Featured Topic: Pakistan

Gilani Asks for Chinese Investors

Just a few days ago, Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, asked firms in China to “invest in his country’s energy sector,” in an attempt to boost his suffering economy that is facing crisis following last year’s massive floods as well as in general, “weak Western investment.” But he’s not asking this from a charitable point of view. Gilani believes that Chinese companies can really benefit from making this investment, according to what he said last Thursday at a joint business forum held in Beijing. He added that, “joint ventures, with equity participation of Chinese corporations and financial institutions, can transform Pakistan’s economic landscape and would certainly prove to be a win-win scenario.” He also mentioned how beneficial it would be for these Chinese firms to look to Pakistan when developing their business strategies.

Osama’s Unraveling

Gilani made these statements on the third day of his China trip which is just a few weeks after Osama bin Laden was killed on Pakistani soil. This in and of itself is significant since it “rattled US-Pakistan ties and pushed Islamabad closer to Beijing.” Gilani met with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao last Wednesday and the two have both been pushing the development of mutual ties between the countries at a time when his country is feeling the “pressure about whether its security services knew where bin Laden was.”

Economic Excellence

At the end of the day, there is also great potential for trading and profits between China and Pakistan. Indeed, just looking at figures for last year, trade between the day reached $8.7bn which was an increase of 27.7 percent on-year. There has also been substantial collaboration in the energy sector between the two countries. Indeed, just over a week ago, a nuclear power plant that was built with China was opened in Pakistan and Beijing has signed a contract to build an additional two reactors in an attempt to facilitate energy shortages. Since Pakistan has been dealing with substantial power shortages, production has been limited to approximately 80 percent of the country’s needs. Thus these kind of energy agreements are vital for boosting the economy.

Great Investment Opportunities in Pakistan

Despite the somewhat trying environment in Pakistan, according to Syed Yousouf Raza Gilani, the country’s Prime Minister believes that the country offers amazing investment opportunities for outside investors. Indeed, if you look at the stats, Gilani is probably not wrong. As he claims, the fact that over seven hundred companies have been making such investments in the country proves that it presents “lucrative opportunities.” Otherwise these companies wouldn’t be advancing. In addition, the PM claimed it was merely “propaganda” vis-à-vis his country’s security situation and that foreign businessmen should ignore this and instead choose to “invest in diverse sectors for securing tremendous dividends.”

Gilani Goes Gabbing

So Gilani went to France. Arriving two days ago, he is there to discuss defense and economic matters. There was also a signature on a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries in an effort to develop a Joint Business Council that is meant to encourage “mutually advantageous trade.”

Despite what Gilani is saying however, there has been concern over rather pricey taxation for those investing in Pakistan. This was also discussed with Hina Rabbani Khar (Pakistan’s Minister of State for Economic Affairs) asking the French entrepreneurs who were voicing this complaint to “provide detailed proposals either directly to the government or through their embassy so that these might be looked into and considered in the next budget.”

Pakistani Perception Problematic

According to Gilani, there are huge misconceptions vis-à-vis what is really going on in Pakistan. He is not happy with how the media has been portraying things and urges them to refocus on what is actually going on with the country and the real issues it is encountering while at the same time battling the country’s problems of terror. As well, French potential investors should come see for themselves; visit the country and check out how investors succeed in Pakistan and have been doing so for years.

So there is a lot of good news in Pakistan. Despite what the media portrays and what we thus see on our TVs, when it comes to investment opportunities, rather than believe what we see/hear, if we are serious about making a rupee or two then we need to take a plane to Pakistan ourselves.

Pakistan Packs It In

Despite the crazy floods to strike the country just a year ago, impacting a staggering 18 million people, it looks like Pakistan’s economy is actually growing today. Indeed, it looks like the country will be joining forces with Malaysia and economists expect economic cohesion between the two countries to expand “by at least 10 percent this year.”

According to Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, Malaysia’s Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister, there could be joint work between the following sectors: chemicals, palm oil downstream products, petrochemicals, and telecommunications. Because both countries have their own strengths, Mahatir told a “Business and Investment Opportunities in Pakistan” conference that he believes the two should take advantage of each other for mutual benefit.

Indeed, this has already been happening. The figure recorded for Pakistani investments in Malaysian manufacturing area reached a total of RM1.099 billion spanning 26 projects. As well, last year trade between the two countries was recorded at RM7.991 billion.

Booming Bahrain

Economic and financial advancement in Malaysia is going beyond the scope of its host country. Indeed its trading with Bahrain shot up to $192.2 million. As well, last year Malaysian exports to Bahrain reached $71.57 million and $120.6 million the other direction.

According to CEO of My Events International, Shahul Hameed, this “increased trade not only reflects a healthy business relationship with emerging countries in the South East Asian region but also shows its eagerness to explore key investment and financial opportunities inside and outside of the Middle East region.”

For sure whenever political issues get ironed out it, the way will be paved for economic and financial development as well.

Earth Hour took place on 26 March between 8 30 and 9 30 pm.  It is a time when people around the globe turn off their lights and make a “commitment to actions that go beyond the hour.”  According to the Earth Hour website, this year “our thoughts are with the people of Japan during this incredibly challenging and sad time for their country.”

Origins of Earth Hour

Earth Hour first emerged in Australia in 2007 as a way of conserving the world’s energy and natural resources which are depleting way too quickly.  This was a great first step but was also then leading to a climate change and is today a global event which is “being observed in more than 134 countries and territories,” coordinated by the World Wide Fund.

Delhi Saves 296 MW Power

Earth Hour was most effective in India.  During the hour more than a thousand individuals came together to dance away to loud rock numbers from the Indian band Euphoria, in complete darkness!  Lights weren’t needed for the energy to spike.  No one stayed home.  From toddlers to seniors, everyone joined in total cohesion to save electricity during the 8 30 to 9 30 Earth Hour.  According to DU student  Sharmishtha Chatterjee, “…it was very wise on WWF’s part to organize an event like this, where everyone was invited,” since otherwise many people would have just stayed home alone and ignored the event – and the idea – and not turned off their electricity.  Indeed, according to Sheila Dixit Delhi Chief Minister, “the city plunged in darkness for a brighter tomorrow….[with the] hope that Earth Hour sensitizes each one of us for making the shift to a better lifestyle.”

There’s Always One Party Pooper

Unfortunately at any party there’s usually one party pooper.  At this celebration it was clearly Toronto.  Millions of people from 134 countries — from Delhi, India to Heidelberg, Germany — switched off their lights and televisions for the fifth annual Earth Hour on Saturday night to show their support for action on climate change, but Toronto witnessed a measly 5 per cent power drop during the event, marking just 50 percent of the country’s achievements last year.  Nonetheless, it’s still seen as a “success” in the country.

Salman Taseer was shot to Death yesterday, apparently by one of his own bodyguards. The suspected Killer explained that his employer was against the Muslim anti-blasphemy law. The law has become controversial since a non-muslim woman, who criticized Mohamed the Muslim prophet, was given the death penalty. Salman Taseer had appealed for her release, causing Muslim religious authorities to label him an apostate, whose punishment is death. A Muslim Holy man has promised a $6,000 bounty reward for whoever murders the women who spoke badly about Mohamed, thereby avenging the name of the prophet and Allah.

Salman Taseer was famous as a person who defended women’s rights and minorities thereby raising the ire of the clerics. The assassination underscores the tensions between the secular and the minorities on one side and the Muslim extremists on the other. This secular religious tension is constantly under the surface and is a destabilizing factor in Pakistan.

Faysal Bank Limited has merged with the Pakistani division of the Royal Bank of Scotland limited.

Faysal Bank issued a press release stating that “This merger has been completed in record time, within three months of acquiring controlling interest.” In addition, all RBS branches in Pakistan are now being marketed under the Faysal Bank label.

Faysal Bank now has a network of more than 200 branches throughout the country. Its new asset base is more than Rs250 billion. Naved A Khan, the president of Faysal Bank noted that “This merger results in greater career and development opportunities for employees.”

Ithmaar Bank BSC, a retail-oriented Islamic bank, headquartered in Bahrain is the majority shareholder of Faysal Bank.