Friday, July 10, 2020

India-Iran-Afghanistan Axis Against Pakistan?

A JIT (Joint Investigation Team) report recently released by Sindh government in Pakistan has revealed that the infamous Karachi gangster Uzair Baloch worked for Iranian intelligence. Apparently, Uzair Baloch was also in contact with Indian intelligence agents working in Iran, according to Indian media reports. Baloch's interrogation led to the discovery and arrest of Indian undercover agent Kulbhushan Jadhav in Balochistan shortly after Baloch's arrest. Kulbhushan Jadhav has confessed to orchestrating deadly terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi.
He has said that India's RAW funneled money through Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Kandhar (Afghanistan) and  Zahidan (Iran) to BLA and TTP for terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. Targets of terror attacks included people, mosques, roads, port and Balochistan's Hazara Shia community.

L to R: Indian Prime Minister Modi, Iranian President Rouhani and Afghan President Ghani


Chabahar vs Gwadar:

Chabahar is a port being constructed by Indians in Iran. The stated goal of this project is to bypass Pakistan for India's trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia via Iran. Indian media have promoted Chabahar as a competitor to Gwadar Port which is a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).  Indian government is openly hostile to CPEC and declared support for Baloch insurgents.  The leaders of Afghanistan, India and Iran have held regular summit meetings to promote Chabahar port project.

4,000 Indians in Chabahar:

There are 4,000 Indians working in Chabahar, Iran, according to Indian journalist Karan Thapar. Some of them, like Kulbhushan Jadhav, work undercover for Indian intelligence agency RAW.  It is hard to believe that the Iranian intelligence is not aware of the presence of undercover Indian agents among the 4,000 Indians working in Chabahar. After all, Jadhav had two passports, one in his own name and another in the name of Hussein Mubarak Patel. The Indian Express and Asian Age, both Indian publications, suggest that Jadhav had links with Uzair Baloch who has been convicted by for working for the Iranian intelligence in Pakistan.  Kulbhushan Jadhav has confessed to orchestrating deadly terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. He has said that India's RAW funneled money through Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Kandhar (Afghanistan) and  Zahidan (Iran) to BLA and TTP for terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. Targets of terror attacks included people, mosques, roads, port and Balochistan's Hazara Shia community.

Pakistan's Complaint to Iran:

Paskistan has complained to Iran about allowing Baloch insurgents to use Iranian territory to launch terrorist attacks in Pakistan after an attack  killed 14 people along Pakistan’s coast in 2019, according to Reuters.

“The training camps and logistical camps of this new alliance...are inside the Iranian border region,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad. Qureshi said he has spoken to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and conveyed to him the “anger of Pakistani nation”.

Karachi Stock Market Attack:

Four terrorists belonging to Baloch Liberation Army attacked the Pakistani stock exchange in Karachi on June 29, 2020, killing two guards and a policeman and wounding seven others before being shot dead. Pakistan believes that the attackers came from southeastern Afghanistan where they enjoy safe havens with the support of intelligence agencies like Afghan NDS and Indian RAW.

Qasem Soleimani:

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) commander General Qasem Soleimani who was assassinated by the United States in drone strike was particularly hostile toward Pakistan. In February, 2019, Soleimani threatened Pakistan. He boasted about Iran's "independent power and honor". Soleimani, known to be close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khanenai, reportedly had serious policy disagreement with the Rouhani government.  He said:

"I warn you not to test Iran and anyone who has tested Iran has received firm response. We are speaking to Pakistan with a friendly tone and we are telling that country not to allow their borders to become a source of insecurity for the neighboring countries..... Iran enjoys independent power and honor. Some countries have wealth, but no prowess. Trump tells the Al-Saud that if it hadn't been for the US support, Saudi Arabia would not have survived and Saudi Arabia's coalitions in the region have all ended in failure."

Soleimani's tone in this message to Pakistan is anything but "friendly".

Summary:

Recent release of Sindh government report reveals that Karachi gangster Uzair Baloch spied for Iran in Pakistan.  There are 4,000 Indians working in Chabahar, Iran, according to Indian journalist Karan Thapar. Some of them, like Kulbhushan Jadhav, work undercover for Indian intelligence agency RAW.  Chabahar is a port being constructed by Indians in Iran. The stated goal of this project is to bypass Pakistan for India's trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia via Iran. Indian media have promoted Chabahar as a competitor to Gwadar Port which is a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Indian Express and Asian Age, both Indian publications, suggest that Jadhav had links with Uzair Baloch.  Kulbhushan Jadhav has confessed to orchestrating deadly terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. He has said that India's RAW funneled money through Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Kandhar (Afghanistan) and  Zahidan (Iran) to BLA and TTP for terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. Targets of terror attacks included people, mosques, roads, port and Balochistan's Hazara Shia community.

Here's Kulbhushan Jadhav's confession video:

https://youtu.be/nVp62OinTeU




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Sunday, July 5, 2020

Declining COVID19 Reproduction Rate in Pakistan Now Among the World's Lowest

London's Imperial College estimates that COVID19 pandemic in Pakistan is "on course to fade out", a testimony to Prime Minister Imran Khan's government's effective handling of the the ongoing global health crisis.  At just 0.74, the effective coronavirus reproduction rate (Rt) in Pakistan is among the lowest in the world. An Rt of less than 1 indicates each infected person is infecting fewer than one person.  Only Italy (0.63), Netherlands (0.62), Canada (0.50) and Spain (0.02) have lower reproduction rates than Pakistan's. However, this is no time to relax. Pakistanis need to continue to take all precautions, including wearing face masks, to ensure that COVID19 fades out in the country.

COVID19 Effective Reproductive Rate. Source: Imperial College, London, UK

Pakistan's coronavirus transmission rate is lowest in its region. Neighboring India's Rt is 1.14, Iran's 1.12, Bangladesh 0.96 and Afghanistan's 0.93 are all significantly higher than Pakistan's 0.74.

COVID19 Effective Reproductive Rate. Source: Imperial College, London, UK

The latest numbers vindicate Pakistan government's "smart lockdown" strategy of requiring face masks and selective lockdowns of hotspots. Pakistan's strategy has been aimed at balancing lives and livelihoods in the middle of a deadly pandemic that has infected more than 11 million people globally, and claimed over 4,500 lives in Pakistan and more than half a million lives around the world. Developed western nations, particularly US and UK, have been among the worst affected by it.

akistan COVID19 Weekly Death Decline to 577 Now From Peak of 869 Last Week

Weekly COVID19 deaths in Pakistan have declined to 577 this week from 869 last week. To put it perspective, about 4,000 Pakistanis died everyday from various causes before the current pandemic.

Positive Test Rate Declines to 1 in 6.36 (15.7%) From Peak of 1 in 4.47 (22.3%) on June 4, 2020

The number of people testing positive in Pakistan has declined to 1 in 6.36 (15.7%) from the peak of 1 in 4.47 (22.3%) on June 4, 2020.

From the beginning of the pandemic, Pakistan's strategy has been aimed at balancing lives and livelihoods. The latest numbers vindicate Pakistan government's "smart lockdown" strategy of requiring face masks and selective lockdowns of hotspots. However, this is no time to relax. Pakistanis need to continue to take all precautions, including wearing face masks, to ensure that COVID19 fades out in the country.
Talk4Pak host with Faraz Darvesh discusses this subject with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq:



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Pakistan Pharma Among World's Top 3 Fastest Growing

Pakistan pharmaceutical industry and market are among the world's top 3 fastest growing, according to IQVIA health market research firm based in the United States. Pakistan’s domestic pharmaceutical firms sales have grown 13.1% compounded annually in the last 4 years, outperforming multinational companies (MNCs), which saw global growth of 9.34% CAGR. Pakistan's pharma sector is growing faster than in other emerging markets like Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Russia and Vietnam.

Emerging faster than the MNCs, the quarterly revenues of the local Pakistani pharmaceutical companies surged to Rs. 320 billion in the quarter ending March 31, 2020, compared with Rs. 195.75 billion as of March 31, 2016. Similarly, MNCs increased their quarterly sales in Pakistan to Rs. 143.2 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2020, up from Rs. 100.2 billion in Q12016, according to Pakistani media reports. Pakistan exported $217.04 million worth of pharma products during 2019, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.

Pakistan Pharma Growth Among Top Fastest in the World. Source: IQVIA

Medicine spending growth in the emerging pharmaceutical  ("pharmerging") markets continues to slow compared to the past five years and is projected to grow at 5–8% through 2023, according to US-based global market research firm IQVIA.

Pakistan Pharma Exports

Although China, Brazil and India have the largest medicine spending within the pharmerging markets, Turkey, Egypt and Pakistan are forecast to have the greatest growth between 2019 and 2023. Pharmerging market growth continues to derive primarily from increasing per capita use, but some markets are seeing wider uptake of newer medicines as patients’ ability to afford their share of costs improves with economic growth.

Pakistan's top 5 pharma companies, including GSK, Abbott, and AGP Pharma,  saw their profits jump 37% in Q1/2020 over the same period last year, to Rs2.6 billion. In the same quarter, profits of 13 consumer giants, including Nestle, Packages, Pakistan Tobacco and Colgate, remained flat amid COVID19 pandemic.

In growing recognition of Pakistan's pharmaceutical sector, the  US-based Gilead Sciences recently chose to license COVID19 drug Remdesivir to Pakistan's Ferozsons pharmaceutical company. Other Remdisivir licensees include pharma companies in India. Gilead said it signed non-exclusive licensing pacts with 5 generic drugmakers based in India and Pakistan, allowing them make and sell Remdesivir for 127 countries.

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Friday, July 3, 2020

Pakistani-American Actor Kumail Nanjiani to Star in Marvel's New Movie

Karachi-born Pakistani-American actor Kumail Nanjiani plays Kingo,  one of the title characters in "The Eternals", Marvel's new movie scheduled for release in 2021. Kingo is a 16th century Japanese master swordsman and a film star and producer. The Eternals are a race of immortal superheroes. The movie also stars Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, and Kit Harington.

Kumail Nanjiani 

Nanjiani is a comedian. Prior to The Eternals, Nanjiani has not played any muscular hero roles. He had to train for a year to get in shape for this role. Posting a photo showing his killer abs on Instagram, Nanjiani said: "I found out a year ago I was going to be in Marvel's Eternals and decided I wanted to transform how I looked. I would not have been able to do this if I didn't have a full year with the best trainers and nutritionists paid for by the biggest studio in the world".

One of constant themes of his media coverage the fact that he is among the few men of color in the mostly white world of Hollywood.  In a recent Hollywood Reporter roundtable with Ricky Gervais, Ramy Youssef, Kenan Thompson and Dan Levy, Nanjiani said Sometimes I feel like there are these two buckets: There's white people, and everyone else is "people of color," and there's this idea that there's a monolithic thought in there.

Kumail Nanjiani's first starring role was in HBO comedy "Silicon Valley" in which he plays a Pakistani-American software engineer. Nanjiani says that "I feel more Pakistani than I have in the last 10 years". "I feel way more defined by my ethnicity now," Nanjiani says. "If there's an ethnicity that is maligned and attacked and demonized ... I'm with you. I stand with you. Because it's unavoidable that people are seeing me a certain way, I kind of want to own it. I feel more Pakistani than I have in the last 10 years", he told USA Today.

Kumail interspersed his 2017 movie The Big Sick with a running presentation on his country of birth that shows him singing the first few lines of Pakistan's national anthem out loud. Nanjiani also brings out his love of cricket and the fact that Pakistan has the world's largest contiguous farm irrigation system.


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Monday, June 29, 2020

Are American and Pakistani Responses to COVID19 Pandemic Flawed?

Did the pandemic surveillance system fail in early detection of the Coronavirus in US and Pakistan? What are the problems in this system? What needs to be done to correct the problems?

Positive Test Rate Declines to 1 in 6.36 (15.7%) From Peak of 1 in 4.47 (22.3%) on June 4, 2020

How are Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan and President Donald Trump of the United States handling the COVID19 pandemic? Are both their responses fundamentally flawed? Are absolute total lockdowns as recommended by the World Health Organization necessary in Pakistan? Can Pakistan handle the economic and human consequences of extended total lockdown?

Pakistan COVID19 Weekly Death Decline to 577 Now From Peak of 869 Last Week

Weekly COVID19 deaths in Pakistan have declined to 577 this week from 869 last week. To put it perspective, about 4,000 Pakistanis died everyday from various causes before the current pandemic.

The number of people testing positive in Pakistan has declined to 1 in 6.36 (15.7%) from the peak of 1 in 4.47 (22.3%) on June 4, 2020.

What does the coronavirus data show in terms of coronavirus cases and fatality rates in the US and Pakistan? Is the positivity rate the right gauge of the true extent of the spread of the virus? Is antibodies testing data a better indicator of it? Why is the COVID19 death rate in Pakistan among the lowest in the world? Is it grossly understated?

Despardes with Faraz Darvesh host discusses these questions with Pakistani-American epidemiologist Dr. Rashid Chotani and analyst Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com):


https://youtu.be/_fJk6GH_-GE






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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Opioid Crisis: Indian-American Pharma CEO Jailed

Dr. John Nath Kapoor, Indian-American CEO of Insys Therapeutics, has been found guilty of conspiring to recklessly and illegally boost profits from the opioid painkiller Subsys, a fentanyl spray designed to be absorbed under the tongue, according to multiple media reports.


Dr. John Nath Kapoor
In 2018, data showed that opioid overdoses killed an average of 128 Americans everyday.  Last year, nearly 70,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses.  Opioid abuse has become a public health crisis with devastating social, economic and health consequences in vast swathes of America.  In spite of knowing the dangers opioids posed, drug companies like Kapoor's Insys heavily promoted such drugs by paying physicians to overprescribe, resulting in enormous company profits.

Kapoor has received five and a half years jail sentence.  CBS has reported that others working for him have been sentenced to serve from 12 to 33 months, in part because of the testimony of the government's star witness: Alec Burlakoff, the senior vice president of sales at Insys, who had pled guilty and cooperated with prosecutors.

Kapoor, billionaire entrepreneur and former CEO of Insys Therapeutics, was born in Amritsar, India. He studied pharmacy at Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai, India. He received a doctorate in medicinal chemistry from University of Buffalo, New York, in 1972. He became a major American success story until he was arrested and charged in 2017 under RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) laws.

Earlier in June, 2020, three Indian-American physicians were found to have faked results of a hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) study they published in New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet. Both journals were forced to retract it.

Last year, an Indian-American operator and several Indian-American and other doctors participating in a home health care business in Silicon Valley were charged by US federal prosecutors with fraud.

India and Pakistan are among the top three sources of foreign medical professionals in the United States.

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Impact of COVID19 Pandemic; Biden vs Trump; Modi's Blunders

What is the global impact of COVID19 pandemic? How has it affected the United States? How is Prime Minister Imran Khan handling the coronavirus crisis in Pakistan? Are complete lockdowns absolutely necessary to contain the spread of coronavirus?

Impact of COVID19 Global Pandemic

Has President Trump's handling of the COVID pandemic and its devastating economic impact hurt his re-election chances?  Who is better for Pakistan? Biden or Trump? Was President Obama's hostility toward Pakistan shared by Joe Biden who served as his vice president from 2009 to 2017? Why did Biden say "Pakistan is 50 times more important to US than Afghanistan"?

Have Prime Minister Modi's policies backfired? Why has Modi not succeeded in isolating Pakistan? Why do almost all of India's neighbors from China to Nepal to Pakistan have problems with India? Why is Modi under India so isolated? Why has President Trump not strongly backed India in Ladakh?

Despardes with Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com).


https://youtu.be/4REeQjTDHvw






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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Can India Afford Economic Boycott of China After Ladakh?

Indian consumers are hooked to a whole range of Chinese products. India's industry sources critical components from China. Indian startups rely on Chinese venture capital. Can Indians really afford to boycott China without seriously hurting themselves after the killing of Indian soldiers by the Chinese Army in Ladakh?  Let's look at the data.


China-India Lopsided Trade. Source: Times of India

Volume of China-India Trade:

India accounts for $70 billion of China's export,  less than 3% of the country's $2.5 trillion in exports. Chinese products make up about 18% of India's total imports.

India imports almost seven times more from China than it exports to it, according Indian media reports. India runs huge trade deficit with China – its largest with any country. In 2018-19, India’s exports to China were mere $16.7 billion, while imports were $70.3 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $53.6 billion.

Indian Industries Dependence on China:

Indian industry depends on China for a range of raw materials. About a fifth of  components used by Indian automobile industry come from China. 70 percent of all electronic components used by Indian companies are imported from China.

Over 45% of consumer durables, 70% of APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) come from China. Nearly 75% of the telecom equipment used by Indian carriers is from China, according to the Sunday Guardian.

Chinese Venture Capital in India. Source: Economic Times

Indian Startup Venture Capital:

China is the biggest source of venture capital in India.  Chinese VCs have poured about $4 billion in 90 startups in India. Two-thirds of Indian start-ups valued at more than $1 billion have at least one Chinese investor.  High-profile startups like Byju, Flipkart, Ola, PayTM and Zomato.

India's startup ecosystem continues to be dependent on large swathes of foreign funding given the ongoing absence of home-grown pools of capital. It will face significant near-to-medium term cash constraints if investors from the world’s second-largest economy walk away, according to Economic Times. 

Summary:

With growing Chinese trade and investment in India, the Indian economy has become significantly dependent on China.  Chinese VCs have poured about $4 billion in 90 startups in India. Two-thirds of Indian start-ups valued at more than $1 billion have at least one Chinese investor About a fifth of  components used by Indian automobile industry come from China. 70 percent of all electronic components used by Indian companies are imported from China. Similarly, 45 percent of consumer durables, 70% of APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) come from China. Nearly 75% of the telecom equipment used by Indian carriers is from China, according to the Sunday Guardian. Indians can not boycott China without seriously hurting themselves.

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Sunday, June 14, 2020

Indian-American COVID19 Researchers Face Fraud Charges Over HydroxyChloroquine (HCQ) Study

Top two international medical journals, New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and The Lancet, were recently forced to retract two papers on COVID-19 due to obvious fraud committed by the coauthor Sapan Desai, Chicago-based Indian-American surgeon and businessman, whose analytics company Surgisphere claimed to have stored clinical data from thousands of patients of hundreds of hospitals as part of HydroxyChloroquine (HCQ) study. Dr. Amit Patel and Dr. Madeep Mehra, both of whom are American-Indians, claimed to be the lead authors of the papers published in The Lancet and NEJM. The drug was promoted by US President Trump as a way to treat COVID patients. The study claimed to have looked at data from 671 hospitals across six continents related to 96,000 patients. The authors claimed that 81,000 hospitalized patients were not given HCQ but 15,000 were given HCQ which has been widely used to treat malaria patients.

It all turned out to be fake. But it forced World Health Organization (WHO) to suspend its clinical trial of the drug's effectiveness in treating coronavirus patients, a serious setback to finding a treatment for the highly contagious disease that has put a big chunk of the world in lockdown.

India-American Doctors Amit Patel, Mandeep Mehra, Sapan Desai


On June 4, 2020, The Lancet issued the following retraction statement:

“Today, three of the authors of the paper, “Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis”, have retracted their study. They were unable to complete an independent audit of the data underpinning their analysis. As a result, they have concluded that they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.” The Lancet takes issues of scientific integrity extremely seriously, and there are many outstanding questions about Surgisphere and the data that were allegedly included in this study.”

Dr. Amit Patel and Dr. Madeep Mehra, both of who are American-Indians claimed to be the lead authors of the papers published in The Lancet and NEJM. Dr. Patel has had his faculty position terminated by the University of Utah, where he was the chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Dr. Mehra has offered an unconditional apology and confessed that he lent his name as lead investigator to several research papers without looking at the data supplied by Desai.

Apparently, Mehra and Patel designed a study and then asked Desai to provide them some results out of thin air to support their predetermined conclusions. Medical Journals are often keen to publish scientific studies on COVID-19 that help them increase their earnings via subscriptions and advertising. The authors would probably have gotten away with the fraud if the study had been something not as high profile as the search for COVID19 treatment.

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Racism in America; Coronavirus in Pakistan; China in Ladakh

Is the killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis Police Officer symptomatic of a deeper problem in American society? Is the Trump phenomenon the result of ingrained racism in America? Is racism rooted in America's original sin of slavery?  Is it time to openly acknowledge and address it? Is it time for greater social change beyond the emancipation proclamation of 1860s and the civil rights legislation of 1960s? Is wide participation of white American protesters in recent marches a clear call for action by top leadership in the White House and the US Congress?

George Floyd Memorialized By Pakistani Truck Artist Haider Ali

What is the status and the trajectory of coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan? How widespread are the infections? What does COVID19 and antibodies testing tell us? Is easing of lockdown justified? How long a lockdown can Pakistan's poor afford? What is the alternative? Can mandatory face mask slow down the spread? Is there a right balance between lives and livelihoods?

Why is India so isolated? Have Modi's actions contributed to Chinese aggressive response in Ladakh? Did revocation of article 370 provoke China? Where does America stand on the situation in Ladakh? Will Trump before his offer to mediate between India and China? Is the current China-India standoff an opportunity for Pakistan like the one in 1962 when the Indian military was on the run? Can Pakistan take advantage of it?

Despardes with Faraz Darvesh host discusses these questions with Raza Rumi, Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq.

https://youtu.be/sTUrkPh5zeU






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