Friday, December 9, 2016

Christine Fair's Anti-Pakistan Rants: Unfair? Unhinged?

C. Christine Fair is an assistant professor in the Center for Peace and Security Studies (CPASS), part of Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. She has only recently wised up to the opportunity to profit from sale of books attacking Pakistan in India, the world's third largest and currently the fastest growing market for books written in the English language.


Fair on India's Secret War in Pakistan:

Before writing and promoting "Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War", a virulently anti-Pakistan book, Dr. Fair said this in 2009:

"Having visited the Indian mission in Zahedan, Iran, I can assure you they are not issuing visas as the main activity! Moreover, India has run operations from its mission in Mazar (through which it supported the Northern Alliance) and is likely doing so from the other consulates it has reopened in Jalalabad and Qandahar along the border. Indian officials have told me privately that they are pumping money into Baluchistan".

Former US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has essentially confirmed Fair's above statement when he said: "India has always used Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan. India has over the years been financing problems in Pakistan".

On what basis did Chuck Hagel make the statement about India's use of Afghan territory to attack Pakistan? Was he, too, just another victim of conspiracy theories? Off course not. Secretary Hagel had the benefit of intelligence briefings by the CIA given to him in multiple capacities: first as US Senate Intelligence committee member and then as US Defense Secretary.

Fair is Self-Proclaimed "Rambo B**ch":

In recent years, Christine Fair has become a strong advocate of continuing the disastrous neoconservative policies that found favor in former President George W. Bush's administration after 911 terrorist attacks.

Fair has  called herself a "Rambo B**ch"; she supports US military interventions around the world; she encourages India's hawkish Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi to invade Pakistan.

In a Facebook post, Fair called Pakistan “an enemy” and said “We invaded the wrong dog-damned country,” implying the U.S. should have invaded Pakistan, not Afghanistan, according to Salon magazine.

In another Facebook post, Fair insisted that “India needs to woman up and SQUASH Pakistan militarily, diplomatically, politically and economically.” Both India and Pakistan are nuclear states.

Fair Supports US Drone Killings:

Fair strongly supports the US drone killing program that has been questioned even by senior US military commanders who have served in Afghanistan. One such commander is General Michael Flynn who has now been picked by President-elect Donald Trump as his national security advisor.

“When you drop a bomb from a drone… you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good,” remarked Michael T. Flynn. The retired Army lieutenant general, who also served as the U.S. Central Command’s director of intelligence, says that “the more bombs we drop, that just… fuels the conflict.”

Summary:

C. Christine Fair's anti-Pakistan rants show that she is a warmonger masquerading as a serious scholar.  She calls herself a "Rambo B**ch".  She wants both US and India to invade Pakistan knowing that all three countries have nuclear weapons. She strongly supports US drone killings which, in the words of General Michael Flynn, "fuel the conflict".

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Modi's Covert War in Pakistan

India is World's Fastest Growing Book Market

Are Iran and Russia Supporting Taliban in Afghanistan?

Gen Petraeus Debunks Allegations of Duplicity Against Pakistan

Gall-Haqqani-Paul Narrative on Pakistan

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-US-Japan

Robert Gates' Straight Talk on Pakistan

Monday, December 5, 2016

Are Russia & Iran Supporting the Afghan Taliban to Defeat ISIS?

While Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were ganging up to bash Pakistan at the recent Heart of Asia conference in the Indian city of Amritsar,  General John Nicholson,  the US commander in Afghanistan, was accusing Iran and Russia of supporting the Afghan Taliban. Russian diplomat Zamir Kabulov's recent comments in India appear to give credence to the American charge of Moscow's collaboration with the Taliban.

Russian Reaction at "Heart of Asia":

Reacting to the Indian leader's speech at Heart of Asia conference, Ambassador Zamir Kabulov, the veteran Russian diplomat attending the Amritsar conference, said as follows: “We understand all concerns of India about your western neighbor (Pakistan)…But we cannot combat (terrorism) efficiently and productively and eliminate (it) without the cooperation of Pakistan. We need their cooperation and they should realize their importance and responsibility.”

Russian Policy Shift on Taliban:

Ambassador Kabulov has described the Taliban as a “predominantly a national military-political movement”. “It is local, Afghanistan-based. They believe that they should have, from their perspective, fair share in the government of Afghanistan…They should talk and deal in their local context”. But Daesh (ISIS) “as an international organization is really dangerous”. “If you recall, young Taliban under the influence of Al-Qaeda in 1994, their rhetoric was very similar to today’s Daesh rhetoric”.

Mr. Kabulov's comments reveal the following conclusions that underpin the Russian policy shift in South Asia region:

1. Moscow now believes that the presence of ISIS (Daesh) in Afghanistan is a much bigger threat to  Russia's soft underbelly in the former Soviet republics of  Central Asia.

2.  The Afghan Taliban are an effective force to check the growth and spread of ISIS in Central and South Asian nations.

3.  Pakistan's cooperation is critical to help defeat ISIS in the region.

Russian Warning to India:

Russia believes that blunting ISIS in Afghanistan is a much bigger project than stopping the Taliban. 

Here's what Kabulov said: “Some people may say, and I remember some Indian officials in the recent past were believing that Daesh is something which is not an immediate threat to India as it’s an Afghanistan maybe Central Asia or Orient problem, but not India. But now, your leadership realized that Daesh is bigger than the Afghan branch of Syria-Iraq Daesh, it’s an international network which is not centralized. A centralized ideology but not organization."

Kabulov said that India had to be alert as Daesh is often active where there is a large Muslim population. “They (ISIS) will spread themselves all over. We see first signs of Daesh in Bangladesh. You have very big Muslim community in your country which is maybe target of Daesh. That makes the risk of threat common for all of us. It is better to deal and cope with this issue when it’s small. Don’t wait for it to become big”.

Iran's Support of the Taliban:

Iranian official have not acknowledged their cooperation with the Afghan Taliban. However,  frequent Iran visits of former Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor came to light when he was killed in a US drone strike on May 21, 2016.

According to various media reports, Mansoor's passport indicated that he had been in Iran since April 26, 2016. He had also traveled there for several weeks in February and March of 2016.

Pakistan's Support of the Afghan Taliban:

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.

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."

Summary:

US has accused Russia and Iran of supporting the Afghan Taliban. Russia has rejected Indian and Afghan criticism of Pakistan at the recent Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar. Ambassador Zamir Kabulov has warned India that the spread of ISIS presents a much bigger threat to Afghanistan and South Asia region than the Afghan Taliban. He has said Pakistan's cooperation is critical in defeating ISIS in the region. 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Mullah Mansoor Akhtar Killing in US Drone Strike

Gen Petraeus Debunks Charges of Pakistani Duplicity

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


Friday, December 2, 2016

What Drives Islamophobia in America: Hollywood? Media? Trump?

Attacks against Muslim Americans are surging, according to a recently released FBI report.  There were 257 reports of assaults, attacks on mosques and other hate crimes against Muslims in 2015, a jump of about 67% over 2014. It was the highest total since 2001, when more than 480 attacks occurred in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to New York Times.

Hate Crimes Against Muslims:

An American Muslim was 4.4 times more likely to be a victim of hate crime in America than an average American in 2015.  Anti-Muslim hate crimes accounted for 4.4 precent of all hate crimes in 2015 when Muslims made up just 1% of the US population.

Hate crimes against Muslims surged 67% from 154 in 2014 to 257 in 2015, the second highest number on record since national reporting started in 1992. In 2001, the year of the 9/11 attacks anti-Muslim hate crime peaked at 481, and had been in a range of 105 to 160, until 2015’s jump. Anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2015 showed a significant increase in the proportion of hate crimes from the previous year as well.




Why the Surge:

The recent surge in hate crimes against Muslims is being attributed to President-Elect Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric against Muslims and other minorities in the United States. Islamophobia did not begin with the Trump campaign but it appears to have contributed to it in the last two years. Other factors include stereotyping of Muslims in the entertainment and news media coverage of terrorist attacks traced to individual Muslim perpetrators.

Trump Campaign:

President-Elect Donald Donald Trump's Muslim ban and Muslim registry have contributed to assigning the blame to all Muslims for acts of terror and the consequent hate crimes against Americans of Islamic faith.

Since winning the majority of the electoral college in US presidential elections 2016, President-elect Trump has begun stacking his cabinet and staff with people known for their anti-Muslim statements. For example, Trump's national security advisor pick General Michael Flynn has called Islam "malignant cancer". Mr. Trump's chief of staff pick Stephen Bannon has described Islam as "a political ideology" and Sharia as "like Nazism, fascism, and communism."

Popular Television Shows:

The US entertainment media in Hollywood has been at the forefront of promoting the image of all  Muslims as terrorists. Popular television shows like "24" and "Homeland" have done it on a consistent basis.

In a recent roundtable discussion titled "Can Television be Fair to Muslims?", Showtime's "Homeland's co-creator Howard Gordon acknowledged that his show has fed Islamophobia in America.  Participants included both Muslims and Non-Muslims engaged in writing and producing popular TV shows such as Aasif Mandvi, Zarqa Nawaz, Melena Ryzik, Joshua Saffran, Howard Gordon and Cherian Dabis.

Roundtable Discussion:

Here's a brief excerpt of the exchange:

MELENA RYZIK: The F.B.I. has said that attacks against Muslims were up 67 percent last year. Do you have any anxiety about your shows being fodder for that?

HOWARD GORDON: The short answer is, absolutely, yes.

RYZIK: What can you do to handle that?

GORDON: On “Homeland,” it’s an ongoing and very important conversation.

For instance, this year, the beginning of it involves the sort of big business of prosecuting entrapment. It actually tests the edges of free speech. How can someone express their discontent with American policy — even a reckless kid who might express his views that may be sympathetic to enemies of America, but still is not, himself, a terrorist, but is being set up to be one by the big business of government?

For me to answer, personally, that question, it’s a difficult one. “24” having been the launching point for me to engage in these conversations, which I have been having for 10 years, and being very conscious about not wanting to be a midwife to these base ideas. We’re all affected, unwittingly, by who we are and how we see the world. It requires creating an environment where people can speak freely about these things. It requires this vigilant empathy.

Mainstream News Media:

The mainstream US news media, particularly the cable news channels, have contributed to anti-Muslim hysteria after each terror attack traced to a Muslim perpetrator. The 24X7 coverage of such tragedies fails to put them in perspective.

President Barack H. Obama finally asked the questions that many American Muslim victims of Islamophobia have been asking for a long time: How many Americans have been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade?  And how many Americans have died in gun violence.

Here's the exact quote from Obama's speech after yet another mass shooting--this time in rural Oregon:

“I would ask news organizations – because I won’t put these facts forward – have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won’t be information coming from me; it will be coming from you. “We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?”

The President's question got the media attention. CNN, among others, compiled the data and put the following graph on its website:

Sources: CDC and US Security Officials Via CNN



The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 316,545 people deaths by firearms on U.S. soil from 2004 to 2013. This figure is 1000 times higher than the total deaths of 313 Americans by terrorism at home and abroad in the same period.


Aided by the gun lobby and its conservative supporters, anti-terrorism and Islamophobia have emerged as major new US industries in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 911. Anti-terror industry is worth trillions of dollars. Islamophobia industry, estimated at $200 million, reinforces and promotes the fear of Islam and Muslims for its own gains. With their entrenched vested interests, the growth of these industries has served to distract attention from the 1000X bigger problem of gun violence. The National Rife Association, also know as the gun lobby, has taken full advantage of the situation by buying out the majority of US Congress which opposes even most modest gun safety regulations.

In addition to distracting Americans' attention from growing gun violence, increased spending on Islamophobia is having a significant impact on Americans' perception of Muslim Americans. Results differ by political party, with the majority of Republicans holding negative views of both Arab-Americans and Muslims. Democrats gave Arab-Americans a 30 percent unfavorable rating and Muslim-Americans a 33 percent unfavorable rating, while Republicans gave Arab-Americans a 54 percent unfavorable rating and Muslim-Americans a 63 percent unfavorable rating, according to public opinion survey conducted by Zogby Analytics.

Summary:

Hate crimes against Muslim Americans are surging, rising 67% in 2015 over the prior year. A Muslim American is 4.4 times more likely to be victim of a hate crime than an average American. President-Elect Donald Trump's Islamophobic campaign and the American news and entertainment media are contributing to the rise of hatred against Muslims. The situation of Muslims is likely to get worse unless Mr. Trump speaks out against hate crimes and his administration takes steps to check organized hate groups. At the same time, the news and entertainment media need to play their role to put this genie back in the bottle.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Funding of Hate Groups in America

Hollywood: America's Ministry of Propaganda? 

Silicon Valley Stands Against Islamophobia

US Gun Violence 

Money is Free Speech in America

King's Hypocrisy

FBI Entrapping Young Muslims

Saudi Prince Funding Hate in America



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