Economic & Political Weekly 10th March 2019




·   UK to give jailed British-Iranian aid worker diplomatic protection

Britain is to give jailed British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protection in an attempt to put pressure on Iran to release her. Foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said resorting to a little-used way for governments to seek to protection their nationals was unlikely to be a “magic wand”, but might help Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case. But Iran’s ambassador in London said the move “contravenes international law”. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter after a family visit. She was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge denied by her family and the Foundation, a charity organization that operates independently of Thomson Reuters and Reuters News.

·         Albanian protesters urge scandal-hit government to quit

Thousands of Albanians protested on 5th March outside parliament in their capital, Tirana, to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama’s government and to call for snap elections.

Some demonstrators threw firecrackers and burned tires as lines of police guarded the assembly and fired occasional rounds of tear gas, but the protest ended without a repeat of the clashes, injuries and arrests that have marred other recent rallies.

·         Uzbekistan late president’s daughter sent to prison

Gulnara Karimova’s spectacular fall from grace took a new twist this week after the daughter of the late president of Uzbekistan was transferred to jail from a flat in Tashkent where she was being held under house arrest. Uzbekistan’s prosecutor said Ms Karimova would spend the rest of the five-year sentence she is serving for corruption in a prison colony after violating court orders while confined in her daughter’s home in the capital.

·         Hundreds of Islamic State fighters surrender in east Syria

Hundreds of Islamic State fighters surrendered on 6th March and hundreds more of their jihadist comrades were caught trying to escape the hard-line group’s last, tiny scrap of land in eastern Syria, said a commander in the militia besieging it. Islamic State fighters holed up in the enclave at Baghouz near the Iraqi border have been giving up in large numbers this week following a ferocious assault on their enclave on Saturday and Sunday, though it is unclear how many more remain

·         Senegal President Macky Sall officially wins re-election

Senegalese President Macky Sall has been officially re-elected to a second term in office after the country’s constitutional council confirmed his win in the February 24 elections with 58% of the vote. Provisional results announced by Senegal’s electoral commission last week showed that Sall, a former prime minister, gained more than 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off election. Candidates in Senegal’s presidential polls are required to secure more than 50% of the vote tally in the first round to be declared winner. Sall, who first came to power in 2012 after defeating incumbent Abdoulaye Wade, defeated four challengers including Idrissa Seck, another former prime minister, and Ousmane Sonko, a former tax officer who ran on the promise of ending significant colonial-era ties to France.

  • Huge power outage leaves most of Venezuela in darkness

A blackout swept across Venezuela on 7th March, leaving many states without power. Authorities quickly blamed the outage on anti-government saboteurs. Speaking on Venezuelan national television, VTV, Electricity Minister Luis Motta Dominguez called the blackout an “electricity war” and act of sabotage. He alleged, without offering evidence, that the attack took place at Venezuela’s main hydroelectric power station in Guri in the southern state of Bolivar, which provides the country with about 70% of its energy. “This is an attack (on) the government, this is an attack (on) the people and there are communities that in less than 15 minutes had already gone out to protest and close streets,” Dominguez said. “People generally wait until service is re-established. So, this verifies and confirms that this was pre-planned,” the minister added.


·         US trade deficit hits 10-year high in 2018                       


The gap between US imports and exports widened in 2018, bringing the country’s trade deficit to more than $600 billion (€530 billion) and a 10-year high in a blow to the ambitions of Donald Trump to tackle the imbalance. The goods and services deficit rose $68.8 billion (€60.8 billion) to $621 billion (€549.2 billion) last year, according to the US Census Bureau, as strength in the economy continued to fuel demand for imports.

·         Rise in China’s defense budget to outpace economic growth target

China’s 2019 defense spending will rise 7.5 percent from 2018, according to a budget report issued at the opening of the country’s annual meeting of parliament on 5th March, a slower rate than last year but still outpacing the economic growth target. The defense spending figure, set at 1.19 trillion Yuan ($177.49 billion), is closely watched worldwide for clues to China’s strategic intentions as it develops new military capabilities, including stealth fighters, aircraft carriers and anti-satellite missiles. The 2019 defense spending increase comes as China’s economic growth target for the year was set at 6.0 to 6.5 percent.

  • Global indices as of 8th March 2019  as compared to Ist March 2019 
Global indices as of 8th March 2019
Name Current Value Prev.


 NASDAQ (Mar 08) 7,408.14 7421.46
 FTSE (Mar 08) 7,104.31 7157.55
 CAC (Mar 08) 5,231.22 5267.92
 DAX (Mar 08) 11,457.84 11517.80
 NIKKEI 225 (Mar 08) 21,025.56 21456.01
 STRAITS TIMES (Mar 08) 3,195.87 3229.48
 HANG SENG (Mar 08) 28,228.42 28779.45
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Mar 08) 10,241.75 10311.68
 KOSPI (Mar 08) 2,137.44 2165.79
 SET COMPOSITE (Mar 08) 1,630.12 1633.21
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Mar 08) 6,383.07 6457.96
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Mar 08) 2,969.86 3106.42
 SGX NIFTY (Mar 09) 11,024.50 11058.00


Global indices as of ist March 2019
Name Current Value Prev. Close
 NASDAQ (Mar 01) 7,595.35 7532.53
 FTSE (Mar 01) 7,106.73 7074.73
 CAC (Mar 01) 5,265.19 5240.53
 DAX (Mar 01) 11,601.68 11515.64
 NIKKEI 225 (Mar 01) 21,602.69 21385.16
 STRAITS TIMES (Mar 01) 3,220.40 3212.69
 HANG SENG (Mar 01) 28,812.17 28633.18
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Feb 27) 10,389.17 10391.55
 KOSPI (Feb 28) 2,195.44 2234.79
 SET COMPOSITE (Mar 01) 1,641.44 1653.48
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Mar 01) 6,499.88 6443.35
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Mar 01) 2,994.00 2940.95
 SGX NIFTY (Mar 02) 10,885.00 10929.50




  • Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Thar on 8th March to address a public gathering in Chhachhro town.

While speaking at the rally, he announced a Health Package for Tharparkar, under which Insaf Health Cards would be provided to 112,000 families of the area. Two modern mobile hospitals and four ambulances would also be provided, he said. The prime minister was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Sind chief minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim at the rally. “This is my first rally in Pakistan following the elections, and I am holding it with you all,” the prime minister said at the outset. “Let me explain to you why I am here. The first reason is that Tharparkar, in the entire country, is the most backward area. In all of Pakistan, it has lagged behind the most. The people of Tharparkar lie below the poverty line.

·         Pakistan arrests key suspects in recent Indo Pak attacks

Pakistan’s Interior Ministry says authorities have arrested dozens of suspects, including the brother of the leader of the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammad group that India has blamed for the Feb. 14 suicide bombing in Indian Kashmir that killed 40 troops. That bombing last month triggered a dangerous escalation that last week pushed Pakistan and India close to an all-out war over Kashmir. In 5th March statement, the ministry says 44 suspects were arrested, including prominent members of the outlawed militant group. Among those arrested was Mufti Abdul Rauf, the brother of the group’s leader, Masood Azhar. The ministry says the brother was among suspects listed in a file on the February bombing that India gave to Pakistan over the weekend. Kashmir is split between Pakistan and India and is claimed by both in its entirety.


  • Adversely affected by the decrease in area under cultivation coupled with the use of poor quality seed and pesticides, cotton production as of March 1 clocked in at 10.471 million bales down 6.80 per cent over the corresponding period last year.

Cotton analysts believe the cotton production during the current season (2018-19) is expected to be the second lowest in eight years. The lowest production was recorded in 2015-16 season which fell to 9.7m bales; however, there is a stark difference between the two as the decline in cotton crop production three years ago was a result of massive pest attack including armyworm and pink bollworm which caused widespread devastation to the crop. Whereas, the major cause for production shortage in the ongoing season is the reduced area under cotton crop cultivation and use of poor quality seed and pesticides resulting in poor yield per acre causing heavy losses to cotton growers. According to private estimates, against 9m acres earmarked for cotton crop, only 6m acres have been cultivated in 2018-19.

F.C Exchange Rates of PKR as of 8th March 2019 as compared to IST March 2019
Countries PKR rate as of  Ist March 2019 PKR rate as of  8th March 2019
U.S.A. 139.00 138.95
U.K. 184.00 183.00
Euro 157.80 157.10
Japan 1.2600 1.2600
Saudi Arabia 37.00 36.90
U.A.E. 38.00 37.85

Pakistan Stock Exchange Indices

As of 8th March 2019 As Compared

To IST March 2019  


Position as of 8th March 2019
Symbols KSE100 PSX-KMI
Advanced (Curr.) 81
Declined (High) 222
Unchanged (Low) 28
Total (Change) 331



Position as of IST March 2019
Symbols KSE100 PSX-KMI
Advanced (Curr.) 217
Declined (High) 86
Unchanged (Low) 20
Total (Change) 323



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