Economic and Political Weekly 01-12-2019

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World

Politics

·President Donald Trump made a surprise Thanksgiving visit to US troops in Afghanistan on 28th Nov and said he believed Taliban insurgents would agree to a ceasefire in America’s longest war.

Trump’s visit was his first to Afghanistan since becoming president and came a week after a prisoner swap between Washington and Kabul that has raised hopes for a long elusive peace deal. “The Taliban wants to make a deal and we are meeting with them,” Trump told reporters after arriving in Afghanistan after an overnight flight from the United States, kept secret for security reasons. “We say it has to be a ceasefire and they didn’t want to do a ceasefire and now they want to do a ceasefire, I believe. It will probably work out that way.”

·13 French soldiers killed after helicopters collide in Mali

France suffered its heaviest military casualties in 36 years on Monday night when two helicopters involved in Operation Barkhane, which is fighting jihadists in Mali, collided killing 13 soldiers. The incident occurred near the borders of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, and claimed the lives of soldiers from four regiments. Acting on intelligence information, paratroop commandos on the ground had pursued jihadists in a pick-up truck and on motorcycles. A firefight ensued and the paratroopers called in air support, Gen François Lecointre, chief-of-staff of the armed forces, told journalists.

The helicopters, a Tigre and a Cougar, arrived rapidly in total darkness and collided. The commandos on the ground heard two explosions. All on board died.

· Earthquake in Albania leaves at least 21 dead and 600 injured. The Albanian Prime Minister’s future daughter-in-law is among dozens killed in earthquake

At least 21 people are dead and 600 injured after an earthquake struck Albania, flattening buildings, tearing open roads and prompting countries across the Balkans to send rescue teams to help local crews search for survivors. The 6.4 magnitude quake struck just before 4am on Tuesday with an epicenter 30km northwest of the Albanian capital, Tirana, where people were shaken awake and rushed into the pre-dawn streets in alarm. The Adriatic port of Durres and the nearby town of Thumane suffered the most serious damage and the greatest number of casualties, as apartment buildings collapsed around sleeping residents who had little time to escape.

  • The Chinese government’s carefully constructed narrative around its Xinjiang detention centers appears to have been shattered by hundreds of pages of leaked documents published by Western mediaover the last two weeks.

Beijing has long insisted that its vast camps are voluntary “vocational training centers,” where people learn job skills and are then free to leave. Yet the leaks paint a grim picture of heavily fortified re-education centers, designed to turn Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities into good Chinese citizens who also speak Mandarin. And the students can’t leave until they have become just that. There has been nothing yet to indicate the documents are fake — both the New York Times and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists have published the original versions or verbatim copies on their websites. Even China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not directly disputed their authenticity. “For all its efforts at secrecy, the Chinese government can no longer hide the extent, and the reach, of its campaign of repression in Xinjiang,” regional expert Adrian Zenz wrote in an opinion piece in the New York Times this week.

One of the eight suspects charged was found not guilty, while the seven who face capital punishment can appeal. More than 20 people, including two police officers and several foreign hostages, were killed after five militants attacked an upscale cafe in the capital Dhaka on July 1, 2016. The five militants were killed by police when officers raided the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe to bring an end to an hours-long standoff. Bangladeshi authorities organized a special tribunal to charge the eight suspects, who all pleaded not guilty to a host of crimes, including aiding and abetting a criminal organization and participating in a criminal conspiracy. As they were led out of court, some of the men were heard shouting “we are soldiers of the caliphate.”

· China angered as Trump signs Bills backing Hong Kong protesters

The Chinese government reacted furiously on Thursday after US president Donald Trump signed laws supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, calling it a severe interference in China’s internal affairs and warning of immediate retaliation. Mr Trump had appeared reluctant to sign the legislation in recent days, suggesting trade negotiations with China were a key priority, but with overwhelming bipartisan support for the Bills lawmakers would have been able to override any veto by the president. “I signed these Bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong, ” he said. “They are being enacted in the hope that leaders and representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences”.

·More Saudi writers and journalists detained, says rights group

Saudi Arabia has detained nine writers, journalists and bloggers in its latest round of a protracted crackdown on dissent. London-based Saudi rights group ALQST confirms reports that eight men and one woman were seized from their homes in mid-November. ALQST identifies a second woman whose arrest it cannot verify and says others not yet named have been rounded up and jailed. None are high-profile activists and no reasons have been given for their detention. ALQST says suppression of “activists, writers and advocates of reform [has] been going on” since Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince in June 2017 and the country’s security agencies were reorganized. Adam Coogle of Human Rights Watch told the Washington Post that more than 200 Saudi citizens have been jailed in the past year. “It’s just all part of the repression campaign against independent voices in Saudi society. If people weren’t scared to talk before, they would be now

·Iranian consulate in Iraq torched as anti-Tehran protests intensify. Almost 400 killed by Iraqi security forces and unknown gunmen since protests began last month

Protesters have burnt down an Iranian consulate in southern Iraq in the latest evidence of popular anger over Tehran’s alleged interference in Iraqi life. The diplomatic building attacked on 27th Nov night in the city of Najaf is the second Iranian consulate that has been targeted during weeks of anti-government demonstrations. Many protesters, frustrated by corruption, poor public services and low living standards, have attacked Iranian targets because of Tehran’s backing for the Iraqi government. Almost 400 people have now been killed by Iraqi security forces and unknown gunmen since the protests began in October. Neither the crackdown nor promises from Iraq’s leaders to curb corruption and change electoral laws have succeeded in quelling the unrest. Iraqi security forces shot dead at least 28 protesters on 28th Nov after demonstrators stormed and torched an Iranian consulate overnight, in what could mark a turning point in the uprising against the authorities. At least 24 people died when troops opened fire on demonstrators who blocked a bridge in the southern city of Nassiriya before dawn on 28th Nov. Medical sources said dozens of others were wounded. Four others were killed in the capital Baghdad, where security forces opened fire with live ammunition and rubber bullets against protesters near a bridge over the Tigris River.

·Afghan officials said on 27th Nov that two separate explosions in the country’s north killed at least 16 people, almost all of them women and young girls.

A roadside bomb struck a civilian vehicle going to a wedding on 27th Nov evening, killing at least 15 people; six women, six girls and two infants, as well as the male driver, according to Nasrat Rahimi, an interior ministry spokesman. He said two other civilians were wounded in the blast in the northeastern Kunduz province.

· British police on 29th Nov shot dead a man wearing a fake suicide vest that stabbed two people to death in London and injured three more before being wrestled to the ground by bystanders, in what the authorities called a terrorist attack.

The attacker went on the rampage just before 2pm (1400 GMT), targeting people at Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge in the heart of the city’s financial district – the scene of a deadly attack by Islamist militants two years ago.

Economy

· The retail portion of Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering (IPO) has been oversubscribed, with orders reaching 38.1 billion Saudi riyals ($10.2bn), lead manager Samba Capital said on 28th Nov.

The state oil giant plans to sell a 1.5 per cent stake, or about 3bn shares, and has said at least one-third of the sale is expected to be covered by retail investors, who have until 28th Nov to sign up. With an indicative price of 30-32 riyals, the IPO is valued at as much as 96bn riyals ($25.6bn) and gives the firm a market value of $1.6-1.7 trillion. It will be the world’s biggest IPO if it tops the $25bn set by China’s Alibaba in 2014.

GLOBAL INDICES AS OF 30th November 2019

As compared to 23rd November 2019

Global indices as of 30th November 2019
Name Current Value Prev.

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US MARKETS
 NASDAQ (Nov 29) 8,665.47 8705.18
EUROPEAN MARKETS
 FTSE (Nov 29) 7,346.53 7416.43
 CAC (Nov 29) 5,905.17 5912.72
 DAX (Nov 29) 13,236.38 13245.58
ASIAN MARKETS
 SGX NIFTY (Nov 30) 12,056.00 12101.00
 NIKKEI 225 (Nov 29) 23,293.91 23409.14
 STRAITS TIMES (Nov 29) 3,193.92 3200.61
 HANG SENG (Nov 29) 26,346.49 26893.73
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Nov 29) 11,489.57 11617.08
 KOSPI (Nov 29) 2,087.96 2118.60
 SET COMPOSITE (Nov 29) 1,590.59 1597.68
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Nov 29) 6,011.83 5953.06
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Nov 29) 2,871.98 2889.69

Global indices as of 23rd November 2019
Name Current Value Prev.

Close

US MARKETS
 NASDAQ (Nov 22) 8,519.88 8506.21
EUROPEAN MARKETS
 FTSE (Nov 22) 7,326.81 7238.55
 CAC (Nov 22) 5,893.13 5881.21
 DAX (Nov 22) 13,163.88 13137.70
ASIAN MARKETS
 SGX NIFTY (Nov 23) 11,920.00 11918.50
 NIKKEI 225 (Nov 22) 23,112.88 23038.58
 STRAITS TIMES (Nov 22) 3,225.65 3192.21
 HANG SENG (Nov 22) 26,595.08 26466.88
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Nov 22) 11,566.80 11558.27
 KOSPI (Nov 22) 2,101.96 2096.60
 SET COMPOSITE (Nov 22) 1,597.72 1591.86
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Nov 22) 6,100.24 6117.36
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Nov 22) 2,885.29 2903.64

 

Pakistan

Politics

  • Former prime minister and PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif underwent a PET scan which was recommended by doctors in London who are getting close to diagnosing the medical condition behind his declining health.

His personal physician, Dr Adnan Khan, tweeted on 28th Nov afternoon that Mr Sharif underwent a scan at the London Bridge Hospital under the care of hematology at Guy’s Cancer Centre.

  • An antiterrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on 28th Nov convicted and sentenced to death the facilitator of the Data Darbar suicide bombing on May 8 that had left 12 people, including five Elite Force personnel, dead.

The convict, Mohsin Khan, was sentenced to death on 22 counts — 11 under the Pakistan Penal Code and 11 under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) — and to life imprisonment under the Explosive Substance Act. Additionally, the convict has been ordered to pay compensation “at the rate of Rs0.4 million per murder” to the heirs of the deceased and Rs50, 000 to each of the injured in the attack.

  • The Supreme Court on 28th Nov in its short order announced that Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa will remain the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) for another six months, during which the parliament will legislate on the extension/reappointment of an army chief.

A three-member bench — comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Mian Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah — announced the much-anticipated verdict after being assured by the government that parliament will pass legislation within six months. According to the short order, the federal government “has presented this court with a recent summary approved by the president on the advice of the prime minister along with a notification dated 28.11.2019 which shows that General Qamar Javed Bajwa has been appointed as COAS under Article 243(4)(b) of the Constitution with effect from 28.11.2019”. “The current appointment of General Qamar Javed Bajwa as COAS shall be subject to the said legislation and shall continue for a period of six months from today, where after the new legislation shall determine his tenure and other terms and conditions of service,” read the court order.

  • The special court seized with the high treason case on 28th Nov put on hold its verdict and urged former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf to appear in court in order to record his statement.

The court, however, made it clear that there will be no adjo­urnment at any cost for day-to-day proceedings from the next date of hearing, which is Dec 5. The three-judge special court, headed by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth, with Justice Nazar Akbar and Justice Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court as members, directed the Ministry of Interior to “nominate prosecutor or a team of prosecution and direct them to come prepared on Dec 5, 2019, for their arguments”. The court warned that “even otherwise, we are bound by the judgment of the apex court dated April 4, 2019” that had set a guideline for expeditious completion of the trial pending before the special court since December 2013.

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan on 28th Nov said that promotion of relations with countries in Africa would be the new focus of Pakistan’s foreign policy operations.

Mr Khan was speaking at the concluding session of Africa-focused Envoys Conference at the Foreign Office. The conference was held to deliberate on measures for strengthening relations with African countries and diversifying and deepening political, economic, security and socio-cultural ties. One of the conclusions of the conference was that Pakistan needed to have a robust engagement with Africa. The prime minister regretted that ties with African countries did not get priority in Pakistan’s external relations in the past because of lack of innovation and creativity in running the foreign policy. Citing examples of China and Turkey, he said that Pakistan now needed to concentrate on Africa. He said Pakistani diplomats were capable, but for bringing back focus on Africa, they needed vision and the urge to take these ties forward.

  • Students, activists and supporters across Pakistan came out on 29th Nov to join the Student Solidarity March, led by the Student Action Committee (SAC), to present a charter of demands including the restoration of student unions and better education facilities.

  • In a series of tweets, the Progressive Students’ Collective (PSC) shared the final locations for the march taking place in 50 cities of Pakistan. While in some cities the march started in the morning, in others it was expected in the afternoon.
  • The National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) Karachi chapter has requested its chairman to start a fresh inquiry against Fazaia Housing Scheme (FHS) Karachi on the allegation of “cheating public at large”, a press release issued by the accountability watchdog said on 29th nov

It added that the probe against FHS and others has been requested to address the grievances of a “huge number of affectees” — i.e. 6,000 people — who were allegedly defrauded under the housing project. The matter involves an amount of Rs13 billion invested by the general public.

  • At least 10 people were injured in an explosion that occurred in a rickshaw in Lahore’s Chauburji area on 29th Nov, officials said.

According to the spokesperson for Punjab’s Counterterrorism Department (CTD), the blast occurred at around 11:25am.”Ten persons have been injured including the driver of the rickshaw. All sustained minor injuries. All of the injured were walking near the rickshaw at the time of the blast,” he said.

Economy

  • The price of petroleum products are likely to decrease from December 1, as the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has sent a summary of price reduction to the Petroleum Ministry.

  

Under the summary, the regulator has proposed to reduce the price of petrol by 25 paisas. Meanwhile, the rate of diesel is expected to be reduced by Rs2.40, the price of light diesel oil is suggested to be declined by Rs2.90 per liter and the rate of kerosene is expected to drop by 83 paisas per liter. After the price reduction, the rate of petrol would be Rs113.99, whereas, the rate of diesel would be Rs125.01 and the price of kerosene will be Rs96.35 per liter.

  • Ministry of Industries on 28th Nov forwarded a plan to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) for the revival of the Tuwairqi Steel Mills (TSML) requesting cheap gas supply, tax exemptions and threshold for new investment to make the state-of-the-art steel mill operational.

The TSML has been non-operational since 2013 following the management’s dispute with the then government over gas supply. The proposal submitted by the ministry of industries noted that local steel firms were not in a position to invest minimum threshold of $500 million in the steel sector. The ministry’s summary suggested the TSML was seeking subsidy on gas after three years of operating the mills.

  • To meet another target before a mee­ting of the executive board of the International Mone­tary Fund (IMF), the government on 28th Nov app­roved an increase of 26 paisa per unit in electricity tariff, instead of 15 paisa allowed by the power regulator.

This decision was made at a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet that also further increased wheat support price by Rs15 per 40kg to Rs1, 365 and exempted two LNG-based power projects in Punjab from ‘guaranteed take or pay’ of 66 per cent gas quantities to facilitate their privatization that may add a minimum of Rs117bn subsidy to the budget.

  • Planning Min­ister Asad Umar on 28th Nov held separate meetings with key economic ministries to improve the pace of work between project conception and implementation while directing officials to expedite work on groundbreaking of special economic zones (SEZs), one of them before Dec 31.

He said this while reviewing progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) funded projects on 29th Nov. A senior official told Dawn that the newly-appointed minister sought to have separate meetings with ministers and top authorities of the power, energy and petroleum sectors to understand how they saw the projects, how much sect-oral or market research they conducted to reach conclusions and develop their concept papers. The process should lead to better prioritization of projects before submitting them to the Planning Commission for approvals and funding allocations. The minister also ordered a business study on how to maximize job creation through local private sector participation in businesses.

F.C Exchange Rates of PKR as of 30th November 2019 as compared to 23rd November  2019
Countries PKR rate as of 23rd November   2019 PKR rate as of   30th November  2019
U.S.A. $ 155.50 155.75
U.K. Pounds 202.00 201.50
Euro 173.50 173.00
Japan Yen 1.43 1.43
Saudi Arabia Rial 41.50 41.60
U.A.E. Dirham 42.50 42.60

 

Pakistan Stock Exchange Indices

As of 30th November 2019 As Compared

To 23rd November 2019  

Position as of 30th November 2019
Symbols KSE100 Index PSX-KMI All Shares Index
Advance 282 Current 39287.65 Current 18480.65
Decline 87 High 39452.76 High 18568.57
Unchange 16 Low 38706.27 Low 18228.76
Total 385  581.38  251.89

 

 

Position as of 23rd November 2019
Symbols KSE100 Index PSX-KMI All Shares Index
Advance 274 (Curr) Current 37925.79 Current 17905.57
Decline 69 (High) High 37948.37 High 17928.45
Unchanged 12 (Low) Low 36953.96 Low 17452.42
Total change 355  824.48  411.52

 

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