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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


Update No: 047 - (21/12/09)

North Waziristan next?
In December the Pakistani army announced to have completed its operation in South Waziristan successfully. The militants have not been crushed and opted to melt away to fight another day; (most of the least accessible parts of South Waziristan remain under their control). However, the announcement has led to increased pressure from Washington to expand operations to North Waziristan, home to Jalaluddin Haqqani and one of the main regional commands of the Afghan Taliban. Haqqani, however, is one of the most faithful Pakistani clients among the Taliban and the idea of taking him on creates very strong resistance within the ranks of the Pakistani army. Although some Pakistani officers hint that Haqqani may no longer serve Pakistaniís interests for having failed to prevent the TTPís drift towards antagonising the Pakistani security establishment, this seems really a minority view. More common is the refrain that Haqqani will be dealt with after the TTP is destroyed, which however at the current pace of operations might take several yearsÖ The relationship between Washington and Islamabad is increasingly strained, despite president Zardariís attempt to keep it alive. He is increasingly suspected by the military of playing a double game, where he officially protests against American interference and demands help vis-ŗ-vis India, but then colludes with the Americans on imposing tighter and tighter conditions to help provided to the Pakistani army. The Pakistani bureaucracy has taken matters into its own hands and has been delaying the processing of hundreds of Visas of American diplomats and military, probably in the attempt to send a signal to Washington that greater pressure on Islamabad might backfire as well.

Zardariís days soon over?
Indeed Zardariís predicament seems to be a difficult one. The army might not be ready to take power directly, but certainly seems inclined to force him out of his job. A major blow to Zardari was the Supreme Courtís repeal of the amnesty for crimes of corruption, which had allowed Zardari to run for office in the waning days of the Musharraf era. Zardari still benefits from immunity as long as he is president, but his political position is weakened. How long can Zardari survive the joint pressure of the army, the judiciary and the political opposition? Zardari is hinting that he might surrender much of his power and revert to a more ceremonial role as in the pre-Musharraf era, a move that could convince the opposition to let him continue in office as President (and enjoy immunity) while focusing on a change of government. Otherwise, the Supreme Court could soon challenge the legitimacy of Zardariís election.

Remittances go formal
On the economic front the best news of recent months continues to be the steady rise in remittances through official channels. During July-November US$3.8 billion were received, up 29.2% on the same period of the previous year. This is the result of a joint initiative by the State Bank, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis called 'Pakistan Remittance Initiative', which facilitates the flow of remittances through formal channels. Because now transferring money through banks is much faster, many Pakistani workers abroad switched to the banks and stopped using the informal hawala system. One of the reasons behind the government initiative were worries about cash transfers by illegal groups and international pressures to reduce the role of the informal system, but a more immediate benefit is the strengthening of Pakistanís banking system. Government sources now estimate that the formal channel accounts for 75% of remittance transfers. Although Pakistani workers are also affected by the international economic crisis, fears about the stability of the banking system in a number of host countries (chiefly the Gulf ones) are providing an incentive to them to transfer as much of their savings back home as possible.
 

 

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