Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Deep Divisions Mark India's Independence Day 2018

The rise of Hindutva forces is tearing India apart along caste and religious lines as the country celebrates 71 years of independence from the British colonial rule.  Hindu mobs are lynching Muslims and Dalits. A recent  Pew Research report confirms that the level of hostility against religious minorities in India is "very high", giving India a score of 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10. Pakistan's score on this scale is 7 while Bangladesh's is 7.5.

Chart Courtesy of Bloomberg
Will India Break Up? 

In recently published "The Raisina Model",  British-Indian author Lord Meghnad Desai asks: "A country of many nations, will India break up?" The Hindu Nationalists who are blamed for deepening divisions are themselves divided on the key questions of caste, religion and trade.  Professor Walter Anderson, co-author of "The RSS: The View to the Inside" raises the specter of "a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism".

The Raisina Model:

In "The Raisina Model", Lord Meghand Desai says that India's breakup can not be ruled out. Specifically, he points to three issues that could lead to it:

1.  Cow protection squads are killing Muslims and jeopardizing their livelihoods.  The current agitation about beef eating and gau raksha is in the Hindi belt just an excuse for attacking Muslims blatantly. As most slaughterhouses in UP are Muslim-owned, owners and employees of these places are prime targets.

2. India has still not fashioned a narrative about its nationhood which can satisfy all. The two rival narratives—secular and Hindu nation—are both centred in the Hindi belt extending to Gujarat and Maharashtra at the most. This area comprises 51% of the total population and around 45% of the Muslims in India.

3. India has avoided equal treatment of unequal units. Representation in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) is proportional to population size. If anything, it is the smaller states that may complain about being marginalized, though so far none has. The larger states thus dominate both Houses of Parliament. It would be difficult for small states to object, much less initiate reform. In future, small states could unite to present their case for better treatment. Except for Punjab and Nagaland, there has been no attempt to challenge the status quo.

Hindutva vs Hinduism:

In  "The RSS: The View to the Inside", the author Walter Anderson brings out several areas which could lead to a split within the Hindu Nationalists. These disagreements have to do with low caste Hindus, Muslims and  foreign trade and investment policies.

1. The leadership of the the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is drawn entirely from the upper caste Brahmins. The RSS founder Golwalkar never spoke against the caste system. The RSS opposes affirmative action, called reservations, to benefit low caste Hindus. At the same time, they want to integrate Dalits and OBCs (Other backward classes of which Prime Minister Modi is a member) into the organization to promote Hindu unity.

Anderson believes that it will be extremely difficult to reconcile Hindutva embrace of lower castes with the entrenched Hindu caste system. He says the following:

"..there will eventually be a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism. Hindutva emphasizes the oneness of Hindus, whereas ground realities are very different. Let me give an example. Following the egalitarian ideology, Tarun Vijay, an RSS ideologue and former editor of Panchjanya and Organiser, once led some Dalits into a temple in central India, where they had not been before. He was beaten up, but few in the RSS family vocally supported him. They kept mostly quiet. As one important RSS functionary put it to me, the key question is: how do we keep our organisation intact if we do move towards an egalitarian Hindu society?"

2. When RSS leader MD Deoras invited Indian Muslims to join the RSS, he argued that Muslims were mostly India-born, and therefore Indian. But he made the Muslim entry into the RSS conditional upon accepting India’s “historic culture”.  RSS leaders argue that South Indian Muslims, or Indonesian Muslims are ideal Muslims. South Indian Muslims speak the regional languages; and Indonesia, a primarily Muslim country, has the Ramayana as its national epic.

3. Many RSS ideologues oppose Prime Minister Modi's policies of promoting foreign trade and investment. They view Modi's economic policies with great skepticism.

Summary:

The rise of RSS and its affiliates in India is deepening divisions in the country along multiple fault lines, the most important being caste and religion. The RSS leadership itself is not unified on how to deal with the divisions they have created and promoted. This situation has raised the social hostilities in India to very high levels. Pew scores social hostilities against minorities in India at 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10.  Professor Walter Anderson, co-author of "The RSS: The View to the Inside" has raised the specter of "a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism". And it has caused Lord Meghnad Desai, author of The Raisina Model, to ask the question: Will India break up?

Monday, August 13, 2018

Pakistan Day: Will "Naya Pakistan" Be Truly Free?

Pakistan's Independence Day celebrations this year coincide with a momentous change in leadership.  It has been brought about by the triumph of the insurgent Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) over Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), both regarded as dynastic political parties.  PMLN and PPP are each controlled by a family.  Pakistan's Prime Minister Elect Imran Khan is part of a generation that he says "grew up at a time when colonial hang up was at its peak."  How will the acknowledgement of this upbringing affect Imran Khan's leadership of "Naya Pakistan"? Let's examine the answers to this question.

Colonial Era Education: 

Imran Khan attended Aitchison College, an elite school established in Lahore by South Asia's colonial rulers to produce faithful civil servants during the British Raj. He then went on to graduate from Oxford University in England. Here's an excerpt of what he wrote in an article published by the Arab News on January 14, 2002:

"My generation grew up at a time when colonial hang up was at its peak. Our older generation had been slaves and had a huge inferiority complex of the British. The school I went to was similar to all elite schools in Pakistan. Despite gaining independent, they were, and still are, producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis.

I read Shakespeare, which was fine, but no Allama Iqbal — the national poet of Pakistan. The class on Islamic studies was not taken seriously, and when I left school I was considered among the elite of the country because I could speak English and wore Western clothes.

Despite periodically shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ in school functions, I considered my own culture backward and religion outdated. Among our group if any one talked about religion, prayed or kept a beard he was immediately branded a Mullah.

Because of the power of the Western media, our heroes were Western movie stars or pop stars. When I went to Oxford already burdened with this hang up, things didn’t get any easier. At Oxford, not just Islam, but all religions were considered anachronism."

Colonized Minds: 

It is refreshing to see Imran Khan's acknowledgement that Pakistan's elite schools are "producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis".  Pakistan achieved independence from the British colonial rule 70 years ago. However, the minds of most of Pakistan's elites remain colonized to this day.  This seems to be particularly true of the nation's western-educated "liberals" who dominate much of the intellectual discourse in the country. They continue to look at their fellow countrymen through the eyes of the Orientalists who served as tools for western colonization of Asia, Middle East and Africa. The work of these "native" Orientalists available in their books, op ed columns and other publications reflects their utter contempt for Pakistan and Pakistanis. Their colonized minds uncritically accept all things western. They often seem to think that the Pakistanis can do nothing right while the West can do no wrong. Far from being constructive, these colonized minds promote lack of confidence in the ability of their fellow "natives" to solve their own problems and contribute to hopelessness. The way out of it is to encourage more inquiry based learning and critical thinking.

Orientalism As Tool of Colonialism:

Dr. Edward Said (1935-2003), Palestine-born Columbia University professor and the author of "Orientalism",  described it as the ethnocentric study of non-Europeans by Europeans.  Dr. Said wrote that the Orientalists see the people of Asia, Africa and the Middle East as “gullible” and “devoid of energy and initiative.” European colonization led to the decline and destruction of the prosperity of every nation they ruled. India is a prime example of it. India was the world's largest economy producing over a quarter of the world's GDP when the British arrived. At the end of the British Raj, India's contribution was reduced to less than 2% of the world GDP.

Education to Colonize Minds:

In his "Prison Notebooks", Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist theorist and politician, says that a class can exercise its power not merely by the use of force but by an institutionalized system of moral and intellectual leadership that promotes certain ideas and beliefs favorable to it.  For Gramsci "cultural hegemony" is maintained through the consent of the dominated class which assures the intellectual and material supremacy of the dominant class.

In "Masks of Conquest", author Gauri Viswanathan says that the British curriculum was introduced in India to "mask" the economic exploitation of the colonized. Its main purpose was to colonize the minds of the natives to sustain colonial rule.

Cambridge Curriculum in Pakistan:

The colonial discourse of the superiority of English language and western education continues with a system of elite schools that uses Cambridge curriculum in Pakistan.

Over 270,000 Pakistani students from elite schools participated in Cambridge O-level and A-level International (CIE) exams in 2016, an increase of seven per cent over the prior year.

Cambridge IGCSE exams is also growing in popularity in Pakistan, with enrollment increasing by 16% from 10,364 in 2014-15 to 12,019 in 2015-16. Globally there has been 10% growth in entries across all Cambridge qualifications in 2016, including 11% growth in entries for Cambridge International A Levels and 8 per cent for Cambridge IGCSE, according to Express Tribune newspaper.

The United Kingdom remains the top source of international education for Pakistanis.  46,640 students, the largest number of Pakistani students receiving international education anywhere, are doing so at Pakistani universities in joint degree programs established with British universities, according to UK Council for International Student Affairs.

At the higher education level, the number of students enrolled in British-Pakistani joint degree programs in Pakistan (46,640) makes it the fourth largest effort behind Malaysia (78,850), China (64,560) and Singapore (49,970).

Teach Critical Thinking:

Pakistani educators need to see the western colonial influences and their detrimental effects on the minds of youngsters. They need to improve learning by helping students learn to think for themselves critically. Such reforms will require students to ask more questions and to find answers for themselves through their own research rather than taking the words of their textbook authors and teachers as the ultimate truth.

Summary: 

It is refreshing to see Imran Khan's acknowledgement that Pakistan's elite schools are "producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis". The minds of most of Pakistan's elite remain colonized 70 years after the British rule of Pakistan ended in 1947. They uncritically accept all things western. A quick scan of Pakistan's English media shows the disdain the nation's western educated elites have for their fellow countryman.  Far from being constructive, they promote lack of confidence in their fellow "natives" ability to solve their own problems and contribute to hopelessness.   Their colonized minds uncritically accept all things western. They often seem to think that the Pakistanis can do nothing right while the West can do no wrong. Unless these colonized minds are freed, it will be difficult for the people of Pakistan to believe in themselves, have the confidence in their capabilities and develop the national pride to lay the foundation of a bright future. The best way to help free these colonized minds is through curriculum reform that helps build real critical thinking.

Here's an interesting discussion of the legacy of the British Raj in India as seen by writer-diplomat Shashi Tharoor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN2Owcwq6_M




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

PTI's Triumph Over Dynastic Political Parties

How Can Pakistan Avoid Recurring BoP Crises?

Alam vs Hoodbhoy

Inquiry Based Learning

Dr. Ata ur Rehman Defends Higher Education Reform

Pakistan's Rising College Enrollment Rates

Pakistan Beat BRICs in Highly Cited Research Papers

Launch of "Eating Grass: Pakistan's Nuclear Program"

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Impact of Industrial Revolution

Hindutva: Legacy of British Raj


Saturday, August 4, 2018

"Naya Pakistan": Key Challenges for PTI Chief Imran Khan

"Naya Pakistan" led by Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf Chief Imran Khan faces multi-dimensional challenges of governance, economy, security and ties with the United States and India.

The first and most pressing challenge is the severe balance of payments crisis. It will force Imran Khan to beg and/or borrow billions of US dollars to shore up the country's reserves. It must deal with the geopolitical challenge of potential US veto of the IMF bailout of Pakistan.

In addition to dealing with the looming bop crisis, the PTI government must address the issue of exports that have halved from 16% of GDP in 2003 to about 8% of GDP in 2017-18. It needs to make concerted efforts to promote exports by making the domestic industry more export-oriented. It must help exporters understand the requirements of foreign markets and use its diplomats to promote Pakistani products and services in international markets.

Pakistan must overcome the civil-military divide and build consensus to develop policies vis-a-vis the United States and India while at the same time maintaining close ties with China. The new leadership needs to use institutional processes such as regular national security council meetings attended by by top civilian, military and intelligence officials.

Azad Labon Ke Sath host Faraz Darvesh discusses these challenges with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/CQ41Qt_2XQM




Related Links:

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

San Francisco Tech Firm to Invest $6 Million in Pakistan Game Development Studio

San Francisco based Cloudcade has announced it will invest $6 million to set up a game development studio in Lahore, Pakistan, according to Venturebeat.

The Lahore studio will be led by Ammar Zaeem, cofounder of Pakistan’s mobile game studio Caramel Tech which already has a team of 50 engineers. The move is a big investment into Pakistan as a tech hub, and it shows how the game business is expanding around the globe.

Cloudcade: 

Founded by Di Huang in 2013, Cloudcade is known for its popular multiplayer game "Shop Heroes" that pits players against each other in a competition to create the best shop they can. If a player can make a better store and perform more tasks than his or her rivals, he or she wins.

The game is available on the Apple iOS App Store, Google Play, Samsung Galaxy Store, Amazon, Kongregate, and Facebook. It is now also supported on the Apple Watch.

In his report, Venturebeat's Dean Takahashi says that "Pakistan’s emergence as a software engineering and startup ecosystem has been powered by an emphasis on technology education and a generation of tech-savvy youth." The country is seeing a dramatic increase in tech startup investments in recent years and is supported by 90 universities, 25-plus country-specific accelerators, foundations, communities, and the government itself, Ammar Zaeem said in an interview with GamesBeat.

Tech Jobs Moving to Pakistan: 

Late last year, Outlook India ran a story headlined "Noida to Islamabad". It suggested at least anecdotal evidence of information technology jobs beginning to move from India to Pakistan. The number of jobs was only 125 but could it be the tip of a larger iceberg. Are western companies finding Pakistan becoming more competitive with India in terms of cost and skills on offer? Let's try and answer these questions.

Noida to Islamabad:

Outlook India report said 125 employees at a US-based information technology service provider were laid off in Noida in New Delhi, India, and the very next day an equal number of workers started working for the company in Islamabad, Pakistan. Here's an excerpt of Outlook India story:

"On the night of November 1, stretching into early next morning, close to half the workforce at the Noida office of a US-based IT service provider was informed that their services were no longer needed. A former employee says salaries for the staff at the Noida office were declared delayed by a day on October 31. The official explanation was that the servers were not working. “They weren’t clear about how many people were going to be laid off,” he says. The next night, they “axed 125 people in half-an-hour.” They all got a severance package—a cheque for October and another two months of salary—and a termination letter. Rumors of layoffs had started doing the rounds four to five months ago. The talk was that the company was opening offices in a neighboring country. Curiously, the day the workforce in Noida was sacked, almost the same number of employees for the same low-level IT-enabled jobs logged into their systems, 676 kilometers away, in Islamabad, Pakistan. Job cuts have plagued the Indian IT sector for about two years now and have begun to get pretty serious from the start of this year. “Bloodbath in Bangalore” has been the recurring headline. But the trend of these jobs going to techies in Pakistan is more recent. Away from all the noise of ceasefire violations and surgical strikes, where Pakistan could really hurt India is in taking away low-end IT jobs. The neighbor has a budding IT industry, growing in its own space, looking to emulate the Indian IT success story where right now data operators and BPO callers come much cheaper."

The story did not identify the company by name.

Pakistan: The Next Software Hub?

There are tens of thousands of Pakistani IT engineers working in the West, particularly in Silicon Valley, the high-tech capital of the world. The popular entertainment industry recognizes this fact by featuring a Pakistani-American software engineer in lead role played by a real-life Pakistani-American Kumail Nanjiani in HBO's "Silicon Valley" serial.  Articles like the New York Times Op Ed piece in 2015 titled "Pakistan, the Next Software Hub?" have helped raise the profile of Pakistan's information technology industry in the West.

Afiniti and Careem: Tech Unicorns Made in Pakistan:

Afiniti and Careem are two technology unicorns engineered in Pakistan by Pakistanis. AI (artificial intelligence) startup Afiniti software has largely been engineered in Lahore while taxi hailing service Careem's technology has mostly been developed in Karachi.

Careem is a taxi hailing app that is giving its American competitor Uber a run for its money in a region stretching from Pakistan to the Middle East and North Africa. The company cofounded by Mudassir Sheika, a Pakistani national, is headquartered in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Careem's software has been developed by its technology partner VentureDive based in Karachi, Pakistan.  VentureDive was started by serial Pakistani entrepreneur Atif Azim who sold his earlier startup Perfigo to network equipment giant Cisco for $74 million in 2004, according to a report in Tech in Asia.

Washington D.C. based AI technology firm Afiniti, founded by serial Pakistani-American entrepreneur Zia Chishti, has filed for initial public offering (IPO) at $1.6 billion valuation, according to VentureBeat. The company has grown out of the technology used in the Pakistan-based call center business of The Resource Group (TRG) also founded by Zia Chishti.

Bulk of the Afiniti development team is located in Thokar Niaz Baig, Lahore. In addition, the company has development team members in Islamabad and Karachi.

Numbers,  Skills and Cost: 

Pakistani universities are producing over 10,000 IT engineers annually. Many of them have demonstrated their quality and skills by freelancing for American and European companies. Pakistani freelancers consistently rank among the top three year after year.

In terms of cost, Pakistani engineers cost significantly less than engineers in India and elsewhere. The average salary of a software engineer ($110,000) in Silicon Valley is about 20X more than the average salaries in India ($6,875) and Pakistan ($4,770), according to Glassdoor.

Source: Glassdoor

Summary:

Pakistan's emergence as a tech hub is drawing new entrants like San Francisco based Cloudcade with its investment in a game development studio. Recent move of 125 IT jobs from Noida to Islamabad in an indication that  Pakistan is becoming an attractive destination for software and information technology companies looking for highly skilled talent at significant discounts. It is an emerging center of technology with at least two unicorns, Afiniti and Careem, engineered by Pakistanis in Pakistan.  With growing numbers of young homegrown Pakistani technologists, a highly skilled diaspora and an evolving startup ecosystem with incubators, accelerators and investors, the country is beginning to demonstrate its vast potential as a vibrant technology hub of the future. Provincial governments, particularly those in Punjab and KP, are showing leadership in encouraging this trend. The main ingredients are all coming together to make things happen in Pakistan.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

OPEN Silicon Valley Forum 2017: Pakistani Entrepreneurs Conference

Pakistani-American's Tech Unicorn Files For IPO at $1.6 Billion Valuation

Pakistani-American Cofounders Sell Startup to Cisco for $610 million

Pakistani Brothers Spawned $20 Billion Security Software Industry

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Pakistani-American Pioneered 3D Technology in Orthodontics

Pakistani-Americans Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Can Pakistan Avoid Recurring BoP Crises Requiring IMF Bailouts?

Every country needs US dollars to import products because the US dollar is the international trade and reserve currency. Only the United States can print dollars; all others must acquire them through exports and capital inflows like investments, remittances and loans. Pakistan has had serious problems in acquiring sufficient amount of dollars for its needs through trade and investments over the last several decades. It has been forced to seek IMF bailouts repeatedly.

China, India and East Asia:

China and other East Asian nations have built up large dollar reserves by running massive trade surpluses mainly through exporting lots of products and services to the rest of the world.

Others, such as India, have built up significant US dollar reserves in spite of running large trade deficits. India relies mainly on foreign investments, remittances from non-resident Indians and foreign debt for its dollar reserves.

India is consistently ranked among the top recipients of foreign direct and portfolio investments as percentage of its GDP.

Pakistan's Foreign Investment and Trade:

Like India, Pakistan also runs large trade deficits. It also depends on foreign investments, remittances from overseas Pakistanis and foreign debt for its dollar reserves.  So why does Pakistan have serious recurring balance of payments crises?

Unlike India,  Pakistan ranks very low among recipients of foreign direct and portfolio investments as percentage of its GDP. .  Part of it is the perception of insecurity since 911. The real security situation has dramatically improved in the last few years but the perception continues to lag.

Pakistan's exports have also lagged behind India's as percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). In fact, Pakistan's exports have halved from about 16% of GDP in 2003 to 8% of GDP in 2017. India's exports have increased from 15% to 19% of GDP in the same period, according to the World Bank.

Exports as Percentage of GDP. Source: World Bank


Export-Orientation of Industries:

Pakistan has a fairly diverse industrial sector which caters to its domestic market.  People running these businesses and industries have little or no knowledge of the customer needs and regulatory requirements of foreign markets where their products or services could be sold to boost Pakistan's exports and dollar earnings.

Pakistan's economic attaches posted at the nation's embassies need to focus on all export opportunities in international markets and help educate Pakistani businesses on the best way to take advantage of them. This needs to be a concerted effort involving various government ministries and departments working closely with industry groups.

Illicit Capital Flows:

Pakistan's new government led by the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf Chief Imran Khan needs to urgently crack down on illicit outflow of dollars. One of the ways large amounts of money moves across international borders is through trade misinvoicing.

Global Financial Integrity (GFI) defines trade misinvoicing as "fraudulently manipulating the price, quantity, or quality of a good or service on an invoice submitted to customs" to quickly move substantial sums of money across international borders.

How does trade miscinvoicing work? Here's an example:

Let's say an exporter in Pakistan exports goods worth $1 million to a foreign country and invoices it at $500,000 through an offshore middleman.  The middleman invoices and collects $1 million from the end customer, sends $500,000 to Pakistan and deposits $500,000 in an offshore account. The result: Pakistan is deprived of the $500,000 in foreign exchange.

Similarly, imports of goods worth $1 million to Pakistan are overinvoiced at $1.5 million through an offshore middleman and the difference is kept in an overseas account. The result: Pakistan loses another $500,000 in foreign exchange. Meanwhile, the Pakistani traders and the officials facilitating misinvoicing together pocket $1 million or 50% on the two trades.  Pakistan's trade and current account deficits grow and the foreign exchange reserves are depleted, forcing Pakistan to go back to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for yet another bailout with tough conditions.



Terror and Drug Financing:

It is not just greedy politicians, unscrupulous businessmen and corrupt officials in developing countries who rely on fraudulent manipulation of trade invoices; all kinds of drug traders, terrorists and criminals also use what is called TBML (trade-based money laundering).

John A. Cassara, former US intelligence official with expertise in money laundering, submitted written testimony for a US Congressional hearing on “Trading with the Enemy: Trade-Based Money Laundering is the Growth Industry in Terror Finance” to the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing Of the House Financial Services Committee February 3, 2016. Here's an except from it:

"Not long after the September 11 attacks, I had a conversation with a Pakistani entrepreneur. This businessman could charitably be described as being involved in international grey markets and illicit finance. We discussed many of the subjects addressed in this hearing including trade-based money laundering, terror finance, value transfer, hawala, fictitious invoicing, and counter-valuation. At the end of the discussion, he looked at me and said, “Mr. John, don’t you know that your adversaries are transferring money and value right under your noses? But the West doesn’t see it. Your enemies are laughing at you.”"

Summary: 

Pakistan needs to find a way to build up and manage significant dollar reserves to avoid recurring IMF bailouts. The best way to do it is to focus on increasing the country's exports that have remained essentially flat in per capita terms. Pakistan's economic attaches posted at the nation's embassies need to focus on all export opportunities in international markets and help educate Pakistani businesses on the best way to take advantage of them. This needs to be concerted effort involving various government ministries and departments working closely with industry groups. At the same time, the new government needs to crack down on illicit outflow of dollars from the country.

Azad Labon Ke Sath host Faraz Darvesh discusses Imran Khan's challenges with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/CQ41Qt_2XQM




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Money Laundering Through Trade Misinvoicing

Pakistan Economy Hobbled By Underinvestment

Raymond Baker on Corruption in Pakistan

Can Indian Economy Survive Without Western Capital Inflows?

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

Chinese Yuan to Replace US $ as Reserve Currency?

Remittances From Overseas Pakistanis

Politics of Patronage in Pakistan

Why is PIA Losing Money Amid Pakistan Aviation Boom?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Pakistan Elections 2018: PTI Prevails Over Corrupt Dynastic Political Elite

Millions of passionate young men and women enthusiastically voted for Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf led by cricket legend Imran Khan to help PTI win against corrupt dynastic political parties in July 25, 2018 elections. Scores of dynastic politicians lost their legislative seats in this election in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces. This election came to represent a generational shift in many families in which parents reliably voted for the “electables” based on biradries (clans) and feudal affiliations but the children voted for PTI. It is a resounding rejection of old feudal politics in large parts of the country. The only exception to this shift is probably rural Sindh where the dynastic Pakistan Peoples' Party gained seats.

Young Electorate:

Pakistan's 46 million young voters of ages 18-36 years, up from 41 million in 2013, made the biggest impact on the outcome of the elections this year, according to data from the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Pakistan Voter Population by Age Groups. Source: Dawn
The enthusiasm of PTI's young supporters was on full display at many large PTI pre-election rallies addressed by Imran Khan. These rallies set a new standard  with lots of lighting, singing, music and dancing by hundreds of thousands of boys and girls across Pakistan.

Smartphones and Social Media:

Thousands of smartphone wielding young voters were seen following the politicians around while streaming live footage of what a newspaper report described as "something extraordinary: angry voters asking their elected representatives what have they done for them lately".  Here's an excerpt of a report by South China Morning Post (SCMP):

“Where were you during the last five years?” they ask (Sikandar Hayat) Bosan, complaining about the poor state of roads in the area. An aide can be heard pleading that the leader is feeling unwell. To be held accountable in such a public manner is virtually unheard of for most Pakistani politicians, especially in rural areas where many of the videos have been filmed. There feudal landowners, village elders and religious leaders have for decades been elected unopposed. Many are known to use their power over residents to bend them to their will."

"Electables" Swept Away:

PTI's "Naya Pakistan" campaign inspired the voters to sweep away scores of "electables", dynastic feudal politicians who used to easily win elections at all levels in Pakistan. Among the prominent "electables" who lost are former prime ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Voters also rejected several "electables" who joined PTI just before the elections to improve their chances of winning. These include Nazar Gondal, Firdos Ashiq Awan, Raza Hayat Hiraj and Nadeem Afzal Chan.

Many top leaders and former ministers also lost. The list of losers includes:

1.Ch Nisar Ali Khan
2. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
3. Tariq Fazal Ch
4. Talal Chaudhey
5. Abid Sher Ali
6. Khawaja Saad Rafique
7. Rana Afzal
8. Awais Leghari
9. Qadir Baloch
10. Ameer Muqam
11. Asfandyar Wali
12. Ghulam Bilour
13. Moulana Fazal ur Rehman
14. Akram Durrani
15. Siraj ul Haq
16. Aftab Sherpao
17. Mehmood Achackzai
18. Qamar Zaman Kaira
19. Yousaf Raza Gilani
20. Nazar Gondal
21. Nadeem Afzal Chan
22. Raza Hayat Hiraj
23. Firdaus Ashiq Awan
24. Farooq Sattar
25. Mustafa Kamal
26. Raza Haroon
27. Zulifqar Mirza
28. Naheed Khan
29. Ijaz Ul Haq

Conspiracy Theories:

Media coverage of Pakistan's July 25, 2018 elections has been dominated by conspiracy theories alleging "orchestration" of the election process by Pakistan's "Deep State".

A recent episode of BBC's Hardtalk with Dawn Group's CEO showed that such allegations fail to withstand any serious scrutiny. The "orchestration" conspiracy theory challenges credulity by asking you to believe that everything starting with Panama Papers leak by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was managed by Pakistani intelligence agencies to oust Pakistan's ex prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Wide reporting of open criticism of the military and the judiciary by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui shows that the "worst ever media censorship" charge is not credible.

While it is possible that the Pakistani military "establishment" attempted to influence the outcome of the elections, there is scant evidence of "orchestration" as alleged by Hameed Haroon of Dawn Media Group and others. While the military is a key player and has the ability to tip the scales to some extent, it lacks the capacity to determine the outcome of the elections. In the end, it's the voters who decide the winners and losers.

Summary:

PTI has achieved a historic win because of the millions of young men and women came out to enthusiastically support and vote for Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf candidates on July 25, 2018.  It has swept away many of the corrupt and dynastic "electables" and brought to the fore a new crop of leaders in Pakistan.  There is new hope in Pakistan but these new leaders face many challenges starting with the economy being hurt by a serious balance of payments crisis. PTI will need to move quickly to address these and other challenges to begin to meet the huge expectations of their passionate but impatient supporters of "Naya Pakistan".

Related Links:

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Pakistan Elections 2018 Conspiracy Theories

What conspiracy theories are being bandied about in Pakistani media coverage of general elections scheduled for July 25, 2018?

Why are Jang and Dawn, Pakistan's top 2 media houses, promoting Nawaz Sharif and his supporters' narrative?

Is there any evidence of a conspiracy between Pakistan's intelligence agencies and the top judges in the country?

Is the speculation based entirely on history? If these theories are correct, what will be the most likely outcome of these elections? Which party will emerge?  Will it be the "agencies" alleged favorite PTI?

What office would PTI chief Imran Khan want if his party wins? Prime Minister or President? Will possible restoration of article 58-2B of the constitution mean Imran Khan chooses to be president with real power?

Faraz Darvesh, Sabahat Ashraf and Riaz Haq discuss these questions. First streamed live on Facebook on July 21, 2018.

https://youtu.be/xjRHrinZw7Y



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

ISI Mea Cupla in 2002 Elections

Pakistan 2018 Elections Predictions

Free Speech: Myth vs Reality

Panama Leaks in Pakistan

Nawaz Sharif vs "Khalai Makhlooq"

"Genocide" Headline Skewed All East Pakistan Media Coverage in 1971

Strikingly Similar Narratives of Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif

Ex CIA Official on Pakistan's ISI

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Conspiracy Theories Dominate Media Coverage of Pakistan Elections 2018

Pakistani media coverage of the general elections scheduled for July 25, 2018 is dominated by discussion of conspiracy theories about the alleged involvement of Pakistan's "establishment" (euphemism for Pakistani military and intelligence agencies) to "rig" the vote to favor Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. Some in the media also accuse the "Deep State" of "worst ever censorship".

In a recent airing of BBC Hardtalk, the host Stephen Sackur challenged Pakistan Dawn Media Group's CEO Hameed Haroon to show evidence of Pakistani "Deep State" interference in the upcoming elections. Haroon responded by saying there's strong perception of it and said "it's all over social media". Sackur then told Haroon about the widely held view that Dawn Media Group is openly taking sides by supporting PMLN for the last two years and its now "convicted" leader Nawaz Sharif.

BBC's Hardtalk:

Mr. Hameed Haroon, Chief Executive of Pakistan's Dawn Media Group, claimed in a recent BBC interview that the Pakistani military and intelligence services were "orchestrating" July 25, 2018 general elections in favor of a particular political party. Here's an except of the interview with BBC's Stephen Sackur as the host:

Sackur: You are defenders of journalistic integrity, independence and impartiality in Pakistan but you are not seen as entirely neutral and impartial because over the last couple of years you are increasingly giving platform to one particular political player Nawaz Sharif who's run into an awful lot of trouble due to allegations of corruption ....you, the self-proclaimed impartial, independent, neutral media group covering Pakistani politics are now seen to be supporting and sympathetic to Nawaz Sharif and his daughter who it has has to be said are convicted criminals...

Haroon: There's an element of orchestration by military of a campaign against us...

Sackur: Where is your evidence of orchestration?

Haroon: If you look at the social media attacks on Dawn by the ISPR trolls....not just going after us but anybody who stands in their way.

Media Censorship:

Some in the media accuse the "Deep State" of "worst ever censorship". They say that their coverage is being limited and their distribution disrupted.

This claim of "worst ever censorship" is undercut by almost all media outlets widely covering all political speeches by leaders and candidates of all political parties, including Pakistan Muslim League (N) favored by Pakistan's two biggest media giants Jang and Dawn groups. The fact that there is a lot of discussion of "deep state" trying to "fix elections" reinforces the relative media freedom to show all points of view.

Orchestration vs Influence:

Those alleging "orchestration" of elections by Pakistani "establishment" cite documented history of involvement of Pakistani military and intelligence services in previous elections on behalf of one party or another.

For example, they mention the mea culpa by General Ehtisham Zamir, head of ISI political cell during 2002 elections.

It should be noted that the former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto issued the executive order creating a political cell within the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) with the purpose of influencing political processes in Pakistan, according to Hien Kiessling, author of "Faith, Unity, Discipline: The Inter-Service-Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan".

Bhutto's fateful decision in 1975 eventually brought about his own downfall when he used this cell to unnecessarily rig the 1977 elections and was overthrown and executed by General Zia-ul-Haq. It was also this cell that helped Nawaz Sharif , a protege of General Zia-ul-Haq, get elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan after the General's death in a mysterious air crash followed by a brief term in office by Benazir Bhutto. In 1990 the ISI received 140m rupees (US$2.2m at current values) to rig national elections, according to supreme court testimony by the then chief of army staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg.

While it is possible that the Pakistani military "establishment" is attempting to influence the outcome of the elections, there is scant evidence of "orchestration" as alleged by Hameed Haroon of Dawn Media Group and others. While the military is a key player and has the ability to tip the scales to some extent, it lacks the capacity to determine the outcome of the elections.

Orchestration, as alleged by Haroon and others, would challenge our credulity to believe all of the following:

1. Pakistan Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) colluded with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to hack and leak Panama Papers.

2. The "establishment" made sure that Nawaz Sharif's family's undeclared assets were part of the leak.

3. Pakistan Army chief and ISI ordered NAB to investigate Panama leaks and Nawaz Sharif family's assets.

4. Pakistan Army Chief and ISI chief called a meeting of the top Supreme Court judges to hear the case, remove Nawaz Sharif and transfer trial to a NAB court. 5. Pakistan Army Chief and ISI ordered NAB court to render a guilty verdict.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui:

Pakistani media have widely reported the remarks of  Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui regarding the attempts to influence his decisions in cases pending in his court relating to Nawaz Sharif's recent conviction.

The broad coverage of Justice Siddiqui's remarks in Pakistani media appears to negate the claims of media censorship made by Dawn's Haroon and others.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui is a right-wing judge who was a Jamaat e Islami candidate for elections in 2002. He represented Lal Masjid clerics after the Pakistani military cracked down on them  in Islamabad. He has become increasingly vocal against the military and his fellow judges since he was charged with misappropriating funds and hiring relatives to fill jobs at the Islamabad High Court. There’s a judicial reference pending against him.

Summary:

Media coverage of Pakistan's July 25, 2018 elections is dominated by conspiracy theories alleging "orchestration" of the election process by Pakistan's "Deep State". A recent episode of BBC's Hardtalk with Dawn Group's CEO showed that such allegations fail to withstand any serious scrutiny. The "orchestration" conspiracy theory challenges credulity by asking you to believe that everything starting with Panama Papers leak by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was managed by Pakistani intelligence agencies to oust Pakistan's ex prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Wide reporting of open criticism of the military and the judiciary by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui shows that the "worst ever media censorship" charge is not credible.

Here's a short video clip of BBC's Stephen Sackur's Hardtalk interviewing  Hameed Haroon of Pakistan's Dawn Media Group:

https://youtu.be/JQbt2QlVbwI




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

ISI Mea Cupla in 2002 Elections

Pakistan 2018 Elections Predictions

Free Speech: Myth vs Reality

Panama Leaks in Pakistan

Nawaz Sharif vs "Khalai Makhlooq"

"Genocide" Headline Skewed All East Pakistan Media Coverage in 1971

Strikingly Similar Narratives of Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif

Ex CIA Official on Pakistan's ISI

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

"Deep State" AKA "Khalai Makhlooq" vs Trump and Sharif

US President Donald Trump says he is being investigated by the "US Deep State" because he is trying to improve his nation's bilateral relations with Russia.  Pakistan's ex Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also made similar allegations of being targeted by "Khalai Makhlooq" (Pakistani Deep State) because of his efforts to make peace with India.  Their narratives are strikingly similar. Sharif and Trump have polarized and divided their nations by asking their political supporters to stand by them and to reject what they describe as a political "witch hunt".

Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif
Trump vs US Deep State:

In a press conference after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Mr. Trump said: "We have 90 percent of nuclear power between the two countries. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe".  The probe Mr. Trump is calling "ridiculous" is the result of the consensus reached by US intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in 2016 US presidential election to help Mr. Trump win. President Putin confessed that he favored Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump's supporters have accused "US Deep State" made up of intelligence and security establishment and Democrats of pursuing an anti-Trump agenda to derail efforts to improve US-Russia ties. Trump himself at the Helsinki press conference said: "As president, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics or the media or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct. Constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia forwards the opportunity to open new pathways toward peace and stability in our world. I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics. As president, I will always put what is best for America and what is best for the American people".

Sharif vs Khalai Makhlooq:

Nawaz Sharif and his supporters have long accused "Khalai Makhlooq" (Pakistani Deep State) for targeting him because of his efforts to improve ties with India. They reject any criticism of Sharif's eagerness to make friends with Indian Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister while ignoring India's proxy war of terror to destabilize and damage Pakistan.

Sharif's critics say that he is too soft on India's Modi in the same way that Trump's critics accuse him of being too cosy with Russia's Vladimir Putin.  They cite Nawaz Sharif's total silence on the arrest and confessions of Indian intelligence agent Kulbhushan Jadhav in Balochistan. Sharif's silence on this issue is seen as his distrust in his own intelligence agencies.

Sharif and his supporters have bought the Indian narrative that Pakistani establishment is the root cause of all problems between India and Pakistan. It''s similar to the way Trump and his supporters accuse US establishment of being responsible for lack of progress on building better ties with Russia.

Sharm al Shaikh and Ufa Declarations:

In 2009 Sharm al Sheikh meeting between then prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Manmohan Singh, the joint declaration included the mention of India's involvement in Balochistan along with Kashmir and other issues.

In 2015 when Nawaz Sharif met with Narendra Modi in Ufa, Russia, the joint statement does not mention the the Kashmir issue. Nor did it raise the issue of the 2007 inquiry of the Samjhauta Express blast, the British government’s alleged findings that India was supporting the MQM, and the Pakistan's charge that India is supporting terrorist groups in Pakistan.

The difference between the Sharm al Sheikh and Ufa caught the attention of all in Pakistan and reinforced the perception that Sharif was eager to make any deal with Modi, even a deal that ignored Pakistan's national security interests.  Many Americans have similar views about Trump's eagerness to make a deal with Putin.

Civil-Military Divide:

Indian and Western analysts and media promote the narrative of civil-military divide in Pakistan for lack of progress on India-Pakistan relations. In an article titled "Pakistan’s civil–military imbalance misunderstood", Husain Nadim of the University of Sydney says as follows:

"This absence of nuance in Western academic writing and commentaries on Pakistan is not just a blind spot. It is deliberate neglect whereby the dominant characterization of Pakistan’s civil–military relations is constructed to suit Western political interests that include aligning Pakistan’s national security policies with that of the West, and having a strong check on its nuclear program. Through aiding the civil–military divide in the country, the idea is to push back the mighty role of the Pakistan army from national security and foreign policy in hopes to seeking concession from the civilian political leadership."

On Sharif's eagerness to seek better ties with India, Husain Nadim says that "(Pakistani) military leaders advised caution and small steps to achieving sustainable peace with India — advice which Sharif ignored. After several months of futile attempts to court Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who pressed hard on Pakistan after his rise to power, Sharif faced an embarrassing situation. He accepted that his strategy had been a failure and allowed the military to devise a new strategy to engage India".

Who's at Fault?

In “How India Sees the World: Kautilya to the 21st Century”, the former India Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran recalls the crucial meeting of the CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) on the eve of India-Pakistan Defense Secretary-level talks in May 2006, where the draft agreement, that had been approved by the Army and other stakeholders, was to be discussed. However, he said two key players, the-then National Security Advisor MK Narayanan and then Army Chief General J.J. Singh made last minute interventions to scuttle the proposal, according to a report in The Hindu newspaper.

“When the CCS meeting was held on the eve of the defense secretary–level talks, [Mr.] Narayanan launched into a bitter offensive against the proposal, saying that Pakistan could not be trusted, that there would be political and public opposition to any such initiative and that India’s military position in the northern sector vis- à-vis both Pakistan and China would be compromised. [Gen] J.J. Singh, who had happily gone along with the proposal in its earlier iterations, now decided to join Narayanan in rubbishing it,” Mr. Saran writes.

“This is when L. K. Advani surprised Musharraf by asking for Dawood Ibrahim. This took Musharraf back and a shadow was cast thereafter on the Agra summit.” “As Mr. Mishra put it: “Yaar, hote-hote reh gaya … Ho gaya tha, who toh.”  Ex Indian Intelligence Chief A.S. Dulat

The above quote is from A.S. Dulat who has served as Chief of India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and as Special Director of India's Intelligence Bureau. He was speaking with Indian Journalist Karan Thapar of India Today on a variety of subjects including Kashmir and Musharraf-Vajpayee Agra summit.

Dulat has essentially confirmed the fact that Indian hawks like the BJP leader L.K. Advani are responsible for sabotaging the India-Pakistan summit.

There have now been multiple revelations by former Indian officials like Shyam Saran and AS Dulat as well as leaked US diplomatic cables detailing the causes of failures to resolve disputes in India-Pakistan talks in the last two decades.  These disclosures thoroughly debunk the myth promoted by Indian security analysts, Indian politicians and some western think tanks blaming Pakistan, particularly the Pakistani military, for the continuing failures to resolve bilateral disputes with India.

Summary:

US President Donald Trump and Pakistan's ex prime minister Nawaz Sharif are both claiming they are victims of  conspiracies by "Deep State" also known as Khalai Makhlooq in their respective countries. Each says that they are being targeted for wanting better relations with the leaders of their arch rivals in Russia and India. Their narratives are strikingly similar. Sharif and Trump have polarized and divided their own nations by asking the voters to stand by them and to reject what they describe as a political "witch hunt". Their critics argue that both leaders are too eager to make any deals with the enemies, even deals that do not take into account their countries best interests.

Here's a video clip of BBC Hardtalk's host Stephen Sackur challenging Pakistan Dawn Media Group's CEO Hameed Haroon to show evidence of Pakistani "Deep State" interference in the upcoming elections:

https://youtu.be/JQbt2QlVbwI



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Sharif's and Trump's Strikingly Similar Narratives

Indian Agent Kulbhushan Jhadav's Arrest in Balochistan

MQM-RAW Link

A.S. Dulat and Shyam Saran on India-Pakistan Ties

America's "We're the Good Guys" Narrative

The Story of Pakistan's M8 Motorway

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-Japan-US

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Pakistan Elections 2018 Predictions; Nawaz Sharif's Future

What will be the impact of tragic terror attacks with mass casualties on Pakistan's July 25, 2018 general elections? How does the current situation compare with the situation in 2013 elections? Will the elections proceed as scheduled?

Pakistan Elections 2018 Forecast by  Intermarket and Exotix Investment Firms

Which party is likely to get the most votes and parliamentary seats in Pakistan's July 25, 2018 general elections? Will one party get a clear majority? Who will form the new government? Is PTI Chief Imran Khan likely to be the next prime minister of Pakistan? Will it be a coalition government? How can a weak coalition government implement a radical reform agenda proposed by Imran Khan?

Why did former prime minister of Pakistan Mr. Nawaz Sharif, convicted recently by a Pakistani court on charges of having assets beyond income, come back to Lahore to face certain arrest? What is his strategy? What is Nawaz Sharif's future in Pakistani politics after his conviction and arrest? How will PMLN fare in 2018 and future elections? Will the disgraced Sharif be able to rehabilitate himself and reclaim the mantle of national leadership? Will future judges of Pakistan Supreme Court set aide his conviction to clear the way for him to become Pakistan's prime minister for the fourth time?

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

https://youtu.be/4jcH3CMYc5w




Here's Urdu version streamed live on Facebook:

https://youtu.be/v9PQGN0Is50




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Nawaz Sharif's Report Card 2013-18

CPEC Transforming Pakistan's Least Developed Regions

Pakistan: The Other 99% of the Pakistan Story

How Pakistan's Corrupt Elite Siphon Off Public Funds

Bumper Crops and Soaring Credit Drive Tractor Sales

Panama Leaks

How West Enables Corruption in Developing Countries

Declining Terror Toll in Pakistan

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel