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."

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has exported $750 million software solutions last year, according to Pakistan Software Exports Board. This is a huge increase over $169 million reported in 2007-2008.

It should be noted that Pakistan uses BPM5 balance of payments method for reporting software and IT exports, and BPM5 significantly understates the value relative to BPM6 (MSITS) method used by RBI India.

BPM 6 (MSITS) includes sales to multinationals operating within the country, earning of overseas offices & salaries of non-immigrant overseas workers to export revenue.

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...

Here's an excerpt from Dr. Ishrat Husain's lecture remembering Pakistan finance minister Shoaib in 2009:

The period from 1958 to 1969 during which President Ayub ruled and Mr.
Shoaib served as Finance Minister for most of these years is considered as the
golden era of Pakistan’s economic history. The period had strong macro
economic management and the economic indicators were extremely impressive.
Agriculture grew at a respectable 4 percent while remarkable rates were
achieved in manufacturing (9 percent) and trade (7 percent) GNP growth rates
exceeded 6 percent on average throughout the period. Economic growth was
very strong on all fronts.
Structural changes that took place under the stewardship of Mr. Shoaib
laid the foundation for Pakistan’s subsequent economic performance.
Manufacturing sector which was quite nascent increased to nearly 15 percent of
DGP. Pakistan’s economic model was considered a benchmark for the
developing countries. By the end of the decade, Pakistan’s manufactured
exports wee higher than the combined manufactured exports of the Philippines,
Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is purely a matter of conjecture as to where
Pakistan would have stood today in terms of per capita incomes if it had
continued the economic policies of 1960s.
A country’s economic outcomes depend upon a host of factors (a) Initial
resource endowment; (b) External environment; (c) Strategy and policy
framework; (d) Administration capacity; (e) Political stability.
Pakistan inherited a weak resource endowment as the part that
constituted India was relatively advanced in terms of natural, human and physical
resources while the two wings of Pakistan separated by 1,000 miles of Indian
territory were quite backward.
Delivered as the 19th Shoaib Memorial
External environment facing Pakistan in the decade of the 1960s was
mixed. The war of 1965, however, caused immense economic damage to
Pakistan and foreign aid flows did suffer in the post 1965 period.
The strength of the economic performance in this decade can mainly be
explained by the strategy and economic policies pursued during this period, the
efficiency with which these policies were executed due to improvement in
administrative capacity and the political continuity and stability that prevailed until
late 1968.
Economic policies pursued by Ayub-Shoaib administration in the 1960s
were outward-oriented, liberal and supportive of the private sector. State played
a facilitating and enabling role by providing incentives, supplying infrastructure
(particularly in irrigated agriculture), institutions and technology. Macroeconomic
management was sound and prudent and fiscal and external balances were
managed well. Inflation remained in check and the annual rate of growth in
prices was only 3.3 percent. However, rapid economic growth and
industrialization resulted in income inequalties and regional disparities that had
serious political repercussions subsequently. Social sectors were neglected and
industries for capital goods were not set up. Import substitution strategy had a
positive pay off but also nurtured rent-seeking and pressures for protection
against external competition thus masking the inefficiencies of domestic
industries. Exchange rate policies created distortions and arbitrage
opportunities. But the positive contribution that made Pakistan self-sufficient in
wheat and rice was the adoption and diffusion of Green Revolution technologies
that also helped uplift the living standards of the rural population.

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...

US funding of huge dam project in Pakistan angers India, according to Miami Herald:

ISLAMABAD -- Even as U.S.-Pakistani cooperation on anti-terrorism programs is withering, the United States is considering backing the construction of a giant, $12 billion dam in Pakistan that would be the largest civilian aid project the U.S. has undertaken here in decades.

Supporters of a U.S. role in the project say American participation would mend the United States' tattered image, going a long way toward quieting widespread anti-Americanism amid criticism that the U.S. lavishes money on Pakistan's military while doing little for the country's civilian population.

Approval of the project still faces many hurdles. India objects to the dam because it would be in Kashmir, an area that India also claims. The project also is likely to face opposition from Pakistan's critics in the U.S. Congress, who've called for all aid to be cut off after Osama bin Laden was found hiding in northern Pakistan earlier this year. Recent Pakistani actions, including allegations this week that Pakistan had allowed Chinese military experts to inspect the wreckage of an American stealth helicopter that crashed in the bin Laden compound, are likely to inflame such criticism.

Still, proponents of U.S. aid for the project recall that the United States was popular in Pakistan in the 1960s and '70s, when Washington backed the construction of two enormous dams, Tarbela and Mangla.

"Getting involved in a long-term project like this is very compelling for us," said a senior U.S. official who asked not to be identified because no final decision on the project has been made. "This would be a huge demonstration of our commitment to Pakistan and our faith in the country's future."

The Diamer Basha dam would provide enough power to overcome Pakistan's crippling electricity shortage. Proponents of the project also claim that its water storage capacity, in a 50-mile-long lake that would be created behind the dam, would be so great that it would have averted last's years devastating floods, which deluged a fifth of the country, pushed 20 million people out of their homes and caused an estimated $10 billion in damage.

The U.S.-Pakistani alliance since 2001 has been plagued by accusations in Washington that Islamabad is playing a "double game" by secretly supporting Afghan insurgents, while Pakistan thinks it's been bullied into acting against its own interests and that it's been unfairly blamed for American failures in Afghanistan. The unilateral American raid that killed bin Laden in May humiliated Pakistan's powerful military, causing anti-terrorism cooperation to be all but halted.

Read more:

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a summary of BMI research report on Pakistan's electricity sector:

The new Pakistan Power Report from BMI forecasts that the country’s power consumption will rise from 77TWh in 2010 to 112TWh by the end of the forecast period, representing average annual growth of 3.9% in 2011-2020. After power industry usage and system losses, we see a supply surplus rising from the estimated 19TWh level seen in 2010 to 28TWh by 2020, assuming 3.9% average annual growth in power generation during the period.

Pakistan’s power generation in 2010 is put by BMI at 95.4TWh, having recovered strongly from the depressed 2009 level of 89.2TWh. BMI is forecasting an average 4.2% annual increase to 117.1TWh between 2011 and 2015. Thermal generation, comprising coal, gas and oil, is expected to increase by an average annual 2.3% during the period to 2015, but growth looks set to accelerate later in the decade.

We expect gas-fired power generation to climb 4.0% a year between 2011 and 2015, with an average annual growth rate of 4.7% forecast to 2020. Gas-fired generation should therefore reach 47.7TWh by 2015 and 62.1TWh by 2020. The share of total power generation should therefore increase from 41.1% to 44.4% by the end of the forecast period. Under the 25-year Energy Security Plan, the government is aiming for 77.8GW of new gas-fired generating capacity by 2030, representing by far the greatest area of growth for power generation. Over the longer term, conversion of older oil plants to gas should mean oil takes a smaller slice of the power pie. It currently accounts for around 30.4% of total generation, falling to a maximum of 24.5% by 2015 thanks to greater gas, hydro and nuclear expansion.

The 25-year energy security plan envisages an increase in nuclear power generation of up to 8.8GW by 2030. The plan predicts the share of nuclear power would increase to 4.2% of the country’s total energy mix. BMI suggests that 2010 nuclear power generation was 2.7TWh, rising to 2.9TWh by 2015 and to 3.2TWh by 2020. Pakistan has huge hydro-electric potential of an estimated 42GW, but currently boasts under 7GW of installed capacity. Power generated varies depending on the extent of the country’s droughts. It has been forecast that US$20bn would be needed to exploit fully hydro-power resources.

Pakistan now shares eighth place with Malaysia in BMI’s updated Power Business Environment Ratings, thanks to its relatively high level of renewables (mostly hydro) usage. Several country risk factors offset the industry strength, but the country is in a good position to keep clear of the Philippines below.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on the launch of Pakistani economist Shahid Javed Burki's book "South Asia in the new World Order" in Singapore:

ISLAMABAD: Renowned economist and scholar Shahid Javed Burki said that Pakistan’s economy can catch up fairly fast to the developed world, as compared with India, by adopting proper policy and fully mobilizing the available rich natural and human resources.

He was addressing the launching ceremony of his book ‘South Asia in the new World Order’ in Singapore, said a message received here Thursday.

Burki said that Pakistan’s GDP growth had been double of India’s growth rate of 2-3 percent for four decades 1947-1987. He quoted a recent Harvard University study which has mentioned that Pakistan’s higher education sector was performing better than India and Bangladesh.

This, he attributed to the investment made by the private sector in education. Syed Hasan Javed, High Commissioner of Pakistan in Singapore who was guest honour on this occasion said South Asia is blessed with rich heritage and natural, physical and human resources.

He observed that the South Asian states could learn from Confucianism’s teaching of ‘Prosperity they neighbor’ and the role model of ASEAN, in order to promote regional cooperation in the economic sector.

Prof. Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy endorsed the views of Shahid Javed Burki and the High Commissioner in order to generate a new thought process in South Asia.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on water storage capacity expansion efforts to add 20 million acre feet::

ISLAMABAD: With Pakistan increasingly becoming water deficient, Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has drawn up plans for creating capacity to store an additional 20 million acre feet (MAF) of water on ‘war footing’ to keep the economy floating.

The Irsa finalised recommendations in this regard with input from all its members after a former chairman of the authority, Fatehullah Khan Gandapur, set off alarm bells by declaring that Indus Water Treaty (IWT) of 1960 was almost dead because of excessive losses in storage capacity.

Mr Gandapur wrote letters to the president and prime minister in which he said: “The IWT ceases to function as Tarbela and
Mangla reservoirs have lost 6.6MAF of replacement storage due to silting.”

He criticised the team of bureaucrats currently engaged in negotiating the country’s water rights with India and said the officials were simply incapable of handling “an issue of national survival”.

“Blatant violations of the treaty by India by building dozens of low and high dams on all the six rivers and tributaries has exceeded the allowable storage limit of 4.19MAF fixed in the treaty,” he said. So far, the dams have created 10MAF of dead storage and 25-30MAF of live storage, depriving Pakistan of its water rights for Rabi and Kharif crops.

More high dams are under construction.

Sources told Dawn that on the directives of the president and prime minister, the government’s adviser on water and the Irsa members had a marathon briefing session with the former Irsa chairman early this week and finalised recommendations for creation of additional storage capacity. The recommendations would be submitted to the prime minister for approval.

The report on the recommendations says the situation will become worse in the next couple of years. That’s why it is imperative that an additional capacity of 20MAF be created on war footing to protect the agricultural economy.

The Irsa also warned the government about the proposed construction of around a dozen dams by Afghanistan on Kabul river and suggested that talks be initiated immediately with the Afghans for finalising an agreement to protect Pakistan’s water

The Irsa seconded Mr Gandapur’s proposal for construction of the 37MAF Katzarah Dam near Skardu because it was non-controversial and could enhance the expected life of the downstream dams and barrages, including Tarbela and Diamer-Bhasha.

The authority was also in agreement with Mr Gandapur’s suggestion that the multipurpose 8.5MAF Guroh Dop dam on river Panjkora near Chitral should be built for storing every year about 7-8MAF of water that ultimately falls into Kabul river.

This would stop water from Panjkora from going into Afghan territory. It said a water treaty with Afghanistan was important because Panjkora or Chitral river contributed more than 50 per cent of the Kabul flows.

Mr Gandapur also reminded the government of a report prepared recently by US Senator John Kerry cautioning about a water war in South Asia, saying India had 33 projects at various stages of completion on the rivers that affected the region. He warned that as a consequence of the continued violations of the IWT by India Chenab and Jhelum rivers would turn ‘seasonal’ and Pakistan would not be able to grow Rabi crop and early Kharif crop.

He alleged that the Pakistani authorities had ignored the construction of Uri-II project by India in occupied Kashmir which was an essential part of Kishenganga project. “Pakistani negligence will help India win the controversial Kishenganga case,” he said

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 Washington Post story titled "Pakistan's Only True Living Hero" about Abdus Sattar Edhi:

His name is Abdul Sattar Edhi. He is a legend in Pakistan, where he has been hailed as a Mahatma Gandhi and Father Teresa — and denounced as an infidel, communist and madman. In a patronage-based nation where wealth and bluster often pass for leadership and cruelty is more common than mercy, he may be Pakistan’s only true living hero.

I first found my way to Edhi’s office in the summer of 2010. I knew little of him then, except that he had founded a free ambulance service for the public. At the scene of every train crash or terrorist bombing, Edhi Foundation ambulances always rushed about. I knew many Pakistanis admired him, and I had seen photos of an old man with the flowing white beard of a wise elder or a Muslim cleric.

I was not expecting the slyly subversive and cranky octogenarian who sat at his desk under a portrait of Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He didn’t say much at first, but he handed me some photographs of a tiny girl with gashes in her face. She had been found in a garbage pit, partly eaten by dogs, and was rescued by his volunteers. Later she was sent abroad for surgery and adopted by a family in Canada.

“Some people strangle illegitimate children. Others just dump them to die. We believe there is no such thing as an illegitimate person,” Edhi said. Indeed, he had spent 40 years helping social outcasts, from unwanted infants to the unclaimed dead. He had opened programs for abandoned girls, AIDS patients and senile shut-ins. Far more than an ambulance service, it was a philosophy.

I asked whether he was a religious man, and he shook his head. “My religion is humanity. It is the only religion that matters,” he said. This was a startling statement to hear in an Islamic republic. Later, I learned that some Muslim clerics had banned mosques from helping Edhi, but that admirers greeted him as “maulana sahib,” a term of religious respect.

There were other contradictions: Edhi was the product of a prominent business clan, but he had been drawn early to a humbler calling. After serving briefly in Parliament, he grew disillusioned with politics and rejected organized charity as placating rather than empowering the poor. In the 1960s, he turned full-time to his fledgling mission in the slums.

“I decided not to knock on the door of the industrialists and the landlords, because they are the root cause of all our social problems,” he told me. “The rich have deprived the people of their rights, and the state does not take responsibility for their welfare. It is my dream to build a welfare state in Pakistan, but I have not seen it come in my lifetime.”
He is not an easy man to be around, demanding that his acolytes give up even small luxuries. Yet his army of volunteers and ambulance drivers, some rescued from lost lives, revere him, and Bilquis, after four decades at his side, remains his tireless partner and ally.

Edhi, ever the crusader, still dreams of building a modern welfare state that will be at least another generation in the making, but his wife’s greatest joy is in saving one child at a time, and in pampering brides whom no one in Pakistan would once have thought fit to marry.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Op Ed in the News criticizing of Nawaz Sharif's Aug 13 speech at SAFMA:

Nawaz Sharif’s speech on Aug 13 at the Safma seminar “Building Bridges in the Subcontinent” continues to make waves two weeks later. Media attention has focused mainly on some of his observations which seem to question the basis of Pakistani nationhood. These remarks have caused surprise and consternation even among some long-standing supporters of the PML-N, which claims to be the successor of the party which led the Pakistan movement in pre-partition India. Hardly anyone from the top ranks of the PML-N, apart from the newly appointed spokesman, has sought to defend the party leader’s verbal escapade.

Pakistan and India, Nawaz said, had the same culture and heritage, ate the same food, spoke the same language and shared the same way of life. Despite the many things the people of the two countries had in common, he said, they were now separated by “a border”.

Even when allowance is made for the fact that Nawaz was addressing a mixed audience of Pakistanis and Indians on building bridges between them – in itself a totally desirable enterprise – his statement is offensive. And it is untrue because, though the Muslims and Hindus lived on the same soil for centuries, they inhabited two different spiritual worlds. Nawaz was in fact repeating many of the points made by the Congress Party of India – and refuted by the Quaid-e-Azam – during the Pakistan movement.

Almost as outrageous as Nawaz’s assertion about the Indians and Pakistanis having a common culture is his assertion that they worship (pujte hain) the same God. The Quran says something very different in Surah al-Kafirun: The believers worship not that which the non-believers worship, nor do the non-believers worship that which the believers worship. Nawaz should also know that the Muslims do not perform puja, as the Hindus do, but ibadat.
Nawaz’s political judgment – never very sound, as seen in his selection of Musharraf as the army chief and then in the ham-fisted manner in which he tried to fire him – has been warped further by the trauma of his overthrow in 1999 and subsequent forced exile. That may be understandable at a human level. But such a flaw can be fatal in a national leader. If Nawaz cannot overcome this shock, he should return fulltime to his family business and leave politics to others.

The Indian government and media are delighted, and understandably so, at Nawaz’s Safma speech. But so also is a small section of the Pakistani media and “civil society” which labels itself pretentiously as the “liberals”. The newly coined English word lumpen-intelligentsia would be a more appropriate description for them. One of them, a star TV commentator, claimed last week that 99 percent of the people of Pakistan agreed with what Nawaz said. The remaining one percent, whom this analyst dismissed as the thekedar (self-appointed guardians) of the two-nation theory, were itching to nuke India, as he claimed. So much for objectivity and informed analysis.

Pakistan and India should indeed give up confrontation, learn to live as peaceful neighbours and try to build bridges of understanding. But denying the foundations of Pakistani nationhood, ignoring the threat posed by India and abandoning the Kashmir cause is certainly no way of going about it, as Nawaz seems to think. If he does not retract the unfortunate remarks he made on these issues, it is to be hoped at least that others in his party would disown them.

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.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a UKPA story of a Pakistani innovators harnessing the Internet for the poor:

One of the world's top young technology innovators is working to bring internet-style networking to millions of Pakistanis who don't have access to the web.

Umar Saif's efforts, which centre around giving ordinary citizens new ways to use a basic mobile phone, recently earned him recognition by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The trigger for his research was a 2005 earthquake in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir that killed 80,000 people and caused widespread destruction. The disaster coincided with his return to Pakistan after getting a PhD in computer science from the University of Cambridge.

Realising that rescue workers were having trouble co-ordinating, Saif, 32, devised a computer program that allowed people to send a text message - or SMS - to thousands of people at once. Users send a text to a specific phone number to sign up for the program, and then can message all the subscribers, allowing users to engage in the kind of social networking possible on the internet.

It has since blossomed into a commercial enterprise called SMS-all that is used by at least 2.5 million people who have sent nearly four billion text messages.

"You can do the sorts of things that we do on Facebook and Twitter," said Saif, now an associate professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

The company generates revenue by charging a small amount for each message. Saif has expanded the service to Iraq and Nigeria by working with telecommunication companies there.

Roughly 20 million Pakistanis use the internet, about 11% of the country's total population of 187 million. But there are more than 108 million Pakistani mobile phone subscribers.

"The thing to do is to bring whatever you have on the internet on the phone lines, because that is what gets used the most," said Saif.

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...

Here are some of the findings of a recent paper by Durre-e-Nayab of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) titled "Estimating the Middle Class in Pakistan":

Depending on the definition applied, it is found that the size of the middle class ranges drastically in the country, as can be seen from Table 2. Applying the definitions having solely an economic rationale, we find the middle class to range from 60 per cent of the population (Table 2, Definition One) to being totally non-existent (Table 2, Definition Five). Translating it in number of people, using the population base of 187 million as it stands on mid-year 2011 (USCB, 2011 and UN, 2009), the size of the middle class ranges from a huge 112 million to no one. This variability, as stressed earlier, reflects the complexities and
arbitrariness associated with defining and measuring the middle class.

Among all the definitions given above, Definition Eight and Definition Thirteen, based on gradation of income and expenditure per person per day, respectively, are currently the most
extensively used measure employed to estimate the middle class (as also used by Chun (2010) and Bhandari (2010) among others)3. This definition too, however, suffers from the same drawback of relying solely on one criterion. As also pointed out by Eisenhauer (2008), Atkinson and Bourguignon (1982), Kolm (1977), Bourguignon and Chakravarty (2003) and Gilbert (2003), being a part of the middle class should be ascertained by a person’s socio-economic attributes holistically. Income is an important aspect but other qualities like level of health, wealth,
education and specialised knowledge are also significant factors for constituting a class. Technically speaking too, most of the definitions suffer from serious drawbacks. For instance, the ‘quintile approach’ can be useful in measuring or comparing income or expenditure growth but cannot be used as a method to estimate the middle class as the size cannot shrink or expand and by definition would permenantly remain at 60 percent. Any denomination of the median income should also be used with caution in low income countries like Pakistan. Taking 75 per cent of the median income might lead to the inclusion of people below the poverty line in countries with very low income levels. In the above-stated definitions and resulting estimates there are issues with the lower bounds
set for inclusion in the middle class. While some of the definitions (like Definition Three and Five) set the limit too high4, resulting in a very small middle class or in the absence of a middle class altogether, there are other definitions that set the limit too low, like those that set the lower
bound at $2 per person per day. Does the middle class begin where poverty ends? Ravallion (2010: 446) supports, “the premise that middle class living standards begin when poverty ends”.
This paper, however, supports the argument forwarded by Horrigan and Haugen (1988:5) when they posit, “to ensure that the lower endpoint of the middle class represents an income
significantly above the poverty line”. The middle class should, hence, include only those households that do not face the risk of experiencing poverty at all, and are not just those who
are outside the the realm of poverty at a particular time.

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 a Dawn report on Pakistan's progress in human development since 1980:

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has been ranked 10th among the countries in term of human development improvement by the United Nations Development Programme’s 20th Human Development Report 2010.

Those among the 135 countries that improved most in Human Development Index (HDI) terms over the past 30 years were led by Oman, which invested energy earnings over the decades in education and public health.

The other nine “Top Movers” are China, Nepal, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Tunisia, South Korea, Algeria and Morocco. Remarkably, China was the only country that made the “Top 10” list due solely to income performance; the main drivers of HDI achievement were in health and education.

The UNDP report said that in Pakistan, between 1980 and 2010, the HDI value increased by 58 per cent (average annual increase of about 1.5 per cent).

“With such an increase Pakistan is ranked 10 in terms of HDI improvement, which measures progress in comparison to the average progress of countries with a similar initial HDI level”, it added.

Pakistan’s life expectancy at birth increased by more than nine years, mean years of schooling increased by about nine years and expected years of schooling increased by almost 4 years.

Pakistan’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita increased by 92 per cent during the same period. The relative to other countries in the region, in 1980, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh had close HDI values for countries in South Asia.

However, during the period between 1980 and 2010 the three countries experienced different degrees of progress toward increasing their HDIs states the Report.

The Report introduces the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which identifies multiple deprivations in the same households in education, health and standard of living.

The average percentage of deprivation experienced by people in multidimensional poverty is 54 per cent.

The MPI, which is the share of the population that is multi-dimensionally poor, adjusted by the intensity of the deprivations, is 0.275.Pakistan’s “HDI neighbors”, India and Bangladesh, have MPIs of 0.296 and 0.291, respectively.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from Dr. Ishrat Husain's comp of India-Pak economy:

Pakistan is one of the few developing countries that has achieved an average annual
growth rate of over 5 percent over the six decades. Consequently, the incidence of poverty has
declined from 40 percent to 24 percent. The salient features of Pakistan’s economic history are
summarized below:
• A country with 30 million people in 1947 that couldn’t feed itself and had to import all its
food requirements is not only able to fulfill the domestic needs of 170 million people at a
much higher per capita consumption level, but also exports wheat and rice .
• An average Pakistani earned about $ 1050 in 2009 compared to less than $ 100 in 1947.
In US current dollar terms the per capita income has expanded almost ten fold.
• Agriculture production has risen five times with cotton attaining a level of more than 12
million bales compared to 1 million bales in 1947. Pakistan has emerged as one of the
leading world exporter of textiles.
• Manufacturing production index is well over 13,000 with the base of 100 in 1947. Steel,
cement, automobiles, sugar, fertilizer, cloth and vegetable ghee, industrial chemicals,
refined petroleum and a variety of other products are manufactured for the domestic
market and in many cases for the world market too.
• Per capita electricity generation has reached 10,160 kwh compared to 100 in 1947.
Pakistan’s vast irrigation network of large storage reservoirs and dams, barrages, link
canals constructed during the last five decades has enabled the country to double the area
under cultivation to 22 million hectares. Tubewell irrigation provides almost one third of
additional water to supplement canal irrigation.
• The road and highway network in Pakistan spans 250,000 km-more than five times the
length inherited in 1947. Modern motorways and super highways and four lane national
highways link the entire country along with secondary and tertiary roads.
• Natural gas was discovered in the country in the 1950s and 32 billion cubic feet of
natural gas is generated, transmitted and distributed for industrial, commercial and
domestic consumption accounting for 50 percent of the country’s energy needs.
• Private consumption standards have kept pace with the rise in income. There are 52 road
vehicles for 1000 persons relative to only one vehicle for the same number of population
in 1947. Phone connections have reached 100 million from almost scratch. TV sets which
were non-existent adorn 62 out of every 1,000 houses.

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...

Daily Times report on Pakistan joining international railway org:

As part of its endeavor to expand rail network to Europe, Central Asian Republics (CARs) and Middle East, Pakistan is set to become member of Intergovernmental Organization for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) soon, said Minister for Railways Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour on Sunday.

Talking to media, the minister said the federal cabinet had already given its consent for the membership.

Set up in 1985, OTIF was principally aimed to develop uniform law applicable to the international carriage of passengers and freight through traffic by rail.

Currently, 46 states are OTIF members. The European Union acceded to this uniform law, COTIF in July 2011.

The OTIF membership would help Pakistan to have contracts of carriage for the international carriage of passengers and goods, dangerous goods, use of vehicles, use of railway infrastructure and validation of technical standards and adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for railway material.

In this connection, a capacity building and awareness workshop was held here in which the top management of OTIF and ECO briefed the representatives of Ministries of Railways, Communication, Commerce, Finance and other stakeholders about the potentials of the membership and how to deal with the future matters.

Bilour said there was no bottleneck in getting the OTIF membership. He said now the Railways Ministry would move a summary to the Prime Minister for final approval and once the process is finalised, Pakistan would be in the position to expand its international rail operations to other regions.

The railways minister said the things were moving ahead smoothly and the membership process would be completed within two to three months.

He said as India was not yet a member of OTIF, Pakistan would also have a competitive edge to spread its trade route to the region that has vast potential for international trade.

The ECO countries route to Istanbul-Islamabad via Tehran is operating successfully, however some issues were identified while heading forward to other regions those would be resolved once the country becomes part of OTIF family, Bilour added.

He said currently eight trains were plying between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey having transit time of 11 days, but the service faced issues including lack of central monitoring mechanism to watch the running of trains, error in the preparation of railway receipts and mechanism to address the dispute between consignee, consignor and carrier. Bilour told media that the government was also working on new tracks including Peshawar–Jalalabad (140 km) and Chaman–Kandhar (107 km).

Bilour said the Railways Ministry was in touch with Islamic Development Bank involving the ECO Secretariat to rehabilitate Quetta-Taftan link to curtail transit time.

He said Pakistan having its border links with Afghanistan, Iran, China and India has the shortest link to Arabian Sea, as besides Karachi, Bin Qasim and Gawadar sea ports help increase maritime activity and bulk transportation to landlocked countries.The minister said the WTO regime, reconstruction of Afghanistan and rising trade links with CAR are compelling the needs to develop international corridors.

He said the government was now encouraging the private sector to invest in railways under public-private partnership mode in conformity with the assets especially shortage of locomotives, though efforts are also underway to restructure and corporatise the railways.\12\12\story_12-12-2011_pg7_17

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 are excerpts of an AP report taking about how much Pakistan has changed:

Pakistan appears on the brink of chaos again, with the judiciary and army bearing down on its elected leaders. But already the crisis has underlined how Pakistan has changed in recent years: The military can no longer simply march in and seize power as it has done three times over the last six decades.

As a result, opportunities remain for both sides to back down. The civilian government may be able to ride it out until elections now seen likely in late summer.

"If this were the '90s, there would have been a coup a year ago," said Moeed Yusuf of the Washington-based United States Institute of Peace.

A watchful media poised to hound the generals — and a populace under few illusions that the top brass can be saviors after failing so many times before — seem to have acted as a brake on any designs by the army. The judiciary itself, although regarded by some as out to get President Asif Ali Zardari, would not sanction a coup.

It's also unclear how much of an appetite the judges have for dismissing a government that heads a coalition with a solid majority in parliament and with just one year left before it has to call elections.

Opposition parties are happy to see the government weakened. But the country's largest party, that of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is no fan of the army and might not want to come to power on the shoulders of a military intervention.

"The status quo remains, despite all the institutions coming to a head. Every scenario you paint, there will be chaos and no one benefits," Yusuf said.

To be sure, tensions are higher now than they have ever been since Zardari took office in 2008, and the crisis could yet turn in unpredictable and dangerous directions. The political turmoil has all but paralyzed governance in the nuclear-armed country, hampering American hopes of rebuilding strained ties with Islamabad and securing its help with negotiating peace in neighboring Afghanistan.

Last week, coup jitters spread after the army issued an unusual warning of "grievous consequences" for the country over a scandal involving an unsigned memo sent last year to Washington asking for U.S. help in preventing a coup in the aftermath of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

But pundits and government critics alike have been predicting the imminent fall of either Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani or the government they head for much of the past four years. Each time, they have been proven wrong.

Many observers suspect Zardari's party is happy to play up conflict with the army and the judges because it diverts attention from its paltry list of achievements in office. The party may even embrace the prospect of being kicked out because it would fire up its base ahead of elections.

The Pakistan People's Party has a long history of battles with the army. Benazir Bhutto's father, Former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was executed by a military dictator in 1979. Zardari himself was elected on a massive sympathy vote after Benazir Bhutto's Dec. 27, 2007 assassination, which the party was happy to hint could have been orchestrated by elements of the army establishment.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are highlights of a presentation on Pakistan's cement manufacturing sector:

Beginning with just 500,000 tons in 1947, Pakistan's cement production almost tripled from 16 million tons in 2000 to 44 million tons in 2010.

At 145 Kg per person, Pakistan's cement consumption is up from 75 Kg in 2003, but still about half of the world per capita consumption average of 270 Kg.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani political parties campaigning in FATA for the first time in history, reports Miami Herald:

For the first time ever, political parties have started campaigning for votes in the militant-infested tribal areas of Pakistan that border Afghanistan, ahead of a general election likely within the next 12 months.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in August lifted a 64-year ban on political party activity in the seven federally administered tribal areas, saying the reforms would help defeat the "militant mindset" there.

However, the politicians leading party campaigns in the tribal areas fear that intimidation by the Taliban and human rights abuses by Pakistani security authorities could make a free and fair election virtually impossible.

In the tribal areas, "there is no political government, but one run by the security authorities ... who are responsible for the widespread disappearances of residents suspected of involvement in the insurgency," said Maulana Rahat Hussain, a former senator.

"As long as power remains delegated to them, the democratic process won't work," he said.

Hussain is leading electioneering in the tribal areas for the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, or JUI. The country's most popular religious party, the JUI is a former ally of the Pakistani Taliban that broke with the group when it launched an insurgency in 2007. The Taliban subsequently started suicide attacks against the party's leadership, killing several prominent cleric-politicians, and only just missing its chief, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman.

The JUI has held political rallies across the tribal areas over the last two weeks, including one at Mir Ali in North Waziristan, a stronghold of Pakistani Taliban insurgents.

The mountainous Dattakhel area neighboring Mir Ali is also a haven for fugitive al Qaida leaders and has been a focal point of U.S. drone strikes since 2009.

Hussain said the Taliban distributed pamphlets in the area warning residents not to attend the rally in Mir Ali and threatened him personally. Photographs of JUI cleric-politicians in the company of women in fancy clothes — taken at a wedding — were also distributed in an attempt to defame them among their conservative base, he added.

Nonetheless, the JUI rally attracted an estimated 15,000 tribesmen, local journalists said.

JUI candidates — contesting as independents because of the ban on parties — won National Assembly seats in North Waziristan and neighboring South Waziristan in 1997 and 2008, the first elections held in the tribal areas in which all adults were allowed to vote. In practice, however, that meant only that males could vote, because tribal traditions prevented women from casting ballots.

Despite Zardari's reforms, the estimated 5 million residents of the region are still governed largely by 19th century British colonial laws and don't enjoy the fundamental rights guaranteed by Pakistan's constitution.

Most power remains in the hands of administrators known as political agents, who enforce law and order through tribal and clan councils that, in turn, are collectively responsible for the areas they live in. The agents use paramilitary forces to punish the clans and tribes, often by levying massive fines, demolishing homes and barring them access to settled areas of Pakistan, politicians said.

The reforms have set up an appeals process for residents to contest abuses, but only to a tribunal headed by a senior civil servant. They continue to have no access to Pakistan's Supreme Court — which would leave politicians no legal recourse to contest voting irregularities, secular parties said.........

Read more here:

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...

A recent book "The Growth Map" features Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill's personal account of the BRIC phenomenon, how it has evolved, and where those four key nations currently stand after a turbulent decade.

And the book also offers an equally bold prediction about the "Next Eleven" countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Turkey, and Vietnam. These developing nations may not seem exceptional today, but they offer exciting opportunities for investors over the next decade, just as BRIC did before them.

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's an example of "the worst 5% of Pakistan story" getting 95% of coverage:

The adage that you can't judge a book by its cover is apparently not true in the case of Pakistan. Consider the following top ten recently published books on Pakistan: (1) Pakistan: Beyond the crisis state ; (2) Playing with fire: Pakistan at war with itself . (3) The unraveling: Pakistan in the age of jihad ; (4) Pakistan on the brink ; (5) Pakistan: Eye of the storm ; (6) Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America and the future of global jihad ; (7) Fatal Fault Lines: Pakistan, Islam and the West ; ( 8) Pakistan: the most dangerous place in the world ; (9) Pakistan Cauldron: conspiracy, assassination and instability ; (9) Pakistan: The scorpion's tail ; (10) Pakistan: terrorism ground zero.

To top it all, The Future of Pakistan, which is a collection of essays by noted Pakistan-hands, makes bold to provoke the debate of "Whither" Vs "Whether" Pakistan.

Pakistan is wracked by ten major crises. (1) Crisis of Economy - this is characterised by stagflation, dependency, resource scarcity and mass impoverishment. (2) Crisis of Education - this is characterised by the Madrassah challenge, jihad indoctrination, English- Urdu apartheid. (3) Crisis of Urbanisation - this is characterised by slum development, criminalisation, ethnic warfare. (4) Crisis of Demography - this is characterised by a youth bulge, religious conservatism and class volatility. (5) Crisis of Foreign Policy - this is characterised by conflict, isolation and estrangement. (6) Crisis of terrorism and radicalisation - this is characterised by Islamic extremism, violent sectarianism and ethnic separatism. (7) Crisis of Civil-Military Relations - this is characterised by military domination and civilian incapacity. (8) Crisis of Political System and Governance - this is characterised by corruption, incompetence and autocracy. (9) Crisis of Law and Order - this is characterised by stateorgan failure and constitutional gridlock. (10) Crisis of Identity - this is characterised by tension between notions of Nation- State vs Pan- Islamism, being primarily Pakistani Vs Muslim, and having South Asian Vs Middle-Eastern roots.

Read more at:

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...

There's a report in ET claiming research at UAF that Pakistanis are now 4 in shorter than in 1960s.

This finding does not appear to be credible.

All anecdotal evidence suggests that most Pakistani children are growing up to be taller than their parents. All one has to do is keep one's eyes open & observe.

The average height in Pakistan of 20 yrs old males is now 5' 6" vs 5' 4" in India. If one is to believe this "research", then one must also believe that the avg height in Pakistan in 1960s was 5' 10'' which is simply untrue based on all known evidence, anecdotal or otherwise.

In addition, if worsening malnutrition were indeed an issue, the life expectancy in Pakistan would not have doubled since independence. Published data shows 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.

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 are some excerpts of India's Economic Times story about Edhi Foundation:

The name Edhi is omnipresent in Karachi with his eponymous ambulances parked every few kilometres in this bustling metropolis but the man himself is elusive. While the ambulances may just be a call away, it takes several calls over seven days to reach the person whom all of Pakistan reveres — Abdul Sattar Edhi. "Edhi saab, has left for a far-flung village in Baluchistan half-an-hour ago. There has been a disease outbreak with some deaths reported. Call later," says the operator from an Edhi centre. Another try, three days later, gets a response that they had lost touch with Edhi.

Next day, thinking that the renowned social worker was probably trying to avoid an Indian reporter, I rope in a local to get an appointment. Even this ploy fails as he gets a worrying answer: Edhi saab was untraceable and the coast guard had been roped in to look for him. On my final day in Karachi, I make a last ditch effort. This time, I was directed to another office.

And a call later, Edhi is on the line, "aap aafice mein aa jayen, main yahin hoon." I scramble to his small nondescript office in the crowded Boulton Market,a part of the Mithadar area in Karachi, police escort in tow, knowing fully well that a single call from any emergency anywhere in Karachi can take away my subject for good. "I am a sahafi (journalist) from India.

I have an appointment with Edhi Sahab," I tell the receptionist-cum-office girl. She points to the frail bearded old man sitting alone on a worn out sofa next to her table, wearing a well worn brown Pathani suit and a pair of black plastic slippers. It's humbling to watch the man who single-handedly changed the concept of social service in Pakistan, and in doing so, touched millions of lives, sit alone in his office without any pretensions, recouping from his arduous journey from Baluchistan.
What started out in 1951 in a small room in Mithadar, with a capital of just Rs 2,300*, has over the years transformed into Pakistan's biggest and most respected welfare operation. Today, the Edhi Foundation and Edhi Trust run a whole gamut of welfare services for the poor and the downtrodden across Pakistan. Services ranging from ambulance services to burial of the dead to maternity to shelter for homeless and abandoned children, are rendered through a network of welfare centres, hospitals, laboratories and clinics, mostly free of cost. .

"My services run from Siachen to Nagar Parkar," says Edhi. On any given day, 2,000 Edhi ambulances run on the streets of Pakistan, 8,000 employees provide a plethora of welfare services, and 26,000 homeless reside in the Edhi centers totting up expenses of more than Rs 5 lakh daily.

Edhi has also crossed boundaries: Abdul Sattar Edhi International Foundation provides regular services, like burial, in New York, and will start hostels and medical services in London and many more countries. Another ambitious project Edhi has undertaken is the Edhi 50 Kilometer Project, wherein 500 centers will be constructed on all highways and major link roads of Pakistan. For a man who now uses a chopper, air ambulances and Chinese boats for relief work, the journey started with an old Hillman van five decades ago.
Having such a well oiled set up in Pakistan why doesn't he turn to next door neighbour India that could do with some of his good welfare work? "India is the only country that stopped me from helping the poor. I wanted to go and help during the Kutch earthquake. The Indian government didn't allow me," he rues. But now, he says, its too late, he will have to start from the scratch. It's India's loss, Mr Edhi, completely our loss.

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 Daily Times report on a new steel mill starting production in Karachi:

Pakistan’s largest steel producing mill in private sector Tuwairqi Steel Mills Limited (TSML) is ready for commercial production in the first week of January 2013.

It would cater not only the steel needs of the country but would be able to export value-added products to other countries.

The setting up of such a mega project would entice foreign investors in the country despite the fact that local investors are also shifting their entities abroad because of bad law and order situation and energy crisis.

TSML mega project over $350 million is mainly sponsored by Saudi Arabian-based Al-Tuwairqi Company (ISPC) and Posco of South Korea.

TSML Director Project Zaigham Adil Rizvi at a seminar on Monday said this state-of-the-art Direct Reduction route of Iron (DRI) making plant would be starting commercial production but financial crunch put the project so late.

Posco-South Korean steel giant have invested $16 million to make this mega project keep going.

A revolution of industrial growth is in the offing as TSML is ready for commercial production in coming January. It is Pakistan’s first private sector integrated environment-friendly steel manufacturing project.

TSML will serve as a catalyst for the industrial growth in the country as steel has basic and vital role in the economic development of any country.

He said DRI technology is the latest in the world and is being used in not only developed countries but also in our region like Iran and India, so consistent highly quality of product can be achieved through this state-of-the-art technology, he said adding that this technology is environment-friendly.

Rizvi divulged TSML’s DRI plant after commercial production, would not only meet country’s steel requirements but would also create job opportunities for technical and skilled labour force for local people.

He said his team along with Posco delegates has started searching raw material in Balochistan and hoped they would not spend huge foreign reserves in importing raw material rather they would use the local material.

He claimed country’s workforce, especially the youth was not only dedicated and committed but also hard work, so the future of Pakistan was very bright.

Pakistan’s largest steel capacity of 1.28 million tonnes per annum plant would not only cater country’s requirements but also provide job opportunities to skilled and unskilled people.

Other countries including Korea wanted to purchase total production of TSML but TSML management has decided in principal that we would prefer to distribute all our products within the country and in this regard we have selected Lahore-based Shajarpak Company, as our sole distributor.

Khawaja Usman of Shajarpak said currently Pakistan was depending on imports for the production of heavy mechanical structures and engineering goods but after producing high-quality steel at TSML plant, Pakistan would be able to manufacture such heavy equipment locally.

India is giving more importance to its industrial sector while concerned authorities in Pakistan are least bother in this regard.

He hoped raw material from Balochistan would help steel industry to sell its products on low price.\12\18\story_18-12-2012_pg5_7

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 an interesting Op Ed by Mazur Ejaz in Friday Times:

The condition of an economy is often confused with the financial health of its government. Pakistan's economy is perceived to be in a deep hole because of its near-bankrupt fiscal conditions. Similarly, America's inability to settle on a national budget is taken to be an indicator of the collapse of the US Empire.

In some ways, the condition of the economy and the financial health of the government are separate matters. Major stock market indexes at Karachi Stock Exchange and the Wall Street are at their highest level, but both governments are facing serious financial problems. Most of the countries around the world are facing similar dichotomous situations. So how does one solve the riddle of the corporate sector making record profits while governments around the world are in serious financial jeopardy?

The phenomenon needs to be analyzed at grass-roots level. A shopkeeper from my village comes to mind. He told me that he sells PTCL internet cards grossing about Rs 9,000 every day. There are several other such shops in the village. That means that just in one village, the total sale of PTCL internet cards is up to 50,000 rupees. This consumer item was not present five years ago, which means hundreds of computers have been bought in the village recently. Furthermore, if such luxury products are making such huge profits for village shops, traders throughout the country must be making much larger profits selling essentials every day. One of the indicators of booming business in our village is that the United Bank branch in the village is doing very well, according to its manager.

There are thousands of such villages in the country, and that gives one an idea of the mammoth growth of rural markets. Such an undocumented economy is not even factored in estimating the economic growth of the country. From these supposedly marginal markets, one can extrapolate the profits of the corporate sector in towns and cities.

It may be astounding for some that Pakistan's banking sector is considered fourth in profitability in the entire world. Producers of other major industrial and agricultural products are also making huge profits. Cement, fertilizer, automobile, construction and telecommunication industries are doing extremely well. Other than the textile industry, which has been hit by power shortages, there is hardly any manufacturer or importer/exporter of any kind of goods who is not making money. The stock markets look at the profits of these industries and price them accordingly. Therefore the claims of Pakistan's economic growth are not a fairy tale. The evidence is out there in the market.

The government is also like a large corporation whose income depends mainly on tax revenue. Most of the goods and services (such as roads, defense, education and health) provided by the government are public goods which are not priced directly. The government has to price its public goods through direct taxes on income and sales, or indirectly. Following a certain brand of capitalism, countries like Pakistan and the US are not collecting enough taxes to cover the cost of public goods. They have failed mainly in collecting direct taxes on income. While Pakistan cannot implement an appropriate tax collection mechanism because of corruption, the US has leaned towards favoring high income groups and ended up in a jam. The net result is the same: the rich are getting richer, appropriating most of the new wealth generated....

Riaz Haq said...

Film revival? Waar is #Pakistan's first big-budget action film. It's just one of 23 films being released this year.

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...

Here's a New York Books Review piece on recent Lahore Literature Festival:

Rarely has an event framed around books and ideas felt so urgent. A few weekends ago, a group of writers, artists, and editors gathered in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab heartland, to defend the written word. People turned up from every part of the country to hear them—Karachi and Islamabad, but also Balochistan and the remote tribal regions along the Afghan frontier. Sometimes filling the aisles and stairways of the three venues where the gathering was held, they listened to debates on everything from the future of the novel to the future of Pakistan.

In an age in which international literary festivals have become commonplace, there is very little ordinary about the Lahore LitFest, starting with the location. “PK! What are you doing there?” a US immigration official wondered, when I set out from New York. My barber asked me if I had a bullet-proof vest. Even in the Middle East, in places that have plenty of tension of their own, a Pakistani destination seems to raise red flags. “It would be a shame if you got yourself kidnapped,” an Arab journalist who covers political unrest told me, during a visit to the Arabian Peninsula two days before my journey on to Lahore.

To anyone who has actually been there, such reactions may seem grossly unfair. With a sizable liberal elite, a strong tradition in publishing and the arts, and an old city filled with extraordinary Mughal architecture, Lahore arguably has more in common with the leading cities of India and Europe than with the dark image of Pakistan shown almost daily in the news. The city’s best-known institutions of learning are not jihadist-grooming madrasas but humanistic and secular; consider the National College of Arts, the country’s premier art and design school, which began under British rule in the nineteenth century, with Rudyard Kipling’s father as its first principal.
And then there was Ardeshir Cowesjee (1926–2012), the legendary Karachi columnist who might more accurately have been described as a one-man shadow government. A wealthy businessman from the Zoroastrian religious minority, Cowesjee fearlessly exposed the corruption and mismanagement of Pakistan’s political class in a weekly column that not infrequently brought him death threats. As Karachi descended into violence and gang warfare in recent years, he continuously attacked the dirty real estate dealings, incompetent governance, decaying municipal services, and rising intolerance that were driving it. During a lively debate about his legacy, the power went out, and the panelists kept talking until someone lit the stage with an iPhone.
Even so, the theme of the discussion was “War on Culture,” a worldwide drama in which many Pakistanis view the US as arch malefactor. (I took part in the panel, along with Ahmed Rashid, the novelist Vikram Seth, and the Indian heritage expert Naman Ahuja.) When a gentleman who identified himself as hailing from South Waziristan protested that the US could never rectify the cultural destruction it had caused in the Middle East, the house erupted in applause. Taking the microphone, the ambassador, now sitting in the front row, stood up to respond. The crowd went quiet. He conceded the mistakes made by the previous US administration; he said that he and the current administration were committed to doing more to defend Pakistan’s heritage. It brought some applause of its own. Thus ended the festival, with Waziristan and Washington coming to some kind of temporary truce.

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...

#Pakistan's film industry is back in business—and not just because of #Bollywood via @qzindia

Pakistan’s once-withering film industry is on the verge of a renaissance.
Lollywood—an unofficial name of the industry, centered around Lahore—has released about 10 Urdu films this year, the highest ever in more than three decades. These films have explored genres ranging from romance and comedy to drama and tragedy, receiving both critical acclaim and commercial success.
And today (Sept. 11), one of the most awaited films has arrived in theatres across Pakistan.
Manto is based on the life and times of controversial author Saadat Hasan Manto. The feature film—which some are calling Pakistan’s first biopic—chronicles the last seven years of the author in the newly created Pakistan of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The character of Manto has been essayed by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, who is also the film’s director. Khoosat is better known in Pakistan (and India alike) as the director of one of the country’s most popular television series, Humsafar.
Khoosat is also among the clutch of Pakistani television veterans who have infused Lollywood with new life—and driven a string of ambitious productions this year.
“There wasn’t such a trend in the past of releasing x number of ‘international standard’ films, but with many prominent names from our television working on films now, there’s a bright future ahead,” a spokesperson at Geo TV, one of Pakistan’s biggest TV networks and the production company behind Manto, told Quartz.

“There’s already a huge buzz in the media about Manto, so we are expecting it to do well at the box office,” the spokesperson optimistically added.
The year so far

It’s been an unusually plentiful year for Pakistani cinema-goers.
For the first time in decades, three films released on Pakistan’s Independence Day—Dekh Magar Pyaar Say, Moor and Shah. Earlier on Eid, two films—Bin Roye and Wrong No.—hit the theatres.
Bin Roye was one of Pakistan’s most expensive films, and featured two television actors, Humayun Saeed and Mahira Khan (who will now be seen in Manto) in the lead roles. Wrong No. was also backed by Pakistani television veterans, including Javed Sheikh and Danish Taimoor.

But Pakistani audiences were treated to more than just extravagant potboilers. In May, 3 Bahadur—the first Urdu 3D computer-animated film—hit the screens.
“Can we make films that can stand in competition to Hollywood and Bollywood? Yes, that has started,” Nadeem Mandviwalla, owner of Mandviwalla Entertainment, one of Pakistan’s leading production houses, told Quartz.
Yet, unlike Bollywood’s million-dollar budgets, Pakistani films are being crafted with much smaller sums. And despite a limited number of screens—a little more than 70—across the country, they more or less are managing to break even.

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...

What makes Pakistan resilient
By Tariq MahmudPublished: November 2, 2015

Anatol Lieven and Christophe Jaffrelot, two distinguished writers, in their copious research over time, have taken their readers through the chequered chronicles of Pakistan’s history. Their writings on Pakistan are marked with recurring manifestations of violence and instability, of divergence and divisiveness, of an existential threat still looming large. Both, however, stop short of calling the country a failed or a failing state. According to them, it is the quality of resilience of the state and society that keeps Pakistan afloat.

Over the years, the country has faced acts of terrorism, extremism, sub-nationalist insurgencies and many other challenges, like natural calamities, with societal overlaps providing support to the state’s endeavour to counter them. Resilience, as a phenomenon, has lately been engaging the attention of social scientists. It is a unique capability, which after turbulence and disruption, enables a society to revert to its normal chores. Social receptors, spread over the entirety of societal fabric, respond to the recurring threats with innate spontaneity while the key organs, on balance, continue to retain their basic elements and functionality. The virtue of resilience is not something unique to Pakistan. It is found in other societies as well as it is a normal behavioural response in the face of sudden, mounting odds. What distinguishes Pakistan from the rest is that despite exceptional odds peculiar to the country, there is innate strength with a measure of efficacy in our fallback options. Pakistan is the only country in the post-Second World War era, which suffered a violent disintegration within 24 years of its existence at a scale never known till that point in history. Despite the fissiparous tendencies, the country has existed for over four decades as a compact state with a sense of history and a vision for the future.

Pakistan’s real and perceived vulnerabilities have been attributed to our relatively weak political traditions; these are also attributed to our ideological precepts and assumptions. To Pakistan-watchers, a deterministic form of religion, an over-centralised political dispensation and a skewed civil-military relationship explain much of the country’s paradoxes.

However, there could be a counter-view as well. Deterministic Islam, in many ways, offers choice and autonomy to its followers when it comes to its practice. Islam in Pakistan is the state religion but its practice is a privatised affair. There is no central command authority when it comes to religion, with the Auqaf departments only exercising control over a few mosques. It is the khateeb of the mosque who sets the pace. There is no concept of a supreme religious leader vetoing parliamentary decisions. There can be no denying that certain elements have flexed their muscles to appropriate the right to interpret religion as their exclusive preserve. However, thanks to society’s innate resilience, there continues to prevail, a no-win situation for them.

On a larger plank, we may view the separation of East Pakistan, which amongst many other things, was also on account of a lack of shared interdependencies. It was a case of unequal exchange both, in quantitative and qualitative terms that poisoned the relationship between the two wings of Pakistan. The situation in Balochistan, as of today, alludes to the same drift. During the Musharraf era, the province received an exceptionally large allocation in the public sector development programme, but regrettably there was no framework to cultivate a sense of ownership and mutual sharing with the Baloch people. We need to turn latent interdependencies into a living force and a sustained policy framework as a way forward for Balochistan. That is the only way to deepen resilience in that part of Pakistan, which is also our largest province.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan cricket team to wear #Edhi Charitable Foundation’s logo on #England tour

Pakistani cricketers will wear the logo of Edhi foundation on their playing shirts during the tour of England.

While addressing a ceremony to endorse the charitable organisation, Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Shahayar Khan said that Edhi sahab deserved to get Nobel Award for his lifelong services to the humanity. He said that the Edhi foundation has tirelessly served the humanity.

Khan said that International Cricket Council (ICC) has granted Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) permission to don the Edhi foundation’s logo on Pakistan cricket team’s official kit.

The tour of England will begin with four Test matches starting next month, with the first match being played at Lord’s cricket ground in London on July 14.

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.