Tag Archive: Yousaf Raza Gillani

Pakistan is on the path of international economic isolation. The serious analysts are in a state of shock with their fingers crossed. They are not ready to believe what is now unfolding before their eyes. A decision taken today in national interest is reversed the next day under pressure, again in the national interest. The ruling party of Pakistan has finally decided to sacrifice economy and the well being of the common man along with it, at the altar of power. The price for staying in power was huge but who cares as long as someone else (read: common man) is paying the price.

The government was relying on imposition of RGST for sailing through the economic problems but all the mainstream political parties have opposed it tooth and nail, for their own reasons which include safeguarding the interests of the elite and putting the government in a difficult situation. Ironically those who opposed this new levy had no alternative strategy except the vague rhetoric of minimizing the institutional corruption in the tax machinery. It seems that the government will work overtime to print notes during the remaining two years. Incidentally, governor of the central bank has already warned against the devastating implications of deficit financing.

Has the government decided to abandon the economic reforms? The instant reaction of US and IMF to reversion of increase in the petroleum prices confirms it.  The government has embarked on the path of economic isolation internationally simply to remain in power. These are short-cut methods and will badly affect the life of common man.

According to Financial Times, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, announced the deferral of an IMF-backed tax reform on Friday. The reformed general sales tax, which Pakistan has been discussing with the IMF for more than a year, was supposed to be introduced in July last year to boost tax revenues.

“We will not go forward [with the RGST] until consensus is evolved,” said Mr Gilani during a visit to the southern port city of Karachi, where he visited the headquarters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

Mr Gilani reversed a plan to increase oil prices on Thursday to win back the support of MQM, after the party withdrew from the ruling coalition in a move that denied the government parliamentary majority. MQM confirmed on Friday that it would rejoin the coalition.

Analysts warned that the decision to delay the RGST would further intensify concerns over the government’s ability to reform Pakistan’s troubled economy.

“This is a near fatal blow to the reform process,” warned Sakib Sherani, a former adviser to the finance ministry. “The RGST was meant to finally begin documenting the vast informal economy in a country with an alarmingly low tax to GDP ratio.”

Mr Gilani’s decision will only cause more problems with the IMF. Pakistan does not have much to show in the form of successful reforms being undertaken currently. The RGST is a key part of Pakistan’s agreement with the IMF and its postponement could put the $11bn loan package in jeopardy. The IMF said that raising the ratio of government revenue to national income was essential to returning Pakistan’s public finances towards sustainability and the sales tax was an indispensable component in this effort.

Nobody is sure if Prime Minister Gillani’s government will survive the current political crisis but everyone wishes him well because no one, particularly those sitting in the Parliament can afford an early election. At this critical juncture, the largest opposition party does not want any political instability because for them PPP’s government means “system” and “democracy” and they say they would not derail either the system or the democracy. But there is one gentleman who sees his chance in Gilani’s looming dismissal. He is accused of many crimes including dismissing the heavy mandate and bringing Pakistan’s economy back to stability. According to media reports, former President Pervez Musharraf on Monday said his newly formed party was prepared for possible early elections as the government in Islamabad scrambles to save its ruling coalition. Musharraf, who launched the All Pakistan Muslim League APML in October, said he will return to Pakistan “before the next election”.

“We are ready to contest elections,” Musharraf told reporters at his apartment in Dubai.

“A little more time would be useful, as we are a new party. However, we will definitely try if the elections come early.”

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s government lost its parliamentary majority on Sunday when the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) announced it would sit on opposition benches over fuel price policies. The opposition has not yet sought a no-confidence vote against Gilani in parliament but analysts say that is the biggest worry for the government.  The next election is not due until 2013.

“For the government to survive, the PML-N or the PML-Q (parties outside the coalition) have to support them. Such support will have a lot of consequences,” Musharraf added.

Musharraf said: “I must return (to Pakistan) well before the next elections, whenever that may be. I strongly believe the real momentum for my party will start once I reach Pakistan. So we are trying to create an environment for me to reach there.”

Musharraf claimed he did not rule out alliances with other political parties in the future.

“Many parties want to be with us. But I want my party to get a simple majority in the next elections so that we do not have to rely on others.” He said he had made “mistakes”, including actions against The judiciary and imposing a state of emergency, but dismissed the possibility of another military takeover, saying he wanted to come to power with “the mandate of the public”.

Infamous NRO is not the only misdeed of President Musharraf so dear to the present government. There are some other decisions of the military dictator which the present government not only feels unable to reverse, it wants to implement those decisions more zealously than Musharraf himself. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani revealed Friday for the first time that former military ruler Pervez Musharraf gave approval for US drones to make surveillance flights over the country. It implies that his government gave a tacit nod to replace surveillance with lethal bombing.

“The previous government gave them permission for surveillance and reconnaissance flights by US drone aircraft but not to launch missile attacks,” Prime Minister told diplomatic correspondents. The United States does not officially confirm the drone attacks, but the campaign is unpopular among the Pakistan public who see military action on Pakistani soil as a breach of national sovereignty.

Gilani said “we will find out” when asked about reports that US drones use Shamsi base in southwestern province Balochistan, but denied that drones were taking off from a military base in southern province Sindh.

“We have not provided them space (to fly). This is wrong and I have contradicted that drones were using Shahbaz base (in Sindh) for this purpose.” A covert US drone campaign has dramatically increased the frequency of drone strikes in the tribal belt in response to intelligence claims of a Mumbai-style terror plot to launch commando attacks on European cities. Officials in Washington say drone strikes are highly effective in the war against Al-Qaeda and its Islamist allies, killing a number of high-value targets, including Pakistan’s Taliban founding father Baitullah Mehsud. But in Pakistan, anger over the attacks has fuelled reprisals from militant groups who have targeted NATO supply convoys destined for Afghanistan.

“We have repeatedly said the drone attacks are counter productive,” Gilani told the group of local and foreign reporters. “We want to have drone technology and also if they have any actionable intelligence, we want them to share it with us.”

Mary Ellen O’Connell, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame in the United States, this week became the latest legal expert to warn that the drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and other countries violate international law and should be halted.

“The use of drones is causing really serious anger in Pakistan. I really seriously question the necessity for what we are doing,” she told London think-tank Chatham House. Although he did not specify bombing raids by unmanned aircraft, CIA chief Leon Panetta has been quoted as telling US media that the agency’s expanding operations in Pakistan have taken “a serious toll” on Al-Qaeda. Washington on Friday held out an offer of two billion dollars in fresh military aid to Pakistan, where it wants the military to do more to fight insurgents crossing into Afghanistan from the northwestern tribal belt.

The United States considers the area an Al-Qaeda headquarters and the most dangerous place on Earth. At talks in Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States had “no stronger partner when it comes to counter-terrorism”. Clinton said the military package, which is subject to Congressional approval, would come over several years and be in addition to 7.5 billion dollars in civilian aid the United States has committed over five years.

….but PPP leader’s ex-husband faces the axe.

Pakistan Government has won the first round of NRO case….Yes it wanted to delay implementation of NRO judgment and has won the first round. The case has been adjourned till November 1, 20210 giving a new lease of life to the government and dashing the hopes of “political actors”. On the other hand, the PM has started implementing NRO judgment of the Supreme Court, though selectively. The first one to face the axe is ex-husband of a PPP leader. The Express Tribune has reported from Islamabad that Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has dismissed National Reconciliation Order (NRO) beneficiaries, convicted executive director of the Printing Corporation of Pakistan and managing director of the Federal Employees Benevolent Fund on Wednesday.

A notification from the Prime Minister’s house has been issued to both NRO beneficiaries. Director of the PCP, Pir Mukarum-ul-Haq had previously been sentenced by a Rawalpindi accountability Court to seven years rigorous imprisonment and 10 million rupees fine for wasting the state’s resources. MD of the Federal Employees Benevolent and Group Insurance Funds – Sadiq Ali Khan has also been dismissed. He was sentenced on 14th August, 2009.

The dismissals come at a time when the government is under considerable pressure as the Supreme Court is set to hear the NRO review case.

It has also been reported in the Business Recorder that Supreme Court accepted  Federation‘s plea seeking approval to substitute its counsel to plead its review case on National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) decision and fixed hearing of the case for Nov 1. The 17-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in its order said that keeping in view of the importance of all the aspects and in the larger interest of dispensation of justice, the application moved by Sardar Latif Khan Khosa was accepted, enabling him to argue the review petition on behalf of the Federation. The bench also directed the counsel to submit with the Registrar office a certificate obtained from the Pakistan Bar Council about revival of his practice. The further hearing was adjourned to next date after making it a subject to availability of the bench.

Sardar Latif Khan Khosa has resigned from the portfolio of Advisor to the Prime Minister and has been engaged by the Federation to represent its stance on pending NRO review petition. At the outset of proceedings, the bench asked Sardar Latif Khan Khosa to submit an application showing reasons for change of Barrister Kamal Azfar under Order 26 of the Rules 6 of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice told him that previously the Advocate on Record was willing to withdraw the Federation’s plea and it was the bench that advised him to consider his client’s interests. Similarly, he pointed out to him certain implications in filing of amended review pleas. The Chief Justice said that a misunderstanding was created that the Court was not accommodating their pleas. Attorney General for Pakistan Molvi Anwarul Haq told the bench that Kamal Azfar was in fact made Advisor to the Prime Minster on Disaster Management.

On October 11, a three-member bench headed by the Chief Justice had declined Federation’s plea seeking reasonable time to engage another counsel in its review appeal against the NRO verdict after its counsel Barrister Kamal Azfar was made Advisor to the Prime Minister. Raja Abdul Ghafoor, Advocate on Record (AOR) had filed a Civil Miscellaneous Application seeking time to engage another counsel on behalf of the Federation in C.R.P No. 129/2010 in Constitution Petition No. 76/2007. The Federation requested that Barrister Kamal Azfar, who was representing Federation in C.R.P 129/10, has now been appointed as advisor to the prime minister and prayed for appropriate time to engage another counsel. The review cases relating to the NRO have been fixed before a 17-member larger bench for Oct 13 as Barrister Kamal Azfar, in his earlier application had also asked for general adjournment for a period of 22-09-10 to 10-10-10 which was allowed by the Chief Justice.