Friday, July 31, 2015

Pak Army Builds Over Half of CPEC Western Route in Record Time

“The Frontier Works Organization (FWO) has built roads with 502 kilometers length on the western alignment of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to link Gwadar with other parts of the country. The FWO took up the challenge to extend the benefits of Gwadar port to rest of the country by building roads in rugged mountainous terrain and highly inaccessible areas. The gigantic task was undertaken on the directives of Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif."
Frontier Works Organization

Of the three land routes being constructed as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project to connect Pakistan's deep sea Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea with western China, the western route is the most challenging.  In addition to the difficult mountainous terrain in KP and Baluchistan provinces, the western route runs through Panjgur and Turbat where there is an active Baloch insurgency believed to be aided by India via Afghanistan. It's being built by Pakistan Army's Frontier Works Organization.

Frontier Works Organization:

Frontier Works Organization (FWO) is an administrative branch of the Pakistan Army that includes active duty officers and civilian scientists and engineers which has been involved with the construction of bridges, roads, tunnels, airfields and dams in Pakistan, on the orders of the civilian government of Pakistan, according a Reuters report.

Three CPEC Routes: Western, Central and Eastern



Major Milestone:

The completion of construction of 502 km of the 870 km length of the western alignment represents a significant milestone for Pakistan Army and the Frontier Works Organization.  It is expected to become operational by the end of 2016.

Indian Opposition:

India has made no secret of its strong opposition to the the CPEC project, and it is believed to be making covert efforts to sabotage it. Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “very strongly” raised the issue regarding China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during his visit to Beijing, and called the project “unacceptable”.  Swaraj said Modi was “concerned” about the $46 billion project, adding that the Indian government had summoned a Chinese envoy to raise the issue over the corridor that is to run through Pakistani Kashmir. Needless to say that the Chinese dismissed India’s objections to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Balochistan Insurgency:

In spite of Indian RAW's most determined effort to support the Baloch militants' campaign of murder and terror, the Baloch insurgency has been significantly weakened by the Pakistan Army campaign in the province. In 2013 earthquake that struck Awaran,  a stronghold of Baloch insurgents, Pakistan Army moved in with relief supplies to earthquake victims, and managed to gain access to parts of the very volatile district that were considered inaccessible. More recently, the insurgency has been decimated by in-fighting among various Baloch insurgent factions. The 2014 death of veteran Baloch leader Khair Bux Marri has opened up a rift between his sons Mehran and Hyrbyair — who heads the BLA from self-exile in London — and led to the creation of the UBA with other groups also aligning themselves with one side or the other.

Pak Army Chief's Warning:

Pakistan Army Chief Raheel Sharif has shown a strong personal commitment to making it happen by visiting insurgency-hit areas to support the workers and the troops on difficult construction sites. He was emphatic during a ceremony to celebrate the Chinese Army’s 88th anniversary held at the country’s Islamabad embassy where he said, “I reiterate our resolve that any attempt to obstruct or impede this (CPEC) project will be thwarted at all costs".


Summary:

Construction work on CPEC is already stimulating economic activity in Pakistan as indicated by rising domestic cement demand in the country.  It was up 8% year over year in 2014-15.  Cement sales are considered a barometer of development activity.  A recent assessment by Ruchir Sharma, head of Morgan Stanley's emerging markets, has said Pakistan's economy is growing more than twice as fast as other emerging markets other than India and China.  In a piece titled "Bucking stagnation elsewhere, the quiet rise of South Asia",  Sharma particularly mentions the Chinese CPEC investment of $46 billion as a positive for Pakistan. "Pakistan’s manufacturing sector is now growing, due to both increasing electric output and the fact that – like Bangladesh – its young population and labour force is expected to continue expanding for at least the next five years", says Sharma.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Gwadar as Hong Kong West

China-Pakistan Industrial Corridor

Pakistan Army Capabilities

Who Killed Sabeen Mahmud?

India's Covert War in Pakistan

Pakistan Boosts Electronic Surveillance to Fight Terror

Growing Fiber Optic Connectivity in Pakistan

Haier Expanding Production in Pakistan

Pakistan's Growing Population

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Pakistan Boosts Electronic Surveillance to Fight Terror

Pakistan is building digital surveillance capacity to rival America's NSA with broad public support in the country, according to a report by London-based Privacy International.

"Attacks against civilian targets in Pakistan’s cities have also fed popular support for communications surveillance and other efforts to register and monitor the civilian population, including national databases and mandatory SIM card registration", says the report. Pakistan requires universal SIM card registration by fingerprint, and maintains a national biometric ID database.

Pakistan has seen nearly 60,000 of its citizens die in incidents of terrorism since the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2002, according to data reported by South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). What is happening in the country now follows a familiar pattern seen elsewhere in the world: Faced with growing terror threat, people are willing to trade privacy for security.

Like the US National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program, the Pakistani effort includes both voice and data communications. Over 70 per cent of the country's population uses mobile phones, and an estimated 11 per cent of the population has internet access, the report says. This makes surveillance in Pakistan advanced and comprehensive as there are currently 50 operational internet providers and five mobile phone operators. Pakistan government has acquired technology and purchased equipment for surveillance from local as well as some foreign companies such as Ericsson, Alcatel, Huawei, SS8 and Utimaco. Here's an excerpt from the report:


"In June 2013, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s best known intelligence agency, sought to develop a mass surveillance system by directly tapping the main fibreoptic cables entering Pakistan that carried most of the nation’s network communication data. The confidential request for proposals outlines a “Targeted IP Monitoring System and COE [Common Operations Environments]” that aimed to capture and store approximately 660 gigabits of internet protocol (IP) traffic per second under ISI control. This system would make available virtually all of the nation’s domestic and international communications data for scrutiny, the most significant expansion of the government’s capacity to conduct mass surveillance to date. The total intake of data every second sought by Pakistan in the proposal document would rival some of the world’s most powerful surveillance programmes, including the UK’s ‘Tempora’ and US’ ‘Upstream’ programmes. What the ISI wanted to build, according to the request for proposals, was a complete surveillance system that would capture mobile communications data, including Wi-Fi, all broadband internet traffic, and any data transmitted over 3G. According to the documents, the interception activities were to be “seamless” and “must not be detectable or visible to the subscriber”.


Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal

Pakistan has seen a significant decline in terror-related deaths in the last two years. Civilian death toll has declined from 3001 in 2013 to 1781 in 2014 and 577 so far this year, according to SATP. It's attributed mainly to the launch of Pakistan Army's Operation Zarb e Azb against militants in 2013. It is believed that increased electronic surveillance has probably contributed to at least some of this success in reducing death toll.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Biometric Registration Database

Operation Zarb e Azb Launch

Ex Indian Spy Documents RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Intelligence Failures in Preventing Daily Carnage in Pakistan

What If Musharraf Had Said NO to US After 911?

Pakistani Computer Scientist Fights Terror

3G 4G Rollout Spurs Data Services Boom in Pakistan

Fiber Optic Connectivity in Pakistan



Monday, July 27, 2015

Pakistan Judicial Commission Report; Recurring Floods; ISIS Threat; Japan Re-Militarization

How will judicial commission report impact Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI)? Will there be a split in PTI? Will it hurt Imran Khan’s and his party’s popularity? Will Nawaz Sharif and his PMLN colleagues behave badly after the report?

Is a new political party emerging in Pakistan with many disgruntled members of existing parties? Is the Pak military behind it? What will such a party look like?

Why are there recurring floods in Pakistan almost every year? Meting glaciers? Heavier monsoons rising from increasing fresh water layer in Bay of Bengal? What can or should be done about it?

Monsoon Movement Across South Asia Source: BBC


Who will fill the vacuum left in Afghanistan by US troop withdrawal? Taliban? ISIS? Al Qaeda? Afghan government?

Why is Japan militarizing? Is it to counter rising China? How will it impact Asia? Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam (www.politicsinpakistan.com) and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com).

https://vimeo.com/134619588


Pakistan Judicial Commission Report; Recurring Floods; ISIS Threat; Japan Re-Militarization from WBT TV on Vimeo.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=435&v=iszq1jxxNfM





http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2zhwvp_pakistan-judicial-commission-report-recurring-floods-isis-threat-japan-re-militarization_news



Pakistan Judicial Commission Report; Recurring... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

PTI Dharna

Musharraf Treason Trial

Pakistani Glaciers Growing, Not Melting Away

Afghan-China-Pakistan Trilateral Initiative For Afghanistan

Post Cold War Lineup: Pakistan-China-Russia Vs India-US-Japan

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel

VPOS Dailymotion Channel

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pakistan's Rising College Enrollment and Graduation Rates

There are over 3 million students enrolled in grades 13 through 16 in Pakistan's 1,086 degree colleges and 161 universities, according to Pakistan Higher Education Commission report for 2013-14.  The 3 million enrollment is 15% of the 20 million Pakistanis in the eligible age group of 18-24 years.  In addition, there are over 255,000 Pakistanis enrolled in vocational training schools, according to Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA).

Graduation Day at NED Engineering University For 1300 Graduates in 2013
Pakistani universities have been producing over half a million graduates every year since 2010, according to HEC data. The number of university graduates in Pakistan increased from 380,773 in 2005-6 to 493,993 in 2008-09. This figure is growing with rising enrollment and contributing to Pakistan's growing human capital.

Source: UNESCO's Global Education Digest 2009



Higher education in Pakistan has come a long way since its independence in 1947 when there was only one university, the University of Punjab. By 1997, the number of universities had risen to 35, of which 3 were federally administered and 22 were under the provincial governments, with a combined enrollment of 71,819 students. A big spending boost by President Pervez Musharraf helped establish 51 new universities and awarding institutions during 2002-2008. This helped triple university enrollment from 135,000 in 2003 to about 400,000 in 2008, according to Dr. Ata ur Rehman who led the charge for expanding higher education during Musharraf years. There are 161 universities with 1.5 million students enrolled in Pakistan as of 2014.


Former Chairman of HEC summed up the country's higher education progress well in a piece he wrote for The News in 2012: "Pakistan has achieved critical mass and reached a point of take-off. For this phenomenal growth to continue, it is important for the government and other stakeholders to support and further strengthen the HEC as a national institution and protect its autonomy. If this momentum continues for another 10 years, Pakistan is certain to become a global player through a flourishing knowledge economy and a highly literate population".

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

10 Pakistan Universities Among Top 300 in Asia

Pakistan's Growing Human Capital

History of Literacy in Pakistan

Education Attainment in South Asia

Dr. Ata ur Rehman Defends HEC Reforms

Biotech and Genomics in Pakistan

Business Education in Pakistan

Armed Drones Outrage and Inspire Young Pakistanis

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pakistan's Karakoram Glaciers Growing or Shrinking?

A recent headline in Pakistan's Express Tribune newspaper declared: "Pakistan's glaciers melting faster than rest of the world". A few days later, I heard an ex-Met Department officer in Pakistan repeat the same alarm on a Geo TV show "Capital Talk" anchored by Hamid Mir. Are these people right?

Recognizing it's too important an issue to let go, I decided to look into the facts and data as reported in science journals. Quickly, I came upon "Karakoram Anomaly". I learned that it's a term used to describe the fact that, unlike other mountainous regions, the Karakoram glaciers which supply most of Pakistan's river water are growing rather than shrinking.


Baltoro Glacier in Karakoram National Park in Pakistan

Pakistan is home to the most heavily glaciated area outside the polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctica. The massive glaciers of Baltoro and Biafo stretch for over 60 kilometers each in the Karakoram Mountains, according to Bina Saeed Khan who wrote on this subject in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper in 2013.  The area designated as the Central Karakoram National Park in Pakistan has 711 glaciers, which is double the number of glaciers in the Alps in Europe.


A research report published in the journal Nature Geoscience has recently reported that the ice in the Karakoram mountains is sustained by a unique and localized seasonal pattern that keeps the mountain range relatively cold and dry during the summer months.

Other Himalayan ranges and the Tibetan Plateau — where glaciers have increasingly receded as Earth's climate has warmed — receive most of their precipitation from heavy summer monsoons out of hot South and Southeast Asian nations such as India.

The Himalayas

The main precipitation season in the Karakoram in Pakistan, however, occurs during the winter and is influenced by cold winds coming from Central Asian countries such as Afghanistan to the west, while the main Himalayan range blocks the warmer air from the southeast throughout the year. The researchers determined that snowfall, which is critical to maintaining glacier mass, will remain stable and even increase in magnitude at elevations above 4,500 meters (14,764 feet) in the Karakoram through at least 2100. On the other hand, snowfall over much of the Himalayas and Tibet is projected to decline even as the Indian and Southeast Asian monsoons increase in intensity under climate change, according to Princeton News.

Understanding what will happen to the Karakoram glaciers in the next several centuries is an existential question for Pakistanis.  Pakistan needs to sustain and grow its fresh water resources to support a growing population. WAPDA (Water and Power Development Authority) has recently set up a Glacier Monitoring Research Centre in Islamabad, which intends to conduct mass balance studies of five major Upper Indus glaciers, as well as installing new high-altitude weather stations. The six-year project is funded by the World Bank.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Thar Drought 

Water Scarce Pakistan

Pakistan's Rising Population: Blessing or Curse?

Recurring Floods and Droughts in Pakistan

Helicopter Skiing in Karakoram Mountains in Pakistan

Climbing K2-The Ultimate Challenge

Life of a Siachen Soldier

Extreme Kayak Adventures in Pakistan

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers


Rangers vs MQM-PPP in Sindh; India-Pakistan Ties; Eid in America; US-Iran Deal's Impact on Pakistan

How's Eid celebrated in America? Is it different from how it is celebrated in Pakistan? What do Pakistani-Americans do on Eid?


What will be the impact of Iran Deal on Pakistan and the Middle East? How will it help US and Iran and other powers, including India, strategically, economically and politically? Can the Israel lobby still sabotage this deal?

Are Pakistan Rangers targeting MQM and going easy on PPP in Sindh? Will Pakistan Army succeed in containing or eliminating MQM's militant wing? What is the PPP strategy in cooperating with Pakistan Rangers? Will MQM leaders be convicted of either money-laundering or murder or both charges in British Courts? How will it impact MQM as a political party in Pakistan? Will new leadership reform and recreate the party?

Are India-Pakistan ties taking a turn for the worse after Modi-Sharif meeting in Russia? Will Modi continue his policy of isolating Pakistan and use proxies to hurt his neighbors?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelists Misbah Azam (www.politicsinpakistan.com) and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDZdn2Umzfk





https://vimeo.com/133987391


Eid ul Fitr in America; US-Iran Deal's Impact on Pakistan; Rangers vs MQM-PPP in Sindh; India-Pakistan Ties from WBT TV on Vimeo.
Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Eid in America

Scotland Yard Confirms Document Linking MQM to RAW

Ex RAW Chief on Agra Summit and Kashmir

Pakistan Opposition Indicts But Supports PMLN Government

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel

VPOS Dailymotion Channel

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Look at Pakistani-American Community as it Celebrates Eid in Traditional Style

Eid-ul-Fitr celebration this year marked the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with many large prayer congregations across America. Muslims wore colorful outfits.   There were servings of traditional foods and deserts in outdoor melas (fairs) for Muslim families and their friends in all major cities of the United States. Most celebrated on Friday while others waited till Saturday.

Some security fears for American Muslims had arisen after an unfortunate shooting incident in which a US-born Palestinian-American young man killed four marines at a military recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Along with the other Americans, Muslims too mourned for the Chattanooga dead and they prayed for peace for all of America and the world. Fortunately, Eid celebrations have so far passed without an incident.

The Washington Post put the Chattanooga shooting in perspective with a history of several attacks by various groups starting with the anti-war groups during the Vietnam war. The paper cited earlier attacks on US military recruitment offices by Black Panthers, Neo-Nazis and the Japanese Red Army.

President Barack H. Obama offered Eid greetings to all Muslims on the occasion. The President said, "I hope today brings joy to all of your homes, both here in the U.S. and around the world. From my family to yours, Eid Mubarak!" "As Muslim Americans celebrate Eid across America, the holiday is a reminder to every American of the importance of respecting those of all faiths and beliefs."

New York Empire State Building Lit Green on Eid July 17, 2015
My family too joined in the fun as did most of my fellow Pakistani-Americans in Silicon Valley. We made the required charitable donation called fitra and then prayed in the morning along with thousands of Muslims in Silicon Valley hailing from many parts of the world. Then we went to a large fairground where a local Muslim community association had set up food stalls, amusement rides, face painting and balloons  to create a very festive atmosphere. Since Eid fell on Friday, there are many weekend events planned to a make it a true 3-day celebration.

Pakistani-American Demographics. Source: Migration Policy Inst.

Let me take this opportunity to talk about how Pakistani-Americans are doing. There are 453,000 Pakistanis in the United States as of 2013, according to the US Census Bureau. First-generation immigrants account for 273,000, or more than half of the Pakistani-American population with the remaining 180,000 being children of first-generation immigrants. 56% of Pakistanis 25 years or older have college degrees, much higher than the US national average of 31%. 

Median household income of Pakistani-American families is $60,000, higher than the US median household income of $50,000. A third of the Pakistani-American (vs 25% US) households earn over $90,000 while a fifth (vs 10% US households) have incomes exceeding $140,000.

Pakistan-Americans make up only 6% of the total Pakistani diaspora but they sent home 15% ($2.6 billion) in remittances totaling $18.4 billion received by Pakistan in the last fiscal year, according to figures released by the State Bank of Pakistan for 2014-15. It's important to note that the $18.4 billion in remittances helped Pakistan deal with its gaping $22 billion trade deficit in 2014-15.

In addition to outsize remittances, Pakistani diaspora also contributes generously to education, health care, nutrition and other programs run by NGOs in their country of origin.

Pakistani-Americans are a thriving community in America. While some of them have faced some backlash since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the larger community has been relatively unscathed by the fall-out from multiple wars waged in the Middle East by the United States since 911. 


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pakistan's Growing Population: Blessing or Curse?

“So where will the children of the future come from? Increasingly they will come from people who are at odds with the modern world. Such a trend, if sustained, could drive human culture off its current market-driven, individualistic, modernist course, gradually creating an anti-market culture dominated by fundamentalism - a new dark ages.” ― Philip Longman, The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity & What to Do About It

Fear of Population Bomb:

The above quote captures the true essence of the West's racist fears about what some of them call the "population bomb": East will dominate the West economically and politically for centuries if the growing colored populations of developing Asia and Africa turn the West's former colonies into younger and more dynamic nations with rising education and better living standards.

Much of the developed world has already fallen below the "replacement" fertility rate of 2.1.  Fertility rates impact economic dynamism, cultural stability and political and military power in the long run.

Pakistan Population Growth:

Pakistani women's fertility rates have declined significantly from about 4.56 in 2000 to 2.86 babies per woman in 2014, a drop of 37% in 14 years.  In percentage terms, Pakistan population growth rate has come down from 2.3% in 2000 to 1.6% in 2014, a decline of about 30%. It is being driven drown by the same forces that have worked in the developed world in the last century: increasing urbanization, growing incomes, greater participation in the workforce and rising education.  Pakistan now ranks 65 among 108 countries with TFR of 2.1 (replacement rate) or higher.

Total Fertility Rate Per Pakistani Woman. Source: CIA World FactBook






Pakistan is already the most urbanized country in South Asia and its urbanization is accelerating. Pakistan has also continued to offer much greater upward economic and social mobility to its citizens than neighboring India over the last two decades. Since 1990, Pakistan's middle class had expanded by 36.5% and India's by only 12.8%, according to an ADB report titled "Asia's Emerging Middle Class: Past, Present And Future.

Pakistan Population Growth in Percentage Terms. Source: World Bank


Pakistan has the world’s sixth largest population, seventh largest diaspora and the ninth largest labor force with growing human capital. With rapidly declining fertility and aging populations in the industrialized world, Pakistan's growing talent pool is likely to play a much bigger role to satisfy global demand for workers in the 21st century and contribute to the well-being of Pakistan as well as other parts of the world.



With half the population below 20 years and 60 per cent below 30 years, Pakistan is well-positioned to reap what is often described as "demographic dividend", with its workforce growing at a faster rate than total population. This trend is estimated to accelerate over several decades. Contrary to the oft-repeated talk of doom and gloom, average Pakistanis are now taking education more seriously than ever. Youth literacy is about 70% and growing, and young people are spending more time in schools and colleges to graduate at higher rates than their Indian counterparts in 15+ age group, according to a report on educational achievement by Harvard University researchers Robert Barro and Jong-Wha Lee. Vocational training is also getting increased focus since 2006 under National Vocational Training Commission (NAVTEC) with help from Germany, Japan, South Korea and the Netherlands.



Pakistan's work force is over 60 million strong, according to the Federal Bureau of Statistics. With increasing female participation, the country's labor pool is rising at a rate of 3.5% a year, according to International Labor Organization.

With rising urban middle class, there is substantial and growing demand in Pakistan from students, parents and employers for private quality higher education along with a willingness and capacity to pay relatively high tuition and fees, according to the findings of Austrade, an Australian govt agency promoting trade. Private institutions are seeking affiliations with universities abroad to ensure they offer information and training that is of international standards.

Trans-national education (TNE) is a growing market in Pakistan and recent data shows evidence of over 40 such programs running successfully in affiliation with British universities at undergraduate and graduate level, according to The British Council. Overall, the UK takes about 65 per cent of the TNE market in Pakistan.

It is extremely important for Pakistan's public policy makers and the nation's private sector to fully appreciate the expected demographic dividend as a great opportunity. The best way for them to demonstrate it is to push a pro-youth agenda of education, skills developmenthealth and fitness to take full advantage of this tremendous opportunity. Failure to do so would be a missed opportunity that could be extremely costly for Pakistan and the rest of the world.

In the high fertility countries of Africa and Asia family sizes are continuing to decline. And in low fertility countries family sizes will continue to remain below replacement levels. Why? Because the same juggernaut forces are operating: increasing urbanization, smaller and costly housing, expanding higher education and career opportunities for women, high financial costs and time pressures for childrearing and changing attitudes and life styles.

Source: BBC



Countries With Declining Populations:

115 countries, including China (1.55), Hong Kong (1.17),  Taiwan (1.11) and Singapore (0.8) are well below the replacement level of 2.1 TFR.  Their populations will sharply decline in later part of the 21st century.

 United States is currently at 2.01 TFR, slightly below the replacement rate.  "We don't take a stance one way or the other on whether it's good or bad," said Mark Mather, demographer with the Population Reference Bureau. Small year-to-year changes like those experienced by the United States don't make much difference, he noted. But a sharp or sustained drop over a decade or more "will certainly have long-term consequences for society," he told Utah-based Desert News National.

Japan (1.4 TFR) and Russia (1.6 TFR) are experiencing among the sharpest population declines in the world. One manifestation in Japan is the data on diaper sales: Unicharm Corp., a major diaper maker, has seen sales of adult diapers outpace infant diapers since 2013, according to New York Times.

The Russian population grew from about 100 million in 1950 to almost149 million by the early 1990s. Since then, the Russian population has declined, and official reports put it at around 144 million, according to Yale Global Online.

Reversing Trends:

Countries, most recently China, are finding that it is far more difficult to raise low fertility than it is reduce high fertility. The countries in the European Union are offering a variety of incentives, including birth starter kits to assist new parents in Finland, cheap childcare centers and liberal parental leave in France and a year of paid maternity leave in Germany, according to Desert News. But the fertility rates in these countries remain below replacement levels.

Summary:

Overzealous Pakistani birth control advocates need to understand what countries with sub-replacement fertility rates are now seeing: Low birth rates lead to diminished economic growth. "Fewer kids mean fewer tax-paying workers to support public pension programs. An "older society", noted the late Nobel laureate economist Gary Becker, is "less dynamic, creative and entrepreneurial."

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Expected Demographic Dividend

Pakistan's Growing Human Capital

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Pakistan Most Urbanized in South Asia

Hindu Population Growth Rate in Pakistan

Do South Asian Slums Offer Hope?

How "Illiterate" Are Pakistan's "Illiterate" Cell Phone Users?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Riaz Haq's Ramadan Sermon: Interfaith Relations in Islam

"Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve" Quran 2:62 (Translation by Yusuf Ali)

"There is no compulsion in religion" Quran 2:256 (Translated by Shakir)

"Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion." Quran 109:1 (Translation by Pickthall)







My Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters:

Assalam-o-Alaikum.

In a prior Ramadan sermon, I have discussed the importance of Huqooq ul Ibad (rights of fellow human beings), the significance of earning an honest living,  abstaining from harshly judging others and taking responsibility for both the negative or positive consequences of our actions.

In this sermon,  I am sharing with you some verses from our holy book to convey to you the Quranic exhortation to establish good interfaith relations.  The verses amply make it clear that Islam not only acknowledges the existence of other faiths but also accepts religious pluralism.

The Quran reveals that Allah sent 120,000 of His prophets to humanity. It follows, therefore, that Islam does recognize differences in points of view and religious beliefs outside Islam (Quran 109:1). The Quran says no one has a right to force their own understanding of religion upon others (Quran 2:256). It acknowledges that other religions can also lead to salvation (Quran 2:62).


In chapter 5 verse 48, the Quran says: "Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ."  (Translation by Sahih International)

So the diversity we see in this world is all Allah's creation. We should, therefore, not fight the will of Allah. We must accept it.

In matters of state, we must emulate the State of Madina that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) created. We must learn from Misaq-e-Madina (Charter of Medina), Islam's first constitution approved by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Honored by US Supreme Court

Here's the opening line of Misaq-e-Madina:

"This is a document from Muhammad the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), governing relations between the Believers i.e. Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib and those who followed them and worked hard with them. They form one nation -- Ummah."

It clearly says that all citizens of "Yathrib" (ancient name of Madina), regardless of  their tribe or religion, are part of one nation--"Ummah". So the word "Ummah" here does not exclude non-Muslims who lived in Madina.

Further into the "Misaq" document, it says: "No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew. The enemies of the Jews who follow us will not be helped. If anyone attacks anyone who is a party to this Pact the other must come to his help."

The Misaq assures equal protection to all citizens of Madina, including non-Muslim tribes which agreed to it. The contents of Misaq-e-Madina, Islam's first constitution approved by Prophet Mohammad 1400 years ago, appear to have inspired Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah vision of Pakistan where people of all religions and nationalities live in harmony with equal rights and protections under the law.

In conclusion, let me remind you that in chapter 21 verse 117, the Quran says that "Allah sent Muhammad (SAW) as a blessing to all His creation", not just Muslims. We must, therefore, treat all of Allah's creation with love and kindness. This clearly exhorts all Muslims to strive for interfaith harmony.

May Allah accept our fasting, our prayers and our charity in this holy month of Ramadan and guide us all to be His best servants.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Is Ramadan an Excuse to not Work? 

Huqooq ul Ibad--Respecting Rights of Fellow Humans

Appeal to Stop Power Theft in Ramadan

Ramadan Commercialization By Mass Media

Misaq e Madia and Jinnah's Vision of Pakistan

The Prophet I Know

Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West

Strong Eid Sales in Pakistan Confirm Nielsen's Data


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ex RAW Chief on MQM-MI6 Links & Kashmir; PTI's "35 Punctures" Claim; Greek Drama in Pakistan?

Does second leaked Scotland Yard document confirm MQM-RAW money link? Is Altaf Husain being hosted in London by MI6, the British intelligence? Why?

How shocking are Ex RAW Chief Amarjit Singh Dulat's revelations on Kashmir and failure of Musharraf-Vajpayee Agra Summit? Why is India funding the militant groups in Kashmir? Do these revelations expose India's sponsorship of terrorism in Kashmir and elsewhere?

Why was Indian National Security Advisor and Ex RAW Chief Ajit Kumar Doval arrested in 2005 along with Mumbai underworld figure Vicky Malhotra and then quickly released by Mumbai Police? Has Indian intelligence been collaborating with criminal gangs for its covert actions?

Why is PTI backtracking from its "35 punctures" allegation against Najam Sethi who served as interim chief minister of Punjab during 2013 general elections? Does it raise serious doubts about Imran Khan's other allegations of election rigging?

What is happening in Greece debt crisis? Can this happen in Pakistan?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam (www.politicsinpakistan.com) discusses these questions with Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://vimeo.com/132632533



Ex RAW Chief on MQM-MI6 Links & Kashmir; PTI's "35 Punctures" Claim; Greek Drama in Pakistan? from WBT TV on Vimeo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6XPmCqDbrE





http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2wpmc0_ex-raw-chief-on-mqm-mi6-links-kashmir-pti-s-35-punctures-claim-greek-drama-in-pakistan_news



Ex RAW Chief on MQM-MI6 Links & Kashmir; PTI's... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Scotland Yard Confirms Document Linking MQM to RAW

Ex RAW Chief on Agra Summit and Kashmir

Pakistan Opposition Indicts But Supports PMLN Government

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel

VPOS Dailymotion Channel