Saturday, February 13, 2010

Why Is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Why has democracy not taken root in Pakistan? Why have the nation's democratic institutions failed to sustain themselves? How can Pakistan build and strengthen democratic institutions that provide good governance to solve its problems? Is it entirely the fault of Pakistan's ambitious military generals who have ruled the nation for about half of its 60 year history? Or does it have anything to do with the poor performance of the politicians who have had the opportunity to govern for thirty years, and failed to solve most of its major problems, particularly those related to human development and industrialization?

There are many answers to the questions above. But the explanation that appeals to me most is the one offered by British writer William Dalrymple. He wrote for the Guardian as follows on Pakistan's 60th independence day:

"There is a fundamental flaw in Pakistan's political system. Democracy has never thrived here, at least in part because landowning remains almost the only social base from which politicians can emerge. In general, the educated middle class - which in India seized control in 1947, emasculating the power of its landowners - is in Pakistan still largely excluded from the political process. As a result, in many of the more backward parts of Pakistan the local feudal zamindar can expect his people to vote for his chosen candidate. Such loyalty can be enforced. Many of the biggest zamindars have private prisons and most have private armies."



While I do see the middle class clout increasing in Pakistan after a decade of economic growth and increasing urbanization during Musharraf years, I don't believe that middle class rise in politics alone can help build and sustain good democratic governance. Incessantly talking about building democratic institutions is not enough. What is needed is the building of competence through good governance education for members of democratic institutions such as the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

Pakistan does have the British legacy of functional institutions such the nation's military and the bureaucracy which have been able to sustain the state. The members of the civil and military services have the basic educational facilities, such as a number of staff colleges and academies, for training them to do their jobs. As a result, the military and civil service officers are reasonably competent in carrying out their assigned responsibilities.

However, no such training exists for the politicians who get elected to the highest positions of leadership in the executive and legislative branches. Under the constitution, they are charged with appointing judges and making and executing laws and policies to solve the nation's problems. Yet, most of them lack the basic competence to understand and appreciate their responsibilities. The parliamentarians are usually uninformed about most of the key issues of governance brought for discussion on the floor. As a result, the level of parliamentary debate is very poor, and important budget priorities and policies are agreed, and laws are passed without fully taking into account all of the issues involved.

There is no effective system of drafting legislation, holding hearings with stakeholders and experts, making budget appropriations, and subsequent oversight by specialized parliamentary committees. People who chair such committees don't have much of a clue as to where to begin, what questions to ask, and how to hold the executive and the bureaucracy accountable. As a result, once the laws and policies are approved, and budgets passed, there is not much oversight or accountability.

There was a proposal in 1998 to set up Jinnah Democracy Institute, named after Pakistan's founding father Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who spoke eloquently about democracy when he told military officers, “Never forget that you are the servants of the state. You do not make policy. It is we, the people’s representatives, who decide how the country is to be run. Your job is to only obey the decisions of your civilian masters.”The idea for democracy institute was inspired by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in the United States, and its main purpose was to offer at least one semester of required training to Pakistan's elected representatives. Unfortunately, the proposal has not gone anywhere.

If the current crop of elected politicians are really serious about strengthening democracy, it is important for them to pursue a broad good governance agenda in Pakistan with education and training of politicians as the center piece. It is important for them to revive the idea of a school of government in Islamabad to increase the chances for democracy to survive and thrive in Pakistan. Unless the politicians find a way to improve governance to solve people's problems, the nation will be condemned to repeat the past history of democracy's failure in Pakistan.

As a Pakistani-American wishing to see a healthy and friendly US-Pakistan relationship of one democracy with another, I believe this is an opportunity for the United States to use its aid and influence with leadership in Islamabad to build competence and institutional capacity for good democratic governance in Pakistan. Helping Pakistan set up Jinnah Institute of Democracy, along the lines of Kennedy School of Government, could become a significant step forward in promoting good governance and sustaining democracy in Pakistan. This may or may not work, but it is certainly worth a try.

Here's a video clip of British Writer William Dalrymple talking about Pakistan:




Related Links:

Incompetence Worse Than Graft in Pakistan

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Vision

Good Governance Reform Agenda in Pakistan

Pakistan – build institutions, civil society, to avert state failure

Feudal Power Dominates Pakistani Elections

Middle Class Clout Rising in Pakistan

Pakistan Most Urbanized in South Asia

Pakistan's Human Development

103 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am not very sure the Pakistani public wants democracy.

Compulsory training does not make good politicians.That has something to do with 'neeyat' which isn't something that can be trained into a politician.

India over the past 60 years has a system by which the politician who becomes a minister at the centre usually comes from a lower/middle class background,won't have criminal cases against him(the ministers not the MPs) and will be reasonably educated.
Unfortunately Pakistan doesn't and now with the Musharaf era officers retiring with the Zia era jehadi types waiting in the wings even the army's ability to provide a reasonably competent crop of leaders will become suspect.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "I am not very sure the Pakistani public wants democracy."

I think they do, they want good democratic governance that has been absent in Pakistan.

anon: "India over the past 60 years has a system by which the politician who becomes a minister ...from lower/middle class background..."

While it is true that the top political leadership, particularly Manmohan Singh, is quite honest in India, I am not impressed with their governance. Average Indian has not benefited much from their honesty...it's their competence that the ordinary people need to solve widespread problems of poverty, hunger, illiteracy and malnutrition in India.

Sandy said...

This is an elitist idea but lacks basic logic. Benazir and Nawaz have good qualifications but both are accused of corruption. Even in India, there are enough people with gr8 qualifications but have indulged in corruption. This is a basic human nature, power corrupts.

As Anon said, neeyat is far more important. Both Nehru and Jinnah made several sacrifices. They stayed away from their families. Such people are rare in the modern era.

This analysis is ridiculous because it does not takes in account about the rest of the world. Around the world, the countries which are poor are also the ones which are military dictatorships. This is becoz there isn't enough prosperity to hold things together. People want to instant solution to their problems. This is where a dictator comes in.

In Pakistan, after the fall of Mussharaf, there was euphoria. But it disappeared soon after. The new setup was expected to fix the rot of 60 years immediately. Pakis do not have any patience. Democracy is slow and steady.

Now as far ur ridiculous analysis that Indian people have not befitted. Let me tell u something, people in India are divided on the basis of caste, class, language, religion and gender. India is huge outlier. It is country that is essentially poor, but also has strong democratic institutions.

Surely it has its weaknesses. But usually the word democracy brings to mind the western democracies. US got independence in 1776, but even till 1960's, the blacks were discriminated. India is only 60 yrs old. But we are way ahead of you. Another aspect is that since India is democratic with a free press, more data about our shortcomings are available. Dictatorships like China hide their data. They don't allow foreigners into their hinterland.

Neither does Pakis want democracy nor do they deserve it. I have come across numerous Pakis on the internet who openly support the army and the likes of Zaid Hamid.

There are only things that are needed for an elected representative - neeyat and common sense.

Riaz Haq said...

Sandy: "Benazir and Nawaz have good qualifications but both are accused of corruption. Even in India, there are enough people with gr8 qualifications but have indulged in corruption. This is a basic human nature, power corrupts."

Having been to college and earn a bachelor's degree does not prepare any one for good governance....particularly when people like Benazir and Nawaz surround themselves with incompetent individuals in a feudal system of political patronage. Neither of these individuals nor their henchmen had any idea about the complexity of governance in today's world.

And corruption is definitely an issue, but I believe incompetence is a bigger issue. There are many nations where corruption exists,including US, Europe and Asian tigers, yet they are better governed than Pakistan or India.

As to India's governance, it is at best mediocre. Significant issues, like the 34% hike in defense spending last year, hardly got discussed or debated in parliament. No discussion or understanding of basic defense economics. There is no real system of oversight by specialized parliamentary committees either. People who chair such committees don't have much of a clue as to where to begin, what questions to ask, and how to hold the executive accountable.

The results of poor governance are obvious in both India and Pakistan. They both show up near the bottom of human development and industrial rankings more than 60 years after independence, while many other Asian nations which gained independence later are significantly ahead.

Sandy said...

I accept the point that a bachelors may not be enough, but it is enough to give a basic sense of things.

"There are many nations where corruption exists,including US, Europe and Asian tigers, yet they are better governed than Pakistan or India."

Comparing third world and Europe is ridiculous. These are much older democracies and systems have evolved over a period of time. I gave the example how blacks never enjoyed any rights. Democracy is slow.

"As to India's governance, it is at best mediocre. Significant issues, like the 34% hike in defense spending last year, hardly got discussed or debated in parliament."

Just becoz there is no discussion in Pakistan and the entire thing is dictated by the Army doesn't means that the same thing applies everywhere else. As far the defense hike is concerned, you shud not be concerned and better mind your own business. India's defense budget is based on threat perceptions and increase is primarily due to increased terror attacks, most of which originate from the epicenter of terror.

And by the way, Pakistan and China spend way more on defense as a percentage of their GDP. I suppose that is something that you will always conveniently ignore. I suppose Pakis do not have the balls to raise this issue with the army.

Comparison has to have some logic behind it. Just picking up numbers from UNDP is not enough. A small and homogeneous country like say Sri Lanka cannot be compared to larger countries like India and China. India has immense diversity. Any policy that is designed for the North-East will not work in South India or North India because of they are a lot different. This makes implementation difficult. Such comparison is certainly not a useful indicator.

India's governance may be mediocre but increasing it is sole criteria on which the voters are voting. Thats precisely why Manmohan got re-elected.

As regards to Pakistan and Pakistanis, they must understand and realize one simple fact - India is the next big success story. 20-30 years ago, China's human rights record was criticized regularly. But that is no more the case today and it enjoys an immense clout. This was visible at Copenhagen. By 2020 or 2025, India will enjoy similar clout. Pakistan then would no more be able to fool the world. It is not a question of of if but when.

Riaz Haq said...

Sandy: "And by the way, Pakistan and China spend way more on defense as a percentage of their GDP."

You are just as prone to misinformation and propaganda as the rest of Indians, including legislators.

India's real defense expenditures are much more than the $30 billion figure you see in the budget, because this figure excludes India's considerable nuclear arsenal, cost of maintaining Kashmir occupation, and the cost of military pensions, etc.

The other issue that is not discussed is whether the expensive cold-war era weapons really add to India's security. As an example, India is spending over a billion dollars on an old Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, while Russians themselves are buying cheaper and more effective Mistral warships from France.

You should read a detailed discussion of India's defense spending by retired Col. Pavan Nair of the Indian Army that I published on this blog.

If there was a serious discussion and debate on 34% hike and big ticket items in Indian parliament and the media, I think the outcome would have been different and better for the Indian people.

Riaz Haq said...

Sandy: "Comparison has to have some logic behind it. Just picking up numbers from UNDP is not enough. A small and homogeneous country like say Sri Lanka cannot be compared to larger countries like India and China. India has immense diversity. Any policy that is designed for the North-East will not work in South India or North India because of they are a lot different. This makes implementation difficult. Such comparison is certainly not a useful indicator."

I think this is really long and lame excuse. India is literally starving its children to fund a massive military expansion. The reality of India's failures is is reflected in shocking statistics:

One out of every three illiterate adults in the world is an Indian, according to UNESCO.

One out of very two hungry persons in the world is an Indian, according to World Food Program.

Almost one out of two Indians lives below the poverty line of $1.25 per day.

And yet, India spends $30 billion on defense, and just increased the defense budget by 34% this year.

Here are some more recent comparative indicators in South Asia:

Poverty:

Population living under $1.25 a day - India: 41.6% Pakistan: 22.6% Source: UNDP

Underweight Children Under Five (in percent) Pakistan 38% India 46% Source: UNICEF

Life expectancy at birth (years), 2007 India: 63.4 Pakistan: 66.2 Source: HDR2009

Anonymous said...

Another important aspect that you have overlooked in this article is financing of political parties.

In all countries of the world including Germany,US,Japan etc etc politicial funding is a grey area.

In India like most developed countries politicians are financed by industrial corporations i.e the political class has an interest beyond ideology to aggresively defend India's interests vis a vis its industrial sector's well being at international forums like WTO,G20,Copenhagen etc as well as periodically invoke anti dunping duties against chinese state subsidized industrial output to protect its local industries.

Pakistan's politicians on the other hand are mostly self financing feudal lords/traders which is why the government does buffonish things like sign a comprehensive FTA with China which has now swamped its nascent industral sector without so much as a squeak of protest.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

Now that Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey have functioning democracies, Islam alone cannot be blamed for lack of democracy. After independence, India went to bed with USSR, but kept socialism only in economic policies while keeping communism away. Pakistan during cold war went to bed with Saudis and USA, but chose to adapt Saudi way of life.

anoop said...

"As to India's governance, it is at best mediocre. Significant issues, like the 34% hike in defense spending last year, hardly got discussed or debated in parliament. No discussion or understanding of basic defense economics. There is no real system of oversight by specialized parliamentary committees either. People who chair such committees don't have much of a clue as to where to begin, what questions to ask, and how to hold the executive accountable."

--> Aaaah yes.. This acountability exists in Pakistan..

http://www.boloji.com/analysis2/0354.htm

How do you know there hasn't been any discussion inside the Cabinet and with advisors regarding the hike? Or, do you think Military,like the Pakistani one, demands and gets whatever it wishes??? No.. Military is firmly under Civilian control in India and most of their grievances remain untouched. In this case, the 34% hike is a clear strategy to improve the defences for a population of 1 Billion.

Riaz, what happened to your argument that democracy doesn't work in "poor" countries like India and Pakistan? If you are indeed right why do you want the land of poor,sorry, land of pure to adopt a flawed system??? Why this U-turn all of a sudden? India is unfortunately "stuck" with inefficient democracy (your line of thought). Why do you want Pakistan to follow the same path? Lot of questions for you to answer.

Or, was it a statement just to win an argument with me??

Anwar said...

Kerry Lugar Bill has such a clause where there is aid to build Democratic Institute.

Who wants to do it?

It is time for action

Riaz Haq said...

Anwar: "Kerry Lugar Bill has such a clause where there is aid to build Democratic Institute. Who wants to do it? It is time for action"

That's good. But it won't happen if it's left to Zardari-Gillani & Co.

These politicians don't know that they don't know.

So the next step is for the US government to ensure it happens.

It's real value will be realized years from now.

Riaz Haq said...

Zen: "Pakistan during cold war went to bed with Saudis and USA, but chose to adapt Saudi way of life. "

There is no basis for this claim. Any casual observer of the two countries can easily conclude that Pakistan is nothing like Saudi Arabia....whether in terms of media freedom, multi-party elections, status of women, the repeated failure of religious elements in almost every election, the existence of a large population of sufi followers, etc. etc.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "what happened to your argument that democracy doesn't work in "poor" countries like India and Pakistan? "

It's a fact that democracy has failed to deliver for the vast majority of Indians and Pakistanis....mainly because of the illiterate and uniformed electorate that elects incompetent and corrupt politicians.

So the basic issue is one of competence, not the form of government.

This post is an attempt to suggest ways of fixing poor democratic governance in Pakistan.

Sandy said...

Leave that judgment to be made by Indians whether democracy has made any difference or not. We have decided our just like your country decided its own path.

Anonymous said...

Riaz, since you claim to know everything, you might want to explain, why despite so much poverty, india is far ahead in economy. Indian cars are exported to Europe. India has a monsterous IT industry. Indian companies are buying companies of other countries.
WHERE IS PAKISTAN IN ALL THIS, EXCEPT OF COURSE IN DUST.

May be Pakis are not as smart as you want to believe.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "why despite so much poverty, india is far ahead in economy. "

First, it's a myth that India is far ahead in the economy. Watch the video clip and read my post contrasting India and Pakistan.

Second, it's a tale of two Indias: a small, but prosperous India which has access to food, education and healtcare, and a much larger and poorer India that is starving.

This large and growing rich-poor gap does not augur well for the nation as a whole.

anoop said...

"It's a fact that democracy has failed to deliver for the vast majority of Indians and Pakistanis..."

--> I hope I've read my History books correctly. But, when did Pakistan become a democracy? When was it ever ruled by,rather, when was the real power ever in the hands of the Civilians?
I've already told this before. Please do not compare India and Pakistan as democracies. Its insulting to our great nation. We have worked very hard to develop our democracy and to make sure we are the FASTEST growing democracy in the world. Pakistan hasn't even made a start in becoming a democracy.

"This post is an attempt to suggest ways of fixing poor democratic governance in Pakistan."

--> Again, you assume the problems of Pakistan are from inefficient democracy. You fail to look at the fact that Pakistan has not become a democracy by any yardstick. When the important people from America come to Pakistan who is the one person they meet which will lend some credibility to the visit and to get things done? Is it the President of Pakistan? Or, the PM? Noooo chance in hell.. Its the Army Chief. Why is that so in a democracy,be in inefficient? The fact is- Pakistan has never been a democracy and there aren't the slightest signs it'll be one in the future.

Of all the negative points you raise about India you never look at the fact that India is the fastest growing Democracy in the world. If this world needs an example for how a democracy should work India is the nation to look for. In spite of such diversity and hardship we have been the fastest growing Democracy FOR THE PAST DECADE!
We must be doing something right,mustn't we? Why do you always overlook this fact? When other democracy has overtaken us and we are in 2nd place in terms of pace of growth we can atleast talk about how inefficient India is.

But, you are right. Indian system hasn't attained the efficiency it must to grow faster. Thats the beautiful thing,Riaz. If in spite of such overwhelming inefficiency we are able to maintain the highest growth in the world(among democracies) then imagine what can we do if we really become efficient! That is why many,although not all, think that India is a better example for the growth than China. Its easier for a authoritarian regime to sit and implement the central planning commission than a democracy.

But, Freedom has its drawbacks but its well worth it. Since, you are living in the oldest democracy and a free society you must know how much freedom is worth. I understand if you dont care much about elections as you might not have voted EVER in your life. Sadly, you have abandoned your country of birth. But, you are a very,very optimistic man and brave to think so well of your country. I dont know if your country has let your aspirations down or the other way around.

One piece advice: Stay in the US. Occasional trips to Pakistan might be good for you. Dont stay and suffer in Pakistan. Your bubble must not blow.

Anonymous said...

Riaz,
Thanks for providing the youtube link to the Isquared debate. Jaswant Singh who preceeded William Dalrymple, made an eloquent point, that i've not seen a single Pakistani politician make. "sixty years on since independence, why is pakistan still subject to the whims of the western powers, and forced to accept the foreign policy objectives of the U.S as its own."

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "why is pakistan still subject to the whims of the western powers, and forced to accept the foreign policy objectives of the U.S as its own."

If you asked the United States officials, they would tell you how independently Pakistan behaves when it comes to Pakistan's vital interests in the region, which differ from the US interests.

The world map is rapidly changing. India is now much more aligned with US than Pakistan. US is providing arms and training to Indians to use them as a card against the Chinese. Pakistan, on the other hand, is much more aligned with China.

You should read my post about the metaphor of the US as Vito Corleone in the Godfather movie, co-opting India in its fight against Solozzos of the world who are challenging US hegemony.

Anonymous said...

As long as Bush was in the whitehouse, the Godfather analogy applied to a certain extent. But it seems, Obama, in true democrat style, is squandering away the strategic gains of the previous 8 years. And, India has already started to hedge its bets. See the WaPost article.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/11/AR2010021103270.html
But even during the height of the Bush-Singh love fest, India did not provide any "button-men" towards the War on Terror.

Sandy said...

China donates millions of dollars to African nations but didn't gave a single penny to Pakistan which was forced to beg to IMF at their condition. I can't understand how is Pakistan an ally of China.

China is just propping up Pakis by giving some low end cheap millitary equipment.

Sandy said...

China has only done what suits them like building Gwadar port or gas pipeline from Iran. It has done little to improve the country. It continues to support similar or worse Govts. all around the world.

This article is better and balanced analysis of China-Pakistan relation.
http://fiverupees.blogspot.com/2010/02/conversation-with-two-south-asia.html

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "But even during the height of the Bush-Singh love fest, India did not provide any "button-men" towards the War on Terror."

After 911, India offered to be US's "button-men" volunteering all military support to US to edge Pakistan out. But the US had a choice. It needed Pakistan more than India for its campaign in Afghanistan, and it chose to go with Pakistan.

The Indian decision to pull out of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline was made under pressure from the US. So was India's vote against Iran's nuclear program at the UN Security Council. Pakistan is going ahead with the pipeline project and has not opposed the Iran nuke program.

It's clear that Obama has been temporarily distracted from US-India strategic relationship, because US needs Pakistan to help its exit from Afghanistan, and Obama needs China to emerge from America's economic difficulties, with China being the biggest lender to the US.

But long-term. I see US-India relationship as a very important pillar of US policy in Asia. This will likely drive a wider wedge between US and Pakistan, unless India-Pakistan relations improve substantially.

Riaz Haq said...

Sandy: "China donates millions of dollars to African nations but didn't gave a single penny to Pakistan which was forced to beg to IMF at their condition. I can't understand how is Pakistan an ally of China."

China has given and continues to provide significant assistance to Pakistan in terms of critical infrastructure which Pakistan needs badly..such as ports, roads, power plants etc. I agree with the Chinese policy of not handing out cash to the corrupt Zardari regime without supervision by the IMF.

On the military side, Pakistan and China have been partners in building an indigenous arms industry which is substantial and growing since the Pressler amendment cut off arms sales in 1990s.

The country now boasts a powerful industrial, technological and research base developing and manufacturing for its armed forces and exporting a wide variety of small and large weapons ranging from modern fighter jets, battle tanks, armored vehicles, frigates and submarines to unmanned aerial vehicles and high tech firearms and personal grenade launchers for urban combat.

anoop said...

Riaz,
US kills Pakistani Citizens through and runs secret mercenary organizations in Pakistan like Blackwater and who knows what else. You have said it so yourself. Please tell me if India has given up such shameful sacrifices to please US???

India did back out of IPI but there are 2 reasons for it.
1) You cannot trust Pakistan to not hold that line as hostage and threaten India of stoppages.
2) Look at what we got in return. We gate crashed into the NSG! We are now an officially a nuclear power and we can do business with the big boys and save money by buying technology from the people who have mastered it. You may call it US pressure but thats smart diplomacy.

Besides, India have never allowed US to rape it by using its territory to kill its own people!

India also voted against Iran but again that was also a combination of 2 factors.
1) US pressure.
2) The most important factor. We dont want another nuclear weapons state near to our territory.

Again, here India has not lost out on Iranian support as Iran is the territory we get in to Afghanistan. We are building a major port in Iran and accessing Afghanistan through Iran. Wont you call it a win-win situation???

You might want to read about how Iran and India are working together in Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop:"Please tell me if India has given up such shameful sacrifices to please US???"

As I said earlier, India dropped its pants and offered to do anything to please the US after 911. It was the US calculation that Pakistan is more important than India in dealing with Afghanistan.

On Iran, I do agree that both India and Iran opportunistically support the Northern Alliance against the Pashtuns supported by Pak. But they are both going to be forced out of there as soon as the US exits in the next couple of years. US and Iran are also strange bedfellows in Afghanistan, but it's a limited geopolitical interest, with no implications beyond the local situation.

I think Indians should watch out as they get in bed with the Americans. As Kissinger once said: There is only one thing worse than being a US enemy; it's being a US ally.

US demands compliance, not alliance with countries like India and Pakistan.

Talha F said...

Whoever that believes this 'biggest democracy in the world' notion that india has been presenting itself to be must not take into account what democracy is and what it entails.

Despite extensive economic growth, India's poor grew by 34 mil.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/No-financial-crisis-impact-Indias-poor-grew-by-34-mn/articleshow/5553859.cms

This alarming growth in poverty numbers suggests only one thing that the democracy is a mere tag and not a reality.

As for Pakistan, I believe and Riaz Haq would agree that the so called democratically elected leaders of Pakistan had plundered the country into its worse position every time they are in power. Only the military is strong enough to sustain and develop Pakistan

One hope that I have is that if Musharraf is given a chance to lead again as a civilian with military and judiciary backing. He can usher in a new era where Pakistan can finally grow and develop during civilian rule as it consistently has in military rule.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

"I think Indians should watch out as they get in bed with the Americans. As Kissinger once said: There is only one thing worse than being a US enemy; it's being a US ally."

If you ask Americans, they'd say the same about Pakistan as they have to sing the rhetoric that Pakistan is a "strong ally", while knowing that Pakistani public detests America. As it is unlikely that 800 million or so Hindus ever get inspired to do Jihad against America, I don't see any big problem in Indo-US relationship from the side of the public. Indian democracy has failed to alleviate poverty, but nevertheless it is a democracy and US could be less suspicious towards India than towards China. US needs Pakistan only because of its strategic location. But India is needed as a counterweight to China, also as a fellow democracy which despite its big shortcomings have some shared values.

Data Cruncher said...

"Despite extensive economic growth, India's poor grew by 34 mil. "

and india's middle class grew from 50 million in 1980s to about 200-250 million today. I don't understand why Pakistanis do not want to talk about it. This rise shows in india's consumerism. Notice how western companies are making a beeline towards India while not even giving a glance to pakistan.

"Only the military is strong enough to sustain and develop Pakistan"

LOL. Like they did for 45 out of 62 yrs. Check list of their achievements

1. No industry worth to speak of. Check.
2. No export worth to speak ok.
Check.
3. Absymal level of education which resulted in India walking away with service sector outsourcing and no competition from pakistan. Check.
4. excellent infrastructure for terrorism world wide. check.

And yes I am a Pakistani too. I don't believe in living in fools paradise.

Anonymous said...

anyone visiting india knows it is a hell hole. Millions escape to other countries every years.

Data Cruncher said...

http://www.petitiononline.com/ShiaSOS/petition.html

Riaz Haq said...

Zen: "As it is unlikely that 800 million or so Hindus ever get inspired to do Jihad against America, I don't see any big problem in Indo-US relationship from the side of the public. Indian democracy has failed to alleviate poverty, but nevertheless it is a democracy and US could be less suspicious towards India than towards China."

I think it's true for now. There's greater US-India alignment of interests than with Pakistan or other nations in Asia, with the possible exception of Japan.

The only durable alliance US has had is with Britain and countries where the majority is of British origin. Its longevity is really based on kinship. All other alliances have changed over the last century.

US is now a fickle superpower in decline relative to China. US has to look out for itself, and it will make alliances that may not last long in Asia and elsewhere.

If India obeys US commands and tangles with China militarily as the recent rhetoric from Indian generals suggests, China will soon have the capacity to punish both of them

The Chinese response could be a lot more damaging to Indians than the Americans, because of India's proximity.

Riaz Haq said...

DC: Shias have been targeted by some of the extreme right-wing hate groups like Sipah Sahaba and Lashkar Jhangvi in Pakistan. But the victims come from all religions and denominations, including Sunnis, Barelvis, Christians, etc. Some of the sufi saints shrines and Sunni mosques have also come under attack.

The solution is to support the security forces to stop all terrorists violence, and not allow anyone to divide Pakistanis.

Riaz Haq said...

Sandy: "China has only done what suits them like building Gwadar port or gas pipeline from Iran. It has done little to improve the country."

You are clearly uninformed about Chinese contribution to infrastructure development in Pakistan.

Chinese have become master manufacturers-builders and their equipment and contractors are so affordable that even India is using them for a large number of power projects.

Here is an excerpt from a recent Wall Street Journal report on it:

"India wants to boost electricity output by 60% in the five-year span ending March 2012 to alleviate severe shortages and help fuel a rapidly growing economy. But it doesn't have enough of its own equipment and engineers to meet that goal, so power companies have looked overseas for help. U.S. and European suppliers are too expensive, but low-cost Chinese contractors are a good fit.

Chinese companies are now supplying equipment for about 25% of the new power capacity India is adding to its grid, up from almost nothing a few years ago. They have sent thousands of skilled workers to Indian plant sites, some of which boast Chinese chefs, Chinese television and ping pong."

Sandy said...

Then I guess u wud b aware how China continues to undercut costs. People are underpaid, particularly in interiors.

But as I mentioned earlier, China did not help Pakis in 2009 when they were desperately in need of funds. China with its growing economy could have well afforded but it didn't. But Pakls continued to live a fantasy world hoping that China is good friend.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting assessment of Gen Kiyani by analyst-columnist Farrukh Saleem published in the News:

Yes, he is complex, complicated and calculating - all in one. Yes, he has the capacity for abstract thought, cold rationality and coarse creativity - all in one. And, yet he inhales reconstituted tobacco. Yes, he uses a filter and a cigarette holder. Yes, he never takes deep puffs and, yes, he only consumes half a cigarette at a time. I am sure he must have calculated that every cigarette he smokes shortens his life by exactly 11 minutes. And, yet he smokes. I can tell you that he didn't smoke for the first 60 minutes and then went through five half-cigarettes in the following two hours. Cigarettes say a lot about the smoker who smokes them. He knows that some of the things that he is doing are wrong, but still won't give them up. He is hooked on a primary psychoactive chemical and he knows that he can stop but he doesn't.

Hearing what I heard, I can tell you that he is a firm believer in Environmental Determinism - the theory that your environment dictates, and determines, your defense policy. In essence, 6,384 tanks in the Indian Army can't cross the Himalayas into China so they must all be Pakistan-specific. Hearing what I heard I can tell you that he won't second-guess Indian Army's intentions and would keep Pakistan Army fully able and capable to respond to India's military capacity.

I hear that an American who wears four stars and a Bronze Star with Valor V on his chest once told him that Pakistan's nukes were under threat. Hearing what I heard, I can tell you that he must have told the American who wears four stars and a Bronze star with Valor V on his chest that nukes can only be under threat if they are vulnerable; but ours are not vulnerable so they can't be under threat. Please give this bullshit to the press but don't give it to me. After all, he is an ardent golfer and 'an ardent golfer would play Mount Everest if somebody would put a flagstick on top'.

I can tell you that I came back both proud but with a painful realisation; proud knowing that our legions are being led by strategic minds and sad to have discovered the much too visible an intellectual gap between our top political brains in Islamabad and our strategic minds at work in Rawalpindi. And what does he think about our politicians? When it's breezy, hit it easy.

Could it be that the army rules not through the barrel of a gun but because of their intellectual superiority? Could it be that the army rules because our politicians have failed to institutionalise politics? Could it be that the army rules because our political parties do not transcend individual human intentions? Could it be that the army rules because it has structures, mechanisms of social order along with strategic thinking?

anoop said...

"If India obeys US commands and tangles with China militarily as the recent rhetoric from Indian generals suggests, China will soon have the capacity to punish both of them."

---> Let me tell you how democracy works for me. The moment I see India following US diktat i'll stop voting for this Government. You, as I can guess, will probably say one vote wont mean nothing and I dont understand any man who hasn't voted in a decent election in his life to understand that power of Vote.
I cannot predict if India will blindly follow the US diktats but if that happens Indian population is not going to like it. Already there is so much resentment of growing relationship with a Capitalist power as opposed to a Socialist one. I dont see India doing what you say.

Also, there are a couple of things that would make a country follow other countries orders.
1) Economic Dependence
2) Security Dependence

Neither India is economically dependent on the US nor security wise. That is what makes us special. Dont you get it?

Pakistan get free dollars from US and hence it has to pay the price. It also gets most of its advanced military equipment from the US. Also, there is the threat of not only US sanctioning Pakistan but carrying out military operations against it.

Could we, a mature country of 63 years of political stability, act like a Fragile,unpredictable state like Pakistan?

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "I cannot predict if India will blindly follow the US diktats but if that happens Indian population is not going to like it. Already there is so much resentment of growing relationship with a Capitalist power as opposed to a Socialist one. I dont see India doing what you say."

Vast majority of Indians already blindly follow anything American, without even fully understanding its consequences. Just look at the Indian urban middle class, and the Bollywood flicks ripped off from Hollywood, and you see plenty of examples of copying the US blindly.

anoop: "Neither India is economically dependent on the US nor security wise. That is what makes us special. Dont you get it?"

That is nonsense. Let me explain why:

1. US is the architect of the current world order, and it controls most of the multi-lateral institutions such as WTO, World Bank, etc etc. India depends on trade with US and other nations under WTO, and India gets tens of billions of dollars in loans from World Bank, and depends on constant inflow of FDI from US companies for its growth.

2. In 2002, when India unsuccessfully tried "coercive diplomacy" against Pakistan, and war was imminent, the US issued a travel advisory triggering massive outflux of US citizens. The scenes at the airports scared Indian governments in withdrawing from the brink. A country with an economy built on cheap code coolie labor in outsourcing from US and Europe can not stand up to those who employ them.

In terms of security, India is becoming more and more dependent on US for arms as its traditional supplier Russia itself becomes dependent on the West. Just look at the purchase of Mistrals by Russia from France.

anoop: "Could we, a mature country of 63 years of political stability, act like a Fragile,unpredictable state like Pakistan?"

Indians sycophantic behavior toward the US stands in sharp contrast to Pakistan's military and people's defiance to US dictates, as currently seen in Afghanistan.

Jaydev said...

"Indians sycophantic behavior toward the US stands in sharp contrast to Pakistan's military and people's defiance to US dictates, as currently seen in Afghanistan."

Defiances..Posturing only in Press Conferences(Like Rehman Malik..who said he will resign if BlackWater is present in Pak..Pak people even think that US is hitting with drones outside the country when Drones are taking off from Pakistani air bases..)..Ha Ha. The obsessive Nishan-e-Pakistan giving to which ever US officials care to accept was nauseating sycophancy..
Wake up dude..its the cognitive dissonance kicking in..:-)

Riaz Haq said...

Jadev: "Defiances..Posturing only in Press Conferences(Like Rehman Malik..who said he will resign if BlackWater is present in Pak..Pak people even think that US is hitting with drones outside the country when Drones are taking off from Pakistani air bases..)..Ha Ha...."

If there is any dissonance in Pakistan, it's between its government and its people with respect to the US. Pakistanis oppose many of the US policies, and even their leaders join in US criticism. But no Pakistani leader has ever been as sycophantic as Manmohan Singh sucking up to Bush by saying "India deeply loves you".

Singh continued with the theme of affection and gratitude by adding, “In the last four and half years that I have been Prime Minister, I have been the recipient of your generosity, your affection, your friendship. It means a lot to me and to the people of India.”

Later, India's Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon explained: “I think, if you look at the public opinion polls, the ratings for President Bush are higher in India than in any other country. That is the factual basis.”

Anonymous said...

"Vast majority of Indians already blindly follow anything American, without even fully understanding its consequences. Just look at the Indian urban middle class, and the Bollywood flicks ripped off from Hollywood, and you see plenty of examples of copying the US blindly. "

You mean it is better to follow jihadis, like our "great neighbors" (copyright Shahrukh Khan).

Also it is interesting to see that Pakistanis and Bangladesis love Bollywood movies more than Indians themselves.


"India depends on trade with US and other nations under WTO, and India gets tens of billions of dollars in loans from World Bank, and depends on constant inflow of FDI from US companies for its growth."

India use to get same or more aid even during the cold war era when it was not friendly with USA. How do you explain that?

As for FDI, one word China. Despite massive political differences with USA, China still tops in FDI from USA. Do you know 40% of Chinese companies are owned by US companies, 30% by Japan and only 30% are china owned.

anoop said...

"But no Pakistani leader has ever been as sycophantic as Manmohan Singh sucking up to Bush by saying "India deeply loves you".

--> I didnt think the comment was unnecessary.. Who cares Bush did outside India. He contributed a lot to recognizing a future Super Power. This praise Manmohan Singh gave is a small thing,dont you think???

"Singh continued with the theme of affection and gratitude by adding, “In the last four and half years that I have been Prime Minister, I have been the recipient of your generosity, your affection, your friendship. It means a lot to me and to the people of India.”

--> Lol, Riaz. Mushy praised the hell out of the Americans, if not publicly he used to do it privately to ensure the dollars flow in and US doesn't bomb Pakistan to stone age.
Lets look at it another way. US was threatened to be "bombed to stone age" and Pakistan bends over to let use its territory to kill fellow Muslims who have been allies in the past. For a country found to be "for the Muslims" this is indeed shame dont you think??
Contrast this by India just praising the US President for his appreciable views against us! Which is better??? If you ever want to compare India and Pakistan and then ask yourself who has been destabalised due to its relationship with the US and who has been threatened on multiple forums, accused of playing a double game(ally to an ally,huh??), the list continues...

Do you want more such humiliating instances where Pakistan has agreed to do US's work and get thrashed in the process?? I can give plenty.. Can you do the same in terms of India?? No chance in hell..!

anoop said...

"Indians sycophantic behavior toward the US stands in sharp contrast to Pakistan's military and people's defiance to US dictates, as currently seen in Afghanistan. "

--> Ha.. Are you serious??? Pakistan provides airbases for drones to fly from its territory to kill other fellow Muslims and get this,fellow Muslims of their own darn country! So, in effect Pakistan is allowing airbases to kill their own people. You have written volumes about how drones are killing innocent Civilians and 700 innocent people have been killed by the US. How convenient for you to forget this? If there is any country which has maintained dignity and honour it certainly is not Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Pakistan is a shame for the Religion of Islam. It allows the Infidel Americans, the Infidel West to kill fellow Muslims. Doesn't Quran say killing a Muslim is a Sin??? Especially innocent people, like here, Civilians???
Let me tell you something. India has never allowed ANY country to kill its own citizens,forget citizens of other countries. You keep harping upon how Pakistan is independent and strictly opposes US at all levels but fail to notice such shameful acts which would rightfully undermine any country's dignity. Only a country like Pakistan can take on such humiliation time after time.

"Vast majority of Indians already blindly follow anything American, without even fully understanding its consequences. Just look at the Indian urban middle class, and the Bollywood flicks ripped off from Hollywood, and you see plenty of examples of copying the US blindly."

--> You are generalizing way too much. I can give plenty of Indian flicks which are extremely good and aren't Hollywood rip offs. In a sea of good movies you get such tiny minority of rip offs. And, you can be pleased that Pakistani Film Industry doens't ape Hollywood,but wait.. What Pakistani Film Industry?????????? lol..
Its like a guy walking teasing a guy in an Ambassador that he is travelling in a old,dusty car. But, he forgets who is walking the distance and who is cooly driving to it..

Jaydev said...

Manmohan Singh sucking up to Bush by saying "India deeply loves you".
THat was a true statement expressed by Manmohan Singh about Indians towards Bush..How did that account to sychophany..the polls in India indicated that Bush is popular in India than anywhere in the world..even US..Though I dislike Manmohan Singh coz of his other policy aspects..I truely commend him for saying..that plain and obvious fact that India indeed does love US and Bush..
Perhaps you are superimposing prejudices of Muslims and Pakistanis about US and Bush..
In India..fortunately as of now..800+ million are still Hindus(or what we call native Indians)..

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "This praise Manmohan Singh gave is a small thing,dont you think???"

No, I don't think it's a small thing. It's a downright shameful suck up, not uncharacteristic of many Indians I have known.

anoop: "Mushy praised the hell out of the Americans, if not publicly he used to do it privately to ensure the dollars flow in and US doesn't bomb Pakistan to stone age."

The US has needed Pakistan more than Pak needed US. It's still the case. Mush or no Mush. Just to exit Afghanistan, US needs Pak help to talk to the Talibs.

anoop: "Pakistan bends over to let use its territory to kill fellow Muslims who have been allies in the past."

India bent over and offered much more than Pak did to US after 911. US chose to go with Pak instead. Bases, military personnel, and all.

And Pak support was limited to eliminating al Qaeda, who were former allies of both US and Pakistanis in the war to oust the Russians from the region.

Anonymous said...

@Riaz->"US chose to go with Pak instead. Bases, military personnel, and all."
What are u trying to suggest; is the whole of South-Asia some kind of cathouse, and the U.S just walks-in like a paying customer selecting whoever it wants to take along in the 'war on terror'. And, that the U.S chose Pak over India is somehow a great and noble. How exactly?
First of all, provide some proof that India volunteered to partner.
I didn't find any.
Infact, when Singh went to Washington to sign the nuke deal (in 2006 under Bush), he even termed the invasion of Iraq a mistake during a presser at the washington press club.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "And, that the U.S chose Pak over India is somehow a great and noble. How exactly?
First of all, provide some proof that India volunteered to partner."

I'm surprised by your ignorance of India's decision to drop its pants and go to bed with Uncle Sam post-911.

Here's an Indian analyst TIMERI N. MURARI talking about it in India Post:

On September 12, the relationship with America changed dramatically.

With this attack and casualties on its own soil, America joined the club of other nations that had suffered terrorism under one name or the other. India immediately offered her support to fight the terrorists, but America reached out for its old ally, Pakistan. It was the whole irony of that move which shouldn’t have surprised India. After all the Taliban was created and supported by Pakistan, the jihadis had safe bases in Pakistan. In other words, Pakistan knew the terrorists better than the victim India.


India is now the closest US ally and the main US proxy in the region. It's only a matter of time before India tangles with China at the behest of the US. The socialists and communists and various left-wing parties have been severely weakened in Indian politics, clearing the way for Uncle Sam to have India do its bidding.

Sandy said...

US could have used Afghanistan's either of two neighbors, Pakistan or Iran. We all know, why Iran could not be chosen.

Choosing India meant that the supplies into Afghanistan would have to be carried through air, something that is not feasible. But what I don't understand is how is this an achievement for Pakistan. Perhaps its becoz there hardly anything that ur country has achieved that you count this as well.

Riaz Haq said...

Sandy: "But what I don't understand is how is this an achievement for Pakistan. Perhaps its becoz there hardly anything that ur country has achieved that you count this as well. "

Your question is an attempt to twist what is being discussed...whether India offered to do everything Pak has done for US since 911. And the answer is that India volunteered and was disappointed by the US decision to not accept India's offer.

As to Pakistan's achievements versus India's, it is clear that Pakistan has done a better job of feeding, clothing and housing its citizens than India has.

India has failed its very basic responsibility of feeding its little children, 46% of whom are undernourished or malnourished.

Last year, Indian Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed acknowledged that India is worse than Bangladesh and Pakistan when it comes to nourishment and is showing little improvement.

Speaking at a conference on "Malnutrition an emergency: what it costs the nation", she said even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during interactions with the Planning Commission has described malnourishment as the "blackest mark".

"I should not compare. But countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are better," she said. The conference was organized last year by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region.

According to India's Family Health Survey, almost 46 percent of children under the age of three are undernourished - an improvement of just one percent in the last seven years.

India has recently been described as a "nutritional weakling" by a British report.

Sandy said...

You also chose statistics what suit you. This is exactly the same as you only accept comments that suit you.

The very article from William Darymple which you are referring to mentions severe education crisis in Pakistan where only 49% people are educated as opposed 65% in India. The numbers for women are even worse.

Healthcare is terribly bad too. Many Pakis routinely visit India. Akram's wife too was treated here only.

Even as per HDI index, India was ranked 134 as against 141 of Pakistan. Surely there is nothing to be proud of those numbers of either of us. In absolute terms, India has second highest population and hence has more poor. But it is the relative numbers that need to be considered. In 1947, 52% of population was poor. This figure is now 27%. But in absolute numbers, this has actually increased.

But it is important to note the rate of growth of the economy as well as the population. India has been growing at 7-8% and population growth is just 1.8%. Pakistan grew by 2-3% and its population is growing at 3%. Moreover, it continue to compete with India in terms of military.

I am not sure how you feel so confident about your country. But I am sure that most probably, you will not accept this comment as you have done with many of my previous comments.

Riaz Haq said...

Sandy: "You also chose statistics what suit you."

Have you ever heard of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? It's basic social science education in understanding human behavior and incentives.

At the bottom of the Maslow pyramid are basic human necessities of roti, kapda aur makan. Even safety and security come after the basic physilogical needs of food, clothing and shelter. Democracy is not a basic requirement for the vast majority of human beings in India whose basic physiological needs are not being met.

So it's important to establish a baseline to compare two nations or societies as to where they stand in terms of the basic needs as defined by Abraham Maslow.

By all indications, India lags behind Pakistan in meeting the very basic necessities of life as defined by Maslow and widely accepted among social scientists.

Saurav said...

@Sandy: Is it not delightfull to see a pakistani care so much about India's development indices ;)There is no point debating, which indian has won a debate with a pakistani since 1947? ;) lol
@ Mr. Haq, ok Riaz saheb, we fail, we fail in everything, but why dont you concentrate on pakistan, leave india to us to worry about. You do not need to worry about our human indices, we will take care of it :-)

Data Cruncher said...

Riaz, I understand this is your blog and you can moderate it to suit your ego.

But you expect indians to accept

"
By all indications, India lags behind Pakistan in meeting the very basic necessities of life as defined by Maslow and widely accepted among social scientists."

but you have problems accepting boastings by Indians that they are more brainy than Pakistanis. Personally I don't believe that, though I concede Indians have achieved far more than Pakistanis.
At the end of the day (to use a cliche), achievement counts.

Sandy said...

But even if we consider that, why is Pakistan behind India in HDI. As I said, you chose to selectively use statistic sand also answer selectively. You did not comment why is Pakistan's ranked below India. Maslow's theory is an outdated theory.

A very simple example would be that an educated family is more likely to be a healthy family because they will be more aware and try to observant to basic things like cleaniless.

Similarly, an educated person is more likely to have higher productivity in his job. An educated person is more likely to adopt family planning. An educated person is more likely to be a moderate rather an extremist. Democracy has similar benefits, something that people like you can never even understand.Maslow's theory is far too simplistic.

There is no doubt, that India is ahead of Pakistan but it is also true that the visible difference isn't that much. But with 7-8% growth (and just 1.8% population growth), India is more likely to overcome poverty as opposed to Pakistan with just 3% growth and 3% population growth.

And I haven't even mentioned terrorism. As William Darymple said, India has some major problems, but Pakistan' problems at another level. But one problem that he hasn't mentioned is the present of vast number of people like you who continue to live in a world of fantasies and conspiracy theory.

Riaz Haq said...

Sandy: "But even if we consider that, why is Pakistan behind India in HDI."

HDI has heavy emphasis on literacy, particularly female literacy, where Pakistan lags India. This is the key reason for Pakistan's lower ranking on HDI.

Although literacy in Pakistan has grown by about 13% during President Musharraf's rule in the last decade to about 56%, it remains woefully low when compared to other South Asian nations, and the rest of the developing world.

Pakistan's inability to increase literacy rapidly is a big failure that threatens Pakistan's future.

Riaz Haq said...

DC: "I concede Indians have achieved far more than Pakistanis.
At the end of the day (to use a cliche), achievement counts."

Nonsense! Indians can't even feed half half their children. What kind of an achievement is this?

Riaz Haq said...

Saurav: "You do not need to worry about our human indices, we will take care of it :-)"

I am sure India can, if it gives social indicators greater importance than building its military firepower. It'd be great if India and Pakistan compete on social indices rather than military firepower.

Anonymous said...

riaz

I really would not know whether india and pakistan would compete in social sector but sure on defence.

pls read the like of hamid gul and pakalert or paknationalists. It brings out the love of pakistan for india.

However as india has been doing for the last sixty years, it will invest in social upliftment. This i can say confidently of my personal experience.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent piece describing India's "Sham Democracy":

“Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic.” Arundhati Roy? Wrong. It’s Dr Bhim Rao
Ambedkar, the Dalit leader who wrote India’s republican constitution 60 years ago.

Going by Ambedkar’s expressed fears, the Indian republic is like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Slave’s Dream. It was created by a people that were subjugated by colonialism and its republican ideals were shaped by a human rights pioneer who rose from the lowest layers of the country’s caste heap, a form of slavery in some ways more degrading than apartheid.

India celebrates its Republic Day each year with an hour-long display
of military hardware, which of late has included dummies of nuclear- tipped missiles. The accompanying convoy of floats showcasing the country’s cultural variety (and humour) with everything ranging from ayurvedic massages to tribal dances, to harvest festivals is a more
realistic sample of the country’s anarchy and depth than imported
military arsenal, which guzzles depleted resources, annoys neighbours and contributes to keeping millions of Indians in penury and poor health.

Ambedkar’s fear of an inhospitable soil that deters rather than
nurtures democracy if left to itself has been vindicated by the
country’s sharp tilt to the right since 1990. His most entrenched
detractors belong to the Hindu right, but the exigencies of the
country’s caste arithmetic, which shores up the parliamentary system,
compels them to woo his followers, if not his legacy.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an opinion arguing that India is a failed state:

Inspite of the fact that India has been living on the old crumbs of outsourcing for the last 10 years the situation has hardly improved in the cities and villages of India. The poverty in India is reaching its new hieghts with every passing day. Thousands and thousands of people commit suicide every year just because they either don't have enough to eat or they simply can't feed their children/family. The Socialistic economic system in India has suddenly been changed to capitalistic one but trickle down effect has hardly taken effect. The whole nation is facing terrorism from left right and center. 25% of the country (areawise) has no writ of the state as MAOISTS (Communists) have demolished the capitalistic structure in many districts of India. They have their own laws and their own courts. There are at least 10 insurgency movements in India starting from Kashmir in the east to the whole of North East which has 6 or 7 states. Indian Govt. seems helpless.

anoop said...

Riaz, if one reads your blog they would start thinking Democracy is a bad idea and Pakistan is the best thing to happen to the world. Its wonderful mixture of Army, corrupt politicians and Feudal Elites is for all to be jealous about.

Do you really think India is failing(you dont even say its failing, you have labeled it as failed!)? If that is so I am afraid you are just massaging the truth to suit your ego. I know its hard to face the truth in a nation where the only binding factor is hatred towards its primary foe- India. But, you have to. Even if you dont, it doesn't matter. India is already the fastest growing democracy in the world. Soon, it would be the fastest growing economy in the world(I know you are going to have an opinion on this).
Give it 5 years and India will show what is her worth.

Since, ancient times India has attracted many people's fancy. Hell, it has led to the discovery of a whole new nation- America! Mughals, British, French and the Portugese have come here to find the riches. She'll regain her lost pride and occupy her rightful place in the world.

It must be a horrible feeling when you see this nation, where not too long ago your forefathers used to call home, growing like never before. Another country was created for it was claimed that certain section of the people deserved another nation as they had a different Culture and would deteriorate economically in a Free India. Culture part blew up in their faces during the period of 1947-71 where Bengali culture and its people were persecuted by the East Pakistanis and not to forget the massive Cultural influence Indian Movies and Music has on Pakistanis.

On the economic front too Pakistan had the upper hand for a while. But, India, like is her habit, steadied herself and established a system based on equal rights and freedom. She had to suffer with low economic growth for a while in order to steady her system of governance but time has come to show the world her true potential.

I hope Pakistan prospers as its a nuclear armed country and hell, I am scared that something terrible might happen to them. I too am overcome by blind hatred when Pakistan keeps on sponsoring terrorists and gives them training. I dont care what Pakistan does or doesn't as long as none of its activities are harming India. Before Mumbai incident, I had no idea about Pakistan. Now, I can claim I know a little. Again, it draws me to conclude I will not care a hoot about Pakistan as long as it keeps up anti-India activities.

Democracy is the right of every Pakistani. I am satisfied of Democracy in India and you should work towards building a democratic nation,even taking India as an example. Please support democracy and stop romanticizing the Military. It has done no service to Pakistan,infact quite the contrary. Corrupt leaders are a part and parcel of any new budding Democracy but its just a phase. People will become wise and chose a better govt next time. Support democracy. Period.

If you criticize India you are also criticizing her Democratic system. In a way you are suggesting Democracy is not the best system in the world. India will not be harmed a bit by that criticism but Pakistanis who do read your blog will start to think along that line.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "Do you really think India is failing(you dont even say its failing, you have labeled it as failed!)?"

India is as failed a state as Pakistan, if not more so.

My reasons for saying that India is a failed state are simple: More than Pakistani state, the Indian state has miserably failed in meeting the very basic needs of its people (particularly children) for food, clothing, shelter and basic sanitation. In addition, India has large swaths of its territory in central and eastern where state authority does not exist.

anoop: "I am satisfied of Democracy in India and you should work towards building a democratic nation,even taking India as an example."

India is a bad poster child for democracy. It's hunger, poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy and a well-established system of caste-based Apartheid and its terrible governance make its democracy a joke. And its history of widespread persecution of its minorities makes its secular label ludicrous.

I agree with India's Dalit leader, constitution architect and first law minister Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar's statement that "Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic."

chimung said...

Hi Riaz,
One of the reasons i regularly read ur blogs, is that you never fail to post any of the comments. But i have submitted my comment twice now and not seen it. I do't know if it was caused due to some problem in the 'internets'. Anyhow, here it is again, the last time.

@Riaz->"And the answer is that India volunteered and was disappointed by the US decision to not accept India's offer. "
Again, Riaz, please provide some official proof of this. Like quotes or communiques from Ministers/secretaries in the Govt. I don't recall India offering military support and getting snubbed by the U.S.Please don't quote unkown 'Analysts'.
U.S was desperate for countries to join the coalition of the willing (Estonia and Eritrea were part of it).The U.S would've never said no to India.

Fact is, in 2002 India was still recovering from the Clinton era sanctions, and as far as i know, there wasn't any official offer from India to contribute Militarily to the war aside from the usual platitudes/condolences.

Incase of Pak, however, it was marched off into battle at gun point. The Musharraf autobiography tells us how Pak was threatened with bombing to stone-age if it didn't co-operate.

Riaz Haq said...

Chimug: "Fact is, in 2002 India was still recovering from the Clinton era sanctions, and as far as i know, there wasn't any official offer from India to contribute Militarily to the war aside from the usual platitudes/condolences."

You are clearly uninformed about India's unconditional offer to US for anything needed for its Afghan campaign.

In addition to coverage in the US media by the likes of PBS Newshour, the Hindu in India said the following:

When the new crisis (911 attacks) erupted, the Indian government was the first to offer unconditional help to the U.S. But with Pakistan agreeing to be a frontline ally in yet another war in Afghanistan, the Indian offer made little strategic sense. The unseemly haste of External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh to offer unsolicited help to the U.S. was in marked contrast to the reactions of other governments in the region.

Riaz Haq said...

There was a piece in NY Times titled "Army Chief Driving Pakistan’s Agenda for Talks" By Jane Perlez.

The gist of the article is that Gen Kiyani worked with the civilian bureaucrats from various departments to develop a coordinated position and strategy ahead of the "strategic dialog" in March 2010 in Washington.

The way I see it is that somebody had to do the job of coordinating Pakistan's strategy and positions ahead of the multi-faceted strategic dialog in Washington covering a wide range of subjects from water to energy and security.

The Army chief has simply filled the vacuum left by lack of competent leadership by civilian politicians in preparing for talks.

Pakistan does have the British legacy of functional institutions such the nation's military and the bureaucracy which have been able to sustain the state. The members of the civil and military services have the basic educational facilities, such as a number of staff colleges and academies, for training them to do their jobs. As a result, the military and civil service officers are reasonably competent in carrying out their assigned responsibilities.

However, no such training exists for the politicians who get elected to the highest positions of leadership in the executive and legislative branches. Under the constitution, they are charged with appointing judges and making and executing laws and policies to solve the nation's problems. Yet, most of them lack the basic competence to understand and appreciate their responsibilities. The parliamentarians are usually uninformed about most of the key issues of governance brought for discussion on the floor. As a result, the level of parliamentary debate is very poor, and important budget priorities and policies are agreed, and laws are passed without fully taking into account all of the issues involved.

There is no effective system of drafting legislation, holding hearings with stakeholders and experts, making budget appropriations, and subsequent oversight by specialized parliamentary committees. People who chair such committees don't have much of a clue as to where to begin, what questions to ask, and how to hold the executive and the bureaucracy accountable. As a result, once the laws and policies are approved, and budgets passed, there is not much oversight or accountability.

There was a proposal in 1998 to set up Jinnah Democracy Institute, named after Pakistan's founding father Qu aid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who spoke eloquently about democracy when he told military officers, “Never forget that you are the servants of the state. You do not make policy. It is we, the people’s representatives, who decide how the country is to be run. Your job is to only obey the decisions of your civilian masters.”The idea for democracy institute was inspired by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in the United States, and its main purpose was to offer at least one semester of required training to Pakistan's elected representatives. Unfortunately, the proposal has not gone anywhere.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a billion dollar LNG contract scandal uncovered by a complaint of the Fauji Foundation CEO, as reported by The News:

The NA members were told that the petroleum ministry bosses had never recommended to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to give the multi-billion dollar contract to French firm (GDF-SUEZ), whom surprisingly they all were religiously defending now.

It was disclosed that the petroleum ministry had actually recommended the award of the contract to Shell-Qatar, whose bid was higher than the French bid by $1.5 billion. But Shaukat Tarin had thrown this recommendation of the ministry in a dustbin after he learnt that he was being asked to award the contract to a party (Shell), whose bid was higher by $1.5 billion compared to the lowest bidder.

At the end of the hour-long presentation followed by a question-answer session, Chairman MNA Sheikh Waqas Akram, praised the journalist for his comprehensive presentation. Later, MD Fauji Foundation Lt Gen Rab Nawaz was said to have reiterated his old stance that his firm’s bid was the lowest if compared with the GDF-Suez, which was awarded the deal.

The committee met with Chairman Sheikh Waqas in the chair and was attended by MNAs Barjees Tahir, Nawab Yousuf Talpur, Wasan, Khurum Wattoo and others. Petroleum Minister Naveed Qamar, Secretary Kamran Lashari, Special Secretary G A Sabri and MD FF General Rab Nawaz attended the meeting.

Klasra told the committee that his story was based on the minutes of the ECC presided over by then Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin. The minutes had revealed that Tarin had got a telephone call from MD Fauji Foundation that the lowest bid given jointly by FF/Vitol had been rejected and the highest bidder GDF-Suez was given the lucrative contract. Tarin had informed MD FF that he was not aware of any such bidding because the petroleum ministry never shared such information in its official summary tabled before the ECC on Feb 9.

Consequently, Tarin had alarm bells ringing and had ordered a serious probe into the whole issue as to why the bid offered by FF/Vitol was not mentioned in the summary. But the petroleum ministry never replied to the queries of Tarin till he departed from his office at the end of February, much to the satisfaction of the petroleum ministry officials who thought that the issue had been buried but the publication of the scandal by The News shook them.

Petroleum ministry officials had even written a letter to Tarin, informing him that Minister Naveed Qamar had desired that they should not respond to him as he would “personally deal” with this issue. According to Klasra, he had contacted Shaukat Tarin to get his version about these startling developments and the ex-FM had confirmed on record that he was kept in the dark about the joint bid of FF/Vitol, which was claimed to be the lowest.

Tarin confirmed that he got no reply from the Ministry of Petroleum till he left the office. He also claimed that according to his calculation and information, there was a difference of one billion dollars in the bid price of the French company and FF/Vitol, so the country had suffered a loss of a billion dollar.


Minister Naveed Qamar is a close friend and ally of Zardari.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excepts of Nehru University's Prof Jayanti Ghosh's video interview on Real News Network in which she says there is "no Indian miracle":

JAY: So in India you're saying there never was major reforms and it's getting worse.

GHOSH: Absolutely. If you look at the pattern of Indian growth, it's really more like a Latin American story. We are now this big success story of globalization, but it's a peculiar success story, because it's really one which has been dependent on foreign—you know, we don't run trade surpluses. We don't even run current account surpluses, even though a lot of our workers go abroad to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, to California, as IT workers. We still don't really run current account surpluses. So we've been getting capital inflow because we are discovered as this hot destination. You know, we are on Euromoney covers. We are seen as this place to go. Some of our top businessmen are the richest men in the world. They hit the Fortune top-ten index. All of that kind of thing. This capital inflow comes in, it makes our stock market rise, it allows for new urban services to develop, and it generates this feel-good segment of the Indian economy. Banks have been lending more to this upper group, the top 10 percent of the population, let's say. It's a small part of the population, but it's a lot of people, it's about 110 million people, which is a pretty large market for most places. So that has fuelled this growth, because otherwise you cannot explain how we've had 8 to 10 percent growth now for a decade. Real wages are falling, nutrition indicators are down there with sub-Saharan Africa, a whole range of basic human development is still abysmal, and per capita incomes in the countryside are not growing at all.

JAY: So I guess part of that's part of the secret of what's happening in India is that the middle, upper-middle class, in proportion to the population of India, is relatively small, but it's still so big compared to most other countries—you were saying 100, 150 million people living in this, benefiting from the expansion. And it's a lot bigger. It's like—what is it? Ten, fifteen Canadas. So it's a very vibrant market. But you're saying most of the people in India aren't seeing the benefits.

GHOSH: Well, in fact it's worse than that. It's not just that they're not seeing the benefits. It's not that they're excluded from this. They are part of this process. They are integrated into the process. And, in fact, this is a growth process that relies on keeping their incomes lower, in fact, in terms of extracting more surplus from them. Let me just give you a few examples. You know, everybody talks about the software industry and how competitive we are. And it's true. It's this shiny, modern sector, you know, a bit like California in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa. But when you look at it, it's not just that our software engineers achieve, it's that the entire supporting establishment is very cheap. The whole system which allows them to be more competitive is one where you are relying on very low-paid assistants, drivers, cooks, cleaners. You know, the whole support establishment is below subsistence wage, practically, and it's that which effectively subsidizes this very modern industry.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting view of Pakistan democracy by Ahmad Qureshi:


FAKE DEMOCRATIC WARRIORS: (Gen Faiz Ali) Chishti said that “Several (democratic) champions became leaders while sitting in the laps of army generals.” He listed them as follows:

1. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan [Benefactor: Field Marshal Ayub Khan].

2. Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister of Pakistan [Benefactor: Gen. Zia-ul-Haq]

3. Altaf Hussain, the exiled British-Pakistani leader of MQM [Benefactors: Gen. Zia-ul-Haq and Gen. Pervez Musharraf]

4. Jamaat Islami [Benefactors: Gen. Zia-ul-Haq and Gen. Pervez Musharraf]

The irony is that all of them claim that Pakistan’s military should not be involved in major internal decisions when necessary but they never explained why they accepted military help in ascending to power in the first place. Interestingly, despite being discredited as failed and inept, these politicians keep getting second and third chances thanks to the military’s failure to introduce real reforms after every coup. [Also thanks to frequent US and British meddling in our politics for their own objectives. Unfortunately, the Pakistani military has so far been unable to prevent it and, under Musharraf, even took it to new heights!]

Moreover, Pakistani military has maintained an unwritten alliance with this failed political elite, always handing power back to it after every intervention without any attempt to open doors to middle- and lower-class Pakistanis to participate in running their country, especially when they have proven to be more creative in taking Pakistan forward in many areas.

One example is Gen. Musharraf, who came to power with a promise to inject new faces into a stagnant system. Eight years later, he not only failed to do that but ended up restoring some of the worst failed politicians back to power as his replacement. The only credible new political face from the late Musharraf period is Member of National Assembly Marvi Memon. To be fair to her, she was a late entrant who proved her mettle on her own in the two-and-a- half years since Musharraf’s departure. With her patriotic and inclusive views, a large segment of Pakistan’s younger generation identifies with her. But she stands no chance of moving up in a system designed to keep people like her from exercising real power.

THE LOOPHOLE: Mr. Chishti pointed out another irony that exposes the duplicity of the present political elite in Pakistan. An independent Election Commission is what stops military interventionists from legitimizing their rule. So if someone wants to stop future military interventions being endorsed by the country’s courts and parliaments, creating such an independent election commission is the first step. But strangely, despite all the noise over the recent constitutional amendments, called the 18 th Amendment, none of the political parties pushed for an independent election commission. The reason is that an independent election commission would also enforce democracy within the parties, challenging lifetime party presidents and ‘chairpersons’.

COUP DECISION INSTITUTIONAL: He said the decision to impose military rule, or Martial Law, is never a personal decision of one man but a collective one of the Army High Command and is a result of full spectrum assessment of the state of the nation.

WHY MILITARY INTERVENES: Since a military coup is not a one-man-show and hence there is no question of personal ambition, then the right question to ask, says Mr. Chishti, is ‘Why the military intervenes?’ He suggests that tackling the reasons would reduce the possibility of such interventions.

Wise words. But they are falling on deaf ears. The mother of all ironies is that when Pakistan Army has a chief who has gone out of his way to support democracy, and even rescued it on a couple of recent occasions, Pakistan’s democratic warriors are leading the country to a grand national failure of epic proportions with their failure to perform.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are interesting excerpts from an analysisof how Pakistanis in Britain (70% from Mirpur in Azad Kashmir) vote in British elections:

But there are those who are angered by what they see as the tribalism of Mirpuri politics being transferred to the UK, where clans stick together and elders make decisions for the whole extended family.

"The vote is a very private and individual matter for any person," says Khwaja Sohail Bashir, 54, a British Mirpuri businessman and political activist who has recently settled back in Pakistan.

He says only voters themselves can understand the issues that affect them, and questions whether Pakistani politicians would appreciate what is happening with the British economy or the National Health Service and take that into account when trying to influence opinions.

"Every community should maintain its culture, it is what makes Britain such a beautiful society," says Mr Bashir. "But voting has got nothing to do with culture."

But others, like Rose FM's manager, disagrees. "These links cannot be broken," he says. He talks of the British government itself trying to promote connections between far-flung Mirpuri communities.

"We have had British politicians from various parties come to these very studios in Mirpur, talking about their agendas, so why shouldn't our politicians go to the UK?" he asks.

'Everybody does it'

But Mirpur's influence on this election does not stop at encouraging people to vote one way or another.

Sitting in the garden of a large villa in Mirpur, a British citizen who has been a taxi driver in Halifax in Yorkshire for more than 20 years, talks of a practice which has become widespread here.

For obvious reasons the man, in his fifties, does not want us to publish his name. He describes how people are going door to door asking Britons to blindly sign proxy forms for the upcoming elections, allowing someone else in the UK to vote on their behalf.

"They said I didn't have to fill in any details, just to sign my name at the bottom of the form," he says, smiling. "So I signed two."

He laughed as he told me he had no idea who was going to vote on his behalf, and whom they were going to vote for.

"I personally know 25 other people who did the same thing, lots of people just on this street, but everybody does it."

Many others, among the contingent of thousands of British citizens thought to be here, have admitted signing proxy forms in this way.

While proxy voting is a mechanism which does allow British citizens abroad to cast their vote, many will undoubtedly look upon this way of doing it as unethical.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a opinion piece in the Guardian today praising Pakistan's "maturing" of democracy:

A comparison with Afghanistan illustrates the significance of Pakistan's reforms: President Hamid Karzai is trying to take control of the appointment of the electoral complaints commissioners, whose integrity was instrumental in curtailing the widespread fraud that marred his re-election last year.

In Pakistan, the recent constitutional reforms reduce the president's discretion to appoint election commissioners by giving the opposition a voice in this process.

However, the reforms go far beyond the issue of elections, restoring key features of the original constitution of 1973, adopted after the secession of East Pakistan, today's Bangladesh. The constitution foresaw a parliamentary system of government and significant competencies for the four provinces, but soon power shifted to the president, a trend that became even more marked under the periods of military rule by Muhammad Zia-Ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf.

The reform, known as the 18th amendment, moves powers from the president to the prime minister and parliament, and from the federal level to the provinces. The president can no longer dissolve parliament at will, but only in specific, narrowly defined circumstances. The provinces will be exclusively in charge of a wide range of tasks, including social legislation, family law and criminal law. In signing the amendment, President Asif Ali Zadari will lose much of his authority, though he will remain extremely influential as co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan Peoples party.

Mayraj said...

The biggest flaw in democracy is that there is a tendency for the elected representatives' interests and those of the public will oppose each other. Elected representatives whether they are in a developing country (where this shows up quicker) or a developed country can act to serve own interests first. For the public's interests to be served the public needs to be informed, educated and not too busy to impose their will on their representative not just at election time but between elections. Also their needs to be proper money management no matter whose interests are to be served.

When this does not happen, elected reps will run country into the ground. Has happened in US, UK, Greece, Pakistan,. It is hoppening in Germany in slow motion. and when the population ages and expects govt help is when it looks like there will be no money in the till or maybe before if the govt owned banks acting as hedge funds lose big!. In India it will happen as soon as delicate balance of debt bought by locals is disturbed. This happened with oil crisis when India sought IMF help. Can happen again for many reasons. Anyway, due to farmers misuse of water and fertilizers means they will come banging on govt door for aid and not amount of debt will be bought by Indian public to make up for that need! Then the discipline of the bond market, being imposed on Greece will lead to same debacle.

In India IMF intervention meant market was opened and India became this outsourcing hub. But, this small change will not be enough to satisfy angry masses needs.

My assumption was Germany was immune to US, UK developing/ country problem. But this revealed I was deluded.. Yeow! And Germany is the linchpin of EU and Euro. How can Merkel be stern with Greece and not with own states and state owned gamblers? Of course all German parties are guilty, so maybe they cannot see what their own behavior has wrought until it smacks them down.
Pakistan had major problems with its nationalized banks. I never dreamed that Germany would show that state owned banks can make a mess in a country as evolved as Germany.
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/05/guest-post-beyond-repair.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent excerpt from a piece by Dawn columnist Irfan Husain about Pakistan's middle class influencing nation's politics:

While external debt increased from $39bn in 1999 to $50bn in 2009, poverty levels have fallen by over 10 per cent since 2001. Indeed, there are now around 30 million Pakistanis who are considered to be in the middle class with an average income of $10,000 annually, while some 17 million are now bracketed with the upper and upper-middle classes.

Even though this does not approach China’s and India’s spectacular progress in this period, it does represent a solid advance. If one factors in the political turmoil the country has gone through, together with its ongoing insurgencies in the tribal areas and Balochistan, Pakistan’s progress has been impressive by any standard.

How do these numbers translate into day-to-day life in Pakistan? To examine the social transformation the country is undergoing, Jason Burke uses the Suzuki Mehran as a yardstick to measure change. In his ‘Letter from Karachi’ published in the current issue of Prospect, the Guardian reporter writes:

“In Pakistan, the hierarchy on the roads reflects that of society. If you are poor, you use the overcrowded buses or a bicycle. Small shopkeepers, rural teachers and better-off farmers are likely to have a $1,500 Chinese or Japanese motorbike…. Then come the Mehran drivers. A rank above them, in air-conditioned Toyota Corolla saloons, are the small businessmen, smaller landlords, more senior army officers and bureaucrats. Finally, there are the luxury four-wheel drives of ‘feudal’ landlords, big businessmen, expats, drug dealers, generals, ministers and elite bureaucrats. The latter may be superior in status, power and wealth, but it is the Mehrans which, by dint of numbers, dominate the roads.”

This growing affluence has already caused a major power shift, with the urban population now having a bigger say after years of being ruled by feudal landowners. As urbanisation gathers pace, Pakistan’s traditional power elite will increasingly come from the cities, and not from the rural hinterland. This will have a profound impact not just on politics, but on society as a whole. As Burke observes in his Prospect article:

“Politically, the Bhutto dynasty’s Pakistan People’s Party, mostly based in rural constituencies and led by feudal landowners, will lose out to the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif with its industrial, commercial, urban constituency. Culturally, the traditional, folksy, tolerant practices in rural areas will decline in favour of more modernised, politicised Islamic strands and identities. And as power and influence shifts away from rural elites once co-opted by colonialism, the few elements of British influence to have survived will fade faster.”

Often, perceptive foreigners spot social trends that escape us because we are too close to them to see the changes going on around us. For instance, Burke identifies the shift away from English, and sees ‘Mehran man’ as urban, middle class and educated outside the elite English-medium system. He sees Muslims being under attack from the West, and genuinely believes that the 9/11 attacks were a part of a CIA/Zionist plot. Actually, my experience is that many highly educated and sophisticated people share this theory.

Burke continues his dissection of the rising Pakistani middle class: “Mehran man is deeply proud of his country. A new identification with the ummah, or the global community of Muslims, paradoxically reinforces rather than degrades his nationalism. For him, Pakistan was founded as an Islamic state, not a state for South Asian Muslims. Mehran man is an ‘Islamo-nationalist’. His country possesses a nuclear bomb….”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a case for "Developmental Realism" by Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman:

..... The North African ones are clearly Europe's responsibility. The remainder include Jordan, a Syria which demonstrates some commitment to reform and international responsibility, Bangladesh, a few of the Muslim states of West Africa and the Sahel, and Pakistan. Pakistan is in fact a perfect case for ethical and developmental realism. As repeated democratic failures have shown, this country's dreadful problems are not amenable to solution by the shallow, short-term, and inexpensive nostrums of Democratism; they require profound, and very expensive, long-term commitments on the part of the U.S..1

However, as recent growth figures (in 2005 Pakistan had the second-highest growth rates in all Asia) and infrastructural developments have shown, the Pakistani state, though deeply flawed, is nonetheless reasonably effective - at least as effective, for example, as was South Korea in the 1950s. Despite considerable barriers to Pakistani exports to the U.S., these have grown over the past three years by between 10 and 15 per cent a year. As to Pakistan's own protectionist measures, the U.S. government in early 2006 criticized these, but also praised Pakistan for having "progressively and substantially reduced tariffs and liberalized imports" since 1998. As a result, U.S. exports to Pakistan have also increased steeply. In other words, this is a troubled country with a corrupt bureaucracy, but by no means a basket case.1

So far, however, U.S. assistance to this vital ally has once again been frankly inadequate. By the end of 2006, Pakistan will have received about $3.4 billion in U.S. aid since 9/11. This sounds like a lot but is, in fact, very small in comparison to Pakistan's needs and the size of its population. Moreover, almost half of this aid is not for economic development, but is security-related.1

The biggest single focus of new U.S. aid should be the improvement of Pakistan's water infrastructure, especially in the area of conservation and reducing the appalling degree of waste. As documented by the International Water Management Institute in August 2006, water shortages present the greatest future threat to the viability of Pakistan and other key Muslim countries as states and societies.1

The second focus of U.S. aid to Pakistan should be helping to provide jobs. Improving Pakistan's educational system, especially for women, is important, but if this only produces unemployed and embittered graduates, the effect will be only to increase Islamist radicalism. Because the ultimate motivation for U.S. aid to Pakistan is not charitable but political, it must bring visible benefits to ordinary Pakistanis.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan is more urbanized with a larger middle class than India as percent of population. In 2007, Standard Chartered Bank analysts and SBP estimated there were 30 to 35 million Pakistanis earning more than $10,000 a year. Of these, about 17 million are in the upper and upper middle class, according to a recent report.

As to India's much hyped middle class, a new report by Nancy Birdsall of Center for Global Development says it is a myth. She has proposed a new definition of the middle class for developing countries in a forthcoming World Bank publication, Equity in a Globalizing World. Birdsall defines the middle class in the developing world to include people with an income above $10 day, but excluding the top 5% of that country. By this definition, India even urban India alone has no middle class; everyone at over $10 a day is in the top 5% of the country.

This is a combination both of the depth of India's poverty and its inequality. China had no middle class in 1990, but by 2005, had a small urban middle class (3% of the population). South Africa (7%), Russia (30%) and Brazil (19%) all had sizable middle classes in 2005.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a story of arrogance and abuse by feudal politicians in "democratic" Pakistan written in a letter to "The News" in Karachi:

Wednesday, June 09, 2010
I am a retired air vice marshal and have served the Pakistan Air Force for more than 35 years. About 6 p.m. on June 6, I was proceeding with my son to visit my friend's house in Street 27, DHA. While crossing 24th Street near Khayaban-e-Rahat, I saw a big Land Rover / Land Ranger-type vehicle approaching from the opposite direction. This vehicle occupied the central portion of the narrow road and it seemed that it would ram my car. I swerved to the left to avoid being hit. As we passed I told the driver of the vehicle to be careful rather than try and hit another car. The driver took offence and stopped and then started to back his vehicle. I too stopped my car. An argument took place where the young man, no more than 18 years old, driving the car remained extremely agitated and said that he was running out of his patience with me. He came out of his car along with his two guards with Kalashnikov rifles and another older person. They started threatening me and my son. One of the guards became violent and hit me with the butt of his rifle and started to cock his gun as if he would shoot. More arguments took place. Now both my son and I were being attacked. As if this manhandling was not enough, a police escort vehicle with six to eight police personnel, in both uniform and plainclothes, arrived in about five minutes and without ascertaining the facts attacked the two of us. Passers-by intervened and stopped the situation from getting any worse. The boy driving the car also realised that the matter had taken an ugly turn and asked his men to get into their cars which they did and sped away.

My cloths were completely torn and both of us received various injuries. The car's number plate was of Abu Dhabi (No. 80587). It also had an MNA plate on it. I did ask the boy his father's name. To which he arrogantly replied, "Go and find it yourself." After regaining my balance we proceeded to the Darakshan Police Station and reported the matter. We also got our medical done by the medical legal officer at Jinnah Hospital which was submitted for the 'Roznamcha'. Thankfully, the Air Force police arrived at the scene and assisted me fully. Otherwise, as one can imagine, even these formalities could not be completed easily. Whatever happened is sad, but I have the following questions to my countrymen: how can there be an Abu Dhabi-registered car running around in Karachi with an MNA plate stuck behind the huge vehicle? Is the young boy allowed to drive this vehicle? Does he have a licence? Is this young boy entitled to the privileges of an MNA? How did the police escort reach the place and joined in our physical assault? Are the police allowed to escort the young boy and why should they join in the altercation? When will these rulers learn to curb their arrogance and haughtiness and understand that they have been elected to serve the people, rather than harass and beat them up?

It is with great sorrow and pain that I have written this letter. If a senior person like me does not have the safety and is insulted, beaten and physically assaulted by the state police and private guards, what can we expect for the rest of the countrymen?

Syed Ataur Rahman

Air Vice Marshal (retired),

Karachi

Riaz Haq said...

Recent acquittals of the accused in high-profile terror cases in Pakistan for lack of evidence are shining light on the incompetence of police investigators and prosecutors in Pakistan. Here are some excerpts from a Dawn editorial on this subject:

The recent spate of acquittals of alleged terrorists has brought into question the authorities’ capacity to investigate and try terrorism-related crimes.

Since April, at least 33 alleged terrorists have been released by anti-terrorism courts, mostly because of lack of evidence. They had been indicted and prosecuted for nine suicide attacks carried out in Islamabad and Rawalpindi in 2007 and 2008, killing more than 150 people.

The latest to be acquitted were six men charged with carrying out bomb blasts at the Islamabad district courts and Aabpara market in July 2007. Earlier on, those charged in four suicide attacks on military targets in Rawalpindi and two bomb attacks on Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel, as well as in an attack on the Kamra Aeronautical Complex in December 2007, had been acquitted. This spate of acquittals by the lower courts was preceded by the Lahore High Court’s overturning of the 2008 conviction of two men for their role in plotting an attack on the then president Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi in 2007.

Whether the acquitted were innocent and wrongfully charged, or guilty but acquitted due to lack of evidence, our failure to incapacitate terrorists is obvious. If the acquitted are guilty, it sends out an ominous sign that the state is not serious about bringing the militants to book. Enhanced security is not enough to foil attacks.

Proper investigations resulting in concrete evidence are important to locate the source of a particular terrorist attack. The ability to analyse such data can help prevent future attacks. If we want to make effective use of the criminal justice system to prevent terrorism, a more disciplined approach is needed so that the courts have the needed evidence for convictions. Only then can we hope to have a strong and effective justice system for the hundreds who fall victim to terror attacks each year.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Ahmad Rahid's take published by BBC on Pakistan budget priorities for 2010-2011:

When the $38bn annual budget was announced in parliament on 5 June, legislators sat up when it was announced that defence spending would be $5.2bn for 2010-11 - a rise of 17% compared to last year or 13.7% of the total budget.

Even more shocking news came a few days later when Saqib Shirani, principal economic adviser to the government, corrected that figure to say that actual defence spending for 2010-11 would be $7.9bn, a 30% rise compared to last year and 21% of the total budget.

The government did not disclose how it accounted for some $1.3bn received over the past year in Coalition Support Funds (CSF) by the US administration for fighting "terrorism".

With 28% of the budget being reserved this year for servicing Pakistan's huge external debt of $54bn, nearly 60% of the budget is taken up by just two items - defence spending and debt servicing.

Almost the entire development budget of $9.2bn will be provided by outside donors.

Meanwhile the country spends just 2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education, despite the fact that average literacy is only 57%. Even the army admits that the lack of education is fuelling militancy.

However with the economy in a downward spiral and the government facing an internal funding crisis in the months ahead, Islamabad has begun to threaten the US.

Retired Lt Gen Syed Akthar Ali told parliament that the US government had for two years willfully withheld billions of dollars of CSF that were owed to Pakistan.

''The time that we have to rethink our security priorities about external threats is approaching,'' Mr Ali warned recently.

"We will stop operations (in Fata) and go back to the eastern borders,'' he added threateningly.

However he admitted that in the past six months the US had released $1.3bn in CSF arrears, but was still holding back payments of $1bn.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was equally blunt when he told visiting Richard Holbrooke, US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, that ''time is running out fast, public support can only be kept intact if the international community start delivering on their pledges.''

At a conference in Tokyo a year ago, major donors who make up the "Friends of Pakistan" pledged $5bn in aid, but so far few pledges have been honoured except by the US.

''There is grand disillusionment amongst the Europeans for Pakistan's refusal to address our concerns - transparency about aid funds, improving governance, using aid money to build up defences against India rather than fighting terrorism and its lack of concern for minorities,'' a senior European diplomat said.

Mr Gilani's recent trip to the European Union (EU) in Brussels, following the brutal killing of 90 Ahmedis in Lahore by militants was a public relations disaster, with the EU bluntly refusing to fund Pakistan unless it improved its governance record.

Yet even as Pakistani leaders cajole the West for more money and warn of an impending economic collapse, the army insists that the world must recognise Pakistan as a full blown nuclear power.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the story of a cat-fight between two of Punjab's women legislators from the PPP, as published in Express Tribune:

Only 12 countries in the world have acted upon the ideological commitment to ensure women’s participation in the formal political arena, as embodied by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Beijing Platform for Action. Pakistan is one of them. Under the Local Government Ordinance of 2001, 33 per cent of seats at all tiers of local government and 17 per cent in the national and provincial legislatures were reserved for women. Given the long history of discrimination against women and their exclusion from politics, this was a revolutionary step.

As a result, since elections in 2002 a record number of women have contested the polls and joined the ranks of legislators. However, concerns remained that women are powerless proxies for male relatives but women members of the PPP Punjab Assembly have put to rest any such concerns with great displays of aggression and power.

For far too long we have associated macho deep-throated growling, shouting and name calling in menacing voices with Sultan Rahi but the women MPs of Punjab are not to be left behind.

On June 14, before the budget for the province was presented, PPP MPA Sajida Mir from Lahore said that there was rampant rigging in rural areas where women were heavily influenced by feudals. She praised Iffat Liaquat of the PML-N who had won an election from Chakwal despite not having the backing of the feudal elite. Now this would sound like a fairly normal conversation to you unless you happen to be a feudal from Chakwal.

Luckily MPA Fouzia Behram, belonging to the same party as Ms Mir, was on hand to act the part (or embody the true likeness) of an enraged feudal from Chakwal. Ms Mir bellowed that MPAs from Lahore are ignorant. And in order to truly put the erring non-feudal in her place, she decided to insult her a little more by labelling her with the most derogatory word she could find in her feudal dictionary —“kammi” which means from a low caste. Ms Mir remained calm and reminded the enraged feudal that this insulted not just her but the philosophy of the party that both MPAs represent, not to mention the majority of its supporters since most of them happen to be “kammis”. This further enraged Ms Behram who then charged towards Ms Mir and tried to slap her.

Ladies, in this day and age of political crisis and misery for the entire country, couldn’t you maybe reserve your passions for topics of greater importance and substance like the budget, the state of education, healthcare or inflation? And could you please try and take the job of legislating on behalf of your constituents a little more seriously than the men who have failed us for so many years?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from NY Times story about declining power of Pakistan's feudal class:

For years, feudal lords reigned supreme, serving as the police, the judge and the political leader. Plantations had jails, and political seats were practically owned by families.

Instead of midwifing democracy, these aristocrats obstructed it, ignoring the needs of rural Pakistanis, half of whom are still landless and desperately poor more than 60 years after Pakistan became a state.

But changes began to erode the aristocrats’ power. Cities sprouted, with jobs in construction and industry. Large-scale farms eclipsed old-fashioned plantations. Vast hereditary lands splintered among generations of sons, and many aristocratic families left the country for cities, living beyond their means off sales of their remaining lands. Mobile labor has also reduced dependence on aristocratic families.

In Punjab, the country’s most populous province, and its most economically advanced, the number of national lawmakers from feudal families shrank to 25 percent in 2008 from 42 percent in 1970, according to a count conducted by Mubashir Hassan, a former finance minister, and The New York Times.

“Feudals are a dying breed,” said S. Akbar Zaidi, a Karachi-based fellow with the Carnegie Foundation. “They have no power outside the walls of their castles.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/world/asia/29feudal.html?_r=1&hp

Riaz Haq said...

It seems that in India, too, the Army is more honest and competent than the civilians. Here's a rediff report about rapid rebuilding of the collapsed footbridge at Commonwalth Games in Delhi:

It took seven years and Rs. 5 crore for a company to build a Foot Over Bridge (FOB) near the Jawaharlal Nehru [ Images ] Stadium, which then collapsed. The Indian Army [ Images ], which was called in to salvage the Delhi's [ Images ] pride and build a temporary FOB, has done the same job in four days flat and at a fraction of the original cost.

The Indian Army is now applying finishing touches to a Bailey Bridge, after a desperate Commonwealth Games [ Images ] Organising Committee and the Delhi government called them in to erect the temporary structure. The Bailey bridge will be used by spectators to reach the stadium after parking their cars at Safdarjung Airport.

Army officials said that the main structure had been erected by Monday evening, with three piers of varying heights under 20-feet each fixed to support the bridge. Jawans were seen hard at work on the steps going down to the stadium, which technically is the only work remaining to be done. The steps from the parking lot to the bridge had been put in place on Monday. The 12-feet floor of the bridge has also been put in place.

Security personnel from the Delhi police and the Army were seen guarding the worksite. Traffic police had also been deployed to control the traffic on the elevated Barapullah Nullah road to allow the army to carry on with their work.

Over 700 combat engineers from The Madras Engineer Group, informally known as the Madras Sappers (a regiment of the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army) began work on the bridge on Saturday afternoon. The Indian Army and the Delhi government had said that the bridge, which has three piers and have four spans spread over 250 feet, was expected to be delivered in five days.

"We will conduct a mandatory security test before handing over the bridge.The only addition to a standard Bailey bridge is the insertion of three piers, which we did for safety," Commanding Officer, Colonel Dinesh Khanna told rediff.com

The Bailey bridge is being built at the exact spot where its collapsed predecessor stood. The concrete pillars on either side of Barapullah Nallah road were not damaged when the earlier bridge collapsed and the Bailey bridge will use these pillars as its base, Khanna said.

A Bailey bridge is a temporary military structure used for relief operations like flood or collapsed bridges. All its components are made of metal and are portable. The newly constructed Bailey bridge will be able to accommodate more people than what was estimated of the collapsed bridge, Khanna said.

"The floor of the bridge is about 12-feet wide and can even accommodate vehicles. It will be able to take the weight of more spectators than the current estimates," Khanna added.

The decision to erect the temporary structure was taken after security agencies told civic agencies that the walking route from the parking to the stadium without the bridge would be about a kilometer long.

The 95 metre-long hanging foot-over bridge had collapsed on September 21, injuring 27 people. The bridge was being built along with another over bridge at the cost of Rs 10.5 crore by Chandigarh-based company PNR Infra, which has been blacklisted by the Delhi government.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times reporting military demanding government shakeup in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani military, angered by the inept handling of the country’s devastating floods and alarmed by a collapse of the economy, is pushing for a shake-up of the elected government, and in the longer term, even the removal of President Asif Ali Zardari and his top lieutenants.

The military, preoccupied by a war against militants and reluctant to assume direct responsibility for the economic crisis, has made clear it is not eager to take over the government, as it has many times before in Pakistan, military officials and politicians said.

But the government’s performance since the floods, which have left 20 million people homeless and the nation dependent on handouts from skeptical foreign donors, has laid bare the deep underlying tensions between the military and the civilian leadership.

American officials acknowledge that it has also left them increasingly disillusioned with Mr. Zardari, a now deeply unpopular president who was elected two-and-half years ago on a wave of sympathy after the assassination of his wife, Benazir Bhutto.

In a series of meetings with the civilian leaders, the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, scolded the president and his prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, for incompetence and corruption in the government, according to officials familiar with the conversations.

The general also demanded that they dismiss at least some ministers in the oversized 60-member cabinet, many of whom face corruption charges from past cases.

The civilian government has so far resisted those demands, and Mr. Zardari told the general that, come what may, he will not be maneuvered aside, according to a Pakistani official close to the president who was familiar with the conversations but did not want to be identified.

After a meeting between Mr. Zardari, Mr. Gilani and General Kayani on Monday, the president’s office issued a statement saying they had agreed “to protect the democratic process and to resolve all issues in accordance with the constitution.”

“Sanity had prevailed,” the Pakistani official said, meaning that General Kayani chose not to precipitate a crisis.

Still, it is clear that General Kayani, head of the country’s most powerful and respected institution, has ratcheted up the pressure on the government in the past several weeks.

Having secured an exceptional three-year extension in his post from Mr. Zardari in July, General Kayani appears determined to see to it that the government prevents the economy from entering a tailspin, which would further weaken the health of the nation and also the value of the military’s own vast landholdings and other business enterprises.

Military officers in the main cities have been talking openly and expansively about their contempt for the Zardari government and what they term the economic calamity, an unusual candor, reporters and politicians said.

“The gross economic mismanagement by the government is at the heart of it,” said Rifaat Hussain, a professor of international relations at Islamabad University and a confidant of the military. “And there is the rising public disaffection with the Pakistani Peoples Party under Zardari and Gilani.”

As the military demands the overhaul, the Supreme Court is also pushing the government on the issue of corruption by threatening to remove the president’s immunity from prosecution, a move that would expose him to charges of corruption in an old money-laundering case in Switzerland.

Riaz Haq said...

The bumper sticker of the century reads as follows:

"Be nice to America Or we'll bring democracy to your country!"

After seeing failure of democracy in delivering basic services, security and human development in India, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a growing suspicion among the poor that America's push to get democracy installed in third world countries ( knowing full well that it will fail) is a ploy to keep them in chaos and from making any kind of progress.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Incompetence Worse Than Corruption in Pakistan

Pakistan's Decade of 1999-2009 in Review

ASEAN Architect Suharto Passes On

NRO and Corrupt Democracies in South Asia

Malaysia National Front Suffers Setback

Musharaf's Economic Legacy

Pakistan's Corruption Indexes

Return to Bad Old Days in Pakistan

Shaukat Aziz's Economic Legacy

Daily Carnage in Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Former Pakistani president Gen Pervez Musharraf launched a political party today. Here's a BBC report on his press conference held in London:

Former Pakistan military ruler Pervez Musharraf has apologised for "negative" actions he took while in power, as he launched his new political party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, in London.

Mr Musharraf said: "I... sincerely apologise to the whole nation" for the "negative repercussions".

But he vowed to galvanise Pakistanis and fight a "jihad against poverty, hunger, illiteracy and backwardness".

Correspondents say there is no real likelihood of him returning soon.

Mr Musharraf also appears to lack the kind of political organisation that could win him an election in Pakistan, they say.
'National salvation'

Mr Musharraf unveiled the All Pakistan Muslim League at a gentlemen's club in Whitehall.

There was tight security, with checks on all those entering the room.

Mr Musharraf apologised for some of the actions he took when in power.

"I am aware of the fact that there were some decisions which I took which resulted in negative political repercussions, repercussions which had adverse effects on nation building and national political events, and my popularity also, may I say, plummeted in that last year. I take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to the whole nation."

Mr Musharraf attacked the "total despondency and demoralisation and hopelessness which prevails in society today".

He added: "The time has come to redeem our pledge... to ensure the fruits of freedom are shared by all. The time has come for a new social contract to keep the dream of our forefathers alive... to make Pakistan into a progressive Islamic state for others in the third world to emulate."

Mr Musharraf said he wanted a party of national salvation that would "galvanise all Pakistanis regardless of religion, caste or creed".

Punctuated by chants from supporters, he added: "It is time to unfurl a Muslim league umbrella for all - this umbrella for all shall be the All Pakistan Muslim League."

The former army chief, who now lives in London, earlier told the BBC: "When there is a dysfunctional government and the nation is going down, its economy is going down, there is a clamour, there is a pressure on the military by the people."

He said he was launching the party in London because he risked assassination if he returned to Pakistan. He has survived a number of plots in the past.

Last month, Mr Musharraf told the BBC he would be standing for a seat in the 2013 parliamentary elections. From there he said he hoped to become either prime minister or president.

He made London his base, as a number of Pakistani politicians have done over the years, after his allies lost elections and he was ousted as president in 2008.

If he does go home, he faces legal cases, which he says are politically motivated.

Mr Musharraf seized power in 1999 when, as chief of Pakistan's army, he ousted elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a coup.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Jacqueline Novogratz saying Pakistan needs more servant leadership:

I'm in the office of Dr. Sono, one of Pakistan's most extraordinary social entrepreneurs. Born a Hindu Dalit or "untouchable," he has worked for his country since his youth and emerged as one of the most important grassroots leaders in Sindh. He runs the Sindh Rural Support Organization, a nonprofit company that has emerged as the leading coordinator of local relief during the floods, providing food, sanitation, water and healthcare to six provinces, and serves 60,000 individuals two hot meals a day. With him are Sabiha Bhutto and Asma Soomro who Dr. Sono introduces as his "commandants." Both women carry serious expressions that give them gravitas and weight. Asma wears a black shalwar and an olive-and-rust-colored tropical print shawl over her head. Saibiha wears red-and-white narrow striped cotton. These two women led others to mobilize 80,000 people during the flood emergency.

I ask what they learned from the experience. Asma responds, "We learned to really go to their level, speak their language, feel what they would feel, and build trust." This is classic social-organizing language. "During these three weeks, I met a 90-year-old woman. She wanted to see how other people were coping in the disaster because she herself had gone through crises and was herself prepared for what might come. This inspired me a lot."

Sabiha speaks as much with her eyes as her hands. She remembers the sense of panic among people in Shikarpur who were understandably terrified by the threat of floods. "I spread calm to the people, and promised that Shikarpur would make it through the floods. I urged them to help those who were really in need." When local residents wanted to cross the river, she stopped them. She could see what others could not -- buffalos flying through the churning rapids, most of them drowning. Her neighbors trusted her, and lives were saved. I ask what she had learned. "I realize what it means to be brave," she answers.

Neither Sabiha nor Asma consider being a woman a hindrance, even in conservative parts of Pakistan. "People know that we are here for them," says Sabiha. "We've earned their trust." Between them, they've delivered sixteen women to the hospital to enable them to give birth during the crisis period.

Dr. Sono jumps in and says, "Last week, I received a phone call from a nearby village. The caller said people were drowning. And you know, I love that village." His eyes twinkle so that you can feel that love. I adore Dr. Sono for being so exquisitely alive and caring. He continues:

I called Sabiha and Asma and told them to go to the village and help people escape before the flood waters came. It was 10:30 at night, and still they went. This is a dangerous area, and women especially can be killed going out at night. But they went. And by midnight, the village was empty and there was not a single drowning.

The conversation turns to Pakistan's future, and what can be done about corruption.

Corruption is a big problem here. But we are seeing changes. We have minimized corruption at the district level, and now we have to translate that to the top level. We also have to focus on educating people at the grassroots, too, so that they begin to question government. This way, we can start to end corruption.

This way, the world can change.

Riaz Haq said...

The recent tragic assassination of Gov Salman Taseer has caused many to rethink whether the South Asian Barelvi or Sufi Islam is really more tolerant than Deobandi or Wahabi Islam imported into Pakistan from Saudi Arabia.

Clearly, the followers of Barelvi Islam have not hesitated in supporting blasphemy laws, and they have shamelessly cheered the murder of Salman Taseer who spoke for repeal of such laws.

I also think the Barelvi or Sufi Islam in Pakistan has been hijacked by the feudal-politcal class of makhdooms (Yusuf Raza Gilani, Shah Mahmmood Qureshi, Javed Hashmi, Amin Fahim, etc) to exploit their self-proclaimed lineage from Prophet Mohammad (their so-called Syed status) as a way to maintain their feudal-cum-spiritual power over the poor peasants in Sind and Southern Panjab.

This feudal domination of politics has badly hurt the emergence of real democracy and any advancement of the poor, illiterate rural folks in Pakistan, and contributed to the growth of religious extremism particularly in rural Punjab.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BBC's Soutik Biswas's review of "India: A Portrait" by historian Patrick French arguing that India is becoming a hereditary monarchy:

Is India sliding into a pseudo monarchy of sorts? In his splendid new book, India: A Portrait, historian Patrick French dredges up some startling data on the stranglehold of family and lineage on Indian politics.

The research finds that though less than a third of India's parliamentarians had a hereditary connection, things get worse with the younger MPs. Consider this:

Every MP in the Lok Sabha or the lower house of the Indian parliament under the age of 30 had inherited a seat.
More than two thirds of the 66 MPs aged 40 or under are hereditary MPs.
Every Congress MP under the age of 35 was a hereditary MP.
Nearly 40% of the 66 ministers who are members of the Lok Sabha were hereditary members.
Nearly 70% of the women MPs have family connections.
Interestingly, for MPs over 50, the proportion with a father or relative in politics was a rather modest 17.9%. But when you looked at those aged 50 or under, this increased by more than two and a half times to nearly half, or 47.2%.

Also most of the younger hereditary MPs - and ministers - have not made a mark and sometimes have been shockingly conservative in their actions. A young MP from feudal Haryana, for example, was seen to be cosying up to extra-constitutional village councils in the state which were punishing couples for marrying outside their caste and clan.

"If the trend continued," concludes French, "it was possible that most members of the Indian Parliament would be there by heredity alone, and the nation would be back to where it had started before the freedom struggle, with rule by a hereditary monarch and assorted Indian princelings." He also worries the next Lok Sabha will be a "house of dynasts".

Most agree that growing nepotistic and lineage-based power in the world's largest democracy is a matter of concern. "The idea of India," political scientist Mahesh Rangarajan told me, "is rent apart by these two contradictory impulses."

But nepotism is a part of India life; and politics mirrors society. Power, wealth, land and status have hinged to a large extent on who your parents were, what they owned and where they stood in society. Most Indian businesses continue to be owned and run by families though the new economy is throwing up more first generation entrepreneurs. Bollywood, India's thriving film industry, is dominated by sons and daughters of famous actors and producers. Three members of one family - Nehru-Gandhi - have held the post of prime minister. If the Congress party wins the next elections and PM Manmohan Singh steps down, there is a likelihood of the dynast Rahul Gandhi becoming India's next prime minister. (It is no surprise that 37% of the MPs - 78 of 208 - in Congress are hereditary compared to only 19% hereditary MPs - 22 of the 116 - in the main opposition BJP.)

Despite French's troubling data, all may not be lost. "Please remember," Dr Rangarajan told me, "the MPs have lineage as a huge plus, but the posts are not hereditary." In other words, if they fail to deliver, they will be voted out of power. Merit triumphed over dynasty in the recent elections in dirt-poor Bihar. So though lineage remains a key factor in politics, remind analysts, it can only give a headstart, and nothing more. Thank democracy for that.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an interesting Op Ed by Prof Lev Ginsburg on democracy in developing world, as published in Aljazeera English:

The basic reason for democracy's lack of solutions to such problems (poverty, economic disparity) is that its principles have been formulated in industrialised capitalist societies characterised by considerable cultural homogeneity and relatively small economic gaps.

Democracy is a set of formal principles developed in Western Europe with the aim of facilitating the representation and articulation of the middle and working classes and designed to contain peacefully the conflicts between them and the upper class.

In the absence of a balance of power between classes, and a consensual unifying national identity, the automatic installation of formal democratic principles might only make matters worse.
----------
When there is a systematic link between cultural identity and economic status, democracy becomes a problem, rather than a solution. It exacerbates cultural conflicts to the point of violence, because it provides a formal opportunity for the majority to force their will on the minority.

Political sociologist Michael Mann has shown that in these cases democracy only serves to intensify conflicts among racial and ethnic groups, to which I would add, in the Middle Eastern context, the conflict between confessional groups and between the religious and the secular.
----------
The oldest case, mind you, is the US - the cradle of the democratic constitution which announced a "government of the people" and began the massacre of the American indigenous people because they were not considered part of "we, the people" of America.
--------
Whoever wants democracy under these conditions must first come up with a creative and consensual formula, according to which each cultural group would be free to live its unique cultural life without attempting to force its identity and customs on the entire citizen body.

In other words, demonstrating for democracy is not enough. What the countries of the Middle East require is political consensus on mutual recognition of rights and coexistence, guaranteed by a constitution and institutionalised by electoral procedures and representative institutions.

Egypt does have to worry, however, about economic inequality and the severe daily hardships suffered by most of its population. Without providing solutions to these problems, even the most democratic regime can be toppled by massive protests, possibly leading to new forms of dictatorship. A good example of such a failure of democracy was December 2001 in Argentina, when the masses flooded the streets calling for "all politicians to go home" and toppling five presidents in a row.

This happened only two years after democratic elections swept a broad leftwing front to power, which had promised to bring the country out of its deep economic crisis, but failed. The elected government pursued the policy dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which protected the interests of foreign investors against those of the local middle and salaried class. The crisis caused all holders of local bank deposits to lose 70 per cent of their money, with the blessing of the IMF.

Therefore, Egypt must realise that although democracy is essential, any formal constitution or system of government will not solve its economic problems. Immediately after the elections, Egypt's new policymakers will have to switch from the formal liberal discourse of democracy to face and discuss the fundamental questions of Egypt's economic structure. In the process, they are liable to discover that it is far more difficult to uproot a corrupt economic regime than to topple a single dictator.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP report on Pakistani tax dodgers:

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan is defying mounting Western pressure to end a giant tax dodge with fewer and fewer people contributing to government coffers, spelling dire consequences for a sagging economy.

Tax is taboo in Pakistan. Barely one percent of the population pays at all, as a corrupt bureaucracy safeguards entrenched interests and guards private wealth, but starves energy, health and education of desperately needed funds.

Less than 10 percent of GDP comes from tax revenue -- one of the lowest global rates and worse than in much of Africa, say economists.

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) spokesman Asrar Rauf said 1.9 million people paid tax in 2010, less than the year before, despite 3.2 million being registered to pay -- itself a drop in the ocean of a population of 180 million.

As a result, Pakistan's fiscal deficit widened from 5.3 percent to 6.3 percent of GDP in 2010, the Asian Development Bank said this month, knocking 2011 growth figures to 2.5 percent and predictions for 2012 to 3.2 percent.
---------
This month visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron pressed the point home, saying aid increases were a hard sell when: "Too many of your richest people are getting away without paying much tax at all and that's not fair".
---------
The IMF last May halted a $11.3 billion assistance package over a lack of progress on reforms, principally on tax.

And despite a flurry of meetings, no new loan has been agreed in the run-up to the IMF and World Bank's Spring meetings.

An IMF review mission is due to visit on May 8. "Consensus is building, we have almost reached agreement (on reform)," one government official told AFP, but gave no details.
----------
What would really work, say analysts, would be scrapping exemptions that serve entrenched interests, such as a 50 percent tax discount on sugar and a gate on taxing agricultural income that largely exempts wealthy feudal landowners.

But stalemate and vested interests have made that impossible.

"There's talk of early elections. One has a brittle coalition. A lot of the reform areas that need to be dealt with have very well entrenched and powerful lobbies that are making the case against it," said a finance ministry official.

As it is, the tiny minority who contribute say they carry a disproportionate tax burden, for which they get nothing in return.

Pakistan suffers from an awful energy crisis, yet government spending on electricity subsidies last year reached just under one percent of GDP, health spending 0.5 percent and education two percent, said the finance ministry.

According to a 2009 study by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, the average member of parliament was worth $900,000 and the wealthiest $37 million.

Those figures stand against estimates that a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line and that GDP per capita stands at $2,400.

"No one trusts the government," says industrialist Mohammad Ishaq, former vice president of the chamber of commerce in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

"Without social welfare and with this corruption, nobody is ready to pay tax... in return one gets nothing -- no health, education, social security."

Eunuchs have been appointed tax collectors in Karachi, the financial capital, on the understanding that a visit from the maligned transgender group would embarrass people into paying up.

But former finance minister Salman Shah said tax evasion was inevitable because of corruption within the FBR, which employs 23,000 people nationwide.

"There's a big mistrust of the tax authority itself. That's why a self-assessment scheme came in," said Shah.
.............

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Prof Anatol Lieven, the author of Pakistan-A Hard Country, explaining P2K in an interview with Harpers magazine:

This represents a shocking surrender on my part to SMS-speak, which comes of associating with students!

What it stands for is “Patronage to Kinship,” which is central to the nature and workings of the Pakistani state and political systems. In my book, I argue that this system—especially in the countryside but to some extent also in the cities—revolves around local elites using their own wealth to gain leadership positions in their kinship groups, using these positions to advance in politics and get elected to the provincial or national assembly (whether under civilian or military rule), and then in turn using their influence on government to extract corruption.

However, by contrast with some systems, like Nigeria’s, the benefits of this corruption cannot simply or even mainly be kept for the immediate beneficiaries. In order to retain support, they have to distribute a reasonable proportion of it to their kinfolk and other supporters—otherwise they won’t go on supporting the leaders for very long. Even within quite tight-knit kinship groups, there is usually a rival relative who will step forward to claim the leadership if the existing leader is seen as mean, greedy, and unresponsive to his followers’ needs. There are two good U.S. quotes which illustrate the morality behind this. The first was said about Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago by his supporters: “He dunks, but he splashes.” The second comes from Bruce Springsteen’s song “Highway Patrolman”: “A man turns his back on his family, he ain’t no friend of mine.”

In my book, I describe this system as “Janus-faced.” On the one hand, because of the way in which it maintains kinship links and spreads a certain amount of patronage through society, it helps maintain the existing system’s resilience in the face of the threat of Islamist revolution. On the other hand, it cripples the state’s ability to generate and spend resources effectively on infrastructure, education, and every other form of state service, and it is therefore disastrous for Pakistan’s economic development and social progress.

I argue that the power and prestige of the Pakistani military within the Pakistani system has been due chiefly to its ability to separate itself from the normal workings of the patronage and kinship system, and to operate as a relatively efficient and honest meritocracy. However—and I do wish more of my critics would notice this—I also say repeatedly that the reason the military has been able to do this is that it has in effect functioned as a giant patronage network, extracting a massive share of state resources and spending them on itself, albeit in an orderly way and with some benefits reaching the ordinary soldiers as well as the officers.


http://harpers.org/archive/2011/05/hbc-90008092

Riaz Haq said...

All the pretensions of western style institutions make little sense to most inhabitants of India and Pakistan and other former colonies.

The colonial legacy of parliamentary democracy and British style rule of law are alien concepts in South Asia and never touch the lives of over 90% of the population.

With few exceptions, the disputes and conflicts are resolved using traditional rules set and adjudicated by local village councils (panchayats and jirgas) which are at odds with the laws passed by the national and provincial legislatures and implemented by the governments' justice system.

Riaz Haq said...

It seems that the latest 2011-12 budget passed by the PPP-led coalition pleases neither the right nor the left. Here's a view from the World Socialist Forum:

The $31 billion budget was passed, without amendment, by the National Assembly in June after months of maneuvering by the PPP. Attempts by rival parties to posture as opponents of IMF austerity, especially on the part of Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N), produced a months-long political crisis for the PPP. Although the entire political establishment supports austerity, privatization and other pro-business reforms, the PPP’s rivals have sought to distance themselves from the implementation of policies that they know will incite opposition from the working class and rural poor.

Had the National Assembly rejected the budget, the coalition government would have been forced to resign. Ultimately, the PPP was able to get the budget passed with the support of the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) and the Karachi-based Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM).

The MQM had previously left the coalition in May forcing the PPP to invite the PML (Q)—which served as a civilian veneer for the Musharraf dictatorship— to join the government so as to provide it with the parliamentary votes needed to adopt the budget and share the burden of imposing unpopular measures. The MQM subsequently rejoined the government and helped pass the budget.

The PPP-led government is determined to narrow the budget deficit in order to bring an end to a freeze on IMF credit. The IMF has refused to disburse any money to Pakistan since May 2010, citing the government’s failure to implement draconian pro-market reforms, including a Goods and Services or VAT-type tax. The government is desperate to secure the remaining two tranches of an $11.3 billion loan originally issued in 2008, about $3.2 billion. It has also indicated it will soon be seeking additional IMF funding, at least in part so it can begin paying back the 2008 loan.

During the past year, the state has increasingly relied on borrowing from the central bank to fund its budget deficit, stoking inflation to 13 percent. According to Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the government hopes to reduce the deficit to 4 percent of gross domestic product during the 2011-2012 fiscal year, down from 5.7 percent of GDP for the financial year that ended June 30. It plans to achieve this by decreasing its expenditure and broadening the country’s tax-to-GDP ratio, which, at around 9 percent, is one of the lowest in the world.

After failing to secure the requisite political support to impose a new goods and services tax, the government created a Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST), ending sales-tax exemptions on about 500 items. This is expected to bring in additional revenues of about 200 million Pakistani rupees, even while the government lowers the sales tax rate by one percentage point from 17 to 16 percent.

The RGST and other indirect taxes whose burden fall most heavily on the working class and toilers are supposed to raise 64 percent or close to two-thirds of the government’s 2 trillion rupees ($23.2 billion) in tax revenues


http://wsws.org/articles/2011/jul2011/paki-j22.shtml

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Sashi Tharoor in Tehelka.com on failure of parliamentary democracy in India:

THE RECENT political shenanigans in New Delhi, notably the repeated paralysis of Parliament by slogan-shouting members violating (with impunity) every canon of legislative propriety, have confirmed once again what some of us have been arguing for years: that the parliamentary system we borrowed from the British has, in Indian conditions, outlived its utility. Has the time not come to raise anew the case — long consigned to the back burner — for a presidential system in India?

The basic outlines of the argument have been clear for some time: our parliamentary system has created a unique breed of legislator, largely unqualified to legislate, who has sought election only in order to wield (or influence) executive power. It has produced governments obliged to focus more on politics than on policy or performance. It has distorted the voting preferences of an electorate that knows which individuals it wants but not necessarily which policies. It has spawned parties that are shifting alliances of individual interests rather than vehicles of coherent sets of ideas. It has forced governments to concentrate less on governing than on staying in office, and obliged them to cater to the lowest common denominator of their coalitions. It is time for a change.
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The parliamentary system devised in Britain — a small island nation with electorates initially of a few thousand voters per MP, and even today less than a lakh per constituency — assumes a number of conditions that simply do not exist in India. It requires the existence of clearly- defined political parties, each with a coherent set of policies and preferences that distinguish it from the next, whereas in India, a party is all too often a label of convenience a politician adopts and discards as frequently as a film star changes costumes. The principal parties, whether “national” or otherwise, are fuzzily vague about their beliefs: every party’s “ideology” is one variant or another of centrist populism, derived to a greater or lesser degree from the Nehruvian socialism of the Congress. We have 44 registered political parties recognised by the Election Commission, and a staggering 903 registered but unrecognised, from the Adarsh Lok Dal to the Womanist Party of India. But with the sole exceptions of the BJP and the communists, the existence of the serious political parties, as entities separate from the “big tent” of the Congress, is a result of electoral arithmetic or regional identities, not political conviction. (And even there, what on earth is the continuing case, after the demise of the Soviet Union and the reinvention of China, for two separate recognised communist parties and a dozen unrecognised ones?)


http://www.tehelka.com/story_main51.asp?filename=Ne171211Coverstory.asp

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Dr. Ataur Rahman's Op Ed in The News on building Pakistan's knowledge economy:

Agriculture represents the backbone of our economy. It can serve as a launching pad for transition to a knowledge economy, as it has a huge potential for revenue generation. But that can happen only if agricultural practices are carried out on scientific lines and use of technology maximised. The four major crops of Pakistan are wheat, rice, cotton and sugarcane. They contribute about 37 percent of the total agricultural income and about nine percent to the GDP of Pakistan.
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Wheat is the most important crop of Pakistan, with the largest acreage. It contributes about three percent to the GDP. The national average yield is about 2.7 tons per hectare, whereas in Egypt the yields are 6.44 tons per hectare and in European countries such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom they are above seven tons per hectare. We presently produce about Rs220 billion worth of wheat. If we can boost our yields to match those of Egypt, it can generate another Rs350 billion, allowing us to systematically pay off the national debt and make available funding for health and education.

However, the government has been reluctant to invest in research, water reservoirs and dams and extension services so that the country continues to suffer. Some progressive farmers in irrigated areas have been able to obtain yields of 6-8 tons per hectare but they are very much a minority. In rain-fed areas the yields are normally between 0.5 tons to 1.3 tons per hectare, depending on the region and amount of rainfall. In irrigated areas the yields are normally higher, in the range of 2.5 tons to 3.0 tons per hectare. Improved semi-dwarf cultivars that are available in Pakistan can afford a yield of wheat between 6-8 tons per hectare. It is possible to increase the yields substantially with better extension services, judicious use of fertilisers and pesticides, and greater access of water from storage reservoirs and dams that need to be constructed.

Cotton represents an important fibre crop of Pakistan that generates about Rs250 billion to the national economy, and contributing about two percent to the national GDP. Pakistan is the fourth-largest producer of cotton in the world, but it is ranked at 10th in the world in terms of yields. The use of plant biotechnology can help to develop better cotton varieties. Bt cotton produces a pesticide internally and safeguards the plant against chewing insects. The yields of Pakistani seed cotton and cotton fibre are both about half those of China. A doubling of cotton yields is doable and it can add another Rs250 billion to the national economy.

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The failed system of democracy in Pakistan is strongly supported by Western governments. It serves Western interests as it leads to docile and submissive leaders who serve their foreign masters loyally. The stranglehold of the feudal system thrives with no priority given to education. More than parliamentarians have forged degrees and the degrees of another 250 are suspect. The Supreme Court decision of verification of their degrees is flouted and ignored by the Election Commission. The bigger the crook, the more respect he is given by the government and the biggest crooks are conferred the highest civil awards. The economy has nosedived and we are today ranked among the bottom six countries of the world in terms of our expenditure on education.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=83815&Cat=9

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Associated Press report on Pakistan's assertive judiciary challenging the military and civilian leadership:

....Some believe the court’s actions are part of a necessary, if messy, rebalancing in a country that has long been dominated by the army or seen chaotic periods of rule by corrupt politicians. Others view the court as just another unaccountable institution undermining the elected government.
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The army has been the principal point of contact for the U.S. in the decade since it resuscitated ties with Pakistan to help with the Afghan war. While the army remains the strongest Pakistani institution, recent events indicate it has ceded some of that power to the Supreme Court and the country’s civilian leaders.
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The Supreme Court’s activism was on full display Monday.

The court charged Pakistan’s prime minister with contempt for refusing to reopen an old corruption case against the president. Later, it ordered two military intelligence agencies to explain why they held seven suspected militants in allegedly harsh conditions for 18 months without charges.

Some government supporters have accused the court of acting on the army’s behalf to topple the country’s civilian leaders, especially in a case probing whether the government sent a memo to Washington last year asking for help in stopping a supposed military coup.

But no evidence has surfaced to support that allegation, and the court’s moves against the military seem to conflict with the theory. The judges have also taken up a case pending for 15 years in which the army’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, is accused of funneling money to political parties to influence national elections.
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The court’s actions against the army are a significant turnaround. For much of Pakistan’s nearly 65-year history, the court has been pliant to the army’s demands and validated three coups carried out by the generals.
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The Pakistani media have largely applauded the court’s activism against the army, which has also had its power checked by a more active media and the demands of a bloody war against a domestic Taliban insurgency.
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“I think the Supreme Court is going too far,” said Pakistani political analyst Hasan-Askari Rizvi. “In the past, it was the army that would remove the civilian government, and now it’s the Supreme Court, another unelected institution trying to overwhelm elected leadership.”

Supreme Court justices are appointed by the president based on recommendations from a judicial commission working in conjunction with parliament. The judges can serve until the age of 65 and can be removed only by a judicial council.

The cases have distracted the government from dealing with pressing issues facing the country, including an ailing economy and its battle against the Pakistani Taliban.

Moeed Yusuf, an expert on Pakistan at the United States Institute of Peace, said the jockeying for power between the army, Supreme Court and civilian government was expected given the shifting political landscape and could be beneficial to the country in the long run.

“No country has managed to bypass several phases of such recalibration before they have arrived at a consensual, democratic and accountable system where institutions finally are able to synergize rather than compete endlessly,” Yusuf wrote in a column in Dawn.
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“No single group will totally dominate the system,” said Rizvi. “That will slow down decision making further in Pakistan because nobody can take full responsibility for making a decision.”


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/pakistans-assertive-supreme-court-signals-power-shift-in-vital-us-ally/2012/02/14/gIQAIZHODR_story.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from Raymond Baker's book "Capitalism's Achilles Heel" regarding Pakistan's venal politicians:

"While Benazir Bhutto hated the generals for executing her father, Nawaz Sharif early on figured out that they held the real power in Pakistan. His father had established a foundry in 1939 and, together with six brothers, had struggled for years only to see their business nationalized by Ali Bhutto’s regime in 1972. This sealed decades of enmity between the Bhuttos and the Sharifs. Following the military coup and General Zia’s assumption of power, the business—Ittefaq—was returned to family hands in 1980. Nawaz Sharif became a director and cultivated relations with senior military officers. This led to his appointment as finance minister of Punjab and then election as chief minister of this most populous province in 1985. During the 1980s and early 1990s, given Sharif ’s political control of Punjab and eventual prime ministership of the country, Ittefaq Industries grew from its original single foundry into 30 businesses producing steel, sugar, paper, and textiles, with combined revenues of $400 million, making it one of the biggest private conglomerates in the nation. As in many other countries, when you control the political realm, you can get anything you want in the economic realm."
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Like Bhutto, offshore companies have been linked to Sharif, three in the British Virgin Islands by the names of Nescoll, Nielson, and Shamrock and another in the Channel Islands known as Chandron Jersey Pvt. Ltd. Some of these entities allegedly were used to facilitate purchase of four rather grand flats on Park Lane in London, at various times occupied by Sharif family members. Reportedly, payment transfers were made to Banque Paribas en Suisse, which then instructed Sharif ’s offshore companies Nescoll and Nielson to purchase the four luxury suites.
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Upon taking office in 1988, Bhutto reportedly appointed 26,000 party hacks to state jobs, including positions in state-owned banks. An orgy of lending without proper collateral followed. Allegedly, Bhutto and Zardari “gave instructions for billions of rupees of unsecured government loans to be given to 50 large projects. The loans were sanctioned in the names of ‘front men’ but went to the ‘Bhutto-Zardari combine.’ ” Zardari suggested that such loans are “normal in the Third World to encourage industrialisation.” He used 421 million rupees (about £10 million) to acquire a major interest in three new sugar mills, all done through nominees acting on his behalf. In another deal he allegedly received a 40 million rupee kickback on a contract involving the Pakistan Steel Mill, handled by two of his cronies. Along the way Zardari acquired a succession of nicknames: Mr. 5 Percent, Mr. 10 Percent, Mr. 20 Percent, Mr. 30 Percent, and finally, in Bhutto’s second term when he was appointed “minister of investments,” Mr. 100 Percent.


http://books.google.com/books?id=Wkd0--M6p_oC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Capitalism%27s+Achilles+Heel&hl=en&sa=X&ei=R_2jT569HofViAKLzpzLAw&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=nawaz%20sharif&f=false

http://books.google.com/books?id=Wkd0--M6p_oC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Capitalism%27s+Achilles+Heel&hl=en&sa=X&ei=R_2jT569HofViAKLzpzLAw&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=zardari&f=false

Riaz Haq said...

Here's David Brooks' New York Times' column on inadequacy of democracy in solving problems:

The people who pioneered democracy in Europe and the United States had a low but pretty accurate view of human nature. They knew that if we get the chance, most of us will try to get something for nothing. They knew that people generally prize short-term goodies over long-term prosperity. So, in centuries past, the democratic pioneers built a series of checks to make sure their nations wouldn’t be ruined by their own frailties.

The American founders did this by decentralizing power. They built checks and balances to frustrate and detain the popular will. They also dispersed power to encourage active citizenship, hoping that as people became more involved in local government, they would develop a sense of restraint and responsibility.

In Europe, by contrast, authority was centralized. Power was held by small coteries of administrators and statesmen, many of whom had attended the same elite academies where they were supposed to learn the art and responsibilities of stewardship. Under the parliamentary system, voters didn’t even get to elect their leaders directly. They voted for parties, and party elders selected the ones who would actually form the government, often through secret means.

Though the forms were different, the democracies in Europe and the United States were based on a similar carefully balanced view of human nature: People are naturally selfish and need watching. But democratic self-government is possible because we’re smart enough to design structures to police that selfishness.

James Madison put it well: “As there is a degree of depravity in mankind, which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence.”

But, over the years, this balanced wisdom was lost. Leaders today do not believe their job is to restrain popular will. Their job is to flatter and satisfy it. A gigantic polling apparatus has developed to help leaders anticipate and respond to popular whims. Democratic politicians adopt the mind-set of marketing executives. Give the customer what he wants. The customer is always right.--------
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Western democratic systems were based on a balance between self-doubt and self-confidence. They worked because there were structures that protected the voters from themselves and the rulers from themselves. Once people lost a sense of their own weakness, the self-doubt went away and the chastening structures were overwhelmed. It became madness to restrain your own desires because surely your rivals over yonder would not be restraining theirs.

This is one of the reasons why Europe and the United States are facing debt crises and political dysfunction at the same time. People used to believe that human depravity was self-evident and democratic self-government was fragile. Now they think depravity is nonexistent and they take self-government for granted.

Neither the United States nor the European model will work again until we rediscover and acknowledge our own natural weaknesses and learn to police rather than lionize our impulses.


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/18/opinion/the-age-of-innocence.html?_r=1

HopeWins Junior said...

Pakistani Politician: "What does it matter whether it is a real degree or a fake degree? After all, a degree is a degree"

http://alturl.com/5jb87

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting debate on democracy vs dictatorship in terms of development:

Dictatorship does not necessarily result in development, defined by human well-being(which incorporates education, health, income, and safety from internal and external threats)and even by personal discipline. Furthermore, there is no conclusive evidence proving that either dictatorship nor democracy cause development. Nonetheless, we will prove dictatorships incorporate more control over the variables that define development so in consequence are a better course to get to it. Also, that dictatorships guarantee the Social Order, which is a very necessary prerequisite for any kind of economic accumulation process to be feasible. A form of government in which absolute power is concentrated in a dictator or a small clique, dictatorships are subject to retaliatory actions. We propose this should end.
Democratic nations should not take retaliatory actions against dictatorial governments in order to diminish their legitimacy, their power, and to promote their overthrown in exchange for a democratic alternative. This actions account for the diminishing of economic & diplomatic relations with Burma and Iran and the cut of economic aid to Honduras’ “de facto” Government.
We will prove that these sort of actions can only undermine the possibility of development finally kicking in this countries, since dictatorship is the best way to achieve it.


All the Yes points
Dictatorships breed development though efficient and straighfoward decision making
Dictatorship is a good breeding ground for personal discipline and order
Dictatorships better control the variables of human development
Dictatorships resist to income Redistribution Pressures
Dictatorship is a more economic institution: elections are a luxury reserved for developed countries.
Dictatorships regimes can be a path for countries move on from civil wars and focus on development
Dictatorships have a flexibility in economic policy that breeds growth
Dictatorship helps achieve social stability
The loger lasting and biggest economic miracles have ocurred under dictatorships
Dictatorship outperforms democracy in growth and economic develpment
A dictatorship breeds order and it's a needed step for both development and liberal democracy
Dictators have incentives to promote development and diminish social differences
Summary
All the No points
Opposition defines ambiguity
Opposition baffled yet undeterred!
Dictator’s decisions undermines the people and are unaccountable
Development is not possible when there is no succession in the government
Dictatorship priority is to maintain power
Dictatorship brings profit to dictators and its clique, but not to the citizens
Dictatorship is a threat to diversity and multi ethnicity
Dictatorship transforms national policies into irregularities
Good development should ensures freedom
Development occurs when a dictatorship revert into democracy


http://debatewise.org/debates/1001-dictatorship-is-the-best-path-to-development/

Riaz Haq said...

A 2010 UMich study found that misinformed people exposed to corrected facts rarely changed their minds:


It’s one of the great assumptions underlying modern democracy that an informed citizenry is preferable to an uninformed one. “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789. This notion, carried down through the years, underlies everything from humble political pamphlets to presidential debates to the very notion of a free press. Mankind may be crooked timber, as Kant put it, uniquely susceptible to ignorance and misinformation, but it’s an article of faith that knowledge is the best remedy. If people are furnished with the facts, they will be clearer thinkers and better citizens. If they are ignorant, facts will enlighten them. If they are mistaken, facts will set them straight.

In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?

Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

This bodes ill for a democracy, because most voters — the people making decisions about how the country runs — aren’t blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds. The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false. And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed. Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper.

“The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon — known as “backfire” — is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.”

These findings open a long-running argument about the political ignorance of American citizens to broader questions about the interplay between the nature of human intelligence and our democratic ideals. Most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas, and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence. In reality, we often base our opinions on our beliefs, which can have an uneasy relationship with facts. And rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions. Worst of all, they can lead us to uncritically accept bad information just because it reinforces our beliefs. This reinforcement makes us more confident we’re right, and even less likely to listen to any new information. And then we vote.

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from a recent book "Street Smarts" by Hedge Fund Manager Jim Rogers:

"Many Asians say that the Asian Way is first to open your economy, to bring prosperity to your country, and then, only after that, to open up your political system. They say thar the reason the Russians failed is that did it the other way around. Russia opened up its political system in the absence of a sound economy, everybody bitched and complained, and chaos inevitably ensued. As an example of the Asian path to political openness, they point to South Korea and Taiwan, both of which were once vicious dictatorships supported by the United States. Japan was at one time a one-party state supported by the US military. Singapore achieved its current status under one-party, authoritarian rule. All these countries have since become more prosperous and more open.

Palto,in The Republic, says that the way societies evolve is by going from dictatorship to oligarchy to democracy to chaos and back to dictatorship. It has a certain logic, and Plato was a very smart guy. I do not know if the Asians ever read The Republic, but the Asian way seems to suggest that Plato knew whereof he spoke."

Not only is the Asian model different from that of the Soviets, it stands China in marked contrast to those thirty-year dictatorships previously mentioned. Chinese leaders have put a high premium upon changing the country's economy, presumably to seek prosperity for the 1.3 people who live there."
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"And yet,in 1947, when it achieved independence, India was one of the more successful countries in the world, a democratic country. But despite democracy, or maybe because of it, India has never lived up to its potential. China was a shambles as recently as 1980. India was far ahead of it. Bt since then China has left India, literally in the dust....As China rises, India continues to decline relatively. Its dent-to-GDP ratio is now 90 percent, making a strong growth rate virtually impossible."



http://books.google.com/books?id=t_t9swbrmAoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=street+smart+jim+rogers&hl=en&sa=X&ei=mN-lUsDxEYbuyAHw6oGIBA&ved=0CEgQ6AEwAA#v=snippet&q=ASEAN&f=false

Riaz Haq said...

A senator in Pakistan uses Internet to reach constituents:

A young legislator seeking to boost participation in politics and civic affairs is utilizing the internet as a platform in Pakistan to address problems his constituents face.
The idea, says Senator Osman Saifullah Khan, came from the US legal system; “I’ve modelled a website on sites maintained by US legislators,” Saifullah says, explaining that American congressmen and senators address the public’s day-to-day concerns via feedback received through these sites.

Saifullah, represents the district of Islamabad in the Upper House of parliament on behalf of the Pakistan Peoples Party. The city, according to the senator, is a fertile virtual ground, with a higher than average rate of literacy and Internet penetration. “My website allows me to seamlessly and economically connect with people and it enables them to get in touch with me easily,” he explains.
“After I launched the site, I have been approached by different organizations seeking my intervention in matters of public policy and governance,” Saifullah says, adding, “I have received representations regarding Internet policy and censorship as well as representations from citizens in Islamabad complaining about the inaction of the Capital Development Authority on a variety of matters.”
The complaints cover a range of issues, most recently including the CDA’s failure to remove trees responsible for Islamabad’s record-breaking pollen counts.
The grandson of former president Ishaq Khan, Saifullah was born in Peshawar. “I am a fourth generation parliamentarian,” he says, “and I’ve grown up seeing members of my family discharging their duties as public representatives of the people of Lakki Marwat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”

“We need to attract intelligent, hard-working young men and women to the civil service,” Saifullah feels, “and I would tell Pakistanis who have been as fortunate as I have that if we want our children to be safe and prosper, we need to create a society that is more equitable.”
Saifullah told The Express Tribune that he would like to be regarded as a problem-solver. “Too often people in Pakistan hold parliamentarians in low regard,” he says, “and all of us have a duty to conduct ourselves in a manner that changes this perception.”
His long term goal includes achieving literacy in the country up to the secondary school level and to push for a quality of education that p
...


http://tribune.com.pk/story/672723/digital-democracy-senator-creates-online-platform-for-constituents/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PakistanToday story on Danish aid to train youth parliamentarians in democracy:

Denmark has launched a US$ 3.5 million a three-year new programme for Pakistan on democratic development and good governance. The programme, a joint collaboration with Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), was announced during the presentation of Pakistan Report of State of Democracy in South Asia an event organised recently by PILDAT with support of the Danish International development agency (Danida). An important feature of the new programnme is the engagement of youth in democratic processes and dialogue.

According to Denmark Ambassador to Pakistan Sorensen, this programme has a special focus on instilling democratic values in the youth through the Youth Parliament programme.

Under this programme, young people from across the country are trained in the values of democracy. This creates understanding, respect and tolerance for other people’s opinions – besides being an innovative approach to engage youth in such an important process, he added.

He said that Denmark is also providing support to primary education in the conflict affected areas.

“We are now also more focused on facilitating contacts between Danish and Pakistani businesses so that we can create jobs, growth and ultimately eliminate poverty”, he added.

Appreciating the Denmark support, PILDAT Executive Director Ahmed Bilal Mehboob said it is in everyone’s interest that we strengthen the democratic progressive forces in Pakistan, so that we do not leave the playing field to the radical forces.

He said through this programme, PILDAT will implement five projects including Assessment of the Quality of Democracy, Youth Parliament Pakistan, Citizens periodic Reports on the performance of state institutions such as the National Assembly, Provincial Assemblies and Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Studies (PIPS) and processes such as the study of Civil-Military Relations and learning from international examples while maintaining close inter-action with national and provincial legislators from various parties, Comparative Assessment and Score Card on Quality of Governance in Federal and Provincial Governments and Development of Political Parties and leadership It may be mentioned here that the new PILDAT programme is a part of the overall US$ 50 million development programme for Pakistan, which was launched by the Government of Denmark in November 2013.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/02/16/city/denmark-to-spend-3-5m-on-pakistans-youth-parliament-programme/