PM talks to Gen Raheel on phone

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday night talked to army chief Gen Raheel Sharif on phone about tensions with India over held Kashmir.

“The prime minister and Gen Raheel Sharif had a telephonic conversation in which they discussed … the prevailing regional situation,” a PM Office spokesman said.

Mr Sharif is in New York to attending the United Nations General Assembly session. This was the first conversation between the two since Sunday’s Uri military camp attack in held Kashmir after which tensions with India have soared.

The conversation came ahead of PM Sharif’s speech at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday in which he is likely to focus on the Kashmir issue and Pakistan’s tense relations with India.

The prime minister and the army chief are believed to have discussed proposals that the former intends to make during his speech for de-escalating the situation and moving to a dialogue on the Kashmir dispute.

Indian journalist writes open letter to Fawad Khan, tells him to return to Pakistan

Uh oh, seems like Fawad Khan has ruffled some feathers across the border.

A senior Indian journalist and popular blogger, Soumyadipta Banerjee has written a rather confusing and harsh open letter to the Kapoor and Sons star, urging him to return to his homeland.

The letter, which was published on Bollywood Journalist, states, “Fawad, I don’t think you can deny how much love we have showered on you over the past few years. We have given you more money in two years than what you could have possibly earned in Pakistan in 10 years.”

“We have given you recognition that you would have never been able to earn sitting in Karachi. We made you act in great movies, we helped you endorse brands. And hey, we also made you a bigger star in Pakistan.”

“Though you are a supporting male lead in Bollywood movies, you are now a mega superstar in Pakistan,” he adds.

Ouch. And it only goes downhill from there.

After extensively reminding Khan of all that Bollywood has supposedly done for his career, the writer blames him for all that has gone awry between the two neighbouring countries. He goes on to say: “We have watched in pain how you have chosen to look away when your country is inflicting pain on us.”

“Fawad, you lack courage. You lack conviction. You lack the guts to stand up against the Jihadists of your country.”

Banerjee later tweeted the following, unapologetically trying to justify his actions by calling it a ‘form of protest’:

Read the entire letter here.

Flights cancelled after closure of airspace over northern areas

KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) cancelled multiple flights after the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) announcement of closing airspace over the country’s northern areas on Wednesday.

No reason has been given for the closure of airspace.

A PIA statement listed the flights cancelled:

Islamabad-Skardu (PK 451)

Skardu-Islamabad (PK 452)

Islamabad-Gilgit (PK 605)

Gilgit-Islamabad (PK 606)

Gilgit-Islamabad (PK 606)

Gilgit-Islamabad (PK 608)

Islamabad-Gilgit (PK 609)

Gilgit-Islamabad (610)

Islamabad-Chitral-Peshawar (PK 660)

Peshawar- Chitral-Islamabad (PK 661)

Sindh Assembly unanimously adopts resolution against MQM chief Altaf Hussain

KARACHI: Sindh Assembly lawmakers on Wednesday unanimously accepted a resolution against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain which calls for action under treason laws against those who issue anti-Pakistan statements.

The resolution condemns incendiary anti-Pakistan statements raised by Altaf Hussain on Aug 22 after which the ARY News office was attacked.

“The house condemns all sorts of crimes, torture, terrorism, and anti-Pakistan slogans and activities carried out by any side, and the most strict action should be taken against those responsible as per law and Article 6 of the Constitution,” a copy of the resolution states.

It added that house expresses solidarity with the parliament, armed forces, media, judiciary and all democratic institutions in Pakistan.

This is the first Sindh Assembly session since Altaf’s Aug 22 speech. The house took up three resolutions demanding trial of the MQM supremo and his supporters under Article 6 of the Constitution, which pertains to treason.

The move comes a day after the MQM’s Pakistan leadership removed Altaf’s London-based coterie from the top decision-making forum of the party as Coordination Committee convener Nadeem Nusrat asserted that Altaf was still the party’s uncontested chief.

MQM’s Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izharul Hassan was emotional as he addressed the house.

After Altaf’s speech, “what options did we have?” Izhar wondered.

“Like others, we could power off our cellphones and thinking about saving our lives and leaving the country. We could have changed our party within the hour. Everything would have been resolved and the nation would appreciate our actions.”

Instead, the party’s leadership opted for a third option ─ To deliver the party from the pressure and the shame it faced after the chief’s speech.

“We took this decision without any dictation, without listening to anyone. This was the most difficult decision… But I couldn’t leave my people or let [the party] be ruined.”

We have decided to walk this difficult path so our people can find peace at the end of this ordeal, he said.

“We received a long wishlist after Aug 22. It’s been a month since then, but we still can’t get away from this wishlist,” he said, referring to demands being made of MQM party leadership to dissociate from the MQM supremo.

“Stop giving us wishlists. Either you believe in us, or you shut the party down,” Izhar said. “Workers become emotional. Sloganeering happens,” he said.

“I think we must keep an eye on those who say Pakistan zindabad and continue looting Pakistan.”

FDI drops 128pc in two months

KARACHI: The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) dropped by 128 per cent in the first two months of this fiscal year, reflecting the government’s poor performance on the external-sector front.

FDI in July-August was $112m while the net inflow during the same two-month period of the last fiscal year was $241m.

Chinese investments also reduced to just $25m compared to $135m in the same period of the last fiscal year.

During a recent press conference, questions were raised about Pakistan’s ability to attract foreign investment. But the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) dispelled the impression that only Chinese investors were bringing significant FDI into Pakistan.

However, the SBP data shows foreign investments have sharply declined with the beginning of 2016-17. FDI had witnessed some improvement in 2015-16, as it increased by 39pc year-on-year to $1.28 billion. But most of the increase was due to Chinese investments, which shot up by 130pc to $594m on an annual basis. China contributed 47pc of total FDI received in 2015-16.

The beginning of the fiscal year is not positive for the country whose dependence on Chinese investment has been increasing. The trade deficit with China is alarmingly high while unofficial imports are also in billions of dollars.

While the inflows have reduced sharply relative to the overall size of the economy, the government has devised no strategy to deal with this alarming situation, particularly in the wake of the massive job losses in the oil-rich countries and a sharp fall in exports.

Pakistan depends entirely on remittances to meet its trade deficit, which was more than $20bn in 2015-16.

The repatriation of dollars in the form of profits and dividends from Pakistan also surpassed total FDI received in the last fiscal year.

Foreign portfolio investment during the two-month period was about $41m compared to negative $71m a year ago. However, it could still not support the overall foreign private investment. Foreign private investment also fell by 14pc to $154m compared to $168m in the same period of the last fiscal year.

Significant contributors to FDI in July-August were the United States ($25m), United Arab Emirates ($24m), Norway ($20m) and the United Kingdom ($12m).