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|July 11, 1998||
Public pressure is pushing Sharief to CTBT table, say experts
The fast-deteriorating economic condition in Pakistan has placed the Nawaz Sharief government under increasing pressure from within to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty before the International Monetary Fund and the G-8 countries decide to impose sanctions against Islamabad.
Political and economic experts there stress that to avoid a default situation, Pakistan has no choice but to sign the CTBT unconditionally, irrespective of whether India signs or not.
According to these experts, in case western countries impose sanctions, Pakistan's economic situation would be extremely grim.
The nosediving of the stock exchange, which cost the shareholders billions of Pakistani rupees, has thoroughly shaken the country's business community. Never before in its history has the stock exchange crashed so badly, they say.
The business community holds the government responsible for its erratic steps which plunged the economy in a crisis. Had the government not imposed the foreign exchange restrictions the situation could have been avoided, they feel.
By freezing the foreign exchange accounts, all foreign remittances from Pakistanis overseas have diminished. They have now started utilising the hundi system. As a result, no foreign exchange is coming to Pakistan through banks.
On Friday there were rumours that the government was about to freeze the lockers in banks. However, in the evening, Finance Minister Sartaj Aziz denied this, saying no such action was contemplated.
Aziz also denied rumours that he was resigning as finance minister owing moral responsibility for the economic crisis. ''The question of my resignation does not arise,'' he told reporters.
The dollar price has jumped to an all time high. Friday, the dollar was available at the rate of Rs 64 in the open market as against the government price of Rs 46.
The gold price, too, has shown a rise. It was available at the rate of Rs 5,144 for 10 gm, showing an increase of Rs 140 within a day. The gold traders have stopped forward trading in the bullion market.
Those intending to travel abroad are finding it extremely difficult to get dollars in the open market. Despite its price touching an all-time high, dollars are just not available.
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