Hate crimes surge in Britain

Floral tributes were left at the site where a vehicle was driven into Muslims worshippers near the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, on June 19, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2017
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Hate crimes surge in Britain

LONDON: Hate crimes in Britain surged by the highest amount on record last year, official figures showed on Tuesday, with the vote to leave the EU a significant factor. But despite the rise prosecutions fell.
There were 80,393 offenses in 2016/17, a rise of 29 percent from the year before. In the same period, hate crime prosecutions dropped to 14,480 from 15,442, a fall of 6.2 percent, according to Home Office data.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Hate Crime, said in a statement to Arab News: “Police forces are making themselves more visible and accessible to local communities to ensure victims or anyone feeling vulnerable has the confidence to come forward.”
“We can do better at securing convictions,” Hamilton admitted.
“Nobody should have to face hatred because of who they are.”
Shaista Aziz, a British-Muslim journalist and founder of The EveryDay Bigotry Project, a digital anti-racism platform, said: “‘Today’s data showed a correlation between political events and terrorism attacks and peaks in reported hate crime.
“Many of the victims that I work with have not reported their hate crimes to the police because they may not have a witness to the crime or because they do not have confidence in the police or, even more worryingly, they say that these racialized incidents of hate are part of their daily lives.”
Fiyaz Mughal, founder of the hate crime reporting site Tell MAMA, told Arab News: “This is concerning. We know that the Crown Prosecution Service does a sterling job in sending out a message – where crimes have taken place and it is in the public interest to prosecute, they will do so with vigor and energy.
“The CPS will be reviewing their prosecution rates though there may be something in the hate crimes which relate to the online world which are much more difficult to get evidence on.”
Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “The drop in referrals recorded last year has impacted on the number of completed prosecutions and we are working with the police at a local and national level to understand the reasons for the overall fall in referrals in the past two years.”
Saunders added that more than half of 2016-17 cases involving hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity saw sentences “uplifted.” This means that the courts passed increased sentences in more than 6,300 cases.


Pakistan opposition takes prime minister to task over IMF deal

Updated 16 October 2018
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Pakistan opposition takes prime minister to task over IMF deal

  • The daily dithering has paralyzed the economy and precipitously devalued the rupee, says Sen. Sherry Rehman
  • Govt has instilled a sense of 'comfort and confidence' in the markets, says official spokesman

KARACHI, Pakistan: Questioning the government’s lack of perspicacity to avoid “painful economic decisions,” Pakistan’s opposition said on Monday that it was shocked at Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inability to avert a crisis, if any.  

“We have serious questions about this kind of strategy, where just the daily dithering has not just paralyzed the economy and precipitously devalued the rupee, but hugely compounded the crisis in the country’s public finances,” Sen. Sherry Rehman, former leader of the opposition in the Senate, told Arab News.

The reaction follows Finance Minister Asad Umar’s comments on Saturday wherein he said that “the government will have to take tough decisions that would be painful for people,” signaling a possible hike in utility prices, following Pakistan’s decision to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout program. 

Opposing the decision, Rehman said: “We are shocked at the lack of a plan for a crisis we all saw looming. Now the slash and burn of utility prices is going to cause severe economic hardship. It’s one thing to have promised a completely different Pakistan, but another to not present alternative plans at least to manage the inflationary impact…on the most socially vulnerable sectors of Pakistan.”

Defending the move, Dr. Farrukh Saleem, government’s spokesman on economy and energy issues, said that the government has instilled a sense of “comfort and confidence” in the markets, not only within Pakistan but outside the country too, which was not possible without approaching the IMF for financial help. “IMF gives one prescription to those who avail its program, which includes an emphasis on increasing exports and curtailing imports and an end of subsidies,” he said.  Adding that the country’s “circular debts have gone up to 1.3 trillion rupees” — inherited from previous governments in the past 10 years — Dr. Saleem said that it was up to Imran Khan’s administration to do away with the liabilities as otherwise “the burden would eventually be shifted to consumers.”

“The government did not raise the gas rates for the last four years despite repeated requests from the concerned departments. Someone will have to swallow bitter pills of last 10 years,” he said. 

The stock market was jubilant following Pakistan’s decision to approach the IMF. However, investors’ newly acquired confidence was quickly replaced with concern as details emerged about the terms and conditions attached with the bailout program, resulting in a 750-point plunge in the benchmark KSE 100 index on Monday.

“Panic selling continued in the quarter earnings season amid a major fall in global equities and investor concerns for likely surge in interest rates and rupee depreciation with the potential IMF loans bailout package,” said Ahsan Mehanti, chief executive of Arif Habib Group. 

Pakistan has devalued its currency for the fifth time by 27 percent since December 2017, with analysts and stakeholders expecting another markdown as the IMF deal gathers steam.

“Its first impact would be in the currency market and the currency would be further devalued. With the devaluation of the Pakistani rupee against the US dollar, the prices of almost everything would start increasing especially those of imported goods,” Zafar Paracha, general secretary of Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan, told Arab News.  Another community that is expected to bear the brunt of the decision is the country’s industrialists and traders who said they could foresee an impact on the price of inputs and raw materials.

Junaid Esmail Makda, president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “The finance minister should take the country’s business community into confidence before taking the ‘painful decision’ because if the government comes up with harsh decision without taking us into the loop it would have a disastrous impact.” 

He further warned that such a decision would be unfavorable not just “for foreign investors but for local investors too” who might move their assets to other countries.  

However, Dr. Saleem continued to remain optimistic.

Reiterating the fact that the steps taken by the government to mitigate the impact of the IMF’s conditions would yield results, he said: “The government is working to increase exports to stabilize foreign exchange and starting a housing project that would spur economic activities in the backdrop of a growing demand of allied industries.”