Category - Featured Articles

1
Punjab Police Caught Whipping Suspects in Public
2
Pakistan Government to Pay-off Debts of Energy Firms
3
Pakistan Stops Financing Crude Oil Imports
4
Clearing Air: An Interview With Wajid Shamsul Hassan
5
Pakistan To Swap Currency With China
6
China To Invest In Pakistan

Punjab Police Caught Whipping Suspects in Public

Punjab Police Caught Whipping Suspects in Public

 

Five policemen in Chiniot, Punjab were arrested after a footage that aired on various news channels clearly showed them publicly whipping four men accused of stealing rice.

Four men were beaten-up like animals by five policemen and the footage shot by an amateur video journalist has created an uproar, like the Rodney King incident in San Francisco, California.

A case was registered against Sub-inspector Obaidullah Kaliar and constables Muhammed Afzal, Sajjad and Sarfraz for assaulting and torturing the suspects in public. These suspects were beaten brutally beaten on 1st March, in the District Chiniot of the province of Punjab.

Four men were arrested a few days earlier on suspicion of stealing rice from a truck.

These men were brought to a public place on Monday where two of them were whipped with a leather strap, locally known as ‘chitrol’ and the other two were taken next to the road and were beaten publicly.

Sub Inspector Abdul Razzaq of Bhawana police station had arrested these suspects for allegedly stealing rice from a truck but allegations against them were not proved and they were released.

A day later these men tried to register a report against the police for torture. They were again arrested and this around whipped in the public park.

This incident was filmed by one of the eye witnesses and aired on various media channels.

Immediately after the footage was shown on private channels, police officers of Bhawana police station were suspended and arrested after a case of torture and assault was registered against them.

Later Inspector General Police Punjab Tariq Saleem Dogar directed the higher police officials of the province to adopt foolproof measures to evaluate incidents of police violence and take immediate action against the officials involved.

Mr. Dogar said, “ all senior police officers have been told to warn their subordinates to ensure that there was no incident of police violence in their respective jurisdictions. If any case of police violence was reported in future, the officer of region, district and city would be held responsible .”

Human rights activists in Pakistan have condemned the incident. Asma Jahangir, an active Human Right Worker, called it “barbaric” and demanded strong punishments for those involved.

Chief Minister Punjab Mr. Shahbaz Sharif took notice of torture incident at Bhawana police station and has ordered suspension and arrest of policemen including Sub-Inspector, and said that such behaviors will not be accepted anymore.

The Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) does not specify the word ‘torture’, but only mentions “hurt” which mainly deals with a dispute between civilians. Hence the torture by the state agents has no clause in PPC.

Therefore such brutal state agents do not fear that they will be punished for torturing someone in custody.

Police officials suspended and arrested will not be tried for assaulting the suspects as Pakistan has no such law against them, and arresting them is only an act to calm the popular sentiments.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), who was suspended in July of 2009 for torturing Shfiq Dogar, was back in office within two months.

This incident is not new as police torture is a common practice and Pakistani police have a long standing reputation of brutality and violence against those they are paid to protect.

Pakistan Government to Pay-off Debts of Energy Firms

In order to avoid further energy crisis, Pakistan government has assured Pakistan State Oil, PSO that it will shortly pay off the debts of the two leading power producers.

When PSO stopped the fuel supply to HUBCO and KAPCO after its warning, the shortfall of electricity in the country worsened and forced the government to resolve the non-payment issue. After a series of consultations, between Raja Pervez Ashraf, Minister for Water and Power, Syed Naveed Qamar, Petroleum Minister and Finance Secretary Salman Siddique that HUBCO and KAPCO need a bridge loan to pay off utilities. The two power companies were almost producing 2000MW on a regular basis.

These letter of credits include Rs38.7 billion from Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), Rs36.6 billion from Hubco and Rs17.6 billion from Kapco.

Fuel supplies to these companies were resumed after the payment of RS. 1billion by each.

PSO sources have said, “Hubco and Kapco have to bear the burden of Rs3.8 billion and Rs2.1 billion as financial charges for delayed payments against oil supplies. Whereas Pepco also owes over Rs38 billion for oil but its supplies could not be disrupted ‘because of national interest’.”

Tahir Basharat Cheema, Pepco managing-director talking to the journalists at today said, “the chief adjuster has been asked by the government to deduct Sindh government’s Rs22 billion and adjust it against Pepco’s receivables. Punjab and AJK governments also owe over Rs3 billion each to the Pepco. The Sindh government’s demand for independent arbitration was not justified because its power bills were verified at four different stages by the relevant officials of the provincial government. The issue stood settled and the federal adjuster would accordingly make accounting from adjustments.”

PSO had reportedly complained the federal government as these power companies despite of holding back more than Rs.50 billion to them, are engaged in handing out dividends to the shareholders. In case of the intervention of Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan both HABCO and PEPCO can be penalized for the payments of dividends to shareholders while being default in contractual payments.

Rana Asad Amin, has been appointed as an additional secretary of the finance ministry, ‘to make book adjustments in the accounts of provincial governments and power companies.’ He will adjust further payments to PSO by deducting provincial electricity bills from the provincial bills and adjusting them towards HABCO and PEPCO.

In order avoid financial obligations internationally inter corporate circular debt will be scaled down in a meeting held on Thursday.

Pakistan Stops Financing Crude Oil Imports

state-bank-of-pakistanAs of yesterday State Bank of Pakistan will not sell foreign exchange to banks for financing the crude oil imports. SBP had given banks a full working week to get prepared for securing funding from the international market.

The present measure has been adopted in the wake of Pakistan rupee losing 53 paisa or 0.6 per cent of its value within 4 days against the dollar as banks began to buy US dollars in advance. Bankers anticipate a further decline in the rupee value as they start financing crude oil imports. Crude imports stood at $4 billion or more than 40 per cent of the overall petroleum imports of $9.5 billion in FY09.

Pakistani bankers estimate this year’s crude imports around $3.5 billion if the global prices remain range-bound and local refineries’ output that declined eight per cent in July-November 2009 does not rebound quickly.(In July-October 2009 crude imports fell to a billion dollars from two billion dollars in a year-ago period due to reduced refineries’ production and lower international prices )

The banks in Pakistan need some $300 million per month to finance crude oil imports.  The rupee depreciated a bit immediately after last announcement and  it may lose some more value in next few weeks unless there are big inflows of foreign exchange.

After the talks between Pakistan and the IMF mission held in Dubai last month, the government is expecting $1.2 billion after the approval by the IMF boardpakistan-rupeescheduled to meet on December 21-22.

But IMF’s Director of External Relations Department Caroline Atkinson has said discussions with Pakistan were in progress, implying that the Dubai talks were not final and that the release of the fourth trance of the $7.6 standby credit might be delayed.

If Pakistan does not get the fourth trance this month a steeper decline in the rupee value of rupees in anticipated in the last weeks of December.

Pakistani bankers also concerned that the year-end servicing of both sovereign and corporate foreign debts would keep the rupee under pressure.

Foreign debt servicing in October-December 2009 was estimated well above a billion dollars, the major share of which was paid in December. In July-September Pakistan spent $1.2 billion on foreign debt servicing despite a roll-over of $450 million.

In July 2008, the State Bank had decided to provide foreign exchange to banks for financing import of crude oil and petroleum products to keep the exchange rates stable amidst inconsistency  triggered by international financial crisis and recession. But it stopped providing foreign exchange for financing of import of furnace oil from February 2009 and for that of petroleum products from July.

Now it has stopped selling foreign exchange for crude oil as well—reportedly to meet one of the conditions of the IMF standby loan—thus restoring the pre-July 2008 arrangements wherein banks were responsible for arranging foreign exchange to finance imports of both crude oil and all petroleum products.

Between February 2009 and 10 December 2009, when banks started financing of furnace oil imports on their own, the rupee has lost 6.8 per cent of its value against the US unit. A senior State Bank official remarked. “This should remove fears that the shifting of financing of crude oil imports to banks would lead to a big depreciation in the rupee value,” He  also added  “The rupee might lose a bit but we neither foresee a major decline in its value nor a serious inconsistency in exchange rates.”

Bankers also dispel the possibility of a speculative attack on the rupee value saying the State Bank is yet to allow forward selling of foreign exchange to importers and thus the question of manipulating exchange rates does not arise. But they say the central bank may allow it sometime next year as the IMF is believed to have raised this issue during talks with SBP authorities.

Clearing Air: An Interview With Wajid Shamsul Hassan

The ISI had plotted a stint to malign the President of Pakistan and that is why the Pakistani High Commisioner to Britain was intercepted in Geneva while retrieving documents for the National Acountability Bureau from Swiss attorneys. He was accompanied by Dr. Danishwar Malik of NAB and they were performing a government duty but they were represented as acting criminally by a GEO TV reporter. The following interview of Wajid Shams-ul-Hassan was conducted one day before the Supreme Court decision on NRO..

Ibrahim Sajid Malick (ISM): What were you doing in Geneva?

Wajid Shamsul Hasan (WSH):  I was officially assigned by the Pakistan Foreign Office to accompany NAB Prosecutor General Dr Danishwar Malik to Geneva. Dr Danishwar Malik was dispatched from NAB Islamabad to go to Geneva to collect the cartons lying with the Swiss lawyers.

ISM: What documents did you pick up from the attorney and why?

WSH:  It was the NAB Prosecutor General who received the closed cartons in my presence and that of Mr. Aftab Khokher, Deputy Permanent Representative at the Pakistan’s Geneva Mission. Since the boxes were closed I do not know the nature of things inside the boxes.

ISM: Why did you not respond to Geo stringer?

WSH: I was intercepted by two hoodlum looking guys in a Geneva street. They did not identify themselves as such and I was not obliged to respond to thug-looking strangers.

ISM: Is it your intent to destroy these documents? If not, can they be used against President Zardari? Are you willing to make them available to Pakistani judicial system?

WSH:  Boxes sent in sealed diplomatic bags from Geneva by the Pakistan’s Permanent Representative’s office are in the safe custody of Pakistan High Commission in London. These sealed diplomatic bags containing the boxes were inspected by the NAB Prosecutor General Dr. Danishwar Malik on his arrival in London from Geneva. There was no intent and there is no question of either tampering with them or destroying them. They will be shipped as and when NAB makes arrangements. As regards their

ISM: NAB Chairmain Naveed Ahsan has asked that you send the Swiss court record of cases against President Zardari as soon as possible through diplomatic bag and special courier. Will you comply?

WSH: Yes. Those boxes lying in the Pakistan Embassy in London are NAB’s property. I have requested the NAB authorities to assign Dr Danishwar Malik who brought them here, to come over to London, collect them after inspection and conform if these were subjected to any tampering or foul play as was alleged by a section of Pakistani media. I have requested that either NAB Prosecutor General Dr Danishwar Malik or any person authorized by NAB is sent to London as a special courier to inspect those boxes. Pakistan High Commission will make arrangements accordingly for their shipment in the same sealed diplomatic bags they were sent to London from Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan’s Permanent mission in Geneva.

ISM: Did you benefit from NRO? If not, why is your name in the list of NRO beneficiaries?

WSH: I did not benefit from NRO. It was clarified by the Minister of State for Law Mr. Afzal Sindhu, that in his press conference while announcing the list of NRO beneficiaries my name was mentioned inadvertently as a mistaken identity since a name similar to mine was in the list. My position was repeatedly clarified in the media.

However, I regret that despite clarifications a particular group in the media continues to mention my name as a beneficiary although its channel Geo was the first to highlight Law Minister’s clarification. Obviously this could mean there is a sinister method behind this madness. And, the conspiracy to destabilize the democratic government is gaining strength.

ISM: Do you know a gentleman name Naseer Malik in Geneva? Why was he so interested in embarrassing you?

WSH:  Most certainly not.

ISM: Why do you think ISI’s Joint Counterintelligence Bureau rep who works within your premises provided your travel information to Geo’s stringer?

WSH: I do not think that any one working in my Mission was involved in ‘leaking’ the information of my travel. Any way my visit was not clandestine or mysterious as everything was on record.

ISM: Why were you framed? Who gains from it?

WSH:  I feel that I have been made a victim of a scandalous campaign by Bhutto-haters with the sole objective of targeting President Zardari. By hitting me they think they weaken Mr. Zardari.

ISM: Why do you think Pakistanis who support democracy are muzzled?

WSH: It is a game of lethal perceptions let loose in a section of the media with an agenda of their own to destabilize and derail democracy.  Since they could not manage an electoral defeat to keep PPP out of power, they now want democracy to be murdered judicially. This is amply reflected in their comments that whatever the decision of the Supreme Court, the recent ‘disclosures’ by the media shall have to be taken notice of. I am confident that Pakistan’s judiciary has come of age through toughest trial; it won’t play to the media gallery and shall act on merit. President Zardari has been a victim of political vendetta for more than ten years. The pudding of vendetta has been tasted by the Chief Justice himself who was made a similar victim of reference of fabricated charges by President Musharraf. Had there been no change in government General Musharraf would have made him rot in detention. He was brutally maligned by that section of the media who dance to the tunes played by their masters who had supported Musharraf in his action against the Chief Justice.

Pakistan To Swap Currency With China

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currency-swapThe sources in the Pakistan Ministry of Finance told Dawn that they are considering entering into currency swap agreements with China and Malaysia for containing the declining foreign exchange reserves. According to the sources the foreign investment has declined by 25 per cent.

The Ministry has already asked the State Bank to work out a strategy in consultation with the central bank of China for a currency swap arrangement.

According to a senior official of the ministry ‘China already has such an arrangement with 18 countries and the central bank of Malaysia is also working over this aspect,’

The figures available at the State Bank indicate that the foreign currency reserves declined by $700 million within the last one month.

The SBP data indicates that the dollar reserves on Nov 7, 2009 were $14.27 billion and it has dropped considerably to $13.57 billion by Dec 5 and this sharp decline has resulted in the increase of the green back rates to more than Rs84 per dollar.

According to the plan Pakistan will be approaching the trading partners like China, Malaysia and the like minded countries with proposals for the currency swap. As per the plan the Chinese authorities would pay in rupees for the purchases made by their companies in Pakistan.

Pakistan would ask China to procure yarn in rupees and not in dollars, which is one of the commodities being purchased by Chinese importers in large quantities from Pakistan in recent times.

Subsequently Pakistan would ask China to sell Pakistani importers machinery and other capital goods in yuan as against the existing arrangement of trading in dollar terms.

‘The arrangement requires that the central banks of both countries have adequate deposits of each others’ currencies,’ the plan said.

The plan also said that Pakistan was importing edible oil worth billions of dollars from Malaysia and similar arrangements will be proposed to them to sell edible oil in rupees, while ringgit deposits would be made in State Bank.

However, the proposed currency swap arrangement is at its initial stage and official of the State Bank told Dawn that it might take some time to prepare for this new option and make it operational with the banking system.

China To Invest In Pakistan

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A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between China’s Hong Kong-listed chemicals-maker, Lumena Resources Corp, and the KASB Group of Pakistan.

This is a great sign of initiative considering the fact that foreign investors have stopped even visiting Pakistan for security reasons. Under the deal, an industrial park is to be set up for Chinese companies to explore areas of mutual interest for joint ventures in the South Asian country.

Pakistan economy has registered only 2 % growth in the last fiscal year due to the rising violence in the country. At present many foreign firms are reluctant to invest in the country and many others are trying to quit their operations in the country.

In spite of these adversities, Beijing considers its friendship with Islamabad even more important in the current context of growing US influence in the region, and China maintains a large economic presence.

Lumena, the world’s second largest producer of the nardite, a mineral used in making paper and glass, operates mines in China’s Sichuan province.

Lumena’s founder, Suolang Duoji, visited the Board of Investment (BOI) in Islamabad last week and discussed with Tariq Iqbal Puri, (Secretary BOI) about the investment opportunities available in Pakistan for Chinese businessmen in both the public and private sectors.

Pakistan allows 100% foreign equity in the major sectors and full repatriation of profits and dividends in all the sectors.in order to attract overseas companies willing to brave the security risk,  Special economic zones (SEZs) are also being set up with attractive incentive packages.

Lumena’s Pakistani partner, KASB, established by Khadim Ali Shah Bukhari in 1958, is seeking to diversify from its core of providing financial services such as investment banking, research and asset management. Its other interests include investments in technology, food and dairy, oil and gas exploration and production.

It is worth mentioning that Suolang’s visit to Pakistan comes in the wake of a trip to China by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in October. At that time several Chinese companies had showed interest in undertaking alternative-energy projects to help overcome Pakistan’s dire shortage of power. Simultaneously Pakistan’s Alternative Energy Board had signed MoUs with China’s Wuxi Suntech Power, China Electric Equipment Group and the Solar Energy Research Institute for cooperation in alternative-energy projects.

Gilani had also used his visit to propose to Levin Zhou, president of China International Capital Corp, the creation of a joint Pakistan-China holding company aimed at facilitating financing for Chinese companies intending to invest in Pakistan.

The Chinese have previously indicated plans to invest US$200 million in an industrial estate in Faisalabad, which will eventually extend to more than 1,800 hectares.

More than 60 Chinese companies are at present involved in 122 projects in Pakistan.

Continued Chinese interest is welcome in Pakistan as worsening security drives away the likes of London-based Tullow Oil Plc and Budapest-based Millennium Oil Limited (MOL), Hungary’s largest oil refiner. These companies have been unable to continue their operations in North-West Frontier Province amid rising violence there. MOL had started gas production from its Manzalai field in the province after an initial $500 million investment.

Foreign direct investment fell 53.2% in the four months through October. In an effort to bolster the economy, which the International Monetary Fund predicts will grow only 2% this year compared with the 3.3% government target, Islamabad is even appealing to Pakistan’s eight million expatriates to do more to help.

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