the budgetary deficit from 8.8 percent of GDP to 6.3 percent of GDP. The bad news is that the minister did not say much about how he plans to liquidate the ‘root of all financial ills’.

Friday, 3 January 2014

PM firm about terror-free Pakistan

Courtesy:- S Rahman

Pakistan of today is an exception to the rule in the area of inter-institution understanding as all the pivotal pillars of the state stand in complete harmony with one another, at present, courtesy the wise and dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif.

By all international standards, it is an exception since such a harmony is a rarity even in the most advanced democracies of the world including India and the United States. Contrary to the common perception, even these two democratically advanced countries have, at times, faced friction — if not confrontation or extreme conflict — among their national institutions. Many instances with this particular reference can be quoted but that is not the main theme of this write-up.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Economic outlook

Courtesy:-  Malik Muhammad Ashraf 

The government is on track with regards to the energy situation and hopefully the country will wade through the energy shortages within the next five years.

Managing an economy is the most convoluted and arduous undertaking, more so in countries like Pakistan, confronted with acute resource constraints, astronomical national debt, a snowballing energy crisis, dwindling foreign exchange reserves, declining foreign investment, low rate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and a volatile law and order situation. During 2008-2013, the GDP growth rate remained less that three percent and the national debt increased from Rs 6,700 billion to Rs14,800 billion, with the result that a big chunk of the national income had to be diverted to debt servicing to avoid default on the international loans, putting further strains on the availability of resources for development and welfare purposes. The government had perforce to resort to borrowing and printing of notes to meet the expenses. It could not take plausible and effective measures to break this vicious circle, which was made more difficult by the ever deteriorating law and order situation in the country. This kept foreign investors away and also forced some Pakistani investors to shift their businesses to some other countries.