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Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations
Although the Pakistan day is being celebrated every year on March 23, yet this time, this very day has come at a time when Pakistan stands at the crossroads of its destiny, facing internal and external challenges and threats to the national security of the country, which demands selfless national unity among all the segments of society.
The 23rd of March 1940 was a watershed in the history of the Sub Continent when All India Muslim League passed the Resolution in Lahore for the creation of an independent state. Now, it is popularly called as Pakistan Resolution. Earlier, in his address to the Muslim League at Allahabad in 1930, the idea of a homeland for Muslims in their majority areas had been envisioned by the poet Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal and had become the aspiration of Indian Muslims.
In fact, the British colonialists in connivance with majority Hindu population had manipulated and targeted Muslims through every possible way. In that background, Muslims started the struggle for a separate state.
Prior to the Lahore session of Muslim League, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had specified to this historical congregation of the Muslims, the watch-words of ‘Faith, Unity and Discipline’ which were not only necessary for waging the battle for an independent homeland, but also for present Pakistan. So, while struggling against the enemies, the essence of these watch-words is the unity which is the real spirit of the Pakistan Resolution.
However, it was due to the selfless practical unity among the Muslims under the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam that Pakistan became a tangible reality. But that unity started declining after passing through various crises, and the result was the separation of East Pakistan in 1971, as the India manipulated differences between East Pakistan and the West Pakistan.
However, the 23rd March which is celebrating by every Pakistani as the Pakistan Day, has come at a time when Pakistan is facing multiple threats of grave nature, which are not only worrying all the citizens but are also creating division between the rulers and the opposition parties including rival politicians, taking the country towards anarchy.
The Pakistan Day has come at a time when Pakistan’s security forces have been facing a different war, while the enemy is also different, which employs subversive activities of various kinds which also include internal and external challenges. In these terms, Pakistan is in the state of new war, being waged by the Armed Forces and intelligence agencies against terrorists. In this respect, our Armed Forces have almost obtained their objectives in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) through military operation Zarb-e-Azb against the terrorists who had challenged the writ of the state and had frightened the entire nation by their terror acts. In Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi and other parts of the country including tribal areas our security forces and law-enforcing agencies have broken the terror networks and restored peace by eliminating and capturing terrorists. Unlike the past, peace has, especially, been restored in Balochistan and Karachi.
Besides, Pakistan launched a nationwide military operation codenamed Radd-ul-Fasaad earlier this year, which includes broad-spectrum security and counter-terrorism operations in Punjab and other cities of the country, while continuing the ongoing operations. The move came after a series of deadly bombings across the country all through February, which killed hundreds of civilians.
According to various news releases of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Pakistan’s security and law enforcement agencies have killed and arrested more than 600 suspects, terrorists and their facilitators, including capture of huge cache of arms and ammunition in a crackdown across the country, especially Punjab as part of the ongoing Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad. The ISPR disclosed that some suspected terrorists were killed during an exchange of fire with security personnel. It said some Afghan nationals and RAW agents were among the arrested suspects.
Nevertheless, during this very day, it is also of particular attention that since the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to the Baloch militants as part of the reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and the province. However, civil, federal and provincial governments are making strenuous efforts to restore complete peace and order in the province. For this purpose, a paramilitary committee has also been formed by the ruling party to hold negotiations with the disgruntled elements. And the former Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif also supports political settlement—general pardon to the insurgents in Balochistan, so that, development works including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which would bring unlimited benefits to the province and its people must be completed. Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa continues the same policy.
Unfortunately, it is because of lack of solidarity among our politicians, leaders, and media that foreign opportunists have been manipulating the chaotic situation of Pakistan in order to fulfill their secret agenda by destabilizing the country which is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. In the past few years, nefarious designs of some foreign secret agencies like Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad which have tactical support of American CIA can be gauged from a number of anti-Pakistan developments such as their support to insurgency in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, separatism in Balochistan and targeted killings especially in Karachi coupled with subversive acts all over the country.
Pakistan which has become a special arena of this different war and has faced terror activities such as suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings, ruthless beheadings of the innocent people, assaults on security personnel and prominent religious figures. Besides blowing children schools and attacking the female teachers in order to deny education to girls, the terrorists, particularly of the Afghan-based Indian-backed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) also targeted mosques, Imambargahs, mausoleums, temples, Churches and disgraced dead bodies. Their pitiless acts resulted into killings of several persons in Pakistan. Although terror attacks have been reduced, yet RAW, CIA, and Mossad which are based in Afghanistan and are in connivance with the terror outfits like TTP, Daesh and other similar militant groups—their affiliated outfits have again started these acts of sabotage in Pakistan.
And it is also due to lack of national unity that Pakistan is also facing multi-faceted crises such as load shedding of gas and electricity, soaring prices, unemployment, crimes, lack of health facilities, and dependence upon the US-led developed countries, IMF and World Bank for financial aid.
Externally, Pak Army and Rangers are, boldly, responding to India’s unprovoked firing at the Line of Control in Kashmir including Working Boundary in Sialkot and other sectors. While the fundamentalist party BJP led by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is implementing anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan agenda. In this context, BJP leader Dr. Subramaniam Swamy, a staunch promoter of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) stated on July 12, 2014, that India needed only two years to defeat Pakistan militarily, and the only solution of Kashmir was war, as “there is no peaceful, democratic solution.
Meanwhile, in response to the new Indian Army Chief, Gen. Bipin Rawat’s statement of January 3, 2017 about the so-called “surgical strikes” in Pakistani side of Kashmir, Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa on January 5, 2016 rejected claims by his Indian counterpart Gen. Bipin Rawat about “so-called surgical strikes” and their possible recurrence. Gen. Qamar Bajwa made it clear that “Pakistan Armed Forces were fully geared to respond to any aggression by India.”
As regards the unity, no doubt, it was displayed among all segments of society, after the TTP massacred 132 school children at Army Public School and College in Peshawar on December 16, 2014—as the situation warranted bold and firm decisions to deal the menace of terrorism, especially the threat of the TTP and its banned affiliated groups which are still conducting subversive activities in Pakistan. In this regard, the government, encouraged by the resolve of public opinion responded prudently and lifted the moratorium on death penalty awarded to the criminals according to law. Taking note of the delicate moment, on January 2, 2015, political and military leaders agreed on a draft of legislative measures which paved the way for the establishment of special military trial courts. It was unanimously agreed that the 20 points (National Action Plan) enunciated in the All Parties Conference (APC) Resolution of December 24, 2014, shall be acted upon expeditiously—the bill as 22nd (Constitutional) Amendment has been enforced soon after its approval from the parliament. Now, special military courts have been established and the ruthless terrorists facing death penalty are rapidly being hanged. In this context, National Action plan must also be fully implemented to defeat the terrorists.
In fact, it is a war of every patriot Pakistani against terrorists, as the enemy is different, and it cannot leave the security forces alone to wage this different conflict of history. In this context, Pakistan Day demands the cooperation of every citizen, politician, and religious leader with the security forces and agencies to defeat these merciless terrorists.
While emphasizing national unity against terrorists, the former Army Chief and the present one Gen. Bajwa has stated the We will continue to go after the inhuman beasts, their facilitators till their final elimination.
Taking cognizance of the present critical situation, Pakistan Day demands selfless national unity which must be shown practically. This significant day demands that our political leaders must pledge that they will not manipulate their regional and provincial differences at the cost of the national interests so as to grab political power. In this connection, a blind dedication to one’s own race, tribe and creed should not be allowed to create hatred in one group against the other. They must avoid exploiting the ongoing thorny issues in order to increase their vote bank at the cost of the integration of the country. If any controversy arises, it can better be settled in consonance with the constitution. For this aim, in order to castigate the conspiracy of the external enemies against the integrity of the country, some of our political leaders, media houses and human rights groups must also stop manipulating any crisis against Pak Army and country’s primary secret agency, ISI whose image are deliberately being tarnished by the external plotters.
True and selfless unity against the foreign enemies requires that our rulers and leaders of other political parties and must create national cohesion among various segments of society. Particularly, our electronic media should give a matching response to the malicious propaganda of the US-led some western countries including India and Israel which are distorting the image of Pakistan, its army, and ISI.
Especially, on this very day, media must also project a soft image of Pakistan by highlighting national heroes and tourism sights of the county.
Nonetheless, at this crucial time, Pakistan’s survival lies in selfless national unity and strong cohesion as at present, even a layman can note that our country is in chaos and it seems as if there is a “war of all against all” in the sense of ‘Hobbesian state of nature.”
On the occasion of Pakistan Day, we must follow the essence of the Pakistan Resolution in real terms by displaying selfless unity in practical terms, which is not possible unless the government, the opposition leaders, civil societies and media owners including all other segments of society pledge to sign a charter of integration which is very necessary to pull the country out of the ongoing serious crises and threats.
ISLAMABAD: Investors should forget India and instead profit from the ‘quiet rise’ of Pakistan along with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Barron’s Asia said.
“Forget India. Investors looking for the next big thing should look to its South Asia neighbours instead — Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka,” America’s financial magazine in an article said.
According to the article, the three countries with a combined 390 million people represent what Morgan Stanley chief global strategist Ruchir Sharma calls “the quiet rise of South Asia” as opposed to India which has been “flattered by spasms of hype for years”.
While overshadowed by their larger neighbour, the trio is enjoying fast-paced growth, embracing much needed reforms, and look set to enjoy a demographic dividend over the long term. “A substantially higher economic growth rate than in many other economies globally, coupled with fantastic demographics that will continue supporting growth for many years ahead,” East Capital fund manager Adrian Pop tells Barron’s Asia.
The article mentions that Pakistan is the flag-bearer of the positive changes taking place in the South Asian nations. Since coming to power five years ago, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has got inflation under control, cut the budget deficit and reined in the current account deficit. But more importantly, terrorism finally appears to be on the backfoot given more assertive action by the army. Chinese investment has also poured in: $50 billion will be spent on new roads, transport links and energy projects.
“More power capacity is key for Pakistan to move to an even higher economic growth rate,” says Pop. That will benefit stocks in materials and energy.In December, the Pakistan Stock Exchange sold 40 percent of itself to a consortium of Chinese investors.
The Karachi stock index is up by about 50 percent since the start of last year, propelled by index compiler MSCI’s decision to bump up the country to emerging markets status. That will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars from passive funds into the Pakistani benchmark. The rally in stocks has arguably left the market looking a little pricey as the KSE 100 index trades at over 12 times earnings, its heftiest valuation since late 2009. That’s still about a 15 percent discount to the MSCI emerging markets index, however, plus Pakistani stocks yield an attractive 4 percent-plus dividend.
Bangladesh benefits from a growing working age population and rising labour costs elsewhere in Asia. Garment manufacturing for Western clothing companies has increasingly moved from China to places like Bangladesh, where wages are lower.
The article said in August it tipped downstream firm Pakistan State Oil (PSO.PK), which has since risen 10 percent. It’s worth hanging onto that stock, but we’d add upstream exploration player Oil & Gas Development (OGDC) to the mix too.
Shares in the Islamabad-based company have powered up 45 percent in the last year, and could rise by a further 30 percent.Oil & Gas Development will benefit from any further recovery in oil prices, which have roughly doubled since hitting their nadir last February.
Earnings per share should rise by 17 percent in full-year 2017 and 20 percent in full-year 2018. Oil & Gas Development trades at eight times forward earnings, which is toward the higher end of its historical valuation. That multiple is more compelling than exploration peer Pakistan Petroleum (PPL), however, which trades at 10 times next 12 months’ earnings.
About Lahore’s DG Khan Cement (DGKC), which is one of the country’s largest cement producers, with a capacity of more than four million tons a year. The stock also makes a good foundation for a Pakistan portfolio.
At the end of December, the countries jointly announced a $14 billion dam project close to DG Khan’s HQ in northern Pakistan. The dam will need about a million tons of cement.
Shares in the company have returned a solid 50 percent over the last year. DG Khan’s valuations looks a bit less stretched than that of rival Lucky Cement (LUCKY), which investors were told to pour into their portfolio over summer.
DG Khan trades at 10 times forward earnings, compared to Lucky’s 16 times. Its dividend yield of 2.6% is also bigger than its rival. Brokers think DG Khan can rise by as much as 25 percent.
Lowest market P/E in the region with the highest return.
Upgradation of Moody’s rating of the country.
Pakistan is the 26th largest economy according to PPP (Purchasing Power Parity), and the sixth largest populous country in the world with a burgeoning middle class, having 54% of the population below the age of 24 years. In news, Pakistan has been presented as the turbulent nation embroiled in militancy and political violence. However, the landscape of the country has been changing since the past two years, with an improving macroeconomic situation, steady political outlook and substantial improvement in law and order, and the upgradation of its bond ratings from Caa1 to B3, a stable outlook.
On 9th June 2015, the MSCI stated about a potential reclassification of the MSCI Pakistan Index into Emerging Markets from the current classification of Frontier Markets in its 2016 Annual Market Classification review. This categorization would trigger a large flow of emerging market funds to return to Pakistan as the MSCI Emerging Market Index is tracked by global funds worth $1.7 trillion, according to Bloomberg.
Further, in one of the lectures at the Aga Khan University, the Chief Investment Strategist of Morgan Stanley said that Pakistan’s rise is just a matter of time. This was due to the favorable demographics and the lower P/E of the stocks – performing better in terms of return – when compared to the markets of the developed world.
The KSE 100 Index, which tracks the top 100 companies out of the 557 listed on the stock exchange had a five-year US dollar CAGR of 25% (highest among its peers) and net profit margins 60% above the five-year average of the peer group whose margins are 10.2% lower than its five-year average. The Bourse has an average ROE of 19.2% against the peer average of 10.2%.
Pakistani stocks are cheaper when compared to their regional peers. Consider the following graph for further details:
As the above graph illustrates, Pakistani stocks have a lower P/E, P/B and higher dividend yield relative to its peers.
Swedish think-tank has pointed out that India is afraid of Pakistan’s economic stability through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
According to the report titled “Silk Road Economic Belt considering security implications and the EU-China cooperation prospects”, India does not want China to perform as a mediator in the disputes, a private news channel reported.
“There is considerable concern within India that China, which has been neutral on Kashmir since 1963, can no longer be so now that its economic and security interests in these territories are growing in stake,” says a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) – a Sweden-based think tank.
It further stated that China’s involvement after implementation of CPEC would possibly make it a stakeholder in Kashmir dispute as India does not want to internationalize this matter.
The report stated that India is depressed over the chances of employment in Pakistan after CPEC project.