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LATEST NEWS

Former Pakistan Fina�nce Minister Miftah Ismail termed his country a "one-per cent republic" that offers no upward social mobility to an overwhelming majority of its citizens, Dawn reported.

Speaking at an awards ceremony organised by the Management Association of Pakistan (MAP), he said there's "something very wrong" with Pakistan, Dawn reported.

"The 1 per cent elite controls this country," said Ismail, who was a placeholder at the finance ministry for six months until Ishaq Dar's recent return from exile.

Citing the example of US billionaires Bill Gates and St��eve Jobs, who came from not�hing and yet built a fortune by dint of their talent, Ismail lamented that almost all rich Pakistanis are beneficiaries of generational wealth, Dawn reported.

Ismail didn't take questions from the press and left after handing out awards and trophies to dozens of corporate entities that he'd laid into minutes ago for rent-seeking and enjoying state-sanctioned protection from competition.

"(The last government) distributed Rs 580 billion among the richest 1 per cent Pakistanis under the Temporary Econo�mic Refinance Faci�li��ty. The government itself is borrowing at 15 per cent, but the rich people got money at 1 per cent only," he said.

The liquidity injection increased imports of machinery and widened the current account deficit because local business groups produced goods for domestic consumption only, he said.

Without taking names, he said a conglomerate requested his support for setting up a 500,000-tonne factory of polypropylene while he was the finance minister. They demanded a 20 per cent duty protection for 20 years because, in Ismail's words, the corporation couldn't compete against its Chinese counterparts, Dawn reported.

He also criticised the auto sector for its inward-looking approach that's been draining foreign exchange on imports for decades without generating any dollar earnings through exports. He mocked the auto sector for finally exporting "carpets" used in vehicles to Egypt upon his insistence.

LATEST NEWS

 Officials of Pakistan's Ministry of Commerce told the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce that China is interested in importing donkeys from Pakistan, Geo News reported.

During the briefing, officials maintained that China was a big market for exporting meat.

Dinesh Kumar, a member of the standing committee, said that China is asking Pakistan to export donkeys as well as dogs, Geo News reported.

Upon this, Senator Abdul Qadir said that the Chinese ambassador has talked about exporting meat from Pakistan several times. Pouring in his suggestion, Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi said that since animals are comparatively cheaper in Afghanistan, Pakistan can import them from there and then export the meat to China, Geo News reported.

However, the officials of the commerce ministry informed the committee that due to the prevalence of lumpy skin disease among animals, their import from Afghanistan has been temporarily banned.

Aside from the topic of exporting animals, the standing committee expressed its concerns over the withdrawal of electricity subsidy given to five export sectors. In response to that, commerce ministry officials said that the issue has been raised before the Ministry of Finance to revert the subsidy as the export sectors are facing various difficulties.

The standing committee recommended that the government resolve the issue of electricity subsidy to the export industry as soon as possible.

LATEST NEWS

 Pakistan's Prime Pinister, Shehbaz Sharif, has accused the former premier Imran Khan of being the "the biggest liar on the face of the earth" and injecting poison into society to "dangerously polarise the electorate" after he was toppled from power earlier this year, The Guardian reported.

Speaking in his first interview from Pakistan since he took over as Prime Minister in April, Sharif, 70, spoke unsparingly of the "damage" that Khan, the former cricket superstar who ruled Pakistan from 2018, had done to the country in both domestic and foreign affairs.

Sharif, who is the younger brother of the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and part of one of Pakistan's most powerful political dynasties, called Khan "a liar and a cheat" whose policies had left the economy in ruins, The Guardian reported.

He accused Khan, who ran on an anti-corruption manifesto, of conducting the country's affairs to suit his own personal agenda "in a manner which can be only described as the most inexperienced, self-centred, egotistical, immature politician in the history of this country."

Sharif said the leaked audios were "an irrefutable endorsement that he [Khan] is the biggest liar on the face of the earth. I'm not saying this with a sense of glee but a sense of embarrassment and concern. My country's image has been been damaged hugely by these lies told out of mean personal interest."

Sharif, who has always worked with the military establishment, acknowledged that he faced significant challenges ruling Pakistan while Khan was mobilising on the streets. Several of the economic decisions made by Sharif's government, such as raising fuel taxes, have proved very unpopular.

"Never before was I concerned about our country's future," said Sharif. "Imran Khan has injected infinite amount of poison in this society and made it hugely polarised as never before...he is distorting facts and creating hate," The Guardian reported.

LATEST NEWS

With Chinese officials making no significant changes to their Covid-19 restrictions in Tibet's capital of Lhasa despite issuing a recent public apology, a spate of suicides has taken place in the city over the past week.

In the span of two days, at least five people took their own lives by jumping to their deaths in various parts of Lhasa and its suburbs, according to sources the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) reached out to.

"The International Campaign for Tibet is deeply concerned about these developments and urges the Chinese government to refrain from repressive measures and allow space for Tibetans to express their legitimate grievances," said ICT, an advocacy group that promotes human rights and democratic freedoms for Tibetans.

"China's mismanagement of Covid in Tibet reveals the extreme human costs when authoritarian police states prioritise censorship and social control over the wellbeing of the people."

A closer analysis of the five known suicides between September 23 and 24 suggests that all were due to the extreme hardships endured under China's zero-Covid policy restrictions. The psychological impact of living a highly controlled life in Covid lockdowns and inside mass state-mandated quarantine sites may have driven all five Tibetans to commit suicide by jumping off buildings.

Since the second wave of Covid hit Lhasa almost two months ago, Lhasa authorities, in their efforts to enforce Beijing's zero-Covid policy, have severely mishandled their Covid response.

Before the authorities stepped up censorship to prevent the spread of news about their Covid mismanagement, Tibetans from all walks of life and age ranges openly shared their grievances and pleas to end the harsh Covid measures.

Those measures have exacerbated the community spread of Covid as well as accelerated already rising cost-of-living expenses.

The Lhasa government's failed response also revealed the institutional indifference built into local government and exacerbated the strained and already broken communication channels between Tibetans and the authorities.

The Lhasa government's increased censorship, tactical public apology and subsequent police crackdown on Tibetans for "spreading Covid rumors" and their grievances online have led the five Tibetans to commit suicide in a desperate cry for help.

ICT believes Tibetans are in despair and have no hope for their future under Chinese rule. With Tibet having endured decades of Chinese oppression, the extreme restrictions enforced under Covid lockdown, combined with poor quarantine conditions, raise legitimate fears that this is the future of Tibetan society, and that very little will change after Covid.

With no hope for basic freedoms or rights to express their pain or insecurity, they feel the only way out of their situation is to take their own lives, added ICT.

LATEST NEWS

Indonesian authorities have formed an independent fact-finding team to investigate Saturday's deadly stampede that occurred after a football match in East Java province, Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD said Monday.

The minister, who leads the fact-finding team, told a virtual press conference that the team was assigned directly by President Joko Widodo to find out the causes of the stampede which killed 125 people and injured at least 320 others, and who would be responsible for the incident.

"This team will work for a maximum of one month ahead. All results and recommendations will be directly reported to the president," Mahfud said.

The team members consisted of officials from relevant ministries and government institutions, professional football organisations, observers, academics and mass media, he said.

Besides establishing the team, Widodo had also instructed the country's police and military institutions to respectively probe their officers and soldiers who were allegedly involved in causing the stampede, Mahfud said.

According to local reports, the Indonesian Police have been under fire by the public as many believe that the stampede happened after the police fired tear gas at the crowds, sparking panic among spectators and a stampede at one of the stadium's exits.

"In three days, the National Police must impose disciplinary measures towards its regional structural officers assigned in the area where the incident occurred. The police must also immediately name suspects of all possible perpetrators," Mahfud said.

"Meanwhile, the Indonesian military must impose sanctions and probe all of its soldiers who are proven to have done unnecessary measures that triggered the stampede," he added.