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Key Economic Data 
  2004 2003 2002 Ranking(2004)
Millions of US $ 96,100 82,300 73,300 44
GNI per capita
 US $ 600 520 480 160
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Pakistan

Update No: 072 - (26/02/12)

The courts turn against the military
In an unexpected twist, Pakistan’s assertive courts have taken up a confrontation with the powerful military establishment; over issues of illegal detention, disappearances and torture and death in detention, as well as illegal funding for the country’s political parties. How far the courts will be able to go is unclear; meanwhile their apparent willingness to take on the army legitimises their campaign against the political class, and in particular the government. Prime Minister Gilani is the latest victim of that. He now stands accused of contempt of court for defying an order to reopen a corruption case against the president. Gilani argues that the President has immunity while in office, a weak line of defence particularly as far as public opinion is concerned. Some liberal members of the intellectual class are however beginning to get worried about the assertiveness of the courts, an unelected body, vis-à-vis the political class.

Politicians unrepentant
The perception of a political class irredeemably corrupt, is reinforced by a recent decision of the government to go ahead with an order by Pakistani Railways for 75 locomotives. The order had been blocked because a lot of rules had been violated in drafting it, raising obvious suspicions of corruption. Already in the past Pakistani Railways had passed orders in allegedly corrupt ways, resulting in the purchase of faulty or inferior equipment. The high level of corruption in procurement, and nepotism in hiring practice, are two key reasons why Pakistan Railways is on the verge of collapse.

Perhaps the best example of the level of corruption in Pakistan is the state of Pakistan International Airlines, once the pride of the country. The company is so badly run now that it loses hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and is forced to keep a quarter of its fleet from flying because of the lack of cash to buy spare parts. Losses in 2011 have doubled on 2010 and the company is hoping that the Pakistani government will once again come to the rescue. Nepotistic recruitment practices have left PIA overstaffed (450 employees to each aircraft, a very high ratio) and badly managed. The security of flights is reportedly also being endangered.

Waiting for a new ISI head
The army is not just under pressure from the courts. The Americans are making clear that they are closely watching the replacement next month of Gen. Pasha, at the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence, the country’s main security service. Washington wants a reformer to be appointed, willing to take more radical steps in confronting the extremists who roam around the country. The top candidate seems to be Lieutenant General Muhammad Zahir ul-Islam, from the country's military aristocracy, who is personally close to Chief of Staff Kayani. Pasha was rather appreciated by the Americans for his professionalism, even if he did little to help them. Prime Minister Gilani is the one supposed to make the choice, but it is not clear whether he will want to go against the advice of the army. In fact, the fact that the courts are taking both Gilani and the army on, could be a motive for a rapprochement between them.

Suicidal elections?
There is now talk of early elections, particularly if the senate elections in March will not go too badly for the PPP. That, however, would likely be suicidal for the PPP, as the indications are that the economy might worsen further. The trade deficit is now projected to reach a record US$22 billion in this financial year, which end on 30 June. The negative impact of the high price of oil and other commodities is compounded by slow exports and lower inflows of external aid.



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