Monday, November 28, 2016

Gen Petraeus Debunks Allegations of Duplicity Against Pakistan

General David Petraeus, former CIA director and commander of US troops in Afghanistan, has said there is no evidence of Pakistan playing a double game and supporting terrorists in Afghanistan. Petraeus' remarks are now particularly significant given the fact that he is on a short list of President-Elect Donald Trump's nominees for Secretary of State.  He was answering a question posed to him at a presentation at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a British security think tank based in London.

Is Pakistan Duplicitous?

The question was asked by a female Afghan Ph.D. student at the end of remarks by the general on "Security Challenges Facing the Next US Administration". Here's the question:

"General you have stated that democracies can not win long wars (General Petraeus interrupted and said he did not say that and added "in fact I take issue with that" as the student continued). Afghanistan is now US's longest war. What stops the US to win the long war..whether Pakistan intelligence is the cause of the long war? Why does the US not take action against the Pakistan ISI which continues killing and supporting terrorists?"

General David H. Petraeus's response:

Here's part of Gen Petraeus' response: "I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again as CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA).... I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions (as US commander and CIA director)".

Gen Petraeus did acknowledge that "there's communication between the ISI and various militant groups in FATA and Balochistan (Haqqanis, Taliban, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, etc) but some of it you'd do anyway as an intelligence service." He added that "there may be some degree of accommodation that is forced on them (Pakistanis) because of the limits of their (Pakistan's) forces."

US-Pakistan Ties:

On the question of the nature of US-Pakistan relations and Washington's influence in Islamabad, General Petraeus said:

"Some people say Pakistan is a frenemy...it is just very very difficult to pin down (blame on Pakistan) and it's even more difficult to figure out how to exert leverage that in a meaningful way resolves the issue.  There was a period when we cut off all assistance and ties (to Pakistan) and held up F-16s that we were supposed to deliver for a while and that did not help our influence there (in Pakistan). It's a very very tough situation and it may be among the top two or three challenges for the new administration right up there with Syria".

General Petraeus acknowledged Pakistan's cooperation and sacrifices in fighting terror in the following words:

“Pakistan Army suffered casualties and had limited Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities though the US did try to help and there existed enormous amount of cooperation between the two militaries. However, the unfortunate episodes of Raymond Davis and publications of book by Bob Woodward and WikiLeaks did impact negatively on this cooperation”.

Summary:

General David H. Petraeus has thoroughly debunked intense and ongoing media propaganda campaign of allegations of duplicity against Pakistan Army and ISI. He has also ruled out cutting ties with Pakistan as an option. His recommendations have now assumed added significance because he is now on a short list of President-Elect Trump's nominees for secretary of state.

Here's the video of General Petraeus at RUSI. His remarks on Pakistan are in the last 8 minutes of the video:

https://youtu.be/4vxSwUrY1E0




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Husain Haqqani vs Riaz Haq on India vs Pakistan

Impact of Trump's Top Picks on Pakistan

Husain Haqqani Advising Trump on Pakistan Policy?

Gall-Haqqani-Paul Narrative on Pakistan

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-US-Japan

Robert Gates' Straight Talk on Pakistan

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Indo-Pak Two Nation Theory; US Thanksgiving & Vote Recount

What is the origin of the "Two Nation Theory" (TNT) in South Asia? When was it first postulated? Who first proposed it? Was it a Hindu leader or a Muslim leader? Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah? Or Nabagopal Mitra? Or Bhai Paramanand? Or Lala Lajpat Rai? Or VD Savarkar? Or MS Golwalkar?

Why did Quaid-e-Azam accept the British Cabinet Mission proposal to have a united federation in India with autonomy for Muslim and Hindu regions? What motivated him? Religion? Economy? Other rights? 

Who was the first to bring religion into the independence movement discourse in India? Was it Gandhi? Or M.A. Jinnah. If the Quaid-e-Azam was not religious, why did he talk about Islam in his speeches?

Did Muslim League's Lahore Resolution of 1940 call for one or more Muslim states in north east and north west of India? Did the creation of Bangladesh kill the Two Nation Theory?

Has the rise of Hindu Nationalism and Hinduization of India confirmed Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's worst fears?

What is American celebration of Thanksgiving all about? What does the turkey feast commemorate?

Why is Green Party's Jill Stein asking for a vote recount in three states? Are the results in doubt? Is Trump victory in doubt?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with VPOS panelists Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/Je7uq3Jj1fE





https://vimeo.com/193307051


(in English) Is the Two Nation Theory valid today US Thanksgiving & Vote Recount from Ikolachi on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Is Two Nation Theory Dead?

Bangladesh Nationalists' 1971 Myths Debunked

Quaid-e-Azam and Misaq-e-Madina

Creation of Pakistan: Blessing for Muslims in Punjab, Sindh?

Partition of India: Furies of 1947

Muslim League's Lahore Resolution of 1940

Hinduization of India

Trump Victory in America

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

Thursday, November 24, 2016

CS Wealth Report 2016: Average Pakistani 20% Richer Than Average Indian

Average Pakistani adult is 20% richer than an average Indian adult and the median wealth of a Pakistani adult is 120% higher than that of his or her Indian counterpart, according to Credit Suisse Wealth Report 2016. Average household wealth in Pakistan has grown 2.1% while it has declined 0.8% in India since the end of last year.

Source: Credit Suisse Wealth Report 2016

Here are the key statistics reported by Credit Suisse:

Total Household Wealth Mid-2016 :

India $3,099 billion Pakistan $524 billion

Wealth per adult:

India Year End 2000 Average $2,036 Median $498.00

Pakistan Year End 2000 Average $2,399 Median $1,025

India Mid-2016 Average $3,835 Median $608

Pakistan Mid-2016 Average $4,595 Median $1,788

Average wealth per adult in Pakistan is $760 more than in India or about 20% higher.

Median wealth per adult in Pakistan is $1,180 more than in India or about 120% higher

Inequality: 

Median wealth data indicates that 50% of Pakistanis own more than $1,180 per adult which is 120% more than the $608 per adult owned by 50% of Indians.

The Credit-Suisse report says that the richest 1% of Indians own 58.4% of India's wealth, second only to Russia's at 74.5%. That makes India the 2nd biggest oligarchy in the world.

The CS wealth data, particularly the median wealth figures,  clearly show that Pakistan has much lower levels of inequality than India.

World Bank Report:

A November 2016 World Bank report says that Pakistan has successfully translated economic growth into the well-being of its poorest citizens. It says "Pakistan’s recent growth has been accompanied by a staggering fall in poverty".

Rising incomes of the poorest 20% in Pakistan since 2002 have enabled them to enhance their living standards by improving their diets and acquiring television sets, refrigerators, motorcycles, flush toilets, and better housing.

Another recent report titled "From Wealth to Well Being" by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) also found that Pakistan does better than India and China in translating GDP growth to citizens' well-being.

One particular metric BCG report uses is growth-to-well-being coefficient on which Pakistan scores 0.87, higher than India's 0.77 and China's 0.75.

Big Poverty Decline Since 2002:

Using the old national poverty line of $1.90 (ICP 2011 PPP) , set in 2001, the percentage of people living in poverty fell from 34.7 percent in FY02 to 9.3 percent in FY14—a fall of more than 75 percent. Much of the socioeconomic progress reported by the World Bank since 2000 has occurred during President Musharraf's years in office from 2000-2007. It has dramatically slowed or stagnated since 2010.

Source: World Bank Report Nov 2016

Using the new 2016 poverty line of $3.50 (ICP 2011 PPP),  29.5 percent of Pakistanis as poor (using the latest available data from FY14). By back casting this line, the poverty rate in FY02 would have been about 64.3 percent.

Pakistan's new poverty line sets a minimum consumption threshold of Rs. 3,030 or $105 (ICP 2011 PPP) per person per month or $3.50 (ICP 2011 PPP) per person per day. This translates to between Rs. 18,000 and Rs. 21,000 per month for a household at the poverty line, allowing nearly 30% of the population or close to 60 million people to be targeted for pro-poor and inclusive development policies—thus setting a much higher bar for inclusive development.

Multi-dimensional Poverty Decline:

UNDP report released in June 2016 said Pakistan’s MPI (Multi-dimensional poverty index) showed a strong decline, with national poverty rates falling from 55% to 39% from 2004 to 2015. MPI goes beyond just income poverty.

The Multidimensional Poverty Index uses a broader concept of poverty than income and wealth alone. It reflects the deprivations people experience with respect to health, education and standard of living, and is thus a more detailed way of understanding and alleviating poverty. Since its development by OPHI and UNDP in 2010, many countries, including Pakistan, have adopted this methodology as an official poverty estimate, complementing consumption or income-based poverty figures.

Rising Living Standards of the Poorest 20% in Pakistan:

According to the latest World Report titled "Pakistan Development Update: Making Growth Matter" released this month, Pakistan saw substantial gains in welfare, including the ownership of assets, the quality of housing and an increase in school enrollment, particularly for girls.



First, the ownership of relatively more expensive assets increased even among the poorest. In the bottom quintile, the ownership of motorcycles increased from 2 to 18 percent, televisions from 20 to 36 percent and refrigerators from 5 to 14 percent.

In contrast, there was a decline in the ownership of cheaper assets like bicycles and radios.



Housing quality in the bottom quintile also showed an improvement. The number of homes constructed with bricks or blocks increased while mud (katcha) homes decreased. Homes with a flushing toilet almost doubled in the bottom quintile, from about 24 percent in FY02 to 49 percent in FY14.

Dietary Improvements for the Poorest 20% in Pakistan:

Decline in poverty led to an increase in dietary diversity for all income groups.

For the poorest, the share of expenditure devoted to milk and milk products, chicken, eggs and fish rose, as did the share devoted to vegetables and fruits.

In contrast, the share of cereals and pulses, which provide the cheapest calories, declined steadily between FY02 and FY14. Because foods like chicken, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and milk and milk products are more expensive than cereals and pulses, and have lower caloric content, this shift in consumption also increased the amount that people spent per calorie over time.

For the poorest quintile, expenditure per calorie increased by over 18 percent between FY02 and FY14. Overall, this analysis confirms that the decline in poverty exhibited by the 2001 poverty line is quite credible, and that Pakistan has done remarkably well overall in reducing monetary poverty based on the metric it set some 15 years ago, says the World Bank.

Summary:

In spite of Pakistan's many challenges on multiple fronts, the country has successfully translated its GDP growth into the well-being of its poorest citizens. "Pakistan’s recent growth has been accompanied by a staggering fall in poverty", says a November 2016 World Bank report.  An earlier report by Boston Consulting Group reached a similar conclusion.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Middle Class Larger & Richer Than India's

Pakistan Translates GDP Growth to Citizens' Well-being

Rising Motorcycle Sales in Pakistan

Depth of Deprivation in India

Chicken vs Daal in Pakistan

China Pakistan Economic Corridor


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Internet Data Usage Soaring in Pakistan

Soaring broadband subscriptions in Pakistan have helped drive a whopping 35X increase in Internet data usage since January 2014.

Rapid Rise in Broadband Subscription in Pakistan

As the number of broadband subscriptions in Pakistan crossed 38 million in October 2016,  the internet data usage jumped from 1,243 terabytes in January 2014 to 45,672 terabytes in September, 2016, according to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

A lot of new data traffic is being driven by 3G/4G equipped smartphones running a variety of applications ranging from social media to consumer and business apps.


Mobile Broadband:

Mobile broadband (3G/4G) subscriptions have jumped from almost zero in 2014 to 34 million as of September, 2016.  It has been accompanied by corresponding increase in the number of smartphones which is expected to cross 40 million mark this year.

Applications:

Growth of 3G/4G networks and smartphones has spawned a variety of applications from social media apps to business, education and entertainment apps. Use of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube has soared.  E-commerce is growing. Taxi-hailing service Uber has arrived in the country. Netflix has entered the Pakistani market. Government is making use of the Internet applications to deliver services.

Digital Cable, DTH:

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) is pushing all cable service providers to support digital television. PEMRA is also auctioning Direct-to-Home (DTH) service which is digital. Both of these mediums will help increase internet broadband penetration in the country and bring more and more people on line.

Internet Infrastructure:

Rapid growth of data is driving infrastructure improvements in Pakistan. Tens of thousands of kilometers of fiber is being laid to cope with rising Internet traffic.  Universal Service Fund (USF) alone has installed 5,500 kilometers of fiber in underserved areas of the country to increase digital inclusion.

Pakistan currently has 16 data centers: 8 in Karachi, 5 in Lahore and 3 in Islamabad. The numbers are expected to grow significantly with growing demand.

Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has set up the first Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Islamabad and more are planned for other major cities. IXPs connect Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) like Amazon and Akamai to facilitate faster delivery of web pages and other content to users.

Digital Inclusion:

Beginning in October 2016,  Pakistani government is giving away five million smartphones to farmers in the country in an effort to improve knowledge of modern farming techniques, according to the BBC. Large numbers of farmers in countries such as India and Kenya have also recently experimented with smartphone technology.

In addition, the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) has announced plans to give away 30,000 smartphones with 3G subscriptions funded by Universal Service Fund (USF) to low income Pakistanis on BISP.  Each smartphone will have Rs. 250 balance per month. It is intended to enhance digital and financial inclusion, according to a report in Pakistan Observer.

The objective of giving away smartphones is to help increase farmers' productivity.  Digital access is is expected to reduce poverty in rural and semi-urban areas of Pakistan by supporting micro and small enterprises. Market access to the products of marginalized segments will improve their welfare and at the same time boost the national economy.

Lack of financial inclusion and the growing digital divide are known impediments to progress of the low-income and poor segments of the population. Any effort by the government to remove such impediments will help Pakistan's economy by making more people more productive.

 Summary:

Internet data usage is soaring with rapidly rising broadband penetration and smartphone ownership in Pakistan. Infrastructure is being improved to cater to the digital data explosion taking place in the country. Universal Service Fund (USF) is playing its part to support this effort in underserved areas.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Bridging Digital Divide in Pakistan

Fiber Connectivity in Pakistan

Pakistan Government Apps

Data Boom in Pakistan

Pakistan 2.0: Technology Driving Productivity

Uber in Pakistan

E-Commerce in Pakistan

Monday, November 21, 2016

Pakistan's Regional Economic Integration: CAREC or SAARC or Both?

Pakistan sits between two economically very dynamic regions: Central Asia (and Western China) and South Asia. Which region is better suited for its economic connectivity and integration? Should Islamabad focus on CAREC (Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation) rather than SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation)?

Ideally, Pakistan should be a major player in both vibrant regions. However, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policy of attempting to isolate Pakistan has essentially forced it to choose.

First, Mr. Modi decided to boycott this year's SAARC summit that was scheduled to take place in Islamabad, Pakistan. Then, he unsuccessfully attempted to hijack the BRICS economic summit in India to use it as a political platform to attack and isolate Pakistan.  The signal to Pakistan was unmistakable: Forget about SAARC.

Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC):

CAREC is a growing group of nations that is currently made up of 11 members, including China and a list of STANs.   The current membership includes Afghanistan (joined CAREC in 2005), Azerbaijan (2003), People's Republic of China (1997), Georgia (2016), Kazakhstan (1997), Kyrgyz Republic (1997), Mongolia (2003, Pakistan (2010), Tajikistan (1998), Turkmenistan (2010) and Uzbekistan (1997).



The last ministerial meeting of CAREC nations was held in Islamabad in October, 2016. The conference theme was “Linking connectivity with economic transformation".

Welcoming fellow ministers, Pakistan's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar talked about the importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to improve trade flow within the region and with the rest the rest of the world.

Dar said CPEC offered a massive opportunity for connectivity between Central Asia, Middle East and Africa and was bound to play a defining role in economic development of the regions. Dar said improving the transport corridor was not an end in itself but it was an investment in establishing sound infrastructure and complementary frameworks for shared prosperity of the present and future generations in the region, according to a report in Pakistani media.

CAREC Corridors:

CAREC region is building six economic corridors to link Central Asian nations. Six multi-national institutions support the CAREC infrastructure development, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank,  Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, according to Khaleej Times.

Out of the total $27.7 billion CAREC infrastructure investment so for, $9.9 billion or 36 per cent was financed by ADB, a senior officer of the Manila-based multinational bank told Khaleeej Times.

He said other donors had invested $10.9 billion while $6.9 billion was contributed by CAREC governments. Of these investments, transport got the major share with $8 billion or 78 per cent. Asian Development Bank Vice President Wencai Zhang said: "There are huge financing requirements in Carec for transport and trade facilitation, for which 108 projects have been identified at an investment cost of $38.8 billion for the period 2012-2020. Investment for the priority energy sector projects will be $45 billion in this period."

CPEC North-South Corridor:

China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a major part of the north-south corridor that will allow trade to flow among CAREC member countries, many of which are resource-rich but landlocked nations. The corridor will enable the group to access to the Pakistani seaports in Gwadar and Karachi as part of the new maritime silk route (MSR) as envisioned by China and Pakistan.

Pakistan's Finance Minister Dar says the CPEC would complement the regional connectivity initiatives of CAREC. "Once the six CAREC corridors and mega ports, now under construction, start operating, they will provide access to global markets. They will deliver services that will be important for national and regional competitiveness, productivity, employment, mobility and environmental sustainability. All of us should gear our national policies to achieve these targets."

CPEC consists of transport and communication infrastructure—roads, railways, cable, and oil and gas pipelines—that will stretch 2,700 kilometers from Gwadar on the Arabian Sea to the Khunjerab Pass at the China-Pakistan border in the Karakorams.

China and Pakistan are developing plans for an 1,800 kilometer international rail link from the city of Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in Western China to Pakistan's deep-sea Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea, according to Zhang Chunlin, director of Xinjiang's regional development and reform commission.



 "The 1,800-kilometer China-Pakistan railway is planned to also pass through Pakistan's capital of Islamabad and Karachi," Zhang Chunlin said at the two-day International Seminar on the Silk Road Economic Belt in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, according to China Daily.

"Although the cost of constructing the railway is expected to be high due to the hostile environment and complicated geographic conditions, the study of the project has already started," Zhang said. "China and Pakistan will co-fund the railway construction. Building oil and gas pipelines between Gwadar Port and China is also on the agenda," Zhang added.

Afghan Instability:

Pakistan is making a serious effort to stabilize Afghanistan, a member of CAREC. A trilateral conference of China, Russia and Pakistan is scheduled this month in Moscow as part of this effort. Afghan instability has prevented Pakistan from connecting with other STANs for commerce and trade. Now the development of CPEC will enable Pakistan to bypass Afghanistan, if necessary, to connect with Central Asia region through Western China.

Summary:

History shows that growth of regional and global trade in East Asia, Europe and North America regions has been a major driver of economic opportunity and prosperity.  Unfortunately, SAARC has been a huge disappointment for Pakistanis.  With the development of CPEC and CAREC, Pakistan can now begin to participate in the growth of regional and global trade that will benefit the people of Pakistan.  The path to Pakistan's participation in SAARC will open up if or when India-Pakistan relations improve.

Here's a National Geographic Documentary on CPEC:

https://youtu.be/q2lWYxbIBCs




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

1800 Km Pak-China Rail Link

China Pakistan Economic Corridor

CPEC to Create Over 2 Million Jobs

Modi's Covert War in Pakistan

ADB Raises Pakistan GDP Growth Forecast

Gwadar as Hong Kong West

China-Pakistan Industrial Corridor

Indian Spy Kulbhushan Yadav's Confession

Ex Indian Spy Documents RAW Successes Against Pakistan

Pakistan FDI Soaring with Chinese Money for CPEC


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Impact of Trump's Top Appointments on US Domestic & Foreign Policy

Who are President-Elect Donald Trump's top picks for his Cabinet and White House staff positions? What are their views on US domestic and foreign policies? How will they shape US policies on national security, immigration, minority rights and foreign relations?

Are critics right about their reservations regarding Trump's top choices of Steve Bannon (Chief White House Strategist), Gen Michael Flynn (National Security Advisor), Jeff Sessions (Attorney General), Michael Pompeo (CIA Director) and Chris Kobach (Immigration)?

What should Muslims do in response to appointments of known Islamophobes like Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, Chris Kobach and others? Should they support civil rights groups like Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to challenge any anti-Muslim policies and actions? Should they make common cause with other ethnic and religious minorities to defend their civil rights? Should they put more efforts into inter-faith harmony?

What will Team Trump's policy be toward India and Pakistan? Will they favor India over Pakistan? Will they pressure Pakistan to comply with US demands in the region, particularly with respect to Afghanistan? Will they collaborate with India to isolate Pakistan? How will Pakistan respond to such pressure? Is there a risk that Pakistan might go rogue?

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


https://youtu.be/Otsw3atq5W4




https://vimeo.com/192410033


Impact of Trump's Top Appointments on US Domestic & Foreign Policy from Ikolachi on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Trump & Modi

Is Husain Haqqani Advising Trump?

US Elections 2016

Trump Phenomenon

Trump's Muslim Ban

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel


Friday, November 18, 2016

World Bank Reports Big Jump in Living Standards of Poor Pakistanis

A November 2016 World Bank report says that Pakistan has successfully translated economic growth into the well-being of its poorest citizens. It says "Pakistan’s recent growth has been accompanied by a staggering fall in poverty".

Rising incomes of the poorest 20% in Pakistan since 2002 have enabled them to enhance their living standards by improving their diets and acquiring television sets, refrigerators, motorcycles, flush toilets, and better housing.

Another recent report titled "From Wealth to Well Being" by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) also found that Pakistan does better than India and China in translating GDP growth to citizens' well-being.

One particular metric BCG report uses is growth-to-well-being coefficient on which Pakistan scores 0.87, higher than India's 0.77 and China's 0.75.

Big Poverty Decline Since 2002:

Using the old national poverty line of $1.90 (ICP 2011 PPP) , set in 2001, the percentage of people living in poverty fell from 34.7 percent in FY02 to 9.3 percent in FY14—a fall of more than 75 percent. Much of the socioeconomic progress reported by the World Bank since 2000 has occurred during President Musharraf's years in office from 2000-2007. It has dramatically slowed or stagnated since 2010.

Source: World Bank Report Nov 2016

Using the new 2016 poverty line of $3.50 (ICP 2011 PPP),  29.5 percent of Pakistanis as poor (using the latest available data from FY14). By back casting this line, the poverty rate in FY02 would have been about 64.3 percent.

Pakistan's new poverty line sets a minimum consumption threshold of Rs. 3,030 or $105 (ICP 2011 PPP) per person per month or $3.50 (ICP 2011 PPP) per person per day. This translates to between Rs. 18,000 and Rs. 21,000 per month for a household at the poverty line, allowing nearly 30% of the population or close to 60 million people to be targeted for pro-poor and inclusive development policies—thus setting a much higher bar for inclusive development.

Multi-dimensional Poverty Decline:

A UNDP report released in June 2016 said Pakistan’s MPI (Multi-dimensional poverty index) showed a strong decline, with national poverty rates falling from 55% to 39% from 2004 to 2015. MPI goes beyond just income poverty.

The Multidimensional Poverty Index uses a broader concept of poverty than income and wealth alone. It reflects the deprivations people experience with respect to health, education and standard of living, and is thus a more detailed way of understanding and alleviating poverty. Since its development by OPHI and UNDP in 2010, many countries, including Pakistan, have adopted this methodology as an official poverty estimate, complementing consumption or income-based poverty figures.

Rising Living Standards of the Poorest 20% in Pakistan:

According to the latest World Report titled "Pakistan Development Update: Making Growth Matter" released this month, Pakistan saw substantial gains in welfare, including the ownership of assets, the quality of housing and an increase in school enrollment, particularly for girls.



First, the ownership of relatively more expensive assets increased even among the poorest. In the bottom quintile, the ownership of motorcycles increased from 2 to 18 percent, televisions from 20 to 36 percent and refrigerators from 5 to 14 percent.

In contrast, there was a decline in the ownership of cheaper assets like bicycles and radios.



Housing quality in the bottom quintile also showed an improvement. The number of homes constructed with bricks or blocks increased while mud (katcha) homes decreased. Homes with a flushing toilet almost doubled in the bottom quintile, from about 24 percent in FY02 to 49 percent in FY14.

Dietary Improvements for the Poorest 20% in Pakistan:

Decline in poverty led to an increase in dietary diversity for all income groups.

For the poorest, the share of expenditure devoted to milk and milk products, chicken, eggs and fish rose, as did the share devoted to vegetables and fruits.

In contrast, the share of cereals and pulses, which provide the cheapest calories, declined steadily between FY02 and FY14. Because foods like chicken, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and milk and milk products are more expensive than cereals and pulses, and have lower caloric content, this shift in consumption also increased the amount that people spent per calorie over time.

For the poorest quintile, expenditure per calorie increased by over 18 percent between FY02 and FY14. Overall, this analysis confirms that the decline in poverty exhibited by the 2001 poverty line is quite credible, and that Pakistan has done remarkably well overall in reducing monetary poverty based on the metric it set some 15 years ago, says the World Bank.

Summary:

In spite of Pakistan's many challenges on multiple fronts, the country has successfully translated its GDP growth into the well-being of its poorest citizens. "Pakistan’s recent growth has been accompanied by a staggering fall in poverty", says a November 2016 World Bank report.  An earlier report by Boston Consulting Group reached a similar conclusion.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Translates GDP Growth to Citizens' Well-being

Rising Motorcycle Sales in Pakistan

Depth of Deprivation in India

Chicken vs Daal in Pakistan

China Pakistan Economic Corridor

ADB Raises Pakistan GDP Growth Forecast

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pakistani Banking Sector Delivers Strong Results

Pakistan's banks are showing strong performance with significant growth in deposits, assets and private sector credit.  All areas of banking, including commercial, mobile and Islamic banking, are contributing to it.

Karachi Financial District
Commercial Banking:

Pakistan's commercial banking industry grew by 16.1 percent during fiscal year 2015/16. Strong aggregate demand and improving business sentiments were seen in private sector credit growth of 12 percent, expanding by Rs. 461 billion in FY16 from Rs. 224 billion in the prior year, according to a World Bank report in the media.

Mobile Banking:

Mobile banking transactions in Pakistan grew to Rs. 1.5 trillion during 2015-16. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has recorded Rs. 543.6 billion in branchless banking transactions in the latest quarter,  sequential growth of 6.8% over the previous quarter. It's a good sign of growing financial inclusion in the country.

Islamic Banking:

Islamic banking industry continued its double-digit growth during fiscal year 2015-16 (FY16) with 16.8% and 14.1% year-on-year (YoY) growth in assets and deposits respectively, according to the State Bank of Pakistan. Islamic banking share of banking in Pakistan has nearly doubled in the last 5 years. It now accounts for 13% of the overall banking industry, up from 7.8% five years ago.

Demand for Liquidity:

Pakistani banks have increased their deposits by over a trillion rupees since January 2016. However, strong demand for liquidity in a growing economy has forced the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to inject another Rs. 880 billion into the banking system just last week, according to news reports.

Summary:

Banks are a good barometer of a nation's economic health. Growth in banking in Pakistan is a good sign of accelerating economic growth in the country.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Mobile Banking in Pakistan

Financial Inclusion in Pakistan

Financial Services Industry in Pakistan

China Pakistan Economic Growth

ADB Raises Pakistan GDP Growth Forecast


Monday, November 14, 2016

Pakistan Army: Chief Backer & Guarantor of CPEC

In July 2016, British newspaper Financial Times report headlined "China urges Pakistan to give army lead role in Silk Road project (CPEC):  Squabbles in Islamabad highlight obstacles to Beijing’s plans for transport and energy corridor" said as follows:

"Frustrated with the slow progress on a sprawling, $46bn infrastructure project stretching from China to south Asia, Beijing is seeking to give Pakistan’s army a lead role.... progress has stalled as the two sides work out how to turn the proposals into concrete projects, said Victor Gao, a former Chinese foreign ministry official, with some blaming Pakistan’s competing ministries"..... “Pakistani politicians have squabbled over the route for the CPEC and this may have made people nervous in Beijing,” said a Pakistan government official. “Pakistan is a noisy place politically while the Chinese are not used to harsh disagreements, especially over such a vital project.”

Chinese Container Ship "Cosco Wellington" at Gwadar Port

Gwadar Port Operational:

In the first week of November 2016, hundreds of containers arrived at Pakistan's Gwadar Port from Western China via CPEC's western land route. These containers were loaded onto "Cosco Wellington", a large Chinese vessel, and the ship departed Gwadar Port on November 13, 2016, for various destinations in Africa, Middle East and Europe.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and General Raheel Sharif at Gwadar Port on Nov 13, 2016


So what is happening behind the scenes? Is the Pakistani military playing a big role in making CPEC a reality? What is the extent of Pakistan Army's participation in executing CPEC-related projects? Let's examine answers to these questions in three parts: Managing squabbling civilians, providing security and projects execution.

Squabbling Civilians:

Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif is playing a very active behind-the-scenes role in managing the infighting among politicians, ministers and the civil servants. It has been reported that Gen Sharif has been talking to all of the stakeholders regularly to ensure progress on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.

Providing Security:

Various militant groups, including Indian government proxies, are engaged in sabotaging CPEC. While some attacks have been successful, it is believed that the Pakistani military has been able to prevent many more. Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of intelligence officers are believed to be working to manage the security situation all along the western route and in Gwadar.  This is what made the recent pilot run with the trucks convoy reaching Gwadar and operationalizing the port recently.

Projects Execution:

The Pakistan military has thousands of civil, mechanical and electrical engineers with decades of experience in building large infrastructure projects and analysts say the army is well placed to supervise the corridor, according to the Financial Times.

In fact, Pakistan Army's Frontier Works Organization (FWO) is building significant parts of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). A July 2015 announcement is an illustration of what Frontier Works Organization is doing to advance CPEC:

“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."

Army's Strong Commitment:

Army Chief General Raheel Sharif has made his institution's commitment loud and clear by frequent statements on the subject. He has said “We will do everything to make it a success". He is also record as warning that “terrorism is a global issue and warrants global response. The funding of all terrorist organizations has to be checked by all. We are against use of proxies and won’t allow it on our soil".

Summary:

Pakistan Army is playing a crucial role in ensuring progress and completion of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related projects. The army leadership is using all its power and influence with all stakeholders, including politicians and civil servants, as part of this campaign to bring about development of infrastructure and energy to make Pakistan economically successful.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

CPEC to Create Over 2 Million Jobs

Modi's Covert War in Pakistan

ADB Raises Pakistan GDP Growth Forecast

Gwadar as Hong Kong West

China-Pakistan Industrial Corridor

Indian Spy Kulbhushan Yadav's Confession

Ex Indian Spy Documents RAW Successes Against Pakistan

Saleem Safi of GeoTV on Gwadar

Pakistan FDI Soaring with Chinese Money for CPEC

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Implications of Trump’s Victory for Muslims, India and Pakistan

How did all the pollsters and pundits read the US Presidential Elections 2016 so wrong?


Why did Hillary Clinton fail to get the majority of the electoral votes that pollsters forecast?

Who voted for Donald Trump and why?

Will America’s international image as a tolerant and inclusive society be damaged by Trump’s win?

Will President Trump follow through on his Muslim ban?

Will American Muslims be alienated or marginalized by the incoming Trump administration?

What will be President Trump’s policy vis a vis India and Pakistan?

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


https://youtu.be/libFw4Wk9WU





https://vimeo.com/191375232


(in English) Implications of Trump's Victory for Muslims, India and Pakistan from Ikolachi on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Is Husain Haqqani Advising Trump?

US Elections 2016

Trump Phenomenon

Trump's Muslim Ban

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel