Economic & Political Weekly 2nd December, 2018

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World

Politics-

  • Former President George H.W. Bush dead at 94.

The 41st president of the United States, has died at age 94.The president’s health had been in decline in recent months. “George Herbert Walker Bush, World War II naval aviator, Texas oil pioneer, and 41st President of the United States of America, died on November 30, 2018. He was 94 and is survived by his wife, five children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, and two siblings. His son George W. Bush, who served as the country’s 43rd president was also present at the time of his death

·  India begins construction of ‘holy passageway’ into Pakistan. New pilgrimage route from Indian village to Sikh temple aimed to ease regional tensions.

India has laid the foundation stone in its northern Punjab state for a new “corridor” into Pakistan to provide pilgrims visa-free access to a Sikh temple across the border, in a move aimed at easing tension between the nuclear-armed neighbors. The projected 6km-long passageway will enable pilgrims to walk from Dera Baba Nanak village to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara temple, east of Lahore, where Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev Bedi lived the last 18 years of his life until his death in 1539.

· Released academic Matthew Hedges back in the UK. PhD student thanks everyone who helped secure ‘spying’ pardon from UAE prison

Matthew Hedges and his wife, Daniela Nevada, reunited in northern England on 27th Nov . The PhD student was granted a presidential pardon and flown back to Britain earlier in the day.

· May’s Brexit deal suffers further blow as top ally rejects it,. US president Donald Trump has said that the proposed Brexit agreement “sounds like a great deal for the EU”, saying he worries that it will prohibit trade between America and the UK.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan has come under further pressure after a staunch ally attacked it and US president Donald Trump issued a warning over future trade.

Under the deal secured with EU leaders, Britain would leave the bloc in March with continued close trade ties. But the agreement has attracted criticism from supporters of a cleaner break with the EU and from opponents of Brexit, stacking the odds against it passing through parliament next month. Michael Fallon, Mrs. May’s former defense secretary who resigned last year after a journalist accused him of sexual harassment, told BBC radio that British negotiators should head back to Brussels to secure a better divorce agreement.

· In Brexit what is the Norway model option for the UK.

Norway has been floated as a possible “plan B” for Brexit because of the level of opposition in the UK parliament to the draft agreement signed off by the EU and UK. It is being considered because Norway’s relationship is as close as a country can get to the European Union without actually being a member. It could also be used as a template to follow to keep trading relations as close as they are now. It is helpful too because it is an existing off-the-shelf model and regarded as a type of soft Brexit that could readily be used to avoid a disorderly no-deal scenario if, as expected, the UK parliament votes down the draft divorce deal. A Norway-style agreement could stand until a separate EU-UK trade agreement is resolved, according to its supporters.

·  Election losses for Taiwan’s ruling party lift pro-China opposition.

Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has suffered punishing losses in local elections in a boost for the China-friendly opposition, while voters also rejected plans to legalize same-sex marriage and a proposal to change the name of its Olympic team to Taiwan from the current Chinese Taipei. The local elections were seen as a gauge of the popularity of President Tsai Ing-wen, who has had a strained relationship with Beijing since she was elected in 2016 because China believes that the DPP wants to push for independence.

·  Saudi crown prince greeted with protests in Tunisia

Tunisian women hold up saws and signs showing pictures of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with a caption below reading in Arabic “no welcome, Tunisians against the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince to Tunisia”, during an anti-Saudi Crown Prince protest in the capital, Tunis on November 27th.

  • Russian Presi­dent Vladimir Putin has warned Ukraine against any “reckless acts” after Kiev declared martial law in response to Moscow’s seizure of three of its navy vessels.

The Ukrainian parliament late on Nov 26 voted in favor of President Petro Poroshenko’s request for the introduction of martial law in border areas for 30 days. The move came after Russian forces fired on, boarded and captured three of Kiev’s ships on Sunday off the coast of Crimea, sparking the most dangerous crisis between the ex-Soviet neighbors in years.

  • Jack Ma, founder of Chinese tech giant Alibaba, is among the world’s richest people but he has now emerged as a member of another club: China’s 89-million-strong Communist Party

The billionaire’s Communist bona fides were revealed by the People’s Daily, the party’s official mouthpiece, in an article praising contributors to China’s development. He is neither the first nor likely the last Chinese super-rich capitalist to join the party, which counts property titan Xu Jiayin and Wanda Group founder Wang Jianlin among its billionaire members. But Ma’s membership had not been widely known until now as China’s richest man had previously suggested that he preferred to stay out of politics.

  • Slovenia’s government on 27th Nov appointed a female officer as the head of the army, a first for the small country which is a member of NATO and the European Union

Maj. Gen. Alenka Erm­e­­nc, 55, will formally take up her post as the Chief of the General Staff of the Slove­n­ian Armed Forces at a ceremony on Wednesday, when she will also become the only woman to currently hold the top army post among the NATO countries. The British-educated Ermenc replaces Maj. Gen. Alan Geder after serving as his deputy. Geder took over Slovenia’s military earlier this year after his predecessor was sacked over poor results in a NATO test.

· Spain’s Socialists seek to retain southern stronghold

If any Spanish political party could be said to have an electoral stronghold, then it is the Socialists in the south. “Why do the Socialists always win in Andalusia?” Susana Díaz, president of the region, asked supporters during a party rally in Marbella this week. “The easy answer is because people want us to win, because they vote for us,” she said. “But there’s a second reason: because people know that they can trust us.”

Economy-

·Fed defends gradual approach to interest rate hikes. Regulator forecasts three more hikes in 2019.

Federal Reserve vice chairman Richard Clarida said the central bank’s gradual approach to interest-rate hikes is appropriate as US monetary policy gets closer to its optimal longer-run setting. As the economy has moved to a neighborhood consistent with the Fed’s dual-mandate objectives, risks have become more symmetric and less skewed to the downside than when the current rate cycle began three years ago.

·  Here’s the Investment Warren Buffett Thinks “Makes the Most Sense Practically All of the Time”

Don’t you wish you could invest like Warren Buffett and get the kind of returns he does? Well, you can certainly invest in his company, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A)(NYSE: BRK-B), and see your fortune grow along with his. He believes in the future of the company, of course, but he has also recommended another investment for most people: index funds.

So what, exactly, are index funds, and why would one invest in them beyond Buffett’s urging? Well, they’re passively managed mutual funds, as opposed to actively managed ones that have paid managers who research investment options and make buy and sell decisions regularly. An index fund is said to be passively managed because its managers don’t do as much thinking — or buying or selling. They just buy whatever is in the index that they aim to track, in the same proportion. If the index sheds some holding at some point, the index fund sheds it, too.

·US, Canada and Mexico sign deal to replace Nafta, G20 summit sideline accord set to cover $1 trillion worth of commercial exchanges.

The leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico on 30th Nov signed the agreement to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina, capping months of fraught negotiations to preserve open trade in North America. President Donald Trump, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto signed the new trade deal – renamed USMCA by the US – to cover $1 trillion of commercial exchanges on the continent.

  • Global indices as of Nov 30 as compared to Nov 23, 2018

 

Global Indices as of Nov 30

 

US Markets Current value Change
Nasdaq (Nov 30) 7,330.54 57.46

 

European Markets

 

FTSE 100 (Nov 30) 6,980.24 -58.71

 

CAC 40 (Nov 30) 5,003.92 -2.33

 

DAX (Nov 30) 11,257.24 -40.99

 

Asian Markets

 

Nikkei 225 (Nov 30) 22,351.06 88.46

 

Straits Times (Nov 30) 3,117.61 8.17

 

Hang Seng (Nov 30) 26,506.75 55.72

 

Taiwan Weighted (Nov 30) 9,888.03 2.67

 

KOSPI (Nov 30) 2,096.86 -17.24

 

 SET Composite (Nov 30) 1,641.80 5.31

 

 Jakarta Composite (Nov 30) 6,056.12 -51.05

 

Shanghai Composite (Nov 30) 2,588.19 20.75

 

SGX Nifty (Dec 1) 10,912.50 2.50

 

Global Indices as of Nov 23

 

Name Current Value Change

 

US Markets

 

Nasdaq (Nov 23) 6,938.98 -33.27

 

European Markets

 

FTSE 100 (Nov 23) 6,952.86 -7.46

 

CAC 40 (Nov 23) 4,946.95 8.81

 

DAX (Nov 23) 11,192.69 54.20

 

Asian Markets

 

Nikkei 225 (Nov 22) 21,646.55 139.01

 

Straits Times (Nov 23) 3,052.49 11.11

 

Hang Seng (Nov 23) 25,927.68 -91.73

 

Taiwan Weighted (Nov 23) 9,667.30 -47.41

 

KOSPI (Nov 23) 2,057.48 -12.47

 

 SET Composite (Nov 23) 1,622.10 17.70

 

 Jakarta Composite (Nov 23) 6,006.20 15.39

 

Shanghai Composite (Nov 23) 2,579.48 -65.95

 

SGX Nifty (Nov 24) 10,545.50 -9.50

 

Pakistan

 

Politics

  • Information minister Fawad Chaudhry on ist Dec announced that Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been booked under treason and terrorism charges at Lahore’s Civil Lines police station.

Legal action has also been initiated against other top leaders of the religiopolitical party, Chaudhry announced. Pir Afzal Qadri has been booked under treason and terrorism charges in Gujrat, Inayatul Haq Shah has been booked under treason and anti-terrorism laws in Rawalpindi, and Hafiz Farooqul Hassan has been booked under similar charges as well.

  • Pakistani Twitter could not comprehend Imran’s plans for the local poultry industry and seized the moment to have a laugh.

Imran Khan clearly did not enjoy the humor and actually had a clap back ready in hand. He called out his critics for their hypocrisy, posting an article about Bill Gates’ poverty alleviation strategy involving poultry farming to empower impoverished families. For the colonized minds when desis talk about chickens combating poverty they get mocked, but when “walaitis” talk about desi chicken and poverty it’s brilliance!

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan put a greater focus on his government’s plans ahead rather than analyze the tasks already accomplished, at a special event held at the Jinnah Convention Centre in Islamabad on 29th Nov to review his first 100 days in power.

A major contributing factor to the “downtrodden” plight, the prime minister said, is corruption, and explained why he took a hardened stance against the practice. He said the policies adopted by his government in the first century of days in power were inspired by the state of Madina. “In Madina, Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) adopted policies that were based on compassion; all policies were made for the poor,” he said. “The tax system of Zakat was established where money was collected from the rich and redistributed to the downtrodden.

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan on Ist Dec ordered the demolition of the walls of Punjab Governor House, in a follow-up to his promise in his first address to the nation of turning the Prime Minister House and governor houses into public spaces.

Education minister Shafqat Mehmood had announced in September that the Governor House in Lahore will be opened to the public. The promise was fulfilled when the building was opened by the PTI government later that same month.

·This is a democratic facade. There is no freedom of the press. Journalists in Pakistan struggle with overt message control and covert self-censorship.

The garden of Islamabad Press Club in Pakistan is a sanctuary. With the Margalla Hills in the background and lush green trees lining winding, colored paths, there is something playful about it. Mismatched chairs are scattered around, relics of creative conversations perhaps. At the front of the garden is a statue of a fist clutching a pen and under it the sign: “In Memory of Martyred Journalists.” Sitting in this garden, journalist Nasir Zaidi radiates kindness – years of fighting for press freedom have not made him hostile or cynical. “This is an authoritarian rule,” he says of his country. “This is a democratic facade. There is no freedom of the press in Pakistan. There are visible and invisible forces who are bent upon to get the press.”

  • An antiterrorism court (ATC) on 28th Nov accepted the bail of journalist Nasarullah Khan Chaudhry who has been in police custody for allegedly possessing banned literature.

According to the Counter-terrorism Department (CTD), it arrested Chaudhry, a journalist associated with Urdu-language daily Nai Baat, in Karachi’s Garden area on Nov 11. The agency alleged that the journalist was carrying some journals and booklets about Afghan Jihad and the Punjabi Taliban which contained material intended to sow discord on sectarian grounds as well as to motivate people to take part in “Jihad”.

  • Justice Athar Minallah was sworn in as the chief justice of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on 28th nov

The oath was administered by President Dr Arif Alvi at a ceremony at the Aiwan-i-Sadr in Islamabad, attended by federal ministers, parliamentarians and judges of the IHC. Justice Minallah will be the third chief justice of the IHC since it was established in January 2011.

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan on 28th Nov performed the groundbreaking of the long-awaited corridor connecting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of Narowal district to Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district.

A large number of Sikh yatris ─ both local and Indian ─ along with Indian Minister for Food Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Minister for Housing Hardeep S. Puri, Indian Punjab Minister of Local Government, Tourism, Cultural Affairs, and Museums Navjot Singh Sidhu, and Indian journalists and foreign diplomats are attending the ceremony. Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed, and Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi were also in attendance.

  • Sessions court in Dera Ismail Khan on ist Dec sentenced a man (Bilal) to death on three counts and imposed a fine of Rs0.9 million on him for the rape and murder of a minor girl.

The minor girl was kidnapped on January 26, 2017, during a wedding ceremony in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Dera Ismail Khan. A report released by the NGO Sahil had revealed in August that cases of child abuse have been increased by 32 per cent in the first six months of 2018 compared to the first half of 2017.

  • WWF Pakistan held its seventh annual Green Office Conference in the capital on 27th Nov which focused on the theme of air pollution. The aim of the event was to turn the tide and establish a consensus between relevant public and private sectors on the roles, responsibilities and actions needed to improve air quality.

WWF Pakistan Director General Hammad Naqi Khan said: “Lahore and Karachi are among the 10 most polluted cities in the world in terms of air quality according to Air Visual, an air quality monitor. The ranking today puts Lahore on top of the list with urgent action needed to tackle this issue.”

  • Mevo Faqir Kariro, said to be the last surviving fighter of the Hur Movement, breathed his last at the age of 120 years in Ramzan Kariro village on Tuesday.

 

Kariro had played a key role in the Kheenwari attack by the Hur force in February 1942 against British forces.The attack had led to the killing of police Nazim Mir Ghulam Rasool Shah, who was believed to have been actively involved in the suppression of the Hur Movement.

  • The Sindh High Court (SHC) on 30th Nov ordered the Karachi authorities to take joint action against the commercial use of land meant for residential properties in the metropolis.

Headed by Justice Irfan Saadat Khan, a two-member bench while hearing a petition against the commercial use of residential areas, ordered the mayor of Karachi, the project director of the Lines Area Development Authority, the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) and others to present a report within 15 days after taking action on court directives. During the hearing the SBCA lawyer informed the court that ending encroachments did not come within the authority’s jurisdiction, to which Justice Khan responded by saying that “these aren’t encroachments … these are illegal constructions”.

  • Mujeebur Rehman of Pakistan and Brittney Montgomery of USA got married after becoming Facebook friend.

As marrying a US national is making headlines these days, in a new ‘love story’ a Pakistani visually impaired cricketer has tied the knot with an American blind girl in Bahawalpur,  It all began after Brittney Montgomery, the American national, befriended Mujeebur Rehman on the popular social media platform – Facebook.

 

  • After child pornography and assault-cum-serial killing of children in Kasur, another scandal of trafficking of minor girls for prostitution has emerged in the city of Lahore.

An officer of the Child Protection Welfare Bureau (CPWB) has revealed that a team of the bureau received information about ‘sale’ of two minor girls in Shareef Pura Mohalla for prostitution. The site is just two kilometres away from City Pattoki Police Station. The team along with police secured a search warrant of three victims and conducted a raid. “We have recovered two girls, one is aged 12 and the other is three and a half years old,” he added. However, one of the suspects managed to flee from the scene with the third victim. The initial investigations revealed that the victims had been bought for the purpose of prostitution, The officer added that the first victim was staying with a woman identified as Zahida Parveen. “Her husband Akram had purchased the victim about five years back from an old man living somewhere on Depalpur Road for Rs50,000,A suspect identified as Manzooran Bibi had bought the other minor girl from a midwife for Rs80,000. Sexual violence against minors is a serious issue in Pakistan. The issue gained national attention after flashing of child pornography scandal in Hasnain Khanwala village and murder of at least eight girls by a suspect Imran Ali in Kasur.

 

  • In an act of bravado, two girl students thrashed two young men catcalling at them at a busy market of Peshawar forcing them to flee.

In an undated video clip that went viral on social media on 30th Nov , the two girl students wearing hijab could be seen angrily slapping across the faces of two young men as a crowd gathers at the scene., two MNA’s

  • Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, two MNAs were arrested by the FIA after their names were found on the PNIL

.

Two members of the National Assembly, both members of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), were taken into custody from the Bacha Khan International Airport. They had been nominated in a case registered against them in district Swabi.

  • Police authorities on Ist Dec announced the launch of a separate lane for motorcyclists on the arterial Sharea Faisal road in Karachi.

“A separate ‘yellow lane’ has been launched for motorbikes on Sharea Faisal from Ist Dec,” said Additional IG Karachi Dr Amir Ahmed Shaikh. DIG Traffic Karachi Javed Ali Mahar in a meeting with the ‘traffic enforcement unit’ of Sharea Faisal has alsso directed police officers to ensure that all motorcyclists ride their two-wheelers in the separate lane while wearing helmets. People travelling in cars must wear seat belts as well, said a spokesperson for the traffic police

Economy

  • Going beyond market expectations, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on 30th Nov increased the benchmark interest rate by 150 basis points to 10% – a six-year high level.

The rate hike was very much in line with the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) demand that Pakistan push the interest rate into double digits. With the fresh revision, the central bank has raised the interest rate by a cumulative 4.25 percentage points in five rounds since January 2018. The prime objective is to make borrowing expensive in a bid to apply brakes on the accelerating inflation in the country. Near-term challenges to Pakistan’s economy continue to persist with rising inflation, an elevated fiscal deficit and low foreign exchange reserves.

  • Sudden devaluation of local currency against the US dollar was witnessed in interbank trading on 30th Nov morning as the greenback hit an all-time high of Rs144 during intraday trading.

The US dollar, which was being traded at Rs134 on 29th Nov , opened higher at Rs142 on 30th Nov while the local currency further devalued by Rs2 to Rs144 before setting to Rs140 at midday. Later in the day, Finance Minister Assad Umar addressed the issue and said that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) sets the currency rate.

 

  • The government has established the Directorate General Immoveable Properties (DGIP) to deal with matters related to real estate and immoveable properties as regulator of Real Estate Business.

Director General for Broadening of Tax Base, Muhammad Tanveer has been given the additional charge to head the DGIP whereas three of his colleagues were also given additional charge to look after the new office.

 

F.C Exchange Rates of PKR
Countries PKR rate as of 24th Nov PKR rate as of Ist Dec
U.S.A. 135.2 139.15
U.K. 175 175
Euro 155 156
Japan 1.20 1.24
Saudi Arabia 36.15 37
U.A.E. 37 38

 

  • The week ended with downward trend in the stock markets as of 30th November 2018 as compared to 23rd November 2018.

 

Position as of 30th Nov 2018
Symbols                                                            KSE100                  PSX-KMI
Advanced (Curr.) 83
40496.03
19695.49
Declined (High) 236
                                                           40936.73

19837.95
Unchanged (Low) 26
40339.93
19611.86
Total (Change) 345
-142.80
-23.82

 

Position as of 23rd Nov 2018

 

Symbols                                                          KSE100                 PSX-KMI
Advanced (Curr.) 149
40869.28
19934.56
Declined (High) 151
        40899.47
20013.41
Unchanged (Low) 25
40655.08
19903.42
Total (Change) 325
-4.75
-62.69

 

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