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.