------------------------------------------------------------------- DAWN WIRE SERVICE ------------------------------------------------------------------- Week Ending : 10 March 2001 Issue : 07/10 -------------------------------------------------------------------
Contents | National News | Business & Economy | Editorials & Features | Sports
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CONTENTS ===================================================================
NATIONAL NEWS + Reforms will be protected: Musharraf + Export of petrol from next quarter + Islamabad bans sugar import from Delhi + Shaukat meets WB officials + CE, other heads of state perform Haj + RAB arrests two former ministers + Cameras from Asif's room removed, court told + Situation belies ceasefire claim: FO + 8 Pakistanis among stampede victims + PPP seeks SJC inquiry into tapes + NWFP cuts excise duty target by Rs100m + Tribunal holds editorial responsible for publication of letter + Kulsoom says she has given up politics --------------------------------- BUSINESS & ECONOMY + Banks see lower cash withdrawal on Eid + Govt sees $9.4 billion exports by June + Trade deficit swells to $1.18bn + CNG operators raise prices by 15% + 33% increase in sales tax collection + Govt to take over NCBs bad assets + ADB to release $250 million for capital market + Shell, Caltex to import diesel: Shipment due in April + Private sector to get benefit from IDB arm + Baggage rules being relaxed: Customs officials to settle cases + Stringent measures to reduce debts sought --------------------------------------- EDITORIALS & FEATURES + We quake Ardeshir Cowasjee + Clothes to fit a general Ayaz Amir + The fire next door Irfan Husain ----------- SPORTS + Cricket: Pakistan enjoy measure of control

Reforms will be protected: Musharraf 
Ihtashamul Haque

ISLAMABAD, March 9: The chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, said 
on Friday that an "institutionalized system of checks and balances" 
was being put in place to ensure continuity of structural reforms 
initiated by the government since Oct 12, 1999.

Talking to federal secretaries and provincial chief secretaries, 
the CE assured that all required legislation would be done to 
protect his actions and the reform programme.

Informed sources quoted Gen Musharraf as saying that anybody who 
tried to hinder his reform programme, particularly the steps aimed 
at improving the economy and making the devolution plan a success, 
would be taken to task.

A question-answer session took place on the occasion at which the 
CE said that he had a "very good team of civil and military 
officials" that was providing all necessary support to him to 
rehabilitate the government structure. The structure, he regretted, 
had been destroyed by successive governments over past many years.

Earlier a few weeks ago, the CE had told editors and senior 
journalists that he would like to have the continuity of his reform 

Meanwhile, he has directed ministers to decentralize functioning by 
delegating authority to secretaries who should subsequently 
delegate power to their juniors, said a handout.

The CE also said that action should be taken against those who were 
corrupt and incompetent as there was no place for them in the 

He stated it was unfortunate that in the past individual and group 
interests had taken precedence over national interest which was the 
root-cause of the country's problems, adding that in future the 
supremacy of national interest would be ensured.

He exhorted the civil servants to play their role as leaders and 
make use of the new working environment created by the government 
and live up to the trust reposed in them. There were no favourites 
or personal requirements, therefore, it was imperative to have 
faith in Allah and take decisions on merit, he said.

Earlier, the CE gave an overview of the matters being addressed by 
the government on a priority basis, including the revival of 
economy, good governance, poverty reduction and the setting up of a 
new political structure.

Export of petrol from next quarter

ISLAMABAD, March 9: Pakistan is expected to start export of petrol 
from the next quarter that will earn $100 million of foreign 
exchange annually for the country, official sources told APP.

After the commissioning of PARCO, the refining capacity has doubled 
and the country will have surplus petrol, which can now be 
exported, the sources said.

"Eventually there will be 0.5 million tones of petrol available for 
the export and through it the government will earn $100 million 
annually," they added.

According to the sources, Iran has shown keen interest in importing 
Pakistani petrol while some other countries have also shown their 
desire in this respect. "The deal will be finalized soon", said the 

Responding to a question, the sources said, the government is 
taking special steps to enhance the gas production of existing 2.2 
billion cubic feet a day to 3.2 billion cubic feet in next couple 
of years.

He said this would enhance the existing capacity of production to 
45 per cent in the next couple of years.

"We are only utilizing 15 to 20 per cent of our total gas potential 
in the country," the sources said while adding, the government has 
opened up this sector for investment to tap its full potentials for 
the economic prosperity.

To another question, the sources said, the Ordinance to set up 
Petroleum Regulatory Authority (PRA) has been sent to the Cabinet 
for approval.

After its approval, the PRA will be put in place and the existing 
Gas Regulatory Authority (GRA) will be merged into it, he added.-

Islamabad bans sugar import from Delhi
Ihtashamul Haque

ISLAMABAD, March 8: The government has decided to place a ban on 
the import of sugar from India, saying that there are adequate 
stocks available.

Speaking at a press conference here on Thursday, the minister for 
commerce, industries and production, Abdul Razzak Dawood, said the 
letters of credit opened till March 7 would be honoured to import 
sugar from India.

"The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet had 
decided on Feb 28 to ban the import of sugar from India to save the 
local sugar industry from a collapse."

The minister said: "There is no political reason whatsoever to ban 
the import of sugar from India." He warned that in case of an 
emergency or price hike engineered by the local industry the ban 
would be removed.

He said the ECC had disallowed the import of sugar from India on 
Feb 28 but the decision had not been made public. When it was 
pointed out that a hand-out issued by the government last month 
said that no decision had been taken over the issue and it would be 
reviewed after Eid, the minister admitted that the decision about 
the ban had been kept secret for various reasons.

Mr Dawood admitted that the import of sugar from other countries 
was expensive as there were more duties on it.

He disclosed that the ministry of commerce had estimated 2.2 to 2.4 
million tons of sugar production during the current year. He added 
that the estimates of consumption had been worked out to be 3.3 
million tons. "But there is no need to be worried as we have 
600,000 tons of sugar in our stocks," he said.

The commerce minister said a long-term policy was being considered 
with the help of all stakeholders, including the sugar industry, 
consumers' representatives and farmers, to make sure that there was 
no shortage of the commodity.

Answering a question, he said one of the reasons why the import of 
sugar from India had been banned was its inferior quality.

The minister dispelled the impression that the government was 
discouraging trade and economic activity between the members of the 
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. "It is a question 
of pure economics that we do not need more sugar from our 
neighbour," he said.He said 1,26,477 tons of sugar was still to be 
imported from India under the commitments for which LCs had been 
opened till March 7. 

The minister said the government had allowed processing of 600,000 
tons of raw sugar by the local industry to save foreign exchange 
and keep the local industry functional.

He recalled that the government had allowed the import of sugar 
from India last year to end a shortage.

Shaukat meets WB officials

WASHINGTON, March 9: Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz met senior 
officials of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on 
the sidelines of a seminar here on Thursday.

He discussed with them the status of the IMF programme for 

A review of the programme's implementation in the last quarter is 
in progress, and the IMF board is due to meet at the end of this 
month to finalize its conclusions.

Mr Aziz reportedly met James Wolfensohn, president of the World 
Bank, Horst Kohler, managing director of the IMF, and Eduardo 
Aninat, deputy managing director of the IMF.

CE, other heads of state perform Haj

ARAFAT, March 4: Some 2.5 million Muslims performed Haj here on 
Sunday. Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf, along with other 
heads of state and government as well as members of the Pakistan 
delegation, performed the Haj.

The Chief Executive prayed to Allah Almighty for progress and 
prosperity of Pakistan and unity of Ummah.

The members of the Chief Executive's delegation included Foreign 
Minister Abdul Sattar, Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz and Pakistan 
envoy Lt-Gen (retd) Mohammad Asad Durrani.

At sunset, the Chief Executive, along with other pilgrims, will 
proceed to Mazdalifah from Arafat to offer Maghreb and Isha prayers 
together and also later perform Fajr prayers. After an overnight 
stay at Muzdalifah, the pilgrims will proceed to Mina to complete 
the Haj rituals.

The Chief Executive, along with delegation members, remained in 
Mina overnight, where Gen Pervez Musharraf offered Zuhr, Asr, Isha 
and Fajr prayers. At dawn, he left Mina for Arafat.

In his sermon at Arafat, the Imam, al-Shaikh Abdul Aziz bin 
Abdullah highlighted the significance of sacrifice and piety 
(Taqwa) and urged the Muslims to follow it to know the requirements 
of their faith. He called the faithful to shun their narrow-minded 
thinking and controversies to regain the glory of Islam.

Al-Shaikh Abdul Aziz said it was incumbent upon every Muslim to 
protect his other fellow-believers. He referred to Huqooq-ul-Ibad 
and Huqooqullah and called upon the faithful to fulfil the given 
obligations as a true Muslim.

The Imam Saheb prayed to Almighty Allah to bestow the Muslim world 
with more natural resources and water reserves so as to enhance 
greenery of their fields. He also sought Allah's blessings for the 
Muslims everywhere.-APP

RAB arrests two former ministers

LAHORE, March 9: The former federal minister and chairman of the 
Sialkot district council, Chaudhry Abdus Sattar, and his nephew, 
former provincial minister Khush Akhtar Subhani, were arrested 
under the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance on Friday by the 
Regional Accountability Bureau (RAB) on charges of corruption.

A charge-sheet issued by RAB says that between 1988 and 1996 
Chaudhry Sattar misused his public office to accumulate wealth 
disproportionate to his known income.

He allegedly acquired 850 kanals of farm land and set up industrial 
units in Sialkot.

The charge-sheet says his assets include a share in a Rs45 million 
bungalow in Sialkot built over 11.42 kanals of land, a Rs3 million 
residential plot measuring two kanals in the name of his son, 
Manzoor Subhani, and three shops in the name of his son in 
Sialkot's main bazaar.

The charge-sheet adds that as the chairman of the district council, 
Chaudhry Sattar, in collusion with his brother, former MNA Chaudhry 
Akhtar Ali Variyo, granted an export tax rebate to contractors 
causing a loss of Rs3 million to the exchequer. He illegally 
allotted a shop in his name and obtained funds for development 
projects which were misused. He also ordered the release of funds 
to contractors for the construction of schools for girls in the 
Jodewali and Channi Atal Garh villages. The schools were never 

The charge-sheet accuses the former provincial minister, Khush 
Akhtar Subhani, of acquiring assets disproportionate to his known 
income. He was the Punjab minister for housing, physical planning, 
population and prisons during the early 1990s.

It says a piece of agricultural land belonging to his family 
increased from 950 kanals in 1985 to 3,300 kanals in 1997.

Other illegally acquired assets, the charge-sheet adds, include a 
share in the Rs45 million bungalow in Sialkot, Rs1 million shares 
in Grace Hotel, Lahore, residential plots in Sialkot, Narowal and 
Burewala, Rs7 million shares in UNIS PAK Rubber Manufacturing and 
Rs5 million shares in MIZPAAH Garments Factory.

Cameras from Asif's room removed, court told
Rafaqat Ali

RAWALPINDI, March 9: The prosecutor-general of accountability 
stated on Friday that cameras installed in the room of Asif 
Zardari, had been removed.

The former senator, who was produced before an accountability court 
here, had pointed out that his room was being monitored through a 
closed-circuit TV. He had requested the court to restrain the 
government from employing "dirty tricks".

The counsel for Mr Zardari requested the court to restore A- class 
status to his client, including the provision of a dish antenna. Mr 
Zardari then himself addressed the court to make the request for 
the facility.

The case was adjourned to March 16 as the senior counsel for Mr 
Zardari was not present.

Talking to journalists, Mr Zardari said that during the PPP 
government there was no restriction on the movement of the US 
currency, but even then a dollar was available for Rs36. Now, he 
pointed out, after the government had imposed a number of 
restrictions on the movement of dollars, one dollar was available 
at the rate of Rs63.

He claimed that during the PPP government Pakistan's economy was 
going on right track but a vicious propaganda was launched against 
those policies. The country was receiving investment during the PPP 
government but now even the medium-sized industrialists were 
leaving the country, he said.

The former senator claimed that the United Arab Emirates and Saudi 
Arabia had changed their laws to attract Pakistani investors. If 
the rulers remained stubborn and did not realize the gravity of the 
situation, nothing would be left in Pakistan, he warned.

In reply to a question, he said the PPP was still in a position to 
pull the country out of trouble and added that this time the PPP 
would not trust the establishment unless their was a "guarantor".

Situation belies ceasefire claim: FO

ISLAMABAD, March 8: Pakistan on Thursday said the Indian claim of 
"ceasefire" belied the continuing killings, arrests, torture and 
disappearances in Occupied Kashmir.

Islamabad has rejected the Indian Home Minister L.K. Advani's 
statement in the Indian parliament on Wednesday saying it 
"completely distorts the objective realities," in the Indian Held 

"Advani's claim that the Indian forces are observing a "ceasefire" 
in Occupied Kashmir belied the continuing arrests, torture, 
disappearances and killings of innocent civilians, including 
custodial and extrajudicial killings, and by other human rights 
violations and atrocities being perpetrated by the Indian forces," 
said a statement by a foreign office spokesman here.

"The Indian claim of a "ceasefire" has also been rejected by the 
Kashmiri people," it said.

Pakistan "regrets the decision of the Government of India not to 
allow the five-member APHC delegation designated by its chairman to 
visit Pakistan for consultations on the commencement of a peace 
process on Kashmir".

The genesis of the Kashmir dispute lies in the denial by India of 
the right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people.

The struggle of the Kashmiri people for the exercise of this right 
is being led by the APHC.-APP

8 Pakistanis among stampede victims

ISLAMABAD, March 8: Eight Pakistanis, including six women, are 
among those crushed in a stampede during the "stoning of Satan" on 
Monday, officials said on Tuesday.

The religious affairs secretary and Haj director visited hospitals 
to inquire about the health of many Pakistanis injured in the 

The Pakistan embassy and Haj directorate are in constant touch with 
the Saudi authorities and different hospitals in Mina. Officials 
say that some Pakistanis are also missing after the Monday's 
incident and search is continuing to trace them.

Those who died are: Zarina Begum (Fateh Jang), Maqsoodah (Lahore), 
Anwar Begum (Karachi), Aziza Fatima (Bhalwal-Sargodha), Noor Ahmad 
(Sialkot), Pervez Begum (Hyderabad) and Ruqiya Begum (Bhalwal-
Sargodha). Name of another Pakistan could not ascertained.-NNI

PPP seeks SJC inquiry into tapes
Faraz Hashmi

ISLAMABAD, March 8: The former law minister and a PPP leader, 
Iftikhar Hussain Gilani, on Thursday demanded of the government to 
refer the audio recording of telephonic conversation between 
Justice Malik Abdul Qayyum and former Ehtesab bureau chief Saifur 
Rehman to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). "The Supreme Judicial 
Council also has investigative powers and it can look into the 
veracity of these tapes," Mr Gilani said at a press conference 
where the tapes were played for the first time before the press.

Mr Gilani, who termed the surfacing of tapes a "divine providence," 
hoped that the government would come out clean and accept the 

Commenting on the political fall out of the cassettes on the newly-
developed relationship between the PPP and the PML in the ARD, the 
PPP leader said: "We will certainly seek a public apology from the 
former ruling party."

Asked whether the cassettes would have any bearing on the ARD's 
future, he said the alliance had been formed on the one-point 
agenda of restoration of democracy. "There is no dispute among the 
political parties on that agenda."

Referring to the conversation of Justice Qayyum with Saifur Rehman, 
Shahbaz Sharif and Khalid Anwer, the PPP leader said it was not an 
isolated request by a government functionary to a judge requesting 
for some favour.

"It was rather a concerted campaign by a government to ensure a 
decision of its liking against its arch political foes from the 
high court," he said.

Mr Gilani said the conversation had proved PPP's stand that the 
judgment against Benazir Bhutto had been written even before the 
conclusion of the arguments of the defence counsel.

NWFP cuts excise duty target by Rs100m
Intikhab Amir

PESHAWAR, March 5: The NWFP government has brought down the 
recovery target of excise duty and other fees by Rs100 million.

Official sources told Dawn the annual recovery target was brought 
down to about Rs400 million from the initially set target of Rs503 
million. Downward revision was made effective after the provincial 
excise and taxation department moved the finance minister in this 

The department took the stand that the target had been set at 
higher side by the finance department at the time of preparation of 
annual provincial budget for 2000-01.

Interestingly, the sitting secretary excise and taxation, who has 
now sought reduction in the annual target, had played important 
role in fixing the recoveries target for different departments for 
he was the additional secretary-IV in the finance department at the 
time when the budget was being prepared.

The reduction was sought after the excise and taxation department 
recorded a massive shortfall in recoveries made during the first 
six months of the current fiscal.

The first six months' target, on proportionate basis, was missed by 
Rs145 million after the recoveries in that period stood at just 
Rs105 million against six monthly target of over Rs250m.

According to sources, a further reduction in the annual target - 
which has now been fixed at Rs400m - is expected shortly as the 
excise and taxation department has already moved the quarters 
concerned for reduction in the tobacco cess target by some Rs40m.

The annual target of tobacco cess had been set at Rs150m, but 
couple of weeks ago, the excise and taxation department moved the 
provincial finance minister for bringing it down to Rs110m.

Tribunal holds editorial responsible for publication of letter
Mohammed Riaz

PESHAWAR, March 9: A judicial tribunal on Friday submitted to the 
government its findings about the publication of a blasphemous 
letter by Frontier Post on Jan 29.

According to the tribunal's findings, the managing editor, news 
editor, one sub-editor and a composer were responsible for the 
publication of the letter.

The tribunal, headed by Justice Qaim Jan Khan of the Peshawar High 
Court, opined that the incident had taken place "due to the sheer 
negligence of the sub-editor as well as the general negligence of 
the other staff such as composer, news editor and last of the all 
the managing editor".

The tribunal also referred to the crippled financial position, a 
lack of professionalism and efficiency, and sheer negligence on the 
part of the newspaper management.

The tribunal said: "The statements of various independent witnesses 
clearly show that there was a mis-management in the newspaper and a 
single individual had to perform duties of five to six persons.

"It is very much astonishing that a man like Munawar Mohsan Ali who 
had never worked on the editorial page, admittedly the most 
important page, was to sit on the said desk. The said Munawar 
Mohsan mainly worked on (the) Afghan Page and is admittedly a drug 
addict for the last ten years. He was discharged from the 
Government Mental Hospital Peshawar, rather he himself ran away 
from the ward a couple of days before the publication of the said 
blasphemous letter."

The tribunal recommended that the Seventh Wage Award should be 
implemented for improving financial condition of the journalists. 
It also suggested the formation of a "press council" for acting as 
a bridge between the employers and employees, and between pressmen 
and the government.

Kulsoom says she has given up politics

MADINAH, March 3: Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of ousted prime minister 
Nawaz Sharif, feels relaxed after the release of her husband from 
incarceration, says she has given up politics because the mission 
which she had assigned to herself has been completed.

"I want to be a pure and simple housewife again. I want to return 
to that job which I had neglected because of Mian Saheb's ( Nawaz 
Sharif) detention by the military regime," she said during a 
meeting with her party members in Saudi Arabia.

The president of the Pakistan Muslim League's women wing in the 
Kingdom, Safia Ishaq who led a delegation to her earlier this week, 
told scribes later that Kulsoom has been feeling happy at the 
family reunion, according to a Dubai newspaper.

She was forced into politics by circumstances, taking a leaf from 
the life history of the Bhuttos, where during incarceration of the 
late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, his wife Nusrat and later daughter 
Benazir Bhutto had to take care of the party affairs.

Kulsoom, who had never appeared in the public prior to the 
overthrow of her husband from the coveted office of the prime 
ministership in October 1999, took control of the party which her 
husband had helped to revive after 40 years.

She had said then that her role in politics will be for a limited 
duration. Kulsoom campaigned for the release of her husband and 
succeeded in getting him out of the jail and to Saudi Arabia in 
December last year. 

However, she said that she and the family "will return to Pakistan" 
but fixed no date for that, knowing fully well that she is bound by 
an agreement between the Pakistan and the Saudi governments, which 
prohibits the Sharifs from taking part in politics and also bars 
them from returning home before 10 years.

"We will perform Haj and then settle down at our new place in 
Jeddah where I will take care of the house, of my husband. I will 
cook and serve the family members. I am not a politician, so I 
don't want to be in politics again. The days I spent in politics 
would be memorable ones. They will remain fresh in my memory for a 
long time to come. Those were arduous days, difficult days," she 

Banks see lower cash withdrawal on Eid
Mohiuddin Aazim

KARACHI, March 8: People took out lesser amounts of money from 
their bank accounts on this Eidul Azha compared to what they had 
withdrawn last year.

Senior bankers said they witnessed much lower cash withdrawals on 
this Eidul Azha compared to Eid related withdrawals in the past. 

"We used to see Rs2-3 billion Eid related cash withdrawal in the 
past but this year it was not more than Rs1-1.5 billion," said 
senior executive of a state-run bank. Executives of several other 
leading local banks made a similar statement. Officials of some 
foreign banks engaged in consumer lending said they too had 
witnessed the trend.

Bankers said total pre-Eid withdrawals from the banking system 
could not be ascertained at this stage as hundreds of bank branches 
scattered across Pakistan were busy sending data to headoffices.

 They said Rs5-10 billion are normally taken out from the banking 
system every year adding that this year the amount might close at 
the lower side.

Executives of leading local banks said preliminary estimates showed 
a declining trend in cash withdrawals: some of them said they 
witnessed up to 50 per cent fall in Eid-related withdrawals.

Does the trend mean people postponed part of their spendings during 
this Eidul Azha? One senior central banker said the answer was 

"Though the exact fall in Eid related cash withdrawals is yet to be 
ascertained if the bankers say they have witnessed a fall it means 
people postponed some spendings," he said. Reports about lesser-
than expected buying of sacrificial animals also confirm that 
people did defer their spending though one reason for this could be 
oversupply of livestock. In Pakistan, it is difficult to analyse 
consumer buying trends - at least immediately - due to lack of 
scientific surveys.

MONEY MARKET: Inter-bank money market was short of liquidity on the 
first working day after Eid holidays, with overnight call rates 
hovering around 12.90 per cent. Bankers said banks had to borrow 
Rs7.5 billion overnight funds from the State Bank mainly to keep 
their mandatory cash reserves at the prescribed levels.

Govt sees $9.4bn exports by June
Ihtashamul Haque

ISLAMABAD, March 9: Pakistan's exports have registered an increase 
of 8.6 per cent during the first eight months of 2000-01, which 
will subsequently help to have an overall $9.4 billion exports by 
June 30, this year.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Commerce Minister Razzaq 
Dawood said the government was anticipating a 10 per cent increase 
in exports during next four months with a view to have $9.4 billion 
at the end of current fiscal.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, he said the government was 
getting closer to $10 billion exports target and that all efforts 
were being made to substantially increasing exports, specially by 
going into value addition. He said there was an increase of $475 
million in exports during the first eight months (July-Feb) of the 
current fiscal year, compared to corresponding period last year. 
"Even if there is no increase in exports during the next four 
months, we will end up having $9.3 billion exports by June 30, this 

Imports, the commerce minister said, were down by 2.2 per cent in 
the first eight months and that the import bill would be up by 8.7 
per cent. He said the imports had mainly decreased because the oil 
prices had gone down. Total imports during the first eight months 
were to the tune of $7.1 billion compared to $6.5 billion of 
corresponding period in 1999-2000. "This is a big gap by February," 
he admitted.

Giving the details of exports, he said there had been 13.6 per cent 
increase in the exports of rice in terms of volume but in terms of 
value, it had gone down by 5.3 per cent. "But I am happy that we 
got our share in the market and we would make sure that we should 
also have increase in terms of value of our rice."

He pointed out that rice prices had gone down in the international 
market. "But as a businessman, I see a great potential for the 
export of rice in future," he added.

The commerce minister said that raw cotton had registered an 
increase in exports, while there had been an increase of 8.3 per 
cent in fish and fisheries. Likewise, leather export was up by 31 
per cent, carpet nine per cent, petroleum products 94 per cent, 
leather manufactured 28 per cent and chemicals 81 per cent.

Regarding textiles, he said towel exports registered an increase of 
27 per cent, synthetic textiles 21 per cent, knitwear 6.4 per cent, 
readymade garments 8.6 per cent and bed linen 4.3 per cent. "But 
there are grey areas as well and we have decided to analyze why the 
exports of a number of products have gone down," the commerce 
minister said.

He regretted that the export of fruit and vegetables have gone down 
by 45 per cent, textile yarn 0.5 per cent, cotton cloth 10 per 
cent, sports goods four per cent and molasses 35 per cent.

Responding to a question, he said during July to Feb total exports 
was $5.99 billion against $5.5 billion of corresponding period, 
last year.

He said there was no conditionality of the IMF that Pakistan must 
achieve $10 billion target set for 2000-01. "In fact the target 
given to the IMF was 9.2 billion dollar and it was the commerce 
ministry, which had decided to keep the target at $10 billion," he 

Dawood told a reporter that fish and fisheries, gems and jewellery, 
engineering goods, chemicals and fruits have registered an increase 
in exports. "In these areas there was an increase of 28 per cent, 
which is very satisfying for us," he said adding that real efforts 
of the government was to diversify exports specially by coming out 
of the textile syndrome.

Trade deficit swells to $1.18bn

ISLAMABAD, March 9: The trade deficit of Pakistan shot up to $1.18 
billion during July-February 2000-01, showing 8.97 per cent more 
deficit than in the corresponding period of previous fiscal, 
according to foreign trade statistics released by the Federal 
Bureau of Statistics here Friday.

In rupee term, however, the deficit was up by 19.23 per cent during 
the same period, because of sharp drop in the value of local 

In absolute terms, the trade gap registered an increase of about 
100 million dollars.

The trade policy for the current year had envisaged the trade 
imbalance to be limited to $800 million. In reality, at the end of 
seven months, it is already more than 35 per cent ahead of the 
target for the whole year.

According to the statistics, the merchandize exports of Pakistan 
rose to $5.99 billion during the period under report, denoting an 
increase of 8.61 per cent over the corresponding period of 1999-

For the first time in the current year, the exports are ahead of 
the target for the seven-month period. The annual target stipulated 
in the trade policy was $10 billion. At the end of the first seven 
months, the exports should have been a little over $5.83 billion. 
The statistics, however, show an increase of over $150 million over 
the target for seven months.

A significant feature of the statistics is slower rise in imports 
during the period under report. These totalled $7.17 billion, 8.66 
per cent more than in the same period of previous year.

In spite of the slight difference between increase in exports 
(8.61%) and imports (8.66%), the ratio of trade gap to exports 
continued to register deterioration. In the period July-February, 
1999-00, the trade deficit was equivalent to 19.70 per cent of 
exports. During the first seven months of current year, however, it 
rose to 19.77 per cent.

The lower rise in imports notwithstanding, the ratio of exports to 
imports also deteriorated. In the first seven months of current 
fiscal, the portion of imports covered by exports was 83.50%, as 
compared to 83.54% in the corresponding period of previous year.

During February 2001, the statistics indicate a significant slow-
down when compared with the preceding month (January 2001). The 
exports, at $751.32 million, registered a decline of 1.13%. The 
imports totalled $799.81 million, down 17.78% from the preceding 

CNG operators raise prices by 15%
Bureau Report

ISLAMABAD, March 3: The Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) operators on 
Saturday unilaterally increased CNG prices by 15 per cent.

There is no official announcement with regard to increase in the 
price of natural gas. The CNG operators, however, have made the 
increase anticipating increase with retrospective effect.

Jehangir Bashar, official spokesman for the ministry of Petroleum, 
when contacted said that no increase in the prices of natural gas 
had been announced as yet. "Those who are increasing the prices are 
doing it at their own," he said.

When asked whether the government had any plan to take action 
against them, he said, the ministry had no formal information of 
the increase and it had learnt from newsmen on Saturday. He, 
however, said that since the prices of CNG had been deregulated the 
government expected the market forces to regulate the prices.

It was announced on Feb 21 that the Cabinet had mandated the 
ministry to increase prices of natural gas and a formal 
announcement would be made after making fresh calculations. So far 
there is no formal announcement.

A CNG cylinder (50 bar) which was refilled at Rs172, is now being 
refilled at Rs202, an increase of 15 per cent. The increase has 
been made after media reports, quoting unnamed official sources, 
said that the increase in gas prices would be announced along with 
an announcement of nominal decrease in the prices of petrol and 
diesel after Eidul Aza. These reports had also hinted that increase 
in natural gas, announced in the mid of March, would take effect 
from March 1.

At present over one 100,000 cars and other vehicles use the CNG.

The officials of the ministry of petroleum, however, said that 
fresh calculations, as directed by the cabinet in its meeting on 
Feb 21, had been completed. With the exception of fertiliser 
feedstock all other sectors commercial, industrial and CNG (vehicle 
fuel) will experience a raise of 15 per cent.

According to fresh calculations domestic tariff of natural gas for 
those consuming up to 100 cubic metres would remain unchanged. The 
consumers going beyond 100 cubic metres would have to pay more. An 
average rate for 125 units will come to an average 6pc on monthly 
bill basis and then the tariff will go on increasing for every 25 

The domestic tariff will end up with 37 per cent increase for 500 
units or 26 per cent on total bill of 500 units.

The ministry had proposed across-the-board 15 per cent increase for 
all consumers but the federal cabinet had decided to exclude lower 
income group with first 100 units monthly consumption.

The increase in gas tariff increase is being made under the 
dictates of the IMF with the objective of achieving Rs15 billion 
revenue in the shape of gas development surcharge.

Latest official figures put total gas production at around 2,220 
MMCFD (million cubic feet per day) of which slightly over 1,900 
MMCFD comes from state-owned producers like Mari Gas Company 
Limited (MGCL), Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) and 
Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL).

The Petroleum Ministry is soliciting about 50 per cent increase in 
consumer gas price if the Sui Gas price was brought on a par with 
new gas discoveries in the private sector.

33% increase in sales tax collection
Parvaiz Ishfaq Rana

KARACHI, March 5: A sustained rise in sales tax collection during 
first eight months (July-February) of current fiscal, had been 
achieved with a growth of 33.20 per cent over the corresponding 
period of last year, official sources disclosed on Saturday.

The sales tax collectorates (East and West), Karachi, have 
collected Rs18.203 billion during first eight months of current 
fiscal as against Rs13.665 billion, made in the same period of last 

The remarkable increase in sales tax collection has been reckoned 
by officials due to higher ratio of audit carried out by the ST 
department of the registered persons.

In the past, on an average there had been 50 to 60 monthly audit of 
registered companies/ persons, where as of now the authorities are 
doing around 200 to 250 audits of registered units.

Sources said the ST department with the help of computers as of now 
has started "targeted audit" as a result higher revenue collection 
has been achieved during last eight months. Furthermore, sustained 
efforts to enhance the number of taxpayers under the ST net has 
also helped to increase tax collection. According to official 
figures, there is around 104pc increase in taxpayers during the 
first eight months of current fiscal.

 The sales tax collection of both the collectorates during the 
month of August 2000 was the highest at Rs2.341 billion as against 
Rs1.088 billion of the corresponding period, last fiscal. Other 
details provided by a high official of ST department disclosed that 
collectorate of east during first eight months made a collection of 
Rs14.100 billion or 39.29 per cent higher than the same period of 
last fiscal.

During July 2000, the ST East gave an outstanding performance by 
achieving 162 per cent growth in revenue collection at Rs1.608 
billion compared to Rs613.594 million of the corresponding period 
of last fiscal. Similarly, the collectorate of West made a 
collection of Rs4.103 billion or 15.81 per cent more over the 
corresponding period of last fiscal.

During the month of August 2000, the collectorate registered a 
growth of 69.40 per cent at Rs578.012 million over the same period 
of last fiscal, when collection stood at Rs341 million.

There is an outstanding achievement in new registration, which grew 
by 103.89 per cent in first eight months of current fiscal. In 
total 6,747 new taxpayers have been netted in the ST during this 
period as against 3,309 during the corresponding period of last 

The collectorate of East during the period under review netted 
4,100 new taxpayers showing a growth of 105.61 per cent over the 
same period of last year when 1,994 taxpayers were registered.

The number of net taxpayers netted by collectorate of west stood at 
2,647 during first eight months of current fiscal, showing a rise 
of 101.29 per cent over the corresponding period last fiscal.

Govt to take over NCBs bad assets
Jawaid Bokhari

KARACHI, March 8: The government will take over unsold bad assets 
at tax-payers expense to facilitate privatization of nationalized 
commercial banks (NCBs).

Sources said the NCBs to be privatized would get long term bonds 
with profits in lieu of non-performing assets. In this way, the 
NCBs will have clean balance-sheets.

An 18-24 month time-frame has been set by the Privatization 
Commission (PC) to sell the HBL and UBL.

Of the 106 cases sent so far, the Corporate and Industrial 
Restructuring Corporation has taken over 35 non-performing units in 
sectors like textiles, tanneries and electronics. All the remaining 
non-performing industrial projects of six lending institutions - 
UBL, HBL, NBP, NDFC, IDBP and ADBP - will be revived and evaluated 
by government approved independent agencies. More cases would be 
sent after a final round of negotiations between lenders and 
borrowers for recovery of non-performing loans with the help of an 
official committee set up for the purpose.

After evaluation, CIRC expects these units would be sold through 
public auctions, hopefully by the end of the year. CIRC sources 
said they would pick up only those cases, about which they were 
confident they would be able to sell.

In the current economic environment, financial analysts feel that 
the market does not have any appetite for purchase of bad assets. 
It is evident from the fact that short-term goals set by the PC 
have not been realized. Of the 24 per cent MCB shares offered for 
public subscription, only nine per cent have been subscribed.

Sources said the PC had decided to annul its decision to offer 49 
per cent shares of the Allied Bank for public subscription which, 
it realized from its bid for underwriters, was a wrong tactical 
move. As the ABL Employees Group and their associates hold a major 
stake, the management could be taken over by purchase of 5-10 
shares in collusion with the existing non-government stake-holders. 
The bid for underwriters has therefore been cancelled.

Now the PC intends to invite tenders for sale of the entire block 
of 49 per cent shares to a strategic investor. The restructuring of 
the bank would become essential for its privatization. Currently, 
ABL president Khalid Sherwani is a nominee of the government, but 
the major stakes are held by shareholders from the private sector.

Similarly, the targets set for sale of government stakes in 
oilfields LPG business and initial public offering of nationalized 
commercial bank shares have not been achieved.

ADB to release $250 million for capital market
Muhammad Ilyas

ISLAMABAD, March 8: Asian Development Bank (ADB) may extend the 
long-awaited second tranche of its $500 million loan to Pakistan 
for its ongoing capital market development programme as token of 
its satisfaction with its implementation so far.

This was indicated in an ADB letter to the Securities and Exchange 
Commission of Pakistan (SECP). The letter was addressed to SECP 
Chairman Khalid A. Mirza.

The ADB has already provided $250 million for the capital 
development under which Pakistan government had established a 
hugely expanded SECP in place of the defunct Corporate Law 

In view of the programme that has been made so far by the 
government, the letter stated, the ADB was considering to provide 
$250 million to Pakistan for further implementation of its 
programme for capital market.

While appreciating the work so far done, the ADB official stressed 
on the necessity of further strengthening the commission as an 
independent regulatory body. "This is of utmost importance to 
undertake meaningful reforms in the capital market. The role of the 
regulator," he went on to stress, "is to ensure transparency in the 
stock market operations and to provide a voice and protect the 
interests of small investors."

The financial and operational autonomy of SECP, he said, was, 
therefore, essential and "we support the various activities 
undertaken in this direction".

A particular challenge, he continued, was the effective regulation 
of brokers, as evident from the experience in other countries. The 
brokers act as frontline intermediaries for stock market investors, 
and investor confidence had a direct link with the conduct of 

"We, therefore, feel that SECP should, as agreed under the Capital 
Market Development Programme, pay utmost attention to develop 
rules, regulations and adequate internal capacity to ensure the 
integrity of brokers, including adequate inspection and 

Shell, Caltex to import diesel: Shipment due in April
Aamir Shafaat Khan

KARACHI, March 8: Shell Pakistan Limited (SPL) and Caltex Oil 
Pakistan (COP) have jointly finalized arrangements to meet the 
country's 25 per cent diesel import requirements and the first 
shipment is due in the second week of next month.

The ship carrying 50,000 tons of diesel will reach Pakistan's port 
during April 13-15, followed by another one with a diesel load of 
60,000 tons after April 20.

"Negotiations are already underway with the international firms to 
line up next shipments," Ayaz Bukhari, Manager, Retail Marketing 
and Public Affairs, SPL told Dawn on Thursday. He added that this 
is the first time after at least two decades that oil marketing 
companies (OMCs) have been given green signals to import diesel 

He said the company is negotiating with few firms, but eventually 
we will have a term agreement in the long run.

The government, he said, has allowed OMCs to import 25 per cent of 
the country's total diesel imports of 4.4 million tons per annum. 
"We will have to import around 1.1 million tons of diesel in one 
year, starting from next month and ending on April 2,002," he 

Country's demand of diesel is seven million tons per annum out of 
which local refineries produce 2.6 to 2.8 million tons and the rest 
is imported.

Ayaz did not confirm the price of the diesel imports as well as the 
country's origin of the import but said "diesel is being imported 
at normal prices."

He said both companies will ensure no interruptions in its 
supplies. Shell has 32 per cent share in domestic diesel market 
followed by 60 per cent of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and eight per 
cent by Caltex.

Private sector to get benefit from IDB arm
Jawaid Bokhari

KARACHI, March 5: The Jeddah-based Islamic Corporation for 
Development of private sector (ICD) will begin accepting proposals 
for financing of investment trade and privatization as soon as 
Islamabad ratifies the agreement for subscribing to the charter and 
the share-capital of the corporation.

 Sources said as many as 38 out of 58 member-countries of the 
Islamic Development Bank (IDB), which has sponsored the ICD, have 
ratified the agreement and private sector from these signatory-
states have become eligible for equity and funding through term 
finance certificates and other modes of Islamic financing.

 As a shareholder of the IDB, Pakistan will become a stake-holder 
in the ICD, without having to pay for the subscribed shares. The 
stock dividend in IDB would provide the bonus share for the ICD. 
Profits made by IDB are ploughed back in business and are not 
distributed as dividend.

 Sources explained that the ratification by Islamabad was likely to 
be delayed because of the constitutional requirement that was 
needed to be fulfilled to subscribe to the ICD charter. With the 
constitution and parliament suspended, legal issues have to be 
taken care at the highest levels.

 A bank source said the financing would be deal-based and differ 
according to sovereign and projects risks. The higher the risk, he 
added, the higher would be the pricing. Equity would vary for 
short-term investment, trading and long-term capital-intensive 
projects. The pricing would be done by the ICD at market rates. The 
corporation would also offer consultancy services. He said a well-
known business group of Karachi has approached the ICD for 
modernizing its plant, whose products have over the years, acquired 
country-wide acceptability.

Run on commercial lines, the corporation will have stakes from 
public sector as well as private institutions. It would also raise 
funds from the international money market.

The IDB funding is however priced at one per cent less than its 
normal rate of return if the finances are used for trading between 
two member-countries. The IDB extends this concessional facility of 
about $1 billion to Pakistan for oil imports from Muslim states. On 
behalf of Pakistan, IDB has also borrowed from banks at its own 
risk to enable its member-state to tide over its emergency needs. 
Sources in the bank said there has been no request from Pakistan 
for financing of any long term project.

The ICD has an authorized capital of $1 billion and paid-up capital 
of $500 million. IDB has subscribed $250 million, 30 per cent of 
the stakes go automatically to the IDB-member states and shares of 
about $100 million have been acquired by public sector 
organizations in Iran, Kuwait and other Gulf states.

In the short span of its operational life, the ICD has floated an 
Islamic rating company, which would not only determine sovereign 
and project risks but also whether a particular mode of financing 
is Sharia-compliant. ICD started functioning in September last 

Baggage rules being relaxed: Customs officials to settle cases
Ikram Hoti

ISLAMABAD, March 4: The government is liberalizing its policy for 
accompanied or unaccompanied baggage to facilitate passengers 
arriving from abroad, an official source said.

Under the amended policy, instead of referring the cases of under-
declared baggage to the Central Board of Revenue for determining 
the penalties, the cases would now be settled by the customs 
authorities at the port of arrival.

The passengers would also be saved from legal action in case they 
mis-declare the baggage by a certain percentage of value, officials 
said. However, persons bringing items banned under Import Policy 
Order will face legal action.

At present, the under-declared goods are seized before procedural 
action is initiated. Since the powers of customs officials are 
limited to only referring such cases to the CBR, the goods are not 
released even if the passenger offers to pay the full duty on 
under-declared, mis-declared or undeclared items.

The CBR authorities feel that this system is not only tedious, but 
also against the government's policy of facilitating the taxpayers 
and overseas Pakistanis.

The customs authorities have been proposing amendment to the 
procedures applicable for clearance of objectionable baggage for 
the last two months as the cases referred to the CBR have been 
piling up without getting settled in time.

Now a decision has been taken by the CBR authorities to make an 
amendment, which provides for brisk clearance of such baggage. 

The new method would authorize the customs officials posted at 
baggage clearance counters to take on-the-spot decision regarding 
penalties to be imposed for mis-declaration, non-declaration and 

Once empowered, the clearing officials would be determining the 
amount of penalties in view of the percentage of under-declaration 
as per the amended customs procedure. The penalties for taking out 
dutiable items through green channel will, however, remain 

Stringent measures to reduce debts sought

KARACHI, March 3: The Debt committee of the Federal Finance 
Ministry has recommended concerted efforts for achieving the 
ambitious targets for exports and revenues growth and re-doubling 
of privatization besides preparation of integrated economic revival 
and debt reduction macro-economic strategy for next 10 years.

Chairman of the committee, Dr Parvez Hasan, in a presentation to 
the Sindh Government here on Saturday recommended that the 
government should issue a 'Debt Policy Statement', adopting the 
goals of external and public debt reduction.

The presentation was attended by the Sindh Finance Minister Dr. 
Hafeez Shaikh, Chief Secretary Sindh besides secretaries of 
different departments of Sindh.

While speaking on the key findings and recommendations, he said 
since waste of government resources could not be controlled yet, so 
it is imperative that the institutional capacity in economic 
management be strengthened and delivery of public services 
especially in education sector be given more attention.

He said contingency plans for managing shortfall in key targets 
like exports and revenues should be drawn up focused primarily on 
expenditure cuts and restraints. Normal term borrowing from ADP and 
IBRD should be largely eliminated for the next few years and the 
government should be extremely selective in entering into 
committing for new projects, he suggested.

He said a major review of the existing public sector development 
programme should be undertaken by the planning commission. A strong 
institutional framework, centred on a high level debt policy co-
ordination office in the ministry of Finance should be put in place 
as soon as possible, he added.

Talking about the exit strategy, he said the goals of such a 
strategy should be that further assistance from the IMF beyond the 
proposed PRGF be avoided, external debt burden be reduced to the 
sustainable level of less than 200 % of foreign exchange earnings 
by mid 2005, ability to withstand unexpected economic shocks by 
building gross foreign exchange reserves to $5 billion by mid 2004 
and obtaining exceptional foreign assistance of $6 billion during 
the next few years be on concessional terms..

Dr. Parvez Hasan, highlighting the key factors which have 
contributed to the heavy debt burden, said the large and persistent 
fiscal and balance payment deficits and heavy losses of public 
enterprises worsened the economic conditions.

According to him imprudent use of resources such as borrowing for 
non-development, undertaking of low economic priority development 
projects and poor implementation of foreign aided projects also 
contributed to the poor health of the economy, he added.

A weakening debt capacity i.e. stagnation or decline in real 
government revenues and exports, rising real cost of government 
borrowing, both domestic and foreign were also important factors 
leading to debt growth, he said.

High public and external debt burden has contributed to sharp slow-
down in Pakistan's economic growth to around 4 %. In 1990s nearly 
one third of investment was financed from foreign savings. During 
2000-4 only about 5 % of investment is likely to be financed from 
net foreign savings, he inferred.

Large government domestic borrowing of around Rs133 billion in 
1999-2000 is keeping domestic interest rates high and discourage 
private investment, he said. As a consequent of the debt growth, 
the shortage of complimentary infrastructure and an inadequate 
skilful development was adversely affected which left a serious 
dent on the private investment, he said.-APP

Back to the top
We quake          
Ardeshir Cowasjee

HOW often of late have we read statements made by our captains of 
commerce and industry and by the robber barons, those who robbed 
with impunity the country's exchequer and banks, hand in hand and 
with the connivance of our two delinquent leaders of the 1990s, 
Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and their team-mates?

A selection of such statements : We are not loan defaulters, we 
have not robbed the peoples' banks, we have committed no crime. 
Honest to the core we are, we never fleeced the beloved people, we 
gave no support to our corrupt leaders, we have never connived at 
their misdoings. NAB has not nabbed us nor have our arms been 
twisted, the million and million of rupees we have now agreed to 
repay to the exchequer is paid of our own free will and out of the 
goodness of our hearts. It is not stolen money, it is all kosher, a 
gift to the nation.

The latest statement we have read is that of former senator Gulzar 
Ahmed Khan, great friend and admirer, and host of Benazir in 
Islamabad with whom she stayed before she bought herself a house 
there. According to a news item, dateline Lahore March 3, he has 
'agreed' to pay Rs.19.7 crores to the Punjab Cooperative Board for 
the liquidation of a claim against him made by the National 
Industrial Cooperative Finance Corporation. The man has also 
"dropped his claim on around 2000 kanals of land located at Niaz 
Beg Thokar and other places."

Have the two former prime ministers no idea of the extent to which 
they impoverished this nation of 150 million?

There is a government meteorological complex on University Road, 
Karachi, the proud owner of an observatory which has the good 
fortune to possess instruments and scales to monitor seismic and 
climatic changes, many of them donated by our friends, the people 
of Japan. The equipment is operated by electricity and is designed 
to run on a round-the-clock basis. When the KESC supply is cut off 
it is geared to operate on emergency generators which in turn are 
fuelled by oil which at times is not available, because of the 
paucity of funds at the disposal of the observatory.

The recent earthquake at Bhuj has woken us up. The plight of the 
people there is still dire. The death toll was in the range of 
30,000, the injured were about 60,000 and 200,000 were rendered 
homeless. Since this quake, two seminars were organized in Karachi, 
both well-attended. One was held by the KDA/KBCA and the 
Association of Consulting Engineers of Pakistan, on the subject of 
'Seismic Activity in Karachi: its impact on building design and 
structures.' The second was hosted by the Directorate of Civil 
Defence, Sindh, on 'The Coordination of Disaster Management in a 
Changing Environment.' Both organizers felt compelled to invite as 
the chief guest the Sindh minister of housing and town planning, 
Dewan Yusuf Faruqui. Presumably this was done by the flunkies 
employed to toady to their minister. Luckily for all of us, the 
minister obliged by not attending either and time was saved.

Perhaps the many fawning flunkies of our governments and 
administrations may be enlightened by a true story related to me by 
the Marquis of Orellana, the Spanish ambassador to the Court of 
Ayub Khan. A career diplomat, one of his first postings was to his 
country's embassy in London, then headed by (if I remember rightly) 
the Marquis de Santa Cruz. According to Pereco, as we knew 
Orellana, Santa Cruz was a practical man. He often would line up 
the juniors on his staff and tell them 'Tomorrow you will not come; 
tomorrow we are working.'

Now to revert to the serious, and to a bit of rare good news. Vice- 
Chancellor Abul Kalam of the Nadirshaw Eduljee Dinshaw University 
of Engineering and Technology, has established an Earthquake 
Engineering Study Centre manned by Professors Dr Sahibzada Rafiqui, 
Dr Sarosh Lodi (engineers) and Dr Abid Khan (a geologist), with 
which and with whom NEDian Engineer Roland deSouza of SHEHRI will 
coordinate. The Centre, apart from conducting studies, hopes to 
enlighten the corrupt briefcase developers and builders and their 

At a meeting held with the above gentlemen, they were asked to 
clarify certain misconceptions in a question-answer form:

Q. What are the effects of earthquakes on buildings which were 
designed according to the Code (upgrading of our zone from 2 to 

A. The change in zone factor from 2 (1980) to 2B (1997) requires a 
strength evaluation of buildings designed and constructed during 
the period between 1980 and 1997. However, small dwellings and 
structures which are not normally designed to be seismic-resistant 
can pose problems. Concerned people such as small contractors, 
briefcase architects and such need to be educated.

Q. What is the difference/correlation between 'magnitude' and 

A. Magnitude and intensity are two different units of measurement 
quantifying an earthquake. There is no co-relation between them. 
Magnitude is defined as the amount of energy released as a result 
of the slip of faults. There is only one magnitude of an 
earthquake. Normally it is expressed in terms of the Richter Scale 
(origin 1930) named after Charles Richter, an American geologist 
(1900-1985). Intensity is the measure of how an earthquake is felt 
at a particular location. It is based on human observation and, to 
a certain extent, on damage to structures. It is expressed in terms 
of the Modified Mercalli Scale (origin 1920) named after Giuseppe 
Mercalli (1850-1914). En earthquake has several intensities. 
Intensity is an indirect measure of ground acceleration which 
depends on factors such as epicentral distance, type of soil, depth 
of water table, amount of energy released at the epicentre, etc.

Q. What was the magnitude of the Bhuj earthquake?

A. 7.7 on the Richter Scale as reported by the United States 
Geological Survey.

Q. What was the magnitude in Karachi?

A. An earthquake has only one magnitude measured at the epicentre.

Q. What was the intensity in Bhuj?

A. Between X and XII on the Modified Mercalli Scale (I = 
imperceptible, XII = total destruction).

Q. What was the intensity in Karachi?

A. Around IV on the MMS.

Q. How can one design 'earthquake-proof buildings'?

A. Buildings can be and are merely designed to be earthquake-
resistant, never earthquake-proof.

There are many more questions/answers to come.

Pakistan, for all intents and any useful or earning purposes, 
closed for business, for productivity, for work, for progress, for 
disaster or catastrophe, for attacks from outer or inner space, at 
noon on Friday March 2 and, for all serious intents and purposes 
will remain in a state of closure, suspended in celebration, until 
Monday, March 12. Most of the authorities, including Chief 
Executive General Musharraf and his entourage, Governor of Sindh 
Mohammadmian Soomro and his right-hand man Brigadier Akhtar Zamin, 
Sindh Home Secretary Brigadier Mukhtar, are away performing. Those 
who are in the country have all proceeded 'home'. One must hope 
that Abdul Sattar Edhi is around and that no calamity strikes 
Karachi during the coming week.

Clothes to fit a general
Ayaz Amir

PAKISTAN is receiving an object lesson in military efficiency and 
foresight. What should have been done at the dawn of this 
dispensation is being attempted now, after almost a year and a half 
of unrelieved drift and muddle: winning political allies and 
putting democratic makeup on naked military features.

Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that GHQ would be adept at 
this ritual. Or that in its inner sanctuary there would be a ready 
primer for all would-be national saviours: Ten Steps (or less) to 
Civilianisation. Something on these lines. After all, we are 
speaking of an event which has acquired all the overtones of a 
spiritual ceremony: the military marching into the political arena 
and then, after a suitable interval, seeking a 'democratic' 
transition. Only now are General Musharraf and his colleagues 
understanding the necessity of these initiation rites for all 
budding redeemers.

The efforts afoot to remake the Muslim League so that once again it 
fulfils its historic role of nanny to a military order are part of 
this intellectual awakening. The Muslim League, to give it its due, 
was ready to play this role right after the October Revolution. 
Given the right signals it would have made short work of the 
Sharifs. But prey to their own illusions, the generals had other 
ideas. Thinking they stood in no need of political support, they 
let the moment pass, thus allowing Kulsoom Nawaz to step into her 
imprisoned husband's shoes. The remaking of the Muslim League was 
stalled. It has only now gathered pace with Nawaz Sharif's exit to 
the Holy Land and the onset of some measure of realism among 
Musharraf and his knights of the round table.

The switch in Punjab is already done. In other places, including 
the centre, it should soon follow. Mian Azhar and his 'like-minded' 
group were reviled as turncoats not long ago. As they begin to 
straddle the political field they are increasingly seen as winners. 
Thus do fortunes swing in politics. True, many Muslim Leaguers are 
still testing the wind and making a virtue of fence-sitting. But 
they will know which way to jump when the outlines of the emerging 
game plan become clearer.

One thing though is for sure. Nawaz Sharif is history, this being 
the inescapable logic of his escape to the Holy Land. Exile and the 
kingdom: with such exiles kingdoms are not restored. Consider how 
his fortunes have already diminished. The red-carpet welcome he 
received was read by simpletons at home as testimony to his 
continued political relevance. As the days of his exile lengthen, 
the possibility of a political comeback by him recedes into the 
distance. Allowing Nawaz Sharif to go and thus burn his boats was 
the smartest move made so far by the military government. Its 
dividends in the shape of the Muslim League's remaking can now be 
seen in a clearer light.

Justice Qayyum or no, Benazir Bhutto too is history. It is not 
simply that Musharraf and his generals have ordained the expulsion 
of Benazir or Sharif from politics. Their doom is a consequence of 
the hubris they displayed when in power. Benazir continues to shout 
her innocence, her articles and statements being models of 
prevarication in this regard. It is to no avail. Not only did she 
and her husband cover themselves deeply in corruption and misrule. 
They were also blind to the consequences of their actions. Such 
heedlessness does not go unpunished.

The same holds true of Sharif. Talk of an elective monarchy: that 
is what, to all intents and purposes, he was aiming at. Not content 
to have his brother in Punjab and a family favourite in the 
presidency, he wanted his own man, someone personally loyal to him, 
as chief of the army. This was his undoing: just a step too far. 
Returning to power (as in 1997) when the umbrella of democracy 
still held is one thing, staging a comeback when the rules of the 
game have changed is different.

To emphasize the eclipse of both these super-democrats is not to 
revel in their discomfiture or drive more stakes into the heart of 
the political class. It is to draw attention to an enduring 
characteristic of military rule in Pakistan. Political parties can 
fight amongst themselves, they cannot fight the army. One would 
think this was elementary wisdom except that whenever a military 
intervention occurs elements in the political class are swept by 
the illusion that sooner or later military rule will give way 
before the pressure of objective circumstances. It never happens 
this way.

Shedding its trappings and acquiring democratic symbols, military 
rule, after a suitable interval during which there is much talk of 
reform and renewal, acquires a political colouring. In the two 
models we have before us--the Ayub and Zia regimes--this is what 
happened. Barring miracles or acts of God, it promises to be the 
same again.

Seen in this perspective, Mian Azhar and other veterans of the 
Muslim League are on the right side of history. Benazir Bhutto and 
Nawaz Sharif, not to mention his nominee Javed Hashmi, are on the 
wrong side. Granted that this has been a confused and bumbling 
government. It could have done things differently, it could have 
done them better. But bowing to the dictates of necessity, it is 
finally doing what other military governments before it have done.

That in the process accountability has lost its lustre and is being 
used as a selective weapon to attain political ends is only 
natural. When Musharraf seized power only the hopelessly naive 
thought that accountability would be the chosen instrument of 
wholesale national cleansing. Khomeini-like accountability beloved 
of such armchair revolutionaries can only happen in a setting where 
one class overthrows another, not in the kind of chocolate coups 
which are the staple of change in Pakistan. Yet there are people 
who profess feeling betrayed over the course taken by the Musharraf 
revolution. Simplemindedness of this sort is touching and 

There is also another aspect to this situation. The romantic phase 
of Pakistani politics is over. There was a time when genuine faith 
was put in the prospect of change. Great things were expected of 
Benazir in 1986. Wonders were expected of Sharif in 1997. More 
dyed-in-the-wool optimists saw the outlines of another Ataturk in 
Musharraf. Different prophets and redeemers having been tried in 
quick succession, the national mood is one of resignation.

The atmosphere is thus propitious for any number of political 
innovations: the retooling of the Muslim League; the dining out of 
His Holiness the President; the 'election', to popular acclaim, of 
the Generalissimo as President; the Supreme Court concurring 
solemnly with the assertion that its deadline has been met and 
democracy restored.

The religious parties are not an option. They never were. The 
temper of the Pakistani masses allows only for swimming in the 
political mainstream, not anywhere near the banks. Zia's rule saw 
an artificial importance being given to the religious parties. But 
that was an aberration and things are now returning to normal.

There is no rolling back the October Revolution. The only realistic 
possibility is to transform it so that its more comic aspects are 
curtailed. The futility of army monitoring (a bizarre innovation), 
the demoralization of the bureaucracy as a result, the corps 
commanders as regional satraps, the multiplying of lines of 
authority, the army trying to run everything and in the process 
becoming the butt of popular anger and ridicule: such absurdities 
cannot be continued indefinitely.

President Musharraf, Prime Minister Muhammad Azhar, His Holiness 
the Pope back from where he came, to the sound of bugles a change 
of guard at GHQ, the Muslim League getting a new coat of paint and 
declaring that it has won back democracy, Benazir getting to be a 
regular newspaper columnist, Nawaz Sharif wanly weighing the costs 
of Saudi hospitality: not such a bad scenario. In any event, a vast 
improvement on the stagnant ditch-water which characterizes the 
state of the nation today. 

The fire next door      
Irfan Husain

If Mulla Mohammad Omar, Afghanistan's reclusive leader, had put a 
gun to the world's head, he would not have received more instant 
attention than he has done by ordering the destruction of his 
country's most precious cultural icons.

Countries as far apart as Japan and Norway have expressed their 
horror and consternation over this decision. As rockets and tank 
shells are said to have blasted the magnificent giant Buddha 
statues at Bamiyan, the crescendo of criticism has grown. All kinds 
of proposals have been put forward, including the suggestion that a 
wall be built around the offending Buddhas. There have been offers 
to dismantle them and transport them to more hospitable lands. 
Smaller statues have been smuggled out of the war-ravaged country 
to private collections around the world. Japanese collectors have 
long been notorious in commissioning Pakistani and Afghan 
freebooters to dig up and loot all kinds of early Buddhist relics.

For a country in desperate need of international assistance, Mulla 
Omar and his fellow Taliban have been acting rashly in squandering 
any lingering goodwill they might have enjoyed. Their bizarre, 
stone-age attitudes have continued to shock world opinion; the 
current manifestation of religious fanaticism is only the latest in 
a series of self-inflicted wounds.

At a time when drought threatens to devastate what is left of their 
agriculture and poverty is driving growing numbers of Afghans from 
their homes, one would have thought the Taliban would be more, not 
less, conciliatory. But perhaps they have been driven to this 
extreme measure by tightening United Nations sanctions. With 
nothing to lose, they may be lashing out at the West where these 
spectacular statues are more admired than they are in a country 
travelling back in time. This is literally a case of cutting off 
one's nose to spite one's face.

To be sure, this latest bout of iconoclasm is nothing new: Moses 
urged his followers to smash all idols as they found their Promised 
Land. Byzantine Christians witnessed a movement to destroy all 
icons representing Christ. The civil war in England saw the 
destruction of hundreds of representations of Madonnas and the 
Infant Christ. The Wahabi movement in Saudi Arabia supervised the 
destruction of early and pre-Islamic relics. But acts are judged in 
the context of the times, and it is currently unacceptable to 
destroy national cultural heritage.

Mulla Omar has based his decision on his vision of Islam, but it is 
a vision shared by very few of his fellow Muslims. Even Maulana 
Samiul Haq, the Pakistani cleric whose madressahs have trained much 
of the brawn and the brains of the Taliban, has advised the Afghan 
leadership to sell the Buddhist statues to the West and use the 
money to benefit their people. But Mulla Omar is adamant that he is 
merely carrying out the Islamic edict to bar idol worship, never 
mind that there are no Buddhists in Afghanistan to actually 
venerate the statues, and for years there have hardly been any 
tourists to admire the gigantic masterpieces.

But this latest act in an increasingly perverse but tragic drama in 
Afghanistan is in line with the Taliban's weird notions of Islam. 
>From their harsh treatment of women to their fixation about facial 
hair, they have attributed their wildest actions and edicts to 
religion. The problem is that even the most orthodox Muslims have 
refused to accept the Taliban's obscurantist interpretation of the 
faith. When women are punished publicly for accidentally showing an 
inch of their ankles, it is difficult to reconcile this with 
Islam's message of forbearance and forgiveness. And when music is 
banned on Afghan radio, it is not easy to understand how it 
flourishes in other Muslim countries if indeed Islam frowns upon 

Basically, we need to understand the cultural context the Taliban 
have grown up in. Many of them are the children of the war of 
liberation their fathers waged against the occupying Soviet army. 
They grew up in refugee camps in Pakistan, and received such 
education as they got in madressahs where the only texts were the 
scriptures taught by barely literate mullahs. Most of them are 
Pashtun villagers from the most backward parts of a very backward 
country. Their grasp of religion is based on a literal 
interpretation of poorly understood texts, and there is a tendency 
to ascribe ancient tribal customs to Islam. Thus, the traditional 
place accorded to women in a very backward tribal society has 
acquired all the weight and solemnity of religious dogma.

Indeed, it can be argued that religion is generally blended with 
social and cultural mores as it is integrated into a society. The 
marriage customs of South Asian Muslims, for example, have less to 
do with Islam than with traditional rites prevalent in the region. 
Similarly, we have absorbed Hindu attitudes towards caste, which 
are at variance with the Islamic notions of egalitarianism. But in 
both cases, ignorant people will swear that these customs have 
religious sanction. All over the world, people hold beliefs that 
are not found in any religious texts, and yet ascribe them to the 
faith they follow.

In unsophisticated, insular societies like Afghanistan where years 
of war have either killed or driven away the educated elite and 
middle class, there are no countervailing opinions and views to 
temper their extreme (and untenable) interpretation of Islam. As 
the Taliban have conquered most of their benighted land (with 
Pakistani assistance, let it be remembered), they have come to 
believe that their military success is due to the purity of their 
faith. This makes it harder for them to accept that they may be 
wrong in their view of what constitutes the correct vision of 

Pakistan is the only country in the world to have any leverage with 
Kabul. We not only aided the Afghan resistance to Soviet rule - 
suffering a tidal wave of heroin- and Kalashnikov-related crime as 
a result - but both our establishment and fundamentalist 
organizations have given crucial military, moral and diplomatic 
support to the Taliban. But for their own reasons, our rulers have 
chosen either not to influence the Afghan leadership to moderate 
its extremist policies or have decided not to interfere. In either 
case, Islamabad has shown a short-sightedness that runs counter to 
our interests. The rest of the world sees Pakistan to be almost as 
blameworthy as Afghanistan.

Encouraging an extremist regime next door carries a price tag, and 
we are paying that price now. The Taliban are ferociously opposed 
to the shias of Hazara, and this attitude is mirrored among sunni 
militias in Pakistan. The recent spate of sectarian killings is an 
indicator of the cost of fanning extremist fires around us. 
Islamabad has made the serious mistake of thinking it can neatly 
separate what is happening in Afghanistan and Kashmir from events 
in Pakistan.

Unless our leadership can douse the fire it has helped lit in the 
neighbourhood, it will consume our nation as well.

Cricket: Pakistan enjoy measure of control

AUCKLAND, March 9: Pakistan fought back from a shaky start to enjoy 
a measure of control at the end of a rain-abbreviated second day of 
the opening Test with New Zealand here Friday.

The tourists recovered from a collapse early in the day to make 
346. They then put New Zealand firmly on the backfoot with Waqar 
Younis and debutant Mohammed Sami removing the home side's opening 
pair with just a solitary run on the board.

New Zealand ended the day on 65 for two with captain Stephen 
Fleming on 32 and Mathew Sinclair unbeaten on 28. The pair survived 
a testing examination from a four-pronged Pakistani attack and 
still have plenty of work tomorrow on a seemingly placid pitch.

Although rain wiped out about four hours' play the match ignited in 
gloomy conditions this afternoon with Pakistan duo Moin Khan and 
Mushtaq Ahmed adding 52 in eight overs to carry the tourists to the 
brink of 350.

Waqar and Sami then took centre stage swiftly removing Matthew Bell 
and Mark Richardson to have New Zealand in disarray.

Bell, in his comeback Test after an 18-month break since a poor 
showing against India, was unlucky to be undone by a poor umpiring 
decision from the fourth ball of the innings.

New Zealand umpire Doug Cowie adjudged Bell caught behind first 
ball although replays indicated the ball had brushed his back pad 
en route to Moin.-AFP

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