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Finance Secretary chairs the meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC)

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A meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) was held with Finance Secretary in the chair today (Thursday) to discuss the prices of essential food and stock of supply of the essential items.

The meeting held at the Finance Division was attended by the representatives from the Provincial governments, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries of Industries, Interior, Law & Justice & Human Rights, Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, National Food Security and Research, Federal Board of Revenue, Competition Commission of Pakistan , Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and Utility Stores Corporation.

The meeting discussed the trend of Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a headline measure of inflation. It has been observed that prices of food items such as pulses, fresh vegetables and wheat which have been the main top drivers of inflation saw a downward trend on the monthly basis. The meeting was informed that CPI inflation decreased by 1.0% on MoM in February 2020 over January 2020. However on YoY, recorded at 12.4% in February 2020 over February 2019 and July-February CPI inflation on YoY reached to 11.7% (6.0% last year). It was stated by the Secretary Finance that the government is committed to reducing inflation and more steps are underway in coming months.

It was noticed that Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) which monitors the price movement of 51 essential items on weekly basis recorded a decrease of 1.16% for the week ended on 27th February, 2020. During the week, 13 items recorded decline in their prices while 25 items remain stable. This was the third consecutive decline in SPI during the month of February 2020.

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The Committee also discussed the price movements of these items among the provinces/ICT and observed variations in price level. The provincial governments also informed that they are proactively monitoring the prices as well as supply of essential food items. Price trend in international market are on declining trend which would augur well for the domestic prices in near future.

The meeting also discussed the outbreak of novel coronavirus and its impact on demand and supply of essential items. The Chair advised that all relevant authorities along with provincial governments should in close coordination monitor the provision of essential food items at affordable prices keeping in view the forthcoming Ramadan. He further stressed to check the undue profit margin exists between the wholesale and the retail level, which should be prevented.

The Chairperson Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) informed that they are holding a meeting in second week of this month with all stakeholders to discuss Food Laws and developing a uniform formula for pricing to remove price disparity among districts.

The Chair emphasized that the provincial government should play a proactive role in checking hoarding and undue profiteering to ensure smooth supply of essential food items at reasonable prices.

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Analysis

Biden Boosts Pacific Diplomacy: Strengthening U.S. Engagement in the Indo-Pacific

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Introduction

In an era marked by shifting global power dynamics, economic interdependence, and regional security challenges, the United States under the leadership of President Joe Biden has placed a renewed emphasis on its engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. The Indo-Pacific has emerged as a geopolitical epicentre, where economic vitality, strategic interests, and diplomatic endeavours converge. President Biden’s commitment to boosting Pacific diplomacy underscores a strategic shift aimed at reinforcing America’s presence, fostering regional stability, and building enduring partnerships.

This blog post delves into the multifaceted aspects of President Biden’s Pacific diplomacy strategy, examining its objectives, key initiatives, and implications for the United States and its allies in the Indo-Pacific. As we explore the dynamics of this critical region, we will see how President Biden’s approach seeks to address complex challenges while capitalizing on the vast opportunities presented by the Indo-Pacific.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Understanding the Indo-Pacific

Before delving into President Biden’s initiatives, it is imperative to comprehend the significance of the Indo-Pacific region. Stretching from the eastern shores of Africa to the western coast of the Americas, the Indo-Pacific encompasses a vast expanse of land and sea, home to over half the world’s population and accounting for a significant share of global economic output. It is a region of immense strategic importance, characterized by diverse cultures, economies, and geopolitical interests.

The Indo-Pacific hosts major global players, including China, India, Japan, and Australia, each with its own vision for the region’s future. China’s rapid economic rise, military modernization, and assertive behaviour in the South China Sea have sparked concerns among its neighbours and the broader international community. India’s burgeoning economy and growing influence further add to the region’s complexity.

The United States has long maintained a security presence in the Indo-Pacific through its alliances and partnerships, notably with Japan, South Korea, and Australia. However, in recent years, concerns arose about the sustainability of this commitment, prompting a reassessment of U.S. priorities in the region.

President Biden’s Pacific Diplomacy: Objectives and Initiatives

President Biden’s Pacific diplomacy strategy is rooted in a clear set of objectives aimed at promoting a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific. These objectives can be summarized as follows:

  1. Strengthening Alliances and Partnerships: The cornerstone of President Biden’s Indo-Pacific strategy is the reinforcement of existing alliances, such as the U.S.-Japan alliance, and the cultivation of new partnerships. The Quad, a strategic forum comprising the United States, Japan, India, and Australia, has gained prominence as a mechanism for enhancing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
  2. Countering China’s Assertiveness: While the Biden administration has emphasized competition with China across various domains, it also seeks areas of cooperation, such as climate change and global health. The administration’s approach balances competition with engagement, recognizing that competition does not preclude cooperation.
  3. Economic Engagement: Recognizing the economic significance of the Indo-Pacific, President Biden has underscored the importance of trade and investment in the region. His administration has explored opportunities for economic partnerships and infrastructure development, such as the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative.
  4. Promoting Democracy and Human Rights: Upholding democratic values and human rights is integral to President Biden’s foreign policy approach. In the Indo-Pacific, this translates into support for democratic institutions, civil society, and the rule of law.
  5. Addressing Climate Change and Environmental Challenges: Climate change poses a significant threat to the Indo-Pacific, with rising sea levels and extreme weather events affecting many countries in the region. President Biden’s commitment to addressing climate change aligns with the region’s urgent need for environmental resilience.
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Key Initiatives and Partnerships

  1. The Quad: The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, has emerged as a critical platform for security and strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. President Biden has reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the Quad, which includes regular meetings among the leaders of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia. The Quad’s agenda covers a wide range of issues, including maritime security, cybersecurity, infrastructure development, and vaccine distribution.
  2. AUKUS: The Australia, UK, and US (AUKUS) security partnership has garnered significant attention for its focus on enhancing defence capabilities and technology sharing. AUKUS aims to bolster Australia’s naval capabilities, particularly through the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines. This initiative signals a deeper commitment to regional security in the Indo-Pacific.
  3. ASEAN Engagement: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plays a central role in regional diplomacy. President Biden has actively engaged with ASEAN member states to strengthen ties and address common challenges. The United States is also working to advance the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, which emphasizes ASEAN centrality and principles of inclusivity and transparency.
  4. Infrastructure Investment: The Indo-Pacific is in dire need of infrastructure development to support economic growth and connectivity. President Biden’s administration has introduced the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative, aimed at mobilizing private sector investment in areas such as climate-resilient infrastructure, digital technology, and health security. This initiative complements China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and offers an alternative approach to infrastructure development.
  5. Climate Change Mitigation: Recognizing the existential threat posed by climate change, President Biden has prioritized climate action as a cornerstone of his foreign policy. The United States has engaged with Indo-Pacific nations to promote clean energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance climate resilience in the region.
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Implications and Challenges

President Biden’s emphasis on boosting Pacific diplomacy carries profound implications for the United States, its allies, and the broader Indo-Pacific region. Some of the key implications and challenges include:

  1. Balancing Competition and Cooperation: Striking the right balance between competition and cooperation with China is a delicate task. While competition in the Indo-Pacific is inevitable, the United States and its allies must identify areas of common interest where cooperation is possible.
  2. Enhancing Regional Stability: The Indo-Pacific faces numerous security challenges, including territorial disputes, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, and the rise of non-state actors. President Biden’s strategy aims to enhance regional stability through strengthened alliances and partnerships.
  3. Economic Opportunities: The Indo-Pacific offers immense economic opportunities, but it also presents challenges related to market access, trade disputes, and intellectual property protection. President Biden’s administration must navigate these complexities to promote economic growth.
  4. Geopolitical Shifts: The Indo-Pacific is witnessing shifting geopolitical alignments, with countries reassessing their strategic priorities. President Biden’s approach seeks to align the United States with like-minded nations while preserving flexibility in response to evolving dynamics.
  5. Human Rights and Democracy: Upholding democratic values and human rights is a central component of President Biden’s Pacific diplomacy. Balancing this commitment with pragmatic diplomacy may require careful navigation in situations where U.S. interests intersect with autocratic regimes.

Conclusion

President Joe Biden’s commitment to boosting Pacific diplomacy represents a strategic shift aimed at reinforcing America’s presence in the Indo-Pacific and fostering regional stability. His multi-pronged approach, including strengthening alliances and partnerships, countering China’s assertiveness, promoting economic engagement, and addressing global challenges, reflects a nuanced understanding of the region’s complexities.

The Indo-Pacific is a dynamic and consequential theater, where the United States, its allies, and partners must navigate a complex web of geopolitical, economic, and security interests. President Biden’s initiatives, such as the Quad and AUKUS, signal a renewed American commitment to the region’s security and prosperity. Moreover, his emphasis on climate change and infrastructure development underscores the broader global challenges that require collective action.

As the Indo-Pacific continues to evolve, President Biden’s Pacific diplomacy provides a framework for addressing challenges, seizing opportunities, and shaping the region’s future. In doing so, the United States aims to promote a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific that benefits all nations in the region and contributes to global stability and prosperity.

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Democracy

From Gerontocracy to Youthcracy: The Dilemma of Political Parties in Pakistan

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Introduction

The political landscape of Pakistan is undergoing a profound transformation, marked by a shift from gerontocracy to youthcracy. This article provides an in-depth exploration of this transition, its implications for political parties, and the evolving dynamics of power in the country. In a comprehensive examination, we delve into the challenges and opportunities faced by political parties as they adapt to this rapidly changing political landscape.

Understanding Gerontocracy

Gerontocracy, a term that has been frequently used to characterize the Pakistani political system, describes a situation where the elderly wield considerable power and influence in the governance of a nation. In Pakistan, this phenomenon has prevailed for decades, with senior politicians dominating the political stage. However, as the demographics of the country evolve, with a growing population of young citizens, political parties are confronted with a complex dilemma.

The Emergence of Youthcracy

The Power of the Youth Vote

Pakistan boasts a vibrant and youthful population, with a significant percentage under the age of 30. These young individuals are increasingly becoming politically aware and active, wielding the potential to reshape the nation’s political landscape. The emergence of youth power, often referred to as youthcracy, has become a defining feature of contemporary Pakistani politics.

The power of the youth vote cannot be overstated. The sheer number of young voters makes them a formidable force to be reckoned with. Political parties are beginning to recognize that winning the allegiance of this demographic is no longer an option but a necessity.

Challenges Faced by Political Parties

Balancing Experience and Fresh Perspective

One of the foremost challenges confronting political parties in Pakistan is how to navigate the delicate balance between the seasoned politicians who have long held sway and the energetic yet relatively inexperienced youth. The interplay between experience and fresh perspectives has become a pivotal factor for the success of any political party.

While experienced politicians bring a wealth of knowledge and a deep understanding of the intricacies of governance, they may also be associated with entrenched interests and resistance to change. In contrast, the youth represent innovation, fresh ideas, and a desire for reform. Striking the right equilibrium between these two demographics is crucial for political parties seeking to remain relevant and effective.

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Adapting to Modern Communication

The youth are digitally connected, and their political awakening often happens on social media platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok have become powerful tools for mobilization and advocacy. Political parties must adapt to these changing communication dynamics to engage with the younger generation effectively.

Traditional campaign methods, such as door-to-door canvassing and rallies, are no longer sufficient. Digital campaigns, online debates, and viral content creation have become the norm. Political parties must invest in sophisticated digital strategies, engaging with the youth where they are most active and receptive.

Strategies for Political Parties

Navigating the transition from gerontocracy to youthcracy requires strategic foresight and adaptability. Here are key strategies that political parties can employ to thrive in this evolving political landscape:

Encouraging Youth Participation

To embrace youthcracy, political parties must actively encourage young individuals to participate in politics. This goes beyond tokenism and superficial youth wings within parties. It involves offering substantial leadership roles to young politicians, mentorship programs, and providing platforms for the youth to voice their concerns.

Moreover, political parties should prioritize issues that resonate with the youth, such as education, employment opportunities, and environmental sustainability. Addressing these concerns demonstrates a commitment to the aspirations of the younger generation.

Embracing Technological Advancements

Utilizing technology for outreach, campaigns, and information dissemination is no longer optional—it is imperative. Political parties need to harness the power of data analytics, targeted advertising, and social media engagement to connect with the younger audience effectively.

Digital platforms provide an opportunity for direct interaction with voters, allowing parties to gauge sentiment, address concerns in real time, and tailor their messaging to specific demographics. This digital transformation also extends to fundraising efforts, which can now be conducted online with greater efficiency and transparency.

Promoting Transparency and Accountability

The youth are often more critical of corruption and inefficiency in government. Political parties must prioritize transparency and accountability to gain the trust of this demographic. Implementing robust anti-corruption measures, disclosing sources of funding, and holding party members accountable for misconduct are essential steps.

Furthermore, political parties should adopt a culture of inclusivity, where decisions are made collectively, and policies are developed through open dialogue. This approach not only fosters trust but also ensures that the concerns of diverse segments of the population, including the youth, are considered.

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Conclusion

The transformation from gerontocracy to youthcracy is reshaping the landscape of Pakistani politics. This paradigm shift presents both challenges and opportunities for political parties. Those who successfully adapt to these changes will be better positioned to address the evolving needs and aspirations of the Pakistani population.

As we move forward, the key to political success in Pakistan lies in embracing the demographic realities of the country. The youth are not merely the future; they are the present. Their voices, aspirations, and demands must be at the forefront of political agendas.

In conclusion, the era of youthcracy in Pakistan signals a new dawn in the nation’s political history. It is a testament to the vitality and dynamism of the country’s youth. Political parties that understand this transition and respond proactively will not only survive but thrive in the evolving landscape of Pakistani politics.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is gerontocracy in the context of Pakistani politics? Gerontocracy refers to a political system where older individuals hold significant power and influence in the government.
  2. What is youthcracy, and how is it affecting political parties in Pakistan? Youthcracy represents the growing influence of the younger generation in politics, challenging traditional power dynamics within political parties in Pakistan.
  3. Why is the youth vote important in Pakistani politics? The youth vote is crucial because Pakistan has a significant young population, and their political engagement can shape the country’s future.
  4. How can political parties in Pakistan encourage youth participation? Political parties can encourage youth participation by offering leadership roles, mentorship programs, and creating platforms for young voices.
  5. What role does technology play in the transition to youthcracy? Technology is essential for reaching and engaging with the youth. Political parties need to utilize digital strategies for effective communication.
  6. Why is transparency and accountability important in attracting the youth to vote? The youth often demand transparency and accountability in politics, and parties that prioritize these values are more likely to gain their trust.
  7. What are the benefits of a political party embracing both experience and fresh perspectives? Embracing both experience and fresh perspectives allows a party to draw on the wisdom of seasoned politicians while also tapping into the energy and innovation of the youth.
  8. How can political parties effectively use social media to engage with the youth? Political parties can use social media by creating engaging content, participating in online discussions, and addressing the concerns and issues that matter most to young voters.
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Analysis

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Embarks on a 4-Day Russia Visit for Crucial Security Talks

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Introduction

In a rapidly evolving global landscape, diplomatic relations between nations play a pivotal role in shaping the course of international affairs. One such significant development that has garnered attention recently is the four-day visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Russia for security talks. The visit holds immense significance, not just for China and Russia but also for the broader global community. This article delves into the key aspects of this visit, the implications it carries, and the broader context of Sino-Russian relations in the realm of security.

The Historical Context

China and Russia have a long history of diplomatic and strategic ties that have seen remarkable transformations over the years. In the Cold War era, the Sino-Soviet split created a substantial rift between these two communist giants. However, the early 21st century saw a remarkable rapprochement between the two nations, marked by the signing of the China-Russia Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation in 2001. This treaty has laid the foundation for strong economic, political, and security cooperation between the two nations.

Security Cooperation: The Heart of Sino-Russian Relations

Security cooperation has been at the heart of Sino-Russian relations, given their shared interests and concerns in various global and regional security issues. China and Russia have consistently supported each other in international forums, often in opposition to the policies of the United States and its allies. This security collaboration spans a wide range of areas, from arms sales to joint military exercises and cooperation in international organizations like the United Nations.

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Key Agenda Points for Wang Yi’s Visit

Afghanistan and Regional Stability

One of the most pressing issues on the agenda is the evolving situation in Afghanistan. The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has left a power vacuum in the region, with potential security implications for neighbouring countries, including China and Russia. Both nations share concerns about the possibility of a resurgence of extremist groups in Afghanistan and the potential for instability spilling over into Central Asia. Wang Yi’s visit to Russia is likely to involve discussions on strategies to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Countering U.S. Influence

China and Russia have a shared interest in countering what they perceive as undue U.S. influence in global affairs. Both nations have voiced their concerns over U.S. policies, such as sanctions and military deployments, which they view as encroachments on their sovereignty and a threat to their security. This visit provides an opportunity for China and Russia to reaffirm their commitment to a multipolar world order and to discuss ways to counterbalance U.S. influence.

Strengthening Bilateral Security Ties

China and Russia have a robust history of military cooperation, including joint military exercises and arms sales. During Wang Yi’s visit, the two countries are likely to explore avenues for further enhancing their bilateral security ties. This could include discussions on joint defence projects, technology transfers, and information sharing to address common security challenges.

Regional Hotspots

In addition to Afghanistan, the two nations may also discuss other regional hotspots that have implications for their security interests. These may include issues related to North Korea, the South China Sea, and the Taiwan Strait. By coordinating their positions on these matters, China and Russia can exert greater influence in resolving regional conflicts and promoting stability.

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The Implications

Wang Yi’s visit to Russia carries several important implications for the international community and the evolving global order:

Strengthening the China-Russia Axis

This visit is likely to strengthen the China-Russia axis, which has been characterized by deepening cooperation in multiple spheres. As both nations seek to assert themselves on the global stage, their partnership becomes increasingly influential, challenging the dominance of Western powers.

Countering Western Alliances

China and Russia’s alignment presents a challenge to the Western alliances led by the United States. Their coordinated efforts in international forums can obstruct Western initiatives and policies, leading to a more contentious international environment.

Regional Stability

The discussions on Afghanistan and other regional hotspots are essential for maintaining stability in critical areas. China and Russia, as major regional powers, can contribute significantly to conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts.

Multipolar World Order

China and Russia’s cooperation reflects their commitment to a multipolar world order. By balancing power and influence, they seek to prevent any single nation from dominating global affairs.

Economic Cooperation

While the visit primarily focuses on security talks, it could also pave the way for further economic cooperation between China and Russia. Strengthening economic ties can provide a solid foundation for their broader partnership.

Conclusion

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s four-day visit to Russia for security talks is a significant development in the ever-evolving landscape of international relations. As China and Russia continue to assert themselves as major global players, their partnership becomes increasingly influential. The outcome of this visit will not only impact the bilateral relations between the two nations but also have far-reaching implications for global security and the balance of power in the 21st century.

The world watches with keen interest as China and Russia strengthen their alliance and navigate the complexities of international diplomacy. How they choose to leverage their partnership will shape the future of international politics and security in the years to come.

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