Give PTI six months, they said – now we have Rs2.42 trillion added to our debt

A historic problem in Pakistan, one it has been facing for quite some time now, is the debt trap. Each successive government in Pakistan keeps borrowing for temporary fixes, which only helps in the short-term but has made us worse off in the long-run. However, even before it was elected to power, the incumbent government consistently maintained it would get Pakistan out of this trap once and for all (but only they knew how). Thus far, not only has the government been entirely unsuccessful in getting us out of this mess and bridging the gap between expenditures and revenue, it ...

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February 12, 2019
 Imran Jan
TOPICS

Sindh PAC: PPP’s mute watchdog?

In the Sherlock Holmes short story, The Adventure of Silver Blaze, a race horse named Silver Blaze disappears and its trainer is killed. Holmes figures out that it had to be an inside job since the dog didn’t bark, which it is supposed to if there was a stranger involved. The same seems to be true for the watchdog in Sindh called the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Over the last nine years, the auditor-general of Pakistan has unearthed irregularities of Rs957 billion in the Sindh government’s accounts. Meanwhile, the provincial PAC has not barked once in a decade. Not a single ...

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Pakistan’s melting glaciers: Our climate change crisis will destabilise Asia’s rivers

Pakistan is fortunate to be home to three great mountain ranges: the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush. In fact, on the drive up the Karakoram Highway from Islamabad to Gilgit, I often stop at a place near Jaglote town where these three ranges actually meet. One can see the grand vista from the road, which could easily be missed if not for a sign nearby which reads, “The junction point of the three mightiest mountain ranges of the world.” The Karakoram includes the K2, the world’s second-highest peak, and is the most heavily glaciated area on the planet apart ...

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Does judicial bias really favour women who cover themselves?

The tendency to judge others is a widely prevalent phenomenon in humans. Unfortunately, judicial bias may have significant consequences for the alleged perpetrator, especially in sexual assault cases. After all, neutrality and impartiality are of utmost importance in such cases in order to ensure a fair trial. The Supreme Court of Pakistan defined bias in Asif Ali Zardari’s case, reported as Pakistan Legal Decisions (PLD) 2001 SC 568, as: “‘Bias’ has been held synonymous with ‘partiality’, and strictly to be distinguished from ‘prejudice’. Under particular circumstances, the word has been described as a condition of mind, and has been held to ...

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PTI’s vague and static foreign policy will only worsen Pakistan’s standing in the world

Historically, Pakistan’s foreign policy has been a domain in which elected governments have been allowed very little space and scope to work in. Our founding father envisaged a foreign policy based on peaceful relations with our neighbours – including India – and one that would value our sovereignty. Contrary to his vision, Pakistan has not been able to devise a balanced policy that can be termed entirely beneficial for its own national interest. The current government led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also finds itself in a position where Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is symbolically heading foreign affairs while ...

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Imran Khan or Ayub Khan: Is PMRA the new tool to curb freedom of press and control media?

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) government in the centre recently approved the formation of a new regulatory body, known as the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA). From now, all media, including print, electronic and social, will be simultaneously regulated by this newly established body. Organisations such as the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), and the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) have already disapproved of the formation of the PMRA and have cautioned against it, terming it an attack on the freedom of press and expression. The PFUJ categorically rejected the PMRA and termed it ...

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PTI’s third finance bill in six months and yet no relief for the common man in sight

The highly anticipated second mini-budget or the third finance bill for the current fiscal year (whatever you may like to call it) has, at last, been revealed. Finance Minister Asad Umar, feeling the heat from all ‘concerned’ quarters, made an attempt to appease by announcing tax concessions to the banking sector and the business community at large. On paper, the bill looks acceptable, as it is aimed at restoring the confidence of the business sector in the economy. Abolishing the withholding tax, abolishing the super tax on the non-banking sector, continuing the 1% reduction per annum in corporate income tax, allowing capital ...

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From “Pakistan needs to do more” to “Imran Khan was right”

United States(US) Senator Lindsey Graham has always taken a keen interest in foreign affairs. That being said, he’s rarely came across a war he did not vote in favour of, as he also supported the US war in Afghanistan. However, on a recent visit to Islamabad, he left stating that Imran Khan – a man who long before becoming Pakistan’s prime minister had repeatedly criticised America’s role in the region – was right all along. Speaking before journalists, Graham said, “Prime Minister Imran Khan was criticised over the decades… for talking about reconciling with the Taliban – he was right! One thing I ...

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Let’s talk about Pakistan’s spiralling circular debt

Power-sector circular debt has become a subject of hot discussion as the media bandies the government’s efforts in securing emergency finance from external sources. Although various explanations of the cause and potential solutions to this crisis have been published in academic circles, very little of this has been understood by the population of Pakistan. Unsurprisingly, none of the discourse has translated into action at the policy level. Circular debt At its core, circular debt is the state’s outstanding financial obligations to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for supplied power, and to vendors for fuel consumed by state-owned power plants. The problem For decades, the ...

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Why there is no legitimate reason to repeal the 18th Amendment

Talk of repealing the 18th Amendment is once again in the air. Such talk is about as toxic to the concept of federalism in Pakistan as the current smog situation is to our lungs. The general debate regarding repealing the amendment has more or less focused on how it has turned Pakistan into a confederation. I recently wrote about how this argument was flawed in Express Tribune’s Op-Ed column. But now a new line of attack seems to have surfaced. Sitting in the Supreme Court’s courtroom on Thursday, January 3rd, I was able to witness the exchange between the Chief Justice ...

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