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Oct 01 - 07, 2001

Washington lifts sanctions against Islamabad, Delhi

Displaying unusual speed on a weekend, the Bush administration has responded to Islamabad's support in the current crisis by lifting all sanctions against Pakistan except those imposed under democracy strictures.

The administration, according to the Pakistan embassy sources, has confirmed that sanctions under the Glenn, Pressler and Symington amendments have been waived.

Democracy-related Section 508 sanctions, which cover some important areas in both military and economic cooperation, will continue to stay in place "for now", although they have in the past been modified to meet specific targets.

Nuclear-related sanctions against India have also been removed.

Sanctions against the two countries were imposed immediately after their nuclear tests in 1998. Pakistan came under additional democracy sanctions a year later when the army displaced the Nawaz Sharif government.

The removal of most layers of sanctions clears the way for Pakistan to get economic help from the US and international financial institutions where Washington enjoys decisive influence.

Two days ago, the chairmen of the foreign relations committees of the US Senate and the House of Representatives had called for sanctions to be ended in the case of both India and Pakistan, overcoming previous reluctance to act simultaneously in the case of both countries.

There was an active lobby in Washington that was against treating Pakistan and India equally in the matter of sanctions, despite Islamabad's plea that it was New Delhi that had first carried out the nuclear tests. The Sept 11 attacks in New York and Washington and Pakistan's prompt agreement to help the US in its campaign against terrorism have been effective in inducing a sobering change of heart in the Bush administration and in Congress and in helping to overcome the distrust that has often marked official US attitude to Islamabad.

National security top priority: CE

President General Pervez Musharraf re-assured the people on Wednesday that Pakistan, its vital interests and national security were the foremost priorities of the government.

In a message to the nation on the occasion of 'Pakistan Solidarity Day' being observed on September 27, the president said: "We have not been oblivious for a moment to our obligations and responsibilities, and in the wake of thorough consideration of all the aspects of the situation, we have once again taken a decision in the supreme interest of Pakistan."

UNHCR seeks $252m for Afghan DPs

Preparing for an influx of up to one million Afghan refugees into Pakistan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has appealed for $252 million to meet the large-scale humanitarian emergency in and around Afghanistan.

Speaking at a press conference, the UNHCR spokesman, Peter Kessler, said the UN agency needed $252 million to prepare and respond to the possible influx of one million Afghan refugees into Pakistan, 400,000 into Iran and 50,000 each in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Additional contingency plans are underway to supply aid to 500,000 people inside Afghanistan if the necessity arises, he said.

According to the UNHCR officials, authorities in the NWFP have designated 100 sites for possible new Afghan DPs camps which could accommodate up to one million Afghan refugees.

GST on fertilizers withdrawn

The Central Board of Revenue has withdrawn General Sales Tax on supply of all kinds of fertilizers with immediate effect.

According to official sources, the CBR through a notification clarified that 15 per cent GST would now only be charged on import and at manufacturing stage of all kinds of fertilizers.

Govt bringing ord against freezing of FCAs

Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz said on Thursday the government was bringing an ordinance to guarantee that in future Foreign Currency Accounts are not frozen.

"The Ordinance, already sent to the president for signature, will provide a legal cover to this effect," he said while addressing a function at the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, organized in connection with Pakistan Solidarity Day.

Khalid elected new LCCI chief

Dr Khalid Chaudhry was elected on Thursday as president of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday.

Chaudhry was fielded by the Founders-PIAF Alliance. He defeated the Founders Group's Farooq Iftikhar, who is also the sitting senior vice president of the chamber.

OGDCL asks Uch Power to clear Rs4.6bn dues

Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) has asked Uch Power Limited (UPL) to clear its outstanding amount of Rs4.6 billion on a stand alone basis.

A company statement said that gas supply to Uch Power Station, Dera Murad Jamali, was started in December 1999. "Till date OGDCL has received a sum of Rs1.376 billion against the sale gas invoices of Rs6.099 billion while a sum of Rs4.632 billion is still pending".

Paramount Leasing, AMZ to merge

Paramount Leasing Limited and AMZ Securities (Pvt) Limited have decided to merge the two companies, subject to receiving the regulatory approval, a press release issued by AMZ Securities on Tuesday, said.

The merged company would be named AMZ Paramount Leasing Limited. AMZ Securities is a stock brokerage firm while Paramount Leasing is one of the 32 leasing companies listed on the stock exchanges.

10-year financial plan for PIA

A 10-year comprehensive and functional business plan has been chalked out to make PIA a financially stable and strong organization.

This was stated by PIAC chairman Lt Gen (Rtd) Hamid Nawaz Khan while speaking at the 24th AGM of PIAC's shareholders at PIA head office on Saturday.