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PAKISTAN


  
  



Key Economic Data 
 
  2004 2003 2002 Ranking(2004)
GDP
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

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
803,940

Population
162,419,946

Capital
Islamabad

Currency
Pakistani rupee

President
Pervez Musharraf

Update No: 006 - (27/07/06)

Growing isolation
After several months of steady progress in Indo-Pakistani relations, the 11 July Mumbai bombings resulted in the suspension of Indo-Pakistani dialogue, with India accusing Pakistan of involvement through the Kashmiri radical groups which it supports. At the same time, both NATO and the UN have raised the level of their criticism of Pakistan's unwillingness to confront the insurgent groups which operate in Afghanistan from Pakistani territory, in a move which is quite unusual of both organisation and clearly expresses their concern at the growing level of violence in Afghanistan. In July, Secretary of State Rice paid a visit to Islamabad, presumably to discuss these issues. A sign that the Bush Administration is far from ready to dump Musharraf came when it decided to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, as Musharraf had earlier requested, but Rice appears to have delivered some strong message to Musharraf. During the second half of July the Pakistani security services for the first time appeared to have made a serious move against the Afghan Taleban, arresting a few of their mid-rank members of the Taleban in Quetta and even hinting that they might extradite them. 

The internal front gets complicated
Musharraf is also under pressure from the US to let 'free and fair' elections happen, which most observers judge highly unlikely. He has clearly been preparing for another round of rigged elections. Since judges select the magistrates in charge of the elections, Musharraf also took care to purge the judiciary of hostile elements and replace them with supporters. He also continues to concentrate most substantial powers in his hands and takes decisions in consultation with a handful of key advisers, leaving little role to his ministers, not to speak of the parliament. However, Musharraf has his share of problems, including the fact that the parties which he has formed to gather support, the PML-Q and the MMA, are increasingly divided internally. Some members of the alliance of Islamic parties now say that will not even contest elections under Musharraf, although Musharraf has been manoeuvring to split the alliance and marginalise the elements hostile to him. The PML-Q, moreover, is mostly opposed to Musharraf's own liberal reforms. As if that was not enough, in recent weeks he faced an unprecedented wave of criticism following a number of scandals related to the stock exchange, the privatisation program and sugar shortages caused by the heavy protection afforded to a few sugar-manufacturing industrialists who happen to be very close to the General. Most ministers have dubious reputations and several have even been sentenced in the past for graft. He mostly rules by decree, often suspending the parliament, which in any case is increasingly perceived as a mere façade. Even when in session, the parliament is mostly almost empty, with MPs rarely bothering to show up. Finally, the political parties opposed to Musharraf are becoming more active, after the alliance of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, while in Baluchistan, where the army claims to be defeating the Baluch rebels, even the legal nationalist parties now threaten to go over to the armed resistance if their demands of greater autonomy are not met.

Lavish spending pushed deficit south
The latest report of the State Bank of Pakistan shows that the current account deficit continues to grow and has now reached 4.3% of GDP, mainly due to massive imports of vehicles and cellular phone sets. Interestingly, out of US$11.5 billion, about US$250 millions have been spent on the travels of Musharraf, advisers and cabinet alone, reflecting Musharraf's own carelessness in this regard. The current government forecast for the 2006-07 fiscal year of a US$9.6 billion deficit does not appear very realistic, even if a number of measures to boost exports have been approved.

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