Economic & Political Weekly 07-04-19




·         Venezuelans protest as Guaido declares ‘definitive’ escalation

 Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Saturday launched what he promised will be a “definitive” escalation of pressure to force the country’s embattled leftist leader from office. Addressing a giant anti-government rally in Caracas, Guaido — whose claim to be interim president is supported by around 50 nations — kicked off what he called “Operation Liberty,” his plan to oust President Nicolas Maduro. “Everyone to the streets, let’s start the final phase of the end of the usurpation!” he told supporters, speaking from the back of a pickup truck. He called for a huge nationwide turnout on 3rd April, and urged his followers to redouble their efforts to maintain pressure in the streets. “The greatest escalation of pressure we have seen in our history” has begun, Guaido said. The call comes amid massive blackouts and the collapse of water supplies affecting the nation, further exacerbated a growing political crisis. The United States meanwhile has stiffened its economic sanctions against Maduro, and one top US official warned Venezuela’s military that it must protect the rights of peaceful protesters

·         Brexit: Commons backs Bill seeking further delay

Proposed legislation to further delay the date of Brexit has cleared the House of Commons by one vote. MPs passed the Bill instructing British Prime Minister Theresa May to seek an extension to article 50 and avoid a no-deal Brexit on a third reading by 313 votes to 312. The Bill now has to pass the upper chamber, the House of Lords. Meanwhile, Mrs May and Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn agreed a “program of work” towards finding a common position on Brexit, following a meeting on 3rd April both sides described as constructive. Diplomats in Brussels expect EU leaders will accede to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest request for a short negotiating extension to the Brexit process until June 30th.


·         Brunei introduces stoning to death for gay sex, despite outcry

New Islamic criminal laws in Brunei punishing gay sex and adultery by stoning offenders to death have triggered international outcry. The penalties were provided for under new sections of Brunei’s shariah penal code. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah instituted the code in 2014 to bolster the influence of Islam in the oil-rich monarchy of around 430,000 people, two-thirds of whom are Muslim. Even before 2014, homosexuality was already punishable in Brunei by a jail term of up to 10 years. The first stage of the Shariah Penal Code included fines or jail for offences such as pregnancy out of wedlock or failing to pray on Fridays. But under the new laws — which apply to children and foreigners, even if they are not Muslim — those found guilty of gay sex could be stoned to death or whipped.

·     Malaysia’s former PM Najib on trial in first of multiple corruption cases.

Najib Razak, the former prime minister who sat at the pinnacle of a political machine that dominated Malaysia for more than 60 years, on 3rd April began to face the first of multiple corruption trials stemming from the disappearance of billions of dollars in public funds. The allegations of graft at 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, the state-owned investment fund he founded, led to widespread public anger and to Mr Najib’s electoral defeat last year. The upheaval reoriented Malaysian politics and left the former leader, who was once considered untouchable, facing the prospect of decades in prison. “This is a sea change for Malaysian politics for the very simple reason that for the first time a former head of government has been charged with corruption,” said James Chin, director of Asia Institute Tasmania at the University of Tasmania. Mr. Najib (65) went on trial in Kuala Lumpur, the capital, as part of one of the biggest corruption cases in history to go to court. He faces dozens of charges over allegations of graft at 1MDB, which lost $4.5 billion (€4 billion) that prosecutors in Malaysia and the United States say was funneled to his circle, including $731 million that went into his own bank accounts.


  • Libya crisis: Hifter’s forces ‘seize Tripoli airport’

Forces loyal to rival Libyan army commander Khalifa Hifter say they have seized control of the main airport in the capital Tripoli, two days after he ordered his forces to seize the seat of the country’s UN-backed government. Hifter’s media office said in a post online that his forces took full control of Tripoli international airport and is working to secure the facility. They posted photos of troops apparently inside the airport, saying “we are standing at the heart of the Tripoli international airport”. The airport has not been functional since fighting in 2014 destroyed much of the facility. Hifter’s offensive on Tripoli could plunge the oil-rich country into another spasm of violence, possibly the worst since the 2011 civil war that toppled and later killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

·         Hundreds of thousands of Algerians march for sweeping change

Hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding radical change marched through Algiers for a seventh successive Friday, as Algeria’s spy chief was reportedly fired in a further sign of high-level turbulence after the veteran president resigned. The demonstrators are pushing for the removal of what they see as an outdated and opaque political apparatus, built around the ruling party, army officers, businessmen, unions and veterans of a 1954-62 independence war.

·         Ministers clash on Middle East views at G7 meeting

 Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven nations revealed stark divergences in views on the Middle East as they wrapped up a meeting in France that opened with the goal of finding common ground on contentious global challenges. The diplomats in attendance projected a united front while walking side-by-side along a seaside promenade before they released the agreement from their two-day meeting in Dinard. The agreement included mildly worded joint commitments on issues such as fighting cyber-crime, giving women bigger peacemaking roles, and engaging with countries in Africa’s Sahel region to combat migrant trafficking. But what was omitted from the G7’s positions said as much as what was included. The differences could set the stage for tensions at an August summit of the leaders of the G7 advanced economies — the United States, France, Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy and the UK


  • Thousands of “yellow vest” protesters marched 6th April for the 21st consecutive week to denounce French government policies, as the authorities prepare to unveil the results of a nationwide consultative exercise designed to address public grievances.

From Rouen in the north and Lyon in the southeast — as well as the capital Paris — protesters took to the streets carrying banners denouncing French President Emmanuel Macron. In the west, French and German activists joined forces on the border. Some masked protesters clashed with police in Rouen, but there was nothing like the scale of violence seen in previous weeks, such as the March 16 riots in Paris that saw luxury stores on the Champs-Elysees ransacked. Interior ministry figures — consistently dismissed as underestimates by the protesters — put the turnout across France at 22,300 of whom 3,500 were in Paris.

  • A top Omani government official on Saturday said Arabs must take initiatives to make Israel overcome “fears for its future” in the region.

The remarks by Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the minister responsible for foreign affairs in Oman, came on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum hosted by Jordan on the shores of the Dead Sea. “The West has offered Israel political, economic and military support and it now holds all the means of power… but despite that it fears for its future as a non-Arab country surrounded by 400 million Arabs,” he said. “I believe that we Arabs must be able to look into this issue and try to ease those fears that Israel has through initiatives and real deals between us and Israel,” he told a panel discussing geopolitics.





As compared to 29th March 2019 

Global indices as of 6th April 2019
Name Current Value Prev.Close .
 NASDAQ (Apr 05) 7,938.69 7891.78     
 FTSE (Apr 05) 7,446.87 7401.94     
 CAC (Apr 05) 5,476.20 5463.80     
 DAX (Apr 05) 12,009.75 11988.01     
 NIKKEI 225 (Apr 05) 21,807.50 21724.95     
 STRAITS TIMES (Apr 05) 3,322.64 3316.21     
 HANG SENG (Apr 04) 29,936.32 29986.39     
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Apr 03) 10,704.38 10690.30     
 KOSPI (Apr 05) 2,209.61 2206.53     
 SET COMPOSITE (Apr 05) 1,646.18 1644.22     
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Apr 05) 6,474.02 6494.63     
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Apr 04) 3,246.57 3216.30     
 SGX NIFTY (Apr 06) 11,796.50 11773.00     

Global indices as of 29th March 2019
Current Value Prev.


 NASDAQ (Mar 29) 7,729.32 7669.17
 FTSE (Mar 29) 7,279.19 7234.33
 CAC (Mar 29) 5,350.53 5296.54
 DAX (Mar 29) 11,526.04 11428.16
 NIKKEI 225 (Mar 29) 21,205.81 21033.76
 STRAITS TIMES (Mar 29) 3,212.88 3203.58
 HANG SENG (Mar 29) 29,051.36 28775.21
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Mar 29) 10,641.04 10536.26
 KOSPI (Mar 29) 2,140.67 2128.10
 SET COMPOSITE (Mar 29) 1,638.65 1634.25
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Mar 29) 6,468.76 6480.79
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Mar 29) 3,090.76 2994.94
 SGX NIFTY (Mar 30) 11,702.50 11675.50






·         No Pakistan F-16s shot down in Indian battle, US report says

If the US report turns out to be true, it would be a further blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that India had taught Pakistan a lesson.  Pakistan’s F-16 combat jets have all been accounted for, US-based Foreign Policy magazine said, citing US officials, contradicting an Indian air force assessment that it had shot down one of the jets in February. India and Pakistan engaged in an aerial battle over the disputed region of Kashmir a day after Indian jets crossed over into Pakistan to attack a suspected camp of anti-India militants.

  • The United States has introduceda United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution to blacklist Masood Azhar as an international terrorist

Azhar is the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed (banned in Pakistan since 2002) and has been blamed by India for masterminding February’s Pulwama incident, even though no evidence has been produced which links Azhar to the incident. China has refused to list Azhar as an international terrorist after careful consideration of the definition of international terrorism according to international law. China has made this position absolutely clear and as such, it would appear that the US is looking to transform the UNSC into a place of high stakes geopolitical theatre, because China’s veto of the US resolution is inevitable.

The US therefore is using the internationally immaterial issue of Azhar in order to provoke tensions between China and India at a time when the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is already invoking blood-curdling Sino phobia in further attempts to rally the jingoist Hindutva vote.



  • Finance Minister Assad Umar on 2nd April said that the government was mulling to abolish unnecessary withholding taxes.

Addressing a ceremony in Islamabad, Asad Umar underscored the need for reforms in property business. He said that the current tax system could not detect transactions and profit in property business. The finance minister said that the issue of under invoicing could be resolved through information technology. He said that import from China and Dubai could be checked by IT. Assad Umar said that the treasury had $1bn foreign reserves and added that the monthly current account deficit was reaching to $2bn. He said that the government had to take tough decisions in the crippling economic situation. The minister said that strict action against the corrupt was in the country’s interest. He said that best platform for charter of economy was the Senate and the National Assembly committee.

F.C Exchange Rates of PKR as of 6th April 2019 as compared to 30th March 2019
Countries PKR rate as of  30th March 2019 PKR rate as of 6th April 2019
U.S.A. 141.40 143.00
U.K. 186.25 188.00
Euro 158.70 161.00
Japan 1.2900 1.3000
Saudi Arabia 37.70 38.25
U.A.E. 38.35 39.15



Pakistan Stock Exchange Indices

As of 5th April 2019 As Compared

To 29nd March 2019


Position as of 5th April 2019
Symbols KSE100 PSX-KMI
Advanced (Curr.) 142
Declined (High) 140
Unchanged (Low) 16
Total (Change) 298



Position as of 29th March 2019
Symbols KSE100 PSX-KMI
Advanced (Curr.) 166
Declined (High) 119
Unchanged (Low) 22
Total (Change) 307




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