------------------------------------------------------------------- DAWN WIRE SERVICE ------------------------------------------------------------------- Week Ending : 3 March 2001 Issue : 07/9 -------------------------------------------------------------------
Contents | National News | Business & Economy | Editorials & Features | Sports
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CONTENTS ===================================================================
NATIONAL NEWS + Indian defence budget hike being analyzed: ISPR + India and Pakistan developing arms: CIA + Pakistan asks Taliban to stop smashing statues + D-8 states to enhance economic ties: CE + Growth target lowered to 3.8pc: Drought affects economy + Annan to hold talks on Kashmir, Afghan issues + Anti-Nawaz League plans to finish party elections by 15th + CE asks Delhi not to miss peace opportunity + US blasts India over Kashmir killings + N-plan meets safety standards, says PAEC chief + Haq Nawaz hanged; one killed in violence + State views sought on Benazir's plea + Lawyers boycott courts + Earthquake jolts parts of country --------------------------------- BUSINESS & ECONOMY + SBP's 2nd quarterly report for 2000-2001 + SB fears rise in inflation: 2nd quarterly report on economy + Egypt wants to improve trade ties with Pakistan + Can Pakistan qualify for debt write-off? + Rs238bn collected in taxes during July-Feb period + Govt plans to boost exports by $4-5 billion + Technology development fund okayed + Crash plan for tax recovery + State Bank sucks in Rs10 billion from inter-bank market + Improved supply, imports keep prices under control + KESC losses widened to Rs40.55 billion + IMF to be given updated memo --------------------------------------- EDITORIALS & FEATURES + The luck of the draw Ardeshir Cowasjee + The grim business of waging peace Ayaz Amir + Sense and stability Irfan Husain ----------- SPORTS + Shoaib Akhtar reported again for suspect action + Black Caps humble Pakistan: Fleming's men win series

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NATIONAL NEWS
2020010303
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Indian defence budget hike being analyzed: ISPR
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Bureau Report

ISLAMABAD, March 2: Pakistan has decided to conduct a thorough
study to analyze the impact of the massive increase in the Indian
defence budget on its national security.

The chief executive's Press Secretary and the Director General of
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi,
told a news conference here on Friday that Pakistan felt threatened
due to increased Indian defence budget.

"Therefore we will have to analyze the serious implications of
massive increase in the Indian defence budget."

"Pakistan had decided not to increase its defence budget but now
the Indians are forcing us to reconsider that decision," he added.

During the press conference, the ISPR DG discussed recent hike in
Indian defence budget, progress the country has made in various
fields including economy and good governance, feedback of the first
phase of local government elections and the spectrum of National
Accountability Bureau's operations.

Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi said as emphasized by the chief executive,
Pakistan has decided not to get involved in an arms race and as
such there was no likelihood of increase in the country's defence
budget. He, however, pointed out that increase in the Indian
defence budget was more than Pakistan's total defence budget. He
said Pakistan believed in keeping a level of deterrence which was
necessary for the security and safety of our country.

He said Pakistan expected the world to take notice of the increase
in the Indian defence budget which clearly showed who in the region
was causing tension and not interested in the peaceful resolution
of all problems.

The DG ISPR said over the past one and a half year Pakistan has
shown extreme restraint and initiated various measures to bring
peace to the subcontinent. In this connection he referred to
Pakistan's initiatives of exercizing maximum restraint and
withdrawal or lessening of troops deployed in Kashmir unilaterally
and pointed out that it was a substantive move towards giving peace
a chance.

On the other hand, he said India responded with what it called a
unilateral ceasefire or non-combat operation in Occupied Kashmir.
He said Pakistan army has always followed a policy of non-
initiation of fire and only retaliated when fired upon.

He referred to Indian propaganda that freedom fighters enter
Occupied Kashmir under the cover of fire on LoC and said while
there was no fire in this area for over three and a half months,
the retaliation by the people of Occupied Kashmir against Indian
atrocities has shown increase. "People retaliate when there are
custodial killings". At the same time the APHC leadership's visit
to Pakistan was being delayed by not giving them travel documents,
he added.

Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi also referred to a World Bank report which
stated that since coming into power of the Musharraf regime, a
comprehensive reform programme has been developed and progress in
implementation has established its credibility.

 The report said corruption has been arrested and rapid progress
was being made in good governance, institutional reforms, and
poverty reduction. It further said that efforts had focussed on
stabilization of economy and introduction of comprehensive
programme of tax reforms.

It also welcomed the devolution plan having far-reaching impact
with local governments responsible for setting priorities and
administering essential services.

About the first phase of local government elections, he referred to
a field-based research study conducted by Pattan development
organization which recorded 46 per cent turnout. The report said in
100 union councils of 10 districts, 79 per cent of elected
councillors never contested elections before, 57 per cent of Nazims
never contested elections earlier, while 38 per cent of them
claimed that no member of their family ever contested elections.
The report claimed that the myth of biradari or group was broken.

Answering a question, Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi said the petroleum
prices would be reduced. However, the gas prices would be revised
as these were highly subsidized.

However, he said 40 to 60 per cent of the consumers belonging to
low income group would not be affected by the revision in gas
prices.

He said prices of certain commodities had risen in the past but
there had been a stabilization in the prices of essential
commodities now.

As for violence by a sectarian group in the past couple of days, he
said the government would not be pressurized by any section of the
society and that the law of the land would be upheld. He said those
found guilty of flouting the law would be held accountable.

Turning to accountability, he said a total of 243 cases were filed
in the counts and 72 have so far been decided. He said the NAB was
investigating the cases of 163 politicians. They include two former
prime ministers, 13 former chief ministers, 50 former MNAs and
eight former senators.

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20010228
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India and Pakistan developing arms: CIA
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Tahir Mirza

WASHINGTON, Feb 27: Both Pakistan and India are believed by the US
Central Intelligence Agency to be continuing with their weapons
development programme, with Islamabad allegedly receiving help from
China and New Delhi being aided by Russia.

In its semi-annual report to Congress on arms proliferation,
released on Monday, the CIA said Chinese entities continued to
provide significant assistance to Pakistan's ballistic missiles
programme during the first half of 2000. China had said in 1996
that it had halted any support to Pakistan's nuclear facilities.

Pakistan is also said in the report to have continued to acquire
nuclear-related and dual-use equipment and materials from Western
European entities.

Acquisition of foreign equipment by India, the report says, could
benefit New Delhi in developing and producing a more sophisticated
nuclear programme. The aid for India came primarily from Russia,
but entities in Western Europe were also a primary conduit of
nuclear-related technology transfers to India.

The Bush administration has accused China of sending technicians to
work on fibre-optic communications networks for Iraq's air defence
systems, and has revived its criticism of Beijing's human rights
record. It has accused Russia of being a major supplier of
conventional arms to China, India, Russia, Iran, Syria, Libya and
North Korea. Similar observations about Pakistan, India and other
states were made by the CIA in testimony before a Congressional
committee earlier this month.

The CIA report, which is submitted to Congress under law, also says
Libya is expanding its missile programme while Syria is seeking to
purchase nuclear material from Russia that could help Damascus
develop nuclear weapons.

The following are the report's comments on India and Pakistan:

INDIA: India continues its nuclear weapons development programme,
for which its underground nuclear tests in May 1998 were a
significant milestone. The acquisition of foreign equipment could
benefit New Delhi in its efforts to develop and produce more
sophisticated nuclear weapons. India obtained some foreign
assistance for its civilian nuclear power programme during the
first half of 2000, primarily from Russia.

India continues to rely on foreign assistance for key missile and
dual-use technologies, where it still lacks engineering or
production expertise in ballistic missile development. Entities in
Russia and Western Europe remained the primary conduits of missile-
related technology transfers during the first half of 2000. New
Delhi flight-tested three short-range ballistic missiles between
January and June 2000 - the Prithvi-II in February and June, and
the Dhanush in April.

India continues an across-the-board modernization of its armed
forces through ACW, mostly from Russia, although many of its key
programmes have been plagued by delays. During the reporting
period, New Delhi continued negotiations with Moscow for 310 T-90S
main battle tanks, Su-30 fighter aircraft production, A-50 Airborne
Early Warning and Control (AWACS) aircraft, Tu-22M Backfire
maritime strike bombers, and an aircraft carrier, according to
press reports.

India also continues to explore options for leasing or purchasing
several AWACS systems from other entities. India has also received
its first delivery of Russian Krasnopol laser-guided artillery
rounds to be used in its Swedish-built FH-77 155-mm howitzers,
negotiated the purchase of unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel,
and considered offers for jet trainer aircraft from France and the
United Kingdom.

PAKISTAN: Chinese entities continued to provide significant
assistance to Pakistan's ballistic missile programme during the
first half of 2000. With Chinese assistance, Pakistan is rapidly
moving toward serial production of solid-propellant SRBMs.
Pakistan's development of the two-stage Shaheen-II MRBM also
requires continued Chinese assistance. The impact of North Korea's
assistance throughout the reporting period is less clear.

Pakistan continued to acquire nuclear-related and dual-use
equipment and materials from various sources - principally in
Western Europe. Islamabad has a well-developed nuclear weapons
programme, as evidenced by its first nuclear weapons tests in late
May 1998. Acquisition of nuclear-related goods from foreign sources
will remain important if Pakistan chooses to develop more advanced
nuclear weapons. China, which has provided extensive support in the
past to Islamabad's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile
programmes, in May 1996 pledged that it would not provide
assistance to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities in any state,
including Pakistan. We cannot rule out, however, some continued
contacts between Chinese entities and entities involved in
Pakistan's nuclear weapons development.

Pakistan continues to rely on China and France for its ACW
requirements. Pakistan received eight upgraded Mirage III/V
fighters from France and continued negotiations to purchase an
additional 50 F-7 fighters from China.

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20010303
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Pakistan asks Taliban to stop smashing statues
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ISLAMABAD, March 2: Pakistan made a fresh appeal on Friday to
Afghan government of Taliban movement to stop destroying its mainly
Buddhist statues.

"The government of Pakistan joins all other nations in appealing to
the Taliban government to reconsider the reported decision
regarding the statues of Lord Buddha," a Foreign Ministry statement
said.

The statement was the second in two days urging the Taliban to
reconsider its decision to destroy all historic statues in the
areas of Afghanistan it controls.

It said: "Respect for other religions and for their beliefs is
enjoined upon Muslims."

CONDEMNED: The destruction of statues has also drawn fire from
other Muslim countries and groups around the world.

Iran, which supports opposition forces battling the Taliban, was
another leading voice in the Islamic world to condemn the Taliban.

"We condemn the destruction of statues of Buddha which are
treasures of mankind just like the Taj Mahal or Imam Square" in
Isfahan, Iran's historic monuments organisation said in a statement
sent to AFP in Tehran.

"It is very strange that centuries after the Afghan people became
Muslims, and received the strength of Islam ... certain people who
claim to be religious accuse some of anathema and idolatry," it
said.

The English-language Iran News slammed the Taliban edict and other
decrees of the Afghan regime, which "issued under the name of Islam
are in fact tarnishing the image of this sacred religion."

"Islam has never preached the destruction of objects that embody
the belief and history of millions of people throughout the world,"
the paper said.

"Through their irrational acts, the Taliban are proving once again
that they are not only against the history and culture of their own
people, but they are also working hard to deny the Afghan people
their future."

Iran supports the ousted Afghan government of Burhanuddin Rabbani,
who was driven out of Kabul by the Taliban in 1996 but still clings
to a toehold in the northeast of the country.

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the only
three countries to have recognized the Taliban.-Agencies

Not yet blown up

ISLAMABAD, March 2: The two giant Buddha statues in central Bamiyan
province have not been blown up as of late Friday, the Afghan
Islamic Press (AIP) reported.

The Pakistan-based news agency, quoting sources in the ruling
Taliban militia, said the statues were still intact.-AFP

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20010227
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D-8 states to enhance economic ties: CE
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KARACHI, Feb 26: The chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, late
Monday night said a recently held summit of the D-8 group would go
a long way in strengthening economic and commercial ties among the
member states.

Talking to reporters at the Karachi Airport on his return from
Cairo he said that the D-8 summit was very successful. The leaders
of D-8 countries decided to enhance cooperation in socio-economic
field, he added.

The chief executive said the visit also provided an opportunity to
hold discussions with Egyptian leaders for boosting bilateral
cooperation. He said a strong delegation of Pakistani businessmen
had a useful discussion with their Egyptian counterparts to
increase the commercial ties between the two countries.

Referring to his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mobarak he
said: "We have agreed to give impetus to our relations by
personally making it sure that the progress we have made for
cooperation moves ahead."

 Earlier in Cairo, the CE had a meeting with Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak and discussed bilateral and regional issues including
Kashmir and the Middle East, official said.

 The CE informed Egyptian President about successful visit of
Pakistani businessmen and their interaction with their Egyptian
counterparts.-APP

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20010303
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Growth target lowered to 3.8pc: Drought affects economy
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Bureau Report

ISLAMABAD, March 2: The government has revised downward GDP growth
target from 4.5 per cent to 3.8 per cent due to prolonged drought
situation in 2000-2001.

Speaking at a news conference here on Friday, Secretary-General
Finance Moeen Afzal and Adviser to the finance ministry Dr Ishfaq
Hasan Khan said that inflationary target had also been adjusted to
5 per cent against overall target of 6 per cent.

Moeen Afzal said that government was working out a comprehensive
strategy to overcome debt burden.

He said that debt reduction committee headed by Dr Pervez Hasan had
given its recommendations to reduce the country's huge debt burden.
He said that report on debt reduction would be made public on March
15. "We will have to get rid of this debt in phases."

Mr Afzal also told reporters that Pakistan Development Forum (PDF),
earlier known as Aid to Pakistan Consortium, was meeting here from
March 12 to 14 which will be participated by 16 countries and 10
international institutions.

He said the meeting was being jointly sponsored by the Government
of Pakistan and the World Bank. This meeting, he pointed out, would
focus on external sector, budget, fiscal deficit, poverty
alleviation and social sectors.

He termed the recent visit of the IMF review mission to Pakistan as
fruitful and said, "now we are waiting for their response."

Pakistan is seeking second tranche of $130 million, out of $596
million Standby Arrangement (SBA) within this month.

The secretary-general was of the view that the successful
implementation of SBA would lead to seeking Poverty Reduction
Growth Facility (PRGF) from the IMF.

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Annan to hold talks on Kashmir, Afghan issues
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Masood Haider

UNITED NATIONS, March 1: Human rights and the safeguarding of basic
civil liberties in the backdrop of Kashmir dispute and the
Afghanistan imbroglio is expected to top the agenda of United
Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, when he visits South Asia,
which has been termed the most dangerous place on earth by former
US President Bill Clinton.

Mr Clinton had made the observation before embarking on his South
Asian trip last year in the context of volatile situation which
exists in the region for the last 53 years because of the Kashmir
dispute, which now threatens to engulf the region in a nuclear
conflict.

Although UN Chief Kofi Annan and his predecessors have time and
again offered their good offices to resolve the Kashmir dispute,
their hands have been tied because of India's reluctance to accept
the third party mediation over the issue.

Pakistan on its part has said that it is willing to accept
Secretary General's mediation, but without India's approval Mr
Annan cannot make any headway. India wants the issue to be resolved
through bilateral talks.

As for the United Nations Security Council resolutions on the
Kashmir dispute adopted in 1948 as proposed by India in 1948, which
called for a plebiscite to determine the fate of the valley, India
has for all practical purposes rejected them, while Pakistan still
wants the international community to keep its commitment to the
Kashmiri people.

The UN officials, who wished not to be identified, say that the
Indian government resents and resists discussing Kashmir issue with
the United Nations as it does not want any mediation or help from
the world body.

Pakistan's Permanent Representative at the United Nations Shamshad
Ahmad, while welcoming what he calls Secretary General's positive
role in defusing tensions in the region, said that last year when
the UN Chief wished to visit South Asia he was prevented by India's
negative response.

Annan is scheduled to leave New York on March 9, and his first stop
will be Islamabad, where he will meet President Mohammad Rafiq
Tarar, Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf and Foreign Minister
Abdul Sattar.

He will also visit an Afghan refugee camp in Peshawar. The United
Nations and various UN agencies are deeply involved in attempts to
bring peace to Afghanistan while helping its refugees and homeless,
suffering from drought and decades of conflict.

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Anti-Nawaz League plans to finish party elections by 15th
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Faraz Hashmi

ISLAMABAD, March 1: After completion of party elections in Punjab,
the anti-Nawaz League plans to finish the process in the remaining
three provinces and the Centre by the middle of March, a party
source said on Thursday.

"The dates have not been finalized but the party members are
determined to complete the process of party elections in Sindh,
NWFP, Balochistan and Centre by the third week of March," he added.

Mian Azhar and Ijazul Haq are the two potential candidates who have
so far come forward for contesting the election for the post of
party president.

However, there is a strong possibility that Mian Azhar will be
elected unopposed as Ijazul Haq is privately hinting to withdraw
from the contest if he is accepted as the party chairman. So far
there is no provision in the Muslim League constitution for the
post of party chairman.

Though Ijazul Haq stands no chance and is not in a position to bag
more than a few votes, particularly in a contest with Mian Azhar,
party seniors seemed ready to oblige him by accepting his demand to
ensure holding of smooth elections without causing any hard
feelings.

"Because of his wayward attitude, Ijazul Haq has damaged his own
political career and is no more regarded as a serious contender,"
the source said.

Asked how will Ijaz be accommodated when there is no provision for
party chairman in the constitution, the source said: "It is not an
unsurmountable problem as the party's general council, before
electing the party president, can amend the constitution to create
this post."

Since the entire exercise of holding elections in the party is
being carried out with the hope that the military government would
restore suspended assemblies, Mian Azhar seems to be facing a
Hobson's choice.

Party sources said he had given his word to his supporters that
party office-holders would not be allowed to assume any government
position.

Besides an understanding between the anti-Nawaz or like-minded
members to separate party offices from the government offices, a
decision of the central working committee on this issue is also on
the record.

During Nawaz Sharif's government the PML central working committee
had decided that party offices would be separated from the
government ones.

The CEC decision had only been implemented on the Chaudhry family,
while Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif continued to hold
key positions in the party as well in the government.

"It is yet to be seen whether Mian Azhar will stick to his decision
when the chips are down and assemblies are restored,"the source
said.

Former speaker Illahi Bukhsh Soomro, who had been engaged in
reconciliation efforts between the anti- and pro-Nawaz factions,
has also shown his interest in contesting for the post of secretary
general.

Mr Soomro, sources said, was desirous of assuming the office of
party's provincial president for Sindh. However, he changed his
mind after realizing that majority of the suspended MPAs and party
members were predominantly in favour of Ghous Buksh Mehar, he
added.

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CE asks Delhi not to miss peace opportunity
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ISLAMABAD, Feb 27: Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf said on
Tuesday that delay in APHC leaders' visit to Islamabad would
reinforce the view that India was not keen on solving the Kashmir
issue.

He was talking to former Indian military officials and a former
parliamentarian who called on him in Rawalpindi.

" It is important for the Indian government not to delay the
initiation of dialogue and sending of a delegation of the All
Parties Hurriyat Conference to Pakistan. Failure to initiate talks
would reinforce the view, felt in many quarters, that India is not
interested in solving the Kashmir issue," he was quoted as saying.

Those who called on Gen Musharraf, included Nirmala Dashpande,
former member of the Rajya Sabha; retired admiral L. Ramdas, former
chief of the naval staff; and Lt-Gen Moti Dar, former vice chief of
army staff. They are currently on a visit here.

Gen Musharraf termed the recent telephonic contact between Prime
Minister Vajpayee and himself another window of opportunity which
must be followed up by "the process of a meaningful dialogue or it
would go waste."

" Our offer of aid to the earthquake victims of Gujarat was
spontaneous and it should not need an earthquake or natural
calamities to bring our countries closer", said the chief
executive.

He said Pakistan was more than willing to meet India more than
halfway but would also like to guard its honour and dignity.

Gen Musharraf reiterated that the South Asian Association for
Regional Cooperation (SAARC) needed to be strengthened and its
scope expanded. But Indian opposition was scuttling efforts for
cooperation among Saarc countries.

Welcoming the Indian delegates, he said it was indeed unfortunate
that no forum for enhancing and fostering economic development
existed in the South Asian region which comprised over one- fifth
of the world's population.

"This was primarily the result of strained relations between India
and Pakistan over the key issue of Kashmir," he was quoted as
saying.

He enumerated the various measures taken by Pakistan for the
initiation of a dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad.

He said politics should be kept out of sports. He said Pakistan
wanted to enhance ties with India in the field of sports,
particularly cricket and hockey, which should be reciprocated for
entertainment and mutual benefit of people of both countries.

The Indian delegates thanked the chief executive for affording them
an opportunity to call on him. They expressed the gratitude of the
Indian people for Pakistan's timely assistance to the earthquake
victims of Gujarat. They said the people in India wanted peace with
Pakistan and that repeated offers of dialogue by the chief
executive were very positively received in India.

The Indian delegates said the majority of people in India,
including the armed forces, were of the view that Kashmir was a
political issue and there was no military solution to it. They felt
that time was of importance in initiating a dialogue between the
two countries, the delegates added.

They recalled the warmth shown to them by the people of Pakistan,
and said they would carry back the good memories of their visit.

Souvenirs were exchanged at the end of the call.-APP

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20010227
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US blasts India over Kashmir killings
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Tahir Mirza

WASHINGTON, Feb 26: India is heavily criticized for extra-judicial
killings and the killing of civilians in counter-insurgency
operations in Jammu and Kashmir in the US State Department's annual
report for the year 2000 on human rights
released in Washington on Monday.

Pakistan's record on human rights is described as poor by the
report, but it acknowledges improvements in some areas,
particularly with respect to freedom of the press.

It points out that the people of Pakistan continued to be denied
the right to choose or change their government peacefully, while
the military regime is also criticized for restrictions on
political activity. The report says the judiciary was subject to
executive branch and other outside influences, and suffered from
inadequate resources, inefficiency and corruption.

The Supreme Court demonstrated a "limited degree of independence",
the report says, but adds that "the overall credibility of the
judiciary remained low, and Gen Musharraf took steps to control the
judiciary and to remove his regime from judicial oversight".

Sectarian violence and tensions continued to be a serious problem
through Pakistan, with more than 300 people dying in incidents of
sectarian violence in Punjab in the last three years, the report
said.

In its section on India, the report says extra-judicial killings by
government forces, including deaths in custody and fake encounters,
continued to occur frequently in Jammu and Kashmir and several
north-eastern states.

Official Indian government figures are cited for the killings, and
it is said that Indian security forces killed 1,520 militants in
encounters in Kashmir as of Sept 2000. "Kashmiri separatist groups
maintain that many such encounters are fake and that suspected
militants offering no resistance are executed summarily by security
forces," the report adds.

"Execution-style" killings by militants are also underlined in the
report.

It says accountability remains a serious problem, and despite the
record of abuses by Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir,
only 295 security force members were prosecuted and punished for
these crimes between Jan 1990 and Sept 1998.

On Pakistan, the report says: "The (military) government's human
rights record was poor, and the government committed numerous
serious abuses; however, there were improvements in some areas,
particularly with respect to freedom of the press. Citizens
continued to be denied the right to choose or change their
government peacefully.

"Police committed numerous extra-judicial killings; however, there
were fewer such killings (in 2000) than in 1999. In Karachi, there
were fewer killings between rival political factions during the
year; however, many of these killings were reportedly committed by
or with the participation of the security forces......"

"The government used arbitrary and sometimes incommunicado
detentions against leaders of the Sharif government and their
families; several major political leaders remained in jail or in
self-imposed exile abroad at year's end."

The record of both Pakistan and India on the treatment accorded to
minorities comes under scrutiny in the report. It says there were
numerous attacks against Christian community and missionaries in
India by right-wing organizations. These attacks assumed three
forms - attacks on priests and nuns; attacks on evangelists and
disruption of prayer meetings; and attacks on churches, hospitals
and other charitable institutions.

The report says the potential for renewed Hindu-Muslim violence
remained considerable in India and both communities committed human
rights abuses during the year.

In Pakistan, the report says, discriminatory religious legislation
has added to an atmosphere of religious intolerance, which has
precipitated acts of violence directed against minority Muslim
sects, as well as against Christians, Hindus and the Ahmadis and
Zikriys.

The report quotes Ahmadi sources as asserting that approximately
three dozen members of their community have been charged under the
blasphemy laws since October 1999.

It also refers to the Taliban and says they continued to be a major
violator of human rights, severely restricting women's and girls'
access to education, medical facilities and employment.

The report says violence against women remained a pervasive
problem, cutting across social and economic lines, and domestic and
sexual violence was encountered in every continent. Children around
the world remained exposed to dangerous and unhealthy conditions,
and the trafficking in children was growing.

The voluminous State Department report covers all regions of the
world, and in the country reports detail many individual cases of
victimization and human rights violations. The report welcomes the
"global spread of democracy", but claims China's "poor human rights
record worsened during the year". In Israel, the report says,
Israeli security forces "sometimes" used excessive force in
contravention of their own rules of engagement, killing
approximately 300 Palestinians and injuring thousands in response
to demonstrations in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

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20010301
-------------------------------------------------------------------
N-plan meets safety standards, says PAEC chief
-------------------------------------------------------------------

ISLAMABAD, Feb 28: Chairman Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Dr
Ishfaq Ahmed said on Wednesday that country's nuclear programme is
safe and meets all international safety standards.

"It is run on professional lines and regulated strictly according
to international standards and criteria," said Dr Ishfaq in his
address at the convocation of Pakistan Institute of Engineering and
Applied Sciences (PIEAS).

"Ensuring safety at our establishments has always been a prime
objective, and we have been able to maintain a remarkable record of
safety in all of them.

"Let me categorically state that our nuclear programme is entirely
safe."

He said, "assertions to the contrary are misgivings based on
ignorance or deception. We are happy that now there is an
independent Nuclear Regulator Authority to monitor the safety
aspects."

He said, "Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) has completed 28
years of its safe operation. Our second nuclear power plant at
Chashma CHANSUPP, has become operational."

Terming nuclear power generation as environment friendly, he said,
"it does not pollute, there is no seasonal dependence and nuclear
power is a sustainable source and is a workhorse in the base load
mode."

He expressed the hope that the government will fully sustain and
advance this programme by adding more nuclear power plants in the
coming years and decades.

"Our own efforts to indigenize reactor technology have also proved
successful and will help save significant foreign exchange when we
will build our next power plant."

In the health sector, PAEC has pioneered the use of nuclear
medicine and radiotherapy in the country. At the Commission's
nuclear medical centres all around the country, about 250,000
patients receive treatment every year.

Dr Ishfaq said, PAEC will endeavour to maintain a balance between
newly emerging technologies, such as Information and Software, and
the conventional disciplines without which these newer
manifestations of technology would appear superficial.

Dr Ishfaq announced the payment of one month's basic salary to all
regular employees of PIEAS and PINSTECH Model College.-APP

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20010301
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Haq Nawaz hanged; one killed in violence
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Correspondent

JHANG, Feb 28: Sheikh Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, convicted of killing
Iranian diplomat Sadiq Ganji, was hanged in the Mianwali Central
Jail on Wednesday morning.

His body was brought here amid tight security at 10.30am and laid
to rest in Jamia Mehmoodia, Sattelite Town, at 5.30 pm.

Earlier in the day, a passerby was killed and six others were
injured, two of them critically, during a shootout between police
and Sipah-i-Sahaba activists, in Mohalla Piplianwala, Jhang Saddar,
at about 10 am.

A Naib Qasid in the Jhang municiplaity, Nawaz was 19 when he
carried out the killing in Lahore in December 1990. It took the
courts and the authorities 11 year to decide his fate. During his
trial he was kept in different jails in the Punjab.

Except Jhang, no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in
the Punjab.

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20010227
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State views sought on Benazir's plea
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Rafaqat Ali

ISLAMABAD, Feb 26: A seven-member bench of the Supreme Court on
Monday started hearing of the appeals of Benazir Bhutto and her
husband Asif Ali Zardari against their conviction, and sought state
views on the request of Ms Bhutto seeking placement of tapes
containing conversation of Justice Qayyum and others on the record.

An Ehtesab Bench of the LHC, comprising Justice Malik Qayyum and
Justice Najmul Hasan Kazmi, had convicted Benazir Bhutto and Asif
Ali Zardari on April 15, 1999, and sentenced them to undergo five
years' imprisonment each, and to pay fine of $8.6 million each. The
Ehtesab court had also ordered their disqualification as members of
the parliament for five years, and ordered forfeiture of their
property made with money acquired through corruption.

The SC bench which started proceedings on Monday comprised Justice
Bashir Jehangiri, Justice Sheikh Riaz Ahmad, Justice Munir A
Sheikh, Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad
Chaudhry, Justice Qazi Mohammad Farooq, and Justice Abdul Hameed
Dogar.

The prosecution case was that pre-shipment inspection contract was
awarded to M/s SGS in consideration of 6 per cent commission of
total amount received by the company from the Government of
Pakistan. The commission was paid to offshore company, Bomer
Finance Inc., owned by Asif Ali Zardari, his agent Jens
Schlegelmilch. The ultimate beneficiaries of these commissions were
Asif Ali Zardari and Benazir Bhutto, the prosecution had alleged.

On Monday Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, counsel for Asif Zardari, opened
the arguments. At the outset, he requested the court to direct the
federation to place the tapes on the basis of which Sunday Times
published a story, on the record.

The counsel further requested the court that his client Asif
Zardari should be produced in the court for facilitating him to
seek his instruction from time to time as he was not in a position
to visit jails for instructions.

Another request which the counsel made was to summon Salvatore
Alfersano, an expert on Swiss law, to appear in the court for
assisting the court. Abdul Hafeez Pirzada also requested the court
to place on record the legal opinion of prominent jurists of the
world on the trial of his client.

The court asked the Attorney General, Aziz A Munshi, and other
counsel representing the State to submit their point of view by
Wednesday.

The court, however, made it clear that it would not like to adjourn
the proceedings and continue hearing of the appeals. The court was
informed by the appellants' counsel that they would not be
attending the proceeding on Tuesday as the Pakistan Bar Council and
the Supreme Court Bar Association have given call for boycotting
the proceedings on Tuesday.

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20010228
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Lawyers boycott courts
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Bureau Report

ISLAMABAD, Feb 27: Lawyers throughout the country boycotted courts
on Tuesday to protest against the military rule. Talking to Dawn,
Abdul Haleem Pirzada, President of the Supreme Court Bar
Association, said: "We (lawyers) vehemently oppose any proposal by
the military regime
to have a constitutional role for the armed forces in Pakistan."

He said the lawyers did not hold a brief for any political party.
"We want free, fair and impartial elections under an independent
election commission," he added.

Mr Pirzada said that, barring one instance in Karachi in which a
lawyer had insisted on appearing in court, all other lawyers
boycotted courts throughout the country.

He said the lawyers wanted a federal parliamentary form of
system."It is only possible when the Constitution is restored and
the army goes back to barracks."

The Supreme Court, whose five benches were working on Monday,
including a seven-member bench which had taken up appeals of
Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari, did not function on Tuesday.

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20010226
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Earthquake jolts parts of country
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Ahmad Hasan Alvi

ISLAMABAD, Feb 25: A powerful earthquake shook many parts of
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and India on Sunday
morning, but there were no reports of any casualties or damage to
property, Met officials said.

Strong jolts were felt in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Lahore, Hafizabad,
Attock, Peshawar, Sialkot, Abbottabad, Gilgit, Chitral and Northern
Areas, report said.

Measuring 6 on the Richter Scale, the tremor occurred at 7.22am,
causing panic among residents. The epicentre of the quake was 300km
north of Peshawar in the Hindukush range.

Met department director-general Qamruzzaman said it was a deep-
rooted earthquake and such quakes caused less damage.

 "The depth of the tremor was 200km below the surface," Mr Zaman
said.

"We rushed out of our home in panic as things started falling on
us," a resident of Rawalpindi said. The quake struck when most of
the people were still in their beds.

"Our beds started shaking and things were rattling" another
resident said.

In Islamabad, people living in flats in multi-storied buildings
rushed out to open places, witnesses said.

AFP adds: Mr Zaman said the quake was followed by aftershocks. It
lasted about one minute, PTV said.

The earthquake disrupted communication systems in several areas in
the Northern Areas, Pakistan Telecommunication officials said.


BUSINESS & ECONOMY
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20010227
-------------------------------------------------------------------
SBP's 2nd quarterly report for 2000-2001
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Pakistan's economic performance during the first half of the
current fiscal year indicates two diverging trends. On the positive
side, Pakistan formalized an agreement with the IMF in November
2000, it achieved most of the performance criteria for end-December,
there was an amicable resolution of the Hubco dispute, and the
authorities paved the way towards another round of debt
rescheduling. These have helped improve the government's
credibility with the international financial institutions, credit
rating agencies and bilateral creditors. However, these
developments will take time before they translate into higher
investment. The government is still hoping that the special focus
on the oil & gas sector, information technology and textiles, will
see fresh investment in the near future.

More specifically, the forward linkages from investment in oil &
gas should demonstrate the benefits of substituting from imported
oil to natural gas within a short period of time, if this
conversion is undertaken soon. On the other hand, since the base of
information technology is small and will require adequate
infrastructure, the contribution of this sector to overall GDP and
exports is likely to be negligible in the near future. On a more
positive note, with the textile sector currently undergoing
balancing, modernization, and replacement of its obsolete
machinery, efficiency gains are expected within the next year.
Having said this, the textile sector must gear up for greater
international competition following the country's commitment to the
WTO agreement.

On the negative side, higher than expected international oil
prices, shortage of irrigation water, sharp depreciation of the
rupee, tight liquidity conditions in the banking system, and
slowdown in the US economy, have put the desired rate of recovery
at risk. Higher oil prices have strained the country's external
reserves position, and forced a curtailment of non-oil imports.
Insufficient rainfall resulted in a shortage of irrigation water,
which has impacted the production of major crops (particularly rice
and sugarcane), and will reduce rate of agricultural growth in
FY01.

Depreciation of the rupee in September 2000 has raised prices of
imported inputs and final consumption goods during the first half
of FY01, and is likely to stoke inflationary pressures in the next
quarter, the sharp increase in the retail petroleum prices in end-
December 2000 will add to this pressure. Looking at the world
economy, the economic slowdown in the US and its implications for
the global economy are likely to adversely impact demand for
Pakistani exports. The intensity and duration of this slowdown are
still unknown and therefore the impact is difficult to measure.

As against these elevated risks, there have been some mitigating
developments. The manufacturing sector (excluding sugar) grew by
7.6 per cent against 6.8 per cent last year. Private sector credit
seems to have overcome the nervousness of the last two years, and
has reached its pre-1998 level. Export growth, although below the
half-year target, has shown an increase in quantitative terms
compared to last year. Had unit prices of textiles not declined
this year, the actual outcome would have been closer to target.

On the basis of these developments, State Bank of Pakistan has
revised its forecast of GDP growth in FY01 to slightly below 4 per
cent, compared to 4.5 per cent projected in our last Annual Report.
Recent fiscal data suggests that CBR has achieved 95 per cent of
the six-month target, and is short by just Rs7.9 billion.
Government expenditures have been curtailed by 1 per cent of GDP,
which means the fiscal deficit in the first half of this year is
2.2 per cent of GDP less than last year. If this trend continues,
the fiscal deficit target of 5.2 per cent for the full year should
be within reach.

The trade-off between harsh measures that seek to rectify deep-
rooted structural problems in the economy and resumption of high
aggregate growth is clear. These measures are painful but necessary
to improve the country's productive capacity in the medium term.
Unfortunately, past implementation of structural reforms has been
piecemeal and incomplete, and this unpleasant experience is still
fresh in the minds of economic agents. The current challenge facing
the government is how to convince the public at large (and
important opinion makers in the country) that these pains will, in
fact, be compensated by better living conditions in the near
future. Promises of such gains have not borne fruit during the last
decade, while building up a track record and delivering results
takes time.

20010227
-------------------------------------------------------------------
SB fears rise in inflation: Second quarterly report on economy
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Mohiuddin Aazim

KARACHI, Feb 26: The State Bank says the rupee depreciation in
September followed by a sharp increase in retail petroleum prices
in December last may push up inflation during the current fiscal
year.
It also warns that the economic slowdown in the United States and
its implications on global economy may have an adverse impact on
Pakistan's exports.

"The intensity and duration of this slowdown are still unknown and
therefore the impact is difficult to measure," SBP says in its
second quarterly report on the state of economy released here on
Monday.

The report has also revised down the forecast for the GDP growth
from 4.5 per cent to "slightly below 4 per cent" for the current
fiscal year without giving an exact number.

The report says the measures being taken to rectify the deep-
rooted structural problems in the economy are painful but necessary
to improve Pakistan's productive capacity in the medium term.

"Unfortunately past implementation of structural reforms has been
piecemeal and incomplete and this unpleasant experience is still
fresh in the minds of economic agents," says the report.

"The current challenge facing the government is how to convince the
public at large (and important opinion-makers in the country) that
these pains will...be compensated by better living conditions in
the near future," says the SBP report.

The report further says that Pakistan's economic performance in the
first half of this fiscal year indicates two diverging trends. And
it includes in the list of positive developments the signing of a
$596 standby credit agreement with the IMF; achieving most of the
performance criteria set by the IMF; amicable resolution of Hubco
dispute and paving the way for further rescheduling of foreign
debt.

"These have helped improve government's credibility with the
international financial institutions, credit rating agencies and
bilateral creditors," says the report.

But it makes clear that these developments "will take time before
being translated into higher investment."

REAL SECTOR: The report cites several reasons for lowering the SBP
forecast for the GDP growth from 4.5 per cent to less than 4 per
cent. A sharp decline in agricultural production is one. The report
says according to initial estimates the output of sugar cane and
rice declined to 45 million tons and 1.9 million tons showing a
fall of 19.1 per cent and 11.4 per cent respectively against the
targets set for this fiscal year.

It says the cotton production is provisionally estimated at 10.6
million tons - just close to the target of 10.7 million tons.

The report says production of major crops fell in relation to the
targets chiefly because of the targets being ambitioand continued
shortage of irrigation water in the country. "Farmers were forced
to bring less area under sugar cane and rice cultivation due to
continued shortage of water," says the report. "Due to canal water
shortage following lower rainfall and Wapda's move to metered
consumption of electricity (as opposed to a flat rate tubewell) the
crop suffered a severe shortage of water," it adds.

The report says wheat crop of the Rabi season currently under
cultivation may also fall to 18.8 million tons against initial
target of 20.5 million tons. But it predicts that the carry over
reserves from the last crop and the current year output will meet
the consumption needs of the country.

20010226
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Egypt wants to improve trade ties with Pakistan
-------------------------------------------------------------------

CAIRO, Feb 25: Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Ebeid has assured the
chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, that his government will
make concerted efforts to increase trade with Pakistan.

Mr Ebeid held out this assurance late Saturday at a meeting with
the CE and leading Pakistani and Egyptian businessmen.

"Mr Chief Executive, we are serious to do business with Pakistan".
The Egyptian leader said he had asked Egyptian-American Businessmen
to suggest the countries with whom Egypt should select as partners
in trade.

"They (Egyptian-American businessmen) identified Pakistan," he
said, adding "our choice is based on conviction".

He said Pakistan and Egypt were two growing economies. "We have the
capacity which can to utilized for the mutual benefit of the two
countries."

He assured that the Egyptian government "will work hard" to enhance
level of trade with Pakistan.

He listed out textile, leather, surgical instruments, agriculture
and chemicals as potential areas for cooperation between the two
nations.

The Egyptian PM suggested that regular consultations be held
between the businessmen of the two countries to discuss ways and
means to expand trade. "We want to run negotiations with you on a
win-win basis. You should also earn profit and we too," he told
Pakistani businessmen.

He further said that there was a good market for Pakistani products
in Egypt. "We can also find more partners for you in this region.
We can work together to explore more markets in the region."

He said Egypt was ready to sign long-term agreements with Pakistan
on the import of rice to Egypt.

The CE said that Pakistan was more than willing to expand its
commercial and trade relations with Egypt.

"The enhanced cooperation between us will not only be beneficial
for the two countries alone but for the entire Ummah."

He said there was a great potential for cooperation between the two
countries which needed to be enhanced.-APP

20010227
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Can Pakistan qualify for debt write-off?
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Jawaid Bokhari

KARACHI, Feb 26: Can Pakistan qualify for a debt write-off under
the Enhanced HIPC Initiative that has recently changed the
eligibility criteria for debt relief.

To be eligible, a country must be very poor, have an unsustainable
debt burden and pursues good policies. And poor has been defined as
both eligible for support under the IMF's Poverty Reduction and
Growth Facility (PRGF) and for concessional financing from the
World Bank, through International development Agency (IDA).
Currently, Islamabad is working hard to obtain PRGF package and
concessional loans from the Bank to move towards sustenance level
of debt.

Welcoming the debt rescheduling of $1.7 billion by Paris Club,
Pakistan's Ambassador to the USA Dr Maliha Lodhi made a strong plea
for "debt forgiveness." Addressing the G-8 summit the chief
executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, stressed that the developing world
needed large scale debt relief to bring about stability necessary
for development.

The debt burden is currently unsustainable and unmanagable. The
executive advisory board (EAB), which met earlier this month,
invited suggestions and proposals from the participants on the
presentation by Dr Pervez Hasan on debt reduction strategy. The
first half of the entire day's proceedings was devoted to the debt
issue, says FPCCI acting president Chauhdry Mohammad Saeed.

An unsustainable debt burden has been defined by the IMF/WB as a
stock of debt that is more than 150 per cent of exports in present
value terms after the full use of the traditional debt relief
mechanism or a ratio of debt to government revenue of more than 250
per cent.

Pakistan's net public sector debt is currently at 201 per cent of
the exports, which is retarding economic growth and drastically
restricts poverty alleviation programmes.

A World Bank report indicates that 34 per cent of the people of
Pakistan lives below the poverty line on earnings of one-dollar a
day and 85 per cent of the population falls below the poverty line
on earnings of two dollars a day.

According to a the Bank report, good policies are interpreted to
mean macro-economic, structural and social policies consistent with
poverty reduction and sustained growth.

These new eligibility criteria increases the number of countries
from 26 to 33 likely to qualify for relief. It could not be
confirmed whether Pakistan could be eligible for debt write-off.

Combined with traditional debt relief arrangements, the enhanced
HIPC initiative is likely to cut by half the net present value of
public debt for the 33 countries likely to qualify.

The new eligibility criteria provides for the possibility of
interim relief for countries when the IMF and WB determine a
country's eligibility. Under the earlier HIPC agreement, the stock
of debt was reduced only after completion of two full ESAF
programmes - a minimum of six years. The ESAF (Enhanced Structural
Adjustment Facility) has now been renamed PRGF.

The HIPC initiative was announced in late 1996. Realizing that the
initiative did not go far enough, the leaders of G-7 endorsed the
enhanced HIPC initiative in a summit in Cologne, Germany, in July
1999 and it was approved by the full membership of the World Bank
and the IMF as integral part of the new poverty reduction strategy.

The international Finance Institutions (IFIs) maintain that debt
relief will be granted to eligible countries with a viable and
comprehensive poverty reduction strategy and a framework for
linking public actions to monitorable results in poverty reduction.

The enhanced HIPC initiative is intended to contribute directly to
poverty reduction and ensure that countries receiving debt relief
do not have policies that will lead them deeply into debt again.

The eligibility criteria has been changed following tireless
campaign of the NGOs both in developed and developing countries for
debt write-off and recognition of the detrimental effects of debt
on country policy environments and overall expenditure frameworks.
Heavy debt burden also reduces incentives for policy reforms.

Within the country, political elements are demanding debt write-
off. These include PPP and Millat Party led by a former president
Farooq Ahmad Leghari. In a meeting with an IMF review mission in
Karachi, business leaders, including office-bearers of FPCCI and
KCCI, sought moratorium on debt repayment. Islamabad is trying to
move from Standby Arrangement (SBA) programme to PRGF which would
automatically qualify Pakistan for third debt rescheduling or may
be, a move towards debt relief on the basis of technical
eligibility.

Financial analysts, however, believe debt relief is only possible
when the IMF/donors are made comfortable by reaching an
understanding on the strategic issues facing Pakistan.

The acting FPCCI president says that the main focus of the EAB was
how to get rid of the debt, borrowed at high interest rates,
amounting to $6.7billion. The options discussed were: Could funds
be raised at lower market rates to retire costly debts? Could
privatization process be quickened to repay expensive debts from
sale proceeds? Could export earnings help?.

In the current global and domestic environment, the situation does
not appear to be promising. But Pakistan needs a large fiscal space
or massive injection of funds for a turnaround in the economy.

20010302
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Rs238bn collected in taxes during July-Feb period
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Ikram Hoti

ISLAMABAD, March 1: The Central Board of Revenue has collected
Rs238 billion in taxes during July-February period of the present
financial year, an increase of Rs29 billion against the
corresponding period in fiscal 1999-2000.

The collection is short by Rs22 billion of the Rs260 billion target
Rs430 billion as against last year's target of Rs360 billion
(revised).

The CBR has now to collect Rs192 billion in the remaining four
months or Rs48 billion per month, to achieve the target.

The per month collection in the last four months of fiscal 1999-
2000 was Rs 37.75 billion.

According to details in July-February period, the ST Department
collected Rs94.7 billion against Rs81 billion collected in the same
period last year, an improvement of 17 per cent.

The per month achievement of the department has remained below Rs12
billion in the 8 months, while it was nearly Rs13 billion per month
last year.

The target of sales tax collection for the current fiscal is Rs170
billion, which means the department now has to collect Rs18.75
billion per month in the remaining four months.

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20010303
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Govt plans to boost exports by $4-5 billion
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Ihtashamul Haque

ISLAMABAD, March 2: The government is pinning hopes on markets of
Europe and three other countries to have a substantial increase in
the exports.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, Commerce Minister Razak
Dawood said Pakistan's exports would likely to be substantially
increased as it had successfully negotiated the prospects of
increased new cooperation with European Union and three other
countries.

"We would soon be signing separate bilateral agreements with the
European Union (EU), Egypt, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to
substantially increase our exports," he said. "The idea of getting
additional $4 to 5 billion exports, during next few years time is
being materialized."

 Giving details, the commerce minister pointed out that by March
20, all the formalities relating to duty structures with these four
bilateral partners would be ready. Later, he said, these would be
discussed with the authorities of these countries to have some
minimum duty structure, so that they could export their products to
each other and get mutual benefits.

 "Then we plan to separately sign new bilateral agreements with the
United States and Japan for similar arrangements," he said adding
that new agreements would open new export markets for Pakistan.

"The most important and satisfying thing for us is that the EU is
now ready to remove quota restrictions and we are currently in the
process of discussing with them all the relating details," he said.

Similarly, he said, Egypt, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had decided to
enter into similar bilateral arrangements to have increased
cooperation. He said he would again be visiting Egypt this month to
discuss further cooperation over the issue.

He said the D-8 Summit had been successful in harnessing new
efforts to promote economic and trade relations, between the member
states.

 He said Sri Lanka had expressed interest to have more cooperation
with Pakistan's textile industry. "We have tentatively agreed that
Pakistan will export yarn, grey cloth and printed cloth, which will
be used for the garment industry of Sri Lanka."

Responding to a question, he said he would convene a meeting
immediately after Eid to discuss the export performance. "Let the
February export figures come after Eid, then I will be able to tell
you whether we could achieve the $10 billion target for the current
fiscal," he said.

According to the minister, the January export figures were good and
if this trend continued in February, then the situation would be
better than before. "Our rice export is going very well," he said,
adding there had been a 20 per cent increase in terms of quantity
but in dollar terms it registered a two per cent reduction. "For us
this is very important that we have successfully explored new
markets for our rice."

He said Iraq had ordered for importing 40,000 tons of rice from
Pakistan. Besides, top six exporters would leave for Philippines to
take part in a rice tender of 100,000 tons. Later, he said
Pakistani exporters would go to Iran.

Answering a question, he said Pakistan still has 400,000 tons
surplus rice, which needed to be exported. He said Saudi Arabia
showed interest to buy Pakistani rice, though it did not have a
good experience previously as it was exported inferior quality of
rice.

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20010303
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Technology development fund okayed
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Correspondent

ISLAMABAD, March 2: The meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Export
of High Value Added Goods and Services, on Friday, agreed in
principle to establish a Technology Development Fund with an aim to
finance technology-based industrial projects.

The committee's first meeting was chaired by the Federal Minister
for Science & Technology Prof Atta-ur-Rahman. It was attended by
Secretaries of S&T, Finance, Planning and Industries Division and
other high-level officers of the ministry.

Under the programme, according to a news release, funds in the form
of grants, soft loans will be given for projects having relevance
with import substitution, value addition, export promotion,
commercialization of innovative new project etc.

Ministry will work out the details in the form of recommendations
and will submit it in the next meeting for committee's approval.

"Despite adoption of various policies and changes in fiscal systems
our exports were stagnated at $8 billion plus for the last few
years," said the minister, while briefing the participants of the
meeting.

The main reason, said the minister, why our economy has not been
able to take up was that we were mainly dependent on agricultural
products which have their dependence on few uncertain factors like
rain, weather etc. Exports, therefore, are confined mainly to low
value-added goods.

"The country cannot get out of its economically backward position,
unless it moves into the area of high value-added goods," disclosed
Atta adding "to achieve this target the ministry has initiated
"Science and Technology for Economic Development" programme under
which industry and academia will collaborate to produce technology-
based economically feasible projects."

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20010303
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Crash plan for tax recovery
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Ikram Hoti

 ISLAMABAD, March 2: The failure of the authorities to achieve tax
collection target has forced the Central Board of Revenue to launch
a crash programme for recovering tax arrears from businessmen.

An official source told Dawn that Rs22 billion shortfall in the
collection target for the first eight months of the current fiscal
has also resulted in massive administrative changes to ensure tax
collection as per the targets.

The source said the CBR was of the opinion that recovering tax
arrears and bringing administrative changes were necessary to
ensure collection of remaining Rs191 billion tax receipts in March-
June period to meet the target of Rs430 billion for fiscal 2000-01.

 Another source in the CBR said a meeting of top tax officials was
held on Friday to examine the causes of poor tax collection.

 The meeting, presided over by Chairman Riaz Hussain Naqvi, decided
to replace most of the income tax commissioners, additional
commissioners, customs and sales tax collectors.

According to the CBR books, taxpayers owe Rs20 billion of arrears
of income tax and sales tax, which are stuck up for the last many
months. The top CBR bosses have taken stern view of present
collecting regime's failure in recovering these arrears.

On the other hand, steps are also being taken for speedy settlement
of tax adjudication cases. Though a decision has been made to
create five more tax benches in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and
Peshawar, the CBR intends to take additional measures for
recovering more than Rs30 billion stuck up in tax appeals.

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20010302
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State Bank sucks in Rs10 billion from inter-bank market
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Mohiuddin Aazim

KARACHI, March 1: The State Bank on Thursday smoothly siphoned off
Rs10.4 billion from a fairly liquid inter-bank money market.

SBP said it raised Rs2.4 billion in one-week repo of treasury bills
at 9 per cent; Rs1 billion in two-week repo at 9.25 per cent and
Rs7 billion in four-week repo at 9.75 per cent. It said it rejected
all the bids worth Rs4.9 billion for six-week repo. And that is
where the story lies.

Bankers said SBP had to reject these bids as they were quite
expensive: some banks had demanded 11-12 per cent yield on six-
week repo of the bills fearing the money market might dry up in the
coming days forcing them to borrow short term funds at high rates.

Perhaps these banks acted prudently because sources close to State
Bank said SBP would not keep the money market wallowing in surplus
liquidity after Eid holidays ending on March 7. Bankers said the
market was still liquid after the Thursday OMO with an estimated
excess liquidity of Rs5-10 billion that kept overnight call rates
pegged to 2-3 per cent.

Keeping in view the size of excess liquidity still available in the
market SBP announced to hold the next auction of treasury bills on
March 3 - prior to the Eid holidays starting March 5. The sale
target is Rs3 billion.

Bankers said since most banks were fairly liquid ahead of Eid, SBP
could easily meet the target.

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20010302
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Improved supply, imports keep prices under control: Kitchen basket
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Reporter

KARACHI, March 1: The prices of kitchen items, except for tomato
and milk powder, did not show any significant increase, owing to
increased supply from the local crops and frequent imports.

A market survey of prices during February shows a price hike in
tomato, rising to Rs12 per kg from Rs8- 10 per kg due to short
supply from the producing areas. In wholesale market, it is
available at Rs8 per kg.

The prices of other varieties of vegetables remained pegged to
their previous tags, thanks to improved supply from the producing
areas and frequent imports. Onion prices are tagged at Rs8 per kg,
almost same of the last month's price due to better arrivals from
Sindh crop. Potato prices also held unchanged at Rs8 per kg on
account of better arrivals from Punjab areas. Ginger and garlic,
imported in substantial quantities from Singapore, Sri Lanka and
India, are priced at almost same as last month at Rs48 per kg.

According to General Secretary, Karachi Retail Grocers Group
(KRGG), Mohammad Farid Qureishi, the price of milk powder from
Ireland increased to Rs4,500 per 25 kg from Rs4,100, while
Pakistani brand now sells at Rs3,100 per 25 kg bag from Rs2,800.

He said the prices of other regular items were either remained
pegged to their previous levels or fallen due to increased supply.
Besides, buyers' presence in the market has been continuously
depressing, owing to curtailing buying powers.

In category of pulses, imports have risen by 89 per cent in terms
of value and 79 per cent in terms of quantity in July- January
2000-01 as compared to the same period of 1999-00, which either
resulted in price fall or maintaining the prices to some extent.
Pakistan imported 206,462 metric tons of pulses ($67.6 million) as
compared to 115,114 MT ($36 million) in July-January 1999-00.

Gram pulse prices stayed at Rs32-34 per kg in different areas.
Sowing of gram began in September and production of gram is
expected to improve marginally if rain comes. The size of the crop
has been estimated at 700,000 tons against an annual plan target of
772,000 tons.

Mung prices maintained at Rs32 per kg while in middle income group
areas, it is being sold at Rs28 per kg. The price of mash fell to
Rs42-45 per kg from Rs48 per kg, while masur prices are being
quoted at Rs32-34 per kg as compared to last month's Rs34-36 per
kg.

The prices of fine atta and atta No 2.5 are stagnant at Rs13 and
Rs11 per kg, while in some areas fine atta sells at Rs12 per kg.

In poultry, egg prices came down to Rs24 per dozen from Rs34 per
dozen due to thin demand on account of slight summer spell from few
days. According to Pakistan Poultry Association (PPA), live poultry
bird prices also fell to Rs54 per kg from Rs60 per kg while meat
prices had caved in to Rs90 per kg. However, in some areas,
retailers were demanding Rs100 per kg.

The price of sugar dropped by Re1 per kg to Rs25 per kg from last
month's Rs26 per kg due to frequent supply from the mills as well
as from imports (arriving from India).

Over supply position coupled with slow exports of Pakistani rice
have kept the prices unchanged for the last few months. Irri 6-9
was selling at Rs11-18 per kg, while the price of various varieties
of basmati stayed at Rs24-36 per kg. Kernal was sold at Rs40-45 per
kg. The minimum price of basmati was quoted at Rs20-28 per kg while
its lowest quality was retailed at Rs18-20 per kg. Basmati sells at
Rs1,750-2,050 per 100 kg while Irri-6 prices range between Rs900-
965 per 100 kg.

In fruits, citrus varieties like kinoo range between Rs30-40 per
dozen but in some areas it sells at Rs50-60 per dozen. The rates of
apple varieties hover between Rs30-50 per kg depending on the
quality. Banana prices also went up, selling at Rs24-30 per dozen.
Low quality can be purchased at Rs20 per dozen.

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20010228
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KESC losses widened to Rs40.55 billion
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Dilawar Hussain

KARACHI, Feb 27: Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC)
reported loss of Rs8.323 billion for the first half (July-December
2000) of current fiscal year.

 The results for the six months announced by the board on Tuesday,
reflected 118 per cent increase over the loss amounting to Rs3.81
billion suffered by the corporation in the corresponding period of
the previous year.

 The loss for the last six months went to widen the accumulated
deficit of the KESC to Rs40.559 billion, which now measures to
nearly 10 times its paid-up capital of Rs4.8 billion.

Earlier in the day, the 90th annual general meeting of the KESC was
held, which was presided by Managing Director Brig. Shahid Mukhtar
Shah as Chairman Lt. Colonel Zulfiqar Ali Khan was busy at the
inauguration ceremony of the Chashma Power Project.

 A press release by the KESC stated that the shareholders
appreciated the efforts of the management in reducing the
administrative expenses and overtime of employees, but suggested
that management must strive harder to improve the financial
position of the corporation.

The managing director said the losses in the previous years were
mainly due to the unprecedented increase in price of furnace oil.
In order to cut down the energy production costs, the corporation
had already converted its Bin Qasim Power plant from fuel oil to
natural gas, he said. Monthly revenue collection had been improved,
which stood at around Rs2 billion, the MD said. But, he cautioned,
higher energy production costs neutralised the increase in
corporation's revenues.

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20010303
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IMF to be given updated memo
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Jawaid Bokhari

KARACHI, March 2: Pakistan will submit this month a "memorandum on
economic and fiscal policy update" to the International Monetary
Fund to enable the IMF's executive board to consider approval of
the second tranche under the Stand-By Arrangement.

Indications are that the board will meet towards the end of March
and the second tranche is about the same size as the first
instalment of $196 million.

The memorandum would set revised budgetary targets - more likely to
be achieved in the slower-than-anticipated economic growth -
primarily because agriculture has been hit by an acute shortage of
irrigation water. The State Bank has projected less than 4 per cent
growth instead of the revised budget estimate earlier cut to 4.5pc.

As is the IMF requirement, the memorandum would be signed jointly
by the State Bank governor and the finance minister.

Official sources say it is the IMF's practice to re-set targets
when original estimates are upset by variable and unforeseen
factors that change the economic scenario.

Speaking at the Rotary Club on Wednesday, SBP Governor Dr Ishrat
Husain revealed that "we have re-negotiated the economic targets
for March," and would again re-negotiate them for June at the end
of March.

Similarly, the pressure on balance of payments has been sustained
by an abnormal rise in international oil prices. An official says
that market forces often tend to control government's ambitions,
and what may appear within easy grasp at a particular point of
time, turns out to be pious hope later.

Yet, these sources indicated that there would be no relaxation in
the budget deficit target set by the IMF. According to the State
Bank, government expenditures have been curtailed by 1pc of the
GDP, which means that fiscal deficit in the first half of this
fiscal is 2.2pc. If this trend continues, SBP feels confident that
the target of 5.2pc for the whole year should be within reach.

Back to the top
EDITORIALS & FEATURES
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20010225
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The luck of the draw
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Ardeshir Cowasjee

AS is the wont of their profession, the media chiefs of our
political parties are forced to prevaricate to support those put on
pedestals by their respective parties and elected by public
acclaim.

Responding to my column of February 11 ('Is hammam main sab
nangay'), Nazir Dhoki, PPP media chief in Islamabad, (letter
February 22) does not respond to my query as to whether there is
any "objective non-party person in Pakistan who will deny that both
Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, their cohorts and their
governments were corrupt to the core and collectively responsible
for the robbery and plunder of this country and its people."
Rather, he asks if there is any objective person in Pakistan who
will deny that in Benazir's case justice has been perverted.

May we assure him that the foundations of the judicial system
remain as judicious and meticulous as established and organized by
his leader whilst she was twice in power.

He goes on to suggest that because of the shenanigans of Benazir
and Asif the revenues of the country were increased by the
appointment of the Swiss pre-inspection companies. This is a
maifestly incorrect statement.

To explain. Say, the government's revenue was Rs.600 before the
inspection companies were brought in. Following the introduction of
the scheme it may well have become Rs.700. However, what flowed
into the exchequer after the Swiss had collected their fees and
paid BenAsif their kickbacks was only Rs.544.

For elucidation, disbelieving PPP stalwarts may refer to Exhibits
PW 12/C and 12/D filed in the Lahore High Court in the government's
case against Benazir and Asif in the matter of SGS/Cotecna, the
Swiss accounts, and corruption.

Mr Dhoki mentions that Benazir's lawyer visited "the Swiss Attorney
General's office" where he was informed that none of her Swiss
accounts had been frozen.

Incorrect.

He and his party members who believe this story may enquire from
the office of Examining Magistrate Daniel Devaud in Geneva and make
reference to "Procedure Nr.P/11105/1997 against Mister Ali Asif
Zardari and others", the others being Benazir Bhutto, Jens
Schlegelmilch, Hans Fischer and Robert Massey. They will therein
find confirmation that all the Bhutto/Zardari accounts were frozen
and remain frozen.With regard to the US Senate Subcommittee Report
(website http://levin.senate.gov/issues/psireport2.htm) Mr Dhoki
writes that it was "conducting ex-parte hearings". If he reads the
Report he will find that it has been stated therein that Benazir
Bhutto "told the Subcommittee staff that since ARY International
Exchange is a foreign exchange business, the payment did not
necessarily come from Mr Razzak, but could have come from a third
party who was merely making use of ARY's exchange services. The
staff invited Ms Bhutto to provide additional information on the
M.S. Capricorn Trading accounts, but she has not yet done so." Ex
parte ?

Mr Dhoki is of the opinion that justice in Pakistan has been
"butchered". The answer to this is that Benazir should go to Geneva
and be tried by the Swiss court which has been waiting for over two
years for her to appear before it.

Again, I refer him to Examining Magistrate Devaud's "Procedure"
referred to above. In it he will read that on May 29 and June 2,
1998, Messrs Schlegelmilch, Fischer and Massey were indicted by the
Swiss court on the charge of money laundering. They were charged
with having hindered the identification of the origin, the
discovery and the forfeiture of the commissions agreed to in the
contracts between SGS, Cotecna and the Government of Pakistan,
contracts which were entered into and signed by Benazir Bhutto and
A. R. Siddiqui of the CBR in violation of the official duties with
which they were entrusted.

The examination of the Swiss judge also determined that Bomer
Finance Inc was a Virgin Islands company which had an account with
UBS in Geneva, the admitted beneficial owner of which was Asif Ali
Zardari, husband of Benazir "prime minister and minister of finance
at the time of signing the inspection contract on 29 September
1994."

A further finding : An accounting slip held by Mr Schlegelmilch has
the notation "50 per cent AAZ, 50 percent BB". When questioned on
this, Mr Schlegelmilch explained that he was given instructions
according to which "in case of death the amount should be divided
into two halves between his [AAZ's] famiy and his wife's family."

Judge Devaud found this explanation to be "incomplete" in view of
the fact "that Mrs Benazir Bhutto has at her free disposal the
account to buy jewels. In particular, in August 1997 Mrs Bhutto
purchased a set of jewellery partly paid for in Pounds Sterling
117,000 by cash and the balance Pounds Sterling 92,000 by bank
transfer from the Bomer account. This set has been seized in Geneva
by the undersigned Magistrate." The set, like the accounts, remains
frozen.

This fine set of jewellery, which cost Pakistan Pounds Sterling
209,000, almost Rs.20 million, was reproduced yesterday in its full
glory, in technicolour, on the front page of Star and of Nawa-e-
Waqt.

The examining magistrate, Judge Devaud, lists the charges
considered against Benazir based on the current file: On charge is
the use of offshore companies (Bomer and Nassim) to receive
commissions "in the frame of entering into a governmental contract
with the company SGS/Cotecna being made clear that on the one hand
using screen companies to hide the product of crime is considered
as an act hindering justice in its search of links between property
and crime, and on the other hand that the author of the said crime
may be his own launderer according to Swiss law."

This, according to the laws of Switzerland and in the opinion of
the judge is "adequate to charge Mrs Benazir Bhutto with the crime
of money laundering." Were Ms Bhutto to appear before him, she
would be asked to acknowledge and confirm "that on request of the
examining magistrate of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, you are
charged with: money laundering (Section 305bis of the Swiss
Criminal Code) for having with Mr Ali Asif Zardari, your husband,
Messrs Jens Schlegelmilch, Hans Fischer and Robert Massey, from the
spring of 1994 to the autumn of 1997, committed several acts in
order to hinder identification of the origin, discovery and
forfeiture of commissions agreed of six per cent on the total
amount of invoices paid by Pakistan in view to obtain the
conclusion of the contract entered into by SGS/Cotecna and
Pakistan, it being made clear that the conclusion of the above-
mentioned contract has been made possible only by your violation
and that of Mr Siddiqui, manager of CBR, of your official duties,
and that the commissions agreed have in effect been paid by SGS and
Cotecna." She has, quite naturally, not agreed to appear before
Judge Devaud.

Benazir's and Asif's appeals against their 1999 conviction for
corruption by the Lahore High Court is to be heard tomorrow in the
Supreme Court at Islamabad. A special Bench comprising Justices
Muhammad Bashir Jehangiri, Sheikh Riaz Ahmad, Munir Shaikh, Nazim
Hussain Siddiqui, Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhry, Qazi Mohammad Farooq
and Abdul Hameed Dogar has been constituted to hear this important
case. The honourable judges may hear the case to its completion or
they may adjourn it, or remand it back to the High Court. All
depends on whose luck holds.

Benazir and Asif have appointed high-powered heavyweight Abdul
Hafeez Pirzada to defend them. The government is to be represented
by S. M. Zafar.

Ironically, the poor people of Pakistan will be paying for both the
winning as well as the losing lawyer. On the other hand, fortune
and luck have so far favoured Benazir. Which other person of her
age in this world has managed to land as his/her first job in life
the prime ministership of a country of over 130 million poverty-
stricken people, a job from which he/she was later sacked on
charges of corruption? Which other person has not been punished for
his or her crimes? And which other person has managed to once again
land the same job only to once again misule and rob? Unfortunate
are the people of Pakistan and unlucky they remain.

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20010302
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The grim business of waging peace
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Ayaz Amir

I AM glad to note, for what my feelings on this point are worth,
that the group of retired military personnel from India (and Ms
Nirmala Deshpande, a Field Marshal of Peace as one enthusiastic
Pakistani paper has described her) who have been visiting Pakistan
these last few days, have been well looked after. General Musharraf
received them and among the luminaries they met were First Mujahid
Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, General Aslam Beg and Air Marshal Asghar
Khan.

 In Islamabad a seminar was arranged for their benefit. Their
engagements were covered extensively in the press.

What reason have I to be glad? Because of the piquant memories
associated with a similar trip undertaken to New Delhi last year by
a group of retired Pakistan army officers of which I too was a
part. The recent visit from Indian was a sequel to that.

Lt-Gen Naseer Akhtar, one-time Corps Commander Karachi, and Maj-Gen
Jamshed Malik, a former Director-General Military Operations, were
the spearhead of our peace phalanx. General Jahangir Karamat was
supposed to come but, guided no doubt by that instinct which has
helped him through his illustrious career, he wisely backed out at
the last minute. Two brigadiers - one jovial, the other serious-
minded - formed the middle echelon of our party. The rear was
brought up by two NGO-professionals, the type adept at such
international contacts. Odd man out was myself, a former captain
among these senior celebrities.

As peace warriors, the ostensible purpose of our trip to Delhi,
there was perhaps something incongruous about our group. After all,
someone like Asma Jahangir as peace laureate, breaking alarmingly
into peace dances when least expected or distributing sweets among
puzzled Indian security guards, fits the part. Robust ex-generals,
both Akhtar and Malik being pictures of health, as peace advocates
is a more unfamiliar sight. Appearances were saved, however, by two
charming ladies who also came along and whose presence added zest
and colour to what might otherwise have been a drab delegation.
Like all stage artistes who look their best in costume, generals
and brigadiers look their best in military make-up. Without that
advantage the effect can often be startling.Anyhow, there was
little peace-like about our departure from Lahore airport. Those
were early days of General Musharraf's military rule and as half a
dozen officials, including a captain or two in uniform, fussed over
our tickets and boarding cards, and up-graded the generals, the
weight of the brass we were carrying showed. As our group of
retired generals, brigadiers, NGO-types, myself and the ladies
broke every queue within sight, I heard a person in the first-class
line asking someone as to who we were. Back came the reply,
"educated illiterates", which sounds much better in Punjabi.

But I was far from displeased. The fuss at Lahore airport I was
convinced was a foretaste of the fuss that would be made over us in
New Delhi. Indeed this was one reason why I had readily agreed to
this trip, conjuring up in my mind visions of military clubs,
leather sofas and gravelly conversations about war and peace
carried on over unhurried whiskies and sodas. The reality was
somewhat different.

I had promised myself a highball on arrival. After a tedious taxi
ride through the evening rush hour traffic we arrived, to my
gathering amazement, at an international youth hostel in
Chanakyapuri. For accommodation we were put two to a room in rooms
which had four beds each. No towels, at least not in the beginning,
and no soap. Which of course is no reflection on the hostel because
as youth hostels go it was an excellent place and cheap to boot.
The piquancy of the situation lay in the heavy brass of my
companions - generals, brigadiers and whatnot - and the spartan
(and clean, let me not fail to add) simplicity of our
accommodation.

It would be unfair to zoom in on the living conditions of Pakistani
generals alone. Generals everywhere live well. That's how they get
their barrel chests and deep voices. Try getting a deep voice over
a diet of cabbages and plain water and the meaning of this will
become clear. As for Generals Akhtar and Malik, they were no run-
of-the-mill generals, division commanders who fade into well-
deserved oblivion. The first, as I said, was Gauleiter Karachi when
Gen Asif Nawaz started his MQM-bashing operation in that city in
1991. After Waheed Kakar's retirement his name also figured briefly
among those being considered for next army chief. Malik, besides
being DGMO, was also additional secretary, defence. In other words,
army high-flyers here finding themselves wedged into student
dormitories.

Back in 1992 while visiting Karachi I had sought to meet the all-
powerful Corps Commander Karachi (Akhtar) in order to get a better
picture of the get-MQM operation. But he was a busy man and I was
unable to meet him. Now he and I found ourselves sharing the same
room. Did I hear the laughter of the gods in the distance? I cannot
say although I remember a wry look crossing my face.In the
cafeteria a grim council of war was held. From old habit one of the
military celebrities waved a hand for some tea to be brought
forgetting that in a youth hostel there is only self-service, at
the counter, and no "koi hai" turbaned waiters rushing to answer
your summons. The hostel manager, a retired squadron leader,
happening to be close by, and sensing the delicacy of the
situation, quietly arranged for some tea to be brought. After the
ride from the airport and the shock of the youth hostel, it was
only natural that the faces of all assembled should be slightly
drawn. But my companions, to their credit, said not a word about
their discomfiture and vowed to soldier on for the sake of peace. I
being made of weaker stuff could scarcely hide my disgust. Peace,
yes, but at what cost? As the chances of getting a highball at some
cheerful place diminished, the gloom that had settled in my heart
deepened.

Back in our room as the former Corps Commander Karachi got ready to
go out for dinner and asked me to come along, I said I would rather
stay behind with the duty-free stuff I had bought at the airport.
Early next morning as my stoical companions got ready to fly off to
Calcutta, I announced my decision to stay back. Italians and other
favoured races have fought wars in style. Here was peace being
waged on bread and water. I clearly realised heroism of this order
was not for me.

But I must give the generals and brigadiers their due. They were
chumps, at least to my way of thinking, to go on a trip the details
of which they knew little about. But once there, unlike me they
showed grit and not a little resilience and made the best of a bad
job, which is how one should take things in life. Whatever they may
have felt inside, on their faces they let pass no trace of
annoyance, in sharp contrast to my visible peevishness. I respect
them for this.

What did I do for the rest of the three days I spent in New Delhi?
I took in the sights - Chandni Chowk, which I love, the Red Fort
and the Jama Masjid - became a temporary member of the Delhi Press
Club which is a good place to sit in the sun on a wintry morning,
and spent my afternoons in the refurbished bar of the Imperial
Hotel, a place to be recommended to every thirsty wayfarer.

I even went to GP Road, Delhi's answer to Hira Mandi. Patriotism
need have no fears on this score: GP Road is not a patch on
Lahore's famed Bazaar of Beauty. Up narrow flights of stairs lie
low-roofed tenements crowded with imports from Nepal, whose
grasping attitude, driven by God knows what extremes of deprivation
and poverty, gives them the aspect of predators. Before those grim
sights even my stout heart quailed.

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20010303
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Sense and stability
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Irfan Husain

BEING too disorganized and lazy to plough through my old columns, I
never quote from them. Indeed, I have been accused of repeating
myself from time to time. I can only plead a defective memory and a
hopefully consistent set of views and values.

Soon after the army staged its little coup in October 1999, I
remember suggesting that the junta should stick to a short, tight
agenda and not disperse its time and energy on fixing all the many
ills that plague us. But governments are not famous for heeding
advice from underpaid hacks, no matter how well-intentioned, and
probably just as well. As we have seen, the generals have been
profligate with their efforts, trying to sort out everything and
everybody under the hot Pakistani sun.

The one group they had not touched were the sectarian and jihadi
elements. I recall suggesting that many of our problems could not
be solved until the tidal wave of religious intolerance and its
accompanying violence were checked. How could we think of foreign
or even local investment in an atmosphere marred by regular
bloodletting between various sectarian outfits? Who would seriously
contemplate even travelling to a country in which 300 people died
last year in religious violence?

Indeed, soon after he took over, General Musharraf legitimized the
activities of fanatical groups undertaking cross-border attacks in
Indian Kashmir by drawing a distinction between jihad and
terrorism. Just recently, in an interview he characterized these
groups as mere "irritants." Against this backdrop, it is
encouraging to see this government finally getting tough with one
of the most rabid gang of zealots, the Sipah-i-Sahaba of Pakistan
(SSP). For years, they have been preaching a message of hate,
targeting the Shias and demanding they be declared non-Muslims.
Because of the weakness of past governments, the most violent of
them have gone unpunished.

The current crackdown on the SSP has been caused by the recent
hanging of their activist, Haq Nawaz, the killer of Sadiq Ganji,
director of the Iranian Cultural Centre in Multan, eleven years
ago. The government, fearing a violent backlash, has launched its
own pre-emptive sweep, scooping up hundreds of militants. It is all
too likely that they will be released in a few days now that the
hanging is over. This would be unfortunate as the group remains
armed and very dangerous. Under a military dispensation, habeas
corpus is often suspended as it has been for many politicians,
businessmen and bureaucrats (no military personnel or judges,
though) kept under detention for months without due process.

This move has been accompanied by tough-sounding statements by
General Moinuddin Haider, the interior minister banning the display
of arms by individuals or groups. Since the main culprits are the
religious parties and the jihadi elements, it is clear that the
threat is directed against them. While laudable in itself, this
injunction has been made before and ignored by our militant
mullahs. Indeed, the national press has often carried pictures of
bearded zealots brandishing their automatic weapons at public
rallies.

Perhaps even more significant is the interior minister's
declaration that no donations can be collected (or extorted) by
jihadi groups. This has drawn a storm of protests from these
elements as their leaders have access to huge sums of money for
which they are accountable to nobody. For years, successive
governments have been denying military support for Kashmiri
militants while jihadi outfits have been openly collecting funds to
buy arms and train infiltrators at camps established in Punjab and
Azad Kashmir. In these efforts, these groups have received more
than a wink and a nod from shadowy agencies that have sought to
keep the Kashmir pot on the boil while preserving official
deniability.

The same nexus between intelligence agencies and fanatical groups
has been at work in Afghanistan where they have helped the Taliban
to take control of much of that ravaged country. The medieval
horrors visited upon our long-suffering neighbours by their
benighted rulers can best be judged by their recent edict to
destroy all their ancient and priceless Buddhist statues in the
name of Islam. The Pakistan government must publicly condemn this
decision, and privately dissuade the Taliban from carrying it out.
It is now an open secret that the Taliban receive military and
monetary assistance from sources in Pakistan. This has greatly
tarnished our image abroad as the Afghan rulers are widely seen as
stone-age fanatics who want to turn the clock back.

If the recent tough statements from the interior ministry signal a
change in policy towards religious extremists, they should be
welcomed by all sane Pakistanis. Our gradual slide into chaos and
anarchy can be directly attributed to the tide of intolerance
unleashed upon us by Zia, and then accepted by his civilian and
military successors. I have often argued that these religious
fanatics can only be curbed by the army as they are now too well
armed and organized to be controlled by the police alone.

But given the political will, it can be done. The one thing Benazir
Bhutto did of lasting value was to crush the armed wing of the MQM.
Granted that many excesses were committed, but her interior
minister, the indefatigable General Babar, devoted much time and
effort to eradicating the daily menace of the MQM. The army,
perceiving this ethnic group as a national threat, supported the
political initiative taken by the government, and the result is a
relatively peaceful Karachi.

The threat now comes from armed sectarian and jihadi groups, and
the whole country is their stamping ground. There is a pressing
need to give them a demonstration of the government's will. If the
interior minister cannot implement his own orders to halt fund-
raising and the display of arms, this will be seen as a sign of
weakness. As it is, he has talked the talk in the past without
showing us that he can also walk the walk. Words without action are
meaningless, especially when confronted with highly motivated and
armed fanatics for whom the rule of law is only an airy-fairy
concept written by and for much-despised liberals.

Let us be clear that today's Pakistan is out of step with the rest
of the world. No matter how strong a country's legal case, nobody
is going to support cross-border insurgencies or fanatical regimes
that prohibit women from getting medical attention and an education
in the name of religion.

 And if we expect foreign tourists and investment to come when
sectarian gangs are shooting each other and there is talk of
nuclear war over Kashmir, we are much mistaken.

No matter how much we would like to see the Kashmir issue resolved
to our advantage and have a pliant regime in Afghanistan, we need
to restore sense and stability in Pakistan before we can help
anybody else.


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20010302
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Shoaib Akhtar reported again for suspect action
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DUNEDIN (New Zealand), March 1: Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar
was cited on Thursday for a suspect action, the second such report
in his career coming as he was sent home early from Pakistan's tour
of New Zealand due to injury.

New Zealand umpires Doug Cowie and Steve Dunne reported Akhtar for
a suspect bowling action in the One-day International against New
Zealand in Dunedin on Wednesday, the International Cricket Council
(ICC) said in a statement.

"The ICC has formally notified the Pakistan Cricket Board of the
situation and a copy of the TV coverage of Shoaib Akhtar's bowling
in the match will be couriered to the ICC in London," said match
referee Ranjan Madugalle, of Sri Lanka.

The video would also be sent to Pakistan where cricket authorities
have six weeks to review the matter and work with the bowler to
correct the concerns raised.

Akhtar can continue to play during that period but Pakistan said a
soft tissue thigh injury suffered earlier in the series, won 3-2 by
New Zealand on Wednesday, meant he could take no part in the
upcoming Test series starting in Auckland on March 8.

Akhtar left the field for a time during Wednesday's game, a four-
wicket win to New Zealand, and was clearly struggling when he
returned to bowl the final balls of the game.

"We are not risking him further," Pakistan team manager Fakir
Aizazuddin said.

"Naturally no player likes to go back in the middle of a tour but
he knows himself that he is not 100 percent."

Akhtar had tried to carry on but medical advice was that it would
take three weeks for his thigh to heal, Aizazuddin said.

"We thought the injury was minor and we gave him this final chance
because he said he was fine, but he let us down."

Akhtar was first called for a suspect action in the third Test
against Australia in Perth in December 1999 by umpires Darrell Hair
and England's Peter Willey and was subsequently reported by New
Zealand match referee Joh Reid.

However, then ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya overturned the ruling
for one-day matches as he said Akhtar's suspect action only
happened when he bowled bouncers, which are illegal in limited
overs matches.

The ICC then allowed the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) the final say
and he was duly cleared after he underwent schooling at the
Australian Institute of Sport in Perth.

A bowler in cricket is required to bowl with a straight arm. The
concern is that Shoaib's arm bends just before he releases the ball
which, if so, would give the ball extra thrust.

Akhtar, who bowled at up to 151 km per hour in Wednesday's game, is
vying with Australia's Brett Lee - whose action was also examined
last year - to be the world's fastest bowler.-Reuters/AFP

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20010301
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Black Caps humble Pakistan: Fleming's men win series
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DUNEDIN (New Zealand), Feb 28: Openers Stephen Fleming and Nathan
Astle shared a New Zealand limited overs record partnership of 193
as their side triumphed 3-2 in the five-match series against
Pakistan on Wednesday.

New Zealand won the fifth and deciding One-day International by
four wickets, dismissing Pakistan for 285 in 49.3 of their 50 overs
and scoring 290 for six off 48.1 overs.

The opening stand between Fleming and Astle was a New Zealand
record for any wicket, beating the 180 amassed by Adam Parore and
Ken Rutherford for the third wicket against India at Baroda in
1994-95.

Pakistan were handicapped when fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar broke down
and limped from the field after bowling five overs, indicating to
captain Moin Khan he had again injured his upper left thigh.

He went off after the 21st over but subsequently returned to action
in the 41st over and jolted New Zealand by dispatching Lou Vincent
and Adam Parore with consecutive balls.

Shoaib's double strike left Zealand on 252 for six, but Chris
Harris and Jacob Oram steered their side home with an unbroken
seventh wicket stand of 38.

All-rounder Harris hit the winning runs off Akhtar - a six over
backward point.

New Zealand had been put on course for victory by skipper Fleming,
who hit 60, and Astle, whose 119 was one short of his highest one-
day innings. He made his runs off 116 balls and hit 21 fours.

The pair took advantage of shoddy Pakistan fielding, Akhtar
dropping both openers before he bowled his first spell in which he
conceded 35 off five overs.

Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram were little better and Azhar Mahmood
went for 63 off his 10 overs. Abdur Razzaq was the most accurate
and economical, going for just 21 off his first six overs.

Earlier, Shahid Afridi, who hammered 65 off 58 deliveries, and
Yousuf Youhana, who hit 68, played the major batting roles for
Pakistan.

Youhana put on 65 for the fourth wicket with Razzaq (41) and
captain Moin provided a late flourish by blasting 36 from 20
deliveries.-Reuters

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