Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pakistan's Story After 64 Years of Independence

“You tend to hear the worst 5% of the Pakistan story 95% of the time.”

The above is a quote attributed to Pakistani Entrepreneur Monis Rahman in Aug 8, 2011 Forbes Magazine story titled “Want to Start a Company in the World's Sixth-Most Populous Country? Time to Move to Pakistan”.

On Pakistan's 64th birthday today, there is a lot of coverage by the traditional media focused on "the worst 5% of the Pakistan story". To help my readers piece together the full story of Pakistan this August 14, 2011, I am writing today to present some of the key parts of the rest of the 95% of the Pakistan story that gets little or no coverage.

Let's start with some of the key indicators of progress Pakistan has made since independence in 1947.

1. Health & Wealth:

The health and wealth of a nation depend on availability of good nutrition and access to health care and education, which in turn rely on economic growth to support needed public and private social spending.

The most basic indicators of progress, such as the life expectancy and per capita incomes of many nations, have been compiled and brought to life in animations developed by Professor Hans Rosling and posted on

The Gapminder animations show that life expectancy in Pakistan has jumped from 32 years in 1947 to  67 years in 2009, and per Capita inflation-adjusted PPP income has risen from $766 in 1948 to $2603 in 2009.

2. Literacy:

Literacy is also a very important indicator of progress. Though the literacy in Pakistan has increased from about 10% in 1947 to about 60% today, it remains dismally low relative to many other nations.

However, a closer examination of literacy data by age groups shows that the literacy rates are rising by every generation:

Over 55 years  30% literate
45-55           40%
35-45           50%
25-35           60%
15-25           70% (Male 80%, Female 60%, UNICEF)

Rural and Female illiteracy are the biggest challenges.

3. Poverty, Hunger and Inequality:

The World Bank ranks Pakistan among lower-middle-income nations with per capita income exceeding $1000 a year.

Pakistan is still a country with significant population of poor people. However, its recent levels of poverty are among the lowest in South Asia.

The 2011 World Bank data shows that Pakistan's poverty rate of 17.2%, based on India's current poverty line of $1.03 per person per day, is more than 10 percentage points lower than India's 27.5%. Assam (urban), Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are the only three Indian states with equal or slightly lower poverty rates than Pakistan's.

Based on hunger data collected from 2003 to 2008, The International Food Policy Research (IFPRI) has reported that Pakistan's hunger index score improved over the last three consecutive years reported since 2008 from 21.7 (2008) to 21.0 (2009) to 19.1 (2010) and its ranking rose from 61 to 58 to 52. During the same period, India's index score worsened from 23.7 to 23.9 to 24.1 and its ranking moved from 66 to 65 to 67 on a list of 84 nations.

 Pakistan is also more egalitarian than its neighbors. The CIA World Factbook reports Pakistan’s Gini Index has decreased from 41 in 1998-99 to 30.6 in 2007-8, lower than India's 36.8 and Bangladesh's 33.2.

4. Pakistan's Economy:

Pakistan state was broke in 1947 because India refused to give Pakistan its share of Sterling reserves. The situation was so bad that Pakistani govt couldn’t pay employees. In this first existential crisis, the Habibs bailed out Pakistani state by lending Rs. 80 million, more than half of Rs. 150 million budget.

Today, Pakistan's economy is the 27th largest in the world. As Part of "the Next 11" group of nations, it is one of the top 15 emerging economies (BRICs+Next11) picked by Goldman Sachs. Goldman forecasts Pakistan to be among the top 20 biggest economies in the world by 2025.

Since 2008, Pakistan's economy has been suffering from a serious stagflation, a very bad combination of slow growth and high inflation. But the history tells us that this current situation is not normal for Pakistan. After all, it's Pakistan's robust economic growth that has enabled significant progress based on the health and wealth indicators outlined earlier.

Beginning in 1947, Pakistani economy grew at a fairly impressive rate of 6 percent per year through the first four decades of the nation's existence. In spite of rapid population growth during this period, per capita incomes doubled, inflation remained low and poverty declined from 46% down to 18% by late 1980s, according to eminent Pakistani economist Dr. Ishrat Husain. This healthy economic performance was maintained through several wars and successive civilian and military governments in 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s until the decade of 1990s, now appropriately remembered as the lost decade.

In the period from 2000-2007, here's what the IMF agreed to in 2008 as part of the nation's bailout:

Pakistan became one of the four fastest growing economies in the Asian region during 2000-07 with its growth averaging 7.0 per cent per year for most of this period. As a result of strong economic growth, Pakistan succeeded in reducing poverty by one-half, creating almost 13 million jobs, halving the country's debt burden, raising foreign exchange reserves to a comfortable position and propping the country's exchange rate, restoring investors' confidence and most importantly, taking Pakistan out of the IMF Program.

5. Science and Technology:

Here are some of the facts about Pakistan's progress in science and technology that never make the headlines in the mainstream media anywhere, including Pakistan:

-Pakistan has been ScienceWatch’s Rising Star for scientific papers published in various international journals.

-Pakistan is among a handful of nations with dozens of scientists working on CERN’s high-profile SuperCollider Project. Several SuperCollider components were built in Pakistan.

-Jinnah Antarctic Station puts Pakistan among a dozen nations doing research in Antarctica.

-Pakistan’s IT Industry is worth $2.8 billion and growing

-Pakistan leads the world in biometric IT services with the world’s biggest biometric database.

-Top-selling Blackberry application was developed by a Pakistani company

6. Arts, Literature & Culture:

There has been an explosion of the uniquely Pakistani arts and literature:

-Sachal Orchestra, a Lahore Jazz Group, is topping western music charts

-Regular book fairs, music concerts, fashion shows & theater group performances

-UK’s Granta Magazine Special Issue Highlights Successful Pakistani Authors’ Books Published in Europe and America. Examples: Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), Daniyal Mueenuddin (In Other Rooms, Other Wonders), Kamila Shamsie (Burnt Shadows), Mohammad Hanif (A Case of Exploding Mangoes) and Nadeem Aslam (The Wasted Vigil) who have been making waves in literary circles and winning prizes in London and New York.

7. Heavy Manufacturing:

Pakistan has a significant heavy industry today. For example:

-Autos, Motorcycles, Tractors, Buses, Trucks (Auto Sales Up 61% in July, 2011)


-Nuclear Reactors (Khushab)



-Unmanned Drones (UAVs)

-Army Tanks

-Ballistic and Cruise Missiles

8. Natural Resources:

Pakistan is rich in energy and mineral resources.

-US Dept of Energy estimates 51 trillion cubic feet of shale gas mostly in Sindh. And there's good potential for shale oil in the country.

-Vast coal reserves at Thar for cheap electricity

-Huge deposits of copper, gold, iron and rare earths at Reko Diq, Dilband and Saindak in Balochistan

-High sustained wind speeds of 13 to 16 mph along the Arabian Sea coastline

-Lots of sunshine everywhere all year round

-Significant hyrdo energy potential

9. Strong Society:

The Habibs bailed out Pakistani state in 1947.

Now, let's see how Edhi doing it in 2011. Here's quote from Anatol Leiven's "Pakistan: A Hard Country":

"There is no sight in Pakistan more moving than to visit some dusty, impoverished small town in arid wasteland, apparently abandoned by God and all sensible men and certainly abandoned by the Pakistani state and its own elected representatives- to see the flag of the Edhi Foundation flying over a concrete shack with a telephone, and the only ambulance in town standing in front. Here, if anywhere in Pakistan, lies the truth of human religion and human morality".

Lieven says Pakistanis donate 5% of the GDP for charitable cause, making Pakistanis the most generous people in the world. As a benchmark, philanthropy accounts for 2.2% of gdp in the United States, 1.3% in the UK, 1.2% in Canada and 0.6% in India.

10. Weak State:

Unfortunately, Pakistani state, run by politicians and their hand-picked civilian administrators, is weak, incompetent and ineffective.

The Pakistani military and the civil society bails out the state each time it is found lacking. Examples include the earthquake in 2005 , Swat takeover by Taliban insurgents in 2009, and massive floods in 2010. In each of these cases, the politicians and the civilian administrators abandoned the people and the world media declared Pakistan a failed state on the verge of total collapse. But they were proved wrong.

The military launched the rescue and relief efforts by deploying all of its resources, and then the NGOs like Edhi Foundation stepped in to help the people stand on their feet again.


While the worst 5% of the Pakistan story gets all the headlines, the reality of Pakistan today as vibrant society and a strong nation gets ignored by the mainstream media. The real story of Pakistan is the resilience of its 180 million citizens who continue to strive to make it better and stronger.

The Taliban who get all the coverage do not pose an existential threat to Pakistan. Generations of military families have periodically fought FATA insurgencies. For example, Shuja Nawaz, the author of Crossed Swords says that his grandfather, his uncle and his cousin have all been deployed in Waziristan by the British and later Pakistani governments in the last century and a half. American withdrawal from the region will eventually calm the situation in Waziristan, and the rest of the country.

Climate change and the growing water scarcity are the main long-term existential threats to Pakistan and the region. Water per capita is already down below 1000 cubic meters and declining
What Pakistan needs are major 1960s style investments for a second Green Revolution to avoid the specter of mass starvation and political upheaval it will bring.

Note: Click here to get a pdf version of my presentation at P.A.C.C. in San Jose, CA.

Here's a video of Riaz Haq's interview on Aug 14, 2011:

Wide Angle Zoom: Formation and Future of Pakistan by wbt-tv

Related Links:

Haq's Musings
Ishrat Husain: Structural Reforms in Pakistan's Economy
Pakistan's Economic Performance 2008-2010

Incompetence Worse Than Corruption in Pakistan
Pakistan's Circular Debt and Load Shedding
US Fears Aid Will Feed Graft in Pakistan

Pakistan Swallows IMF's Bitter Medicine

Shaukat Aziz's Economic Legacy

Pakistan's Energy Crisis

Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performance

India Pakistan Contrasted 2010
Pakistan's Foreign Visitors Pleasantly Surprised
After Partition: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

The "Poor" Neighbor by William Dalrymple
Pakistan's Modern Infrastructure

Video: Who Says Pakistan Is a Failed State?
India Worse Than Pakistan, Bangladesh on Nutrition
UNDP Reports Pakistan Poverty Declined to 17 Percent

Pakistan's Choice: Talibanization or Globalization

Pakistan's Financial Services Sector

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers

Pakistan's Decade 1999-2009

Pakistan's Other Story

South Asia Slipping in Human Development
Asia Gains in Top Asian Universities

BSE-Key Statistics
Pakistan's Multi-Billion Dollar IT Industry

India-Pakistan Military Comparison

Food, Clothing and Shelter in India and Pakistan

Pakistan Energy Crisis

IMF-Pakistan Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies


Oostur said...

Lots of good data and information. Thanks.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting perspective by a Reuters' blogger on "Pakistan's Growing Democracy":

Pakistani politics can be infuriating, petty, violent and often downright incomprehensible. So it is easy to miss what is actually quite a remarkable transformation in the way it governs itself. For perhaps the first time in its 64 years of existence, Pakistan is trying to figure out in detail how to make democracy work.

In a country traditionally dominated by the centralising authority of the military, the government which took office in 2008 is devolving power to the provinces. It is talking about breaking up Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province and traditional recruiting ground of the army, by creating a new Seraiki province in south Punjab. It is extending some political rights into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) by reforming the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulations, a British colonial-era system designed to control rather than govern the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

In other words, it is introducing into the system mechanisms which, in theory at least, make it easier for people to negotiate their disputes with the state without taking up arms. By decentralising, it could also become harder for the army to launch a military coup (though it currently shows no inclination to do so), thus beginning the process of making democracy irreversible. And perhaps most importantly, it offers a way of accommodating Pakistan’s ethnic diversity.

As Pakistani columnist Mosharraf Zaidi wrote this month, “decentralisation has been, stealthily, one of the central and most definitive issues in Pakistani democracy.” And whatever the petty and self-serving politics behind the various positions taken by different political parties, he wrote, “Pakistanis should be pleased that decentralisation represents the very heart of political discourse in Pakistan in 2011.”

Moin said...


Thanks for another good article. Perhaps, it is Pakistan's "secret" standing among other countries that is the cause of all the flak that Pakistan is getting. Obviously, India considers this to be a direct threat. And there are others who do not wish an
independent and powerful Pakistan to exist.

You will agree that the main cause of all this Pakistan's unpopularity is not entirely because it is a Muslim country. But rather it is because Pakistan from 1947 has done a very poor job of marketing itself. Pakistan's Achiles heel is PR, PR, PR.

Riaz Haq said...

Moin: "Pakistan's Achiles heel is PR, PR, PR"

Clearly, PR incompetence is Pakistan's problem. But there are other more serious problems of indifference and corruption of the inept leadership as well.

Most other countries have serious problems too. India, for example.

If the world media focused on the worst 5% of the India story 95% of the time, the narrative would go something like this:

"After 64 years of independence, India remains home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry, illiterate and sick people."

And this narrative is very easily supported by facts and data from multiple credible sources which I have written about at

Hasee said...

Riaz, Very good article.

Moin, Yes bad PR is a big issue for Pakistan but bad governance is even bigger issue. This problem needs to be fixed soon or this is start of a new "lost decade" for Pakistan. Thanks, Haseeb

Moin said...


I think instead of focusing on bashing India, Pakistan Government should focus its energies on letting its own people know the 95% of things they can be proud of. Once the people are positively energized and upbeat about Pakistan's future the 5% bad things will automatically get pushed back or marginalized.

Ayub Khan was a great PR man. Though, Pakistan did not have much in those days, Ayub Khan, made Pakistan look so big and important that Britain and America were eating out of his hands.

I am not saying PR is everything but only noting that if Pakistan did half as much PR as India does now we would look so much better in the eyes of the world.

Riaz Haq said...

Mainstream US media dominate the world because of their size and their power.

It was Henry Kissinger who once said that there is only one thing worse than being a US adversary; it's being a US ally.

Israel is probably the only exception to the above rule because of US domestic politics.

The American media are known to follow their preferred narrative inspired by Washington's agenda....the best example of such narrative and resulting biased coverage is their reporting on Arab-Israel conflict.

Anything that does not fit their narrative simply gets ignored, or put in small print on the inside pages, never making the headlines.

Here are very few examples of those who sometimes question this western narrative and the resulting coverage.

William Dalrymple on Aug 14, 2007:

In the world's media, never has the contrast between the two
countries appeared so stark: one is widely perceived as the next great
superpower; the other written off as a failed state, a world centre of
Islamic radicalism, the hiding place of Osama bin Laden and the only
US ally that Washington appears ready to bomb.

On the ground, of course, the reality is different and first-time
visitors to Pakistan are almost always surprised by the country's
visible prosperity. There is far less poverty on show in Pakistan than
in India, fewer beggars, and much less desperation. In many ways the
infrastructure of Pakistan is much more advanced: there are better
roads and airports, and more reliable electricity. Middle-class
Pakistani houses are often bigger and better appointed than their
equivalents in India.

Alaistair Scrutton, Reuters, 2010:

At times foreign reporters need to a give a nation a rest from their
instinctive cynicism. I feel like that with Pakistan each time I whizz
along the M2 between Islamabad and Lahore, the only motorway I know
that inspires me to write.

And this is Pakistan, for many a "failed state." Here, blandness can
inspire almost heady optimism.

Built in the 1990s at a cost of around $1 billion, the 228-mile
(367-km) motorway -- which continues to Peshawar as the M1 -- is like
a six-lane highway to paradise in a country that usually makes
headlines for suicide bombers, army offensives and political mayhem.

Indeed, for sheer spotlessness, efficiency and emptiness there is
nothing like the M2 in the rest of South Asia.

It puts paid to what's on offer in Pakistan's traditional foe and
emerging economic giant India, where village culture stubbornly
refuses to cede to even the most modern motorways, making them
battlegrounds of rickshaws, lorries and cows.

There are many things in Pakistan that don't get into the news. Daily
life, for one. Pakistani hospitality to strangers, foreigners like
myself included, is another. The M2 is another sign that all is not
what it appears in Pakistan, that much lies hidden behind the bad

NPR's Madhulika Sikka 2010

..But one thing I do want to talk about in the, you know, what is our
vision of Pakistan, which often is one dimensional because of the way
the news coverage drives it.

But, you know, we went to visit a park in the capital, Islamabad,
which is just on the outskirts, up in the hills, and we blogged about
it, and there are photos on our website. You could have been in
suburban Virginia.

There were families, picnics, picnic tables, you know, kids playing,
stores selling stuff, music playing. It was actually very revealing, I
think for us and for people who saw that posting, because there's a
lot that's similar that wouldn't surprise you, let's put it that way."

Moin said...


I agree. Thanks.

Ashmit (India) said...

“You tend to hear the worst 5% of the Pakistan story 95% of the time.”

You base your arguments on a desperate hope that the media is to be blamed - and that the situation is far better. And you a quote a member of an oligarchy that you were only too critical of - a few days back.

" Pakistan from 1947 has done a very poor job of marketing itself. Pakistan's Achiles heel is PR, PR, PR."

Moin, PR?! really ?! that's the only weakness? Not an economy that has borrowed 11 times from the IMF and refuses to grow beyond 3%? Not fundamentalism? Not the friction in Sindh? Not radical Islam in NWFP? Not secessionism in Balochistan? Not internal security - with Obama being killed in abottabad?

You are living in fool's paradise.

"After 64 years of independence, India remains home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry, illiterate and sick people."

This is statement reeks of emasculation to a point of crisis and desperation. India suffers from several handicaps, as you have so geenerously articulated.

However, India has made big leaps in various sphere which warrant a voice on the proverbial high table. India's space program, Nano, IT hubs, robust economy, military capabilitites - to name a few.

Even if one were concede to your arguments, based on twisted facts, that pakistan performs better on socio economic indicators - the areas where pak has its nose ahead are too far and few between. But outside of these consolation "victories" what has Pak achieved that warrants a a place next to the BRIC or BASIC nations?

Pak is nothing more than a strategically positioned mass of land - that has achieved little, and promises less.

Riaz Haq said...

Ashmit: "Pak is nothing more than a strategically positioned mass of land - that has achieved little, and promises less."

Thank you!

I see your comment as a confirmation of the fact that Pakistanis have achieved enough in the last 64 years to deserve such venom from the rabidly partisan and hateful Indians like you.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a VOA report about Clinton and Panetta on US-Pakistan relations:

.. at a public forum with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Washington’s National Defense University, the defense chief was unusually candid about U.S. problem issues with Pakistan.

Panetta said Pakistan has "relationships” with the Haqqani network - militants based in western Pakistan who conduct cross-border attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and with Lashkar-e-Taiba militants who have attacked India.

Both groups are listed by the United States as terrorist organizations. Despite complaints that Pakistan has withheld visas for U.S. citizens being posted there, Panetta said the relationship remains essential.

“There is no choice but to maintain a relationship with Pakistan," said Panetta. "Why? Because we are fighting a war there. We are fighting al-Qaida there. And they do give us some cooperation in that effort. Because they do represent an important force in that region. Because they do happen to be a nuclear power that has nuclear weapons, and we have to be concerned about what happens with those nuclear weapons. So for all of those reasons, we’ve got to maintain a relationship with Pakistan.”

Secretary of State Clinton said the Obama administration considers relations with Pakistan to be of “paramount importance.”

She said there have been “challenges” in bilateral ties for decades with valid complaints on both sides, and that she credits the Islamabad government with lately recognizing its shared interest with Washington in confronting terrorism.

“I was very pleased when the Pakistanis moved into [the] Swat [Valley] and cleaned out a lot of what had become a kind of Pakistani Taliban stronghold," said Clinton. "And then they began to take some troops off their border with India, to put more resources into the fight against the Pakistani Taliban. Now, as Leon [Panetta] says, we have some other targets that we discuss with them - the Haqqanis, for example. And yet it’s been a relatively short period of time, two-and-a-half years, when they have begun to reorient themselves militarily against what is, in our view, an internal threat to them.”

The State Department on Tuesday designated a key Haqqani network commander - Mullah Sangeen Zadran - a terrorist under a 2001 White House executive order, freezing any U.S. assets he has and barring Americans from business dealings with him.

At the same time, Sangeen was designated a terrorist by the U.N. sanctions committee, which will subject him to a global travel ban, an asset freeze and an arms embargo.

A State Department statement said Sangeen, is a “shadow governor” of Afghanistan’s southeast Paktika province and a senior lieutenant of network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani. It said Sangeen has coordinated the movement of hundreds of foreign fighters into that country and that he is linked to numerous bomb attacks and kidnappings.

Anonymous said...

Which components has Pak made for CERN?

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "which components has Pakistan made for CERN?"

Here's a post on CERN website regarding Pakistan's contribution to various CERN projects:

Co-operation with Pakistan was pioneered by CMS, and has expanded continuously over the past 15 years to include ALICE and ATLAS as well as to the accelerator sector (SPL (Linac4) and CLIC), making Pakistan a significant partner for CERN. For CMS, Pakistan built the Magnet feet, contributed to the Tracker alignment, and built and installed 320 Resistive Plate Chambers (RPC), as well as contributing to CMS computing, the WLCG and data analysis. Pakistan has also built various mechanical components for ATLAS and for the LHC.

Co-operation with the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology Nuclear Engineering Division (PINSTECH) in the area of radioprotection is being organized. Several high-level Pakistani officials have visited CERN, including President Musharraf in January 2006.

Discussions are on-going with Commission on Science and Technology for sustainable development (COMSATS) for the setting up of a version of the CERN physics teachers programme in Islamabad.

Agreements have been signed covering Pakistani contributions to LHC commissioning and Linac4.

Riaz Haq said...

From Javed Burki Op Ed in Express Tribune

For a country that now has the reputation of neglecting the development of its vast human resource, it is possible to reach a somewhat different conclusion about the preparedness of the workforce. When the data for the schooling of the young is examined in some detail, and in the context of what is occurring in other countries of South Asia, Pakistan seems well positioned to develop a modern economy. The data used here are from the work done by the economists Robert Baro and Jhong-Wha Lee at Harvard University. Looking at this data, it appears that compared to other large countries of South Asia, Pakistan is doing better in an area that could be tremendously important for its economic and social future.

In 2010, India had 67 per cent of the 15-plus age group in school while Pakistan had 62 per cent. However, it is at the other end of the educational spectrum — what educationists call the tertiary stage — that Pakistan seems to be doing considerably better than other South Asian countries.

In 1950, for India and Pakistan, the proportion of people attending tertiary institutions was 0.6 per cent. Since this has increased to 5.8 per cent for India, a ten-fold increase, and to 5.5 per cent for Pakistan, a nine-fold growth. For Bangladesh, the increase was spectacular, a twenty-fold growth. However, it is the impressive increase for Pakistan that provides the element of surprise.

Pakistan does well in one critical area — the drop-out rate in tertiary education. Those who complete tertiary education in Pakistan account for a larger proportion of persons who enter school at this level. The proportion is much higher for girls, another surprising finding for Pakistan.

With a considerably lower drop-out rate at the tertiary level, it is not surprising that the number of years students spend in school in Pakistan (5.6 years) is higher than that in India (5.1 years) but a bit lower than that for Bangladesh ( 5.8 years). For tertiary education alone, Pakistan’s youth spend more time being educated than those in Bangladesh and India.

It is in the last two decades that the real brake occurred in Pakistan. The proportion of the 15-plus age group receiving tertiary education in Pakistan increased from only 2.4 per cent in 1990 to 5.5 per cent in 2010. The proportion of students completing tertiary education in Pakistan is 41 per cent higher than that for India. Better performance, when measured in terms of the proportion of the population receiving tertiary education, matters a great deal for the economic future. As Baro and Lee point out, the estimated rate of return is very high for tertiary education, close to 18 per cent. This is only 10 per cent for secondary education and almost zero for primary education. The state, by only concentrating on primary education, is not buying a better future for the citizenry. It must make it possible to develop tertiary education as well.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an MSN report on Sen Kerry's Report questioning "whether the IWT can address India''s growing use of the shared waters and Pakistan''s increasing demand for these waters for agricultural purposes":

Washington, Feb 23 (PTI) With an increase in demand for water and energy resources in both India and Pakistan, a Congressional report has questioned the long-term effectiveness of the Indus Water Treaty, which has been successfully implemented for more than six decades between the two South Asian neighbours.
"While the IWT has maintained stability in the region over water, experts question the treaty''s long-term effectiveness in light of chronic tensions between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region, where a significant portion of the Indus River''s headwaters originate," it said adding that as the existing agriculture system becomes more water-intensive and, in some areas, more inefficient, water may prove to be a source of instability in South Asia.
The report, "Avoiding Water Wars: Water Scarcity and Central Asia�s Growing Importance for Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan," sheds light on the drivers of water scarcity in Central and South Asia and provides recommendations for how the US should strategically approach water-related issues, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Written by the majority staff of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the report draws attention to the growing problem of water scarcity in Central and South Asia and how it has the potential to exacerbate existing regional conflicts and lead to new ones.
"While much of our focus currently rests on Afghanistan and Pakistan, we must also consider the interests in the shared waters by India and the neighbouring five Central Asian countries �Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan," John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in a statement.
"In addition, others question whether the IWT can address India''s growing use of the shared waters and Pakistan''s increasing demand for these waters for agricultural purposes," said the 28-page report.
"Signed in 1960, the IWT is considered as the world''s most successful water treaty, having remained relatively intact for 50 years and having withstood four Indo-Pak wars," it added. .

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on rapid broadband growth in Pakistan:

WASHINGTON: Pakistan is ranked as one of top countries that registered high growth rates in broadband Internet penetration among their populace, the latest worldwide data report for Q1 2010 to Q1 2011 says.

Serbia leads all countries surveyed with a 68% annual growth rate from Q1 2010 to Q1 2011, according to July 2011 Bandwidth Report with data on worldwide bandwidth penetration.

The figures were cited by Website Optimization, LLC, a leading website optimizing firm, sourced from Point Topic, a global broadband tracker, and reported by PRWeb.

Pakistan, which has seen a boom in its promising telecom sector and information technology services in recent years, recorded around 46.2 percent growth of subscribers and is placed fourth on the ranking list.

The closest South Asian country to Pakistan on the list of top countries is Sri Lanka at the 11th spot with its broadband penetration growing in 30s while India lags at the 14th place in terms of broadband growth.

Globally, only Thailand and Belarus had greater percentage expansion than Pakistan, apart from top-rated Serbia during the period.

Pakistan’s digital growth prospects have begun to look brighter lately.

Besides having a large bilingual (English and Urdu) Internet conversant population, Pakistan’s software companies have carved a niche internationally in recent years.

According to government figures, the country’s information technology exports totaled $1.4 billion in the last financial year.

Experts say the IT industry, which adds thousands of skilled workers every year, has the potential to hit multimillion export target within next five to ten years. Additionally, mobile phone and wireless Internet usage are also expanding rapidly.

The survey data shows that China continues to lead the world in total broadband subscribers. As of the first quarter of 2011, China had over 135 million broadband subscribers, with the US at over 88 million subscribers in second place. Japan, German, and France followed China and the US in total subscribers.

Anonymous said...

just wait till 4G broadband launches next year.
see the fun then:D

incidentally in india we now have upto 1 Gbps to home in New Delhi.
It costs INR 4500/500GB @1Gbps then unlimited @ 50Mbps.

Riaz Haq said...

Report in Hindustan Times says that "more new born babies die in India annually than in any other country, even though the number of neonatal deaths around the world has seen a slow decline, a new study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said".

New born deaths decreased from 4.6 million in 1990 to 3.3 million in 2009,
and fell slightly faster in the years since 2000, according to the study led by researchers from WHO, Save the Children and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The study, which covers a 20-year-period and all the 193 WHO member states, found that new born deaths - characterised as deaths in the first four weeks of life (neonatal period) – account for 41 % of all child deaths before the age of five.

Almost 99 % of the newborn deaths occur in the developing world, with more than half taking place in the five large countries of India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China and Congo.

"India alone has more than 900,000 newborn deaths per year, nearly 28 % of the global total," WHO said, adding that India had the largest number of neonatal deaths throughout the study.

Nigeria, the world's seventh most populous country, ranked second in new born deaths – up from fifth in 1990. Three quarters of neonatal deaths around the world are caused by pre-term delivery, asphyxia and severe infections, such as sepsis and pneumonia.

WHO pointed out that two thirds or more of these deaths can be prevented with existing interventions.

Fahim said...

The article below is by Bryan Farris, an American who recently spent a month in Pakistan. Unlike most who 'visit' and discuss with armchair analysts he decided to 'feel' Pakistan. This country and its peoples have to be 'felt', not merely seen!

What most of the world fails to realize is just how beautiful this country is and how spectacular its people truly are. It is impossible to overlook the problems: Pakistan is facing lawlessness in Karachi, a violent political system, jaw-dropping inflation, an insufficient power supply and terrorists staking claim over the northern areas. These are real issues that do exist: but they do not define Pakistan—as much of the world would have you believe.

While it may be impossible to overlook the problems, it is (apparently) quite possible to overlook the splendor that a country like Pakistan offers.

Where else do you greet every stranger with the phrase “Peace be with you”?

Where else do you find BBQ Chicken Tikka that melts in your mouth?

Where else is being 20 minutes late considered on-time?

Where else can you see opportunity in every alley?

Where else do motorized scooters (100% of which are red hondas) weave in between cars which cruise past rickshaws, which veer around donkey-pulled carts, which are dwarfed by strutting camels?Where else can you buy seasonal fruit on every single street corner?

Where else do the echoes of a minaret bring an eerie peace to 4a.m. in the morning?

Where else do you find a people who take prayer so seriously, they start every flight with one?

Where else, but Pakistan?
Pakistanis are hospitable. I’ve spent my entire time here living with a host family. At first I was a guest, but Jean, Wilburn, Asim, Maria, Susie, John, Ben, Thomas, Annie, Tashu and Ethan made me feel so welcome that they became family. I know I have a home here forever. Anywhere you go in Pakistan, people will welcome you with open arms (and probably a even a hug—from strangers too).

Pakstanis are loyal. I mean…crazy loyal. When you make a Pakistani friend, you’ve created a serious bond. Leaving is so hard because I feel such powerful ties with people here. For my farewell dinner, a co-worker (but really a new best friend), Jamshaid, made two 9 hour trips between our site in the flood affected areas and Lahore just to join for dinner. Another friend of mine who had moved out of Lahore months ago made a 250Km round trip to meet me for Sehri breakfast at 3am. I’ve never felt so honored.

Pakistanis love tea. If this isn’t self-evident, I don’t know what is. Pakistanis love to sit down, stir their chai and chat. Spending time with others and building quality relationships is so important. Back home people tend to fly through their days, but in Pakistan, every moment with another is cherished.

Pakistanis are optimistic. I’ve never been somewhere where young people were as energized about opportunities in their own country as here. There is a bright future ahead and Pakistan’s youth are driving it. A few friends of mine—Ali, Babar, Zehra, Saba, Jimmy, Khurram—have inspiring aspirations for change in PK.

This is the Pakistan that the world needs to come to know. Yes, there are terrorists and violence, and that can’t be forgotten, but if that is your perception, then you are judging a book by the headlines.

Sure, there are probably safer ways I could have spent this year, but then I wouldn’t have been stretched in the way that I have been.

Pakistan has become a part of me; it has forever changed me, my perspective on the world, and my trust in humanity.

Here’s to you PK.

Shukria, Allah Hafiz. (Thank you, may God protect you).


Riaz Haq said...

The number of children under five who die each year has plummeted from 12 million in 1990, to 7.6 million last year, according to Child Mortality Report 2011 prepared by UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

About 21,000 children are still dying every day from preventable causes.

India leads the under-5 death toll with 1.7 million deaths, followed by Nigeria 861K, Dem Rep of Congo 465K, Pakistan 423K, China 315K, Ethiopia 271K and Afghanistan 191K.

In terms of deaths per 1000 live births, Pakistan is still at 87, compared with Bangladesh 48 and India 63.

Pakistan's rate of child mortality decline at 1.8% a year between 1990 and 2010 is among the slowest in the world, compared with 3% in India and an impressive 5.5% in Bangladesh.

Burkina Faso is at 176 deaths per 1000 live births, Angola 161, Afghanistan 149, and Nigeria 143 are among the highest in the world.

Riaz Haq said...

There are a lot of different figures and forecasts floating around different websites and publications that significantly overstate India's GDP and understate Pakistan's.

The figures I have posted in my recent blog posts were released in May 2011 by India and in July 2011 by Pakistan. This is the only apples-to-apples comparison that is valid. The rest is irrelevant.

Economic Survey of Pakistan 2010-11 puts the nation's population at 177 million and nominal gdp at $222 billion or $1254 per person.

And Economic Survey of India 2010-2011 says India's population is 1.2 billion and puts nominal GDP at $1.46 trillion or $1218 per person.

Anonymous said...

India's GDP is 1.72 trillion for 2011.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "India's GDP is 1.72 trillion for 2011."

Yes, you are right.

I just located a document by Economic Survey of India which puts it at INR 78.78 trillion which is about $1.75 trillion at INR 45 to a US dollar.

Riaz Haq said...

Karachi's HDI is about 0.799, much higher than Pakistan's national human development index and comparable to European nations of Portugal and Poland, and higher than Malaysia's.

Here's a brief UNDP description of human dev in Pakistan:

According the Human Development Report 2010, Pakistan’s HDI value increased from 0.311 to 0.490 during 1980 to 2010, an increase of 58% or average annual increase of about 1.5% which ranked it 10 in terms of HDI improvement in comparison to the average progress of other countries. Pakistan’s life expectancy at birth increased by more than 9 years, mean years of schooling increased by about 3 years and expected years of schooling increased by almost 4 years. Pakistan’s GNI per capita increased by 92 per cent during the same period.
Pakistan’s 2010 HDI of 0.490 is below the average of 0.516 for countries in South Asia. It is also below the average of 0.592 for medium human development countries. From South Asia, Pakistan’s 2010 “HDI neighbours”, i.e. countries which are close in HDI rank and population size, are India and Bangladesh, which had HDIs ranked 119 and 129 respectively. Pakistan is also compared to the Islamic Republic of Iran, a high human development country.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from an interesting Op Ed in Foreign Policy Mag by Mosharraf Zaidi on Memogate:

...On both ends of the political spectrum in Pakistan, memogate will inspire high-strung, virtuoso performances, dripping with both the intellect and emotion that are signs of a people fully alive to the state of their country and the challenges it faces. Some will be appalled that someone (allegedly) sought an improved civil-military balance through cloak-and-dagger means. Some will be appalled that an attempt to fix this balance may force an elected government to toe the line of unelected soldiers and spies.

But ultimately, the vibrancy of Pakistani discourse is a good sign: Despite the menacing insecurity and instability that so many Pakistanis have endured in recent years, we can still have a robust, frank discussion about our problems.

Yet, as memogate consumes the national attention, three other robust debates are taking place across the country -- and they are just as important. In Sindh, the spiritual and political epicenter of the ruling PPP, a debate rages over what model of local government should be applied to the Pakistani megacity of Karachi. In Punjab, a province with a population of 90 million, the surging popularity of retired cricket star Imran Khan and his nationalist Tehrik-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice) party have captivated the national imagination with a message of hope for the future. Perhaps most heartening of all, in the Pakistani capital Islamabad this week, the much-maligned parliament, the most formal and most supreme of national institutions, just approved the Anti-Women Practices Bill of 2011, which bans and criminalizes many of the medieval customs that have so often enabled a systemic violation of women's rights. This is how politics is supposed to work, in a country where for decades it has not. ...
Luckily, Pakistan is a big, and surprisingly resilient country. It can absorb mistakes. The accumulated mistakes of recent years have conspired to create some valuable points of national consensus. Pakistan's independent judiciary is not the only accessible example. Even when it comes to memogate, there is a rough consensus out there. Among even the most extreme partisans, no one has argued against the need to address and resolve the civil-military imbalance.

No one has argued that our institutions are particularly strong. No one will dare advocate that individuals should again be allowed to run government on a whim. In the deafening cacophony of dissent generated by the cutthroat, 24-hour news media in Pakistan, it is vital to remember just how much Pakistanis agree on.

Riaz Haq said...

As per Economic Survey of Pakistan, roads have become the most important segment of transport sector in Pakistan. In 1947, reliance on roads was only 8%, however, currently, it accounts for 92% of national passenger traffic and 96% of freight. However, neglect of other modes of transportation (particularly Railways) in favor of improvement of the road infrastructure has been a prevalent problem in the country s transportation sector.

In the year 1996-97, Pakistan Railway had 10.45% share of passenger traffic and 5.17% of freight traffic, which has dropped to 9. 95% and 4. 72% respectively by the year 2006-07, according to Economic Survey of Pakistan.

Primarily on account of increasing preference for road transport by passengers as well as goods forwarders over rail transport and owing to a diversion of already scarce resources towards the expansion of the road network, the performance and condition of Pakistan Railways has declined and its share of inland traffic (if compared with the early 70s) has reduced from 41% to 10% for passenger and 73% to 4% for freight traffic.

The above qualitative and quantitative analysis reveals that Pakistan Railways has lost its significance and it is no more an attractive mode of transport. The railwaymen have to realise this fact and forget Railways has absolute benefits over road transport and that the Railways is the biggest mode of transport. It is a requirement today that rail transport is restricted to and enhanced on the corridors where long haul and mass scale traffic both for passengers and freights is available, and where there is sufficient revenue generation to bear the O&M (Operation & Maintenance) cost.
The government, in close collaboration with the World Bank, is preparing a detailed road map for revitalizing the cash starved Pakistan Railways that requires a multi-billion dollar injection over the medium to long term to ensure a complete turnaround, official documents available with The News disclosed on Sunday.

The government had constituted a Core Team, as specified by the Planning Commission, which was assigned to formulate a Pakistan Railways Issue Note (PRIN) based on a rapid governance analysis. According to the PRIN executive summary Pakistan Railways (PR) has been facing serious crisis since 2007-08 as its passenger traffic reduced by 16 percent and freight traffic (on a tonne-kilometer basis) by 70 percent. Revenues of PR has fallen by 6 percent while working expense increased by 80 percent with labor related costs and pensions being 120 percent of revenue in 2010-11.

Under the current organization structure and financial arrangement, the executive summary states, it would be very difficult for PR to even return to break-even on working expenses without radical surgery. In the absence of substantial reforms, PR will almost certainly suffer a continuing decline, slowly but steadily becoming almost irrelevant to the general economy of the country.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Taliban battered and splintering, reports AP-CBS:

Battered by Pakistani military operations and U.S. drone strikes, the once-formidable Pakistani Taliban has splintered into more than 100 smaller factions, weakened and is running short of cash, according to security officials, analysts and tribesmen from the insurgent heartland.

The group, allied with al-Qaida and based in the northwest close to the Afghan border, has been behind much of the violence tearing apart Pakistan over the last 4 1/2 years. Known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban, or TTP, the Taliban want to oust the U.S.-backed government and install a hard-line Islamist regime. They also have international ambitions and trained the Pakistani-American who tried to detonate a car bomb in New York City's Times Square in 2010.

"Today, the command structure of the TTP is splintered, weak and divided and they are running out of money," said Mansur Mahsud, a senior researcher at the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area) Research Center. "In the bigger picture, this helps the army and the government because the Taliban are now divided."

The first signs of cracks within the Pakistani Taliban appeared after its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a drone strike in August 2009, Mahsud said. Since then, the group has steadily deteriorated.

Set up in 2007, the Pakistani Taliban is an umbrella organization created to represent roughly 40 insurgent groups in the tribal belt plus al-Qaida-linked groups headquartered in Pakistan's eastern Punjab province.

"In the different areas, leaders are making their own peace talks with the government," Mahsud added. "It could help the Pakistani government and military separate more leaders from the TTP and more foot soldiers from their commanders."

The two biggest factors hammering away at the Taliban's unity are U.S. drone strikes and Pakistani army operations in the tribal region.

Turf wars have flared as militants fleeing the Pakistani military operations have moved into territory controlled by other militants, sometimes sparking clashes between groups. And as leaders have been killed either by drones or the Pakistani army, lieutenants have fought among themselves over who will replace them.

"The disintegration ... has accelerated with the Pakistan military operation in South Waziristan and the drone attacks by the United States in North Waziristan," Mahsud said, referring to the two tribal agencies that are the heartland of the Pakistani Taliban.

Another factor is the divide-and-conquer strategy Pakistan's military has long employed in its dealings with militants. Commanders have broken away from the TTP and set up their own factions, weakening the organization. Battles have broken out among the breakaway factions, and in one particularly remote tribal region the TTP was thrown out. These growing signs of fissures among the disparate groups that make up the Pakistani Taliban indicate the military's strategy could be paying off.
Analysts predict that over time, however, the internecine feuding in the Pakistani Taliban will take a toll on militants fighting in Afghanistan, making it increasingly difficult for them to find recruits and restricting territory available to them.
Cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan suffered a serious setback a week ago when NATO aircraft killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at two border posts. The Nov. 26 incident seems certain to blunt any prospect of Pakistan taking direct steps to curb the Haqqani network, analysts say.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan is one of six countries invited to join UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation) as a permanent member. The other 5 Invitees are Belarus, Finland, the Republic of Korea, Spain and Ukraine.

The committee now consists of 26 permanent members, including

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a review of "Back to Pakistan: A 50 Years Journey" by Leslie Noyes Mass, a US Peace Corp volunteer:

Mass discovered a significantly different country: more education for young children, an exploding population, and a country not nearly as friendly to the United States as it was when she was there years ago. I wouldn’t call any of these changes a great surprise, yet I found Back to Pakistan totally engaging for the contrasts I have already mentioned—plus the mirroring of some of the experiences I encountered as a volunteer in Nigeria.
Shift to 2009. Mass returns to Pakistan with several others, including people who were in the Peace Corps all those years ago. She’s been teaching for decades, earned a doctorate in early and middle school education, and retired from her job as director of an educational program at Ohio Wesleyan University. She’s a pro, accustomed to training teachers, which she and her friends will do in Pakistan for several months. They have been successful with making arrangements with The Citizens Foundation (TCF), a private organization that has set up several hundred schools across the country since the government-sponsored schools are sadly lacking. TCF has had major successes in the country, largely because of its curriculum and the dedication of its teachers who are women only.

Mass, thus, in 2009 is part volunteer, part educational expert, part tourist, keenly attuned to all the differences in the country from the first time she worked there. The activities with TCF are totally professional, and instantly rewarding. But it is an incident related to her by Ateed Riaz, one of the organization’s founding directors, that is most revealing to Mass (and to this reader), providing the context for the country’s education and development: “A friend of mine went to the city of Medina and went to a woman squatting on the floor selling something. He negotiated with her, but she would not sell to him. She said, ‘If you like it, buy it from that other tradeswoman. I will not sell it to you.’ So he got a local to come and talk to her in her own language. She talked to the local and explained that she had already sold enough that day and that other woman had not yet sold any, so I should buy from her. The message is clear: We need to help each other."

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some of the lyrics of political song by Wasu, a Baloch from a remote village in Balochistan, and Pakistani singer-song writer Shehzad Roy:

Apne Ulloo Lyrics
Quaid-e-Azam aya angrezo ko bhagaya
Pakistan banaya teera maah chalaya
Ziarat ke dourey par aya maut ne isko bulaya
Dunya aakhir fani chor dya usko
Jani sacha tha Pakistani
Karachi mein dafnaya poora dunya aya
phoolon ka chadar chadaya
phir noton par photo aya
goro ko tune bhagya
Quaid-e-Azam ke baad baba jo bhi aata hai
apna ulloo seedha karta hai

[Shehzad Roy]
Apne Ulloo kitne taire ap tak na hue yeh seedhe
Apne Ulloo korey korey woh yehi pe hai korey korey
Apne Ulloo kitne taire ap tak na hue yeh seedhe
Apne Ulloo korey korey woh yehi pe hai korey korey

Liaquat Ali Khan aya usko aamro ne marwaya
Iskandar Mirza aya usne nahin chalaya
General Ayub Khan aya marital law lagaya
Mirza ko bahadur banaya
1965 ka jang laraya Shastri ko maar bhagaya
Aisa sabak seekha moo tod jawab dilaya
[Nehr] bhi banwaya isne bhi nahin chalaya
Sir baad mein aya Yahya Khan adha Pakistan ganwaya
Fauj ko qaid karwaya Bangladesh chinaya
Isne bhi nahin chalaya

[Shehzad Roy]
Taale, waadey, signal, dil sabkuch toda kuch nahin choda
kuch nahin choda
Do number kaamon mein bhi hum number two
hum number two
Kar Allah hoo
Apne Ulloo kitne taire ap tak na hue yeh seedhe
Apne Ulloo korey korey woh yehi pe hai korey korey

Bhutoo sahab jab aya aisa nizam chalaya
Pehle qaidy chudaya zameen takseem karwaya
Haari aur mazdooro ko dilwaya
Miloo ko taala lagwaya one unit toodwaya
Sarkari khatam karaya roti kapre ka nara lagaya
Sarmayadaro ne socha isse kabhi na hoga
mansooba banaya Zia-ul-Haq mangwaya bhutto ko qaid karwaya
Kasuri ka case chalaya suli par latqaya
Sir Marshal Law lagaya Junejo ko mangwaya Wazeer-e-Azam banaya
Usko mazool karwaya referendum karaya Khud ko bhi chunwaya
Bhutto ko bhi bhagaya court mein tune lagaya jailon mein bandh karwaya
11 saal chalaya

[Shehzad Roy]
koi rule nahin hai rule yehi yeh baat sahi taariq ne ki
taariq ne ki
Apne Ulloo kitne taire ap tak na hue yeh seedhe
Apne Ulloo korey korey woh yehi pe hai korey korey

Rangeene ne Rang dikhaya Jaahaz uska giraya Islamabad dafnaya
Ghulam Ishaq Khan aya mehangayi ko bharhaya 500rs bori aate ka bharhaya
Ghareebo ko bhookh maraya aik saal PPP ko diya usko mazool kya
Nawaz Sharif ko mangaya wazeer-e-azam banwaya uksko mazool karwaya
Moin Qureshi aya emandari nibhaya vote jald karwaya
Fauj ko bulwaya dhandhali se bachaya jeet gya hai PPP
Benazir jab aya bijli aur gas dilwaya thoda tankha barhaya
Farooq ko sadar banaya siyasi chakar aya farooq ko gussa aya
Assemblies khatam karwaya nigrah wazeer bhitaya
Nishan tha jiska cheetah Nawaz Sharif ne jeeta
Aaane mein aaya 300 tankha barhaya
Bhai logo ko danda chadhaya aathwi tarmeem khatam karaya
Aate ki kilat karwaya Aik peice PAKISTAN ka America se atta karwaya
Soobha Baluchistan ke zilah Chagi mein aitamy dhamaka karwaya
Pervez Musharaff aya Nawwz sharif ko hataya aghwah ka kais chalwaya
100 takhwa barhaya karzey wapis karwaya Nawaz Sharif ko qaid sunwaya
mulk badar bhi karwaya aisa kaam karwaya ke tarar ko tune bhagaya
khud ko tune sadar banaya referendum karwaya khud ko jeetaya
intekhabad karwaya Jamali sahab ko wazeer-e-azam banwaya
Jamali ne jurat aur bahaduri yehi dikhaya ke apna mohallah azad karwaya

[Shehzad Roy]
Sab hazm kiya sab khatam kya hum phir denge woh kaahe ge
Hum peeche hai hat jaye to backing to gayi voting bhi gayi
voting bhi gayi
Apne Ulloo kitne taire ap tak na hue yeh seedhe
Apne Ulloo korey korey woh yehi pe hai korey korey
Apne Ulloo kitne taire ap tak na hue yeh seedhe
Apne Ulloo korey korey woh yehi pe hai korey korey

Shehzad Roy ne gaana banaya kisi ko samaj na aya
Angelina Jolie aya baba sab ko samaj aya

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a recent Boston Globe Op Ed on US-Pakistan relations:

Pakistan is a country in which social entrepreneurs and businesses fill urgent public needs. As one Pakistani told us, “We are a culture of problem solvers, and we are a country of entrepreneurs.’’ Despite violence, corruption, weak governance, and many social challenges, this country of more than 180 million has moved forward in growing its economy. Many Pakistanis are investing in their own and their country’s future - small business owners, industrialists, social entrepreneurs, and investors - under deeply challenging circumstances and not without risk.

In a country where public services are in shambles, private-sector innovations are abundant - in agriculture, education, health, social services delivery, and IT. We met middle-class families running schools, philanthropists building universities and hospitals, investors increasing their investment inside Pakistan, and CEOs whose businesses are thriving. Nestle has one of its largest dairy production facilities in the world based in Pakistan. And as Pepsi notes, the second-largest consumer of Mountain Dew in the world after the United States is Pakistan.

The US Chamber of Commerce and the Pakistan Business Council could promote dialogue, explore business ventures, and identify opportunities for mutually profitable market development. Our networks of entrepreneurs and businesses can forge relationships with counterpart networks in Pakistan to find opportunities for collaboration and joint investment, information exchange, and mentoring.

Another area that offers great potential is the opportunity to support Pakistanis in deepening their ongoing democratic transition. Parliamentary elections tentatively set for next year offer an opportunity for Pakistan to hold the second legitimate democratic elections in a row for the first time since the country was founded in 1947. The opportunity for citizen engagement and cooperation comes as US and Pakistani civil society organizations work together to address a wide range of challenges in Pakistan, including good governance, religious pluralism, and women’s rights.

Pakistan’s media - increasingly free and vocal – are interested in exchanging views with American counterparts on how to better educate the public and hold those in power accountable.

For the past two years, the United States has engaged the Pakistani government in several rounds of a strategic dialogue, and tripled the funding for non-military assistance to Pakistan. But because of the Afghanistan war and the threats posed by Al Qaeda and its affiliates, the US government also adopted a more aggressive military strategy in Pakistan, including the controversial drone strikes.

The efforts to move beyond a transactional relationship with Pakistan fell short, however, not just because of what the governments did or did not do. They fell short because governments are constrained in what they can achieve given how they view the threats posed to their citizens.

Without greater citizen involvement to deepen our ties, the United States and Pakistan will remain trapped in mutual mistrust.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Rediff report on a Hindu Pakistani fashion designer Deepak Perwani:

At the Lifestyle Pakistan trade exhibition that concluded in Delhi on Sunday, one stall stands out from a distance for just its name -- Deepak Perwani, a Sindhi Hindu from Karachi, who spoke to Shivam Vij about the common strands that run between the two estranged neighbours.

This was the first of its kind exposure for Perwani outside the Indian fashion circuit, of which he has long been a friend and fellow traveller. The humble Perwani, though, has long been used to facing Indian surprise. "People keep asking me, 'Oh you guys didn't migrate?', 'How are you treated there?' and so on. The questions show a lack of awareness." Perwani is part of Karachi's flourishing Hindu community, which is small but visible and influential even today. One lakh of Karachi's 1.3 crore population is Hindu.

"India and Pakistan have more in common with each other," he says, "than any two countries in the world. Our food, dress, habits, language, everything. We are similar -- and yet so different." What are the differences? The two countries have had a different political trajectory, he explains. "Just look at cinema, which in Pakistan died and is now reviving. Bollywood, on the other hand, is so big and flourishing." India's booming economy also gets noticed. "You guys are big and you're going international. I visited Emporio yesterday and it blew me away."

Emporio is a shopping mall in south Delhi where India's top designers have outlets -- and they are all his friends. "We meet each other across the globe because we're part of the fashion scene. We've done shows together in Colombo, Singapore and Bangalore amongst other places," he says.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a WSJ Op Ed by Pak finance minister Dr. Shaikh:

For more than a decade, Pakistan has partnered with the United States to combat the extremism and militancy that threatens the stability of our region and the world. This fight has taken an enormous human toll on our people, with over 37,000 civilians killed and more than 5,000 police and soldiers lost. In addition to the enormous human tragedy, this struggle has directly and negatively impacted our economy and the development of our nation.

We have witnessed the loss of more than $100 billion of foreign investment, a tightening of our financial markets, and a freeze on the progress of many social programs. But that trend has now dramatically reversed, and there is an emerging story of a new Pakistan strategically located at the crossroads of the world's most dynamic economies, ready to take its place as a critical emerging market.

We have a consumer base of more than 170 million, a young and educated work force, and a culture of entrepreneurship. The opportunity for our economy to grow is immense. People in the West may not be aware, but the positive change that is sweeping Pakistan as we speak has profound economic and political consequences for the future.
...over the last four years, the Pakistani government has taken difficult but important steps to get our economy back on track. This year real growth in gross domestic product is likely to reach 4%, nearly double last year's rate. During the first nine months of fiscal year 2012, tax collections have surged by 24%, remittances from Pakistanis abroad by 21% (to $9.7 billion), and our exports by 5.5% over last year's base of $25 billion.

Inflation and consumer prices were down in March, easing pressure on small and medium-size companies. The Karachi Stock Exchange KSE100 Index now stands at 14,000, having been at 6,000 in 2008. Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves increased to $18 billion in 2011, the largest in history, and our financial obligations are declining. In 2015, Pakistan's annual repayment to the International Monetary Fund will be a quarter of its 2012 obligation.

Six months ago, Pakistan granted Most Favored Nation trading status to India, a paradigm-shifting policy change driven by the business sectors on both sides of the border. With its complete implementation and the concomitant reduction of India's nontariff barriers, this decision has the power to reconfigure the region's economic landscape and dramatically increase its stability. Today, bilateral trade between India and Pakistan stands at $2.7 billion per year. Business chambers in both countries predict that figure could quadruple to $10 billion by 2015.
Investing in any emerging market has its challenges, but Pakistan is poised for growth. For the first time in our history, a democratically elected government will complete a full five-year term next year. Our judiciary is independent and upholding the rule of law. Our military is working with our civilian government to protect our borders and keep militancy and extremism in check. Our civil society is expanding, and our media are robust and uncensored.

Business contracts have been consistently honored and the return on investment for many investors has been enormous. And though the last decade has taken a toll on our economy and our infrastructure, our resilience is evident and turning the tide. We are building infrastructure and expanding our energy capacity, we are modernizing our agriculture sector, we are a leader in telephone access, our textile sector is one of the largest in the region, and our information-technology companies are some of the best in the world.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a Nature magazine article on higher education support in Musharraf years:

Despite the problems, science has been flourishing in Karachi and other Pakistani cities, thanks to an unprecedented investment in the country's higher-education system between 2002 and 2008 (see 'Rollercoaster budget'). As funding increased more than fivefold in that time, new institutes focusing on proteomics and agricultural research sprouted, and the University of Karachi's natural sciences department rose from nowhere to 223 in the 2009 QS World University Rankings.
The surge in higher-education investment occurred after the rise to power of General Pervez Musharraf in 1999, who as leader of the army had led a low-key coup d'état and installed himself as de facto president. Musharraf was a liberal progressive who hoped to modernize Pakistan. "It was a moment in Pakistani history that now seems so distant," says Adil Najam, an expert in international development at Boston University in Massachusetts.

With the economy booming in the early 2000s, Pakistani academics sensed an opportunity. Higher education had never had much popular support in the country, where literacy hovers at about 50%, but in Musharraf they saw a champion. In a series of reports, Najam and others made the case that if the nation could mobilize its universities, it could transform from a poor agricultural state into a knowledge economy (see Nature 461, 38–39; 2009). The group called for a new Higher Education Commission (HEC) to manage the investment, as well as better wages for professors, more grants for PhD students and a boost in research funding.
Rahman, a chemist at the University of Karachi and, at the time, the minister for science and technology, enthusiastically set out to overhaul the nation's universities. With Musharraf's support, annual research funding shot up 474% to 270 million rupees (US$4.5 million in 2002) in the first year alone. The HEC set aside money for PhD students and created a tenure-track system that would give qualified professors a monthly salary of around US$1,000–4,000 — excellent pay by Pakistani standards.

Rahman's strong scientific background, enthusiasm for reform and impressive ability to secure cash made him a hit at home and abroad. "It really was an anomaly that we had a person of that stature with that kind of backing," says Naveed Naqvi, a senior education economist at the World Bank, based in Islamabad. "Atta-ur-Rahman was a force of nature."
Between 2003 and 2009, Pakistan churned out about 3,000 PhDs, roughly the same number awarded throughout its previous 55-year history. More than 7,000 PhD students are now in training at home and abroad. Meanwhile, scientific research publications have soared from roughly 800 in 2002 to more than 4,000 in 2009 (see 'Publishing power')...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting perspective on Pak economy in a Dawn Op Ed by Akbar Zaidi:

Is the analysis that this is Pakistan’s worst-ever economic performance valid, or is this merely point-scoring and political posturing by those who represent different political dispensations?

Many of the key economic numbers which are to be announced later this month in the Economic Survey will show that some are, indeed, the worst ever, or at least the worst in the last 50 years. While inflation was higher during the Z.A Bhutto government, there has hardly been a month of the 51 months in power of this government, when it has not been in double digits; this is a notorious first.

Similarly, the fiscal deficit has been in the range of 4-6.5 per cent under this government, but was higher — often more than eight per cent of GDP — under Gen Ziaul Haq’s military rule. The growth rate in the pre-9/11 Musharraf three years 1999-2002, after which his government received a bonanza and huge windfall, was a mere three per cent, but it has been lower, though only slightly so, over the last four years.

Overall domestic debt, which has been growing over the last four years, is still much lower than that which was accumulated over the Ziaul Haq period and in the period between 1988-1999. However, two indicators which are considerably worse and are particularly worrying are the falling tax-to-GDP ratio and investment.

There are numerous other indicators related to the economy, which have never been this good, despite problems in slowing trends. Per capita income continues to rise albeit at a slower pace; remittances and exports have also improved; and poverty is probably lower than many were expecting, given Pakistan’s slow growth and rising and persistent food inflation.

Any fair, unbiased account of the state of Pakistan’s economy shows that while parts of Pakistan’s economy have been in a poor state, this is certainly not the worst period ever. Moreover, many of the factors which have affected the current state of affairs have their origin in the policies of the Musharraf era.

Nevertheless, what is perhaps striking about the last four years has been the poor and wavering economic management and leadership of the economic team. The absence of vision, insight and any clear idea of what needs to be done, given Pakistan’s persistent and, in many cases serious and growing, economic problems, has been the most striking aspect in the leadership of the Ministry of Finance and the Planning Commission.

A committed and more able leadership was critical to improving Pakistan’s economic situation, and in this perhaps lies the government’s biggest failure. While it is clear that the economy’s overall performance has certainly not been the ‘worst ever’, the verdict on the economic team and its leadership, is less certain.

Riaz Haq said...

Using Siddharth Vij's interpretation, here's how BL data looks for Pakistan:

1. No Schooling 38% vs 32.7% India

2. Prim Total 21.8% vs 20.9% India

3. Prim Complete 19.3% vs 18.9% Ind

4. Sec Total 34.6% vs 40.7% India

5. Sec Complete 22.5% vs 1.3% India

6. Ter Total 5.5% vs 5.8% India

7. Ter Complete 3.9% vs 3.1% India

If you add up serial numbers 1, 2, 4 and 6, you reach 100%. This is the entire universe – each and every Pakistani above the age of 15 is assigned to one and only one of these buckets. 38 out of every 100 Pakistanis (vs 32% of Indians) above the age of 15 in 2010 have had no formal schooling. 22 have been only to primary school, 35 reached as far as secondary school while the rest made it all the way to college...... All that BL tells us is that for 34.6% of Pakistanis (vs 40.7% of Indians) above the age of 15, the highest level of educational attainment is secondary schooling. If to this 34.6% you add the 5.5% who have some tertiary education, you come up with a figure of 40.1% Pakistanis (vs 46.5% of Indians) above the age of 15 having had some secondary schooling during their life time.

Another important point to note in Barro-Lee data is that Pakistan has been enrolling students in schools at a faster rate since 1990 than India. In 1990, there were 66.2% of Pakistanis vs 51.6% of Indians who had no schooling. In 2000, there were 60.2% Pakistanis vs 43% Indians with no schooling. In 2010, Pakistan reduced it to 38% vs India's 32.7%.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn Op Ed by Asif Noorani titled "Well Done Pakistanis":

On my three official visits to Chennai, I had nothing much to do in the evenings except catching up with my reading and watching the idiot box in the river facing rooms that I was ensconced in at the Madras Club, until I made some good friends. My one big grouse was that Indian TV channels believed that only bad news about Pakistan was worth covering. But soon after I returned to Pakistan and started watching our own news channels more intently, I found, much to my horror, that our own TV journalists were doing the same not just when covering India but also their own country.

Sadly, there is hardly a TV news channel which gives coverage to the excellent work that some charities are doing in Pakistan. No other country in the Third World has so many non-profit organisations that help the downtrodden in so diverse fields and on such large scales.

Everyone, at least in Pakistan, knows about the great job the Edhi Foundation is doing in different spheres – from running cancer hospices and ambulance services (Edhi Foundation has the largest fleet in the world, as the Guinness Book of Records mentions) to providing shelter to battered women and education to poor children. Mr Edhi, who deserves nothing less than a Nobel Prize for Peace, is everywhere despite his old age. Wherever there is a calamity, he rushes to the site to provide help. If an unwanted child is left in one of his centres, he (and his wife, Bilqees) is there to take the infant under his protective wing.

The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore is doing a remarkable job too. Most of its patients are poor and unable to pay for the long drawn and expensive treatment provided by the hospital. The model is being replicated in Peshawar.

A state of the art health institution, the SIUT (Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation) and the Indus Hospital are both providing excellent services in the health sector. What is more they don’t charge anything. That goes for the LRBT (Layton Rehmatullah Benevolent Trust) as well. I remember an affluent lady who could have got ophthalmic treatment in any country in the West but she opted to have her surgery done at the LRBT, which is cleaner than most private hospitals in Karachi and where treatment can be described as state-of-the-art. Cured and satisfied, she gave a hefty donation to the institution and continues to pay from out of her zakat to the institution every Ramazan.
Many people buy nihari and naan for the poor who sit outside nihari joints. Karachi is dotted with what are more than mere soup kitchens. Edhi Foundation and Alamgir Trust are the ones who run these centres, where curry and naan are served twice a day. In Ramazan the beneficiaries swell manifold.

I was told by Umar Ghafoor, Chief Operating Officer, LRBT, that of the donations that the charity gets, 55 per cent comes from Pakistan and 45 per cent from the diaspora. Similar viewpoints were expressed by people at the helm of other non-profits as well.

I am afraid many people will go for my jugular because I have left quite a few organisations which are providing laudatory services to our people, particularly the ones outside Karachi. But I would only be too happy if my readers would write a paragraph about the philanthropists I have missed out.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's The National newspaper story on Pakistani bus in London:

A picture-perfect minibus often seen in postcards and used as a form of public transport in countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan has been an instant attention grabber in the British capital since the start of the millennium. Heavily ornamented and highly customised, this import from Pakistan looks like a bejewelled caravan, often making people stop, stare or snap a picture.

Named Tiara, meaning "airplane" in Punjabi, the 16-seater made the 6,300-kilometre journey from Karachi to London, with a six-month stopover in Germany via sea. The price to get it to the UK, including purchase, refurbishment and delivery, was an astounding US$100,000 (Dh 367,295).

"You can't put a price tag to your interest," says Dalawar Chaudhry, Tiara's owner, stating an Indian proverb to explain his sheer interest in bringing a piece of Pakistan to the UK. He also wanted something that could add value to the family business - Tiara would be a symbolic representation that could help promote his South Asian restaurant.

"I wanted something prominent to present Pakistan's culture in a unique way," he says.

And the minibus certainly is a replication - and a better one at that—of the four-wheelers on Pakistan's roads.

From the outside, every visible part of Chaudhry's Tiara, a 2000 Mazda, is tattooed with multicoloured paintings of plants, birds and animals along with Urdu inscriptions. The two entrances of this customised vehicle are painted in patterns of blue, green, red and yellow, and every window is tinted with designs that pay tribute to the heritage and artistic flair of the Sindhi culture. People in this Pakistani culture, according to Chaudhry, also associate colours with the ability to combat negative energy; therefore the rainbow effect adds a spiritual element to the bus.

The top of the bus is festooned with Islamic inscriptions along with the Pakistani national flag, but the highlight is the assortment of coloured lights that form an arc right above the windscreen, along with a metallic mosaic on top reminiscent of a tiara on a beauty queen's head.

Riaz Haq said...

In a recent piece tiled "Pakistan Staring into the Abyss", Pakistani journalist Najam Sethi captures the highly pessimistic mood of the press coverage and books about Pakistan.

Historically, purveyors of books and magazines predicting doom and gloom have mostly been wrong but sold lots of copies.

Matt Ridley, the author of "The Rational Optimist", says that the prophets of doom and gloom from Robert Malthus to Paul Ehrlich(both predicted catastrophe of mass starvation) have always found great acceptance as "sages" in their time but proved to be completely wrong because they discount human resilience and ingenuity.

The reasons for wide acceptance of pessimists have to do with how the human brain has evolved through the millennia.

It's been established that once the amygdala starts hunting for bad news, it'll mostly find bad news.

Peter Diamandis explains this phenomenon well in his book "Abundance-Why Future is Better Than You Think".

Here's a excerpt from Diamandis's book:

"These are turbulent times. A quick glance at the headlines is enough to set anybody on edge-with endless media stream that has lately become our lives-it's hard to get away from those headlines. Worse, evolution shaped human brain to be acutely aware of all potential dangers...this dire combination has a profound impact on human perception: It literally shuts off our ability to take in good news."

In Pakistan's case, the good news continues to be the emergence of a large and growing middle class population and a vibrant mass media and civil society which underpin the country's extraordinary resilience.

Pakistan needs such resilience to complete its difficult ongoing transition to democracy which, the history tells us, has never been easy for any nation.

I believe Pakistan is making good progress toward becoming a prosperous urban middle class democracy.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PakistanToday report on railway carriage restoration in Islamabad coach factory:

Islamabad Carriage Factory has rehabilitated 690 old coaches during the last three years, making them durable for another 20 years, an official said on Tuesday.

The factory which was established with the cooperation of the German government is capable of manufacturing 150 German-designed coaches each year.

"The Carriage Factory rehabilitated 20 coaches of meter gauge for Senegal Railway and manufactured new six slipper coaches for the Pakistan Army," an official told APP.

He said out of 400 dysfunctional coaches, 275 had been rehabilitated whereas work on the rest was already in progress. He added that the restoration of these coaches would help Pakistan Railways achieve progress.

The official said that Pakistan Railways would receive also 202 new coaches against a cost of around Rs 16 billion to improve its operations and to facilitate its passengers.

Out of the 202 coaches of various types, Pakistan Railways received 65 coaches in Completely Built Unit condition which are being utilised with different trains plying across the country.

He said the new coaches had the capacity to run at the speed of 160 km per hour but due to the dilapidated rail track it would run at 120 km.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News story on increasing private wealth in Pakistan:

KARACHI: Pakistan has seen significant increase in the number of wealthy people as compared to a total of approximately 22 families during the era of Field Marshal General Ayub Khan in 60s, experts told The News.

According to a study of a financial think-tank from Switzerland, there are 415 people in Pakistan, who own more than $30 million each as compared to 310 last year, registering an increase of 33.9 percent, which is a record in Asia. Collective income of these people remained around $50 billion, the study revealed.

Only seven to eight business groups of the 22 families continue to operate their businesses significantly and the remaining families have either closed their businesses or have shifted abroad.

Dr Ishrat Husain, former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), and a renowned economist, said only Dawoods, Adamjees, Sehgals, Shaikhs, Nishats and a few others have survived the economic ups and downs during this period, while Haroons, Batlas, Valikas, Isfahanis, Noons, and Rangoonwalas, have disappeared from the economic scene.

The nationalisation process in 70s also affected their economic position, he said, adding that some of the families went abroad and later shut their businesses due to one reason or the other. “Disputes and rivalries within the family and group also forced them to wind up their businesses,” Dr Husain said.

In 1947, the first budget projected a revenue of Rs150 million and the government had to borrow Rs80 million from the Habib Bank Limited to pay salaries to its employees and meeting other contingencies.

Likewise, Dentonic tooth powder was the first industrial project launched in the country followed by the inauguration of the first soft drink, Pakola, which was launched by the then prime minister.

Dr Riaz Shaikh, head of Social Sciences at Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST), said that several well-established individuals and families had emerged after the nationalisation process initiated by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. “Now the number of such individuals and families has increased to hundreds, if not thousands,” he said.

Families of Agha Khan, Kasuri that owns a school chain, Patel family that owns hospitals and Malik Riaz, top real estate developer, along with several others are some of them.
A few top families in the list included Sehgals, Habibs, Dawoods, Adamjees, Crescent and Valikas.
(Shahid) Rahman wrote that nationalisation retarded Pakistan’s growth in many ways but its worst consequence was the scars inflicted on the psyche of the big businesses, which were flourishing even after passage of two decades. “It alienated the industrialists from the economic mainstream and, as if by a collective decision, several of the original 22 families who pioneered development in Pakistan switched off investment in the long gestation projects,” he wrote.

The Pakistani businessmen who were planning mega projects in 1971 and are still capable of setting up mega projects resigned to remain spinners, sugar manufacturers or at best cement manufacturers.

Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s decade of development (1958-68) divided the society into two categories, privileged and underprivileged, which led to the explosive situation of the 1970’s, culminating in the severance of Pakistan and induction into power of a socialist government of Bhutto.

The second phase, (1971-77) under Pakistan People’s Party was the era of dismantling monopolies, nationalisation, hitting at the power base of industrial barons and clipping their wings, while 11 years rule of General Zia-ul-Haq was the period of status quo for the economy....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News report on Pak Army mobilizing to help Tharparkar victims:

To help the affected population in Mithi and Tharparker, relief teams of the Pakistan Army have reached the area and have setup a Field Hospital and are also providing Food Packs to the affected families.

According to an ISPR press release, Doctors and Paramedics have established a field hospital to provide healthcare to the malnourished and sick at Diplo. On the first day of the relief operation, 10 tons of relief items were distributed and a total of 613 patients were treated at the medical camp.

General Officer Commanding Hyderabad Garrison, Major General Inam is in the area to oversee the ongoing relief efforts.

Panu Aqil and Karachi garrisons are also gearing up to reinforce relief activities with the help of civil society. Relief camps will also be established at Mithi, Chachhro, Nangarparker, Islamkot and Khinsar. The support will continue till the time crisis situation is normalized.

Riaz Haq said...

India still owes Pakistan a little over Rs5.6b, says State Bank

KARACHI: When it comes to Pakistan-India relations, it’s not just the territorial disputes that refuse to fade away even after 67 years of the Partition.
The division of assets and liabilities of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) post-1947 remains incomplete to this day. According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), India still owes it a little over Rs5.6 billion – mainly on account of assets held with the RBI “pending transfer to Pakistan”.
In other words, the country’s central monetary authority believes India has yet to cough up money equivalent to the present-day value of the assets that RBI had refused to surrender to the government of Pakistan, although the latter was entitled to receive them post-Partition.
From the first-ever Statement of Affairs that the SBP issued on its second day of existence – July 2, 1948 – to the latest one released on June 27, 2014, the central bank has listed the unsettled claims on the RBI among its “assets” unfailingly for the last 66 years.
The SBP’s issue department – which deals with currency and the assets that underlie it – shows the outstanding claims on the RBI under two distinct categories of assets.
The bigger chunk, comprising gold coins worth Rs4.1 billion, sterling securities amounting to Rs501.6 million, government of India securities worth Rs240.4 million and Rs4.9 million of rupee coins, appears as assets held with the RBI pending transfer to Pakistan. The smaller chunk consists of “India notes representing assets receivable from the RBI”.
While the first set of so-called assets is self-explanatory, the second claim on the RBI needs detailed explanation.
As per the agreement between political leaderships of the two sides, the RBI was to remain the central monetary authority for both India and Pakistan post-Partition, with Indian notes to stay on as legal tender in Pakistan until September 30, 1948.
According to the first annual report of the SBP for 1948-49, the two governments mutually agreed to end the RBI’s status of the common monetary authority from July 1, 1948, as Pakistan became “exposed to grave dangers” without the right to control its currency and banking.
As for the Indian notes and coins present in currency chests in Pakistan on June 30, 1948, and the ones encashed during the next fiscal year, Pakistan was supposed to return these to the RBI. Subsequently, the SBP was to claim equivalent assets against these Indian notes and coins from the Reserve Bank of India.
According to historian S Aijaz Husain, total assets that the government of Pakistan was entitled to receive from the RBI amounted to Rs1.7 billion. However, the SBP received assets worth only Rs1.2 billion.
The difference between the claims and the actual amount surrendered by the RBI was Rs490.8 million. Out of this amount, “India notes representing assets receivable from the RBI” accounted for Rs430.2 million while assets “held with the RBI pending transfer to Pakistan” equalled Rs59 million.
This means that original, unsettled claims of Rs490.8 million have now ballooned to over Rs5.6 billion after adjusting for inflation, exchange rate revisions and appreciation of underlying securities during the last six and a half decades.
That Pakistan will ever be able to arm-twist its eastern neighbour into paying its claims seems impossible, at least in the foreseeable future. So why doesn’t the SBP simply write off the unsettled claims and rid its Statement of Affairs of “assets” that practically don’t exist?
In the post-gold standard era, the liabilities in the form of Pakistan’s currency, currently in excess of Rs2.3 trillion, are largely backed by government securities. That’s why the assets in the form of unsettled claims on the RBI equal less than 0.25% of the SBP-issued notes in circulation....

Riaz Haq said...

In the closing months of this year, after a seven-year hiatus, the family-run Rafi Peer Theater Workshop (RPTW), Pakistan’s best-known theater group, has put on a number of festivals at public locations in both Lahore and Islamabad. With the beautiful Mystic Music Sufi Festival, the Youth Performing Arts Festival, and the Dance Festival, the cultural capital of the country, Lahore, was once again alive with festivals and art and culture events.

However, Sadaan Peerzada, the group’s chief operating officer, admitted that it wasn’t easy. After being targeted by terrorists in 2008 during its immensely popular World Performing Arts Festival (WPAF) – an event that brought performing artists from across the globe for 90 shows over 11 straight days – and being targeted again in 2010 at its headquarters in Lahore, the RPTW buckled under the pressure. Peerzada also lost his twin brother, Faizan, in 2012. The brothers had been the faces of their company, as well as the driving force, keeping alive their father’s legacy of art, culture and puppetry.

“It’s sad because festivals take a lot of time to build, especially in a country like Pakistan where there’s lukewarm government support,” states Peerzada. We’re sitting at the RPTW head office in Lahore. Framed posters of the group’s past festivals line the walls of their large, colorful, office. Invites to one of the group’s recent festivals are stacked on the table before us, waiting to be mailed out to reporters and journalists at local media houses.

The compound also consists of the RPTW’s lovely Museum of Puppetry and its café, Peerus, both of which were partially damaged in the 2010 bomb blasts. “We’ve been running the RPTW for 35 years; we’re very proud of it and have always had a very strong connection and attachment to Pakistan.”

Speaking about the first attack in 2008, Peerzada recalls that at the time, the RPTW had almost reached its zenith in terms of festival success. “We brought these festivals to a stage where our WPAF was the biggest festival [of its kind] in Asia. It was a big achievement. When it was disrupted by the security situation, I think the government should have come forward to host it with us. These past seven years have been Pakistan’s saddest patch [vis-à-vis art and culture] in which we’ve lost a lot. We’ve lost confidence, we lost the new generation…we’ve created a very strange gap – seven years of no activity, people aren’t in the habit of attending festivals and shows anymore. That habit in itself is a training.”

When the first bomb went off during the WPAF in 2008 at the city’s Gadaffi Stadium, Peerzada was walking out of the stadium’s men’s room. He recalls: “I could feel the wave of the bomb as it went off. I said: Oh God, not here. I ran out; obviously we were all over the place. Three bombs went off that night. They intercepted the fourth bomb planted near the car park. That was the actual bomb, the big one, because they wanted the people to reach their cars when it would go off for maximum impact. It was very well planned. The next day we caught this guy, he was there with some device and a diagram of the whole venue. Our office had been marked, so we were going to be targeted that day.”

Stating that the RPTW’s survival over the seven-year gap was nothing short of a miracle, Peerzada mentioned that his family considered leaving Pakistan for good. “There were times where we felt we should leave Pakistan and go to a place where we could at least work freely. But we didn’t because we’re too attached to this country.”


Having mapped out festivals for the next three years, the RPTW is also hard at work archiving its work. From images to sound clips and videos – the group’s body of work is extensive, far more than any performing arts company in Pakistan.

“We’re not nervous,” insists Peerzada, when asked about whether or not the group is uneasy about the imminent festivals and events, “Not at all…because this is what we’ve done all our lives.”

Riaz Haq said...

Dawn on Humans of New York Facebook coverage of Pakistan:

I was bowled over by this innocent question posed to me on a recent trip to New York. There was so much I wanted to tell this man to clarify, to explain that there was no hatred; that my country was a far cry from the images shown on TV. I wanted to tell him about the music, the love, the food, the people.

But in that one moment, I was tongue-tied, not knowing how to condense the diversity of this land into a few sentences. I finally managed to mumble something, but I've often since felt guilty of not projecting abroad, my country and all the love it held, the way I should have.

Hence, the utter delight at learning that “Humans of New York” was coming to Pakistan. The moment I read this news, I jumped up and down like a three-year-old for ice-cream. I had been an avid follower of this page for the last couple of years; its stories are about real people, with circumstances that are similar to ours that we connect with.

It made me fall in love with the people of New York. I, and many others, would read these stories and feel the boundaries fading – all I saw were amazing human beings.

I also felt a wave of relief wash over me when I learned of Brandon's visit. The guilt of not being able to express myself to that man in New York slowly receded. Now* I thought, we'd have the words to truly express ourselves.

And, then we did. The stories started pouring in.

Stories of love, labour, humour, hardship all morphed into beautiful pictures and words. Deep in my heart, I felt like an apprehensive mother, one who has trained and nurtured her only child for all these years, and is finally about to present him to the world. I am sure millions of other Pakistanis felt the same.

Riaz Haq said...

Swedish professor and TED talk phenomenon Hans Rosling has slammed the media for being 'ignorant and arrogant' and failing to see the big picture with regard to developments in a world which, he argued, is moving in a positive direction.
A new video of the swashbuckling Swede whose straight-talking upbeat missives about the state of the world have made statistics sing off the page, has gone viral in the wake of this week's tragic news of the death of a Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach.

The Danish news presenter is left speechless as Rosling explained that the message sent out by the global media of a divided world in crisis is failing to inform the public of the bigger (more positive) picture.
"You can't trust the news outlets if you want to understand the world. If you think that the majority of the world population is very poor and if you believe that the girls don't attend school, and that all of these people are trying to flee to wealthier countries, then you don't understand anything," he told broadcaster DR.
He cites the example of Nigeria as a case where a successful transition of power in a recent democratic election has been overshadowed by news of atrocities committed by Boko Haram.
"You can chose to only show my shoe, which is very ugly, but that is only a small part of me. If you choose to only show my face then that is another part of me," Rosling argued.
Rosling presented several indicators such as birthrates which are no longer growing, the widespread use of contraception and an increasing number of girls attending school, to argue that the world outside the borders of the western world is developing positively and that war and conflict is only a small part of the bigger picture.
When challenged for the source of his facts, Rosling replied:
"Statistics from The International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, nothing controversial."
"These facts are not up for discussion. I am right, and you are wrong," he concluded.

Riaz Haq said...

Studio Elite, #Chicago Presented Red Carpet Premiere of the Latest #Pakistani Blockbuster Film, “Jawani Phir...

Chicago IL: The Studio Elite, Chicago presented a star-studded Red Carpet Premiere of the blockbuster Pakistani feature film, "Jawani Phir Nahi Ani (JPNA)", on Saturday September 26th, 2015, 6:30 PM at Holiday Inn, 5300 West Touhy Ave, Skokie, IL, 60077.

The event was attended by over 500 eminent persons, from different walks of life, including Faisal Niaz Timizi, Consul General of Pakistan, as the Guest of Honor.

The star cast of the film, who attended the premier, welcomed the guests to the event and also thanked them for the love and affection showered on them.

"JPNA is an outright commercial film, with the performances par excellence. This 'paisa vasool' film, which scores full marks on the entertainment meter, makes sure that you laugh out loud and enjoy thoroughly the 150-minute experience", said Humayn Saeed, co-producer of the film and one of the lead actors.

Saeed said that the movie has witty dialogues, catchy humor, and an array of party songs to groove to. "With a star-studded cast, exotic locations, and the promise of plenty of entertainment, JPNA turned out to be this Eid's biggest release", added Saeed.

Saeed further stated that even though JPNA is just a few days old, it has been doing a record-breaking business and is on its way to emerge as the highest-grossing blockbuster film in the history of Pakistani cinema.

"Pakistan has been producing world class dramas, and now with films like JPNA, we will do great in the domain of movies too", said Javed Shaik, who essayed an important character in the film.

"While Indian movies have been making high impact, considering their huge budget, state-of-the-art technology, and larger-than-life sets, a movie like JPNA has the potential to capture the imagination of moviegoers on account of its gripping storyline, mesmerizing screenplay, and emotionally-strong content", added Shaik.

Humayun Saeed, Javeed Shaik, Sabia Ali, Mahwif Haya, and others, unanimously urged the film-lovers in the US in general and in Chicago in particular to watch JPNA, along with their family and friends, without fail.

Pakistan Consul General Mr Faisal Timizi expressed hope that the comedy films like JPNA will not only entertain people from the Indian Subcontinent in the US but would also further enrich mutual understanding, friendship, and cultural sensitivity among them.

He also said that with the launch of such films as JPNA, Manto, Bin Roya, Mor, and Khuda key Liya, Pakistan cinema has come of age. Pakistani cinema, like Pakistani television plays, are known for their dialogue and being close to reality. "The Consulate has undertaken efforts to facilitate an event for Manto, a story on the life of South Asia's premier short story writer", he added.

JPNA revolves around three buddies whose lives are literally miserable because of their wives. Their friend, a divorce lawyer, decides to take them to a 'boys-only' trip to Bangkok to bring some spice and excitement into their lives, which results in hilarious comedy.

The movie features such heavyweights as Humayun Saeed, Vasay Chaudhry, Ahmad Butt, Hamza Ali Abbasi, Ismail Tara, Javed Sheikh, Sarwat Gilani, Mehwish Hayat, Uzma Khan, Ayesha Khan, and Bushra Ansari.

The film written by Vasay Chaudhry and directed by Nadeem Baig, has been produced by Salman Iqbal, Humayun Saeed, Shahzad Nasib, and Jarjees Seja, under production banner of Six Sigma Plus.
Mrs Haniya wife of Consul General Congratulated and wish best of luck to The Red Carpet Event and "Jawani Phir Nahi Ani team.

Riaz Haq said...

Apologists for empire like to claim that the British brought democracy, the rule of law and trains to India. Isn’t it a bit rich to oppress, torture and imprison a people for 200 years, then take credit for benefits that were entirely accidental?

by Shashi Tharoor

Many modern apologists for British colonial rule in India no longer contest the basic facts of imperial exploitation and plunder, rapacity and loot, which are too deeply documented to be challengeable. Instead they offer a counter-argument: granted, the British took what they could for 200 years, but didn’t they also leave behind a great deal of lasting benefit? In particular, political unity and democracy, the rule of law, railways, English education, even tea and cricket?

Indeed, the British like to point out that the very idea of “India” as one entity (now three, but one during the British Raj), instead of multiple warring principalities and statelets, is the incontestable contribution of British imperial rule.

Unfortunately for this argument, throughout the history of the subcontinent, there has existed an impulsion for unity. The idea of India is as old as the Vedas, the earliest Hindu scriptures, which describe “Bharatvarsha” as the land between the Himalayas and the seas. If this “sacred geography” is essentially a Hindu idea, Maulana Azad has written of how Indian Muslims, whether Pathans from the north-west or Tamils from the south, were all seen by Arabs as “Hindis”, hailing from a recognisable civilisational space. Numerous Indian rulers had sought to unite the territory, with the Mauryas (three centuries before Christ) and the Mughals coming the closest by ruling almost 90% of the subcontinent. Had the British not completed the job, there is little doubt that some Indian ruler, emulating his forerunners, would have done so.

Far from crediting Britain for India’s unity and enduring parliamentary democracy, the facts point clearly to policies that undermined it – the dismantling of existing political institutions, the fomenting of communal division and systematic political discrimination with a view to maintaining British domination.

In the years after 1757, the British astutely fomented cleavages among the Indian princes, and steadily consolidated their dominion through a policy of divide and rule. Later, in 1857, the sight of Hindu and Muslim soldiers rebelling together, willing to pledge joint allegiance to the enfeebled Mughal monarch, alarmed the British, who concluded that pitting the two groups against one another was the most effective way to ensure the unchallenged continuance of empire. As early as 1859, the then British governor of Bombay, Lord Elphinstone, advised London that “Divide et impera was the old Roman maxim, and it should be ours”.

Since the British came from a hierarchical society with an entrenched class system, they instinctively looked for a similar one in India. The effort to understand ethnic, religious, sectarian and caste differences among Britain’s subjects inevitably became an exercise in defining, dividing and perpetuating these differences. Thus colonial administrators regularly wrote reports and conducted censuses that classified Indians in ever-more bewilderingly narrow terms, based on their language, religion, sect, caste, sub-caste, ethnicity and skin colour. Not only were ideas of community reified, but also entire new communities were created by people who had not consciously thought of themselves as particularly different from others around them.

Large-scale conflicts between Hindus and Muslims (religiously defined), only began under colonial rule; many other kinds of social strife were labelled as religious due to the colonists’ orientalist assumption that religion was the fundamental division in Indian society.