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KARACHI: Import payments and negative regional sentiment on currencies drove the rupee to close near its record low on Friday, dealers said.

The rupee ended at 87.75/80 to the dollar, weaker than Thursday's close of 87.64/67, but still shy of its record low of 87.92 in September.
However in the TOM (one-day forward) market, it traded at 87.95 according to dealers.

"Next week there are fewer payments so the pressure may ease, however there is generally a weak sentiment about the economy," said a dealer at a foreign bank.

Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves fell to $16.96 billion in the week ending Nov. 18, after hitting a record $18.31 billion in the week ending July 30.

There was also some concern following the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) assessment that the outlook for Pakistan's economy for the current fiscal year ending June 2012 was "challenging", dealers said.

In a statement on Tuesday, the IMF said that ongoing security concerns were likely to limit capital inflows.

Dealers said the rupee was under pressure despite rising remittances from overseas Pakistanis, which rose to $1.02 billion in October, compared with $855.11 million in October 2010.

The local currency could also experience downward pressure in the days ahead due to a widening current account deficit, which stood at a provisional $1.5 billion in the July-Oct period, compared with $541 million in the same period last year.

In the money market, overnight rate ended at its top level of 11.90 percent, amid tight liquidity in the interbank market. (Reuters)

 
 
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ISLAMABAD: Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) is likely to increase petrol price by Rs1/liter and diesel by Rs4/liter from December 1, 2011, Geo News reported.

OGRA officials told Geo News that international crude oil prices have shot up to $112 form $109 per barrel, therefore new imports would be sourced at a higher cost.

Moreover diesel has also registered a 7 percent hike in the global market.

Owing to the bullish overseas oil prices government was bound to raise local prices, the officials said.

 
 
LAHORE: US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said Friday that the Pak-Iran gas pipeline was not a good idea, Geo News reported.

The plan to get gas from Turkmenistan is a “better idea,” Munter added.

Speaking during a lecture at a private Lahore University, the US Ambassador denied having met Imran Khan and ISI chief Pasha together.

Munter also said that the US wanted to strengthen both civil and military ties with Pakistan.

On the memo issue Munter commented that it was treated with seriousness in the US along with the resignation of Husain Haqqani.

Munter added that on the protest of Army Chief Kayani, some US officials in Pakistan were sent back
 
 
ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said Friday that Pakistan would not take dictation on the gas pipeline issue, Geo News reported.

Awan added that Pakistan would take those steps which are beneficial for the country.

The information minister also commented on the NRO and said a strategy following the Supreme Court’s decision not to review the governments review petition would be unveiled soon.
 
 
KARACHI: Former players and family members of guilty Pakistan players on Thursday said the whole episode was sad and should serve as a harsh lesson for the sport’s administrators and future players.
Former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt, bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer, and their corrupt agent, have all been jailed for their part in a fixing scandal which has rocked the international game to its core.

Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif said the sentences were due.

“I think they deserved this punishment, they had it due. But now the Pakistan government and Pakistan cricket board should also take action against them and the matter should serve as a lesson,” Latif told AFP.

“These convictions will hopefully serve as a deterrent to others in future because cricket should not be allowed to be corrupted by anyone and that is very serious for all of us,” said Latif, known for blowing the whistle on another fixing scam in 1995.

Another former captain Intikhab Alam said it was a sad state of affairs.

“I would call it a black day for Pakistan cricket,” said Alam, also a former manager and coach. “I feel sad for these boys because I have spent so much time with them but what they have done they must pay for it.”

They have let their families and the whole nation and million of fans down, which is very shocking.”Former player and selector Salahuddin Ahmed said Pakistan government should also initiate action against the guilty players.

“I think they deserved this and Pakistan government should also take action because they have let the whole nation down. I think the greed of money prompted them to do this,” said Ahmed.

Former captain Moin Khan said the matter saddened the whole nation.

“It is a sad for us and for the whole country, and tragic day for Pakistan cricket but one hopes it will also result in a new beginning for Pakistan cricket, everyone feels for their families,” said Khan.

However, Butt’s father Zulfiqar said his son was wrongly implicated.

“I am convinced and will do my best to prove that my son has been implicated and made a scapegoat,” said Zulfiqar.

 
 
KARACHI: Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Abdullah Hussain Haroon called on President Asif Ali Zardari here at Bilawal House on Friday.

Abdullah Hussain Haroon briefed the President about Pakistan's election as non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as well as the country's re-election to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)Executive Board for a period of four years.

The President said the election of Pakistan as a non-permanent member of UNSC and its re-election to UNESCO Executive Board proved that it enjoys the support of world community and it is not isolated as portrayed by certain people.

The President also appreciated the efforts of Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pakistan's Permanent Representative to UN.

Abdullah Hussain Haroon thanked the President for the encouragement and reposing confidence in him. (APP)
 
 
NEW DELHI: Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik met Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram and told him that Pakistan was ready to send judicial commission to India to probe the Mumbai attacks.

The decision to send the judicial commission was made during interior secretary level talks between Pakistan and India.

The Pakistani judicial commission will record statements of the investigating officer of the Mumbai attacks and the magistrate who recorded Ajmal Kasab’s statement.
 
 
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Federal cabinet has given approval to the proposal of giving ‘Most Favourite Nation’ status to India and enhancing trade relations with the neighbouring country. The cabinet met here under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday. The cabinet was given briefing by the Commerce Minister Amin Fahim about the outcome of his recent visit to India. The cabinet also agreed to enhance trade volume with India from $2.6 billion to $6 billion. The meeting said that all the trade agreements with India would be fully materialized.

 
 
NEW YORK - American news media gave prominent coverage to Imran Khan’s huge anti-govt rally in Lahore on Sunday as signalling a political shift in Pakistan. In a dispatch, The Washington Post said, ‘Tens of thousands of people’ massed to listen to the cricket star-turned-politician in a ‘surprising show of force that could energise calls for anti-govt protests’.
The dispatch said Khan's ‘anti-American, anti-corruption’ rhetoric has made him a populist sensation among elite urban youth.
The turnout stunned many Pakistani analysts, most of whom view Khan as a one-man show with a following far too narrow to dent Pakistan’s entrenched political landscape...
‘But public disillusionment with the US-backed civilian government and unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari is high, and political jockeying ahead of national elections in 2013 is well underway’. Khan’s rally, the Post said, capped a weekend of demonstrations that started Friday when PML-N of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif drew thousands in Lahore to call for the government’s ouster. That was countered Sunday afternoon in Karachi, where devotees of MQM, PPP's coalition partner, thronged streets to display support for the government, it added.
But, the Post said, ‘neither of those rallies was as big or enthusiastic as Khan’s, at which pop stars sang to a dancing, flag-waving crowd from Lahore and beyond. Most immediately, the numbers represent a threat to Nawaz Sharif’s party, whose stronghold is Punjab province’.
‘Khan, like Sharif, is agitating for a widespread protest campaign — what he called a ‘tsunami’ rolling toward the Federal capital — and his ability to drum up a massive turnout is likely to worry the government, which aspires to be Pakistan’s first-ever democratically elected administration to complete its term’, the dispatch said. Imran’s young party workers vigorously employ social media to spread his message, and participants and observers offered play-by-play accounts of the rally on Twitter. ‘Today’s rally shows that the old political configuration is changing. You have to factor in the young, urbanised Pakistan clamouring for good governance’, the newspaper cited Raza Rumi, a prominent commentator, as tweeting.
The New York Times said, ‘The rally represented what supporters and some political analysts said was Khan’s emergence as a serious challenger to the governing PPP and its longtime rival, the Pakistan Muslim League-N’. ‘The size of the crowd that Khan drew in Lahore ... surprised his opponents and made an impression on political analysts’, the Times wrote.
‘Khan, 58, has languished on the political sidelines for years, and his political party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, has no seats in the current Parliament. But his popularity has soared recently as voters, especially younger ones, have grown disillusioned with the establishment parties’.
A survey conducted by an American polling organisation, the Pew Research Center, found in June that Khan had become the most popular political figure in the country. ‘After the crowd gave him a rousing welcome at the rally on Sunday evening, Khan threw out challenges to both Zardari and Sharif on the question of personal integrity, urging them both to disclose their assets or face civil disobedience’. The Times said, ‘Critics and political opponents dismiss Khan as a political nobody and question his judgment and his party’s capacity to mount a serious campaign, let alone to govern.
They say it relies entirely on Khan’s personal charisma and lacks any other substantial figures in its ranks’.
In an interview with The New York Times at his Islamabad residence on Friday, Khan shrugged off the criticism.
‘People confuse two types of politics’, Khan was quoted as saying.
‘One is the politics of movement. The other is traditional power-based politics. Tehreek-e-Insaf is never going to win the traditional way’.
‘Khan opposes cooperating with the US against militants based in the restive northwestern regions of the country near the Afghan border. He says that Pakistan should not send its own forces to conduct action there and should not allow American drone strikes there, either, because of the civilian casualties they cause. He favours a negotiated peace instead’.
‘My message to America is that we will have friendship with you, but we will not accept any slavery’, he was quoted as saying.
‘We will help you in a respectable withdrawal of your troops from Afghanistan, but we will not launch a military action in Pakistan for you’.
The Times wrote, ‘The atmosphere at the Sunday rally was electric. Several famous pop singers warmed up the crowd with music before Khan’s speech, giving the rally the feel of a concert. Women and girls in colourful clothes and sunglasses and young men in Western and national dress filled the audience’.
‘Khan’s speech itself was bit of a letdown to some, wayward and unfocused, but his fans did not mind’.
In the Times interview on Friday, Khan said he expected the Lahore rally to be seen as a test of his political future.
‘Lahore decides what happens in Punjab’, he said.
‘Punjab decides what happens in Pakistan’.
It quoted analysts as saying that drawing a big crowd in Lahore would not necessarily translate into electoral success, but it could propel Khan to the forefront of the political conversation.
‘I think it’s a historic turning point in the country’s politics’, Rasul Baksh Rais, who teaches at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, was quoted as saying.
‘It showed that people are deeply touched with the message of hope and change, and also with the frustration that is written all over Pakistan with the existing political parties’.
He said that after 15 years on the political fringes, Khan may have his moment now.
‘Today, he has been able to get his message across’, Rais said.
‘This is the beginning. And it will result in a big change in a year or two’, he added
 
 
LONDON: The three Pakistan cricketers convicted of fixing parts of a test match will find out Thursday whether they will spend time in jail for their role in the sports’ most serious corruption scandal in more than a decade.
Judge Jeremy Cooke spent Wednesday listening to mitigating statements from lawyers representing Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir and sports agent Mazhar Majeed, all of whom have been connected to a betting scam involving the deliberate bowling of no-balls.

Cooke will mull the case overnight before delivering their sentences at London’s Southwark Crown Court at 10 a.m. (1000 GMT) Thursday.

Former captain Butt and bowler Asif were found guilty on Tuesday of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments. Amir and Majeed pleaded guilty to the charges before the trial.

The latter charge carries a possible jail term of seven years.

The scandal is cricket’s biggest since South Africa captain Hanse Cronje was banned for life in 2000 for taking bribes from bookmakers.

Majeed declined to name others involved in the scam despite his guilty plea. He told Cooke that he did not instigate the fixes but that the players approached him.

A murky picture of widespread dishonesty emerged Thursday as allegations and counter allegations flew between the players and Majeed during their statements, prompting Cooke to declare his belief that fixing was so common within the Pakistan squad that it was regarded as the norm.

 

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