Tag Archives: Budget

Is Germany Already Signalling The Complete (Economic) Collapse Of The European Union?

by Sprout Money

In an attempt to try to divert a looming economic stagnation in the European Union, some leading German and French economists have launched some plans to try to revive (read: ‘resuscitate’) the economy of the Eurozone by tackling two issues which might have deteriorated the economic situation in the currency bloc.

Enderlein, an associate at a German school of Governance and Pisani, member of a French think thank have announced some ideas focusing on solving the issue of the rigid French labor market and the lack of government spending on infrastructure projects in Germany. This could be the perfect time to push some of these ideas through as the next elections in both countries are still 2.5 years away which means there’s plenty of time to implement new measures and restoring the popularity of the politicians before the next elections.

Read more » Zero Hedge
Learn more » http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-14/germany-already-signaling-complete-economic-collapse-european-union

Israeli Finance Minister Lapid threatens to topple Netanyahu’s government

Clash of Israeli Political Ambitions Fuels Budget ‘Street Fight’

By Alisa Odenheimer

The competing ambitions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuand Finance Minister Yair Lapid are turning this year’s budget process into a who-blinks-first battle between the leaders of the country’s two biggest parties.

Lapid is threatening to topple Netanyahu’s government, rather than raise taxes — something he has promised voters he won’t do — deepening the standoff between the two over spending plans for next year.

“What we have here is a political street fight,” Yaniv Pagot, chief strategist for Ayalon Group Ltd. inRamat Gan, a Tel Aviv suburb, said by phone. “It’s not the numbers talking, it’s the political agendas.”

The disputes have already held up submission of a draft budget to cabinet. Lapid says the Defense Ministry is asking for too much more money after the recent war in the Gaza Strip. He has said he’d rather see the budget gap increase than add taxes or abandon his flagship program to lift the 18 percent value-added tax for some first-time homebuyers.

“I will bring down the government and won’t raise taxes,” Lapid said in a videotaped interview posted yesterday on the Ynet website.

Read more » Bloomberg

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-16/lapid-says-he-ll-quit-israel-government-rather-than-raise-taxes.html

Pakistan – Defence budget hiked by 15 per cent

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has increased its defence spending by 15% for the coming fiscal year, as the military remains engaged in fighting a deadly Taliban insurgency in the strife-torn tribal regions.

The defence budget has been jacked up to Rs627.2 billion for the financial year beginning July 1, compared to Rs545.3 billion allocated in the outgoing fiscal year, showing an increase of Rs82 billion.

However, against the original allocation of Rs545.3 billion, the military overspent Rs25 billion, raising the total expenditure to Rs570 billion in 2012-13.

According to the budget document, the lion’s share went to the army which got Rs301.54 billion, followed by the air force with Rs131.18 billion and the navy with Rs62.80 billion.

Of the total Rs627.2 billion, Rs271.2 billion have been allocated for employees-related expenses, Rs162.2 billion for operating expenses and Rs131.3 billion for physical assets.

However, the figures do not include over Rs132.7 billion allocated for pensions of the retired military personnel that would be paid from the civilian budget and a separate allocation for the security-related expenses, a move which critics say seeks to conceal the actual defence spending.

In addition to this, the military will also be given Rs150 billion under the contingent liability, Rs70 billion under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) and Rs35 billion has been allocated for the military’s services to the UN peacekeeping missions in the coming fiscal year. This means a whopping Rs1,014 billion have been allocated for the military, which is about 28.2% of the country’s total budget.

The defence budget – which has never been properly debated in Parliament – has remained a sensitive and controversial subject in Pakistan and there have been calls for greater scrutiny of the spending.

Read more » The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/562640/defence-budget-hiked-by-15-per-cent/#.UbkuwH1R5qc.facebook

Via Facebook

Canadians trimming food budgets in face of higher prices, RBC says

Bank report suggests as much as 91 per cent of Canadians plan to cut back food spending.

By Allison Brogan, CBC News

Canadian families are planning to cut back on the amount they spend at the grocery store in the face of rising food prices, a new report from one of Canada’s largest banks said Thursday.

The RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index showed Canadians’ are displeased with rising food prices at the grocery store.

As much as 91 per cent of respondents to the survey said they have taken notice of rising food prices and are being more budget oriented as a result.

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/05/16/business-rbc-food.html

Pakistan’s Army belongs to the barracks in Rawalpindi, not in the corridors of power in Islamabad

Army belongs to barracks in Rawalpindi

By: Hiranmay Karlekar

Embattled Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari may want to improve relations with India but his Generals will not allow him to do so. New Delhi must keep nudging Islamabad to strengthen its democratic institutions. That alone can contain the Pakistani Army

Something that was never stated officially but said or hinted at media talk shows or in private conversations during Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit was that India had a responsibility to help Pakistan’s democracy to consolidate itself. There is nothing exceptionable in the suggestion. Every democracy has a responsibility to strengthen kindred political systems. The question is: How should that be done?

Continue reading Pakistan’s Army belongs to the barracks in Rawalpindi, not in the corridors of power in Islamabad

Demands of Canadians – Raise Corporate Taxes, Create Jobs, Raise Wages and Living Standards! Curb Corporate Power!

Raise Corporate Taxes, Create Jobs, Raise Wages and Living Standards! Curb Corporate Power!

The CPC (Ontario) has condemned the Ontario Budget, delivered yesterday, as a massive attack on working people and the poor that will destroy tens of thousands of jobs, drive down wages, pensions, incomes and living standards, and which, combined with the austerity measures in Thursday’s federal budget, could push the province into another deep economic recession.

The Executive Committee of the CPC (Ontario) also warned that the threat of legislated wage controls is a dangerous attack on free collective bargaining and on civil and democratic rights.

Continue reading Demands of Canadians – Raise Corporate Taxes, Create Jobs, Raise Wages and Living Standards! Curb Corporate Power!

Goodbye Pakistan Resolution, says JSQM chief

By Ammar Shahbazi

Karachi – As the nation celebrated the 72nd Pakistan Day with much enthusiasm across the country, Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz chairman Bashir Qureshi bade “farewell” to the 1940’s Pakistan Resolution and demanded independence for Sindh.

Speaking at a rally, which was, ironically, organised on M A Jinnah Road close to the mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan, Qureshi said that Sindh contributed 80 percent of revenue to the federal budget and the Sindhis had therefore the right to make their own decisions.

He said that “Punjab has usurped the resources of Sindh in the name of Pakistan [and Islam]” and that there was no country named Pakistan in history. “Pakistan is not a country and Pakistanis are not a nation.” The JSQM leader said that for the past 65 years “the Punjabis have usurped the resources of Sindh.”

The party had announced an “Azadi March” on the 8th of this month and since Friday morning activists of the party, carrying their red party flags on motorbikes, private cars and trucks, had been reaching the rally site from various part of the city.

The activists were shouting the party slogan: “Tunjho Desh, Munjho Desh, Sindhu Desh Sindhu Desh” on their way to the rally. The rally caused a major traffic jam on Sharea Faisal bringing vehicles to a standstill.

Addressing a crowd holding the party flags, the JSQM chief said that the he believed that the Urdu-speaking people were part of the Sindh nation and that “their future lies in Sindhu Desh”.

On the issue of Balochistan, he said that the largest province of the country deserved freedom from Punjab’s hegemony as did the province of Sindh. He said his party did not believe in violence.

Delving into history, he said that the British merged Sindh with Bombay. Warning the people of Sindh, he said that the “enemies always have had an eye on Sindh’s quota”. Qureshi also warned that projects like Zulfikarabad City were a conspiracy hatched against the people of Sindh to turn them into a minority in their own province.

Courtesy: The News

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-99166-Goodbye-Pakistan-Resolution-says-JSQM-chief

PETITION: Stand Behind President Obama’s Budget

By Iqbal Tareen

President Obama just sent his budget plan to Congress. It would ensure that the top 1% pays their fair share.

As President Obama said in his State of the Union:

“Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes… In fact, if you’re earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn’t get special tax subsidies or deductions…

Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.”

Sign our petition to stand behind President Obama’s budget  to end special tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.

SIGN THE PETITION: http://dccc.org/Budget

Pakistan: Extra Rs150 billions sanctioned above defence budget

ISLAMABAD: On top of the Rs495 billion officially-sanctioned defence budget, the government has allocated an additional Rs150 billion for the armed forces, almost half of which was billed under the Armed Forces Development Programme.

A senior official of the finance ministry, citing the ‘Budget-in-Brief’ document, said the total defence and security allocation comes to around Rs645 billion, which is almost 23.8 per cent of the total budget. In addition, Rs73.2 billion would be paid from civilian accounts on army pensions – a practice initiated by Musharraf in 2000. By adding the three allocations – stated budget, contingent liabilities and army pensions – the total allocations total Rs718 billion, almost 26 per cent of the total budget. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Pakistan: Nuclear Road Rage – By Mark Thompson

Fascinating peek inside the latest Atlantic (in a cover story shared with sister pub National Journal) on the perilous security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Payoff grafs:

…instead of moving nuclear material in armored, well-defended convoys, the [Pakistani government] prefers to move material by subterfuge, in civilian-style vehicles without noticeable defenses, in the regular flow of traffic…according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, the Pakistanis have begun using this low-security method to transfer not merely the “de-mated” component nuclear parts but “mated” nuclear weapons. Western nuclear experts have feared that Pakistan is building small, “tactical” nuclear weapons for quick deployment on the battlefield. In fact, not only is Pakistan building these devices, it is also now moving them over roads.

What this means, in essence, is this: In a country that is home to the harshest variants of Muslim fundamentalism, and to the headquarters of the organizations that espouse these extremist ideologies…nuclear bombs capable of destroying entire cities are transported in delivery vans on congested and dangerous roads. And Pakistani and American sources say that since the raid on Abbottabad, the Pakistanis have provoked anxiety inside the Pentagon by increasing the pace of these movements. In other words, the Pakistani government is willing to make its nuclear weapons more vulnerable to theft by jihadists simply to hide them from the United States, the country that funds much of its military budget.

Accountability of Military Inc

by Najam Sethi

The terrorist attacks on GHQ last year and the Mehran Naval Base last month were outrageous examples of terrorist efficiency and motivation as opposed to ISI incompetence and military ill-preparedness. The US Navy Seal raid to extract Osama bin Laden from a compound in Abbottabad was deeply humiliating as well. Heads should have rolled. But the military will not even consider an independent commission of inquiry to unearth the facts. No wonder its credibility and sacred-cow status have taken a mighty hit. Within the armed forces, officers are standing up to question and confront their superiors. Outside, an angry public wants to know why we are spending half our tax resources on equipping the military with F-16s and BMWs when it can’t even protect itself, let alone defend the nation. This questioning of Military Incorporated is unprecedented.

More significantly, the civilian opposition is up in arms. It is demanding an informed debate over the military’s national security doctrines – particularly with reference to the obsession with, and fear of, “arch-enemy India” – that have spawned such self-serving budgetary outlays and an arms race at the expense of the social welfare of Pakistanis for six decades. The indignant argument that criticism of the military is “unpatriotic” or serves the interests of the “enemy” doesn’t wash any more. Indeed, the term “establishment”, used hitherto to refer obliquely to the military so as not to offend it, is rapidly going out of fashion. People are not afraid to call a spade a spade.

Ominously, the ISI’s mythology of power is now being deconstructed and exposed as being undeserved. The “agencies” are out of fashion, the ISI is squarely in the spotlight. The premeditated abduction and torture of journalist Saleem Shehzad, which led to his death, has been bravely laid by the media and opposition at the door of the ISI and not some invisible “agency”. The government’s silence – in not establishing a credible commission of inquiry – has also compromised the ISI’s position. This is remarkable, not because of the pathetic response in self-defense elicited from unnamed spokesmen of the ISI but because a conviction has now taken root in the public imagination that the ISI should not be beyond the pale of the law and accountability. The opposition has gone so far in parliament as to demand an oversight of its functions, duties, responsibilities and budgets. This is a far cry from a demand by the media and opposition not so long ago to shield and protect the ISI and its DG from the “conspiratorial” tentacles of the PPP government and its ubiquitous interior minister, Rehman Malik, who sought to bring the ISI’s internal political wing dedicated to political machinations under civilian control.

All this has happened because of two new factors that are not sufficiently imagined or understood by the military and ISI. One is the rise of a fiercely competitive and free media that is rapidly coming of age and will not allow itself to be manipulated wholesale in the “patriotic national interest”, a term that is constantly being re-evaluated in light of changing realities. The other is the revival of a chief justice and supreme court that are acutely aware of the civil burden imposed by their historic and popular enthronement. Neither will countenance any political or military oversight of their own sense of freedom and function. So if the military cannot rely on the troika of army chief, president and prime minister for political leverage of government – because the president and prime minister are one now – it is even more problematic to try and manipulate the media and SC merely on the yardstick of “patriotism” and “national interest”. The military’s woes are compounded by the fact that, for the first time in history, a popular Punjabi “son of the soil” like Nawaz Sharif, whose PML is a veritable creature of the predominantly Punjabi-origin military itself, has turned around and openly challenged its supremacy, arrogance and lack of accountability. The “Punjabi establishment” – meaning the civil-military power combine that has ruled Pakistan since independence — is therefore openly divided. The irony of history is that it is a Sindhi politician (Asif Zardari) who is opportunistically lending his shoulder to the military as it braces for fresh buffetings at home.

But that is just the beginning of a new story. The international establishment – principally the USA and EU – that has nurtured and molly-coddled the Pakistani military for six decades with money and weapons is also at the end of its tether. The “strategic partnership” mantra is dead. Washington, like Islamabad, doesn’t trust Rawalpindi either as long-term partner or ally. It is only a matter of time before the civilians in Pakistan and those in DC or Brussels make common cause for mutual benefit. Indeed, if the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill were to be floated anew with clauses enjoining civilian supremacy over the military, there would not even be conscientious objectors today.

The Pakistan military should see the writing on the wall. It must hunker down and become subservient to civilian rule and persuasion instead of embarking on new misadventures in the region like the proverbial Pied Piper. The road to hell is always paved with self-serving intentions.

Courtesy: Friday Times

via Wichaar

Making the hard decisions to set our house in order

By Najmuddin A Shaikh

Last week, I had expressed hope that in the coming days we would make the hard decisions needed to prevent our country from sliding into anarchy and chaos. We would not then remain the country to which Muammar Qaddafi would point as an example of what could happen to Libya if his dictatorial regime was brought to an end.

Developments during the past week have not, to say the least, been encouraging. First we had the budget, in which no genuine effort seems to have been made to raise the tax base or to address impediments — energy shortages among others — and yet we have concluded that our deficit will remain under control and that growth will have an upward trajectory. Are we going to continue to go down the path of foreign aid dependency and have a government ‘of the elite by the elite and for the elite’ that taxes the poor and the now dwindling middle class mercilessly to nourish the ‘fat cats’ in the ranks of the bureaucracy and the political establishment? Can we not levy direct taxes that would bring the tax-to-GDP ratio to at least 15 per cent? Can we not spend more on education and health? Can we not stop treating the defence budget as beyond question? …

Read more : The Express Tribune

What is wrong with the military?

by Dr. Manzur Ejaz

Feeling the political heat from the public and some politicians, Pakistan’s military chief, Pervaiz Kiyani, has hit back accusing that this is an effort “to drive a wedge between the army, different organs of the state and, more seriously, the people of Pakistan, whose support the army has always considered vital for its operations against terrorists.” Translation: To ask for the civilian control over the military and to scrutinize its mammoth secrete budget is creating a wedge between state institutions. Naturally, if the absolute supremacy of the military institution—a taken for granted privilege—is challenged it will create a wedge in the existing institutional alignment.

Gen. Kiyani’s statement makes it clear that the military is in mode to introspect, reform and help Pakistan by stepping back from national politics. Instead Gen. Kiayni is combinative, using the same old clichés and employing slick political strategies. The military does not want to or is not getting it as to what is wrong.

What is wrong with Pakistan military? Fundamental blunder of the military is to establish a monopoly over defining Pakistani nation and its interests. It is not the military that defines the nation and its interests in any civilized country. It is the duty and task of the political forces to do so and the military follows the dictates of the civilian government’s defined objectives.

In Pakistan’s history from Gen. Ayub Khan to Gen. Kiayni, military chiefs take it upon themselves to define the Pakistani nation and its interests. In the rest of the world the dictum is that ‘war is too serious a matter to be left to the generals’ but in Pakistan it is just the opposite ‘war and national interests are too serious matters to be left to the civilians.’

Pakistan military defined Pakistan as a religious state from the very beginning but the trend accentuated after losing war in East Bengal. The logical lesson from losing East Pakistan should have been that a country cannot be united on the basis of the religion. Bengali Muslims rebellion should have been an eye opener for the military. However, it embraced the most illogical conclusion and embarked upon a course to turn Pakistan into an Islamic theocratic state. Military reached this conclusion just because it was only Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) that was its partner in butchering the East Bengali Muslims. Post 1971 war nexus between military and religious parties, specifically JI, always played the major part in shaping Pakistan of today.

Without getting into details of how the military-mullah alliance created religious bigotry, theocratic laws and, ultimately, proliferation of jihadi producing madrassas, we should look at the final outcome. Jihadi producing madrassas were abetted, encouraged and financed by the military. If it was not so let us assume that somehow such schools were being established by the Marxist or Maoists? Would military allow it and watch from the sidelines or destroy them? Let us assume that instead of Muslim jihadis, India like Maoist movement had started a guerrilla war against the state what would be military’s response? They would have been crushed ruthlessly. Therefore, there should be no doubt that proliferation of armed bands of jihadis is the outcome of military’s ideology imposed on that society. It is the military’s nation defining monopoly that has created the present disastrous situation.

The irony is that military is not willing to recognize the mess they have created. They are not prepared to back off from nation defining and hand over this function to civilians. May be civilians will not be very successful in this venture but they have yet to prove. On the contrary, military prescriptions are well tested in the last 60 years and we know that they have created havoc in Pakistan. They should look at Pakistan and see the ruins created by them. But will they? It does not seem likely because monopoly over ideological discourse is closely linked to their institutional and personal interests (perks).

Courtesy: Wichaar

Army’s one-day spending equivalent to one-year education ministry budget – The News

by Umar Cheema

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan spends Rs1.35 billion per day over the three armed forces just under the head of salaries and operating expenses only, Rs8.60 million daily on the president and prime minister, Rs7.8 million per day on the Senate and National Assembly but a paltry amount of three lakh rupees per day to take care of human rights, show the budget documents.

It further discloses that the Army’s one-day spending is equivalent to the running year’s total allocation for education ministry, and the air-force’s per day expenditures far exceed what was allocated to the health ministry for running the financial year ending this month.

Continue reading Army’s one-day spending equivalent to one-year education ministry budget – The News

Asma Jahangir on Pakistan Army Generals in Cross Fire program

Wow!!! What a brave woman. Asma Jahangir giving her straight forward opinion about the political role of Pakistan Army generals in Duniya News program ‘Cross Fire’ with Mehar Bukhari. Pakistani generals have looted the country since 1958. People are living in poverty and they have all the luxuary of life. Their children go to the best schools and poor have no access to schools. THis is all done on poor Pakistan’s budget. The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Duniya News (Cross Fire with Mehar Bukhari), You Tube

CARTE BLANCHE: Horror, of which I am dying – Mehmal Sarfraz

Excerpt:

It would not be wrong to say that the military is holding our nation hostage to its vested interests. Our country’s survival is at stake but there seems to be no visible shift in the military’s posture. ….

…. There are many reasons why most people in Pakistan continue to live in denial but the main one is our security paradigm. For decades we have been fed lies by our military. The military has overtly and covertly supported terrorist networks. A large chunk of our budget goes to defence without anyone questioning our armed forces on where it is spent. Between loan repayments and the defence budget, hardly any money is left to be spent on education, healthcare, development, etc. India is made out to be enemy number one. To counter the ‘Indian threat’, we need the vile Taliban on our side in Afghanistan since they are our “strategic assets”; we nurture terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) to carry out militant jihad in Indian Kashmir and cross-border attacks inside India; we are soon going to be “the world’s fifth largest nuclear weapons power” as per some reports. Lest we forget, we have lost all official and unofficial wars against India (most of which, by the way, were started by Pakistan). An atomic bomb and stockpiles of nuclear weapons is no guarantee that we can win in the unlikely event of another war. The only reason why our military has kept this threat perception alive is because it is hard for them to part with the moolah that keeps coming their way and the power they wield over this country. It would not be wrong to say that the military is holding our nation hostage to its vested interests. Our country’s survival is at stake but there seems to be no visible shift in the military’s posture.

The Pakistan military’s double game in the war on terror was never a secret yet the US kept pouring in billions of dollars in military aid to secure our help in the war on terror. Young soldiers continue to sacrifice their lives in combat and terrorist attacks because of the flawed policies of the military establishment.

The day Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad by the US, the world’s suspicions were confirmed. Our intelligence agencies claimed incompetence, but not many buy this excuse, given how bin Laden was living in such close proximity to the Pakistan Military Academy. The world turned on our military and intelligence agencies but our government chose to give them a clean chit. Mian Nawaz Sharif, for whatever reasons, was the only one who took a principled stance as far as civil-military relations were concerned but he found no takers in the current democratic set-up who stood by him. After decades our civilian leadership had a golden opportunity to take the military to task but in order to pursue their political interests, the government and its allies let them off scot-free.

The problem is that, however much we try to hide our flaws, the world is not blind. Our security establishment cannot keep on harbouring terrorists. It is time to wake up to the reality that we cannot go on like this forever because it is a sure-shot recipe for self-destruction.

Pakistan’s name has been tarnished by those who claim to be our ‘guardians’ and ‘protectors’. As Pakistanis, we must vow not to let anyone wreak havoc in the name of ‘strategic depth’. Victor Jara, a Chilean political activist and revolutionary poet, was arrested and taken to the Chile Stadium in September 1973 following a military coup. He wrote a poem — ‘Estadio Chile’ — which spoke of the horror in front of him. His words, though written in a different context, haunt me every time a terrorist attack takes place:

“How hard it is to sing,

When I must sing of horror.

Horror which I am living,

Horror which I am dying.”

Pakistanis are living and dying a horror of which we must all sing. Let’s stop this horror now. It may take years but we must break our silence and speak the truth for once.

To read complete article: Daily Times

via Wichaar

Death of ObL, Nightmare for Pakistan: Army Chief Suggests to Nawaz Not to Demand Resignations; ISI Chief Surrenders to Parliament But His Tone Remains Unchanged?

Death of ObL, Nightmare for Pakistan: AQ Khan Under Threats; Army Chief Suggests to Nawaz Not to Demand Resignations; ISI Chief Surrenders to Parliament But His Tone Remains Unchanged?

By Aijaz Ahmed

Excerpt:

Islamabad: Developments are taking place at a fast pace ever since Osama bin Laden was killed in a limited operation by US Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, 60 miles north of the federal capital, Islamabad.

The life of the most wanted man on earth was dangerous for peace and stability in Pakistan, but his death has become a nightmare for Pakistan, that puts the very fiber of the society at stake and integrity of the country in danger. The “Ghairat” (honor) brigade of media is very active as it is trying to bring the democratic dispensation under pressure on one hand and point its guns towards the security institutions on the other hand.

The debate sparked by the May 2 operation focused on Pakistan’s national sovereignty, but nobody amongst the hawks were ready to accept the fact that although the US action was undoubtedly a clear breach of the national sovereignty, the presence of ObL on Pakistani soil, especially in a garrison city like Abbottabad had equally subverted the national sovereignty and undermined our security framework. …

…. Indeed the military leadership admitted its failure, but the briefing given to the sitting was not very significant, says Syed Zafar Ali Shah, a PML-N hawk. Although general Pasha surrendered before the parliament, it was for the sake of their institution, and not for the supremacy of the civilian rule, he added. The attitude of the uniformed top brass was rather contemptuous towards the elected representatives of the country, sources said adding that it was evident from the tone of the soldiers and the response they given to the elected representatives who asked tough questions or pointed out political hobnobbing by the agencies.

The tone was harsh and not like that of a person wanting to admit his mistakes, said Zafar Ali Shah. He however, was silent on the question that why PML-N did not ask for certain resignations over the Abbottabad incident. Sources closed to Mian Nawaz Sharif on the other hand answered this question. The close circles of Mian Nawaz Sharif have confided that the Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had a one on one meeting with Mian Nawaz Sharif on May 9th at his residence in Murree. The said meting took place on the first day of PML-N central leadership’s meeting in Islamabad when Mian Sb asked his party men to demand for the resignation of military top brass.

PML-N sources are of the view that Mian Saheb was to demand resignations during his next day press briefing, and some how this was conveyed to the Army leadership that created bit of worry in Rawalpindi, thus the COAS rushed himself to his Murree residence and requested him not to do so. Mian Sb, according to the sources while accepting the suggestion, changed his words, but kept very harsh tone. This was also indicated in 15th May media briefing when he demanded agencies budget and expenditure to be presented in the parliament. …

To read complete article: Indus Herald

Pakistan’s Faustian Parliament – by Wajid Ali Syed

It was embarrassing enough for the people of Pakistan to find out that Osama bin Laden was living in their midst for years. Even more shameful was the realization that their politicians are incapable of questioning the security apparatus of the country. The masses rallied and protested and faced hardships for months to kick General Pervez Musharraf out of power. They voted the Pakistan People’s Party, the most widely-based and allegedly liberal party to power, believing that democracy has been restored.

Though the leader of the government, President Asif Ali Zardari has been blamed for everything going wrong in the country and is regarded as a corrupt individual, until now there has been a perceived upside that Pakistan is being led by an elected government and not a military dictatorship.

This illusion of so-called civilian supremacy silently burst like a bubble when the head of the ISI, General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, and the Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani were called before the parliament to answer for their incompetence related to the May 2 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. The agenda was to inquire about the U.S. attack and why the state security apparatus was unaware of Osama bin Laden’s presence.

But what happened during the closed door meeting revealed once again that the real power in Pakistan still lies with the army and the ISI, not the politicians.

It had been suggested that heads would roll, the foreign aid and the big chunk of national budget that the army receives would be scrutinized. The parliamentarians dropped the ball again and lost another opportunity to exert their authority over other institutions of the state. Once again it became clear who really runs Pakistan.

The last time a civilian government had an opportunity to put the army in its place was in 1971, following the Pakistan army’s defeat in the war that led to the loss of East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s then-president and founder of the Pakistan People’s Party, got off to a promising start by placing former dictator General Yahya Khan under house arrest. He re-organized the Pakistan Armed Forces and boosted the military’s morale. But Bhutto also restored their hubris. Years later, his own appointed Army Chief, General Zia ul-Haq, would overthrow Bhutto’s government and send him to the gallows.

During Zia’s 11 year rule, the Russians invaded Afghanistan and withdrew. The army grew so strong that even after Zia’s death in a plane crash, the new chief of the military did not allow the democratically elected Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, to tour the country’s nuclear facility. She was labelled anti-Pakistan and an American agent.

It is ironic to witness that the opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), which was created with the support of the army to counter the PPP’s popularity, is now asking the tough questions about covert operations and the finances of the military.

By snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, Pakistan’s ruling party, Bhutto’s PPP, is losing its chance to demonstrate leadership and moral authority. They failed to hold the army accountable for the thousands of civilians and security officers killed in the war on terror in Pakistan. They did not press the chief of the generously-funded army to explain how OBL could have lived in a military garrison town for six years.

These are the same parliamentarians who extended General Kiyani’s tenure. The same parliamentarians who extended ISI Chief General Pasha’s tenure. The boastful parliamentarians who had promised to leave no stone unturned roared like lions for the cameras but behaved like lambs behind closed doors.

It was reported that opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar tried to deliver a speech during the question and answer session, only to be snubbed by General Pasha in front of a full house. Pasha claimed that he ‘knew’ why he was being targeted by the opposition leader, alleging that Nisar had asked him for a personal favor, which he, as DG ISI, refused to extend. An embarrassed Chaudhry Nisar was said to have been taken aback as Pasha continued with his ‘counter-attack’.

Then the tail furiously wagged the dog. General Pasha reportedly offered to resign. Rather than demanding that the ISI chief step down immediately, apparently the parliamentarians did not accept his resignation.

The state run television channel could have returned to its heyday of running prime time programming that kept the country glued to their sets by recording that “closed door” meeting to broadcast later as a drama — or farce.

Some idealistic Pakistanis hoped that the U.S. would finally question the secretly played “double game.” After all, the U.S. supported extensions of Kiyani’s and Pasha’s tenures, claiming that keeping the chiefs in their positions would help to continue the war on terror in an orderly fashion. The U.S. abandoned the people of Pakistan by siding with the army once again, pledging support and failing to attach any strings or conditions to the military aid it provides.

Cowed by Kiyani’s and Pasha’s brazen displays, Pakistan’s parliament passed a resolution that drone attacks should be stopped and that the operations like the one carried out on May 2nd won’t be tolerated in future.

The parliament has an obligation to explain to the public not only how and why Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, but why the Taliban continues to carry out its bloody operations, and why al Qaeda leaders have been given safe haven. The risk of allowing these questions to remain unanswered is that the military will gain more strength over the civilian government.

The parliamentarians who are supposed to represent the people of Pakistan abrogated their responsibility for the sake of staying in office for few more months, while at the same time making it clear who the country’s rulers truly are.

Courtesy: Wichaar

Will the things ever change for the common people in Pakistan

Zulmat Ko Zia (Darkness as Light), Performed by: Laal – The Band, Lyrics: Habib Jalib, Produced by: Umair Ayaz. Pakistan is bleeding and its been bleeding for long time.

You Tube

Where did money go, received from all over the world?

by Dr. Ahmed Makhdoom, Singapore

“Pakistan received $23.4 billion of foreign aid in the last decade.”

Where did this money and other billions of dollars that this country has received from all over the world GO?

Has been spent on schools, education – NO! Has it been spent on alleviating the miseries, deprivations and poverty of millions of poor people – NO! Has the money been spent to provide decent Health Care – certainly, NOT! So, where is the money going?

WB and IMF are gladly dishing out billions to these culprits, thieves, robbers, and leeches who rule this country – just for their own benefits and carrying forward their own nefarious, selfish, self-seeking Agenda!

They show the photographs of Sindh, where there is chronic poverty and desease to beg money from WB and IMF.

Once received this money goes to the security establishment and the ugly animals in the Governments! The photograph shows Sindhi innocent infants, toddlers and children crying for food and milk! Height of Inhumanity! Height of Injustice!

Civilised world should take cognizance of thwart is happening in this country. The Security establishment, the Government and tyrants should be taken to the International Criminal Court and tried for crimes against humanity!

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, April 19, 2011.

The ‘wealthy’ Pakistani generals

Pakistan has had a turbulent history. And it remains in turmoil with growing internal instability and rising conflicts with its neighbours. Despite the return to civilian rule, the politics of the country has remained closely linked to the military, one of Pakistan’s most powerful institutions. The generals while projecting their utility are virtually in control. Interestingly, while Pakistan suffers economic difficulties, frequent political crises and issues like unemployment, illiteracy and malnutrition, the top brass of the army is making huge amounts of money through the corporate sector and controls large tracts of real estate. The Auditor General of Pakistan revealed that the army is using government land falling in A-1 category worth 1.4 billion USD (Rs. 120.767 billion) for commercial purposes.

The one & only political party of Pakistan which has almost 7 Lacs (seven hundered thousands) armed & trained members paid by govt from tax payers money. “Army forcibly takes its resources from civilians”. It will tell you why politicians are weak in this country.  un ki koi sunta hi nahi.

Courtesy: via- Siasat.pkSouth Asia News – You Tube

Pakistan has been playing us all for suckers

Britain is spending millions bolstering Pakistan, but it is a nation in thrall to radical Islam and is using its instability to blackmail the West

by Christina Lamb

When David Cameron announced £650m in education aid for Pakistan last week, I guess the same thought occurred to many British people as it did to me: why are we doing this?

While we are slashing our social services and making our children pay hefty university fees, why should we be giving all this money to a country that has reduced its education budget to 1.5% of GDP while spending several times as much on defence? A country where only 1.7m of a population of 180m pay tax? A country that is stepping up its production of nuclear weapons so much that its arsenal will soon outnumber Britain’s? A country so corrupt that when its embassy in Washington held an auction to raise money for flood victims, and a phone rang, one Pakistani said loudly: “That’s the president calling for his cut”? A country which has so alienated powerful friends in America that they now want to abandon it?

As someone who has spent almost as much time in Pakistan as in Britain over the past 24 years, I feel particularly conflicted, as I have long argued we should be investing more in education there.

That there is a crisis in Pakistan’s education system is beyond doubt. A report out last month by the Pakistan education taskforce, a non-partisan body, shows that at least 7m children are not in school. Indeed, one-tenth of the world’s children not in school are in Pakistan. The first time I went to Pakistan in 1987 I was astonished to see that while billions of pounds’ worth of weapons from the West were going to Pakistan’s intelligence service to distribute to the Afghan mujaheddin, there was nothing for schools.

The Saudis filled the gap by opening religious schools, some of which became breeding grounds for militants and trained the Taliban. Cameron hopes that investing in secular education will provide Pakistan’s children with an alternative to radicalism and reduce the flow of young men who want to come and bomb the West.

“I would struggle to find a country that it is more in Britain’s interests to see progress and succeed than Pakistan,” he said. “If Pakistan is a success, we will have a good friend to trade with and deal with in the future … If we fail, we will have all the problems of migration and extremism that we don’t want to see.”

As the sixth most populous country, with an arsenal of between 100 and 120 nuclear weapons, as the base of both Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban leadership, and as homeland to a large population in Britain, Pakistan is far more important to our security than Afghanistan. But after spending two weeks travelling in Pakistan last month, I feel the situation has gone far beyond anything that a long-term strategy of building schools and training teachers can hope to restrain.

The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington — its paymaster to the tune of billions of dollars over the past 10 years — is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican congressman from California who sits on the House foreign affairs committee and has been dealing with Pakistan since working in the Reagan White House, says he now realises “they were playing us for suckers all along”.

“I used to be Pakistan’s best friend on the Hill but I now consider Pakistan to be an unfriendly country to the US,” he said. “Pakistan has literally been getting away with murder and when you tie that with the realisation that they went ahead and used their scarce resources to build nuclear weapons, it is perhaps the most frightening of all the things that have been going on over the last few years.

“We were snookered. For a long time we bought into this vision that Pakistan’s military was a moderate force and we were supporting moderates by supporting the military. In fact the military is in alliance with radical militants. Just because they shave their beards and look western they fooled a lot of people.”

Christine Fair, assistant professor at the centre for peace and security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, is equally scathing. “Pakistan’s development strategy is to rent out its strategic scariness and not pay taxes itself,” she said. “We should let them fail.”The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan

Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousuf Gilani, comes from one of Punjab’s largest land-owning families. Watching Cameron sign over the £650m, he said: “I think the root cause of terrorism and extremism is illiteracy. Therefore we are giving a lot of importance to education.”

If that were the case one might expect Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the most elite universities in the country, to be a bastion of liberalism. Yet in the physics department Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of nuclear physics, sits with his head in his hands staring out at a sea of burqas. “People used to imagine there was only a lunatic fringe in Pakistan society of these ultra-religious people,” he said. “Now we’re learning that this is not a fringe but a majority.”

What brought this home to him was the murder earlier this year of Salman Taseer, the half-British governor of Punjab who had called for the pardoning of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy law. The woman, Aasia Bibi, had been convicted after a mullah had accused her of impugning Islam when she shouted at two girls who refused to drink water after she had touched it because they said it was unclean.

Taseer had been a key figure in Pakistan’s politics for decades and had suffered prison and torture, yet when he said the Aasia case showed the law needed reforming, he was vilified by the mullahs and the media. In January he was shot 27 times by one of his own guards. His murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, became a hero, showered with rose petals by lawyers when he appeared in public.

After the killing, Hoodbhoy was asked to take part in a televised debate at the Islamabad Press Club in front of students. His fellow panellists were Farid Piracha, spokesman for the country’s biggest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Maulana Sialvi, a supposed moderate mullah from the Barelvi sect. Both began by saying that the governor brought the killing on himself, as “he who blasphemes his prophet shall be killed”. The students clapped.

Hoodbhoy then took the microphone. “Even as the mullahs frothed and screamed I managed to say that the culture of religious extremism was resulting in a bloodbath in which the majority of victims were Muslims; that non-Muslims were fleeing Pakistan. I said I’m not an Islamic scholar but I know there are Muslim countries that don’t think the Koran says blasphemy carries the death sentence, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.

“I didn’t get a single clap. When I directly addressed Sialvi and said you have Salman Taseer’s blood on your hands, he looked at them and exclaimed: how I wish I had done it! He got thunderous applause.”

Afterwards, “I came back and wanted to dig a hole in the ground,” he said. “I can’t figure out why this country has gone so mad. I’ve seen my department change and change and change. There wasn’t one burqa-clad woman in the 1980s but today the non-hijabi, non-burqa student is an exception. As for the male students, they all come in turbans and beards with these fierce looks on their faces.”

Yet, he points out, these students are the super-elite, paying high fees to attend the university: “It’s nothing to do with causes normally associated with radicalism; it’s that the mullah is allowed complete freedom to spread the message of hate and liberals are bunkering down. Those who speak out are gone and the government has abdicated its responsibility and doesn’t even pretend to protect life and property.”

Raza Rumi, a young development worker and artist who blogs regularly, agrees. As we sat in a lively coffee bar in Lahore that could have been in the West until the lights went off in one of the frequent power cuts, he said: “Radicalism in Pakistan isn’t equated with poverty and backwardness — we’re seeing more radicalisation of the urban middle and upper class. I look at my own extended family. When I was growing up, maybe one or two people had a beard. Last time I went to a family wedding I was shell-shocked. All these uncles and aunts who were regular Pakistanis watching cricket and Indian movies now all have beards or are in hijabs.

“I think we’re in an existential crisis. The moderate political parties have taken a back seat and chickened out as they just want to protect their positions. What is Pakistan’s identity? Is it an Islamist identity as defined by Salman Taseer’s murder, ISI [the intelligence service], the jihadists? Is that really what we want to be?”

He does not know how much longer he will write about such things. “I’ve been getting repeated emails that I should leave the country or shut up,” he said.

When I left the cafe I was followed for the rest of the day by a small yellow car.

Courtesy: thesundaytimes.co.uk

Indian budget projects economic growth

India’s government has unveiled its annual budget, saying that the economy is expected to grow at 9% in 2012.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the growth rate for the current fiscal year was projected at 8.5%.

He said inflation would decrease over the next fiscal year – the current rate is 8.4%. But food price inflation, at 17%, “remains a concern”.

Mr Mukherjee promised action on food security and pledged an increase in social spending. …

Read more : BBC

Pakistan: Where the generals play & people pay!

The natural consequences – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The unbridled expenditure on militaries and weapons by countries to create ‘national security states’ not only promotes war-mongering and indiscriminate use of force but also leaves people perpetually tottering on the brink of an abyss. This folly is akin to credit card use: carefree fun initially and desperation at payback time. Unfortunately, it is the innocents who pay the price with interest while big guns find refuge in Sharm el-Sheikh.

The madness of diverting resources primarily towards military strength cannot be achieved without disregard for people’s rights. Such countries are essentially internally repressive and jingoistic in external relations. Naturally, the countries that neglect the human suffering dimensions of their waste of resources not only lag behind but start regressing, slowly becoming derelict and decrepit. …

Read more : Daily Times

Injustices in Pakistan: Startling Disclosures of Federal Employment Figures

 

By Aziz Narejo

 

Sindhis and Baloch have been complaining about injustices to them since the inception of Pakistan. Be it the distribution of resources, apportionment in budget, provincial autonomy, water rights, share in economic development, expenditure in social sectors, education, health and infrastructure development, their involvement in the decision making process or their share in the military, the most powerful institution in the country, they are ignored everywhere. Their cries are never heard or even noticed at the highest levels.

It is even more unfortunate that the so-called human rights advocates, champions of the civil society, the ‘democratic forces’ and others proclaiming to be on the side of fairness in society also always ignore the voices from Sindh and Balochistan. After losing all the hope for any positive change, Baloch have finally decided to part ways with Pakistan. If it continues, Sindhis may have to make a decision too. …

Rea more : Indus Herald

Pakistan – Rs. 110 billion increase in defense budget!!?!

Govt projects Rs 110bn increase in defence budget

* Consolidated expenditures of federal, provincial govts to increase by Rs 33bn

By Sajid Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: The government has projected an increase of Rs 110 billion in the defence budget and informed the International Monetary Fund that according to the post-flood situation, the defence budget will be Rs 552 billion against the budgetary allocation of Rs 442 billion for the ongoing fiscal year 2010-11.

This increase in the defence budget has been projected by the government at a time when development and non-development budgets of the civil government are being slashed by 50 percent and 20 percent respectively to create fiscal space for the rehabilitation of the flood-affected population. …

Read more >> Daily Times

Pakistan economy on the verge of collapse?

Economy: on the verge of collapse?

Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh’s warning to officials of the state, delivered in a sombre meeting late last month, could not be clearer: the government, federal and provincial, is on the verge of financial collapse. So dire is the state of affairs that the government may not have money to pay salaries in a few months. Lest this be dismissed as hyperbole, Mr Sheikh’s comments have been echoed privately by many economists and experts familiar with state finances in recent weeks. In fact, if anything the finance minister’s comments are on the more optimistic side of dire.

The basic problem is clear: the Pakistani state, all tiers of government, spends twice as much as revenue generated, while neither is expenditure being curtailed nor are revenues being meaningfully increased. At the level of the citizenry, the immediate impact is felt in the form of rising inflation (sustained budget deficits of the kind Pakistan has had over the last few years are highly inflationary in nature) while in the long term it will be felt in terms of debt servicing crowding out investments in development and infrastructure.

The blame must be shared by everyone. …

Read more >> Dawn Editorial

Development of Sindh: Shallow Promises

– Mushtaq Rajpar

PPP ruled Sindh government is about to present third budget of their tenure. Be ready for new promises, pledges and schemes. Are you interested listening and read all that? What did Sindh government achieved in the current outgoing fiscal year 2009-10?

People of Sindh want to know. Can Sindh government publish a Development Review or Economic Review and inform the public on state of economy, development and projects announced last year in the budget.

Rs 113 billion were allocated for development, including Rs 16 billion by federal government. How much actually has been achieved?

Newspapers report suggest development funds were not utilized more than 42%. This is height of negligence and ineptness of an elected government. Sindh continues to live in backwardness; people live under hard socio-economic conditions.

Budget 2009-10

· Rs. 113 development out lay included Rs 75 billion ADP: Where did this money go?

· The federal government was to be asked to settled the issue of Rs204 billion arrears of GST on services. Did they get arrears back?

· Rs. 2 billion were allocated for Thar Coal Development