Archive for February, 2010

Pakistan eyes billions in foreign investment

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan aims to attract foreign investment worth five billion dollars this year, but needs to tackle reform, maximise anaemic growth and stem rampant violence to clinch its ambitious target.

Last fiscal year, Pakistan recorded its worst economic growth in more than a decade, at two percent, and attracted only 3.7 billion dollars in investment.

Yet Board of Investment chairman Saleem Mandviwalla is optimistic despite Pakistan’s immense challenges.

“Traditionally the investment pace that we had kept — which was an average of five billion dollars a year — I think we should be able to go back to it very soon depending on if the global situation improves,” he said.

“Pakistan faces the global crisis which is going on, the financial crisis, the energy crisis and then on top of these we have the security situation,” Mandviwalla, who is also a state minister, conceded.

Security has plummeted in Pakistan over the last three years with militants on the rampage, killing more than 3,000 people in bomb attacks to avenge the government’s alliance with the United States in the war on Al-Qaeda.

Then there is the crippling energy crisis. Power cuts have become routine all year round, choking industry and causing misery for millions.

“With these conditions prevailing on us, which is terrorism and energy shortages, this stops us from really moving the investment the way it should come in,” Mandviwalla acknowledged.

While Pakistan languishes behind regional giants India and China, Mandviwalla takes comfort from the fact that his country, with its relatively advanced infrastructure, does better than other developing countries.

Close ally the United States has tripled non-military aid to Pakistan to 7.5 billion dollars over the next five years, spurring hopes that the cash can boost economic growth and improve security.

“We have to market Pakistan, we have to overcome the local issues,” Mandviwalla said, highlighting opportunities in energy generation, agriculture and infrastructure.

The top three countries providing foreign direct investment (FDI) so far this fiscal year are the United States, with 347.5 million dollars, Britain, 119 million dollars and the United Arab Emirates, 121.8 million dollars, according to the Board of Investment.

The biggest investments flowed into oil and gas, communications and information technology, and power generation, its documents said.

The investment board touts success stories such as investment from mobile phone operators Orascom (Egypt) and Telenor (Norway), Japan’s Toyota, Citibank, Standard Chartered Bank and consumer product giant Procter & Gamble.

The board recently signed a memorandum of understanding with General Electric to identify energy, power, transport and water projects.

Azmat Ranjha, the minister for trade in the Pakistani embassy in Washington, acknowledged that investment from the United States — the country’s largest trading partner — had slipped because of the security concerns.

But he said it was largely a matter of perception and pointed to fresh investment by large US companies with long experience in Pakistan such as Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble.

“If you’re a start-up, the perception you get once you read all these newspapers is that it looks fairly scary,” he said.

“But those familiar with the region know that most of the problems are in the north near Afghanistan while most industry is in the central and southern part of the country.”

February 28, 2010 Posted Under: News update   Read More

PM urges nation to follow Prophet Muhammad’s (SAWW) teachings

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has said that it is the duty of Muslims that being the followers of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), they should make all human beings abreast of the fact that Islam stands for love, peace, compassion, humility, and tolerance.

In his message on the occasion of 12th Rabi-ul-Awal (Eid Milad-un-Nabi SAWW), he said on this day Almighty Allah sent into this world a personality who was conferred upon the title of “ Rahmat-ulil-Aalamin from Allah and in whose person the whole humanity takes pride in the sense that he congregated them on a single platform.

“He imparted the people with a thought of welfare for the humanity. History is witness to the fact that people who were enemies of each other became hand in glove with each other,” he added.

He said, “It all happened because of the charm of a personality whose birthday we are celebrating today.”

The Prime Minister extended greetings to all Muslims on the auspicious day of the birth of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon Him).

The Prime Minister said in order to maintain the real and original spirit of Prophet’s message, therein lies the onus on Muslims to preach the golden principles of love and brotherhood unequivocally.

“We should not only be well-wishers of Muslim brothers but should practice these teachings while treating the non-Muslims as well. We should make our home and our country a place of peace,” he added.

February 28, 2010 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Indefinite curfew clamped in DIK after sectarian violence

DERA ISMAEL KHAN: The clashes, between two religious sects, which killed at east four persons and rendered another 26 wounded, have prompted the officials to clamp curfew for an indefinite period here in Dharki Morh of Pahar Pur tehsil located in the northwestern town of Dera Ismeal Khan (DIK) on late Saturday.

According to hospital sources, several among injured persons are critical in condition.

According to police sources, at least 4 persons lost their lives and another 26 sustained injuries when two armed groups, reportedly belonging to two religious sects, entered in to clashes following incident of firing on a religious procession, which was celebrating the Eid Miladun Nabi (SAWW) here in Dera Ismeal Khan.

After the clashes, the law enforcement agencies have imposed curfew for an indefinite period in the area on account of tension prompted by sectarian violence, police sources told media.

Police and rangers officials, cordoning off the entire area, have beefed up security, and are patrolling in town, eyewitnesses told reporters.

February 28, 2010 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Moderate quake jolts upper parts of country

ISLAMABAD: A moderate earthquake with an intensity of 6.2 has rattled upper parts of country including federal capital Islamabad early on Sunday morning before dawn.

According to met office, the areas received the shocks of tremor, included upper and lower Dir, Swat, Bunir, Hangu, Malakand, Shangla, Nowshera, Mansehra, Balakot, Attock, Peshawar and Momhand Agency.

The epic center of quake was somewhere in Afghanistan beneath Hindu Kush’s mountainous region, met office told media.

No loss of life or property was reported, however, people in fear came out of their homes reciting verses from Holy Qura’an, witnesses told reporters.

February 28, 2010 Posted Under: News update   Read More