Saturday, May 2, 2015

Rise and Fall of Islamic Civilization: Why Do Stars Have Arabic Names?

Where did star names like Ain ( عين),  Betelgeuse (إبط الجوزاء ) and Cursa ( الكرسي) come from? Who named Californium and Berkelium elements of the periodic table?  Famous American scientist Dr.Neil deGrasse Tyson answered these and other questions in some recent video presentations.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator, according to Wikipedia. Since 1996, he has been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City.

What Dr. Tyson describes as "naming rights" simply means that those who discover new things get to name them. Californians got the naming rights to some of the elements of the periodic table  while the Arabs got to name vast majority of the stars in the Cosmos. In modern western astronomy, most of the accepted star names are Arabic, a few are Greek and some are of unknown origin.

Alhazen 965-1040 AD
Continuing on the naming rights theme, Dr. Tyson also describes the Islamic origins of Arabic numerals, Algebra, Algorithm, Alchemy and Alcohol as products of the Islamic Golden Age of Science in 800 to 1100 AD.

The lesson Dr. Tyson draws from the rise and fall of of Muslims is as follows: Islamic civilization remained dominant in sciences and mathematics as long as Muslims practiced Ijtihad to ask questions and find answers to questions. What led to their decline was Taqlid, the unquestioning faith in Revelation.

Dr. Tyson credits the great Muslim philosopher Alhazen (Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham 965-1040 AD) with inventing the modern scientific method. Alhazen questioned everything, especially the things everyone took for granted, says Dr. Tyson. Alhazen's work was lavishly funded by the Muslim Caliphs. All of it changed when Imam Al Ghazali, or Algazel, a highly influential Islamic scholar of his time, succeeded in persuading Muslims to accept Taqlid that triggered rapid decline of the Islamic world.

Dr. Tyson has used the example of the great Islamic Civilization's decline to warn Americans against repeating it. He has particularly targeted those in America who denounce Darwin's theory of evolution or reject the validity of climate science.

Here are three important video presentations made by Dr. Tyson on the subject:

Islamic Golden Age of science يوم كانت العربية لغة العلم from Mahmoud Ibrahim on Vimeo.

How Imam Ghazali's teachings ended the Islamic... by zemtv

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Muslims Have Few Nobel Prizes

Ibn Khaldun: The Father of Modern Social Sciences

Obama Speaks to the Muslim World

Lost Discoveries by Dick Teresi

Physics of Christianity by Frank Tipler

What is Not Taught in School

How Islamic Inventors Changed the World

Jinnah's Pakistan Booms Amidst Doom and Gloom

Altaf Hussain's Rants; Indian Media on Pak Beef in Nepal; Baltimore Protests

Is Altaf Hussain mentally stable? Why did he react as he did to Police Superintendent Anwar Rao's allegations of MQM-RAW connections? 

What caused Baltimore riots? What is the history of race relations in American cities?

Why was a beef product sent to the Nepal earthquake victims, by the Pakistanis?  Why is the Indian media making a big deal of it

Is the Baloch insurgency dying? Is the Pakistani media choosing self-censorship after Sabeen Mahmud’s murder? Are talks like "Un-Silencing" on Balochistan normally one-sided, against Pakistani state? 

ViewPoint from Overseas host Misbah Azam ( discusses these and other questions with panelists Riaz Haq(, and Ali H Cemendtaur ( in Silicon Valley, California, USA. 

کیا ایم کیو ایم کے الطاف حسین کا دماغی توازن درست نہیں ہے یا وہ نشے میں تقریر کرتے ہیں؟ ایس پی رائو انور کی پریس کانفرینس کے بعد الطاف حسین کی بے ہنگم تقریر اور اس پہ اٹھنے والا طوفان، اور پھر الطاف حسین کی معافی کیا معنی رکھتی ہے؟ نیپال میں زلزلے سے متاثرین کی مدد کے لیے پاکستان سے گائے کا گوشت کیوں گیا؟ اگر یہ غلطی تھی تو بھارتی میڈیا اس غلطی پہ اس قدر شور کیوں مچا رہا ہے؟ امریکہ میں سیاہ فام اور سفید فام لوگوں کے درمیان تنائو اور پے درپے سیاہ فام نوجوانوں کا سفید فام پولیس افسران کے ہاتھوں مارے جانے کے واقعات کیوں ہورہے ہیں؟ کیا سبین محمود کے قتل کے بعد بلوچستان کے موضوع پہ پاکستانی میڈیا نے سینسرشپ اختیار کرلی ہے؟ بلوچستان پہ ہونے والے سیمینار میں ان لوگوں کی آواز کیوں نہیں سنی جاتی جن کے رشتہ داروں کو بلوچ دہشت گردوں نے بے دردی سے قتل کیا ہے؟
ویو پواءنٹ فرام اوورسیز کے میزبان مصباح اعظم کی ریاض حق، اور علی حسن سمندطور سے گفتگو۔

VPOS 050115-ipad from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Indian Media Propaganda Against Pakistan Relief Supplies in Nepal Quake

Who Killed Sabeen? Why?

Gwadar as Hong Kong West?

Pak-China Industrial Corridor

Gangs of Karachi

American Hypocrisy on Dr. Afridi's Sentence

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

How Strategic Are China-Pakistan Ties?

Alaska Permanent Fund: A Model For Balochistan?

Has Modi Stepped Up India's Covert War in Pakistan?

Serious Issues Undermining Baloch Insurgency

Friday, May 1, 2015

Will Pakistan's Gwadar Become "Hong Kong West"?

The port city of Hong Kong has played a pivotal role in China's economic and trade expansion on the Chinese East Coast in the Pacific region. Meanwhile, China's Western region has remained relatively underdeveloped.

China's West Coast:

Is China looking to build and use Gwadar in Pakistan as Hong Kong West to accelerate development in its West? Will Gwadar serve as a superhighway for China's trade expansion in Middle East, Africa and Europe? A point to project Chinese economic and military might westward?

Unlike the continental United States which has coasts on both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans allowing it easy access to Europe and Asia, China has only one coast, its East Coast along South China Sea.

As the Americans look to Asia with the US Pivot to Asia and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Chinese are looking to expand westward with Central Asia as well as Africa, Europe and the Middle East with "One Road One Belt" initiative funded by Silk Road Fund and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Pakistan is a crucial partner in this strategy, particularly the development of Pakistan-China Corridor linking China's western region with Gwadar port on the Arabia Sea.

Gwadar Deep Sea Port:

The Chinese see Gwadar deep sea port and the town of Jiwani as Hong Kong West, a gateway to Middle East, Africa and Europe. It will be the most important link in China's Maritime Silk Route (MSR), a sort of superhighway to the West for Chinese trade.

Professor Juan Cole of University of Michigan has aptly described the Chinese strategy as follows:

China’s enormous northwest is much closer to the Arabian Sea than to the port of Shanghai. It is about 2800 km. from Urumqi (pop. 4 million, the size of Los Angeles inside city limits) to Karachi, but twice as far to Shanghai. China has decided to develop its northwest by turning Pakistan into a sort of Hong Kong West. Hong Kong played, and perhaps still plays an important role as a gateway for certain kinds of foreign investment into China. In the same way, Pakistan can be a window on the world and a conduit for oil and trade into northwestern cities such as Urumqi and the smaller Kashgar (pop. 1 mn.)

In addition to a major expansion of the deep sea port,  there are plans in place for building a modern city with several skyscrapers, an international airport, highways and industrial parks in Gwadar, Balochistan. There will be air, road and rail links to move people and freight to and from around the world. Oil and gas pipelines are planned to transport energy as well. When completed, it will be comparable to major international port cities of Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Baloch Insurgency:

Baloch insuegency is cited as  a key threat to the implementation of the China-Pakistan Corridor in Pakistan. What is often not acknowledged by analysts is the fact that the Baloch insurgency is dying. It's a fact that has recently been described in some detail by Malik Siraj Akbar who is sympathetic to the Baloch separatist cause. Here's what Akbar wrote in December 2014 in a piece titled "The End of Pakistan's Baloch Insurgency?":

"Since its beginning in 2004, the Pakistan's Baloch insurgency is caught up in the worst infighting ever known to the general public. Different left-wing underground armed groups that had been fighting Islamabad for a free Baloch homeland have now started to attack each other's camps......Frustration, suspicion, infighting and division are the common features of the end of a guerrilla fight. Perhaps that time has come in Balochistan. "

The announcement of the Pak-China deal seems to have re-energized those who seek to hurt Pakistan. They are now trying to resuscitate the dying Baloch insurgency. Western media has widely publicized an interview of Bramdagh Bugti who is running the insurgency from the comfort of a Swiss hotel room.  In addition, Pakistan's western-funded NGOs are being used to play up the Baloch insurgency in the media with events like "Un-Silencing Balochistan" event and by blaming the ISI for the murder of Karachi activist Sabeen Mahmud.


The China-Pak Corridor deal could prove to be transformational for Pakistan's economy, prosperity and rising living standards of its nearly 200 million people. As development work moves forward for Gwadar and China-Pakistan Corridor, I fully expect several hostile nations, including neighboring India, to use their proxies on the ground in Balochistan and some members of the "civil society" made up of some foreign-funded NGOs in Pakistan to make progress as difficult as possible. There will be serious efforts by many to resuscitate the dying Baloch insurgency. Pakistani people and both civil and military leaders need to be prepared to deal with these hurdles.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Who Killed Sabeen Mahmud? Why?

Xi Jinping in Pakistan

Pak-China Industrial Corridor

American Hypocrisy on Dr. Afridi's Sentence

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

How Strategic Are China-Pakistan Ties?

Alaska Permanent Fund: A Model For Balochistan?

Has Modi Stepped Up India's Covert War in Pakistan?

Serious Issues Undermining Baloch Insurgency

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nepal Quake Coverage Exposes Indian Media's Malice Toward Pakistan

Pakistan's relief efforts to aid Nepal earthquake victims went unnoticed by the hostile Indian media until some doctors from India "discovered" beef packets in the relief material brought in by PAF cargo planes to Kathmandu.

MREs from Pakistan's PANA Foods

This "discovery' then triggered the shameless 24X7 anti-Pakistan propaganda in the mainstream Indian media that was unsparing even amidst the horrific death and devastation suffered by the Nepalese people.

Pakistan Army Field Hospital in Kathmandu
Pakistan's humanitarian relief supplies in response to the tragic suffering of the Nepalese earthquake victims included available emergency stock of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) that were specially prepared for Pakistani military by PANA foods.  It is possible that the relief supplies contained some beef packets which were clearly marked, as Pakistani foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasneen Aslam explained: "The Meal Ready to Eat (MRE) is a pre-packed kit of 20 items for a full day's meals. On each and every packet inside the kit the name of the dish is clearly written in English and Urdu so that people may choose whatever they like to eat or discard."

An Indian reporter of The Daily Mail quoted Dr. Singh, a doctor from India, as saying, “When we reached the airport to collect the food items from Pakistan, we found packets of ready-to-eat meals, including packets of ‘beef masala’. There were other food items too."
Most Googled Product Or Service Source: Business Insider

It seems that the Indian media and Hindu Nationalists have become obsessed with cows and beef since the  election victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year. It has been recently reported by Business Insider that "cow" is now the most googled product in India.  It seems to have been prompted by the beef bans now spreading across Indian states. The most googled product (service) in Pakistan is that of wedding-related products and services.

This is not the first time that Indian media have whipped up war sentiments against Pakistan; there are many many past examples.

In January 2013, India accused Pakistani soldiers of beheading an Indian soldier at the Line of Control in Kashmir. Barkha Dutt, a hawkish TV anchor at NDTV, led the Indian media charge against Pakistan by accusing Pakistani military of "savagery" and "barbarism". Indian prime minister talked of "no business as usual", and Indian Army chief told his "commanders to be aggressive and offensive" and the Indian Air Force chief threatened to  use "other options". Pakistan's offer to have the incidents independently investigated by the United Nations was rejected.

All the talk of "Aman Ki Asha" went out the window when Pakistani hockey players were unceremoniously ejected from India as the right-wing Hindu organizations were aided and abetted by the hawkish anti-Pakistan  Indian media. Hindu Nationalist BJP leader Sushma Swaraj demanded "ten Pakistani heads for one Indian head".

Soon, Barkha Dutt's phony outrage and Sushma Swaraj's bloodthirsty rhetoric about "beheading" were exposed by a quick Google search by Najam Sethi. Sethi found an article in a Nepalese publication Himal in which Barkha described how she was shown a severed head of a Pakistani as war trophy by an Indian Army officer in Kargil in 1999.

Other examples of hate-mongering Indian media coverage include:

1. Alice Albinia in the preface to her book "Empires of the Indus":

"It was April, 2000, almost a year since the war between Pakistan and India over Kargil in Kashmir had ended, and the newspapers which the delivery man threw on to my terace every morning still portrayed Pakistan as a rogue state, governed by military cowboys, inhabited by murderous fundamentalists: the rhetoric had the patina of hysteria."

2. John Briscoe, Harvard Professor and water expert on coverage of India-Pakistan water dispute:

Living in Delhi and working in both India and Pakistan, I was struck by a paradox. One country was a vigorous democracy, the other a military regime. But whereas an important part of the Pakistani press regularly reported India's views on the water issue in an objective way, the Indian press never did the same. I never saw a report which gave Indian readers a factual description of the enormous vulnerability of Pakistan, of the way in which India had socked it to Pakistan when filling Baglihar. How could this be, I asked? Because, a journalist colleague in Delhi told me, "when it comes to Kashmir – and the Indus Treaty is considered an integral part of Kashmir -- the ministry of external affairs instructs newspapers on what they can and cannot say, and often tells them explicitly what it is they are to say."

3. Shekhar Gupta in Indian Express:

Can we deny the fact that every new terror attack on the Pakistani establishment, every development that marks a further decline in the authority of its government is greeted with an utterly unconcealed sense of delight? This is not just the mood of the mobs here. Even the “intelligentsia”, the TV talking heads, opinion page columnists, government spokespersons, all have the same smug air of “I-told-you-so” and “so-what-else-did-they-expect” satisfaction. And they ask the same patronising question: hell, can Pakistan be saved?

Here's a video of Pakistan C-130 Relief Flight landing in Kathmandu during a strong aftershock:

PAF's C-130 Landing in Nepal by PakistanDefenceCommand

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Earthquake Fears in South Asia

Indian Media Manufacturing Consent?

Indian Media Whip Up War Hysteria

Disease Burdens in South Asia

Pakistan's Media Boom

Manufacturing Consent: Political Economy of the Mass Media

India 63 Years After Independence

Pew Poll in India

Media Subdues The Public. It’s So In India, Certainly

Empires of the Indus

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hawking Weighs in on British-Pakistani Singer Zayn Javed Malik

“My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to pay close attention to the study of theoretical physics. Because one day there may well be proof of multiple universes. It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that somewhere outside of our own universe lies another different universe. And in that universe, Zayn is still in One Direction.”  British Physicist Stephen Hawking

Zayn Javed Malik
While Stephen Hawking was  recently speaking to an Australian audience about black holes, cosmos, religion and the future of humanity, a girl asked him: "What do you think is the cosmological effect of Zayn leaving One Direction and consequently breaking the hearts of millions of teenage girls across the world?”

Responding to the question,  Hawking first said, "Finally, a question about something important", and then he added: "My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to pay close attention to the study of theoretical physics. Because one day there may well be proof of multiple universes. It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that somewhere outside of our own universe lies another different universe. And in that universe, Zayn is still in One Direction."

Ever since the British-Pakistani singer Zayn Javed Malik decided to quit the band "One Direction",  his fans around the world have been heart-broken. There have been tears. Adding to their heartbreak, Malik does not seem like he will change his mind anytime soon, according to the National Public Radio (NPR).

NPR ended the segment by playing Zayn's popular song: "Baby, you light up my world like nobody else. The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed. But when you smile at the ground it ain't hard to tell".  Another popular song "“Don’t forget where you belong” by Zayn  is seen by his Pakistani fans as a nod to his Pakistani heritage. Express Tribune, a  Karachi newspaper, reports a Zayn sighting in Pakistan after he left One Direction.

Zayn had said  earlier that his surprise visit to Pakistan would be a month-long trip taking him to Karachi, Lahore and parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. “It’s time I went back to my roots and take a break from life in the limelight,” said the 22-year-old in an interview.

Here's Zayn Malik singing "Don't Forget Where You Belong":

One Direction - Don't Forget Where You Belong... by _Channel_

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani Diaspora is World's 7th Largest

5-Year-Old British Pakistani Boy is World's Youngest Techie

British-Pakistani Wins Re-invent the Toilet Prize

Pakistan Fashion Shows

Pakistani Village Girl Launches VC-Funded Fashion Startup in San Francisco 

Pakistan's Top Fashion Models

Pakistani Cover Girls

Pakistan Protest Music in Social Media

Coke Studio: Music Drives Coke Sales in Pakistan

Pakistani-American is the Richest South Asian in America

Pakistani-American Sisters Shine as EDM Stars

Rapidly Growing High-Speed Fiber Connectivity in Pakistan

A $44 million 820 kilometer fiber optic cable being laid between Pakistan and China will be the 6th high-speed connection to add redundancy and to cater to rapidly growing Internet traffic from-to Pakistan. It is part of the $46 billion Pak-China Economic Corridor project recently agreed between the two neighbors.

Fiber Optic Network in Pakistan Source: KHL
Undersea Fiber Connectivity:

Pakistan is  currently connected with the world through four undersea fibre optic cables. These include India-Middle East-Western Europe (I-ME-WE),  Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 3 (SEA-ME-WE-3) and Southeast Asia-Middle-East-Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE-4), operated by Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) and TWA-1, which is owned by Trans-World Associates. A fifth undersea cable called South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe (SEA-ME-WE)-5 is being laid to connect Pakistan with the rest of the world, according to Pakistani media reports.

Overland China-Pakistan Fiber:

The overland fibre optic cable is being laid by Chinese company Huawei between Rawalpindi and Khunjarab Pass on Pakistan-China border, a distance of 820 kilometers, according to media reports.

When completed, this project will provide Pakistan with a direct telecom access to China and the Central Asian States, and from there to Europe and the United States.

3G 4G Subscription Growth Source: PTA

Internet Traffic Growth:

The launch of 3G and 4G networks has accelerated the growth of Internet users in Pakistan. More than a million subscribers are signing up every month since the 3G and 4G rollout in the country last year. These new users are generating more and more data traffic requiring rapid increases in available bandwidth.

Pakistan ended March 2015 with over 12.07 million 3G/4G subscribers, up from 10.34 million in February, according to data from Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA). Telenor led the 3G/4G market with over 3.53 million subscribers, followed by CMPak (2.95 million 3G/4G subscribers), Mobilink (2.86 million 3G subscribers), and Ufone (2.66 million 3G subscribers). Warid had 66,140 LTE network subscribers at 31 March.

Thousands of kilometers long fiber network is currently in place to deal with the growing domestic bandwidth demand. Several projects are underway to grow this network further.

Redundancy and Reliability:

Pakistan needs multiple fiber connections to the outside world to prevent the kind of major Internet outages the country has suffered periodically for the last decade.

For example, a major disruption occurred in June 2005 when ALL Internet access from Pakistan was lost due to damage to the lone undersea fiber optic cable in the Arabian Sea connecting the nation with the rest of the world. There were satellite links but these links have very limited bandwidth. Even though the number of Internet users in Pakistan was relatively small at about 15-20 million, the impact on business was disproportionate. Traders on KSE reported as much as 80% drop in trading volume from this outage. All call center activities and other BPO vendors were severely affected.

Then there were more episodes of severe disruptions in 2008 when several undersea cables were cut. The Maldives were 100 percent down, followed by India, which had 82 percent disruption. Qatar, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates were the next most widely affected areas with about 70 percent service interrupted. Disruptions for Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan ranged from 51 percent to 55 percent.

The increasing number of external fiber connections will help minimize disruptions in Internet connectivity and help deal with its impact on Pakistan's businesses, industry and security.


High-speed Internet connectivity is at least as essential as other forms of communication, if not more so. Pakistan is investing in it for its economic and national security. Investments in this area need to be continuously boosted as the user base grows in the country.

Related Links:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Who killed Sabeen Mahmud? What do NA-246 Results prove? Yemen

Who killed T2F’s director Sabeen Mahmud? ISI? Indian agents? Religious Extremists? Baloch insurgents? What is its impact on the future of Chinese potential investment in Pakistan? 

What does MQM’s landslide victory in NA-246 elections prove? Does it show that MQM has maintained its vote bank? 

What’s happening in Yemen? Are the Saudis realizing their mistakes? 

 ViewPoint from Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these and other questions with panelist Riaz Haq (, and Ali H Cemendtaur ( in Silicon Valley, California, USA.

ٹی ٹو ایف کی ڈائریکٹر سبین محمود کو کس نے قتل کیا؟ آئی ایس آئی نے، بھارتی ایجنٹوں نے، مذہبی شدت پسندوں نے، یا خود بلوچ مزاحمت کاروں نے؟ بلوچستان کے حالات کیا رخ اختیار کریں گے؟ کیا چین پاکستان میں سرمایہ کاری کرپائے گا؟ این اے دو سو چھیالیس میں انتخابات کے نتائج کیا ظاہر کرتے ہیں؟ کیا عمران خان کے دھاندلی کے غبارے سے ہوا نکل چکی ہے؟ یمن میں کیا ہورہا ہے؟
ویو پواءنٹ فرام اوورسیز کے میزبان فراز درویش کی ریاض حق، اور علی حسن سمندطور سے گفتگو۔

Show recorded on Saturday, April 25, 2015, at 3:15 PM

Camera, Sound, Lihting, Editing: Velayat TV 
Production Team: iKolachi think tank
Moderator: Faraz Darvesh
Analysts: Misbah Azam, Riaz Haq, Cemendtaur
Recorded at: Velayat-TV studio in Pleasanton, California

Who killed Sabeen Mahmud? NA-246 Results prove what. Yemen from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Who killed Sabeen Mahmud- What do NA-246... by faizan-maqsood

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pak-China Industrial Corridor

Gangs of Karachi

American Hypocrisy on Dr. Afridi's Sentence

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

How Strategic Are China-Pakistan Ties?

Alaska Permanent Fund: A Model For Balochistan?

Has Modi Stepped Up India's Covert War in Pakistan?

Serious Issues Undermining Baloch Insurgency

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Who Killed Sabeen Mahmud? Why?

Who killed Sabeen Mahmud? Why did she have to die? Is she just another casualty of multiple wars raging in Pakistan today?  Did her assassins try to kill two birds with one stone? Amplify the Baloch insurgency coverage and demonize the ISI? These and other questions are being asked by many who loved and supported her and miss her badly. Will these questions ever be answered? I wouldn't hold my breath given Pakistan's history of high-profile assassinations since its birth. I'll still try and put some context around this tragedy.

Sabeen Mahmud 

The ink on China-Pakistan agreements was barely dry when western media and foreign-funded NGOs in Pakistan started playing up the Baloch insurgency. Is it a mere coincidence? Or a well thought-out plan to try to sabotage Pak-China alliance and massive Chinese investment in Pakistan?

Two key events have made headlines in Pakistan and elsewhere to coincide with President Xi Jinping's Pakistan visit. First, "Un-silencing Balochistan" gathering took place in Karachi at T2F NGO headed by Sabeen Mahmud after it was cancelled at LUMS. Second, an interview of Bramdagh Bugti, the man who is running the insurgency in remote parts of Balochistan from a Swiss hotel room, was widely published by western media.

Un-silencing Balochistan:

It is unfortunate that the tragic assassination of Sabeen Mahmud, a sincere and dedicated social activist, has served to divert public attention from the real issue of western-funded NGOs pushing foreign agendas to conspiracy theories about ISI plotting her assassination. Instead of discussing the reason for the Un-silencing Balochistan event coinciding with the Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Pakistan, the discussion has turned to demonizing the "big bad ISI".

Bramdagh Bugti Interview:

Bramdagh has been running a low-level insurgency in Balochistan from a Swiss hotel room for several yeas now. He was interviewed there by a German Deutsche Welle reporter and the interview was widely carried by multiple western news organizations. As expected, Bugti claimed that recent multi-billion dollar economic corridor "deal between Pakistan and China is aimed at colonizing the Balochistan province, and must be resisted".

Foreign-Funded NGOs:

There has been extensive documentation of US government funding of NGOs for the purpose of pushing US agenda around the world. The most detailed description of it became public with revelations contained in "Who Paid the Piper" by Frances Stonor Saunders. More recently, an investigative reporter Robert Parry has documented the role played by US-funded National Endowment for Democracy in destabilizing Ukraine in a piece titled "A Shadow of US Foreign Policy".

In "The Mask of Pluralism", author Joan Roelofs describes certain CIA-designated organizations, using the funds from the “dummy” foundations, funding pro-American NGOs to advance US policies.

Many countries, including India, have made several attempts to regulate foreign funding of NGOs. Just recently, Modi government has frozen the accounts of Green Peace India and put Ford Foundation on its watch list.

There are hundreds of foreign-funded NGOs operating in Pakistan. Many of them provide much needed service but some are likely being used as cover to push foreign agendas. It has been established that the CIA used one such organization to fund a fake polio vaccination campaign in Abbotabad as part of its hunt for Usama Bin Laden.

The Clinton Foundation, headed by former US President Bill Clinton and his wife Hilary, the former secretary of state, has come under severe criticism for accepting millions of dollars from foreign contributors. American media are demanding full disclosure and transparency from the couple. Shouldn't it also apply to foreign donations flowing into NGOs in Pakistan?

Baloch Insurgency Facts:

Balochistan insurgency is much bigger phenomenon in the media than its reality on the ground in Pakistan. In spite of well-known foreign funding and support, the fact is that Baloch insurgency is made up of a few insurgents who are deeply divided among themselves. So far, it's been little more than a nuisance for Pakistani military, according to Col. Ralph Peters, a US intelligence operative who has worked closely with BLA leadership.

Here's an excerpt of a Huffington Post Op Ed on Baloch insurgents:

According to Peters, one of the most serious issues with the Baloch independence movement is "deeply troubling" infighting. In fact, he is emphatic in his condemnation of such bickering; going so far as to assert: "they are quickly becoming their own worse enemies." 

In his view, individual Baloch simply don't understand that their personal feuding undermines the larger movement: "Certain Baloch fail to understand that their only hope in gaining independence is if they put their own egos and vanity aside and work together. This is the cold hard fact. They are already outgunned and outmanned. Pakistan will continue to to exploit their differences until they realize this." 

So long as the Baloch continue to engage in "petty infighting," including "savaging each other in emails," (Ralph) Peters is pessimistic they can garner widespread support in the West. In fact, he warns that such infighting could eventually put off even their staunchest supporters. 

As a result, he recommends that the Baloch leadership and activists set the example and halt their public bickering: "The Baloch leaders need to stop their severe personal attacks on each other and others. In the military, we say that you don't let an entire attack get bogged down by a single sniper. But, there are individuals out there who are causing divisions and attacking people. They tend to look at the debate as if you don't agree with me completely then you're my enemy. This undermines their cause." 

Until these leaders and activists "support the big picture," Peters offers little hope that the broader Baloch nation will be able to "work together, put aside their deep divide, and unify." This troubles Peters as he confides: "At this point, do I believe they have a good chance of achieving independence? No. But, it would be much higher in the future if they just start working together. It's frustrating that the leaders can't unite." 

Peters is also bothered by the Baloch tendancy to blame such infighting on covert operations by Pakistan's military and security services: "The region as a whole tends to blame conspiracy theories. But, I have come to believe that you never accept conspiracies when something can be explained by incompetence..."

Balochistan East Pakistan Comparison:

Balochistan is sometimes compared by some with East Pakistan. Balochistan has nothing in common with East Pakistan.

 1. Only a third of the population of Balochistan is Balochi speaking. The Baloch Nationalists are too few in number, highly disorganized and deeply divided among themselves.

2.  Almost as many ethnic Baloch people live outside of Balochistan province (in Sindh and Southern Punjab) as in Balochistan, according to Anatol Lieven (Pakistan-A Hard Country).  They are quite well integrated with the rest of the population in Pakistan. Asif Zardari, the last president of Pakistan, is an ethnic Baloch, as was former President Farooq Laghari and recent interim Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso.  Pakistan's COAS Gen Musa was a Hazara from Balochistan.

 3. In East Pakistan, there was an election won by Sheikh Mujib with heavy mandate. Nothing like that has happened nor likely happen with a bunch of fractious Baloch tribesmen who represent only a few districts in Balochistan.  They have no political party nor do they participate in any elections as the Awami League in East Pakistan did. Even if they do so in the future, they are unlikely to win a majority in the provincial legislature given the demographics of Balochistan.

4.  Former US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a speech that "India has always used Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan. India has over the years been financing problems in Pakistan".  BLA is being armed, trained and funded by India's RAW just as Mukti Bahini was in  East Pakistan. But the creation of Bangladesh required an outright Indian invasion which is highly unlikely to happen to nuclear-armed Pakistan.


Indian and western spy agencies will try and ratchet up the pressure on China and Pakistan by further fueling the insurgency in Pakistan. The issue will be played up by western and Indian media and some foreign funded NGOs in Pakistan as the work on China-Pakistan corridor proceeds and Chinese investment in Pakistan materializes.  This cynical effort could claim more innocent and well-meaning victims like Sabeen Mahmud who get caught up as pawns in the cross-fire of  international geopolitics. Pakistani leaders and people need to be aware of it and be prepared to deal with it intelligently.

Here's a video discussion on this subject:

Who killed Sabeen Mahmud? NA-246 Results prove what. Yemen from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Who killed Sabeen Mahmud- What do NA-246... by faizan-maqsood

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pak-China Industrial Corridor

American Hypocrisy on Dr. Afridi's Sentence

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

How Strategic Are China-Pakistan Ties?

Alaska Permanent Fund: A Model For Balochistan?

Has Modi Stepped Up India's Covert War in Pakistan?

Serious Issues Undermining Baloch Insurgency

Friday, April 24, 2015

Investing in Pakistan: New ETF Starts Trading in New York

A new country Exchange Traded Fund (symbol PAK) started trading on New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) this week. The ETF will track the price and yield performance of the MSCI (Morgan Stanley Composite Index) All Pakistan Select 25/50 Index.

Pakistan ETF: 

The new Pakistan ETF launch coincided with Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Pakistan where he announced massive $46 billion investment in Pakistan's energy and infrastructure. The sectors expected to benefit most initially from the Chinese investment are: energy, cement and financial services.

Pakistan Outperforms Emerging, Frontier Markets Source: Economist

Although the ETF launch timing was fortuitous, it was actually planned well before the Chinese leader's visit. It caters to individual investors seeking outsize returns in Karachi where KSE-100 index has been outperforming both emerging and frontier markets for several years.

Pakistan GDP, CAD Source: Economist

In 2014, the KSE-100 Index gained 6,870 points thereby generating a handsome return of 27% (31% return in US$ terms), making Pakistan's KSE world's third best performing marketTotal offerings in the year 2014 reached 9 as compared to 3 in the year 2013. After a gap of seven years, Rs 73 billion were raised through offerings in 2014 as compared to a meager Rs 4 billion raised in 2013. Foreign investors, that hold US$ 6.1 billion worth of Pakistani shares -which is 33% of the free-float (9% of market capitalization)-remained net buyers in 2014.

The ETF fact sheet shows that the index has 31 holdings in it. Also, the industry weightings are concentrated in financials (32.7%), energy (24.2%), materials (23%) and utilities (10.8%) — roughly 90% in four sectors alone.

The top equity holdings with weightings in the ETF are as follows: MCB Bank, 11.5% Oil and Gas Development (OGDC), 9.8% United Bank, 6.1% Fauji Fertilizer, 5.9% Lucky Cement, 5.7% Hub-Power, 4.9% Pakistan State Oil, 4.8% Engro, 4.7% Bank Al-Habib, 4.1% National Bank Pakistan, 3.7%

Pakistani Shares Valuation:

Even after outperforming both emerging and frontier market indices, Pakistani shares can be bought at deep discounts which make them very attractive, according to Renaissance Capital’s chief economist Charles Robertson.  MSCI (Morgan Stanley Composite Index) Pakistan trades at only 8.4 times forward earnings, a 17% discount to MSCI Frontier Markets. For comparison purposes, fellow frontier south Asia markets Sri Lanka and Bangladesh trade at 13.4x and 21.4x respectively. India, included in the emerging market index, trades at 16.8 times.

Key Sectors: 

Chinese investment in energy and infrastructure will help stimulate all sectors of Pakistani economy. But the sectors benefiting most from the $46 billion investment will likely include banks, energy and building materials, the sectors which are the favorites of  Pakistani billionaire investor Mian Mohammad Mansha.

Being close to the ruling Sharif family makes Mansha the ultimate insider. Beyond his investments in banking, cement, energy and textiles, Mansha is also starting to invest in consumer products sector benefiting from rising incomes, growing middle class and increasing jobs created in Pakistan by the massive Chinese investment. Mansha owns a big chunk of Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB) shares. He has recently been pumping more money into energy, cement and dairy businesses. Mansha's DG Khan Cements has announced plans to build a $300 million cement plant near Karachi. In additions, his Nishat Dairies has imported thousands of dairy cows for a dairy farm in Lahore.


The $46 billion Chinese investment in energy and infrastructure has brought attention to tremendous investment opportunities in Pakistan, a nation of nearly 200 million people with rising middle class and growing consumption.  Pakistani military's recent successes against the terrorists and China's massive investment commitments are expected to boost investor confidence in the country. Higher confidence will help draw other significant investors to invest in Pakistan over the next several years.

Full Disclosure: I have personally invested in PAK ETF.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pakistan, China "Experts": Husain Haqqani, Minxin Pei, Gordon Chang

The United States is home to many foreign affairs "experts" from various countries around the world.

These "experts" are employed by US Think Tanks and invited by the US media to appear on television shows and write Op Ed columns for newspapers whenever there is a significant event anywhere in the world.

The analyses and opinions offered by these experts depend on how the United States policymakers view the countries being discussed. If the US sees a nation favorably, the "expert" analyses and opinions are positive and sympathetic toward them. On the other hand, if the US views the nations in question negatively, then these "experts" show hostility toward them.

Discussions on India, a current favorite of the United States, often feature Fareed Zakaria who portrays India in a favorable light and its rival Pakistan as the villain in South Asia.  Media coverage of the Middle East features "experts" who are almost always always friendly toward Israel.

The recent announcement of major Chinese investment in Pakistan during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the South Asian country has received a lot of attention in the mainstream US media.

As expected, the "experts" invited by the US media to talk and write about the China-Pakistan Corridor are hostile to both China and Pakistan.

Pakistan's ex-Ambassador Husain Haqqani has been used as the "expert" to do the hatchet job on Pakistan by Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal. Here's an excerpt of it:

"...the promise of Chinese money will lead Pakistan’s leaders to think China will become their economic and military patron. Mr. Xi would do well not to let that happen, and instead to emphasize reform. He shouldn’t forget that money does not always buy Pakistan’s favor or encourage change in Pakistan’s policies. China may actually lose popularity in Pakistan once its companies arrive and demand primacy of economic considerations. Then China might find itself where Pakistan’s previous benefactor, the U.S., is today. After having provided $40 billion in aid to Pakistan since 1950, the U.S. is now viewed favorably by only 14% of Pakistanis."

There are several problems with Mr. Haqqani's analysis listed below:

1. Mr. Haqqani lacks the basic  understanding of the key difference between the US aid model and the Chinese assistance paradigm. The United States gave "aid" to the governments of countries in Asia and Africa much of which was siphoned off by corrupt officials.  China focuses on infrastructure investments and trade in the developing world.

2. It's Mr. Haqqani's failure to understand the Chinese model that is the basis of his flawed advice to China to repeat the failed policies of the United States in Pakistan. Or is it his wish to see China's investments fail in Pakistan?

3. As to the  complaint about lack of US "popularity" in Pakistan, Mr Haqqani as a diplomat should know that bilateral relations between two sovereign nations are based on mutual interests,  not love or affection.

4. On Mr. Haqqani's preaching Pakistanis to be grateful to America, I suggest that he asses his own lack of gratitude to Pakistan, the country that nurtured and educated him, and then bestowed on him the honor and prestige of representing it in highly coveted posting as Ambassador to Washington.

Haqqani is not alone in being wrong about China and Pakistan. Gordon Chang and Minxin Pei give him good company.

Here's an excerpt of a piece by "expert" Gordon Chang in The National Interest about China-Pakistan corridor:

"Beijing, despite everything, looks like it is absolutely determined to do whatever it takes to first build and then secure its corridor running through the heart of Pakistan. Its plan, however, is almost certainly misconceived, bound to cause more turmoil in already troubled areas."

Another "expert" Minxin Pei writes as follows in an Op Ed in Fortune magazine on China's Pakistan investment:

"Beijing ought to be spending its money at home to shore up its economy, instead of chasing elusive prestige abroad. Empires fall for many reasons. One of them is overreach: the lust for power often drives imperial rulers to extend their commitments beyond what their resources can support. The collapse of the Soviet Union is among the most recent illustrations of the perils of imperial overreach. During the Cold War, Moscow recklessly took on unaffordable security commitments around the world and engaged in an un-winnable arms race against a foe with a much larger economy."  

To put the above opinions of the two China "experts" in perspective, let me just say that they have both been consistently wrong about China. Gordon Chang wrote "The Coming Collapse of China" back in 2001.  Need I say more?

Minxin Pei, the other favorite China "expert" in the West, wrote a 2006 book "China's Trapped Transition" that gave a gloomy forecast for China's future.

In spite of being consistently wrong, these "experts" continue to enjoy their status as "experts". They peddle what their western  patrons want to hear. And they are "gainfully" employed as professors, authors, think tank analysts and media guests in America.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Secretary Gates Straight Talk on US-Pakistan Ties

India Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous? 

Challenging Gaul-Haqqani-Paul Narrative

How Strategic Are Pak-China Ties?

Pak-China Industrial Corridor

China's Checkbook Diplomacy

Profit Motives Drive Authors to Bash Pakistan