Economic & Political Weekly 24-03-2019

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World

Politics

·         May’s appeal falls flat as EU seizes control of Brexit date

The EU has handed Theresa May two weeks grace to devise an alternative Brexit plan if her deal falls next week after the prime minister failed to convince the bloc that she was capable of avoiding a no-deal Brexit. After a marathon late night session of talks, the EU’s leaders ripped up May’s proposals and a new Brexit timeline was pushed on the prime minister to avoid the cliff-edge deadline of 29 March – next Friday. Under the deal agreed by May, Britain will now stay a member state until 12 April if the withdrawal agreement is rejected by MPs at the third time of asking. The government will be able to seek a longer extension during that period if it can both “indicate a way forward” and agree to hold European elections.

In the unlikely event that May does win the support of the Commons when the Brexit deal goes to MPs again, the UK will stay a member state until 22 May to allow necessary withdrawal legislation to be passed. The European Council agrees to an extension until 22 May 2019, provided the withdrawal agreement is approved by the House of Commons next week. So, in summary, the prime minister has been offered until 22 May if she gets her deal through the Commons. If she does not, she’d have until 12 April.

·         Isis defeated, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announced

After almost five years, the battle to dismantle Islamic State’s brutal “caliphate” has ended with an announcement from US-backed forces that the militants have been driven out of their last stronghold of Baghuz, deep in the Syrian Desert. Isis had held out for months against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the small oasis town on the Euphrates River, clinging on to an area of land less than 700 sq meters wide despite fierce coalition bombing. But on Saturday an SDF spokesman, Mustafa Bali, tweeted that the town had been liberated. “On this unique day we commemorate thousands of martyrs whose efforts made the victory possible,” he wrote. The elimination of the caliphate is a significant symbolic victory against Isis, which at the height of its power held more than 8 million people hostage to its bloody interpretation of Islamic law in a swath of territory across Syria and Iraq that was roughly the size of the UK.

  • March 22 is World Water Day and the campaign is drawing attention to the difficulties some of the planet’s most vulnerable people face in accessing the precious resource. 

The United Nations launched World Water Day in 1993, designating safe access to water for all by 2030 as one of its Sustainable Development Goals. This year, the theme is “leaving no one behind.” The body hopes to raise awareness of and address the fact that marginalized individuals can have the most trouble finding safe water. That includes children, women, refugees, indigenous peoples and disabled people, according to the U.N. Those who have precarious living conditions can also suffer.

  • Mozambique reported scores more deaths on 23rd March from a cyclone and floods around southern Africa that have killed at least 732 people and left thousands in desperate need of help, many on rooftops and trees.

Cyclone Idai lashed the Mozambican port city of Beira with winds of up to 170 km per hour (105 miles per hour) last week, then moved inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi, swamping populations and devastating homes. Mozambique’s death toll rose to 417 from 242, Land and Environment Minister Celso Correia said. “The situation is getting better, still critical, but it’s getting better,” he told reporters at the airport in Beira that has become a centre for aid operations.

Economy-

GLOBAL INDICES as of 22nd March 2019 as compared to 15th March 2019 

 

Global indices as of 22nd March 2019
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US MARKETS    
 NASDAQ (Mar 22) 7,642.67 7838.96
EUROPEAN MARKETS    
 FTSE (Mar 22) 7,207.59 7355.31
 CAC (Mar 22) 5,269.92 5378.85
 DAX (Mar 22) 11,364.17 11549.96
ASIAN MARKETS    
 NIKKEI 225 (Mar 22) 21,627.34 21608.92
 STRAITS TIMES (Mar 22) 3,212.10 3213.65
 HANG SENG (Mar 22) 29,113.36 29071.56
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Mar 22) 10,639.07 10609.55
 KOSPI (Mar 22) 2,186.95 2184.88
 SET COMPOSITE (Mar 22) 1,646.29 1634.00
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Mar 22) 6,525.27 6501.78
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Mar 22) 3,104.15 3101.46
 SGX NIFTY (Mar 23) 11,407.00 11470.00

 

Global indices as of 15th March 2019
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US MARKETS        
 NASDAQ (Mar 15) 7,688.53 7630.91     
EUROPEAN MARKETS        
 FTSE (Mar 15) 7,228.28 7185.43     
 CAC (Mar 15) 5,405.32 5349.78     
 DAX (Mar 15) 11,685.69 11587.47     
ASIAN MARKETS        
 NIKKEI 225 (Mar 15) 21,450.85 21287.02     
 STRAITS TIMES (Mar 15) 3,200.18 3197.92     
 HANG SENG (Mar 15) 29,012.26 28851.39     
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Mar 15) 10,439.24 10348.65     
 KOSPI (Mar 15) 2,176.11 2155.68     
 SET COMPOSITE (Mar 15) 1,625.57 1635.88     
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Mar 15) 6,461.18 6413.27     
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Mar 15) 3,021.75 2990.69     
 SGX NIFTY (Mar 16) 11,506.50 11474.00

 

Pakistan

Politics

  • Pakistan Day 2019 is being celebrated with traditional zeal and fervor across the country.

The day began with a 31-gun salute in Islamabad while provincial capitals marked the day with 21-gun salutes. The change-of-guards ceremony was held at the mausoleum of Dr Allama Iqbal in Lahore. The Pakistan Day military parade was held at Parade Ground near the Shakarparian hills in Islamabad to mark the day. The annual parade was attended by civil and military leadership as well as foreign dignitaries. Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) General Zubair, Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mehmood Abbasi, Defense Minister Pervez Khattak, Minister of Defense of the Republic of Azerbaijan Colonel General Zakir Hasanov and Prime Minister Imran Khan were all in attendance at the parade ground. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who arrived on a three-day visit to Pakistan on 21st March also attended the event as the guest of honor. Corps military police’s Captain Khudadad Mand escorted him to the stage. Chief guest President Dr Arif Alvi was the last personality to join the assortment of leaders and dignitaries on stage. He was escorted by the president’s body guards: Lieutenant Colonel Rab Nawaz Tiwana and Major Waqas Abbas Khan. Once the guests had assembled on stage, a round of handshakes ensued, following which the national anthem of Pakistan was played with start of parade ceremony.

  • A third-year student at Bahawalpur’s Government Sadiq Egerton College on 20th March allegedly stabbed a professor to death over what he vaguely described as the academic’s “anti-Islam” remarks, police sources and persons familiar with the incident said

Associate professor Khalid Hameed, the head of the English department, was seated inside his office at the college when he was allegedly accosted and attacked with a knife by the student. According to initial information noted by police at the scene of the crime, Khateeb Hussain, a 5th-semester BS student enrolled in the English department, had exchanged hot words with Prof Hameed at around 8:40am over the arranging of a ‘welcome party’ at the college. The event, which Hameed was overseeing, was to be held on March 21 to welcome new students to the college, police said. Police sources told that Hussain was averse to the event being organized because he viewed the mingling of male and female pupils at the function as “un-Islamic”.

  • The Supreme Court on 21st March accepted Bahria Town Karachi’s Rs460 billion offers for the lands it occupies in the Malir district of Karachi and restrained the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from filing references against it.

The Supreme Court last week had reserved its ruling on whether or not to accept a fresh offer by the Bahria Town (Pvt) Limited to settle a case pertaining to its Malir or Karachi Super Highway project in lieu of payment of Rs450 billion. Announcing its verdict today, the Supreme Court accepted the offer, which was raised to Rs460bn. Bahria Town Karachi will have to pay the entire amount over seven years. In its ruling, the top court ordered Bahria Town Karachi to pay Rs25 billion by August this year. From September onward, it will have to pay monthly installments of Rs2.25bn for the next three years. If the company fails to deposit two installments, Bahria Town Karachi will be considered a defaulter.

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan on 21st March, in a phone call with Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, expressed his admiration for the humane way that the Christchurch terror attackwas handled by New Zealand authorities.

Prime Minister Khan also extended an invitation to his counterpart to visit Pakistan. During the phone call, the prime minister appreciated the quick response of local New Zealand authorities and the high level of respect shown by Prime Minister Ardern for Muslims. Ardern has shown the way to other leaders in the face of rising Islam phobia and global extremism, said a press release from the prime minister’s office.

  • A Lahore Sessions Court on 20th March sentenced a Czech woman arrested last yearon charges of attempting to smuggle heroin from Pakistan to Abu Dhabi to eight years and eight months in jail.

The trial in the case had been completed on January 9; today, Additional Sessions Judge Shahzad Raza issued the verdict against 21-year-old Tereza Hluskova. Since her arrest on January 10, 2018 Hluskova has told investigators that she came to Pakistan to work as a model, but someone put eight and a half kilogram’s of narcotics into her luggage as she was returning. She was arrested as she tried to board a flight for Abu Dhabi.      

  • Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua has termed the acquittalof four of the individuals accused in the Samjhota Express bombing case a “historic injustice”, the Foreign Office (FO) said on 21st

A day after a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in India’s Haryana state acquitted the quartet, Janjua “briefed the diplomatic corps in Islamabad on the injustice done to the 44 Pakistani victims of the 2007 Samjhota Express terrorist attack”. As per the FO press release, the foreign secretary questioned how the Indian court could acquit the suspects, including Swami Aseemanand, whom the FO branded the “mastermind of the heinous attacks and an activist of the Hindu terrorist organization, RSS who had publicly confessed his involvement”.

  • Prominent religious scholar, Mufti Taqi Usmani, on 22nd March survived an attempt on his life while his police guard and a religious scholar were shot dead in a suspected targeted attack near Karachi’s Nipa flyover.

 

The police saw the attack as a conspiracy to sabotage peace in the city and trigger chaos in the country. Taqi Usmani, belonging to the famous Darul Uloom Korangi seminary, was travelling along with his family in a car while another car belonging to his close aide was following behind. When they descended from the ramp while coming from Rashid Minhas Road towards University Road, four gunmen riding two motorcycles opened indiscriminate firing on his vehicle at NIPA (now NIM) roundabout. Mufti Usmani survived the attempt on his life. However, his police guard, Mohammed Farooq, was critically wounded. The suspects also attacked the other car, resulting in bullet injuries to the driver, Sanober Khan, and a religious scholar, Maulana Amir Shahabuddin, belonging to the same seminary. The incident occurred at around 12:30pm.

  • Maulana Abdul Aziz on 22nd March dodged the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration and was able to deliver a sermon at Lal Masjid.

Maulana Abdul Aziz lambasted all state institutions and said the judiciary was corrupt because it was the remnant of British colonialism as was democracy. “Democracy is un-Islamic. I am ready to challenge any cleric who claims the democratic system is allowed under Islam,” he said. Maulana Abdul Aziz was reinstated after his release from prison in 2009, but he stirred another controversy in 2014 after he openly extended support to the perpetrators of the Army Public School attack in Peshawar by calling it a reactionary move by the terrorists. His several attempts to get hold of a microphone in Lal Masjid were foiled by the government in 2017 as well. Lal Masjid is a state-owned mosque and Maulana Abdullah, father of Maulana Abdul Aziz, was its first khateeb. After his assassination in the 1990s, Maulana Abdul Aziz was appointed the khateeb by the ICT’s Auqaf Department.

Economy

  • The Ministry of Finance has announced that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) will receive a 15 billion Yuan loan, equivalent to $2.1bn, from China by Monday.

The ministry’s adviser and spokesperson Dr Khaqan Najeeb Khan said that “all procedural formalities” for the transfer of the loan being provided to Pakistan by the Chinese government have been completed, and “the funds will be deposited in the SBP account by Monday 25th March”. The loan facility, the spokesperson said, “will further strengthen foreign exchange reserves and ensure balance of payment stability.”Following a meeting in Beijing between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Imran Khan in November 2018, China had said that it was willing to offer assistance to Pakistan to help it weather its current fiscal woes but that the terms of such aid were still being discussed.

F.C Exchange Rates of PKR as of 22nd March 2019 as compared to 15th March 2019
Countries PKR rate as of  15th  March 2019 PKR rate as of  22nd  March 2019
U.S.A. 139.30 140.10
U.K. 184.30 185.00
Euro 157.50 159.30
Japan 1.2600 1.2700
Saudi Arabia 37.05 37.25
U.A.E. 37.95 38.15

 

 

 

Pakistan Stock Exchange Indices

As of 22nd March 2019 As Compared

To 15th March 2019  

 

Position as of 22nd March 2019
Symbols KSE100 PSX-KMI
Advanced (Curr.) 133
38531.87
18517.32
Declined (High) 155
38721.05
18620.25
Unchanged (Low) 27
38384.72
18377.94
Total (Change) 315
147.15
139.38

 

 

 

Position as of 15 th March 2019
Symbols KSE100 PSX-KMI
Advanced (Curr.) 61
38306.95
18481.06
Declined (High) 249
38839.01
18776.18
Unchanged (Low) 14
38187.48
18431.90
Total (Change) 324
-501.66
-267.13

 

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