Pakistan / by Alistair Galloway

The Sixth Ministerial Heart of Asia Conference was held in Amritsar, India from 3 to 4 December. The World Bank announced on 12 December that it was pausing both its arbitration and the appointment of a neutral expert in the dispute between Pakistan and India regarding the Indus River system. Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali retired on 30 December, resulting in the Supreme Court of Pakistan adjourning the proceedings in the Panama Papers leaks case until early January as he was head of the bench. Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited regional hotspots endorsing the use of full force against any violations by India or terrorists. He declared that the change in military command would not impact the extensive operations in Karachi that aim to create stability and security. General Qamar Javed Bajwa appointed Lieutenant General Naveed Muhtar and Lieutenant General Bilal Akbar to the roles of chief of Inter-Services Intelligence and Chief of General Staff, respectively. The decisions may represent his pledge to strengthen national security. Seven Pakistani crew members were reportedly killed in a missile attack off the coast of Yemen, near the Houthi controlled Hodeidah port. The Pakistan Navy contested the claim, calling it unverifiable. Twelve suspected militants were killed and several hideouts destroyed on 4 December by Pakistani Air Force air strikes in the Tirah valley. A senior anti-terrorism police officer was killed in Peshawar with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claiming the attack. Pakistani and Indian forces exchanged fire on 16 December along the Line of Control in Kashmir, killing one man and injuring eight schoolchildren on the Pakistani side. The Pakistan Navy assembled a special task force to protect the port of Gwadar, a key hub in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Pakistani and Chinese delegations met as a part of the Sixth Pak-China Joint Co-operation Committee (JCC) on CPEC in Beijing on 29 to 30 December. China reportedly agreed to include three new infrastructure projects in CPEC. Earlier in December, China pledged to finance a different three infrastructure projects under CPEC. Pakistan's fourth nuclear power plant went online on 28 December. WB decided to cancel a $100 million loan to Pakistan for a natural gas efficiency project citing a lack of interest amongst Sui Southern Gas Company, the company to be contracted. The Pakistan Stock Exchange (KSE) enjoyed a largely positive December setting multiple record highs. Equities in Pakistan have benefitted from an improving macroeconomic environment, with the KSE index gaining 40 per cent in 2016 alone, and 400 per cent since 2009. A Chinese-led consortium signed a $85 million deal to purchase a 40 per cent stake in the KSE.

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