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Showing posts from January, 2014

Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif Visit to Baluchistan (30 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.

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…

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.

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.

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’.

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.

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 pr…