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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: 008 - (21/09/06)

Hodood trouble
After having launched the revision of the Hodood ordnances in order to improve his standing as a liberal and progressive ruler, President Musharraf is finding that his initiative is backfiring. The original plan to bring abolish the worst discrimination against women in Pakistan's legislation has now been shelved. After pressure from the Islamic parties forced him to gradually dilute and eventually eviscerate the reform, secular parties counter-attacked. The Mujahir Qaumi Movement, which is part of the government coalition, threatened to quit if Musharraf changed the original version of the bill. Faced with this dilemma, Musharraf postponed the reform sine die. The President appears to have been weakened by the division within his own party, over whether to keep cooperating with the Islamic parties or to forge a new reformist alliance with the opposition People's Party. 

The parties were not so bad after all
The largest secular parties, however, remain firmly in the opposition camp. In this regard Musharraf was embarrassed by a new report from Transparency International, according to which his second government is much more corrupt than the first and what is worse, it is more corrupt than the hated civilian government which preceded Musharraf's take over. While this type of reports would not normally have much impact on the internal politics of a country like Pakistan, Musharraf himself had been hailing the good performance on corruption of his government, as shown in older reports by Transparency.
Another factor weakening Musharraf was likely the backlash following the killing by the army of Bugti, one of the leaders of the Baluchi autonomist movement. Throughout Pakistan the reaction to the killing has been overwhelmingly negative and has sprung into action even those Baluchi nationalists who seemed ready to work within the Pakistani political system. 

Musharraf's American friends increasingly uneasy
The pressure on Musharraf is not only internal. The US are pushing towards a rapprochement with Afghanistan, which led him to travel to Kabul in September and issue conciliating statements, such as admitting that the Taleban operate from Pakistan bases. Under American sponsorship, Afghans and Pakistanis are now finally beginning to take the first steps towards concerted control over the common border. However, so far Musharraf has failed to really convince anybody. As long as violence continues in Afghanistan, he will be accused of having a hand in it. The Americans are clearly angered by the discovery that the Pakistani judiciary has been releasing up to 2,500 of foreign 'volunteers' who had been arrested along the Afghan border, all potential Al Qaida activists in US eyes. The releases occurred over the last three years and may well still be happening, despite US warning not to do it. The handing over of a substantial chunk of Pakistani tribal areas to the control of domestic Taleban must not have impressed the Americans either, not least because it makes restraining the Afghan Taleban even more difficult.
Musharraf's Indian policy is mired in similar contradictions. He is still trying to improve relations, after the July train bombings in India almost derailed previous efforts. Something is being achieved on the trading side. The latest development is a new agreement which is expected to be signed soon, allowing ships of each country to lift cargo from the ports of the other country. There is also a proposal to cooperate with India on issues related to security and terrorism, although this faces several hurdles before becoming reality. Pakistan remains home to several known terrorist and militant groups and unless Musharraf find the courage to take action against them, he will never build real credibility abroad.

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