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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The crown prince’s visit is one of Imran Khan’s greatest accomplishments yet

The hugely successful visit of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ) to Pakistan a week ago represents one of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s greatest foreign policy accomplishments yet, because it proved that his country’s ‘balancing’ act between regional powers is capable of turning latent rivals into trusted partners. The Emirati breakthrough The Pakistani and Arab media are celebrating MBZ’s hugely successful visit to Pakistan and lauding the $6.2 billion support package he provided to the South Asian state. The personal camaraderie between the Emirati leader and the Pakistani prime minister was on full display for the whole world ...

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Why giving G-B a provincial status is as laudable as it is controversial

Last year, when the federal government eventually decided to change the decades-old status quo in the tribal areas by merging the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), it was hailed as a watershed moment with the sole purpose of altering the economical and political situation of the neglected region for the better. Soon after this momentous decision, the people of Gilgit Baltistan (G-B), sensing how they had been neglected since the inception of the country, also began demanding similar treatment for their own region. Pressure began to mount on the government to change the existing state of affairs in ...

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With a possible rise of the Taliban regime, should Afghanistan’s neighbours be worried?

When US President Donald Trump, in his uncanny political demeanour, announced he had decided to pull out half the US military personnel from Afghanistan, not many people, even within his own defence establishment, anticipated such an abrupt announcement. However, the buck didn’t just stop there! Trump further asked Afghanistan’s neighbours and regional players, including India, Pakistan and Russia to play an active role in “rebuilding Afghanistan”. He is of the view that it is the duty of Afghanistan’s neighbours and not the US to fight the Taliban and the Islamic State (IS). However, staying true to his (lack of) ...

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With a no tolerance policy on criticism, how is the PTI government different from an authoritarian regime?

The announcement that Dr Farrukh Saleem is in fact not the spokesperson on economic and energy issues is the latest event in the chain of comedies produced by the incumbent government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Saleem was appointed as spokesperson for the government on economic and energy issues in October. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted about Saleem’s appointment, and since then Saleem appeared on TV many times as the spokesperson for the government. Ministry of Information is pleased to announce that Dr Farrukh Saleem will be the Government’s spokesperson on Economy and energy issues, notification shall follow accordingly @SaleemFarrukh — Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) ...

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The PTI fallback formula: When in doubt, blame PML-N

Ever since Sheikh Rashid has been given charge of the Ministry of Railways, he has been busy making a hue and cry about the railways department being ruined by the corruption during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s tenure. In every single press conference, Rashid levels allegations of mass corruption on members of the PML-N, particularly former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique. However, on Wednesday, December 27th an audit report by AF Ferguson was presented in the Supreme Court (SC) by Rafique’s lawyers, which stated that no corruption or irregularities were found in the railways department during the five-year tenure of ...

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