Economic & Political Weekly 17-02-2019

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World

Politics-

·         Aurora shooting: Five dead after attack at US manufacturing facility.

Five people have been killed and five police officers wounded in a shooting at a business in the suburbs of Chicago. Police chief Kristen Ziman said that Gary Martin shot at officers as soon as they entered the Henry Pratt Company building in Aurora.

·         Trump declares national emergency over border wall.

US president Donald Trump has confirmed he is declaring a national emergency in order to circumvent Congress and tap funds to build a wall on the US southern border to counter immigration. In an announcement in the White House Rose Garden on 15th Feb , Mr. Trump said: “I’m going to be signing a national emergency. We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.

·         Archaeologists in Pompeii find fresco of Narcissus in ‘extraordinary’ condition.

Time robbed Narcissus of his good looks, but through a volcanic blast, almost 2,000 years and many tons of ash, his beloved — his own reflection — has gazed unwaveringly back. On14th Feb, the mythological figure of Narcissus re-emerged to the public from his perch on a wall in Pompeii, where archaeologists announced they had uncovered a remarkably well-preserved fresco depicting his story: The hunter who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. The fresco was unearthed in a home where, last November, archaeologists excavated a bedroom fresco of Greek mythology, the rape of Leda by the god Zeus in the form of a swan. Both works survived the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79, which buried the Roman city of Pompeii in fire, pumice and ash.

·    Attack on Indian Soldiers in Kashmir.

 

A vehicle filled with explosives rammed into a convoy of Indian paramilitary forces on a busy highway in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir on 14th Feb, killing at least 40 soldiers, local officials said, in the worst attack in the disputed region in three decades. As the death toll continued to climb 14th Feb evening, officials said the suicide attack, which targeted a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying some 2,500 personnel, ripped apart two buses. It happened at about 3:15 p.m. local time.

·         Refugee footballer feted in Australia after release from Thai jail.

A refugee Bahraini footballer who was held in a Thai prison for more than two months at the Gulf state’s request arrived in his adoptive home Australia on 12th Feb , Hakeem al-Araibi (25) who fled Bahrain in 2014 and received refugee status in Australia, was released from prison in Bangkok on 11th Feb. Authorities in Bahrain accused Mr Araibi of crimes committed during the Arab Spring protests of 2011, charges which he denied.

·     Prince Leonard, who seceded from Australia to form micro nation, dies aged 93.

Leonard Casley, a former Western Australian wheat farmer who seceded from Australia to form the micro nation Hutt River, has died aged 93. Better known as Prince Leonard, Casley died early on 13th Feb after being admitted to an Australian hospital with a lung infection over the weekend. His youngest son, Prince Graeme, the sovereign of the micro nation, told Perth Now his father was “a man of small stature but a man of big shoes”. “He was so sharp of mind right to the last 24 hours, it was incredible,” Graeme said.

·         North Koreans ring in New Year with a jolt of crystal meth.

Like many across East Asia, North Koreans have been exchanging presents this month to celebrate the lunar New Year. But rather than tea, sweets or clothing, some in this impoverished, isolated country are giving the gift of crystal meth. The gifting and use of methamphetamine, a powerful stimulant that has been blamed in health and addiction crises around the world, is said to be a well-established custom in North Korea. Users are said to inject or snort the drug as casually as they might smoke a cigarette, with little awareness of its addictive qualities or destructive effects.

·   Thai princess’s pro-Thaksin party faces fight for survival

Thailand’s elections watchdog has asked for the party behind last week’s abortive bid to field the king’s sister as its candidate for prime minister to be dissolved on grounds it violated the constitution, ratcheting up tensions ahead of a closely watched upcoming national vote. The kingdom’s electoral commission on Wednesday submitted a petition to Thailand’s constitutional court asking for the Thai Raksa Chart (“Thai Save the Nation”) party, affiliated with exiled, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, to be wound up on grounds that it was “hostile to the constitutional monarchy”.

·    NASA announcement to reveal the latest – and probably last – news on Mars .

NASA is about to announce the future of the Opportunity rover, a pioneering robot that has spent years exploring the Martian surface. The space agency hasn’t heard from its rover for eight months, when it disappeared and has not been heard from since. Now NASA will send its last messages to the rover. But more than 1,000 have already been sent, with no reply from the rover, which is now facing a cold winter that will almost certainly kill it off if it doesn’t manage to wake up. It’s just as hard to say goodbye to Opportunity, as it was to its fellow rover Spirit, project manager John Callas told The Associated Press. Though the all-important message has already been sent, NASA doesn’t yet know whether the final attempts to contact the rover have been successful, and will not until shortly before the announcement. But there is plenty of reason to be pessimistic. Opportunity has been out of touch since June last year, when it disappeared in a dust storm that blanketed the entirety of Mars, and its final messages suggested that it could shut down.

·         17 killed in hotel fire in New Delhi.

 A fire swept through a hotel in New Delhi early on 12th Feb, killing 17 people, authorities in the Indian capital said, raising fresh questions about safety standards in poorly regulated budget hotels. Frequent raids by civic authorities to enforce building codes, fire safety measures and evacuation procedures have failed to curb violations in a rapidly expanding city of more than 18 million people. “Seventeen people are no more, they died because of suffocation, not fire,” said deputy fire Chief Veranda Singh, adding that 35 people had been rescued. Most of the victims were sleeping when the fire broke out, believed to have been caused by a short circuit, media said.

  • An Afghan mujahedeen commander who fought the Soviets and rose to become the country’s first president after the Red Army retreated has died aged 93, his family said on 12th

Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, who commanded a mujahedeen faction during the decade-long insurgency against the Soviet occupiers, passed away late on 11th Feb in a Kabul hospital after a long illness. Prominent Afghans, including former president Hamid Karzai, have begun visiting the Mojaddedi family home to pay their respects. Afghanistan’s de facto Prime Minister Abdullah Abdullah extended his condolences to the respected Mojaddedi clan.

They left Venezuela for a better life — now they’re selling their bodies.

The human toll of the Venezuelan crisis is evident in the women’s faces. They speak with pain in their voices and sadness in their eyes. At first reserved, they eventually open up and tell, through tears, how they came to be in a situation that would once have been unimaginable: selling their bodies to make ends meet. Mariza, a certified nurse, made the journey across the border from Venezuela to Colombia two years ago, leaving behind her mother and three children. Like most immigrants with professional careers, she expected to find a job in her own field, but when doors were repeatedly closed in her face and even a cleaning job was nowhere to be found, Mariza found herself making an impossible decision. “To have one guy today and another person tomorrow,” she says of her fall into prostitution, is not easy, and it’s dangerous. But as a mother, “you don’t think — you do what you have to.” Mariza’s name has been changed to protect her identity, as have other names in this report.

  • Spate of anti-Semitic vandalism hits Paris amid 74% rise in anti-Semitic acts

The French interior minister has announced a 74% rise in anti-Semitic acts across the country over the past year amid a series of incidents in Paris in recent days, including the desecration of a memorial to a murdered Jewish man. On 11th Feb, municipal workers discovered that a tree planted in memory of Ilan Halimi in a Paris suburb was chopped down, while another was cut into. Halimi, 23, was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in an anti-Semitic attack in 2006. The attack on Halimi’s memorial is one of at least four widely reported acts of anti-Semitism in Paris since Sunday. On 11th Feb, portraits of the late politician and Holocaust survivor Simone Veil, painted on postboxes in the city, were found to have been defaced with swastikas.


·         Tohoku: A Japan destination for all seasons.

With close to 30 million international travelers heading there in 2018, tourists visiting traditional hotspots such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka during peak travel periods — say, cherry blossom season in the spring — will find themselves battling overwhelming crowds. But the northern region of Tohoku remains surprisingly under traveled in comparison, making it a fantastic destination any time of year. Located at the tip of Japan’s main island of Honshu, Tohoku is made up of six prefectures: Aomori, Akita, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and Yamagata, all of which are filled with dramatic landscapes, historical attractions and culinary delights.

·         He donated blood every week for 60 years and saved the lives of 2.4 million babies.

Most people, when they retire, get a gold watch. James Harrison deserves so much more than that. Harrison, known as the “Man with the Golden Arm,” has donated blood nearly every week for 60 years. After all those donations, the 81-year-old Australian man “retired” 15th Feb. The occasion marked the end of a monumental chapter. According to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, he has helped saved the lives of more than 2.4 million Australian babies.

·         Major winter storm bringing dangerous snow, ice, rain to evening rush hour

A major winter storm is barreling through the Northeast 12th Feb, bringing dangerous snow, ice and rain to the evening rush hour commute. New York City was coated in snow Tuesday morning and the snow has since changed to sleet and freezing rain. Most areas saw .5 to 2 inches of snow or sleet with a glaze of ice.

·         London schoolgirl who ran away to join Isis wants to return home.

An east London schoolgirl who left Britain as a 15-year-old to join the State terror group is now heavily pregnant and wants to return home. Shamima Begum was tracked down by the London Times to a refugee camp in northern Syria where she is now 19, the bride of an Islamic State fighter, nine months pregnant and has had two infant children who are dead. Her husband is in captivity.

·         Rare African black leopard photographed for first time in nearly a century.

Images of a rare African black leopard have been captured in Kenya, the first verifiable record of the animal for nearly 100 years, researchers have said. British wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas set up motion-sensitive cameras to capture the largely nocturnal cat in Laikipia Wilderness Camp in January.

· Monica Witt: from US intelligence officer to alleged Iranian spy.

Whatever turned Monica Witt from the US air force and the world of Washington defense contractors and took her to Iran as an alleged defector and spy, it seems to have been a wholehearted transformation. If the account presented in 13th Feb justice department indictment is to be believed, the former military intelligence officer was so enthusiastic about turning her back on her homeland and her past that her Iranian recruiters balked, until she threatened to take her secrets to Russia instead and hand them over to Wiki Leak.

·         Suicide bomber kills 27 members Revolutionary Guards in Iran.

A suicide bomber killed 27 members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and wounded 13 on a bus in a restive region of southeast Iran on 13th Feb, Iranian media reported. It was among the deadliest attacks in Iran in years. The Revolutionary Guards quickly blamed the United States for the assault, which came during the week that Iran’s leaders have been celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution that overthrew the US-backed shah in 1979. Now Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have accused “Pakistan’s government” of supporting the perpetrators of a suicide bombing that killed 27 troops on 13th Feb, in remarks state TV aired on 16th Feb. “Pakistan’s government, who has housed knows where they are,” alleged Revolutionary Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, referring to militant group Jaish al-Adl (“Army of Justice”).

  • Dozens of wild horses die of thirst in Australia’s heat wave

When Ralph Turner arrived at his usual swimming spot, Deep Hole, about 12 miles from the remote Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) community in Australia’s Northern Territory, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The 330-foot waterhole was dried up and the bodies of dozens of wild horses were strewn along its bed.

  • Japanese women are rebelling against a decades-old Valentine’s Day tradition that obliges them to give chocolates to men.

On February 14, the nation’s female workers are expected to give giri choco or obligation chocolates, to their male colleagues. Women are also expected to buy heartfelt chocolates, “honmei choco,” for their crushes or loved one. “Valentine’s Day (in Japan) got turned upside down to become a symbol of the Japanese patriarchy,” said Jeff Kingston, a Japan expert at Temple University in Tokyo. But this year, women are calling time on the financially draining practice.

·         Deaths of 41 girls in Guatemalan care home fire reveal terrible cruelty.

As fire swept through the classroom, the pleas from the 56 girls locked inside began to fade. Most were unconscious or worse by then, as an eerie silence replaced their panic-stricken shouts.

The police officers guarding the door – who had refused to unlock it despite the screams – waited nine minutes before stepping inside. They got water to cool down the scorching knob.

·         Theresa May suffers Commons defeat over Brexit plan B by 45 votes

Minutes before the end of 14th Feb Brexit debate, Conservative Remainer Anna Soubry was leaning across the back of the front bench in energetic conversation with Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay. Moments later, they left the chamber together to negotiate the terms for her to withdraw an amendment that would have obliged the government to publish civil service advice about the economic consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

·         Knock-on effects of war kill 300 babies every day, says charity.

Starvation, disease and a lack of aid are killing 300 babies a day in warzones around the world, with the number of children caught up in conflicts nearing a 30-year high, Save the Children said on 15th Feb. Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Syria were among the worst conflict zones for children in 2017, the charity concluded from an analysis of UN data for the five years to the end of that year.

·   NASA plans moon return ‘to stay’ by 2028.

NASA has announced plans to put Americans back on the moon “to stay” by 2028 by working with private companies. In a document called a Broad Agency Announcement, the US space agency outlined a procurement plan that seeks proposals from commercial partners for a descent module, a space refueling system and a transfer vehicle by March 25th.

·     Myanmar sentences two to death for murder of Muslim lawyer.

A Myanmar court on 15th Feb sentenced two men to death for the murder of a prominent Muslim lawyer, Ko Ni, who was an adviser to government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and an advocate for reforming a military-drafted constitution. Ko Ni (63) was shot dead at Yangon International Airport just over two years ago. Two men were also jailed for their involvement in the murder, which raised concern about Myanmar’s transition to democracy after decades of military rule.

 

·         Nigeria delays presidential election for a week amid ‘challenges’.

Nigeria’s electoral commission has delayed the country’s presidential election until February 23rd.

Making the announcement just five hours before polls were set to open on 16th Feb, it cited unspecified “challenges” amid reports that voting materials had not been delivered to all parts of the country.

Economy-

·         US National debt tops $22 trillion for the first time as experts warn of ripple effects

The US national debt surpassed $22 trillion for the first time on Tuesday, a milestone that experts warned is further proof the country is on an unsustainable financial path that could jeopardize the economic security of every American. The Treasury Department reported the debt hit $22.012 trillion, a jump of more than $30 billion in just this month. The national debt has been rising at a faster rate following the passage of President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax-cut package a little more than a year ago and as the result of congressional efforts to increase spending on domestic and military programs. The nation has added more than $1 trillion in debt in the last 11 months alone. “Reaching this unfortunate milestone so rapidly is the latest sign that our fiscal situation is not only unsustainable but accelerating,” said Michael A. Peterson, chief executive officer of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a nonpartisan organization working to address the country’s long-term fiscal challenges.

·         Saudi crude output to fall to 9.8 million bpd in March.

Saudi Arabia plans to produce around 9.8 million barrels per day of oil in March, over half a million bpd below its pledged production level under a global supply-cutting deal, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told the Financial Times. Exports would fall in March to 6.9 million bpd, according to the article published on Tuesday. The March production figure means Saudi would be voluntarily cutting output by more than 500,000 bpd below its pledged production level under a deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia. Under the deal reached in December and which came into effect at the start of the year, Saudi Arabia’s target production is 10.311 million bpd. The news boosted Brent crude prices by more than 2 percent to nearly $63 a barrel. Production in March would be 1.2 million bpd lower than Saudi Arabia’s November output, which was an all-time high.

  • Global indices as of 15th February 2019 as compared to 8th February, 2019.

Global indices as of 15th February 2019
Name Current Value Prev. Close
US MARKETS
 NASDAQ (Feb 15) 7,472.41 7426.96
EUROPEAN MARKETS
 FTSE (Feb 15) 7,236.68 7197.01
 CAC (Feb 15) 5,153.19 5062.52
 DAX (Feb 15) 11,299.80 11089.79
ASIAN MARKETS
 NIKKEI 225 (Feb 15) 20,900.63 21139.71
 STRAITS TIMES (Feb 15) 3,239.74 3253.16
 HANG SENG (Feb 15) 27,900.84 28432.05
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Feb 15) 10,064.78 10089.01
 KOSPI (Feb 15) 2,196.09 2225.85
 SET COMPOSITE (Feb 15) 1,636.94 1652.64
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Feb 15) 6,389.08 6420.02
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Feb 15) 2,682.38 2719.70
 SGX NIFTY (Feb 16) 10,762.50 10754.50

 

 

Global indices as of 8th February 2019
Name Current Value Prev. Close
US MARKETS
 NASDAQ (Feb 08) 7,298.20 7288.35     
EUROPEAN MARKETS
 FTSE (Feb 08) 7,071.18 7093.58     
 CAC (Feb 08) 4,961.64 4985.56     
 DAX (Feb 08) 10,906.78 11022.02     
ASIAN MARKETS
 NIKKEI 225 (Feb 08) 20,333.17 20751.28     
 STRAITS TIMES (Feb 08) 3,202.04 3200.64     
 HANG SENG (Feb 08) 27,946.32 27990.21     
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Jan 30) 9,932.26 9931.59     
 KOSPI (Feb 08) 2,177.05 2203.42     
 SET COMPOSITE (Feb 08) 1,651.68 1653.11     
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Feb 08) 6,521.66 6536.46     
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Feb 01) 2,618.23 2584.57     
 SGX NIFTY (Feb 09) 10,927.50 10946.50

 

 

 Pakistan

Politics

  • Five people died in Kohat from electrocution after heavy rain lashed the Sorgul area.

Reportedly, lightning struck an electric transformer which lead to a power surge in connected residences, electrocuting those in contact with electric appliances at the time. Several others were also injured and a majority of them were said to be in critical condition.

·         Taliban negotiators to meet US team in Islamabad on 18th Feb.

Taliban negotiators will meet their US counterparts on February 18 in Islamabad as part of accelerating efforts to end more than 17 years of war in Afghanistan, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Wednesday. The talks come a week ahead of previously scheduled negotiations between the two sides in Qatar on February 25.
Mujahid said in a statement that the Qatar talks would still take place. The Taliban delegation would also meet Prime Minister Imran Khan, a first such meeting between the insurgent group and a top Pakistani leader since 2001.  The Taliban will also meet with the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to hold comprehensive discussions about Pak-Afghan relations and issues pertaining to Afghan refugees and Afghan businessmen.

  • All three groups of the Karachi Union of Journalists and the Karachi Press Club’s (KPC) Joint Action Committee announced on 15th Feb that Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry is henceforth barred from entering the KPC.

According to a statement issued by the committee’s convener and KPC secretary, the decision was announced as part of the final round of protest against the federal government for the ongoing “layoffs, delayed payment of salaries and pay cuts being imposed on journalists with the support of media organizations and some media workers”.

·         8 MoUs to be signed during Saudi Crown Prince visit.

During the upcoming visit of Saudi Crown Prince minimum eight MoUs are expected to be signed and a Coordination Council will be set up to monitor the progress on signed agreements. Crown prince of Saudi Arabia Muhammad bin Salman will arrive in Pakistan on the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan on February 17 (Sunday). The Saudi crown prince’s two-day visit of Pakistan will further promote mutual cooperation between the two countries, Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Faisal here said. During the visit, the Saudi Crown Prince will call on the President of Pakistan. He will also meet the Prime Minister and the Chief of Army Staff. A delegation of Pakistan’s Senate will also call on the Crown Prince to discuss ways to enhance parliamentary cooperation between the two countries. During his stay, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will be signing a number of agreements and MoUs related to diverse sectors, including investment, finance, power, renewable energy, internal security, media, culture and sports. The two countries will also discuss ways and means to develop a robust follow-up mechanism to ensure effective implementation and quick progress on tangible areas of cooperation..Strict security arrangements have been finalized ahead of arrival of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Islamabad. As per plan, mobile phone service will remain suspended in parts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi while more than 100 check points will be established on different routes. During the stay of the Prince, training flights will be suspended whereas flying drones will also be prohibited. Teams of security, media and doctors of Mohammed bin Salman have already reached Islamabad. Besides this, five trucks full of Saudi Crown Prince’s personal amenities also arrived in Islamabad that include his exercise equipment, furniture and other personal belongings. Mohammed bin Salman will likely stay at the Prime Minister House, however; two of the top hotels in Islamabad have been booked fully for members of his staff while two others have been partially booked. Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan is likely to bring $20 billion investment in the country.

  • The Supreme Court on 14th Feb wrapped up a case regarding the 2011 Memo gate scandal, saying it is the responsibility of the state to arrest and try former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani if it so wishes.

Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who was heading a three-member bench, observed during the hearing that the Memo gate Commission had issued its report on the matter in 2012 and a case was registered in light of it against Haqqani, the central character of the ‘scandal’.

At the outset of the hearing, the chief justice inquired about the presence of the petitioners in the case, commenting that if the petitioners are not interested in appearing for the hearing, then “why should we waste our time?” He also noted that the Memo gate case had been pending for the last eight years. “Are the state of Pakistan, armed forces and our Constitution so weak that they can be frightened by a memo?” the top judge asked. Answering the query for himself, he said Pakistan was not so fragile a country that it could be rattled by the writing of a memo.

  • Shahbaz freed, Nawaz shifted to Jinnah Hospital from jail

While Pakistan Muslim League-N President Shahbaz Sharif has been granted bail and released on the court orders, the incarcerated former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was shifted to the Jinnah Hospital on 15th Feb, says he is also expecting justice. An accountability court on 15th Feb issued the release orders for the opposition leader in National Assembly. Judge Najamul Hassan issued the written orders, which were sent to Camp Jail through a court employee. After his release from the sub jail at the Minister’s Enclave in Islamabad, Shahbaz Sharif reached Lahore on 15th Feb night. Dozens of party workers and supporters carrying party flags had reached the Allama Iqbal International Airport to welcome the party chief. The Punjab government had decided to shift the ousted premier to hospital on 14th Feb Thursday evening in the wake of recommendations of the previous medical boards and request of his personal physician Dr Muhammad Adnan Khan.

 

  • Faiz Ahmad Faizborn on 13 February 1911 was a Pakistani leftist poet and author, and one of the most celebrated writers of the Urdu Among other accolades, Faiz was nominated for Nobel Prize in Literature and won the Lenin Peace Prize.

After release of four years in prison and went on to become a notable member of the Progressive Writers’ Movement and eventually an aide to Bhutto administration, before being self-exiled to Beirut. Faiz was an avowed Marxist, and he received the Lenin Peace Prize by the Soviet Union in 1962. His work remains influential in Pakistan literature and arts. Faiz’s literary work was posthumously publicly honoured when the Pakistan Government conferred upon him the nation’s highest civil award, Nishan-e-Imtiaz, in 1990.

  • Pakistan beautiful Scenic Places lie in northern Part of the country.

 

Pakistan is home to several mountain peaks over 7000 m, which draw adventurers and mountaineers from around the world, especially K2. The north part of Pakistan has many old fortresses, ancient architecture and the Hunza, Chitral Valley, home to small Kalash people community and Fairy Meadows, Diamer District of Gilgit Baltistan. The romance of the historic Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is timeless and legendary. Country is needed to install infrastructure with improvements in law and order situation to attract foreign investors in Pakistan and to give a boost to tourism in the country.

·         Five Police Killed, Two Wounded In Attack In Northwestern Pakistan.

Five Pakistani police officers have been killed after unidentified gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in the northwestern province of KPK, officials say. Local police told RFE/RL that four police officers died during the February 12 ambush in the Dera Ismail Khan district. A fifth officer later died of his wounds in hospital. Two other policemen were injured in the attack, which was claimed by a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban. The attackers managed to flee the scene and the security forces have launched a search operation.

  • Former army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif on 12th Feb called on Prime Minister Imran Khan, ahead of the Saudi crown prince’s two-day trip.

During the meeting, the premier and Sharif — who is the top commander of Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) — discussed regional security environment and efforts for peace and stability, according to an official statement. “The prime minister reiterated his commitment to bring enduring peace and stability in Pakistan while supporting all peace initiatives for regional peace,” said the statement, adding that the premier “appreciated IMCTC charter for its efforts towards counter violent extremism”.

  • Rashid Suhrawardy, the only son of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, former prime minister of Pakistan, the last prime minister of Undivided Bengal, and founder of the Awami League, died of natural causes in London on Feb 5. He was 78.

Educated in the UK at Charterhouse School and Oxford University, Mr. Suhrawardy attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London after which he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. One of his most notable roles was in the film Jinnah, in which he played the part of Pandit Nehru. Mr. Suhrawardy was unmarried and so leaves no direct heirs, but his closest relatives are Begum Shahida Jamil, Begum Naz Ashraf and Princess Sarvath El Hassan.

Economy –

  • Moody’s Investors Service has changed its outlook for the banking system in Pakistan from stable to negative, the company announced in a press release on 11th.

“Over the next 12-18 months, banks in Pakistan will see their credit profiles challenged by their high exposure to the country’s low-rated sovereign debt and a slowing economy,” says Constantinos Kypreos, a senior vice-president at Moody’s. Moody’s says that the banks’ operating conditions will be difficult, with Pakistan’s real GDP growth slowing to 4.3% in the fiscal year ending June 2019, down from 5.8% in 2018. The rupee has depreciated 30% versus the US dollar, interest rates rose by 450 basis points between December 2017 and February 2019, and inflation is rising; all factors which affect business and consumer confidence and the private sector’s debt repayment capacities, the company adds.

  • POLICYMAKERS are trying to make low-cost housing affordable for lower-middle and low income segments, and incentivized housing finance into a viable business proposition for banks

.

The upward revision of property valuation for levying advance and capital gains tax in upwards of 20 major cities may bring down soaring real estate prices. This may also benefit genuine buyers. As a result of similar measures, plot prices in Karachi dropped by around 15 per cent and nearly stagnated in Lahore between April and September 2018. Data compiled by a leading real estate market player shows that housing prices had gone up by 139pc and prices of plots had tripled since June 21, 2011. State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) analysts say the data indicates that ‘a significant share of the unreported gains finds its way to the country’s property market.’ And that the ‘very low property valuation’ provides individuals with a ‘legal’ way of under-documenting transactions.

  • The government is anticipating the fiscal deficit for the current fiscal yearto reach 6.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and miss the 5.1pc target set in September last year by a wide margin.

According to finance ministry’s revised estimates for fiscal operations, the fiscal deficit has been worked out at Rs2.39 trillion in absolute terms against the fixed target of Rs1.98tr set as part of the supplementary budget 2018-19. The deficit was originally fixed at 4.9pc of GDP (Rs1.89tr) by the PML-N government in its final budget announcement. This would mean the deficit estimates would be close to last year when it stood at 6.5pc of GDP or Rs2.243tr. Informed sources said the slippages on the fiscal front were emerging from both sides — revenue collection and expenditure overrun.

F.C Exchange Rates of PKR as of 16th February 2019 as compared to 9th February 2019
Countries PKR rate as of 9th February 2019 PKR rate as of 16th February 2019
U.S.A. 138.30 139.10
U.K. 178.50 179.40
Euro 157.30 157.50
Japan 1.2700 1.2700
Saudi Arabia 36.70 37.00
U.A.E. 37.70 38.00

 

Pakistan Stock Exchange Indices as of 15th February 2019 As Compared To 8th February 2019

 

 

 

Position as of 15th February 2019
Symbols             KSE100       PSX-KMI
Advanced (Curr.) 117
40474.88
19693.51
Declined (High) 158
40646.39
19815.92
Unchanged (Low) 17
40361.03
19654.62
Total (Change) 292
-32.10
-51.26

 

 

 

Position as of 8th February 2019
Symbols              KSE100          PSX-KMI
Advanced (Curr.) 84
40887.35
19776.82
Declined (High) 214
41453.10
20057.76
Unchanged (Low) 20
40790.60
19743.99
Total (Change) 318
-445.40
-233.92

 

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