Friday, December 19, 2008
Javed Akhter is part of the group !
India has a group Muslims for Secular Democracy
Pakistan Chapter anyone ?
Monday, December 15, 2008
By Tian Ying
Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- BYD Co., the Chinese automaker backed by Warren Buffett, started selling the world’s first mass-produced plug-in hybrid, gaining an edge on Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp. in electric-powered vehicles.
The F3 DM can run for 100 kilometers (62 miles) using only batteries, Shenzhen-based BYD said in a statement today. Toyota plans to begin testing plug-ins, which can be recharged from household powerpoints, late next year, it said in August. GM aims to start selling the Volt plug-in in late 2010.
BYD surged the most in two months in Hong Kong trading after saying the new model and government tax breaks for small cars would help it almost double vehicle sales next year. China is encouraging automakers to develop alternative-energy vehicles to curb oil imports and to help local companies challenge GM and Toyota, the world’s biggest hybrid-car maker, overseas.
“BYD is making progress in the right direction,” said Yale Zhang, director at CSM Asia. “Still, a lack of fast recharging facilities and other infrastructure is handicapping BYD’s efforts.”
The automaker expects to boost total sales to 350,000 cars next year from an expected 180,000 this year, founder and Chairman Wang Chuanfu told reporters in Shenzhen today.
“The development of electric-powered vehicles is the best way for the Chinese auto industry to surpass other leading countries,” Wang said at an unveiling ceremony. BYD currently sells gasoline models such as the F3, F6 and F8. It plans to add at least five new models next year.
The company, also China’s biggest maker of rechargeable batteries, rose 16 percent to HK$13.32 at the close in Hong Kong. It has fallen 1.9 percent this year compared with a 46 percent plunge for the benchmark Hang Seng Index.
The F3 DM’s batteries can be fully recharged from a power point in as little as seven hours and 50 percent powered via a quick charge at a specialist station in 10 minutes, BYD said. The car also has a gasoline engine as a back-up power source.
The car costs from 149,800 yuan ($22,000), said Xia Zhibing, BYD’s sales head. That compares with Toyota’s Prius, which costs from 259,800 yuan. The high price of hybrids and the lack of charging stations have damped demand in China. The Prius, the bestselling hybrid in China, racked up 748 sales nationwide in the first ten months of the year.
Still, GM started selling a Buick LacCrosse Eco-Hybrid in July and Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s third-largest automaker, intends to begin offering electric cars in China by 2012.
The Chinese government plans to support domestic automakers’ research into alternative-energy vehicles in a bid to have 60,000 on the roads of 10 cities by 2012. BYD has signed a deal for “financial cooperation” with Export-Import Bank of China, it said without elaboration.
The government may subsidize hybrid cars to cut costs for consumers, Wang said. The State Council is also set to consider a plan to scrap a sales tax on vehicles with engines of less than 1.6 liters, he added.
“It would be a very big push for car sales,” if the sales tax plan is approved, Wang said. The government has also altered fuel taxes and is mulling ways to encourage people to buy cars on credit to help revive vehicle sales, which have fallen for three out of the last four months.
BYD will initially target the F3 DM at government agencies and corporate customers, Wang said. The Shenzhen local government and China Construction Bank today signed deals to buy a total of 50 cars.
U.S. sales of the F3 DM will likely start in 2011, Wang said. They may begin earlier if the company can complete the necessary regulatory steps more quickly than expected, he added.
Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. in September bought 9.9 percent of BYD for HK$1.8 billion ($232 million). The stake sale may help the automaker boost its profile overseas and also reassure potential customers, Wang said.
“Buffett’s investment helps us enhance our brand image,” he added. “It’s a long-term investment and it will help our growth in the long run.”
BYD is working with MidAmerican to develop batteries that store power generated from wind and power sources, Wang said. The products may be commercialized in one to two years, he said.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Watch the Horror on video - Click- :
Time Line of the Attacks. second view :
Indian Commando speaks on what he saw at the Taj :
How they got there ? :
At least three buildings in the Indian port city were taken over by terrorists - the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Oberoi Hotel and the nearby Chabad House.
The Israeli officials said that Indian counter-terrorist forces were well trained but failed to gather sufficient intelligence before engaging the terrorists.
"In hostage situations, the first thing the forces are supposed to do is assemble at the scene and begin collecting intelligence," said a former official in the Shin Bet's security unit. "In this case, it appears that the forces showed up at the scene and immediately began exchanging fire with the terrorists instead of first taking control of the area."
Defense officials said that Israel was not planning on sending commando units but had offered the Indians any assistance they required.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke with Indian National Security adviser Mayankote Kelath Narayanan, who briefed him on recent developments.
Barak expressed concern over the fate of the Israelis caught up in the attacks and thanked the Indian government for its efforts. He also stressed that the attacks were part of the wave of global terror with which Israel was all-too familiar, and expressed support for the Indian people.
Barak offered Israel's help in an advisory capacity and in any other way it could be of assistance, be it humanitarian or professional.
The two countries have close defense ties. India is the Israeli defense establishment's top customer in annual defense exports and has bought more than $5 billion worth of Israeli equipment since 2002. Two weeks ago, a senior Indian defense delegation, led by Defense Secretary Vijay Singh, visited Israel to discuss the purchase of AWACS planes and missiles from Israel Aerospace Industries.
Israel is also training Indian military units. In September, Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi, OC Ground Forces Command, paid an unscheduled visit to the disputed state of Kashmir to get a close look at the challenges India faced in its fight against Islamic insurgents. Mizrahi was in India for three days of meetings with the country's military brass and to discuss a training plan the IDF is currently drafting.
Under the proposed agreement, the IDF will send highly-trained commandos to provide instruction in counter-terror, urban warfare and anti-guerrilla tactics.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
By the way this letter starts with "Bismillah.............."
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Below is a partial list of stores that you need to be cautious about.
Circuit City (filed Chapter 11)
Ann Taylor- 117 stores nationwide closing
Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug ,and Catherine's to close 150 stores nationwide
Eddie Bauer to close stores=2
027 stores and more after January
Cache will close all stores
Talbots closing down specialty stores
J. Jill closing g all stores (owned by Talbots)
Pacific Sunwear (also owned by Talbots)
GAP closing 85 stores
Footlocker closing 140 sto res mo re to close after January
Wickes Furniture closing down
Levitz closing down remaining stores
Bombay closing remaining stores
Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January
Whitehall closing all stores
Piercing Pagoda closing all stores
Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January.
Home Depot closing 15 stores 1 in NJ ( New Brunswick )
Macys to close 9 stores after January
Linens and Things closing all stores
Movie Galley Closing all stores
Pep Boys Closing 33 stores
Sprint/Nextel closing 133 stores
JC Penney closing a number of stores after January
Ethan Allen closing down 12 stores.
Wilson Leather closing down all stores
Sharper Image closing down all stores
K B Toys closing 356 stores
Loews to close down some stores
Dillard's to close some stores
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I have been reading into the republican party strategy for 2012.
Republican party is in a big predicament here
They do want to defeat Obama in 2012 and they are planning to pick Bobby Jindal.
He is a conservative Christian convert of
Indian descent. Bobby Jindal is the present governor of Louisiana.
This will divide the minorities and thus the vote. this is a very Interesting because
this will be the first time for a minority in the republican party.
2012 ! it will be Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal ................
against OBAMA ?
US is going to change forever in 2012 ! Lets wait and watch the show !
read on :
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Lack of hallmarking resulting in country losing exports
Pakistan is the eighth biggest consumer of gold in the world and annually imports 127 tonnes gold but unfortunately there is no consumer satisfaction and Pakistani jewellery industry suffers from unfair competition by those who under-carat gold and therefore sell at a lower price.
Non-existence of hallmarking results in Pakistan’s increasing loss of exports, self-dependence and less acceptability of Pakistani jewellery products in local and global markets. These views were expressed by the speakers at a seminar titled “Latest Trends in Jewellery Hallmarking”, organised by Pakistan Gems and Jewellery Development Company (PGJDC).
Speaking on the occasion Project Director (PITMAEM), PCSIR Dr Shahzad Alam said that in order to improve the quality of jewellery products, complete quality assessment and hallmarking of gold is imperative.
He informed that hallmarking refers to physically marking a piece of jewellery according to specific laws to certify the purity of metal. Hallmarks are small markings stamped on gold, silver and platinum articles.
A hallmark means that the article has been independently tested and guarantees that it confirms to all legal standards of purity (Fineness). These tests are carried out only by an assay office. A number of successful jewellery industry in the world use hallmarking both as a marketing tool and to ensure consumer confidence, he added.
PGJDC CEO Fawad H Khan informed that the decision to develop hallmarking in Pakistan is part of national strategy submitted by SWOG and ministry of industry’s support. It was aimed at helping Pakistan’s small and medium sized enterprises to reposition themselves on a more competitive footing in the domestic and global markets.
Fawad said that apart from other countries of the world implementation hallmarking law in Pakistan would help country increase its export to approximately 18 signatories’ countries of Vienna convention. He said that the main objective is to create awareness among common people and to improve the image of our local jewellery industry at international levels.
He informed that PGJDC is working on setting up an assaying and hallmarking system with the help of government organisations like (PITMAEM, PCSIR Labs complex) and to develop a strong cooperation between local and international manufacturers of gold jewellery.
Monday, November 17, 2008
• He collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics
• Barack means Fast as Thunder In Arabic. It was the name of Mohammad's horse. Barak is also spelled as Bouraq.
• He was known as "O'Bomber" at high school for his skill at basketball
• His name means "one who is blessed" in Swahili
• His favourite meal is wife Michelle's shrimp linguini
• He won a Grammy in 2006 for the audio version of his memoir, Dreams From My Father
• He is left-handed – the sixth post-war president to be left-handed
• He has read every Harry Potter book
• He owns a set of red boxing gloves autographed by Muhammad Ali
• He worked in a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop as a teenager and now can't stand ice cream
• His favourite snacks are chocolate-peanut protein bars
• He ate dog meat, snake meat, and roasted grasshopper while living in Indonesia
• He can speak Spanish
• While on the campaign trail he refused to watch CNN and had sports channels on instead
• His favourite drink is black forest berry iced tea
• He promised Michelle he would quit smoking before running for president – he didn't
• He kept a pet ape called Tata while in Indonesia
• He can bench press an impressive 200lbs
• He was known as Barry until university when he asked to be addressed by his full name
• His favourite book is Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
• He visited Wokingham, Berks, in 1996 for the stag party of his half-sister's fiancé, but left when a stripper arrived
• His desk in his Senate office once belonged to Robert Kennedy
• He and Michelle made $4.2 million (£2.7 million) last year, with much coming from sales of his books
• His favourite films are Casablanca and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
• He carries a tiny Madonna and child statue and a bracelet belonging to a soldier in Iraq for good luck
• He applied to appear in a black pin-up calendar while at Harvard but was rejected by the all-female committee.
• His favourite music includes Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Bach and The Fugees
• He took Michelle to see the Spike Lee film Do The Right Thing on their first date
• He enjoys playing Scrabble and poker
• He doesn't drink coffee and rarely drinks alcohol
• He would have liked to have been an architect if he were not a politician
• As a teenager he took drugs including marijuana and cocaine
• His daughters' ambitions are to go to Yale before becoming an actress (Malia, 10) and to sing and dance (Sasha, 7)
• The meaning of the name Malia (Maliha) is Attractive, Beautiful.The origin of the name Maliha is Arabic. http://www.babynames.com/name/MALIHA
• The meaning of Sasha is Helper ! The orgin of Sasha for a girls name is Arabic. (Russians also have this name but its a mans name). http://hamariweb.com/sasha_name-meanings.aspx
• He hates the youth trend for trousers which sag beneath the backside
• He repaid his student loan only four years ago after signing his book deal
• His house in Chicago has four fire places
• Daughter Malia's godmother is Jesse Jackson's daughter Santita
• He says his worst habit is constantly checking his BlackBerry
• He uses an Apple Mac laptop
• He drives a Ford Escape Hybrid, having ditched his gas-guzzling Chrysler 300
• He wears $1,500 (£952) Hart Schaffner Marx suits
• He owns four identical pairs of black size 11 shoes
• He has his hair cut once a week by his Chicago barber, Zariff, who charges $21 (£13)
• His favourite fictional television programmes are Mash and The Wire
• He was given the code name "Renegade" by his Secret Service handlers
• He was nicknamed "Bar" by his late grandmother
• He plans to install a basketball court in the White House grounds
• His favourite artist is Pablo Picasso
• His speciality as a cook is chilli
• He has said many of his friends in Indonesia were "street urchins"
• He keeps on his desk a carving of a wooden hand holding an egg, a Kenyan symbol of the fragility of life
• His late father was a senior economist for the Kenyan government
Thursday, November 13, 2008
As Barack Obama, the US president-elect, prepares to take over the White House after his inauguration on January 20, work has begun on shaping his new cabinet.
With only one position - the White House chief of staff - so far confirmed, there has been widespread speculation about who Obama will bring in, from seasoned veterans of the Bill Clinton administration to relative newcomers from his own campaign.
Here is at the possiblities for some of the most important positions within the future Obama administration.
White House chief of staff
Rahm Emanuel, Obama's White House chief of staff, is the only person to have been confirmed as a member in Obama's pending administration to date.
The son of Israeli parents whose father fought against the British during the British Mandate of Palestine in the 1940s, the Chicago-born-and-raised Emanuel was a senior adviser to former US president Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1998.
He is most notable for organising the famous signing of the Oslo peace accords in the White House rose garden in 1993.
He is considered socially liberal, although some analysts have pointed to his firm support of Israel as potentially problematic when the new Obama administration begins to turn its attention to the Middle East conflict.
Emanuel ran for congress from Chicago in 2002 and quickly became a power-broker on Capitol Hill.
He is credited with masterminding a successful Democratic effort to retake the House of Representatives from Republican domination in 2006.
A tough, hard-nosed and highly partisan political operative, he is known for his fiery temper and penchant for profanity.
Secretary of state
One of the most coveted positions within any US administration, a host of names are reportedly being considered for this role.
However, whoever is granted the position will face a slew of problems - including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a resurgent Russia and the ongoing turmoil in the Horn of Africa and Pakistan.
Names mentioned so far include John Kerry, the former Democratic presidential candidate and current senator for Massachusetts.
The Vietnam veteran's record as a senator is said to be "patchy" but he is highly regarded for his knowledge and international experience.
However, he may be considered too much a part of the Democratic "old guard".
Bill Richardson, the Latino governor of New Mexico and a Nobel peace prize nominee, is considered by many to be the frontrunner for the position.
He has a long and illustrious history of international political arbitration, formerly serving as a US ambassador to the United Nations.
A friend of Bill Clinton, he has travelled to Iraq and other nations to secure hostages' freedoms in often delicate negotiations.
Other names floated by the media include Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator for Nebraska and a member of the key senate foreign relations committee.
Hagel has been highly critical of both the Iraq war and its chief architects, in particular Dick Cheney and Karl Rove.
In addition Richard Lugar, the Republican senator for Indiana and former chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, and Richard Holbrooke, the former US ambassador to the United Nations and assistant secretary of state under Bill Clinton, have also been mentioned as possibilities.
Robert Gates, the current defence secretary is respected on both sides of the political divide and there are reports Obama may consider keeping him on as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq rumble on.
The Republican served under George Bush as the Director of Central Intelligence before taking on the position vacated by Donald Rumsfeld.
Despite a misstep earlier this year when he criticised Nato forces in southern Afghanistan which led to angry protests from nations whose forces were serving under the organisation in the region, he is widely respected.
Other possibilities include Hagel and also Jack Reed, the senior senator for Rhode Island with impeccable military credentials, having graduated from the famed West Point military academy and having served in the army and reserve.
Reed is also a member of the senate armed services committe and is considered one of the most liberal senators serving in the senate.
Other names mentioned include Richard Danzig, former secretary of the US navy and current security adviser to Obama, who has also been mooted for the role of national security adviser.
Whowever takes on the role of treasury secretary faces some of the toughest economic challenges the US has faced since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
One of the most frequently mentioned names is Larry Summers, a US economist at the prestigious Harvard University and the institution's former president.
Summers, who strongly favours free trade and globalisation, has sparked controversy for saying women did "not have the same innate ability as men" in science and engineering.
The remarks, which led to his resignation as president of Harvard, have created concern among women's groups about any possible position he may be offered in the Obama administration.
Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve and a current economic adviser to Obama, has also been mooted as a possibility, as has Timothy Geithner, the current president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The next US attorney general inherits, among others, the thorny issue of what to do with the detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.
The reported frontrunner is Eric Holder, a former deputy attorney general under Bill Clinton and senior legal adviser to Obama, has been mentioned over the role.
Holder, who was the first African-American to hold the deputy attorney general position, also served on Obama's vice-presidential selection committee.
Another strong possiblity, as mentioned in the US media, include Janet Napolitano, the well-regarded current governor of Arizona, who has also been mentioned as a possiblity for the secretary of homeland security position.
Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts, Artur Davis, the congressman for Alabama and Tim Kaine, the governor of Virginia, have also been mentioned, as has Jamie Gorelick, another Clinton veteran, who served in his administration as deputy attorney general.
Homeland security secretary
Aside from Janet Napolitano, candidates for the position of homeland security secretary, a role created following the September 11, 2001 attacks, include Bill Bratton, the police chief for the Los Angeles Police Department and former commissioner of the New York police department - where he was credited with reducing crime.
In addition, Jamie Lee Witt, the former director of the troubled Federal Emergency Management Agency, has been mentioned, as has Tom Kean, the former governor of New Jersey and chairman of the commission investigating the September 11 attacks.
Reports have also linked Jane Harman, a congresswoman for California and chairwoman of the Homeland Security intelligence subcommittee, to the role.
National security adviser
One of the frontrunners is Susan Rice, a US foreign policy expert who served in Clinton's adminstration on the National Security Council and as assistant secretary of state for African affairs and was also a senior foreign policy adviser to Obama during his presidential campaign.
Other names include James B Steinberg, another Clinton veteran who he served as deputy national security adviser in his second administration.
He was also the co-author of Obama's address to the Aipac pro-Israeli lobby organisation earlier this year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Richard Danzig, the former US navy secretary, has also been linked to the position.
Senior economic advisers
Obama already has several economic advisers working with him as he prepares to take on the US economic crisis.
Jason Furman, a Harvard graduate and World Bank economic adviser, is Obama's senior campaign aide on economic policy and was also a former adviser to John Kerry.
He is known to be a close ally of Robert Rubin, the US treasury secretary under Bill Clinton. The pair worked together at the Hamilton Project, a research organisation that promotes free trade among other policies.
Furman's position has angered Democrat-supporting trade unions who are concerned about the impact of free trade on jobs as the US faces a recession and global financial crisis.
He has been criticised for describing Wal-Mart, the giant US retailer partly known for its low-wage and anti-union practices, as a "progressive success story".
Obama also has Austan Goolsbee, the economics professor at the University of Chicago, known as the home of free-market economic ideology.
The economist is a supporter of free markets and trade but he is also a tax specialist who has written extensively on the role of the internet and technology.
Although he is not on the staff ofh the Obama campaign, Goolsbee has been a major influence on Obama's economic plans.
But an article he wrote for the New York Times in 2007, in which he defended the high-interest subprime mortgages which sparked the recent global financial crisis as a way for poor Americans to get into the housing market, appeared to contradict Obama's recent attacks on predatory lending.
He sparked controversy after a memo from a meeting with Canadian officials suggested Goolsbee played down Obama's opposition to the Nafta free trade agreement.
The Obama campaign said the memo was inaccurate.
Senior White House adviser
David Axelrod, a former political journalist and chief strategist for the Obama campaign, is widely tipped to become senior White House adviser.
Axelrod, a good friend of Rahm Emanuel, is credited with shaping the Obama campaign's message and has known the Illinois senator from his Chicago days.
After spending years as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune newspaper, Axelrod joined a local political campaign and worked towards the successful re-election of Harold Washington, the city's first African-American mayor.
He also worked on former North Carolina senator John Edwards' 2004 presidential campaign and has worked with Hillary Clinton, Obama's former rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.
He is also credited with harnessing the web to galvanise Obama's young supporters.
White House press secretary
Robert Gibbs, currently Obama's communications director, is mooted as the president elect's White House press secretary.
Gibbs, who is originally from the southern state of Alabama, was the press secretary for John Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004 and he worked on Obama's senate campaign in 2004.
He is reported to be a proponent of swift responses to percieved smear tactics by opponents, perhaps mindful of the "swift-boating" which destroyed John Kerry's presidential hopes.
Kerry's communications team was widely criticised for failing to respond rapidly enough to accusations over his war record.
Some reports have accused Gibbs of excessively restricting media access to Obama.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008By Mehtab HaiderISLAMABAD: Work on over 1,000 development projects worth billions of rupees has been halted owing to a massive cut of 65 per cent in fund releases, The News has learnt.Actual funds released by the Ministry of Finance were only Rs20 billion in the first quarter (July-September) of 2008-09 under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) against an allocated amount of Rs56 billion in accordance with approved cash plan.“This has adversely affected over 80 per cent development projects out of a total of 2,000 projects in PSDP list,” a senior official of the Planning Commission confided to The News here on Wednesday.Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) is scheduled to meet on November 6 with Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani in the chair for approving various development projects, but it would also take up the issue of a massive cut in fund releases in the current fiscal year.
In the wake of financial constraints when the government struggles to keep fiscal deficit within the desired range of 4.3 per cent of GDP, the development sector has once again become a major victim and public sector investment for improving infrastructure would be affected negatively and real GDP growth would fall.Ongoing work on all mega projects, especially those related to infrastructure, water and power such as Mangla raising project, has been affected, virtually halting development activities because funds were also slashed in the fourth quarter (April-June) of last financial year 2007-08.
This correspondent visited the office of Secretary Planning Division Sohail Safdar on Wednesday, who confirmed that actual releases made by the finance ministry stood at Rs20 billion against demand of Rs56 billion in the first quarter of the current financial year.“Before ECNEC meeting, we are going to hold a meeting with the Adviser to PM on Finance, Shaukat Tarin, to ask him for a ‘resource envelop’ for the remaining three quarters of the current year,” he said and added it would enable planning managers to set priorities in close coordination with the ministries concerned.However, some sources in the Planning Commission insisted that actual releases were only Rs17 billion in the first quarter against allocated amount of around Rs60 billion in accordance with approved cash plan.“Fund releases are just 37 per cent of the allocated amount,” a source said and added the minimum cut in releases was borne by development projects of Higher Education Commission (HEC), which was around 11 per cent.An official document showed that most affected sectors were water and power, National Highway Authority (NHA) and some others.
Citing examples, sources said the government had allocated Rs2 billion for revamping and rehabilitation of the irrigation and drainage system of Sindh, but actual releases were only Rs300 million.The government allocated Rs4 billion for the extension of Right Bank Outfall Drainage from Sehwan (RBOD-II) but actual releases were Rs600 million. It allocated Rs8.5 billion for Kachhi Flood Canal Project (Phase-I) but released only Rs200 million.The government allocated Rs100 million for the extension of Bhakkar Flood Protection Bundi from RD-42-72 Basti Mian Khan to Basti Bakkhar in District Bhakkar but it released only Rs15 million.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Speaking in the Pakistani capital, Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on the IMF to save the nuclear-armed country from an escalating financial crisis by extending an “appropriate loan”.
“I hope the decision will be taken soon. It won’t help to have it in six months, or six weeks. Rather, we need it in the coming six days,” he said after meeting Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, foreign minister.
Germany, which has troops on the ground in neighbouring Afghanistan, shares the concerns of many western governments that a growing balance of payments crisis will destabilise security in Pakistan whose people are angry about the rising cost of food and energy.
Shortly after Mr Steinmeier’s remarks, a Pakistani official said negotiations with the IMF were “in the final stages” and that the government expected agreement on a letter of intent with the fund “within one or two days”.
An IMF programme is expected to last until June 2010 and could be worth up to $15bn, officials said.
An official said that a letter of intent would be followed by a formal request to the IMF’s board for funding, with an agreement likely by mid-November.
Moody’s, the ratings agency, downgraded Pakistani government bonds from “B-2” to “B-3” and signalled that it could cut its rating further, citing the failure of Pakistan to secure other lines of funding.
Mr Steinmeier pledged to support the country in its negotiations with the IMF and promised to increase German development assistance. He departed immediately for the Middle East where he is expected to urge Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to increase their support for Pakistan ahead of a donor conference in mid-November.
Pakistan needs $4bn-$5bn for the financial year to June 2009 to meet debt payments and other liabilities, according to finance ministry officials in Islamabad.
An official at the central bank said the country’s foreign currency reserves stood at $4bn and were likely to run out by the end of November. “We have a very narrow space to put the country back on the rails,” he said.
Friday, October 24, 2008
ISLAMABAD - In a development nobody had predicted, it appears that former President Pervez Musharraf is angling to join politics and lead the party that he founded nearly six years ago, the PML-Q.According to well placed sources, the ex-President has assigned two PML heavyweights, Hamid Nasir Chattha and Humayun Akhtar, to try to dislodge the Chaudhrys of Gujrat from their pivotal positions in the party. Sources further revealed that some old friends of former President Pervez Musharraf from PML-Q were advising him to join politics, as he was growing popular among masses.“Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, who is President of the party and his cousin Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who heads the party in the Punjab, are the main hurdle in Musharraf’s ascendancy to the party’s leadership”, said the sources.
PML-Q defiant leaders held a consultative meeting at Saleem Saifullah’s residence here on Thursday night to devise a feasible way to dislodge Chaudhrys from the steering position of the party.A day before on Wednesday Hamid Nasir Chattha had invited party leaders at his residence for deliberations. Sources told this scribe that Senator Nisar Memon and Gohar Ayub severely criticized Senator Muhammad Ali Durrani and Hamid Nasir Chattha when they went critical towards Chaudhrys and demanded their replacement. “In the dinner at Chattha’s residence, he had come with the proposal that former President Pervez Musharraf should join politics as the winds were blowing in his favour”, the sources said.In the Thursday meeting that was held at the residence of Saleem Saifullah, Hamid Nasir Chattha, Riaz Fatyana, Muhammad Ali Durrani, Jan Muhammad Jamali, Nilofar Bakhtiar and others Q-League Senators and MNAs from forward blocs participated and, according to sources, endorsed the plan of dislodging Chaudhrys to make ground for eager former President to enter into politics.
A PML-Q lawmaker of Chaudhrys’ camp seeking not to be named charged the defiant members of party and said that they were pursuing their personal motives. “Where were all these critics of Chaudhrys in the last six years and why had they kept their tongues tied on the policies of Chaudhry brothers”, he questioned.
He claimed that Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain could only be dislodged from party’s presidency through party’s Central Working Committee (CWC) and ‘the two-thirds majority of CWC is standing with Chaudhrys and not with Chattha, Durrani or Akhtar’.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Pakistan in a nut shell this week :)
I got this email from a friend in Pakistan !
" After seeing this month's electricity bills (withdrawal of subsidy and recent rate hike), an unruly mob burnt down a WAPDA office in Lahore. Pakistan is on the verge of economic collapse and seeking a financial bail-out package from IMF, everything built in the last decade has been systematically destroyed by the so-called champions of democracy " .
This is from someone who was totally into the movement for the restoration of judges, anti musharraf and for the so called jamhooriyat. He voted for 'N' this time and has vowed never to vote for him again. This is 'Dar's' doing according to him. He took too much time persuading everyone that the previous government was lying on all statistics. Even though the Pak. Rs. was standing strong at Rs. 60 and the dollar reserve was at $18 billion. It was Pakistan's insurance policy to say the least. $18 billion dollars gone ? How did we manage that ? Its like this government started living off Pakistan's savings account.
Another Question. How was Pakistan Rupee standing strong in January with very high oil prices ? Its was withstanding the pressure when the prices of oil were $140 plus per barrel. But Petrol prices started to dip in the 2nd quarter of this year and the Pak. Rs. started to dip even further. Let me get this straight - Dollar was dipping to new low, Oil prices were going down and even then the Pak. Rs. was going down. Low oil prices should have helped Pakistan balance of payments. The bottom line is it did not !
Former Banker Shaukat Tareen was finally appointed ! Yawn ! But its too little too late.
But my friend who sent me this email crying hoarse blamed the problems to the procrastinators in the present government. I am kinda enjoying his U-turn. But after all biggest looser here are the Pakistani Public.
I am afraid to say this but are we the next Argentina ? Well all the signs are there.
What to Expect :
IMF is coming back. This means 25% increase in petrol, gas and electricity charges across the board. Inflation has to be double digits. Plus we will be spending 50% of our budget on debt servcing up from 23%. It was reduced 6 years ago after all debt was refinanced to a lower rate and no new loans were taken by the government. We were static at $38 billion and then after the earth quake it went up to $40 billion.
IMF will give a $10 billion loan at a phenomenal 17% interest. Its like charging Pakistan to a Master/ Visa credit card for $10 billion. Last time this financial blunder was taken by Leghari when he was the caretaker President. He took out $1 billion. (That debt was rescheduled and refinanced by friendly countries - Egypt, China, UAE, Austria, Norway, Sweden and Turkey).
IMF has $201 billion to loan out and with the current financial problems it will be very difficult dealing with them because they will not budge an inch).
Pak. Rupee :
In the back drop of all of this Rupee I hear will cross the psycological barrier of Rs. 100 to the US dollar coming December . That will be site to watch.
By the way Indian Rupee is at Rs.49 up from Rs. 44.
Bangladesh Taka is at 68 to the US Dollar ! Allah kee Shaan !
Pakistan is at Rs. 81 to the dollar.
I google it for everyone who is in disbelief ! Please click here :
BD to US dollar coversion
Who will help before the default which occurs in December :
Well no one ! Saudis, US and China have flatly refused to give pakistan right out cash. Which is good in a way. All these countries are feeling very vary because of Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. They know they are corrupt to the core and Pakistan will never see whatever money they give Pakistan.
What are the options open to them ?
These 'friendly' countries want to benefit the people of Pakistan and are side stepping the govenment and Zardari. This is a very intersting scenario. They are talking about Trade and commerce. Ironically India just started trading via the 2 border towns . Trade will happen once a week across the border after 61 years. Bravo Bravo !
China-US and Saudis said the same thing and are its like their response is co-ordinated i.e. NO CASH FOR YOU !
What was the much hyped China visit about :
More of the same .............China will invest heavily in Pakistan in 'China-only economic zones'. NOT !
So what came out ?
Pakistan did get 2 nuclear plants from China which were negotiated in Musharraf's last visit.
Chasma III and IV. We will trade more with China and there were lots of investment promises like always.
Thats it !
Liquidity crunch for small Pakistani Banks !
KASB - Khadim Ali Shah Bokhari and Atlas Bank merged today sighting the liquidity crunch in these two banks.
Altas is one of the biggest conglamorates in Pakistan and manufacture Honda cars and motorcyles. KASB is the is one of the biggest brokerage houses in Pakistan and are the local representatives for Myrill Lynch ! They have merged. These mergers are Pakistan related or not but it has sent shock waves to the 'fire walled' Pakistani banking system
Who is next ? Arif Habib Group ?
Karachi Stock Exchange is down from 18,000 to 10,000 points. Almost $60 billion has vanashied from the market ! There is no plan to get the money back so far ! So we will sit with the KSE in the pitts !
3 Pakistani Companies on Forbes List !
BD has none ! So what if their Taka is bigger then Pak. Rs.
India has around 20. China has 100s !
The 3 are Nishat Mills, Cherat Cement and Engro Chemicals !
Look for yourself !
The cellular phone subscribers’ base crossed 90 million in Pakistan. This means Pakistan has more phones then the entire population of Briton and for that matter the largest county in the EU - Germany !
I had to add some Humor at the End !
News hungry and with a huge Nuisance value Mullah's strike again !
Another fatwa ! They are not even 0.1% but they do get in the print media !
Zardari Slapped with Fatwa for Flirting With Palin !
(Newser) – Asif Ali Zardari’s overly-friendly interaction with Sarah Palin earned Pakistan’s president a fatwa from a conservative mosque for salacious behavior, not to mention the scorn of feminists who accuse him of objectifying the US vice-presidential candidate, the Christian Science Monitor reports. At the UN last week, Zardari told Palin she was “gorgeous,” continuing, “Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you.”
The fatwa accused the husband of late prime minister Benazir Bhutto of “indecent gestures, filthy remarks, and repeated praise of a non-Muslim lady wearing a short skirt,” but stops short of ordering violence. Feminists charge Zardari’s behavior demeaned Palin: “He was looking upon her merely as a woman and not as a politician in her own right … it was shameful,” one said.
LOL ! Thats all I can say this
Cheers ! :)
Two decades ago, Douglas Wilder watched as a 9% lead in the polls in the race to be Virginia's governor slipped to just one-tenth of 1% when the ballots were counted.
He still won the election - becoming the first African-American to be elected a US state governor - but the narrowness of his victory led analysts to speculate that he had been a victim of a white hesitancy to vote for a black man.
The theory goes that some white voters tell opinion pollsters they will vote for a black candidate - but then, in the privacy of the polling booth, put their cross against a white candidate's name.
And the fear among some supporters is that this could happen to Barack Obama on 4 November, when the country votes for its next president.
The phenomenon is known as the Bradley, or Wilder effect.
Tom Bradley was an African-American mayor of Los Angeles who, running for California's governorship in 1982, saw a sizeable eve-of-polling lead evaporate on election day, giving victory to his white rival, Republican George Deukmejian.
In 1989, the year Wilder became governor of Virginia, David Dinkins was elected the first African-American mayor of New York - but he also saw an 18-point lead in the polls shrink to a winning margin of just two points on the day.
Charles Henry, a California professor who was among the first to research the Bradley effect, says Mr Obama would need a double-digit lead to feel confident of victory.
Other pundits have suggested a six- to nine-point cushion may be sufficient. Mr Obama currently has a lead of about this size, according to most polls.
But Mr Wilder, now mayor of Richmond, Virginia, and a supporter of the Obama campaign, told the BBC News website that he believes racism will not have a major impact this time.
"Will there be some effect? Yes. Are there some people who just cannot bring themselves to vote for an African-American? Yes."
But, he said: "America has grown, people have grown."
Controversies over race have cast a shadow over this campaign.
Popular conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh has referred to Mr Obama as the "little black man-child" and Fox News has called his wife, Michelle Obama, his "baby-mama".
One Republican senator described Mr Obama as "uppity", a word formerly used to describe blacks who had ideas above their station.
Reports of racist jibes among audiences at some recent McCain rallies led John Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Georgia, to accuse Mr McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division" - a charge they deny.
The surfacing of videos showing Mr Obama's former pastor, the Rev Jeremiah Wright, preaching "God Damn America!" for its treatment of blacks, did nothing to promote the process of racial reconciliation.
Nonetheless, Mr Wilder remains optimistic about Mr Obama's chances for a number of reasons.
"I do think there is going to be a so-called 'reverse Bradley effect' because I think there are some Republicans who won't openly say they are going to vote for Barack Obama, but will," he said.
The 77-year-old puts that down in part to discontent with Republican President George W Bush, with polls suggesting that up to 90% of registered voters believe the country is on the wrong track.
Recent elections do seem to indicate that the Bradley effect could have gone into reverse.
Research by psychologist Anthony Greenwald and political scientist Bethany Albertson of the University of Washington, suggests Mr Obama benefited from a reverse Bradley effect in 12 states during the primary elections, while the Bradley effect itself was noticeable in only three.
A study by Harvard researcher Daniel Hopkins of 133 gubernatorial and senatorial elections from 1989 to 2006 also showed no recent significant Bradley-Wilder effect.
Other polls, meanwhile, suggest that white Americans have steadily become less reluctant to vote for a black person in the last few decades.
A recent Gallup poll suggested that 9% of Americans would be more likely to vote for Mr Obama because of his race, compared with only 6% who said they would be less likely to vote for him.
Mr Wilder also believes Mr Obama is picking his way through the minefield of racial - or post-racial - politics with consummate skill.
He says he gave Mr Obama guidance a year ago - and the Illinois senator seems to have followed it.
"He never mentions race as such. He doesn't speak to race other than that particular speech, [a speech in March addressing the Jeremiah Wright controversy] in which he did a masterful job," Mr Wilder said.
"He's not running to make history. Is that going to help you [the voter] with your livelihood, pay for your kids' education?"
Mr Wilder also advised Mr Obama not to become too closely allied with longstanding African-American political figures, such as civil rights leaders the Rev Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
The key for Mr Obama now is to continue to present the same message of change to all voters, black and white, Mr Wilder adds, and the American voter will be "smarter" than to fall for last-minute attacks on his character.
"If things stay as they are, with effort and commitment and determination and drive he will win," he said.
"I always say to people, I hope the Wilder effect takes place in this election, because Wilder won - so if that's the effect it has, Obama
The whisper of September has turned to a roar in October: Barack Obama may be on the verge of a landslide victory.
A year ago, no one on the planet could have conceived of such a thing.
After all, Democrats have elected just two American presidents since 1968, moderate white Southerners Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, both by modest popular vote margins.
In 2008 Democrats took a daring leap of faith and chose a far more liberal nominee who is the first African-American standard-bearer - no minor matter in a nation that is just 11% black and has been plagued by racial divisions since its founding.
Yet the improbable is becoming probable.
With the presidential debates completed, Obama appears to have an unobstructed path to the White House.
The polls show he won all three debates and is viewed more positively than opponent John McCain.
Voters also believe Obama has the more qualified vice-presidential candidate, Joseph Biden. Sarah Palin, who once gave McCain hope for attracting a generous share of Hillary Clinton's supporters, did so poorly in a series of well-publicised media interviews that she has become a liability outside of the conservative Republican base.
The 'wrong track'
More importantly, the fundamentals of the election year have conspired to create a perfect storm for Democratic victory:
• President Bush's popularity is now at 23%, three points below Richard Nixon on the day he resigned the presidency in August 1974 and only one point higher than the all-time presidential low of 22% recorded for Harry Truman in 1952, in the twilight of his White House years. Bush has made the political environment toxic for all Republicans, even one like McCain who enjoys a "maverick" image and ran against Bush in 2000.
• The rocky economy, with an ongoing mortgage crisis and other troubles, became a major disaster area with the financial meltdown of Wall Street in September and October. Americans are now convinced that a major recession - some insist it is a depression - has begun, and the traditional "pocketbook" issue has powerfully taken over the campaign. The party not in control of the White House (in this case, the Democrats) always benefits from the fear and anger such conditions create.
• An astounding 91% of the voters say that the country is seriously on the wrong track - a level of dissatisfaction never registered in the history of polling.
Obama had held a modest lead in the popular vote and the electoral college count since June, save for the period immediately following the Republican National Convention, when McCain enjoyed a decent "bounce".
By late September the financial crisis had converted Obama's edge into a gulf, and his margin expanded to an average of seven percentage points. In more than a few respectable polls, he has been outpacing McCain by 10% or more.
The electoral college has followed suit. Based on current polling averages, Obama is already above the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
This map shows Obama at 273, and includes only those states where Obama has leads outside the margin of error in current surveys. McCain has just 155 electoral votes firmly in his column.
This leaves nine states unaccounted for: Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. At present, Obama has modest leads in all of them, save Indiana, North Dakota, and West Virginia - which are essentially tied toss-ups.
Should Obama capture all the states where he is ahead with two weeks to go in the campaign, his electoral college total would be a remarkable 364 - 94 more than needed for election.
If he also wins the three pure toss-ups, he would go to 383, an excess of 113 votes. Such a total would exceed that of Jimmy Carter in 1976 (297), Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 (370 and 379), and both of George W. Bush's elections (271 in 2000 and 286 in 2004).
Realistically, many observers doubt that Obama will hit the 383 mark, and perhaps even the lower 364. Indiana, North Dakota, and West Virginia may be a bridge too far, and no-one would be surprised to see McCain hold on to Missouri and North Carolina.
Should McCain win relatively conservative Florida, Ohio, or Virginia, it would count as only a mild upset. After all, these eight states backed George Bush twice, and only Ohio was even close.
Analysts are straining to come up with ways McCain could reverse the flow of the election at this late date. The truth is, such a task is out of his hands.
A major terrorist strike or an international crisis might give McCain the opportunity to demonstrate his commander-in-chief credentials, though there are no guarantees this would work.
The much-discussed "Tom Bradley-Doug Wilder" effect, named after two black politicians who unexpectedly lost many white votes on election days in the 1980s, could enable McCain to sneak past Obama on 4 November. Yet the country has made great strides in race relations over the past several decades, and it would be a major surprise if so-called "racial leakage" at the polls cost Obama the White House.
It is important to note that some presidential contests have tightened considerably in their final days, resulting in a closer-than-expected finish.
This phenomenon was observed in 1968 (Richard Nixon v Hubert Humphrey), 1976 (Jimmy Carter v Gerald Ford), 1992 (Bill Clinton v George HW Bush), and 2000 (George W Bush v Al Gore). In each case, though, the frontrunner managed to hold on.
In 1980, the opposite happened, as a tight match-up between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan turned into a Reagan landslide. A late debate conquest by Reagan and the collapse of the Iranian hostage negotiations pushed the lion's share of the undecided voters to the Republican in the campaign's final week.
Tightening aside, at this point, a McCain victory would rival that of President Harry Truman's giant upset in 1948. It's always possible Truman will be reborn, but the 33rd chief executive is invoked every four years by the trailing candidate - and nothing like Truman's triumph has happened in a presidential election since his long-ago shocker.
Of course, if asked today, Obama would be pleased to take the absolute minimum of 270 electors, and be done with it.
However, if elected, he will inherit a deeply troubled economy, $10 trillion in national debt, and controversial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He will need all the help he can get.
Large electoral college majorities confer political capital on a new president, enabling him to claim a mandate for swift passage of his platform.
The essential question to be resolved in two weeks is the identity of the 44th president.
A second vital query will be answered then, too: Will the new president have enough clout to deal confidently and effectively with the enormous challenges that await him on 20 January?
In the electoral college, for governing at least, size matters.
Professor Larry J Sabato is the director of the Center for Politics, University of Virginia, and author most recently of A More Perfect
Thursday, October 9, 2008
KARACHI, Oct 8: Pakistani investers hopped over the Gulf to look into the posibilites of investing in Dubai after the recent debacle of the Pakistani Stock Market. Reports from UAE Cityscape exhibition speculate that Pakistanis ended up buying $1 billion worth of property in and around Dubai.
There have also been reports of capital outflow from Pakistan to Dubai during this exhibition mainly for buying business locations in Dubai . Cityscape being held at Dubai International Exhibition Centre from Oct 6 to 9.
Cityscape is said to be the biggest exhibition event of construction business anywhere in the world and attracts investors from all corners.“More than 40,000 visitors from all around the world, including Pakistanis thronged the exhibition in the last two days and invested in various projects ’’ a top Pakistani builder who is a regular visitor for the last seven years said "the Pakistani interest was unprecedented".
The exhibition was initially scheduled to close on Wednesday but has been extended till Thursday because of big response from investors from all around the world. One invested at the show said that, "Over one billion dollars investment is said to have been made in the last two days in booking of construction projects". Another Karachi businessman affiliated to the UAE company estimateed that the final investment figures will exceed $2.5bn, of which “at least 10 per cent will be from Pakistani investors.”
Sponsors of the UAE exhibition include over a dozen world’s top construction companies that operate on global level. One of these companies was given a contract for development of 4,000 acres of sea front in Karachi which evoked a considerable protest from human right activists as project involved dislocation of thousands of poor fishermen and other people from coastal areas.A well known high profile stock broker from Karachi announced the launching of 16 towers construction project in the exhibition.
The outflow of capital from Pakistani goes on unabated for the last several months amid reports of deepening crisis of financial sector and wild rumours on viability or sustainance of the previous financial policies . One businessman commented on the scenario after the Pakistani Rupee went on a free fall “It is yet to be seen if the statement given on Tuesday by the Governor of State Bank of Pakistan is able to revive sagging confidence of people in banks and financial sector. But there is no hope this time’’.
Estimates of capital outflow from Pakistan, mostly to Dubai, in the last 10 to 11 months after January of 2008 varies from $4 billion to $30 billion.
A top builder from Pakistan said about the massive outflow cash from Pakistan, "Where did the money go form the stock market ? There were $70 billion in it. Its all gone. Its ended up in Dubai". He speculated that the outflow is around $30 billion which is almost 20 per cent of Pakistan’s total economy.
Businessmen blame financial haemorrhage which just took over and sat 6 months. A Businessman summed it up by saying, "The new Govenment took over and sat idle. Ishaq Dar was given the ropes of the financial ship. Dar's had no policies. He didn't want to continue the
present policies and did not have his own. He came and blamed the previous government for the ills. He presented a scenario that the previous Government was faking economic successes. He rocked the ship. After a month of his being finance minister the Rupee dropped to Rs. 70 and the KSE index went down to 10,000 from 18,000. Moody and Poors dropped Pakistans ratings. Government totally lost confidence and after the departure of President Musharraf the Stock Market took a free fall as if there was no tomorrow. The government’s inability to act evaporated the sense of security and the investors pulled out from Pakistan and the Stock Market. Now the Rupee is almost Rs.80 to a dollar and there is no hope. We were almost on the boat. Now the boat has sunk".
A builder pointed out that “In the last eight years, we had Shaukat Aziz as our finance minister and then the prime minister. He was former banker and knew how to pull money into Pakistan. We had a constant inflow of investment for 8 years and development. Now its the other way round. Money has vanished. It went to the US and EU but after the financial debacle there its all in the Middle East. Some Pakistani's are not shy of trading with India via Dubai".
Many top Pakistani business houses have shifted their offices in Dubai and are involved in roaring cross-country trade.A few Pakistani businessmen are jointly working with Indians in business and making a fortune. Back home in Pakistan, there are many hurdles in doing business with India.
A Pakistani invester commented, "Right now there is no hope of improvement ! We have lost 10 years. This government should have kept the policies of the previous government intact for a while. We call it the - Dar Effect". Shaukat Tareen are you listening ?
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Obama Projected to Take 345. McCain 192 :
Gallop Poll on Obama and McCain !
Conservative Poll site :
Other poll sites are:
Enjoy and Lets watch it happen here !
Don't forget to vote !
Brokaw : Should the United States respect Pakistani sovereignty and not pursue al Qaeda terrorists who maintain bases there, or should we ignore their borders and pursue our enemies like we did in Cambodia during the Vietnam War?
Obama: Katie, it's a terrific question and we have a difficult situation in Pakistan. I believe that part of the reason we have a difficult situation is because we made a bad judgment going into Iraq in the first place when we hadn't finished the job of hunting down bin Laden and crushing al Qaeda.
So what happened was we got distracted, we diverted resources, and ultimately bin Laden escaped, set up base camps in the mountains of Pakistan in the northwest provinces there.
They are now raiding our troops in Afghanistan, destabilizing the situation. They're stronger now than at any time since 2001. And that's why I think it's so important for us to reverse course, because that's the central front on terrorism.
They are plotting to kill Americans right now. As Secretary Gates, the defense secretary, said, the war against terrorism began in that region and that's where it will end. So part of the reason I think it's so important for us to end the war in Iraq is to be able to get more troops into Afghanistan, put more pressure on the Afghan government to do what it needs to do, eliminate some of the drug trafficking that's funding terrorism.
But I do believe that we have to change our policies with Pakistan. We can't coddle, as we did, a dictator, give him billions of dollars and then he's making peace treaties with the Taliban and militants.
What I've said is we're going to encourage democracy in Pakistan, expand our nonmilitary aid to Pakistan so that they have more of a stake in working with us, but insisting that they go after these militants.
And if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act and we will take them out. We will kill bin Laden; we will crush Al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.
Brokaw: Sen. McCain?
McCain: Well, Katie (ph), thank you.
You know, my hero is a guy named Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt used to say walk softly -- talk softly, but carry a big stick. Sen. Obama likes to talk loudly.
In fact, he said he wants to announce that he's going to attack Pakistan. Remarkable.
You know, if you are a country and you're trying to gain the support of another country, then you want to do everything you can that they would act in a cooperative fashion.
When you announce that you're going to launch an attack into another country, it's pretty obvious that you have the effect that it had in Pakistan: It turns public opinion against us.
Now, let me just go back with you very briefly. We drove the Russians out with -- the Afghan freedom fighters drove the Russians out of Afghanistan, and then we made a most serious mistake. We washed our hands of Afghanistan. The Taliban came back in, Al Qaeda, we then had the situation that required us to conduct the Afghan war.
Now, our relations with Pakistan are critical, because the border areas are being used as safe havens by the Taliban and Al Qaeda and other extremist organizations, and we have to get their support.
Now, General Petraeus had a strategy, the same strategy -- very, very different, because of the conditions and the situation -- but the same fundamental strategy that succeeded in Iraq. And that is to get the support of the people.
We need to help the Pakistani government go into Waziristan, where I visited, a very rough country, and -- and get the support of the people, and get them to work with us and turn against the cruel Taliban and others.
And by working and coordinating our efforts together, not threatening to attack them, but working with them, and where necessary use force, but talk softly, but carry a big stick.
Obama: Tom, just a...
Brokaw: Sen. McCain...
Obama: ... just a quick follow-up on this. I think...
McCain: If we're going to have follow-ups, then I will want follow-ups, as well.
Brokaw: No, I know. So but I think we get at it...
McCain: It'd be fine with me. It'd be fine with me.
Brokaw: ... if I can, with this question.
Obama: Then let's have one.
Brokaw: All right, let's have a follow-up.
McCain: It'd be fine with me.
Obama: Just -- just -- just a quick follow-up, because I think -- I think this is important.
Brokaw: I'm just the hired help here, so, I mean...
Obama: You're doing a great job, Tom.
Look, I -- I want to be very clear about what I said. Nobody called for the invasion of Pakistan. Sen. McCain continues to repeat this.
What I said was the same thing that the audience here today heard me say, which is, if Pakistan is unable or unwilling to hunt down bin Laden and take him out, then we should.
Now, that I think has to be our policy, because they are threatening to kill more Americans.
Now, Sen. McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I'm green behind the ears and, you know, I'm just spouting off, and he's somber and responsible.
McCain: Thank you very much.
Obama: Sen. McCain, this is the guy who sang, "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That I don't think is an example of "speaking softly."
This is the person who, after we had -- we hadn't even finished Afghanistan, where he said, "Next up, Baghdad."
So I agree that we have to speak responsibly and we have to act responsibly. And the reason Pakistan -- the popular opinion of America had diminished in Pakistan was because we were supporting a dictator, Musharraf, had given him $10 billion over seven years, and he had suspended civil liberties. We were not promoting democracy.
This is the kind of policies that ultimately end up undermining our ability to fight the war on terrorism, and it will change when I'm president.
McCain: And, Tom, if -- if we're going to go back and forth, I then -- I'd like to have equal time to go -- to respond to...
Brokaw: Yes, you get the...
McCain: ... to -- to -- to...
Brokaw: ... last word here, and then we have to move on.
McCain: Not true. Not true. I have, obviously, supported those efforts that the United States had to go in militarily and I have opposed that I didn't think so.
I understand what it's like to send young American's in harm's way. I say -- I was joking with a veteran -- I hate to even go into this. I was joking with an old veteran friend, who joked with me, about Iran.
But the point is that I know how to handle these crises. And Sen. Obama, by saying that he would attack Pakistan, look at the context of his words. I'll get Osama bin Laden, my friends. I'll get him. I know how to get him.
I'll get him no matter what and I know how to do it. But I'm not going to telegraph my punches, which is what Sen. Obama did. And I'm going to act responsibly, as I have acted responsibly throughout my military career and throughout my career in the United States Senate.
And we have fundamental disagreements about the use of military power and how you do it, and you just saw it in response to previous questions.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Will Uncle Sam still bestride the world in future?The financial crisis is likely to diminish the status of the United States as the world's only superpower.
On the practical level, the US is already stretched militarily, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and is now stretched financially.
On the philosophical level, it will be harder for it to argue in favour of its free market ideas, if its own markets have collapsed.
Some see this as a pivotal moment.
The political philosopher John Gray, who recently retired as a professor at the London School of Economics, wrote in the London paper The Observer: "Here is a historic geopolitical shift, in which the balance of power in the world is being altered irrevocably.
"The era of American global leadership, reaching back to the Second World War, is over... The American free-market creed has self-destructed while countries that retained overall control of markets have been vindicated."
"In a change as far-reaching in its implications as the fall of the Soviet Union, an entire model of government and the economy has collapsed.
"How symbolic that Chinese astronauts take a spacewalk while the US Treasury Secretary is on his knees."
No apocalypse now
Not all would agree that an American apocalypse has arrived. After all, the system has been tested before.
John Bolton gives rumours of US hegemony's demise short shrift
In 1987 the Dow Jones share index fell by more than 20% in one day. In 2000, the dot-com bubble burst. Yet both times, the US picked itself up, as it did post Vietnam.
Prof Gray's comments certainly did not impress one of the more hawkish figures who served in the Bush administration, the former UN ambassador John Bolton.
When I put them to him, he replied only: "If Professor Gray believes this, can he assure us that he is selling his US assets short?
"If so, where is he placing his money instead? And if he has no US assets, why should we be paying any attention to him?"
Nevertheless, it does seem that the concept of the single superpower left bestriding the world after the collapse of communism (and the supposed end of history) is no longer valid.
Even leading neo-conservative thinkers accept that a more multi-polar world is emerging, though one in which they want the American position to be the leading one.
Robert Kagan, co-founder in 1997 of the "Project for the New American Century" that called for "American global leadership", wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine this autumn: "Those who today proclaim that the United States is in decline often imagine a past in which the world danced to an Olympian America's tune. That is an illusion.
The US is seen as declining relatively and there has been an enormous acceleration in this perfect storm of perception in the waning days of the Bush administration
Dr Robin NiblettChatham House
"The world today looks more like that of the 19th Century than like that of the late 20th.
"Those who imagine this is good news should recall that the 19th Century order did not end as well as the Cold War did."
"To avoid such a fate, the United States and other democratic nations will need to take a more enlightened and generous view of their interests than they did even during the Cold War. The United States, as the strongest democracy, should not oppose but welcome a world of pooled and diminished national sovereignty.
"At the same time, the democracies of Asia and Europe need to rediscover that progress toward this more perfect liberal order depends not only on law and popular will but also on powerful nations that can support and defend it."
The director of a leading British think-tank Chatham House, Dr Robin Niblett, who has worked on both sides of the Atlantic, remarked that, at a recent conference he attended in Berlin, an American who called for continued US leadership was met with a new scepticism.
Despite its feats in space, China is said to face a future food crisis
"The US is seen as declining relatively and there has been an enormous acceleration in this perfect storm of perception in the waning days of the Bush administration. The rise of new powers, the increase in oil wealth among some countries and the spread of economic power around the world adds to this," he said.
"But we must separate the immediate moment from the structural. There is no doubt that President Bush has created some of his own problems. The overstretch of military power and the economic crisis can be laid at the door of the administration.
"Its tax cuts were not matched by the hammer of spending cuts. The combined effect of events like the failures in Iraq, the difficulties in Afghanistan, the thumbing of its nose by Russia in Georgia and elsewhere, all these lead to a sense of an end of an era.
The longer term
Dr Niblett argues that we should wait a bit before coming to a judgment and that structurally the United States is still strong.
America has been stretched by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
"America is still immensely attractive to skilled immigrants and is still capable of producing a Microsoft or a Google," he went on.
"Even its debt can be overcome. It has enormous resilience economically at a local and entrepreneurial level.
"And one must ask, decline relative to who? China is in a desperate race for growth to feed its population and avert unrest in 15 to 20 years. Russia is not exactly a paper tiger but it is stretching its own limits with a new strategy built on a flimsy base. India has huge internal contradictions. Europe has usually proved unable to jump out of the doldrums as dynamically as the US.
"But the US must regain its financial footing and the extent to which it does so will also determine its military capacity. If it has less money, it will have fewer forces."
With the US presidential election looming, it will be worth returning to this subject in a year's time to see how the world, and the American place in it, looks then.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
It's hard not to get emotional and very difficult to play the dispassionate journalist as I sit here, watching the Marriott Hotel burn on my computer screen courtesy of online news. Initial reports say rescuers still can't reach the upper floors. How many colleagues, friends, acquaintances lie buried in the wreckage is unclear.
It's the holy month of Ramadan, and the suicide truck bomber struck in the evening, just as hundreds of people would have been gathering to break the daily fast. Having attended such gatherings at the hotel, I suspect most of the crowd would not have been the Western infidels so detested by the extremists, but Pakistanis - and Muslims.
For me all roads once led to the Marriott, in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan. For six years the hotel was like a second home - as I worked on assignments in Pakistan or stopped off in transit on my way back to Australia from the madness of neighbouring Afghanistan.
Architecturally, the hotel building was unremarkable, 1970s vintage. But location is everything, and the Marriott was minutes away from the National Assembly, the Prime Minister's residence, Government bureaucracy and the headquarters of Pakistan's all-powerful spy agency, the ISI.
The billing as Islamabad's first five-star luxury hotel was somewhat overstated. The aesthetic of the place was no different to thousands of anonymous business hotels the world over. But that's my perspective. Outside the glass doors, the view from the street - where most of Pakistan's 170 million people live - the Marriott was, for many, an enduring symbol of everything that was wrong with their corrupt, dysfunctional nation.
What made this hotel special for the privileged few was the commodity being traded day and night in the foyer, cafes and restaurant: information.
Information, as they say, is power, and in Pakistan, power is a life and death struggle.
The 'real deal'
The Marriott, as American diplomats and spies were fond of saying, was "the real deal".
Hollywood may have created "Rick's Café" of Casablanca fame - a fictional world of intrigue - but the characters who inhabited the Marriott were playing out a real life drama, a latter day version of the "Great Game" to control Southwest Asia.
It often seemed that Pakistan was run from this hotel to the strains of the incessant hotel muzak.
This was a neutral ground for competing politicians, diplomats, warlords, drug lords, peddlers of nuclear weapons technology, and perhaps a few who fell into all those categories.
In a single day, I could exchange nods across the foyer with military strongman General Pervez Musharraf, who'd tried to convince me that his coup overthrowing civilian rule was necessary, or observe charismatic cricket star turned politician Imran Khan glide in to work the room, never failing to charm visiting Western journalists - despite the fact that so many of his countrymen had written him off as a political failure.
Alcohol was a tool of the trade even in an Islamic state such as Pakistan. At first it was brought to my room in a brown paper bag - after I filled out a government form declaring myself to be an unstable foreign alcoholic.
Later, hotel management discretely opened a windowless basement bar - one of the few venues in the capital to serve alcohol. Occasionally I'd disappear into this gloom for a quiet drink with the army officers-turned spies who were running Pakistan's secret wars in Afghanistan and Indian-occupied Kashmir. Many had embraced the extremist zeal of the militants they sought to control and exploit - yet they still enjoyed a scotch or a beer when I was paying.
Staggering back to my room, I'd be kept awake at night by the blaring music from the hotel function centre out the back, as Pakistan's leading families cemented alliances by marrying off their sons and daughters in colourful, elaborate weddings.
Then there was the hotel staff. Many had spent most of their working lives at the Marriott. They were happy to join in the theatre and tip me off when a "player" would swing in through the front doors, with a self important entourage armed to the teeth, all ignoring the screeches of the metal detector.
Nothing was impossible for them. Once, caught without transport while covering the fighting between Pakistan and Indian troops on Kashmir's "Line of Control", I was offered a hotel courtesy car, complete with uniformed chauffer. The elderly driver usually took diplomats wives shopping. Instead he found himself dodging Indian artillery fire on a mountain road with an increasingly anxious ABC crew. Implacable throughout, he only briefly displayed a flicker of anger when I attempted to apologise for getting him into this mess. "But I'm an Afridi" - he replied. This brief statement of tribal identity said it all: born and raised on the fierce border with Afghanistan, near the Khyber Pass, there was nothing he'd seen on my little expedition that was going to rattle him. But he chided, "You must pay for bullet holes or damage to hotel transport."
I write this tonight from the safety of a suburban home in Australia. The floors and attic are filled with vibrantly coloured Afghan and Pakistan rugs bought from the carpet wallahs who ran the rug shops along the Marriott's ground floor arcade.
The real bargains lay far from the hotel, in their warehouses off in the backstreets. Most of the traders, like the owner of the Marriott, were from Islam's Ismaili sect: astute, outstanding businessmen and great survivors.
For the price of a rug and a few hours of my time sitting on a warehouse floor, I'd receive endless cups of tea and political tip-offs that often proved remarkably accurate. After all, the carpet business runs on good intelligence and the carpet wallahs live and work in one of the toughest markets in the world.
I only hope that their survival instincts didn't fail them on Saturday night.
Change for the Marriott came after 9/11. As the Americans gathered their forces to invade Afghanistan, the hotel became media headquarters of the world.
Hundreds of foreign media established a surreal Tower of Babel in the hotel. TV networks fought for space on the roof to erect plywood studios, guests slept on stretchers three to a room. The function centre became a paying dormitory - and the room rate, like the punditry, seemed to escalate on a daily basis.
As CNN anchors shared their insight with the world from their rooftop plywood stage, South American journalists down in the foyer, watching the broadcasts on TV, transcribed every word before relaying back to anxious readers back home.
The foyer transformed into the theatre of the absurd. There was the chic French TV crew kitted out in the flowing robes of traditional Pakistani shalwar kameez; and the American reporter complaining that he couldn't bring his gun into the hotel.
With the fall of Kabul the circus moved on, but the Marriott had changed.
After 9/11 the security barriers went up outside the hotel, but no one seriously believed it would stop a determined teenager on a one-way ticket to martyrdom.
I began to demand rooms at the back of the building, off the ground floor, but not so high that I couldn't climb down in an emergency. For many Marriott regulars, it was a case of not if, but when, it would be attacked. In 2004 an explosion in the foyer wounded several people, then last year, a security guard died after challenging a suicide bomber at the gate.
The Marriott Hotel was also the place where I formed friendships with Pakistani journalists, academics and human rights activists, all striving to explain the chaos of their nation to the world. Many live close to the hotel. They would have certainly heard the bomb go off - if they were fortunate enough not to have been caught in the blast.
As the chaos recedes, they will get on with the business of explaining the how's and the why's of this atrocity. They'll infuriate the Islamic extremists who tolerate no criticism of their absolutist world.
Unlike me, a privileged visitor, they choose to continue living and working in Pakistan, facing the constant threat of the assassin's bullet or bomb - over the safer, quieter life of exile. They are some of the bravest people I know.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I hope we continue at the same pace !
Pak Economy in 1999 was: $ 75 billion
Pak Economy in 2007 is: $ 160 billion
GDP Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) in 1999: $ 270 billion
GDP Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) in 2007: $ 475.5 billion
GDP per Capita in 1999: $ 2,000
GDP per Capita in 2007: $ 3,004
Pak revenue collection 1999: Rs. 305 billion
Pak revenue collection 2007: Rs. 708 billion
Pak Foreign reserves in 1999: $ 700 million
Pak Foreign reserves in 2007: $ 17 billion
Pak Exports in 1999: $ 7.5 billion
Pak Exports in 2007: $ 18.5 billion
Textile Exports in 1999: $ 5.5 billion
Textile Exports in 2007: $ 11.2 billion
KHI stock exchange 1999: $ 5 billion at 700 points
KHI stock exchange 2007: $ 70 billion at 14,000 points
Foreign Direct Investment in 1999: $ 1 billion
Foreign Direct Investment in 2007: $ 8 billion
Debt servicing 1999: 65% of GDP
Debt servicing 2007: 26% of GDP
Poverty level in 1999: 34%
Poverty level in 2007: 24%
Literacy rate in 1999: 45%
Literacy rate in 2007: 53%
Pak Development programs 1999: Rs. 80 billion
Pak Development programs 2007: Rs. 520 billion
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Pakistan's president-elect Asif Ali Zardari is unlikely to have the country's powerful military breathing down his neck as did his slain wife during two stormy stints in power, analysts said. Zardari was overwhelmingly elected Saturday in a secret ballot of lawmakers, capping a remarkable rise from jail, exile and his wife Benazir Bhutto's assassination just nine months ago. Pakistan remains the world's only nuclear-armed Islamic nation and is seen as the frontline state in the US-led "war on terror," amid widespread international concern about its political stability. The military that has ruled Pakistan for around half its 61-year existence, most recently under former general Pervez Musharraf, remains a potent force. But analysts said Zardari's civilian rule would not be impeded as long as he did not interfere or challenge military doctrine. "The army has decided to coexist with the present political realities and leadership," Talat Masood, a retired general and military analyst, said. "They realise any meddling in politics will be very much misunderstood and will not be helpful to their own institution and interest in the country." Pakistan's military was heavily involved in terminating both Bhutto governments, in 1990 and 1996, when she blamed its army-led Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of being in cahoots with the country's then presidents. As president, Zardari will head up the National Command Authority, which safeguards the country's nuclear weapons. However, the reality is that the armed forces will have firm control of the atomic arsenal. "The military will still be in charge of the nuclear asset," Masood said. The feeling within military circles has become more pragmatic in the wake of the controversies and often chaotic circumstances that accompanied Musharraf's final years in power, which included several months under emergency rule. Zardari will now have to grapple with the militant threat that has seen nearly 1,200 people die in bombings and suicide attacks across Pakistan since the July 2007 siege. As president, Zardari has the right to appoint heads of the military, cementing an already strong position as co-chairman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), which won elections in February. But with no immediate moves to impeach Musharraf, the threat that led to his August 18 resignation, the military will give the new president the backing he needs to rule without hindrance, said Hasan Askari, a political analyst. "So far, Zardari has maintained cordial relations with the military top command and taken care of their sensitivities," said Askari, a former head of the political sciences department at the University of Punjab. "The army will show acceptance and see how things play out with Zardari as supreme commander of the armed forces. They have given him political space and are likely to stay within their professional domain." A vital factor in ensuring detente will be Zardari's continuing support of military operations in Pakistan's tribal areas, where troops have been fighting rebels blamed by the US for launching attacks on soldiers based in neighbouring Afghanistan. "The army needs political support for the war on terrorism and would expect the president to ensure that the civilian government backs its aims," Askari said. While Zardari's recent rise to power has been smooth the pressures of office will put him under strain in coming months, said Riffat Hussain, head of Peace and Conflict Studies at Islamabad University. "The army realises it has been too visible in Pakistani politics for too long, and that it is time for them to retreat," Hussain said. "But there will be people who look on the army as the final arbitrator in decision making. The relationship will be severely tested by the internal and external security threats that Pakistan is facing."
KARACHI - Portfolio investment in the Pakistani stock markets took a sever blow with foreign investors pulling out $471.5 million in only two months from July to September 5 while cumulative net flow was still on negative territory and further soared to the tune of $227 million, triggering fears in share markets.In August, foreign investors ejected $27.5 million and cumulative inflow in the period under review stood at $19 million.On September 5, the State Bank of Pakistan reported that the net flow of the portfolio investment has landed into negative by $227 million from July to date, which reflects further erosion of foreign investment as it stood negative by $112 million on June, 06 2008.During the period under review, the share markets witnessed cumulative inflow of $244m.The stock market watchers attributed the massive outflow to prolong political uncertainty and deteriorating economic and law and order situation in the country.They are of the opinion if the political conditions remain volatile the investment would continue to wobble and may witness further down grading in the investment.In Pakistan, like any other country of the region, political movements and uncertainty play a vital crucial role and negative role in effecting investment atmosphere in the country.Before judicial crisis erupted on March 9, 2007, the stock markets were robust and showing good results but as the crisis deepened it affected the portfolio investment which may continue to slide further if the government failed to take corrective measure in order to stabilize the political condition in the country, analysts said.A major outflow of portfolio investment had been recorded from the USA, UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Australia.According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) data, the USA investors withdrew $284 million, UK $75 million, Switzerland $47 million, Hong Kong $34 million and Australia $12 million during July-08 to September, 5 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Political sources revealed here yesterday that the much-discussed medical reports about his alleged mental disorders were also challenged by the government of Pakistan as fake.
Sources in the National Accountability Bureau said that NAB in early 2007 wrote to the London High Court and questioned the authenticity of the medical report about mental disorders that recently made headlines.
“We wrote to the London High that the government of Pakistan believes that the psychiatrist’s report was a case of perjury and meant to delay the proceedings of the corruption case,” a source said.
He added that the London High Court was requested to constitute an independent medical board to ascertain if the accused is really suffering from psychological disorders or faking it.
When the court approved the request, it recommended the case to the Head of Psychiatry Department, Harvard University; Head of Psychiatry Department, Columbia University; or Head of Psychiatry Department, New York State University. On Pakistan’s request, the court approved the first option of Harvard University’s Psychiatry Department.
However, before the matter could proceed further, the Lahore-based NAB special cell, probing corruption cases against Zardari and his assassinated wife Benazir Bhutto, was closed following an understanding reached between the former prime minster and then-president General Pervez Musharraf.
The PPP sources, when approached, said that Zardari was kept in jail in worst conditions for 11 years.
They argued that if anybody faced such conditions for only one month, his health was bound to be adversely affected. They said the jail conditions affected adversely the health of Zardari, who, they asserted, fully recovered afterwards.
The PPP is of the view that both Zardari and Bhutto were the target of political victimisation and that fake corruption cases were framed against them.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
In the interview she said-
'She and Javed Akhter cannot buy an
apartment in bombay because she is
a Muslim ! Saif ali khan said the same
thing another actor of Muslim descent
said the same thing'.
Watch it on Youtube :
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
By Steve Bryant and Ben Holland
Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) --
Islamists and Secularists
The political turmoil in Turkey -- the only Muslim member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and a Western ally in the fight against terrorism -- isn't helping.
In July, the Constitutional Court put an end to the latest confrontation between the Islamists who control the government and secularists. The armed forces, who head the secularist camp, have toppled four governments since 1960. They're fighting the ruling Justice and Development Party, known as the AKP, for pushing Islamic practices such as the wearing of headscarves.
The court rejected a lawsuit to outlaw the party for mixing politics and religion while also punishing the AKP by slashing its state funding in half to $20 million for next year.
Fighting the Kurds
Two days before the ruling, terrorists ignited two bombs on a busy Istanbul shopping street that killed 17 people and injured more than 150. The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded by using warplanes to bomb the mountain positions of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, whom the government suspects was behind the Istanbul attacks.
Turkey's two-decade battle against the autonomy- seeking Kurds helps explain why it has NATO's second- largest army, which devoured almost 10 percent of the national budget last year.
Erdogan, 54, is becoming more spendthrift, particularly now that he's no longer reined in by an International Monetary Fund accord. In 2005, Erdogan agreed to IMF-backed budget targets in exchange for a $10 billion loan to pay off debt stemming from the government's rescue of the banking system four years earlier. The spate of bank failures was caused by unregulated lending and helped push inflation above 70 percent at the start of 2002.
Erdogan Defies IMF
Last year, in an appeal to voters prior to the general election, the AKP violated the IMF accord by boosting spending to bring drinking water to isolated villages and distribute free food and household supplies to 500,000 of Ankara's 4 million inhabitants.
The AKP, which also tried to criminalize adultery in 2004 in a country that's 99 percent Muslim, won the election with 47 percent of the vote. The percentage of voters backing the AKP over 13 other parties was the largest in a general election in more than four decades.
The prime minister is now opening the spigot even wider. In May, during the same week in which the IMF agreement expired, the government announced plans to invest $15 billion over five years in farm irrigation and new roads in the largely Kurdish, southeastern part of the country.
The spending, which may help Erdogan win elections in March in this region, will turn a budget surplus of 1.9 billion liras ($1.6 billion) in the first half of the year into a 15.9 billion-lira deficit by the end of 2008, according to government projections.
``There is fiscal loosening, and it will not bode well for inflation,'' says Asli Savranoglu, an economist at EFG Istanbul Securities. ``Spending will no doubt increase ahead of the local elections, and the municipalities have probably started to spend more than budgeted already.''
Erdogan's stepped-up spending comes as a 43 percent jump in global food prices in the 12 months through June and $120-a-barrel oil batter Turkey's economy. In a nation that relies on imports for 95 percent of its energy, the cost of a ferry trip across the Bosporus waterway dividing the European and Asian halves of Istanbul jumped 22 percent to 1.40 liras in June alone.
High oil and natural gas costs, as well as the lira's appreciation during the past two years, widened Turkey's trade gap to $37 billion in the first half of 2008 from $27.7 billion a year earlier.
Central Bank Stumbles
Yilmaz, the 61-year-old central bank governor, has stumbled in trying to check inflation. The bank won its independence from government control in 2001 as a prelude to the IMF accord. Yilmaz, a City University, London- trained economist, worked at the bank for 26 years before he was promoted to the top spot in April 2006.
He wasn't the government's first choice: one AKP candidate, who was rejected by then President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, was the head of an Islamic bank that follows instructions from the Koran to avoid interest payments.
Within a month of becoming governor, Yilmaz reversed three years of steady cuts that had taken the benchmark overnight borrowing rate to a low of 13.25 percent from 80 percent in 2001. The governor, in moving to boost the slumping lira, added 4.25 percentage points to the rate in the space of two months. The currency rebounded 6 percent in July 2006 after the rate hike to 17.5 percent.
Yilmaz Under Pressure
The following year, government ministers and industrialists, concerned about an economic slowdown, began publicly attacking the higher rates. Although Yilmaz ratcheted down the rate to 16.75 percent in August, arguing that inflation was slowing toward his 4 percent target for 2008, that wasn't low enough for exporters and labor unions, which placed full-page ads in national newspapers.
``Don't let employment and production die,'' the Turkish Exporters Assembly and the country's largest unions said in their Oct. 16 ads. ``Don't just act like you're cutting interest rates, really cut them.''
Yilmaz's series of four more cuts to 15.25 percent by February 2008 prompted economists and investors to question the bank's independence from political pressure. ``The central bank is still maturing into its autonomy,'' Isbank's Ozince says. ``Even central banks can make mistakes, but it's hard to steer the right path, because unknown factors can dominate, especially in shallow waters like Turkey's.''
Only three months later, in May, as it became clear that the governor would miss his inflation target for the third straight year, Yilmaz began hiking rates again, to 16.75 percent. He also set a higher inflation target of 7.5 percent for 2009.
``They've been missing inflation targets for too long,'' says Jean-Dominique Butikofer, who helps manage about $725 million as head of emerging-market debt at Union Bancaire Privee in Zurich. ``They should have reacted much earlier on rates. The jury is still out to decide if inflation is being tackled or not.''
As industrial leaders launch a new round of barbs at Yilmaz -- Nurettin Ozdebir, chairman of the Ankara Chamber of Industry, called the central bank ``cowardly and timid'' in July -- the governor has little room to move. After the economy expanded at an annual rate of almost 7 percent in the six years from 2002, Turkey began slowing down.
The bank's July survey of about 80 economists and businesses forecasts growth of 4 percent this year and 4.5 percent in 2009. ``The data shows us that the economy is continuing to slow down,'' Yilmaz said on July 28. ``Domestic sales, production and indicators of confidence support this view.''
Turkey's six-year expansion -- the longest in its history --has been fueled by tighter bank regulations, the sale of state-owned companies and a surge in investment from overseas. The AKP drew in $51 billion in foreign direct investment in the three years to 2007, more than the combined total of all the governments before it. The funding, along with IMF-mandated tight budgets, allowed the government to reduce public-sector debt to 39 percent of the country's gross domestic product last year from 74 percent in 2002.
Modern Art Museum
As wealth grew in Istanbul, property developers swarmed to its dilapidated 19th-century buildings, described in melancholy terms in Nobel Prize laureate Orhan Pamuk's memoir Istanbul: Memories and the City (Knopf, 2005). Investors converted them into chic apartment buildings, cafes and restaurants as real estate prices in the country's commercial hub rose to rival London's.
Luxury department store chain Harvey Nichols, based in London, opened an 8,000-square-meter (86,000-square-foot) branch in Istanbul in 2006. And Eczacbasi Group, a Turkish ceramics and pharmaceuticals company, took a waterside warehouse and turned it into Istanbul Modern, the country's first privately funded modern art museum, complete with an elegant bar where well-heeled Istanbulites sip California pinot noir overlooking the Bosporus Strait.
Foreign companies also went on a buying spree in Turkey. Citigroup Inc., General Electric Co., ING Groep NV and Vodafone Plc bought Turkish banks and mobile phone companies. By the end of 2007, 9 of Turkey's 10 biggest nonstate banks had an international owner or partner, and all three mobile phone networks were majority owned by foreigners.
Fivefold Stock Gain
The ISE National 100 Index, Turkey's benchmark stock index, rose more than fivefold from the beginning of 2003 to the end of '07 and reached a high of 58,231.9 on Oct. 15, 2007.
This year, the measure fell as much as 40 percent to a low of 33,208.24 on July 1 as the court battle over AKP's future scared investors away. While the market rebounded in anticipation of the party's legal victory, the wrestling between secularists and the AKP has distracted Turkey from its decades-old project of European Union membership.
The EU says the government should do more to meet membership criteria by rescinding laws used to prosecute writers and intellectuals including Pamuk, restoring property seized from non-Muslim religious groups, allowing more competition and enforcing environmental standards.
A day after the court ruling, Erdogan pledged to keep his government on a secular footing and the nation on the road to the EU. That would help lure back investors and keep the economy growing. In the first six months of the year, foreign direct investment fell to $7.6 billion from $12.5 billion in the same period of 2007.
Some analysts question whether the prime minister will keep his word. Erdogan made a similar speech a year ago after his party won the general elections by a landslide. Six months later, he proposed Islam-inspired legislation, including an end to the headscarf ban for students.
Yilmaz, for his part, hasn't responded directly to his critics. He does say the bank needs to gain the public's confidence. ``We've been defeated by inflation; there's no question about it,'' Yilmaz said in a speech to business leaders in June. ``From now on, our credibility depends on what we do. We can win it back.''
More than the governor's reputation is at stake. Higher inflation will likely lead to the shuttering of more businesses such as those along Hosdere Street, dragging the economy down even further