MAP: AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN

Written by admin on Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

we are out of office during the weekend

On our return on Monday we will publish our selection of articles.

Afghanistan and Pakistan

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IN THE NEWS: UNDER THREAT, KABUL’S HAZARA MAKE CALL TO ARMS (SEPTEMBER 21, 2018)

Written by admin on Friday, September 21st, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Under Threat, Kabul’s Hazara Make Call To Arms
SOURCE: Gandhara
Friday, September 21, 2018 (Posted)
By RAZA KHAN

As Kabulis commemorated Ashura, the holiest celebration on the Shi’ite religious calendar, scores of black-clad civilian recruits strapped with ammunition and brandishing rifles lined the streets of the Afghan capital.

Trained and armed by the Afghan government, they were been paid to protect their own — members of the Shi’ite Hazara minority — for the September 20 religious holiday that has been marred by devastating militant attacks in the past.

But in the run-up to the event, some Hazara questioned whether the government’s deployment of Hazara men — and even plainclothes women — would be enough to ensure their safety. As a spate of attacks targeting Shi’a in Kabul took place the capital, suggestions were made that it was time for the community to take its security into its own hands.

There is no evidence yet that Hazara in Kabul have carried through with the idea, but calls have grown louder.

‘We Should Protect Ourselves’

Analysts balk at the idea of communities arming themselves, saying it would be dangerous and noting that ethnic militias fought over control of the city during the country’s devastating civil war in 1992-96 that killed some 100,000 people and left most of Kabul in ruins.

But leaving their safety up to the authorities does not sit well with residents of Dasht-e Barchi, a predominately Hazara neighbourhood in west Kabul where suspicion of the government is rife and anger is widespread. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: IMRAN KHAN CAN BE FACE FOR PEACE OR VOICE FOR HOSTILITY DEPENDING ON PAKISTANI ARMY: SHASHI THAROOR (SEPTEMBER 21, 2018)

Written by admin on Friday, September 21st, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Imran Khan can be face for peace or voice for hostility depending on Pakistan Army: Shashi Tharoor
SOURCE: The Indian Express
Friday, September 21, 2018
By RAZA KHAN

*Tharoor said the Army in Pakistan has ruled directly for 32 years and indirectly for the other 38 years

Minister Imran Khan has a “fairly clear level” of military backing and could be a “wonderful face” for peace or an “effective voice for hostility” depending on what the Army wants.

Tharoor described Khan as a “fine human being” and a “good guy” whom he has known for a long time. Tharoor said one has to understand however that he is now Pakistan’s Prime Minister with a “fairly clear level of military backing”.

Khan is a “good guy and if the military decide they want peace, he will be a wonderful face for that peace but if the military decide they want hostility, I’m sure he is equally capable of being an effective voice for hostility,” Tharoor said Thursday during a conversation titled ‘India Sutra’ held at the Jaipur Literature Festival, organised as part of Season of India at Asia Society.

Tharoor was responding to a question on whether the election of Khan, a popular cricketer, as Pakistan’s Prime Minister would see a “sporting spirit” coming into play between the two countries. He added that he would love to see more cricket being played between India and Pakistan.

He, however, emphasised that the experience that India has had with Pakistan for the last 70 years “shows us that it is what the Pakistani military decides that will determine the prospects for any genuine or lasting peace between our countries.”

He said he has often remarked that in India the State has an army and in Pakistan, the army has a State. He said the Army in Pakistan has ruled directly for 32 years and indirectly for the other 38 years by “essentially controlling how much the government could do or not do. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: PAKISTAN TO STAND WITH SAUDI ARABIA IN DIFFICULT TIMES: PM (SEPTEMBER 20, 2018)

Written by admin on Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Pakistan to stand with Saudi Arabia in difficult times: PM
SOURCE: The Nation
Thursday, September 20, 2018
By RAZA KHAN

*Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Pakistan will always stand with Saudi Arabia in difficult times and would not let any other country attack it

“This is a stated position of all our governments that we will not allow anyone to attack Saudi Arabia . We will stand by Saudi Arabia ,” Imran Khan said in an interview with Saudi Gazette on Wednesday when sought his response on the attacks by Houthi militias that regularly fired missiles toward Saudi Arabia and even tried to attack the Harram.

On the Middle East conflict, Imran Khan said it was distressing to see conflict among Muslim nations and added that Pakistan would like to play a reconciliatory role in bringing the Muslim world closer.

However, Imran stressed that he was not a believer of military solution and felt that every conflict had a political solution. He said Pakistan could play a positive role in Yemen conflict.

About relations with Saudi Arabia , he said the government of Saudi Arabia had always been very generous to Pakistan in times of need.

“Saudi Arabia always has been of great help for us. There is a special bond with Saudi Arabia . All Pakistanis want Saudi Arabia to be secure and prosperous,” he said. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: NAWAZ’S ‘COMEBACK’? (SEPTEMBER 20, 2018)

Written by admin on Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Nawaz’s ‘comeback’?
SOURCE: Daily Times
Thursday, September 20, 2018
By RAZA KHAN

In a dramatic turn of events yesterday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended the sentences against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and presumed party heir Maryam, as well as son-in-law, Capt (rtd) Safdar. Their appeals are still pending but the trio has been released from prison.

Justice Athar Minallah ruled that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) failed to establish a financial link between the former PM and the London-based Avenfield properties. The anti-corruption watchdog, for its part, relied heavily on its own rules; under which defendants are assumed guilty until proven innocent. All of which prompted Justice Minallah to note that the prosecution appeared to be banking on the courts keeping Nawaz behind bars on “mere presumption”. NAB will likely proceed to the Supreme Court (SC) to appeal the IHC order.

And in the meanwhile, the people of Pakistan are trying to make sense of this development. Especially considering that the popular view – held by both supporters and detractors alike — is that the elder Sharif was the target of a politically motivated witch-hunt. For, among other misdemeanours, reneging on the Musharraf-safe-exit deal by putting the former military strongman on trial for treason. Thus Imran Khan has been viewed across the great political divide as the security establishment’s man for the top job. Indeed, recent PPP moves in which the latter did not oppose his nomination for the presidency suggest to some that the party is keen to keep on the right side of the new premier given its own troubles with NAB. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: PURPOSEFUL PAK-AFGHAN POLICIES FOR EACH OTHER (SEPTEMBER 19, 2018)

Written by admin on Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Purposeful Pak-Afghan policies for each other
SOURCE: The Express Tribune
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
By RAZA KHAN

The September 15th visit of Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi to Afghanistan may cut some ice in frosty relations between the two important South Asian neighbours. However, in order to have lasting cordial ties, both Kabul and Islamabad need to make conscious, purposeful reassessment of their policies towards each other. The visit of FM Qureshi to Afghanistan was indeed important and has come at a time when due to officially created security problems, Pakistan has to shut down its consulate in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, and huge terrorist attacks, owned by Islamic State, continue to rock Afghanistan.

Pakistan shares a 2,640km-long largely unmanned border with Afghanistan — a landlocked country, which has greatly been dependent on Pakistan for trade with the outside world. In the last few years this dependence of Afghanistan reduced due to the linking of Afghanistan with the world through its other southern neighbour, Iran. However, with the unilateral withdrawal of the US from the Iranian nuclear deal and fear of re-imposition of trade sanctions by Washington on Tehran, Afghanistan has yet again started depending upon Pakistan for trade with the world. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: GOVERNMENT CUTS DEVELOPMENT SPENDING, INCREASES TAXES ON COUNTRY’S ELITE (SEPTEMBER 19, 2018)

Written by admin on Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Government cuts development spending, increases taxes on country’s elite
SOURCE: Dawn
Wednesday, September 19, 2018 (Posted)
By SANAULLAH KHAN

*Finance Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday presented the incumbent government’s amendments to the budget for fiscal 2018-2019, stressing that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf led government had only two priorities as it grapples with “difficult times”: protect the poor and support exporters

Highlights

* Federal development programme cut by almost Rs250 billion to Rs725 billion, with federal PSDP being target of most of the cuts
* Budget deficit to be brought down to 5.1 per cent
* Tax relief granted by PML-N revoked from salaried persons earning more than Rs200,000 per month; tax rates still lower than last year
* Tax rate in highest income tax slab raised from 15pc to 30pc
* Increased federal excise duty on imports of luxury vehicles and duties on ‘expensive’ cell phones
* Customs duty increased on more than 5,000 ‘luxury’ items. Regulatory duty increased on import of more than 900 items
* Rate of withholding tax on banking transactions for non-tax filers increased to 0.6pc
* Expansion of Insaf Sehat Card facility to Fata and Islamabad Capital Territory

Dire straits

Starting his speech with an invitation to opposition lawmakers, the finance minister acknowledged their past experience and said he was open to suggestions for amendments to the proposals he was about to present.
“Whatever suggestions you give, we will listen and accommodate if possible. We want to take parliament with us. We do not possess divine wisdom and do not believe only we can be right. Suggestions are welcome,” he said.

Moving on to an assessment of the country’s economic situation, Umar noted that the budget deficit had expanded to 6.6 per cent at the end of the last fiscal year from the 4.1pc that had been budgeted by the government for FY2017-18. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: P.M. KHAN TO VISIT RIYADH ON FIRST FOREIGN TRIP (SEPTEMBER 18, 2018)

Written by admin on Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

P.M. KHAN TO VISIT RIYADH ON FIRST FOREIGN TRIP
SOURCE: Newsweek Pakistan
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

*OFFICIALS SAY TWO-DAY TRIP WAS ARRANGED ON INVITATION OF KING SALMAN BIN ABDULAZIZ AND CROWN PRINCE MOHAMMAD BIN SALMAN

Prime Minister Imran Khan will head to Riyadh on Tuesday for his first foreign visit since coming to power, officials said.

The two-day trip to Saudi Arabia will begin exactly one month after Khan assumed office, with Pakistan facing a balance-of-payments crisis and speculation that the new premier could seek loans worth billions of dollars from allies.

The state visit was arranged on the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “The Prime Minister will call on His Majesty King Salman and hold a bilateral meeting with the Crown Prince,” it said, adding that the king will also host a state banquet for the prime minister at the royal court. “The Prime Minister will meet Saudi leadership and will discuss regional and international issues,” another senior government official told AFP.

Khan and his cabinet face challenges including a faltering economy, militant extremism, water shortages and a rapidly growing population.

The most pressing is a looming balance-of-payments crisis, with analysts predicting Pakistan will have to go to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout. There has been recent speculation in local media that Pakistan is eyeing Saudi Arabia and China to provide loans worth billion of dollars in order to rescue Islamabad from the economic crisis and from going back to the IMF.

Pakistani media accounts of a reported $2 billion loan from China and another $4.5 billion from Saudi Arabia have not been confirmed. Any Saudi funds would only be used to buy oil.

Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has already arrived in Beijing on a three-day official visit, the military said on Sunday.

“During the visit COAS [Bajwa] will interact with various Chinese leaders including his counterpart,” it said.

IN THE NEWS: PAKISTAN EYES $8B INVESTMENT FROM CHINA, SAUDI ARABIA (SEPTEMBER 18, 2018)

Written by admin on Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Pakistan eyes $8b investment from China, Saudi Arabia
SOURCE: The Express Tribune
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
By SHAHBAZ RANA

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan eyes nearly $8 billion investment from China and Saudi Arabia, under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), in road, energy and oil sectors, after the new government decided to pick schemes on their ‘merits’.

Decisions are being taken after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government completed its internal review of the multibillion dollar strategic initiative and came to a decision to open the corridor for investment by other countries that are either members of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or on friendly terms with China and Pakistan.

Priorities set for CPEC were not right in the past and some of the transport and road infrastructure projects were selected for phase-I of CPEC due to political reasons, said Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar on Monday. He was speaking at a meeting of the Senate’s Special Committee on CPEC, chaired by Senator Sherry Rehman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Officials of the planning ministry also confessed that the western route of CPEC was not funded by China – a stance that is contrary to earlier public statements and against the resolution passed by All Parties Conference.

While responding to questions raised by committee members, the minister said that the government has decided to reprioritise CPEC. He said that the imported coal-fired CPEC projects, mainly 1,320 megawatts (MW) Rahim Yar Khan, have been put on the backburner.

Instead, two new hydropower projects would be proposed to the Chinese authorities in the next meeting of the Joint Working Group on Energy for their inclusion in CPEC, said Bakhtiar. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: FIXING PAKISTAN’S WATER WOES BEYOND REGULATING THE PRICE OF BOTTLED WATER (SEPTEMBER 17, 2018)

Written by admin on Monday, September 17th, 2018

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Fixing Pakistan’s water woes beyond regulating the price of bottled water
SOURCE: Dawn
Monday, September 17, 2018
By ALI HASANAIN

*The Supreme Court has taken up the issue of bottled water

This presents an excellent opportunity: water experts have for decades decried the irrational prices attached to water, and regularly blame low prices for a major chunk of the country’s inefficient water use.

If the court expands the scope of its inquiry to the pricing of surface water (i.e. water from rivers and canals), and the cost of groundwater (i.e. water pumped from the ground) for all users, it can tackle head on a water scarcity issue that may outweigh the construction of large dams in its import to securing our water future.

The court summoned yesterday the CEOs of all bottled water companies to present data on the price of extracted water and the revenue they have made selling it.

There will be a large wedge between these two numbers, which can be explained in part by the costs of bottling, transport and retail.

Another part of the wedge will be profit, and it is important to understand whether this profit is the normal sort of profit that encourages businesses to exist, or abnormally high profit emanating from a market dysfunction.

Existing rule

We can question whether major bottlers are cartelised, and whether quality audits are functioning well, but let’s think here instead about what the price of water should be.

First, consider groundwater. As Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan reminded the court on Saturday, an earlier SC judgement declares groundwater to be the property of the land owner. (more…)