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Rising food prices bring host of political risks

* World’s poorest to bear brunt of rises * Risk of riots, export bans,
expropriation * Rise in demands for greater market regulation
Record food prices will hit the world’s poorest hardest, raising the risk of riots, export bans, foreign-owned farmland expropriation and further price spikes fuelled by short-term investors. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Wednesday food prices hit a record high in December and could rise further on erratic global weather patterns. For the first time they outstripped levels reached in early 2008, when spiralling prices prompted riots in countries including Haiti, Egypt and Cameroon and brought demands for tighter commodity market regulation.
The potential humanitarian, political and business impact — particularly in impoverished states where food makes up the largest component of the inflation basket — is already alarming policymakers and senior officials.
“Food price increases impact the poor hardest as food is a higher proportion of their incomes,” said James Bond, chief operating officer of the World Bank’s political risk insurance arm the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
“It creates significant tension in poorer countries, exacerbates standard of living disparities and is a major source of unrest.”
The 2008 price spike came to an abrupt end in September that year with the global crash that followed the demise of Lehman Brothers, sucking borrowed money out of markets as lenders called in their debts.
But right now, no one expects that to happen again.
So far, experts say weather-related supply shocks — floods in Australia, drought in Argentina, dry weather and fires in Russia and potentially crop damaging frosts in Europe and North America — were largely to blame. But they worry politics and markets could soon take over to produce a vicious circle.
“The danger is that what happens now is that you get a second shock as countries can respond by imposing export bans and financial markets investors pile in for short-term investment, pushing prices much higher, as they did in 2008,” said Maximo Torero, divisional director for markets, trade and institutions at Washington DC’s International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
Russia imposed export restrictions last year after fires and drought. In 2008, IFPRI says at least 13 countries including Argentina, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, China, Ethiopian, Malaysia and Zambia imposed either export bans or taxes, further squeezing supply.
Torero said reports of unrest could further fuel price rises, driving speculative investment and promoting panic buying — even if the causes might often in reality be more complex.
He pointed to reported food riots last year in Mozambique as an example, saying in reality they were as much about subsidy cuts as supply issues.
“Clearly what is needed is to increase production through appropriate investment in agriculture, to increase the information on stocks around the world, strengthen the regulation of the futures markets and to have safety net mechanisms to protect the poorest consumers,” he said.
Political risk insurers, who provide protection against dangers such as confiscation or political violence, are watching closely — although they say there has not yet been any direct impact on premiums.
“The potential is there for food riots and also for governments to take action such as embargos on food exports or nationalisation of assets involved in food production or storage in order to protect their people — not always necessarily for the sake of altruism but often to preserve their position as governments in office,” said a senior underwriter in the London political risk insurance market.
The highest risks of farmland expropriation remain in Latin America, insurers say — particularly Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador — but this is more down to local political factors than rising prices. The greatest impact of the recent rally could be on land deals in Africa, some suggest.
The 2008 spike produced a flurry of interest in farmland purchases both from Western funds and richer emerging countries such as China and Gulf states keen to preserve their supplies.
While some deals fell through after the crash, others are now entering production. But they have proved controversial. Local anger over the purchase of Madagascan farmland by South Korean firm Daewoo was seen by some as a contributing factor in the island’s 2009 coup.
“The main risks will come where they are in an area where the population is short of food themselves and the deal is seen as being in some way inappropriately negotiated,” said Jonathan Wood, global issues analyst at Control Risks. “So many of these projects are in East Africa: Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania. But a lot will depend on the individual deal.”
Some investors such as London-based funds Emergent Asset Management and Chayton Capital say a key part of their strategy has been to ensure such projects clearly benefit the local community, for example through local milling.
“Smart investors don’t own the land,” said Bond at the World Bank’s MIGA. “They work with contract farmers and see the domestic market as their first and most important market. It makes sense from a risk mitigation strategy.” -Reuters

‘Q’ urges govt to adopt China model

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Q leader, and Chairman of Pak, China Institute, Mushahid Hussain Sayed Sunday urged the Pakistan government to follow the Chinese model of poverty alleviation as China has lifted around 400 million people out of poverty within a generation time.
He was addressing a unique gathering of around 400 youth from China and Pakistan assembled on the occasion of Pak, China Cultural Show held here at Pakistan, China Friendship Centre. The function was held to welcome the 100-member youth delegation from China.
Chinese ambassador Liu Jiang and officials of Pakistani ministry of culture were also present. Mushahid said the Sino-Pak ties were only one of its kind due to three strategic reasons. This is a strategic, friction-free and model relationship between the two neighbours. He said these ties were distinguished due to the exceptional bonds between the peoples and governments of both the friendly nations. “In a scenario when 21st century is an Asian century, China’s rise as a world giant is a positive development for peace, stability and development in Asia. This is also more important as the world’s balance is shifting from the West to the East,” he asserted. The founding chairman of the first Pakistani think-tank on Sino, Pak ties further added that Pakistan China Institute (PCI) would play a lead role in celebrations of the completion of 60 years of Pakistan, China diplomatic relationship. He said the services of the institute would go a long way in harnessing the people-to-people contacts between both the friendly countries. Besides the Chinese youth delegation, hundreds of students from Roots School System (RSS) led by Director RSS Faisal Mushtaq, and from Beaconhouse School System also attended the function and had a direct interaction with the Chinese youth. On the occasion, Faisal Mushtaq said the RSS would launch the first Chinese language classes in Pakistan in February 2011. He said the RSS had already hired the services of two leading Chinese instructors who would be arriving Pakistan soon. He said this would provide the Pakistani students an exclusive opportunity to learn the Chinese language which would be the language of the modern age. -APP

Offshorers stock $11.9mn shares

KSE during last week
Local individuals eject $15mn
Ghulam Raja Rajani
KARACHI: With the growing confidence of offshore investors and new allocation of fund from abroad, $11.9 million worth of net portfolio investment was seen in Pakistan equity market in the first week of New Year, as per the National Clearing Company of Pakistan Limited (NCCPL) data.
During the week, foreign investors remained on the buying side as they bought shares worth $22.69 million and sold share valuing $10.8 million.
Furthermore, biggest buying was seen from banks which bought shares worth $22.3 million. Similarly, other organisations and NBFC remained on the buying side with shares worth $2.60 million and $0.27 million.
On the other hand, biggest weekly selling was witnessed from local individuals, which offloaded $253.31 million of shares in the local bourse against the buying of $238.3 million, thus turning the net selling worth of $15.01 million.Moreover, companies and mutual fund also joined local individual’s trend as they net ejected $11.21 million and $10.85 million respectively.

No gas for Isb, Punjab CNG pumps

ISLAMABAD: Managing Director (MD) Sui Northern Gas Company Rasheed Loon has said that gas supply to factories in Lahore region, Punjab and Islamabad CNG stations has stopped for an indefinite period.
In a brief telephonic interview with a private TV channel, he informed that the intense winter had witnessed multiplication in demand of gas consumption. Moreover, domestic consumers have also turned to extreme usage of gas heaters and geysers carelessly, which has threatened SNGPL transmission System, he said.
Excessive use of gas by domestic consumers has led to the complete suspension of supply to factories and CNG stations for an indefinite period in Islamabad and Punjab, he added. -APP

Railways settles uplift priorities

ISLAMABAD: Following a bailout package of Rs1.1 billion announced by the federal government, the crisis-hit Pakistan Railways was finalising its priorities including maintenance of 145 locomotives and rehabilitation of rail tracks and coaches.
A meeting in this regard would be held by mid-January between Minister for Railways and Minister for Finance in which the former would brief the latter about projects to be executed after release of funds.
“We have planed to spend Rs 6.1 billion on maintenance of 145 locomotives, Rs 2 billion each on rehabilitation of tracks and coaches while Rs one billion would be reserved for future use,” Minister for Railways Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour told APP.
After their maintenance, 75 per cent of locomotives would be used for freight carrying and the rest would be used for passenger coaches. According to the estimates, a locomotive of 3000 horse power generates up to Rs 60 million per annum against Rs50.5 million by the one with 2000 horse power.
He said for maintenance purpose, the spare parts would be imported and 10 to 12 locomotives would be repaired each month hoping that it would help a lot to minimize losses of this public entity..-Agencies

Iranian jet crashes with 156 on board

TEHRAN: An Iranian passenger jet with at least 105 people on board crashed in bad weather on Sunday near the northwestern city of Urumiyeh, Iranian media said. The semi-official Fars news agency said there were 105 people on board, but state TV put the number at 156. -Reuters

NSS deposits up 19pc YoY in Nov

5M net investment reaches Rs66.5bn
Aamir Abidi
KARACHI: Investment in National Saving Schemes (NSS) saw a jump of 19.1 per cent YoY with an inflow of Rs11.74 billion during November 2010 versus Rs9.88 billion investment in November 2009.
However, net investment in the fiscal year 2010-11 down by 32.4 per cent to record at Rs66.49 billion in 5MFY11 against Rs98.37 billion attracted in same period last year.
Interest in national saving gradually declined mainly due to the reason that government was not offering attractive rate, and other avenues of investments were also available for investors i.e. Engro Rupiya, as per the TFD analyst.
However, NSS rate increased in January 2011 would attract fresh investments. Special Saving Certificates (Reg) attracted Rs15.13 billion in 5MFY11 compared to Rs38.2 inflow was witnessed during 5MFY10. Similarly, Regular Income Certificates attracted net fresh investment of Rs16.77 billion against Rs19.72 billion in identical period last year. Furthermore, prize bonds attracted Rs11.85 billion against Rs13.45 billion in corresponding period last year.

MQM hails Gilani decision

KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Sunday welcomed Pakistan Muslim League-N’s withdrawal of ultimatum given to the government, media reported. Speaking to MQM party leaders and journalists on the telephone from London, Dr Farooq Sattar also hailed Prime Minister’s acceptance of ten-point national agenda proposed by Nawaz Sharif. Sattar said the Prime Minister decision will certainly take the country our of prevailing crisis.    

Aitzaz says not in Punjab Governor’s race

LAHORE: Former president of Supreme Court Bar Association and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Aitzaz Ahsan on Thursday ruled out his candidature for the slot of Punjab Governor.
Talking to media after Qul of Salman Taseer at Governor House, he said the President, the Prime Minister and the party would decide about the new governor, adding more suitable personalities were available in the province for the slot and he was not in the race. To a question about the murder of Salman Taseer, he said that all investigation departments should jointly investigate the case and it should be transparent.
“The murder should not be termed in any other manner before the result of the investigations,” he added.
He said that element of violence was increasing in politics, which had started during the era of General Ziaul Haq.
He said that violence and suicide attacks on mosques, Imambarghas, churches and other worship places were growing, and expressed his apprehension that some elements wanted to destroy the state. “Some foreign agencies are destabilising the country through anti-state activities in Balochistan,” he added. He said that tolerance introduced by ‘Soofis and Aulia’ was recognition of this region which was now being eliminated. -Agencies

Govt rolls back POL price hike

Gilani announces decision in National Assembly
Parliamentary leaders taken on board; Opposition hails decision
Special Correspondent/ Agencies
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday announced restoration of prices of POL products to the level of December 31, last year and withdrew the latest increase announced by the government. Making a policy statement on the issue in the National Assembly, he said the decision has been taken in deference to the demand of the public, parliament and the political leadership.
He said the decision was arrived at the meeting of leaders of all parliamentary parties in Islamabad where they were briefed by the Finance Minister and other members of the government’s economic team on the petroleum prices and the overall economic situation. Prime Minister said there was consensus in the meeting that the latest increase should be withdrawn.

Zardari praises Taseer sacrifice, consoles family

Governor Punjab embraced martyrdom defending minorities
KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari has said that Shaheed Salman Taseer wrote with his blood a new chapter in the history of PPP’s continuing struggle for human rights, democracy and no-discrimination. He said this while talking to Mrs Salman Taseer on the eve of the soyem of the late Governor who was gunned down by his own security guard in Islamabad.
The President said that Shaheed Salman Taseer was an undaunted political leader and a true follower of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in treading their path to martyrdom.
He called a spade a spade and did not mince words in expressing what he believed to be true and right, the President said of Salman Taseer.

China traders to explore Pakistan

KARACHI: Muhammad Haroon Agar, Chairman, Pakistan Chemicals & Dyes Merchants Association, in a press statement, stated that on his invitation, a delegation of 24-member Business Tycoons of a large Chinese industrial group is visiting Pakistan on 20th January, 2011 to explore the opportunities to setup industrial base for raw-materials in the country.
Agar articulated that owing to exorbitant and unprovoked additional charges of shipping lines for earning high profits and increased valuation advices, the import business is facing a persistent upshot from the rising cost of doing business to an alarming situation.
Agar said that such unwarranted increase in prices of imported items and raw-material is acting as detrimental for the businesses.

Nikkei at 8-mth top as US data cheers

TOKYO: Japan’s Nikkei climbed to an eight-month high on Thursday after the dollar jumped against the yen following robust US private-sector jobs data, while Resona surged 14 per cent on speculation it would soon launch a planned share sale. Shares of blue-chip exporters rose, with Toyota Motor Corp gaining 2.6 per cent and Hitachi Ltd rising 2 per cent, leading the Nikkei’s advance after the greenback posted its best one-day gain in more than three months against the yen on Wednesday.
Trading volume picked up sharply as more investors tap into riskier assets on hopes of economic recovery. Around 2.4 billion shares changed hands on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s first section, well above last week’s average of around 1.3 billion. Advancing issues outpaced declining ones by 1,250 to 302.

Maybank buying Kim Eng for $1.3bn

Maybank move aims to up revenue sources after entering into Pak, Vietnam, & Indonesia
KUALA LUMPUR/ SINGAPORE: Maybank ,Malaysia’s largest lender by assets, is snapping up Singapore broker Kim Eng Holdings for $1.4 billion, in a move to strengthen its grip on the regional stock broking industry and diversify the lender’s source of overseas revenue. The acquisition comes as Southeast Asian markets are on a roll, with Thailand and Indonesia ranking as the best performing major markets in Asia last year, spurred by foreign fund inflows and robust economic growth.
“What Maybank wants to do is expand its stock broking operations, and it makes sense for it to acquire a company which provides immediate exposure,” Vincent Khoo, UOB Kay Hian’s head of research, said on Thursday.
Investment banking and stock broking are becoming increasingly important for Malaysian banks as stiffer domestic competition puts further pressure on net interest margins on its loans.
Two of the best performing Malaysian banks in 2010 were CIMB Group and RHB Capital, which were top deal-makers in terms of number and value respectively. Maybank and Kim Eng shares both rose nearly 3 per cent on Wednesday before trading was suspended on Thursday. Shares in Kim Eng, valued at about $1.3 billion, have risen more than 35 per cent since mid-December, when reports emerged of an impending stake sale. “This position will widen our investment banking scope and reach into Southeast Asian in line with our regional aspirations,” Maybank Chief Executive Abdul Wahid Omar told a news conference. Maybank, which was previously linked with another regional brokerage OSK Holdings, said it has no plans of further acquisitions in this business.

4 more ministries transfer by Feb 28

Sub-dept of Ports& Shipping, Law Sources also to be transferred
ISLAMABAD: Parliamentary Commission on the implementation of 18th amendment in the second-phase has decided in principal to hand over 4 more ministries to the provinces by Feb 28. The decision to this effect was made in a meeting of the commission chaired by Senator Raza Rabbani at the Parliament House. The four ministries that would be handed over to provinces include special education, social welfare, culture, and tourism ministries along with their assets.
Besides these ministries, the subordinate departments of three ministries which include interior ministry, ministry of law and justice and ports and shipping would also be handed over to the provinces. told Online that the decision to shift ministry of health in the second phase to the provinces has been deferred.
Members of the committee have showed complete satisfaction at the pace of the proceedings. -Online

US terms Taseer death a big loss

Pak must make efforts to root out extremism
WASHINGTON: Terming the slaying of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer as a loss for Pakistan, the US has said the country has to make efforts to root out extremism and bring greater peace and stability. “This is an individual who had worked hard to promote tolerance, and his loss is a great one for Pakistan,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, said.
“We remain committed to the efforts that the Pakistani government is and must undertake to root out violent extremism and to bring greater peace and stability to that country and to that region of the world,” he said.
Gibbs was responding to questions about the assassination, which is said to be a reflection of violent extremism in the country.
Meanwhile, Lawrence Cannon, the Canadian Foreign Minister, in a statement also expressed his condolences to the people of Pakistan on the assassination of Taseer.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Governor Salman Taseer, and to the Pakistani people, in the wake of his vicious and cowardly assassination,” Cannon said.
“His death is a loss to the people of Pakistan and all those who shared his commitment to the promotion of tolerance and legal reforms in that country,” he said. -Online

Pension thru banks approved

ISLAMABAD: In pursuance of Supreme Court’s Order, the government has approved disbursement of pension, on the lines of salary payment, by direct credit to pensioner’s account maintained in any scheduled bank. According to a statement issued by the AGPR here on Thursday, the new procedure has been formulated to mitigate the problems being faced by pensioner – especially elderly pensioners.
“All pensioners have the option to opt for the new procedure or to continue drawing pension under existing arrangements”, the statement added.
It said that an option form has been devised for the pensioner, who wants to draw his/her pension through any bank.
The option form can be obtained from Accountant General Offices or downloaded from the following websites:;;;, and This option form will be sent by the pensioner to the Accounts Office form where his/her original PPO was issued, before submission of Option form to Accounts Offices, the Pensioner shall open the Account with the Bank from where he/she wants to draw his/her pension. The Pensioner is also required to produce an indemnity bound for aggregate amount equal to six months pension or authorize the bank to mark lien on his/her account to the extent of six month pension. Until completion of registration process by the Accounts Officers, the Pensioner will continue to draw his/her pension from existing system.
On completion of registration, the Accounts Office will call for original PPO through concerned bank and intimate the date for which pension would be credited to bank account of the pensioner. The Controller General of Accounts has issued necessary instructions to all Accounts Office to start implementation of new procedure with effect from 1st January. -Agencies

SBP rewrites credits rules

Banks/ DFIs told to ensure loan limit
Staff Reporter
KARACHI: State Bank of Pakistan has amended certain provisions of Prudential Regulations for Consumer Financing with immediate effect. According to a Circular (BPRD Circular No 1) issued here on Thursday, State Bank has revised Regulation R-7 pertaining to Maximum Card Limit.
Under the revised regulation, banks/ DFIs shall ensure that overall credit card and personal loan limit, both on secured as well as on unsecured basis, availed by one person from all banks/DFIs in aggregate should not exceed Rs5,000,000, at any point in time, subject to the condition that the overall unsecured/ clean facilities on account of credit card and personal loan of that individual do not exceed Rs2,000,000.
Similarly, in Regulation R-23, a new paragraph has been added as under:
“Banks/DFIs shall ensure that overall personal loan limits and credit card limits, both on secured as well as on unsecured basis, availed by one person from all banks/DFIs in aggregate should not exceed Rs5,000,000, at any point in time, subject to the condition that the overall unsecured/ clean facilities on account of personal loan and credit card of that individual do not exceed Rs2,000,000.” Following the above-mentioned amendment, instruction concerning secured personal loans (other than secured against liquid assets) mentioned in Regulation R-23 stands withdrawn, the circular added. The State Bank has also amended Regulation R-3 by adding a new provision which states as under:  “Banks/DFIs may waive the requirement of 50 per cent debt burden in case a credit card and personal loan is properly secured through liquid assets (as defined in prudential regulations) with minimum 30 per cent margin.”

India in tears as Pakistan bans onion exports

NEW DELHI: Dubbing Pakistan’s decision to ban onion exports across the Wagah border as “shocking”, India Thursday said the issue has been taken up with the concerned authorities in Islamabad. “It is shocking and unfortunate that Pakistan has banned onion exports to India via land route. We have urged them that the contracted quantities which were to come via the land route should be released,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said here, reported PTI.
He said the government is also exploring “all the opportunities.” Authorities in Pakistan stopped 300 trucks of onions bound for India at the Wagah border, saying exports had to be curbed to control rising prices in their own country.
Sharma said that state-run State Trading Corporation (STC) and PEC had contracted onions from Pakistan. “The matter has been discussed with the High Commissioner in Islamabad, who has already met the concerned officials in the neighbouring country.”
He said whatever decisions are taken should be implemented prospectively and the convoy of trucks should not have been stopped.

Development budget halved

ISLAMABAD: Secretary Finance Dr Farooq Masood has informed the Senate Standing committee for Communication that its development budget of Rs240 billion has been reduced to Rs120 billion because of financial crunch. As per details the Standing Committee presided over by chairman Wali Ahmed Badini was briefed by secretary finance Dr Farooq Masood that due to financial crunch the development funds of the ministries have been slashed.
The committee members have protested against the decision and said they were assured by the PM that there would be no reduction in the development fund of Balochistan.
The committee took notice of the protest and summoned the AGPR in the next session to submit its report. Chairman NHA informed the committee that Rs150 million for Lawari tunnel, and Rs200 million Qalat-Chaman project has been issued.
Chairman planning commission has said that the commission will try its best to release the entire allocated budget for Balochistan but the finance ministry is refusing to release the funds, PM has been informed about the situation in this regard. Committee member Raja Zafar ul Haq has said that AGPR charges 2 per cent commission on the release of all the funds which is wrong. On this the committee summoned AGPR authorities in the next meeting. The committee has asked for the project report for construction of Khusha’al Bridge in the next session of CDWP. Zahid Khan informed that the 1992 project of road construction between Hasan Abdal to Mansehra is still pending and no funds have been released for the project, this will scare off Asian Development Bank as they were suppose to do the funding. -Agencies

Pakistan Day parade cancelled

ISLAMABAD: Federal government has decided to cancel the annual Pakistan Day – March 23 – armed forces parade for the fourth consecutive year due to the current security situation of the country. The Pakistan Day Parade, the biggest event of the country’s armed forces, which was scheduled for March 23 this year, has been cancelled by the federal govt with due consultation with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Shamim Wynne and military leadership, sources said.
Sources told that military leadership was of the view that since a large number of troops are deployed at the eastern and western border of the country and are engaged in war on terror thus it would not be possible to move them for Pakistan Day parade. Moreover by canceling the parade expenditures worth of million of rupees could be saved.
Sources said moreover, since high profile personalities such as the president, prime minister, diplomats and large number of people come to witness the parade, their security is also important. Last Pakistan Day Parade was held at Sports Complex Islamabad during the era of President Gen Pervez Musharraf in 2007. -Online

SC orders to dig deeper into scam

CJ says Hajj corruption report unsatisfactory
ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry Thursday described the report of Director General FIA Wasim Ahmad into Hajj scam as unsatisfactory and ordered comprehensive investigation into the scam. During hearing of the Hajj scam case, the court observed that the Director General FIA did not take any interest while the Interior Minister got the name of the main accused removed from the Exit Control List through an SMS.
It also observed that this is not a small thing and Azam Swati lost his ministry due to this scam. Justice Khalil-ur Rahman Ramday observed that if he had been the head of DG FIA, he would have sent him to jail. Judge advised Advocate Latif Khosa not to try to turn the court into a political field.
While ordering payment of 700 Riyals each to the pilgrims of Maktab -5 the seven member bench adjourned the hearing till 11th of January.
Former Minister Azam Swati submitted before the court that he was not satisfied with the inquiry of the FIA and termed it as unsatisfactory.
Azam Swati’s lawyers said that the two witnesses in the Hajj scam Abdul Rehman and Farooq are in Saudi Arabia and they are unable to get security in Pakistan. Chief Justice said that DG FIA has retired and he is on contract employment, his job is at the mercy of the Government and thus was not taking interest in Hajj scam.

Zardari rolls up sleeves to end political conflicts

Challenges to be handled thru dialogue, negotiation: President
ISLAMABAD: PPP Co-Chairman and President Asif Ali Zardari said that the challenges of coalition politics will be handled with a sense of maturity through dialogue and negotiations. While paying tribute Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on his 83 birth anniversary, President Zardari said “Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has taught us how to resolve complex political issues through dialogue” he said in a message on the 83rd birth anniversary of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Wednesday adding, “through dialogue we will also find a solution to the political challenges faced by the coalition.”
t was through dialogue that Shaheed Bhutto recovered the territory lost in the 1971 war, brought back ninety thousand prisoners of war and prevented the war trials of our military officers to protect the name and honor of the country, he said.

Gilani sees no threat to govt

Says ‘Q’ assures support to government
BHERA: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has reiterated that government is not facing any threats and rather will complete its constitutional term. He was talking to media at Bhera Services Area while commuting between Lahore and Islamabad via motorway on Tuesday.
During the course of his conversation, he said that PPP is a national party and it will complete its term. Time demands from all political parties who believe in democracy to collectively solve the crises.
PM also said country is facing terrorism threats other than inflation and unemployment that we received in inheritance. He said finance ministry is briefing leaders of all parliamentary parties related to recent increase in petrol prices. He said terrorism and floods are among the other contributors to inflation, which we are trying to cope with.
While responding to a question, PM said Ch. Shujaat Hussain has ensured him to support government for the eradication of inflation and to improve law and order situation.
He further said we are trying to remove all reservations of JUI-F and MQM and added that Fazl-ur-Rehman left coalition because of dismissing Azam Swati whereas MQM holds reservations with Home Minister Sindh Zulfiqar Ali Mirza.
It has also been learnt that during his stay in Bhera, member of PML-N’s central committee Barrister Pir Farooq Bahadur-ul-Haq Shah met PM Gilani and extended a special message.-Agencies 

Openness costs Taseer life

Guard kills Governor Punjab; says Taseer spoke against blasphemy law
Other guards also detained; President, PM condemn; order high-level probe
PPP announces 2-week mourning, suspends all political activities
ISLAMABAD: Governor Punjab Salman Taseer was assassinated on Tuesday afternoon by one of his guards of Elite Force. Late Governor Punjab Salman Taseer was assassinated by one of his guards of elite forces in the federal capital F-6 after he was coming out of a restaurant after eating lunch with one of his friends.
The elite force security man identified as Malik Mumtaz Qadri emptied the entire burst of his automatic SMG Kalashnikov into the Governor injuring him critically.
He was taken to a hospital, where he died, apparently from blood loss. The elite force security man Malik Mumtaz Qadri surrendered before the police immediately.

Murder raises brows over security

ISLAMABAD: After the assassination of Punjab Governor, Salman Taseer in the hands of his own personal security guard, military and security personnel have been overcome with deep apprehensions and concerns regarding maintaining any fool-proof security for the governmental officials. The murder of Salman Taseer on Tuesday afternoon has once again created worries among security and even Army personnel as to how to ensure a secure protocol for governmental officials.
Sources informed that officials are mulling and wondering besides investigating as to how the security guard responsible for assassination of Governor, ever made it to the elite police circles, and also as to how was he appointed over close security of Governor, while ignoring SOP (standard operative procedures). Sources have also informed that before appointing elite guards for VIP personnel, they have to undergo a massive check system, which also included complete scrutiny of their background. After this assassination, the security and Army personnel have decided to review the security procedures anew, for which a formal approval would be taken in a high level meeting to be held soon. -Online

Wall St dips as consumer shares weigh

US stocks late-morning
NEW YORK: Stocks fell on Tuesday on worries that rising food costs will sap supermarket profits, hurting consumer stocks and denting growing optimism about the economic outlook. Shares of Supervalu Inc nearly 7 per cent after Morgan Stanley told investors to cut holdings in the stock, saying rising food costs will crimp margins. Safeway Inc and Whole Foods Market also slid. Soybean and corn prices traded near two-year highs Tuesday.
"We’re light on consumer staples. One of our concerns is commodity prices are going to bite into profits,” said Thomas Villalta, portfolio manager for Jones Villalta Asset Management in Austin, Texas. Materials were the biggest losers, with the S&P materials index  falling 1.1 per cent, as metals prices dropped after recent gains.

Govt blamed for fiscal deficit

ISLAMABAD: Government’s expenses consistently on the rise and if the trend goes on it will only lead to wider budget deficit. This was expressed by Governor State Bank, Shahid Hafeez Kardar while briefing Senate’s Standing Committee on Finance here Tuesday.  Senate Standing Committee meeting was chaired by Senator Ahmed Ali.
Governor State Bank of Pakistan told the committee if government expenditures remain on the higher side, then fiscal deficit may reach to 6 per cent of the gross domestic product. Governor SBP informed that during the current fiscal revenues were increased by 7 per cent whereas government expenses rose by 9 per cent.
Kardar added that government has borrowed Rs374 billion for its expenses from the central bank, whereas for the purchase of commodities Rs366 billion more had been borrowed while Rs368 billion extra also loaned for public sector entities. Governor central bank said that government still paying monthly Rs20 billion subsidy on power while Rs29 billion annual subsidy being paid on urea. On the occasion Federal Secretary Finance told the Committee that subsidies on power sector and security-related expensed are the biggest ingredients to the rising inflation, added that circular debt in the power sector has reached to Rs145 billion so far.

Dec CPI may touch 17.1pc

Inflation likely to cross 19-month high
Aamir Abidi
KARACHI: The disruption in supply of food chain along with increasing commodity prices is expected to cause December 2010 consumer price index (CPI) inflation to jump at 17.1 per cent YoY, pushing MoM CPI inflation to 0.93 per cent. Perishable foods items i.e. tomatoes, egg, vegetable ghee prices increased 98.6, 5.64 and 3.13 per cent MoM along with that of non-perishable food items i.e. wheat & rice prices hiked 0.53 and 0.57 per cent MoM.
On the other hand, SBP tightening is diluting the effectiveness of monetary policy due to high-level of government borrowing from the SBP. While rising security and flood-related expenditures and continued power sector subsidies are one aspect of the problem of rising fiscal deficit and ultimately rising inflation.
Of the Rs398 billion expansion in M2 till 18th December 2010 during the current fiscal year, Rs305 billion is due to government borrowing from the SBP, which has been on an increasing trend since September 2010. Such borrowing has stoked expectations of increasing inflation.
Furthermore, higher Net Domestic Assets (NDA) to Net Foreign Assets (NFA) ratio and its strong association with CPI inflation also suggest that the inflation is likely to persist at double digit levels during FY11 i.e. full year CPI expectation of 15.5 per cent. Furthermore, delay in implementation of RGST and uncertainty in timing of foreign inflows may force SBP to increase discount rate by 50bps to 14.5 per cent.

Taseer received 27 bullets

ISLAMABAD: Punjab Governor Salman Taseer received at least 27 gunshot bullets on his body, according to initial post mortem report.His body was transported to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) for detailed post mortem.

Angry supporters stage protests

ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of PPP supporters took to streets in different cities including Lahore, Sargodha, Multan, Toba Tek Singh, Sialkot, Okara, Rahimyar Khan, Gujranwala and Karachi after the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer by his own security guard in Islamabad

Musharraf grieves over assassination

ABU DHABI: Chief of All Pakistan Muslim League, (APML) Pervez Musharraf while expressing grief over the assassination of Governor Punjab, Salman Taseer has said that this was not only loss of the PPP but the whole country. According to a statement issued from the Abu Dhabi Secretariat, former President Pervez Musharraf was of the view that it is the loss for the whole country. He was a seasoned politician and always worked for betterment of the country, he added.
Musharraf further said that it seemed that the current government has failed to cope with terrorism from the country. He also expressed grief and sorrow with the family of Salman Taseer.

Govt not buying BP asset, SC told

ISLAMABAD: Counsel for the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited and Pakistan Petroleum Limited apprised the Supreme Court of Pakistan here Tuesday that the government had no intention to purchase $800 million assets of the British Petroleum.
They assured the court that their clients would not buy the assets at higher prices as their bidding was already low, which had not been entertained.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry disposed of the petition, which was filed by former Jamaat-e-Islami Amir Qazi Hussain Ahmed.
Qazi Hussain Ahmed had filed a plea against the government’s bid to purchase its sold-out assets from the British Petroleum (BP) at higher rates, and claimed that it would cause a loss of $800 million to the national exchequer.
His counsel had contended that the government had first sold the assets to the same company at a low price and now was buying it at an exorbitant price. -APP

6 SHC judges get 1yr extension

KARACHI: Supreme Judicial Council has awarded one-year extension to six judges of Sindh High Court. Law Ministry has issued the notification in this regard.
As per details, SJC extended the one-year service of six additional judges of Sindh High Court including Justice Shahid Bajwa, Justice Ghulam Sarwar Korai, Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, Justice Irfan Sadat Khan, Justice Tufail H Ibrahim and Justice Muneeb Akhtar. According to notification all judges would be working to till September 25, 2011, however decision regarding Justice Ahmad Sheikh’s extension would be taken in next meeting of SJC. -Agencies

Shoaib, Danish off Pakistan WC squad

Shoaib,  Danish off Pakistan  WC squad
LAHORE: The career of former Pakistan cricket captain, Shoaib Malik appeared to meet a premature end when he, along with spinner Danish Kaneria was axed from Pakistan’s 30-member preliminary squad named here on Tuesday for next month’s World Cup.
It seemed that both of them failed to satisfy the Pakistan Cricket Board’s integrity committee, contrary to wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal who got the nod of selectors. PCB selection committee finalised the list of probable players for World Cup one day ahead of the extended deadline set by game’s Ruling Body, the ICC to submit the names.

Acting US AfPak envoy arrives today

ISLAMABAD: Acting US special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Frank Ruggiero is arriving in Islamabad on his maiden visit to the region on Wednesday (today). Diplomatic sources say that Frank Ruggiero assumed the post of Acting US special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan following the death of predecessor Richard Holbrooke last month.
According to the diplomatic sources Ruggiero, who was Holbrooke’s deputy until the death of the veteran diplomat would arrive in Pakistan on January 5 (today) amid political chaos in the country. During his visit, the US envoy will hold talks with the country’s top political and military leadership on the current security situation in the region. Sources added that during his stay Pakistani leadership would again comment on unremitting drone attacks in the country, war against terrorism, needs of Pakistan besides political turmoil that has heated up the country in frosty conditions in Pakistan since last few days. -Agencies

Governor Punjab Taseer assassinated by his own guard

 ISLAMABAD: Governor Punjab Salman Taseer was dead after one of his guards, named Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, opened firing on him when he was going towards his car in Kohsar Market here today.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik confirmed to the media that the guard has been arrested. He has confessed that he opened firing on the governor because of his support of Asia Bibi, he added.

Asia Bibi had convicted of blasphemy.

According to the sources, a policeman of elite force opened burst on the governor. He received bullets on his chest and neck. He was rushed to Poly Clinic but succumbed to the injuries.
The police have arrested six-suspected man from the spot.
Salman Taseer had publicly supported the woman, Asia Bibi and requested President Asif Ali Zardari to pardon her. He had termed anti-blasphemy law as black law.

Law & order No. 1 priority: Sharmila

KARACHI: Advisor to Sindh Chief Minister for Information and Archives Sharmila Farooqui has said that maintaining law and order in Sindh is the first priority of the government as it believes in taking actions against criminals without any discrimination. She said this while talking to media on the occasion of an exhibition at Clifton last evening.
Sharmila said that economic development is linked to peace while Rangers have been provided special powers to maintain peace in Karachi and other parts of Sindh, while police has been equipped with modern weapons.
The advisor said the present government under the dynamic leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari wanted to bring economic revolution and boost confidence of people in democracy.
She said that the criminals could be controlled only with the cooperation of people.
“We all will have to strive for the peace in the country while the present government is paying attention towards rehabilitation of flood affected people,” she said. -PPI

Dubai up most in 2-months; Egypt drops

Gulf stocks mkt
DUBAI: Dubai shares advanced the most in more than two months, leading gains in Gulf markets, as oil climbed to the highest year-end price since 2007. Egypt’s benchmark retreated as a bomb killed 21 people yesterday. Dubai Investments, which owns stakes in more than 40 companies, soared the most since Sept. 19. Drake & Scull International, the Dubai-based engineering contractor, rose for a fifth day
1,668.27 at the 2 pm close in the emirate. The measure lost 9.6 per cent in 2010. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index increased 0.8 per cent.

MQM opts for Opposition

Govt loses majority in NA; PM maybe asked for fresh vote of confidence
* Now the ball is in PML-N court, say analysts  l Altaf Hussain telephones political leaders
* MQM terms POL price hike back-breaking for masses; says landlords should be taxed
Staff Reporter/ Agencies
KARACHI: A sever blow was dealt to PPP-coalition government on Sunday when Muttahida Qaumi Movement — largest coalition partner — announced to carve itself out of alliance citing several reasons, adding government never gave an ear to MQM’s advices, henceforth Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has lost his mandate in the House as government left with 158 members on its side, while Opposition numbers fattens to 174.
It is likely that today (Monday) Prime Minister may be asked to take a fresh vote of confidence, where political analysts say that it would be a tall task for PM Gilani to prove his majority.
According to the press briefing of MQM leaders, the decision to sit in the Opposition was taken by MQM’s Coordination Committee’s meeting held simultaneously in Karachi and London.

‘Power crisis breathing last’

Kaira says various power plants in pipeline
LALAMUSA: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira has said that work on various power generation projects, including Thar coal project has been started. Talking to the media after attending a ceremony here n Sunday, he said after the completion of these projects, the country would not only be able to generate electricity for its own use but would also be able to export the extra power.
He said the previous government did not give priority to power generation which increased the gap between electricity demand and generation capacity over the years. To a question, Kaira said the work of exploration for natural gas, in particular digging new wells, is in progress to ensure uninterrupted gas supply. He was hopeful that the situation would soon improve.

PML-N eyes premiership

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) General Secretary and member National Assembly Ahsan Iqbal said Sunday that national will soon seen PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif in the Parliament.
Talking to a private TV channel, Ahsan Iqbal said that in the current scenario PML-N surely not in the position to formulate government on its own but after making alliances with other political parties it was quite possible, added in that situation PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif would surely be the prime candidate for the premiership. Responding the MQM’s decision to sit in the Opposition, PML-N Secretary General said that they welcome MQM decision, added that it was the natural outcome of the PPP government politics.
Regarding the vote of confidence move, Iqbal said that they will cross the bridge when they come to it, it would be too early to comment on it.

Sindh employees health policy ends

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has approved on Sunday the abolishing of the health insurance policy of the government employees. Earlier, Sindh’s special secretary finance mailed a summary, regarding the closure of the health insurance policy of the government servants, for approval of the Chief Minister.
The closure of the health insurance policy will affect more than six thousand employees of the Sindh Government. Sindh Secretariat’s workers have announced that on Monday (today) they would protest against the abolishing of the health insurance policy. -Agencies

Iran claims shot down spy planes in Gulf

TEHRAN: Iran has shot down two unmanned western reconnaissance drone aircraft in the Gulf, a senior Revolutionary Guards commandertold the semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday.
“Many spy planes and advanced planes of our enemies have been shot down (by our forces) … We have also shot down two spy planes in the Persian Gulf,” said commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh. “But it is the first time we are announcing it.” He did not say when the hostile aircraft had been shot down, but described them as “western drone reconnaissance” aircraft.
Iran is at odds with major powers over its nuclear activities, which the United States and its allies suspect are intended to enable Iran to produce nuclear bombs. Iran denies the allegations and says it wants only to generate electricity. The United States and Israel, Iran’s main foes, do not rule out military action if diplomacy fails to end the nuclear row. -Reuters

Gilani positive over govt’s fate

Govt can’t afford subsidies on POL products
Special Correspondent
LAHORE: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani looks determined and confident over despite latest political move, as on Sunday he said that government is not going anywhere. He was talking to the newsmen here in Lahore after meeting with former JI Ameer Qazi Hussain Ahmed. Prime Minister Gilani said that MQM’s departure makes no difference to the government and says that he doesn’t see any crisis or the government’s collapse.
Gilani asserted that government would continue to function with or without any coalition partner. He was optimistic that PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif is in favor of democratic process and would not let it derail.
To a question on the recent increase in the prices of petroleum products, Gilani said that government could not afford to grant any more subsidies on petroleum products, added that prices of the petroleum products was determined by an independent authority, that adjust the local fuel prices keeping its international prices in fore.
Prime Minister Gilani replying to another question said that PPP government doest not believe in horse-trading. Gilani said that government has no intention to bring amendments in the blasphemy law, while Sherry Rehman has submitted the motion in her personal capacity, added that govenment can’t even think of doing so.

Foreign portfolio up at $2.9bn

KSE during CY10: foreigners hold 32pc of free float
Offshorers invest $522 million
Ahmed Siddique
KARACHI: Total Investment value of foreign portfolio significantly hiked by 53.2 per cent or $1.02 billion to $2.93 billion at the end of year 2010 against $1.92 billion witnessed on year-end 2009.
Rise in portfolio investment in CY10 driven by fresh investment of $522 million and value of equity appreciation of around $490 million. In terms of rupee, special convertible rupee account (SCRA) showed closing market value of shares and securities at Rs 252 billion against Rs161 billion observed on same period last year, thus reflecting 56.4 per cent jump in portfolio value during the period.
As per “The Financial Daily” analyst, foreign investors own $2.93 billion which is 32 per cent of the free float market capitalization on above date. The main reasons for surge in foreign holding value were significant hike in equity market as it surged by 28.1 per cent or 2,636 points to close at 12,022-level at the end of December 31, 2010 comparing with the index stood at 9,387 points at the end of the year 2009.

CM Punjab returns from Turkey with big hopes

CM Punjab returns from Turkey with big hopes
Says Turkey vows to set up 150MW plant, a varsity
LAHORE: Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif said that a university and a power plant of having capacity of generating 150 megawatts would be setup in Punjab with the cooperation of Turkey. He was talking to media persons at Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore after his arrival back from Turkey, here on Sunday.

Shahbaz Sharif termed his visit to Turkey as successful and said that number of MoUs for mutual cooperation in various sectors have been signed with Turkish government and private sector during the visit.
He said that Turkish government would extend financial assistance to Punjab government to setup a university and a power plant with 150 megawatts power generation capacity.

It’s time to end hostility, Krishna tells Pakistan

NEW DELHI: Indian Minister for External Affairs S M Krishna said on Sunday that Pakistan’s posture of “compulsive hostility” will not help a serious and sustained dialogue between the two countries. In an interview, Krishna said New Delhi would “walked the extra mile in reaching out” to its neighbours “We earnestly hope that our neighbour would see the merit in constructive engagement and discard the posture of compulsive hostility”, he said.
The External Affairs Minister said, “Our only expectation from Pakistan is to dismantle the terror infrastructure that operates from the territories under its control. A serious and sustained dialogue can thrive only in a peaceful and terror free climate.” Krishna said that terrorism, whether state-sponsored or not, has no place in today’s world and needs to be rooted out through concerted efforts of each and everyone. -Agencies

Kaka may join Man United this mth

Monitoring Desk LONDON: Brazilian superstar Kaka is likely to join Manchester United in a shock loan deal this month which could lead to a permanent 50 million pounds move. The Brazilian superstar midfielder has been heavily linked to a move to Inter Milan with Real Madrid wanting 50 million pounds.
Chelsea, too, is seriously interested in grabbing the playmaker who has now fully recovered from an ankle injury after surgery, the Daily Star reports.
The link has already been established with Kaka, winning a Champions League trophy with Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti when they worked together at AC Milan.
According to reports in Spain, Manchester United have now emerged as clear favourites with Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho happy to do business with his old sparring partner Sir Alex Ferguson.
Mourinho would prefer sending Kaka to United rather than his previous club Inter. Ferguson has insisted he will not be buying in the transfer window but a loan deal for Kaka would be the perfect solution.

Wheels of change set in motion: Altaf

Says ending heredity politics is MQM’s agenda
MULTAN: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Quaid, Altaf Hussain has said that revolution has become fate of the country, people of lower and middle classes, comprising 98 per cent of the total population of the country are only guarantee for survival and stability of country. Altaf Hussain said this in his telephonic address to MQM Zonal Organization Committee, party’s women wing, Legal Aid Committee, social forum and office bearer of APMSO here at party’s Multan Zonal Office.
He said that country’s politics was confined to few families who were ruling the nation generation after generation and do not let legible and sincere people to come forward and play role for development and stability of the country. The MQM Quaid said steering the country out of the prevailing gloomy law and order and economic scenario we needed to end the culture of hereditary politics and provide opportunity to educated and sincere youth who feel heartfelt grief over sufferings of country and its people.

Commission meets today

18th Amend
ISLAMABAD: Implementation Commission on 18th Amendment would meet here at Parliament House on Monday with Chairman Commission, Senator Mian Raza Rabbani in chair.
Issues relating to implementation of 18th Amendment and transfer of five ministries to provinces would be discussed in the meeting. The Commission would also discuss the difficulties and hurdles in way of transfer of five federal ministries to provinces.
It should be mentioned that though provinces seem to be satisfied with awarding provincial anatomy under 18th Amendment and giving them authority to take decisions, but on other hand, it has given rise to number of problems which still needed to be resolved. The recommendations proposed by the Commission in this regard had not yet succeeded to remove the concerns of the provinces in this connection, sources said. -Agencies

Cameron may face defeat on EU bill

LONDON: Prime Minister David Cameron could face a parliamentary defeat over Europe but is set to avoid a damaging split in the ruling coalition over a controversial counter-terrorism measure, reports said on Sunday. The Sunday Telegraph said ‘eurosceptics’ among Cameron’s centre-right Conservatives could combine with opposition Labour legislators to inflict an embarrassing first parliamentary defeat on Cameron over his flagship European Union bill.
The proposed law, designed to prevent the transfer of further powers from London to Brussels without a referendum, will be debated in parliament on January 11.
Cameron proposed the so-called “referendum lock” in an attempt to appease eurosceptics in his party angered by his decision to give up his campaign for a referendum on the EU’s Lisbon treaty. But the Sunday Telegraph said his strategy appeared to have backfired.
Some eurosceptic Conservatives feel the measure offers no real safeguards, because ministers would have discretion in many cases over when a referendum was required and their decision could be challenged in the courts.

20 killed in Nangarhar onset

KABUL: At least 20 insurgents were killed and 21 others were arrested in an operation carried out by Afghan and foreign forces in eastern Nangarhar province, local officials said on Sunday. The operation was launched one week ago in Shirzad district of Nangarhar province to wipe out insurgents from the area. The operation will soon be expanded to two other districts in the province, officials added.
The militants have suffered heavy casualties in the operation so far, Alishah Paktiawal the police chief of Nangarhar said. “A Taliban commander was also killed in clashes with Afghan and foreign troops in the operation,” Paktiawal added. There were no civilian and military casualties in the operation, local officials said.
Shirzad district, bordering Pakistan, is one of the volatile areas where Taliban militants have been active. Afghan and Nato forces have also launched military operations in the northern Afghanistan in which insurgents have suffered a lot of casualties so far. -NNI

Pak says peace sans Kashmir a pipe-dream

Isb is ready for meaningful talk with India: FO
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit said Sunday that Kashmir issue must be resolved in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiris and the United Nation (UN) resolutions. In a brief telephonic talk with a private TV channel, he said, “Without resolving the issue, it is too much difficult to maintain peace and stability in the entire region.”
He said: “Pakistan is ready for meaningful and comprehensive dialogues with India on core issues such as Kashmir, Siachin and others.” Pakistan had already held composite dialogue with India on various issues including Kashmir, Siachin, economic, cultural issues etc, but India did not show seriousness over the issues, he added.
Abdul Basit said that India should show maturity about the issues to bring peace in the region. However, he said, that it was not possible to resolve all the issues in accordance with the aspirations of India.

19th Amendment Bill enacted

Bill becomes part of Constitution as President affixes his signature
Political actors suffering defeat, says President
Staff Reporter/ Agencies
KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday gave his formal assent to the 19th Amendment Bill, making it a part of the Constitution, and said that the approval of 19th amendment is democratic gift of New Year adding political actors have tried to sell negative thinking and they are now suffering defeat.
In the second amendment to the constitution in less than a year, the amendment envisages a new system for appointments in the superior courts, aimed at settling a potential source of discord between the judiciary and the parliament.

POL price hike draws public ire

ANP, MQM, JI unite against fuel price increase
Staff Reporter / Agencies
ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Awami National Party (ANP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) rejected the hike in prices of petroleum products Saturday and presented adjournment motions in the Senate and the National Assembly, television reports said. An adjournment motion was presented by the ANP, the government’s coalition partner. The motion said that the measure would burden the people, and called on the government to review its decision.
According to one report, the PML-N also tabled an adjournment motion against the petroleum price hike. The PML-N’s motion stated that the government led by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which chants slogans of providing the people with bread, cloth and shelter, was depriving people from their right to live.
The motion also called for a debate on the matter in the parliament.

Pak, India swap nuke sites lists

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Indian Saturday exchanged lists of their nuclear installations and facilities under an agreement to prohibit any attack, by either side. The lists are exchanged every year on January 1, under the “Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities”, inked by the two sides on December 31, 1988.
The agreement is known as one of the best Confidence Building Measures between the two sides that has continued to remain effective despite the status of their ties.

Ashraf switches on 201MW power plant

LAHORE: Federal Minister for Water and Power, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf inaugurated the 201MW Reshma Power Plant, currently contributing 40MW as test generation to the national grid, at Raiwind near here Saturday.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony, the Minister said that energy is the greatest challenge to the present democratic government, which it inherited by previous regime. The utter failure of the past government is manifested from the fact that it did not add even a single mega watt to the national grid, thus widening the power supply and demand gap in the country, he added.

Pollutants in boys’ blood tied to lower growth

Boys exposed to unusually high levels of environmental pollutants are smaller than their peers, a new study reports. After following nearly 500 boys for three years, an international group of researchers found that those with the highest levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in their blood were nearly three centimeters (more than an inch) shorter than boys from the same region with the lowest amount of PCBs in their bodies.
Boys with the highest exposures also averaged two points lower in body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight relative to height. The authors found a similar pattern in boys with the highest exposure to the pollutant dioxin. “You’re always a little surprised to see such a dramatic effect,” study author Jane Burns of the Harvard School of Public Health told Reuters Health, but the findings are “consistent” with some other research about the effect of these chemicals.

Babies may gain extra weight on standard formula

All infant formulas may not be equal when it comes to babies’ weight gain over their first months of life, a new study finds. In a study that followed 56 formula-fed infants, researchers found that babies on hypoallergenic formula stayed close to the “normal” weight-gain pattern seen among breastfed infants, while those on standard formula packed on pounds more quickly.
At the age of 7 months, babies on regular formula weighed over 2 pounds more, on average, than those on the hypoallergenic variety. Past studies have shown that bottle-fed infants tend to weigh more than breastfed ones.
Now these latest findings, reported in the journal Pediatrics, suggest that different types of formula might vary in their effects on babies’ growth. “When you compare them to the ‘gold standard’ of breastfeeding, the babies (on hypoallergenic formula) looked like breastfed babies,” said lead researcher Dr. Julie A. Mennella, of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

Best way to better your memory

Memory loss is the single biggest fearfor Americans over the age of 55. And it’s understandable: over 4 million currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and those numbers are expected to quadruple by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Foundation. That may be why products promising to improve your brain function are flooding the market. Sudoku and crossword puzzles are said to improve memory association skills, though critics believe only when put to task by those puzzles. Ginkgo infused soft drinks line the grocery aisle, ever since the root was suggested to combat dementia (it doesn’t). Even celery has been looselylinked to mental acuity. But the truth is there’s not enough hard evidence that any of these things really work.
In fact, there’s only one practice that’s been proven, without question, to preserve your memory: exercise. “Aerobic activities tend to show larger effects than non-aerobic activities,” University of Pittsburgh psychologist Kirk Erickson tells Yahoo.

Rising oil price adds to Asia inflation headaches

Rising oil prices present a new inflationary headache for Asia and further complicate the task of policymakers grappling with broader price pressures, an uneven growth outlook and surging dollar inflows. Central bankers in Asia are reluctant to stifle growth by raising rates and are wary of exacerbating yield differentials with western economies and Japan that would further attract potentially destabilising capital flows.
At the same time, rising prices are politically fraught in countries such as India and Indonesia, which must decide between taking the fiscal hit of offsetting fuel price increases through subsidies or pass costs onto inflation-wary consumers.
Inflation is also a big worry for global economic powerhouse China, whose leadership perceives rising costs of living as a threat to social peace and stability.
Beijing’s Christmas day rate rise — its second in two months — underscored how its focus has shifted from nurturing growth to getting prices under control and India is expected to follow, resuming a tightening cycle that has brought six rate increases since March.

Musharraf’s staff officer goes missing

LAHORE: Former president Pervez Musharraf’s former staff officer (Retd) colonel Manzoor Hussain has been missing for last one day. According to media reports, Colonel (Retd) Manzoor Hussain has recently resigned from DHA. Talking to private TV channel wife of Colonel Manzoor said that a suspicious vehicle was following him for last several days.
She demanded from Army Chief to take notice of the situation and get released her husband.  She said that she had contacted to DHA several times but to no avail. -Online

SECP, KSE settle issues

ISLAMABAD: The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Karachi Stock Exchange have resolved various outstanding issues amicably. According to an SECP press release issued here on Saturday, the matters were resolved at a meeting between the SECP Chairman and the outgoing directors and the newly-elected directors of the KSE in Karachi.
The SECP Chairman said that chairman of KSE Board of Directors would continue to be from among the non-member directors keeping in view good corporate governance and in line with international best practices.
The SECP approved the appointment of acting managing director for an interim period and reiterated the need for an early completion of transparent process for the appointment of a permanent managing director at the exchange. It was agreed by the KSE board members that the functions of internal audit and market surveillance at the exchange would remain in place.
Further, the board members assured their cooperation and commitment in managing the affairs of the exchange in the best interest of the market and to promote transparency and integrity.
The SECP chairman reassured the participants that the regulator would continue to work in close coordination with the exchanges and play a facilitating role for the development of capital markets and enhancing investors’ confidence. -APP

BESOS Trust formed in PR

ISLAMABAD: A representative 9-member delegation of Pakistan Railways (PR) CBA PREM Union led by its Secretary General Ishtiaq Ahmed Aasi, which held a meeting with Senator Waqar Ahmed Khan Federal Minister for Privatisation here, lauded the formation  of Benazir Employees Stock Option Scheme (BESOS) Trust in Pakistan Railways (PR) and the government’s announcement for not privatising PR.
The meeting was first of the series to initiate consultations with the CBA Workers Unions of Public Sector Entities (PSEs) to take on board the workforce, management and all the respective stakeholders for the capacity building and improvement of SoEs and to resolve the employees fears, doubts and grievances if any in this regard.
Senator Waqar directed the Privatisation Commission officials to set up BESOS Trust in Pakistan Railways after having workers nominations as Trustees from all the workers unions of PR and to register it without any further delay in order to distribute 12 per cent GoP shares of PR among the employees for empowering them and to have their representation on PR Board for participating in the decision making process for the improvement and the progress of the entity for making it profitable. The Minister briefed the delegation regarding the turnaround plan for PR and informed that through equity related instrument fund raising for PR without selling any asset and on the basis of asset based security, was in accordance with the President Asif Ali Zardari and the Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s instructions to strengthen the PSEs to make them functional and enhance their productivity while protecting the jobs and the worker’s rights. A meeting of the management and workers would soon be convened to reach at a consensus for making joint efforts for making improvements in PR, he added. CBA PREM Union Secretary General Ishtiaq Ahmed Aasi urged the need to have competent professionals in an important institution like PR as the institution have been ruined and made loss making by inefficient non professional officials and the corruption. The PR employees would extend full support to the government, without any opposition in every such step, which was designed for the betterment of the institution, however, there was a need to further understand the concept and to establish an atmosphere of understanding, he said. -Online