Pakistan News

KARACHI: Despite odd situation on both economic and political fronts, the inflow of foreign direct investment in February increased by 10 per cent but the overall eight months’ inflows fell by over 40 per cent.

The data released by State Bank of Pakistan on Monday shows that the FDI during February was $100.9 million compared to $90.8m during the same month of last year. The FDI has been declining since the beginning of the current financial year mainly on account economic vulnerability and political uncertainties.

China was on the top of the list since the inflow from the country was the highest with $22.7m last month. The data shows that during July-Feb FY23, the inflows of FDI from China were $222.8m, which was the highest inflow from any one country; however, the Chinese inflows were less than last year’s $366m.

Other two significant inflows were from Japan ($134m) and Switzerland with $123m. During the eight months of the current fiscal FY23, the total FDI inflows were $784.4m against $1315m in the same period of last year; a decline of 40.4pc.
Rupee falls
Pakistani rupee has been struggling against the US dollar to remain within current range of Rs280, but the mounting demand and poor foreign exchange reserves is causing rupee deprecation.
On Monday, the Pakistani rupee depreciated by Rs2.32 per dollar which was significantly high since the price is already at the optimum point. The SBP reported that the closing price of dollar was Rs284.03 in the inter-bank market compared to Rs281.71 in the last session held on March 17.
Currency dealers expecting more depreciation since the Pakistani rupee is losing its value internationally with the negative reports reaching abroad.
“The PKR has become so devalued that I was getting Rs324 per dollar in Dubai,” said an individual named Saeem, who recently visited the UAE.
Rupee depreciates by Rs2.32 versus dollar
The exchange companies said importers are buying dollars from illegal markets to keep alive their business but, at the same time, their buying is strengthening the illegal dollar trading. The SBP has allowed importers to arrange dollars for their imports. The exchange companies have no capacity for big supply of dollars required to importers.

The open market offered dollar at Rs286 on Monday while they quoted the dollar price as Rs285.50 for the inter-bank market. Exchange companies also trade with banks as they are bound to deposit their surplus dollars in banks each day.

ISLAMABAD: Former Spea­ker of KP Assembly Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani approached the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking conte­mpt proceedings against Governor Haji Ghulam Ali for allegedly violating its March 1, judgement that required him to announce a date for elections in the province.

In a petition, Mr Ghani said the Supreme Court should ask President Dr Arif Alvi or any “suitable functionary” to appoint the poll date.

The petitioner said the governor violated the judgement by delaying the announcement of poll date, adding that contempt proceedings may be initiated under Article 204 of the constitution read with section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 and Order 27 of the Supreme Court Rules, 1980.

He alleged that the governor had been creating and propagating doubts, qualms, fears and misgivings about holding elections within the constitutionally guaranteed deadline of 90 days on one pretext or the other. The governor had been brazenly giving interviews in media, maintaining that he does not see elections to happen within the constitutional timeframe, the petitioner said.

Former Speaker Ghani says governor’s ‘brash mannerism’ shows he’s fully geared up to defy SC orders; petitioner terms ECP’s conduct ‘extremely discouraging’
He said the respondent (governor) was not only found — through a recent court judgement — to have committed a breach of his constitutional responsibilities, but he has also been continuously disregarding the court’s clear directions despite being the highest constitutional functionary of the province. Therefore, the petition pleaded, it is necessary to proceed against him.

Notwithstanding the immunity available to the respondent under Article 248, he has had committed contempt of court and thus acted against the oath of his office, Mr Ghani said.

The petitioner highlighted the 2012 contempt case against former prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani in which the court held that holders of exalted offices (including president/prime minister or governor) on account of their executive office require greater restraint, and there is nothing in the constitution which bars initiating contempt proceedings against them.

The Constitution mentions no exemptions from the obligation it imposes, and Article 25(1) provides that all citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law, the petition argued.

This seminal judgement goes on to propound that the holder of constitutional office has higher responsibility because he, unlike ordinary citizens, makes an oath to discharge his duties in accordance with the constitution and law. Their oath also requires that they will preserve, protect and defend the constitution, therefore, more stringent legal standards apply to them as compared to others who have not taken a similar oath and the court had greater reason to be particularly concerned about the possibility of contempt having been committed by such public officeholders, the petition pleaded.

While the respondent holds an office mentioned in Article 248, the Supreme Court held in the 1998 Masroor Ahsan case that scope of powers and functions of such a high functionary cannot possibly be extended to committing of contempt of court which is punishable under the constitution itself, according to the petition.

Neither the constitution nor any law authorises holder of such high office to commit a criminal act or do anything which is contrary to law, the petition said, adding the immunity provided under Article 248 cannot be extended to illegal or unconstitutional acts.
Holders of such high offices are bound to obey the constitution and law under Article 5(2) which is basic obligation of every citizen, the petition pleaded.
But through his “brash and unabashed mannerism and public posturing”, the respondent has left no doubt that he is not interested in discharging his constitutional responsibilities and seems fully geared up to defy, disregard and disobey the orders of the Supreme Court and has thus conducted himself in a manner to have clearly and undoubtedly committed culpable contempt of court, the petition regretted.
Likewise, Mr Ghani said, the conduct of the Election Commission of Pakistan is also extremely discouraging as it appeared as if it’s hand in glove with the KP governor and seems more inclined to postpone elections both in KP and Punjab while aligning itself with defective line of reasoning orchestrated by the respondent.

ISLAMABAD: A couple of marathon meetings of the country’s civilian and military high command took an extremely unfavourable view of the PTI’s ongoing protest movement, terming the party “a gang of miscreants trained by banned organisations rather than a political party” and vowing to proceed against it as per law.

The huddles decided to take stern action against the protesting leaders and workers of the PTI who, when Imran Khan was supposed to appear before a court hearing the Toshakhana case, “brutally beat police personnel, set official vehicles on fire, used petrol bombs against police and created unrest”.

The first meeting, chaired by PM Shehbaz Sharif, was attended by ministers and representatives of ruling coalition partners and lasted around five hours. The second meeting, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told the media on Monday night, lasted an hour and was also attended by Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum.

According to an official statement issued after the meetings, the two sittings agreed to take stern action against those involved in violent protests and the ransacking of public and private property. The huddles also agreed that elections to the national and provincial assemblies should be held simultaneously.
The meeting also decided to take action against those involved in maligning state institutions, including the armed forces and judiciary, through a “smear campaign”.
“The meeting strongly condemned attacks on police and Rangers, who were obeying court orders, and called it an enmity against the state,” the statement said.
“All evidences and proofs are available, under which stern action will be taken against those involved in the unrest,” it added.
The meeting condemned “a smear campaign against the army and army chief on social media” and urged people not to become part of it. It observed that the impression that Imran Khan and his followers were being given “special treatment” was getting stronger. The statement noted that “two standards of justice” will not be accepted.
The participants also expressed concern over a recent audio tape of ex-chief justice Saqib Nisar and PTI lawyer Khawaja Tariq Rahim and condemned “objectionable” remarks about PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz.
The official statement said that the PTI was not acting like a political party, rather resembled “a gang of miscreants trained by outlawed groups” and asserted that violence by its workers against security personnel would not be tolerated.
According to the statement, a joint session of parliament would be held on Wednesday (tomorrow), and there would be more arrests of PTI leaders and workers in the days to come. Later at night, the NA Secretariat issued a statement saying that a joint sitting had been summoned to meet on March 22.
Provinces’ concern
Speaking during a TV appearance on Monday night, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal said the provincial governments of Sindh and Balochistan were quite concerned over the Supreme Court decision regarding holding of elections in Punjab and KP within 90 days of their dissolution and demanded elections in all provinces and the Centre be held at the same time.

“In view of the concerns of Sindh and Balochistan, the meeting reached a consensus that elections to the national and provincial assemblies should be held at the same time, and not separately,” he added.
“If the elections in Punjab are held now, the new provincial government will have influence on the polls to the National Assembly,” he said.
The minister said the elections in Punjab were scheduled to be held under the last census, while the new census will be completed over the next four months and the general elections in the country will be held as per the fresh census. He said the final decision regarding holding of elections will be taken by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The Supreme Court had in a recent verdict directed the caretaker government of Punjab to hold elections in the province on April 30.
Mr Iqbal said the apex court had taken the decision in “haste” as the present circumstances did not allow holding of polls so early. “It was the responsibility of the Supreme Court to take its decision keeping in view the ground realities,” he added.

‘Middle way’ out of deadlock
Separately, PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said it was in the best interests of the country that elections in all provinces and the Centre should be held simultaneously. “It was a common opinion of all in the meeting. If elections in Punjab and KP are held now, it will create more problems and conflict,” he added.

Mr Kaira, however, said all the warring political forces should not give up the option of dialogue and if Imran Khan had given any hint that he was serious for talks, he should be welcomed. “There must be a middle way out of the deadlock,” he added.

ISLAMABAD: An estimated 387 natural hazards and disasters resulted in the death of 30,704 people and caused economic losses of around $223.8 billion all over the world in 2022.

The disasters, recorded by the Emergency Event Database (EM-DAT), affected 185m individuals. The EM-DAT has been maintained by the Brussels-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters since 1988.

According to the database, heat waves caused over 16,000 deaths in Europe, while droughts affected 88.9m people in Africa. Hurricane Ian single-handedly caused damage of around $100bn in the Americas.
The human and economic impact of disasters was relatively higher in Africa, with 16.4 per cent of the total deaths taking place in the continent compared to 3.8pc in the previous two decades. In Nigeria, floods caused 603 deaths and resulted in an economic cost of $4.2 bn, while there were 544 flood-related lives lost in South Africa.

The toll was relatively lower in Asia despite experiencing some of the most destructive disasters in 2022.
The floods in Pakistan from June-September 2022 affected 33m people, causing 1,739 deaths and an economic damage of $15bn. Monsoon floods also struck India (2,035 deaths, $4.2bn losses), Bangladesh (7.2m people affected), and China ($5bn in economic losses).
The February flood in Brazil killed 272 people and the floods in Eastern Australia in February and March resulted in an economic cost of $6.6bn.
The number of catastrophic events in 2022 was slightly higher than average from 2002 to 2021 — 370. The death toll of 30,704 was three times higher than in 2021 but below the 2002-2021 average of 60,955 deaths, the latter being influenced by a few mega-disasters, such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake (222,570 deaths). For a more useful comparison, the 2022 toll is almost twice the 2002-2021 median of 16,011 deaths.
The heat wave-related excess mortality in Europe was estimated to be 16,305 deaths, accounting for over half of the total death toll in 2022. There were at least five record-breaking heat waves in Europe in 2022, with summer temperatures reaching 47C.
The drought-induced famine in Uganda caused 2,465 deaths, making it the second deadliest disaster event in 2022 after the European heat waves. In addition, droughts impacted 88.9m people in six African countries — Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan, Niger and Burkina Faso. Notable drought events also occurred in China where 6.1m people were affected, costing damage of around $7.6b. The droughts in the US and Brazil had an economic cost of $22bn and $4bn, respectively.
The year 2022 was also marked by three major storm events, including two in the Philippines: Tropical Storm Megi in April (346 deaths) and Tropical Storm Nalgae in October (3.3m people affected). Hurricane was the costliest disaster event with economic losses of $100bn.
As for earthquakes, three events stood out in 2022, with two of these ranking among the top ten deadliest disaster events: the southeastern Afghanistan earthquake in June (1,036 fatalities) and the November earthquake in Indonesia (334 fatalities).

Forests are incredibly important for our survival and well-being. They provide us with the air we breathe and the wood we use and offer habitats for animals and livelihoods for humans.

Additionally, forests play a crucial role in protecting watersheds, preventing soil erosion, and mitigating the effects of climate change. In fact, climate change is the biggest threat our country faces today, and even though Pakistan only contributes one per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it is still considered the 5th most vulnerable country to its effects. Despite our dependence on forests, we are allowing them to disappear at an alarming rate.

In recent years, Pakistan has suffered from natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and cyclones. However, the monsoon season in 2022 surpassed all previous destruction records on every scale. Heavy rainfall led to severe floods, landslides, and urban flooding, displacing 33 million people and causing over 1,730 deaths.
The floods affected all the provinces, impacting about 15pc of the population. The damages were widespread, with houses, roads, bridges, and rail networks being washed away. The government estimated the total damage to be more than $30 billion.

As the temperature in Islamabad rises above 40°C in May and June, the incidents of fire in and around the city have significantly increased. The primary cause of these fires is the drought and high temperatures, harming trees and animals. Recently, there was a fire outbreak at the National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST) in Sector H-12, Islamabad, which is a cause for serious concern.

These fires have adverse effects not only on the infrastructure but also on the socio-economic and environmental conditions of the region. It is crucial to address this issue to prevent further damage.

In recent years, many people have moved to cities in search of better living conditions, job opportunities, and access to education. Islamabad is no exception, attracting migrants from all over the country.

To accommodate the growing population, the city must build new infrastructure such as roads, schools, buildings, and housing societies. The city covers an area of 906 square kilometres and has experienced a 100pc increase in population over the last 20 years, making it difficult to monitor its resources and provide the necessary services to the public.
The Image Analysis Lab, which operates under the School of Interdisciplinary Engineering and Sciences at NUST, has conducted research using Artificial Intelligence techniques on satellite imagery to monitor the resources of Islamabad city.

The research shows that the green area of Islamabad in 2000 was 656sq-km with a water body of 7.09sq-km, barren land of 183sq-km, and a build-up area of 60sq-km.

However, in 2020, the green area was reduced to 420sq-km, representing a 36pc reduction in the last two decades. The water body also decreased to 6.38sq-km (decline of 0.71sq-km), which is approximately a 10pc reduction. Barren land fell to 100sq-km, a total decrease of 45pc from 2000.
The research reveals a significant concern in the 523pc increase in build-up area (from 60sq-km to 374sq-km), representing a massive increase in commercial and domestic land use.
The local government has implemented initiatives such as the Miyawaki forestation project to combat this issue. While this is a commendable effort, the volume and scope of the project remain limited.
The changes in Earth’s resources in Islamabad have significantly impacted weather patterns and natural disasters, such as urban flooding and forest fires. As a result of climate change, there is a possibility that these hazards will become more frequent and severe in the future.
Many countries are taking action to address deforestation and promote reforestation by protecting their forests and planting new trees. For example, the “MillionTreesNYC” initiative in New York City aims to plant one million new trees by 2025. Australia has committed to planting one billion trees by 2030 to combat climate change and protect biodiversity.
Although these initiatives are positive, more must be done globally to address deforestation and promote reforestation. Collaboration among governments, organisations, and individuals is necessary to protect and restore forests, which play a critical role in mitigating the impacts of climate change and supporting biodiversity.

Companies must join efforts in addressing deforestation and promoting reforestation alongside government and public initiatives. Businesses can actively support by committing to using only sustainable forest products in their operations, funding or volunteering for reforestation projects, and collaborating with stakeholders to promote sustainable forestry practices.
By doing so, companies can help mitigate the effects of deforestation and climate change and demonstrate their commitment to environmental sustainability.

ISLAMABAD: PTI’s senior vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sun­day assailed Finance Mini­ster Ishaq Dar for speaking on the country’s missile programme on the floor of the house and demanded that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif should issue a policy statement on the matter.

Last week, Mr Dar, while speaking about the ongoing talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the Senate, had snubbed the demand for abandoning the long-range nuclear missiles programme and made it clear that nobody had any right to dictate Pakistan as to what range of missiles it can have.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Qureshi said that if it was not possible for the prime minister to give a policy statement then an in-camera session could be held to discuss the issue.

Mr Qureshi, a former foreign minister, expressed surprise as to why a deal with IMF was not being finalised despite the fact that Pakistan has fulfilled all the demands of the global lender.

“No one has the right to tell us what kind of nuclear programme we should have and missiles of which range we should have. We have our atomic arsenal South Asia-specific and to ensure our defence,” he said.
“There is national consensus over the atomic assets and we will protect them no matter which government is in power,” he emphasised.
Earlier in a hearing at the US Senate Armed Services Committee, when Centcom Commander Gen Michael E. Kurilla was asked if he was confident of Pakistan’s nuclear security procedures, he said: “I am confident (of) their nuclear security procedures.”
Senator Angus King asked the general to share his assessment of the current and “long-term prospects for stability in Pakistan”. He said: “I have a great relationship with the COAS General Munir.” He believed the concerns in Pakistan were their budget, financial situation, the current political situation, and the counterterrorism situation.
Gen Kurilla noted that “the Tricky Taliban Pakistani, the TTP,” has been “significantly increasing” its activities at the end of a recent ceasefire there.
Anwar Iqbal from Washington also contributed to this report

LAHORE: The PTI lead­ership has strongly condemned the “state terrorism” launched at the residence of party chairman Imran Khan which they said was “part of a London Plan to eliminate him”.

As Mr Khan left his Za­­man Park residence in La­­hore on Saturday to appear before a judge in Islam­abad, a heavy contingent of police launched a search operation at his house.

Addressing a press conference at the party’s of­­fi­­ce, PTI leader Fawad Cha­udhry said the operation was part of the agenda set by PML-N chief organiser Maryam Nawaz and aimed at arresting Mr Khan.

“A woman, who has never even contested a councillor’s election is setting the government’s agenda,” he said while referring to Ms Sharif’s Friday presser where she asserted that Mr Khan should be arrested.

He claimed the operation was in violation of the court orders and created an environment of anarchy across the country as PTI workers were pressuring the leadership to announce country-wide protests.

The PTI leader asked party workers to be ready for the final showdown and await Mr Khan’s instructions to launch the protests. Mr Chaudhry added that party leaders were going to Islamabad with Mr Khan but returned mid-way after the news of the “cowardly attack”.

The whole nation was suffering due to unprecedented inflation but the government’s only objective was to arrest the PTI chairman, he added.

Mr Chaudhry said the residence’s gates were razed with the help of excavators, while police officials scaled walls and tortured people inside the house. He said the operation was in sheer violation of the Lahore High Court’s orders as the police did not inform the court’s nominated focal person Imran Kishwar before the raid.

“I informed Punjab advocate general Security DIG, who acknowledged and stated that the message would be conveyed to the IG Police. Still, the operation was executed,” he lamented.

On Friday, the Lahore High Court allowed a request by the Punjab police chief to search Mr Khan’s Zaman Park residence for an investigation into attacks on police teams when they went to execute warrants issued by an Islamabad court for the PTI chief’s arrest.

No search warrant

In a video message, Mr Khan’s sister, Dr Uzma Khanum, claimed the police conducted the operation without warrants.

Stating that the policemen harassed women and tortured servants, Dr Kha­num said the policemen “seemed blood-thirsty” as they brutally thrashed un­­a­rmed people in the house.

She alleged that the pol­ice also abducted her hus­­­band and some servants.

PTI President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi also visited Zaman Park after the raid and called the action “brutality and violence”.

Calling Ms Sharif and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah fascists, Mr Elahi said the police didn’t even respect the sanctity of women in the house.

He said the use of shelling and rubber bullets on workers and employees was condemnable.

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