Pakistan figured as the only Muslim majority country as a potential superpower in 2011 Arab Public Opinion Poll survey conducted by Professor Shibli Telhami, senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution. The poll surveyed 3,000 people in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates in October 2011.
Asked if there could be only one superpower in the world, which country they would prefer it to be, China was favored by 23% of the respondents (up from 14% in 2009) followed by Germany 15% (down from 25%), Russia 12% (up from 7%), France 10% (down from 23%), Pakistan 7% (up from 3%), US 7% (down from 8%) and Britain 5% (down from 7%). In answer to another question about the preferred country they would like to live in, France topped the list with 28% (down from 36% in 2009), followed by Germany 22% (down from 25%), Britain 15% (up from 10%), China 11% (up from 9%), US 10% (up from 5%), Russia 4% (flat) and Pakistan just 2% (up from 1% in 2009).
Among the key poll findings are:
1. Turkey is the biggest winner of the Arab Spring. In the five countries polled, Turkey is seen to have played the "most constructive" role in the Arab events.
2. Overall, Arabs polled strongly take the sides of the rebels against the government in Yemen (89%), Syria (86%) and Bahrain (64%). But there are regional differences. Those polle din the UAE mostly favor the government of Bahrain. The Lebanese are divided on Syria; the Jordanians are divided on Bahrain; and the Egyptians' support for the rebels in Bahrain is weaker than their support for the rebels in Yemen and Syria.
3. While a majority of Arabs polled continue to express unfavorable views of the United States (59%) the number of those who have favorable views has increased from 10% in 2010 to 26% in 2011. This improvement could be related to the perception of the American handling of the Arab Spring.
4. A majority of Arabs polled (52%) remain discouraged by the Obama administration's policy in the the Middle East, though this is down from 65% in 2010 and up from only 15% in 2009.
Coming back to the idea of Pakistan as a potential superpower, it is not as far-fetched as it may be appear to some who currently see it as a nation beset by multiple serious crises. Pakistan is a very large country. In fact, Pakistan is one of the largest countries in the world. With population exceeding 170 million, it is one of only eight nations armed with nuclear weapons. The nation ranks as sixth largest in population, seventh largest in its army size, 7th largest diaspora, 8th in number of mobile phone users, 9th largest workforce, 10th in educated English speaking population, 17th largest in number of Internet users, 27th in economy and 34th in land area.
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. With rapidly declining fertility and aging populations in the industrialized world, Pakistan's growing talent pool is likely to play a much bigger role to satisfy global demand for workers in the 21st century and contribute to the economic well-being of Pakistan as well as other parts of the world.
Pakistan continues to face major problems as it deals with the violent Taliban insurgency and multiple crises of stagnant economy, scarcity of energy and the lack of political stability and sense of security. The unfolding Memogate scandal is yet another reminder of the daunting challenges the nation must deal with. The bumbling political leadership of Pakistan is incompetent and corrupt. However, what the prophets of doom and gloom often discount are key factors that keep the nation going, including the resilience of Pakistan's people, the extraordinary capabilities of its large and growing urban middle class, and the stabilizing influence of its powerful military. Pakistan is just too big to fail. I fully expect Pakistan to survive the current crises, and then begin to thrive again in the near future.
Pakistan Too Big to Fail
Pakistani Diaspora Among World's Largest
Pakistan's Demographic Dividend
Resilient Pakistanis Defies Doomsayers
Pakistani Defense Industry
India-Pakistan Military Balance
Pakistan's Story After 64 Years of Independence
Pakistan is NOT the 27th largest economy in the world. PPP sounds good, but doesn't matter much on the ground. It is nominal GDP that matters.
And who cares what the Arabs think, anyway... They are still fighting to bring their countries out of the 7th century...
Pakistan's potential is undisputed but it must jettison its corrupt leaders ASAP. Pakistan should have a caretaker government installed now and hold new and fair election in 6 months.
Anon: "And who cares what the Arabs think, anyway... They are still fighting to bring their countries out of the 7th century..."
From your comments it's clear to me that you are a right-wing Indian bigot of the RSS variety.
Your comment is really strange...especially considering the fact that your country India has the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterates reminiscent of the medieval period.
India also leads the world in open defecation, and it tops the world in terms of the number of child marriages and its unfolding massive female genocide that has claimed tens of millions of baby girls in recent years.
Killing of baby girls was a practice common in the pre-Islamic period of Jahiliyah, and Islam put a stop to it in the 6th century, but it's still widely practiced in India today.
You missed a subtlety, Riaz. The survey asked Arabs which country they would prefer to see as a superpower, not which country they consider as a potential superpower.
For instance, I would prefer to see myself as a billionaire. That does not make me a potential billionaire, does it?
Shamit: "The survey asked Arabs which country they would prefer to see as a superpower, not which country they consider as a potential superpower."
I'm afraid you missed the key difference between articles "a" and "the" in the question.
7% of the respondents didn't just say they want to see Pakistan as "a superpower". They said they prefer to see Pakistan as "the superpower" in a world with only one superpower.
"Pakistan is too nuclear to fail", said Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a US Presidential hopeful and a member of House Intelligence committee during the Republican Presidential debate last night.
The phrase "too nuclear to fail" actually originated from a piece written by Brookings' Stephen Cohen published earlier in 2011.
Riaz: Don't you have any thing better to do?
Liaqat Ali gate, east pakistan gate, ... NRO gate, OBL gate, and now memo gate! Pakistan is nothing but a self inflicting gated community.
Moazzam: "Liaqat Ali gate, east pakistan gate, ... NRO gate, OBL gate, and now memo gate! Pakistan is nothing but a self inflicting gated community.
Pakistan has accomplished a lot, and will do even better in the future, in spite of all the problems you talk about.
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.
Sir, you are leading and marching ahead and waving your flag in tandem; however, there is hardly anyone behind you!
I will give a lot of credit to Pakistani people for the future years, if today they could topple the current regime like Egypt or other Middle Eastern countries.
Sher: "I will give a lot of credit to Pakistani people for the future years, if today they could topple the current regime like Egypt or other Middle Eastern countries."
Whether you like it not, the fact is that unlike Egypt Pakistan is a democracy with a govt people freely elected in 2008.
pak as a superpower?!
I don't know if i should laugh at you or pity you. A bit of both maybe.
Superpowers head a world order. Advocates such as yourself are busy defending what's left of pak from being termed a failure.
Superpowers exert influence the world over. Pak can't hold it together within the country - nwfp, baloch. The very existence of bangladesh, with less than 2 weeks of indian intervention should tell you enough about pak's influence. The adoption of 'bleed by a thousand cuts' strategy of employing terrorist cells to wage war, should tell u about pak army's confession of india's superior conventional capabilities.
Superpowers are economic powerhouses. Till very recently, the imf was dictating terms to pak on fiscal discipline.
Superpowers exert control over iternational waters and traditionaly have vast navies. Pak can't even fvelop its own ports. If not for the chinese, gwadar would have been a dream. Barely a brown water navy, it has no muscle for power projection.
Superpowers are role models for human development. If i'm not mistaken, over 130 countries rank higher as per the latest hdi rankings.
Superpowers command alliances of countries. How many nations does pak lead? It's barely able to create ripples in multilateral forums.
Superpowers help shape popular culture the world over. Sure there are cultural exports from music to food. But it's feeble at best when compared to chinese food, bolywood movies or american pop music.
There are so many other parameters that make ur claim of pak as a potential superpower. But none more so than than this - superpowers have an unquestionable lead over other nations. You really expect the likes of us, germany japan, brics, australia to be silent, inactive spectators?
Wake up mr. Haq. You are in dreamland.
Ashmit: "Wake up mr. Haq. You are in dreamland."
Recently, well-known Indian diplomat and MP Sashi Tharoor said, "India is super poor, not a superpower".
The eminent writer and Congress MP, Mr Shashi Tharoor, on Thursday did some plain talk on India’s global aspirations and said the country was ‘super-poor rather than a superpower’.
He added that a large chunk of India’s people did not get three meals a day, had no roof to sleep under and were unable to educate their children. “We still haven’t solved these basic problems,” he said. “So we can’t claim to be a superpower.”
So if your fellow Indians think India, home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterates, is a superpower, why can't Pakistanis dream of becoming a superpower?
Sashi Tharoor is a failed MP who got unceremoniously booted out having made 'technically correct but morally wrong' money by the IPL franchise root.
But then when your down to clutching at straws...
Anon: "Sashi Tharoor is a failed MP who got unceremoniously booted out..."
I know. Straight talking Indians like Tharoor who mention the taboo words and phrases like "India's poverty" and "India's Israel envy" are not acceptable to Indians like you.
The list of unacceptable Indians also includes Arudhati Roy, who talks about Indian Military occupation of Kashmir and India's sham democracy, and Pankaj Mishra who challenges Zakaria's description of India as "prosperous and peaceful", and Yoginder Sikand who documents atrocities committed against India's Muslim minority by India's state.
In 1980 Pakistan was 21st largest and India was 12th. As stated in 2010 world bank report Pakistan is 28th and India is 9th in nominal GDP. In 1980 Pakistan per capita GDP nominally was $300 compared to India at $260 (1978 prices). At 2010 prices, Pakistan is at $980 and India at $1200. Compared to the progress made by rest of the world on average Pakistan has fallen behind.
When and if Pakistan gets better in the future, people including myself will applaud - in the future.
Riaz, please respond as long as it is not about defecation and poverty in India. Although you may have a point I've read it ad nauseum in your blogs.
Sure, Indian democracy has many many flaws. But, try this:
The Economist survey calls India a flawed democracy (definitely true), but Pakistan is not even considered anywhere near democracy.
Also, in 3 of the 5 criteria considered, India receives stellar scores:
India 9.58/10 USA 9.17 France 9.58
Functioning of government:
India 8.57/10 USA 7.86 France 7.14
India 9.41/10 USA 8.53 France 8.53
Do you see how deep democracy runs in India? Its elections and civil liberties beat those in countries like France and USA.
In fact, show me one more third world country that comes close to Indias stellar scores. India is the only third world nation that is a real democracy...and when you notice that India has 1.2 billion people and more diversity than any nation on earth, you should appreciate the magnitude of success of the Indian experiment with democracy.
Instead of jealousy, face the truth and try to make sure that the Pakistani people have freedom and civil liberty.
Anon: "Also, in 3 of the 5 criteria considered, India receives stellar scores"
These scores have little relevance for the 7000 poor Indians who die of hunger every day and 200 million poor Indians who will go to bed hungry tonight as they do every night. (Source: Bhookh.com)
These scores have absolutely no relevance for the 200,000 Indian farmers who have committed suicide in the last 10 years.
These scores have no meaning for 54% of India's population that still defecates in the open fields and on railway tracks.
India is a sham democracy.
In fact, it's the world's biggest oligarchy dominated by 55 billionaires who control 1/5th of India's GDP and pay the politicians to do their bidding.
In 2008, British minister Douglas Alexander contrasted the rapid growth in China with India's economic success - highlighting government figures that showed the number of poor people had dropped in the one-party communist state by 70% since 1990 but had risen in the world's biggest democracy by 5%.
Iqbal Singh: "At 2010 prices, Pakistan is at $980 and India at $1200."
Let's talk some real data from official Indian and Pakistani sources.
Per capita income in both India and Pakistan is the same...about $1250, according to data released by Economic Survey offices of both South Asian neighbors.
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.
Even after the slowdown in 1990s and since 2008, Pakistan's avg growth since 1947 has been 5% per annum, a lot higher than the so-called "Hindu rate of growth" in India for most of its history.
The numbers from the Economist that I showed you at least have some meaning.
Your post is about some Arabs in some survey who wanted to see Pakistan as the sole superpower!!
And you accuse my numbers of being
Tell me, what relevance does this wishful thinking of just 7% of Arabs in one random survey have for the Pakistan that has no economy, no industry, no educational institutions?
If Pakistani economy is so impressive and you are so optimistic, how come Pakistan is still barely in the top 50? Pakistan is 6th in population, isnt it?
Even if you use PPP(which has little real world relevance), India with 2nd position in population has moved to No. 4 in economy. With 6th position in population, why is the Pakistani economy still at No. 27?
If we are a failure despite being No. 4, why are you optimistic about No. 27?
Let me see if you are intellectually honest enough to dare publish this comment.
Anon: "If we are a failure despite being No. 4, why are you optimistic about No. 27? "
India has very heavy albatross of hundreds of millions of desperately poor and hungry population.
To get a sense of the enormous challenge, let us understand that India will not reach its Millennium Development Goal on sanitation before 2047, while Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal will not achieve the target before 2028, according to a United Nations report released on the eve of World Toilet Day 2011.
What's a "sham democracy"? Is there a webster definition of it or is it a term born out of envious mind of Mr. Riaz.
Pakistanis, many of them, don't quite understand how democracies work. First and foremost it is an imperfect system; nonetheless, alternatives are lot worse or better systems exists only in theory.
Second, democracies are constantly evolving and are works in progress.
Third, it is a system of checks and balances. Social ills exists in ALL societies from child abuse to racism to murders but there are forces fighting these ills as well.
Democracies are NOT utopian and thus cannot REWIRE the evil side of the human brain that unfortunately exists.
Riaz, are you helping or making world around you better, or are you creating more animosity -because if you are doing the latter then you qualify as a "sham" human being in my book!
Rahul: "Pakistanis, many of them, don't quite understand how democracies work. First and foremost it is an imperfect system; nonetheless, alternatives are lot worse or better systems exists only in theory."
Indian democracy is only skin deep.
Let me remind you of what Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar said about India democracy: “Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic.”
What you have in India is a copycat system of democracy that is unsuitable for a poor backward third world country like India where most people are divided by castes, classes, regions, ethnicity and religions. Among the poorest and least developed in the world, they live in medieval conditions characterized by widespread open defecation.
The basic reason for democracy's lack of solutions to India's basic problems is that its principles have been formulated in industrialized capitalist societies characterized by considerable cultural homogeneity and relatively small economic gaps.
Democracy is a set of formal principles developed in Western Europe with the aim of facilitating the representation and articulation of the middle and working classes and designed to contain peacefully the conflicts between them and the upper class.
In the absence of a balance of power between classes and castes, and a consensual unifying national identity, the automatic installation of formal democratic principles might only make matters worse.
Read more in a piece titled "Democracy is no panacea" by Lev Ginsberg at http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/02/2011225181951493541.html
Riaz, could you cite the original source of the following quote:
You said "Let me remind you of what Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar said about India democracy: “Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic.”
I studied political science and did a project on the "Architect of the Indian Constitution", B R Ambedkar. If anything he put in place laws that would allow more representation from all segments of Indian society.
Bhimsen: "Riaz, could you cite the original source of the following quote.."
India After Gandhi By Ramachandra Guha
What you have in India is a copycat system of democracy that is unsuitable for a poor backward third world country like India where most people are divided by castes, classes, regions, ethnicity and religions. Among the poorest and least developed in the world, they live in medieval conditions characterized by widespread open defecation.
Thank you Riaz but would you not agree that Indian political institutions are more robust than Pakistan's? The army has always been under civilian control and the civilian leadership though often corrupt has never elected clowns like zardari to high office or been that rapaciously corrupt like the Bhuttos.
As for whether the political system much more advanced than the society let me remind you than in 1776 the united states was effectively the bihar of the west with hardly any institutions of higher learning or intellectual achievements to its credit with a population onsisting of essentially poor and destitute immigrants from Europe.People often thought having democracy in such a backward country was a joke afterall even advanced nations like France,UK,Prussia...everybody had no such thing.But it worked didn't it?
Lets give it a decade or two more then we'll see....
So far it has kept the country together,created an industrial base wich is the world's 7th largest,accelerated GDP growth to 8%,dramatically reduced caste discrimination compared to what it was in 1947 though still by no means within acceptable levels and created a large technocratic middle class,ended feudalism....and produced a crop of excellent leaders Nehru,Indira,Rao,Vajpayee,to a lesser extent Rajiv and Gujaral...
I wouldn't call it a complete failure based on the above ...
Anon: "1776 the united states was effectively the bihar of the west with hardly any institutions of higher learning or intellectual achievements to its credit with..."
The US was not much of a democracy in 1776. Only white men owning property had a right to vote and Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers, believed "masses are asses".
The US did not become much of democracy until FDR's "New Deal", passage of Voting Rights Act and Johnson's "Great Society" programs which opened up opportunities to the avg folks and built a prosperous middle class country.
The US democracy is under serious threat again with the trashing of the Bill of Rights under Bush and the destruction of the American middle class. Huge tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the middle class are the kind of policies favored by the rich who pay the politicians to do their bidding.
The neocon movement, inspired by the likes of Dr. Leo Strauss of U of Chicago, has pushed the ideas of "philosopher kings" and "noble lies" to manage the American masses.
In reality, US has become an oligarchy where "corporations are people" and their "free speech" (big money) is protected by the Constitution (US Supreme Court).
The "Occupy Wall Street" movement is a reaction to these excesses, and we have yet to see if it can bring changes to empower the people again.
The US was not much of a democracy in 1776. Only white men owning property had a right to vote and Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers, believed "masses are asses".
It was more a democracy than any other country in the world at that point of time.
Infact the only democracy where the head of state had to stand for elections.Everywhere else there was monarchy.This is surprising considering how backward it was socially compared to the rest of Europe.
Anon: "It was more a democracy than any other country in the world at that point of time."
Labels are often deceptive, and so are the elections.
Most Arab nations call themselves "democracy" and hold regular "elections" which have no impact on the ruling elite.
For over a century in the US, only a small minority of population could vote because women, poor and blacks were excluded.
Here are some excerpts of NY Times on the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers by NATO:
The question now, as one senior American official put it on Sunday, is “what kind of resilience is left” in a relationship that has sunk to new lows time after time this year — with the arrest in January of a C.I.A. officer, Raymond Davis, the killing of Osama bin Laden in May and the deaths of so many Pakistani soldiers.
In each of those cases, Pakistan had reason to feel that the United States had violated its sovereignty. Even if circumstances on the ground justified the American actions, they have nonetheless made it difficult to sustain political support inside Pakistan for the strategic cooperation that both countries acknowledge is vital to winning the war in Afghanistan. “Imagine how we would feel if it had been 24 American soldiers killed by Pakistani forces at this moment,” Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat from Illinois, said on “Fox News Sunday.” The rift is one result of the United States’ two-pronged strategy in Afghanistan, which relies on both negotiating and fighting to end the war.
Just last Friday, Pakistan’s military commander, Army Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, met Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, in Rawalpindi to discuss “measures concerning coordination, communication and procedures” between the Pakistan Army, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and the Afghan Army, “aimed at enhancing border control on both sides,” according to a statement by the Pakistani military.
“Then you have an incident that takes us back to where we were before her visit,” said Vali Nasr, a former deputy to the administration’s regional envoy, Richard C. Holbrooke, and now a professor at Tufts University.
The problem, Mr. Nasr said, is that the United States effectively has not one but two strategies for winning the war in Afghanistan.
While the State Department and the White House believe that only a negotiated political solution will end the war, American military and intelligence commanders believe that they must maximize pressure on the Taliban before the American military withdrawal begins in earnest before 2014. The military strategy has led to the intensified fighting in eastern Afghanistan along the border with Pakistan, increasing tensions. A major offensive last month involving 11,000 NATO troops and 25,000 Afghan fighters in seven provinces of eastern Afghanistan killed or captured hundreds of extremists, many of them using Pakistan as a base.
Here are parts of an Op Ed by Robert Dreyfuss published in The Nation:
The closing may yet be reversed, but it’s a sign of Pakistan’s ability to undermine or even shut down the US war effort. (It’s not really possible to supply US forces by using the so-called northern route through Russia and the ’Stans, not is it possible to airlift supplies such as fuel, heavy machinery, and construction equipment in sufficient quantities.) As always, Pakistan has the United States over a barrel.
Worse, the Pakistan government is threatening to boycott the December 5 international conference on Afghanistan, at which 1,000 delegates from fifty countries are scheduled to convene in Germany to discuss plans to wind down the war. As everyone who’s paying attention knows, winding down the war—removing 30,000 American troops in 2012 and taking out the rest by 2014—means getting Pakistan and its cat’s-paw, the Taliban, to the bargaining table. If Pakistan doesn’t play, it’s game over.
The most intelligent comment on the crisis comes from Vali Nasr, a regional expert who served as a consultant to the late Af-Pak coordinator Richard Holbrooke. Nasr told the New York Times that there is not one but two policies toward Afghanistan, the first one being the White House and State Department policy of seeking a political accord, and the second being the Department of Defense and the military command policy of killing the enemy. “It’s a case of the tail wagging the dog. U.S. commanders on the ground are deciding U.S.-Pakistan policy.” That may exaggerate the point slightly, since the White House is in charge, but it does point to the fact that if a war can’t be won militarily, it’s probably best not to let the military try to win it.
Crabby comments from US politicians, including Senators John Kyl and Dick Durbin, badly miss the point. Rather than “get tough” with Pakistan, the United States has to recognize that when and if the war ends Pakistan will be the dominant player in Afghanistan. So the United States needs Pakistan’s help. At the same time, the United States has to led a diplomatic surge to get Russia, India and Iran to rein in their warlike allies among the anti-Karzai Northern Alliance, so that some sort of deal can be struck to stabilize Afghanistan after the United States leaves. Otherwise, the country will be plunged into a full-scale civil war such as the one that raged in the early 1990s after the USSR withdrew and before the Taliban took over to end the bloodshed.
Here's is an APP report on UAE Trade & Investment Expo 2011 in Karachi:
KARACHI, Dec 01 (APP): Speakers at UAE trade and investment conference at Karachi Expo Centre said Thursday that Pakistan was a growing market and UAE companies operating here would stay and make long term strategic investment. President and CEO of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL) Walid Irshaid said that his company will make more investment in Pakistan to fully transform PTCL into a world class telecome company.
“We have transformed PTCL into a modern company offering all ICT products in Pakistan and we are here to stay”, he said while sharing the experience of his company in Pakistan and investment opportunities.
He said that “Pakistan is a growing market and we are making long term investment to offer world class network to local consumers who are quality conscious”. Do not underestimate Pakistani consumers, he suggested.
Regional general manager Asia Pacific North and Indian sub continent Etihad Airways, Joost den Hartog said that his airline was doing great business in Pakistan.
“We are running daily flights from Karachi, Islamabd, Lahore to UAE and twice a week from Peshawar. We are planning to enhance our operations in Pakistan in future with the expansion of our fleet”, he noted.
Hartog said that his airline is now catering for Pakistanis living in USA, Canada, Europe and Middle East and will soon start lifting Pakistani passengers for Frankfurt and Munich.
Pakistani Ambassador in UAE Jamil Ahmed Khan advised Pakistani businessmen to take full advantage of opportunities in the Emirates for re-export business. He said that 40 percent of the exports to UAE are re-exported to African countries.
He said that Pakistani exports to UAE can be enhanced from 2 percent of Emirates’ global trade to 6 percent with the help of planned efforts.
Chief Executive Officer of Bank Al Falah, Atif Aslam Bajwa said that his bank is growing fast in Pakistan and “we have plans to further expand our operations in the country”.
Chief Executive Officer, FlyDubai, Ghaith Al Ghaith said that the business of his airline has increased in Pakistan by 10 percent while it is growing worldwide at 12 percent. “We are planning to further expand our business here”.
CEO Dubai Islamic Bank Junaid said his bank has plan to expand its branch network from 73 to 100 in Pakistan by next year and offer the entire range of Shariah compliant products in Pakistan.
Director of IBA Dr Ishrat Husain said that foreign investors were never touched in Pakistan by any regime even during the nationalization in 1972.
He said Pakistan has liberalized its foreign exchange regime and profits, royalties, fees can be fully repatriated.
Acting President of FPCCI Khalid Tawab said that business chambers are playing their full to expand bilateral trade and investment between Pakistan and UAE.
Meanwhile, consul generals and commercial officers of USA, China, Germany, Japan, Russia, Afghanistan and Korea also visited UAE Expo 2011 Magnificent 7 and took keen interest in the products at display.
Here's an interesting piece about democracy and oligarchy by Michael Hudson:
Book V of Aristotle’s Politics describes the eternal transition of oligarchies making themselves into hereditary aristocracies – which end up being overthrown by tyrants or develop internal rivalries as some families decide to “take the multitude into their camp” and usher in democracy, within which an oligarchy emerges once again, followed by aristocracy, democracy, and so on throughout history.
Debt has been the main dynamic driving these shifts – always with new twists and turns. It polarizes wealth to create a creditor class, whose oligarchic rule is ended as new leaders (“tyrants” to Aristotle) win popular support by cancelling the debts and redistributing property or taking its usufruct for the state.
Since the Renaissance, however, bankers have shifted their political support to democracies. This did not reflect egalitarian or liberal political convictions as such, but rather a desire for better security for their loans. As James Steuart explained in 1767, royal borrowings remained private affairs rather than truly public debts. For a sovereign’s debts to become binding upon the entire nation, elected representatives had to enact the taxes to pay their interest charges.
By giving taxpayers this voice in government, the Dutch and British democracies provided creditors with much safer claims for payment than did kings and princes whose debts died with them. But the recent debt protests from Iceland to Greece and Spain suggest that creditors are shifting their support away from democracies. They are demanding fiscal austerity and even privatization sell-offs.
What is missing is the counterweight to a tiny minority who didn’t set out to be petty kings but who know perhaps realize that there is no one and nothing in their way as things stand. . . . As things stand: things will change. Revolution is as likely as oligarchy; more likely I would say. And revolution has more modern precedents than does oligarchic recession. But I do think that society is not presently well-balanced to restrain finance-capital: so it’s them or us who goes down. Let’s make it them.
Pakistan changes rules of engagement for Pak troops on Afghan border, according to Reuters:
Pakistan's commanders in the wild Afghan border region can return fire if under attack without waiting for permission, the army chief said on Friday, a policy change that could stoke tensions after Saturday's NATO strike killed 24 Pakistani troops.
Exactly what happened in the attack is unclear. Two U.S. officials told Reuters early indications were that Pakistani officials had cleared the NATO air strike, unaware they had troops in the area. A Pakistani official denied this.
The attack sparked fury in Pakistan and further complicated U.S.-led efforts to ease a crisis in relations with Islamabad, still seething at a secret U.S. raid in May which killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and stabilize the region before foreign combat troops leave Afghanistan in 2014.
"I do not want there to be any doubt in the minds of any commander at any level about the rules of engagement," Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani said in a communique on Friday.
"In case of any attack, you have complete liberty to respond forcefully using all available resources. You do not need any permission for this."
A military source explained that this amounted to a change in the rules for Pakistani forces guarding the Western border against militant movements to and from Afghanistan.
"In the past, we were only guarding ourselves or reacting against militants," said the source, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
"We have given our posts some more space to respond. If they are under attack, they should not wait for orders from above on whether to return fire or not."
The increase in autonomy for local commanders is likely to raise tensions in the unruly and mountainous border region, which is porous and poorly marked. Militants and tribespeople alike move back and forth daily.
"There are certain inherent risks in the delegation of authority," said defense analyst and retired general Talat Masood. "There could be unintended consequences."...
Foreign Policy is reporting that President Asif Ali Zardari may be on his way out for health reasons:
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari left Pakistan suddenly on Tuesday, complaining of heart pains, and is now in Dubai. His planned testimony before a joint session of Pakistan's parliament on the Memogate scandal is now postponed indefinitely.
On Dec. 4, Zardari announced that he would address Pakistan's parliament about the Memogate issue, in which his former ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani stands accused of orchestrating a scheme to take power away from Pakistan's senior military and intelligence leadership and asking for U.S. help in preventing a military coup. Haqqani has denied that he wrote the memo at the heart of the scheme, which also asked for U.S. support for the Zardari government and promised to realign Pakistani foreign policy to match U.S. interests.
The memo was passed from Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz to former National Security Advisor Jim Jones, to then Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen on May 10, only nine days after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani military town of Abbottabad.
Early on Tuesday morning, Zardari's spokesman revealed that the president had traveled to Dubai to see his children and undergo medical tests linked to a previously diagnosed "cardiovascular condition."
A former U.S. government official told The Cable today that when President Barack Obama spoke with Zardari over the weekend regarding NATO's killing of the 24 Pakistani soldiers, Zardari was "incoherent." The Pakistani president had been feeling increased pressure over the Memogate scandal. "The noose was getting tighter -- it was only a matter of time," the former official said, expressing the growing expectation inside the U.S. government that Zardari may be on the way out.
The former U.S. official said that parts of the U.S. government were informed that Zardari had a "minor heart attack" on Monday night and flew to Dubai via air ambulance today. He may have angioplasty on Wednesday and may also resign on account of "ill health."
"This is the ‘in-house change option' that has been talked about," said Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, in a Tuesday interview with The Cable. Nawaz said that this plan would see Zardari step aside and be replaced by his own party, preserving the veneer of civilian rule but ultimately acceding to the military's wishes to get rid of Zardari.
"Unfortunately, it means that the military may have had to use its muscle to effect change yet again," said Nawaz. "Now if they stay at arm's length and let the party take care of its business, then things may improve. If not, then this is a silent coup with [Pakistani prime minister Yousaf Raza] Gilani as the front man."
In Islamabad, some papers have reported that before Zardari left Pakistan, the Pakistani Army insisted that Zardari be examined by their own physicians, and that the Army doctors determined that Zardari was fine and did not need to leave the country for medical reasons. Zardari's spokesman has denied that he met with the Army doctors.
On May 2, the day after bin Laden was killed, Wajid Hasan, Pakistan's high commissioner to the United Kingdom, said in an interview with CNN that Pakistan, "did know that this was going to happen because we have been keeping -- we were monitoring him and America was monitoring him. But Americans got to where he was first."..
Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill, who coined BRIC, says India's performance most disappointing, according to Economic Times:
LONDON: Growth in all four BRIC economies has surpassed expectations in the decade since the term came into existence but India's record on productivity, FDI and reform has been the most disappointing, the chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management Jim O'Neill said on Tuesday.
O'Neill, who coined the term, BRIC, in December 2001 to jointly describe the four biggest developing economies, Brazil, Russia, India and China, was speaking at the London leg of the Reuters 2012 Investment Outlook Summit.
"All four countries have become bigger (economies) than I said they were going to be, even Russia. However there are important structural issues about all four and as we go into the 10-year anniversary, in some ways India is the most disappointing," said O'Neill who oversees almost a trillion dollars in assets at Goldman.
Just this week, India's government caved in to opposition pressure and put on hold a landmark reform of the retail sector that was seen opening the doors to billions of dollars in foreign direct investment in the supermarket sector.
The long-awaited measure, passed earlier this month, had been hailed as ending the government's economic reform paralysis that is widely seen as the root cause of high inflation, shrinking capital inflows and a wider current account deficit.
"India has the risk of ... if they're not careful, a balance of payments crisis. They shouldn't raise people's hopes of FDI and then in a week say, 'we're only joking'," O'Neill said. "India's inability to raise its share of global FDI is very disappointing," he said.
United Nations data shows that India received less than $20 billion in FDI in the first six months of 2011, compared to more than $60 billion in China while Brazil and Russia took in $23 billion and $33 billion respectively.
On the other BRICs, O'Neill said Brazil's main problem was an overvalued currency which puts the country in danger of "Dutch disease" - a term first used to describe how North Sea oil discoveries in the 1960s triggered a surge in Dutch energy exports but also in the Dutch currency, pummelling much of the country's manufacturing. China's challenge was to effectively manage a transition to a higher-consumption economy with slower growth, he said.
O'Neill remains positive on Russia but said much depends on what Prime Minister Vladimir Putin can deliver in terms of reform following an election at the weekend that left his ruling party with a much reduced parliamentary majority.
Here's an APP report on US Ambassador Cameron Munter on US-Pak tied after Nov 26 tragic border incident:
United States Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter Monday said Mohmand Agency incident was a setback for the ties of Pakistan and the United States, and his country wanted to rebuild cooperation in areas of economy, military and intelligence sharing.In an interview to a private television channel, he said Mohmand Agency incident happened when the two countries were having military and intelligence cooperation and they were collaborating on economic matters.He said the events of November 26 were a real tragedy and President Obama called President Zardari, Secretary Hillary Clinton called Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and the US military leadership contacted Pakistani army chief to share their sorrow.
“In fact when people die, whether they are Pakistanis or Americans, it is too many and it was a tragedy that it happened. We have really tried to make it clear how sorrowful we are about this event. We feel the pain of the Pakistani people,” he added.
Munter said the US has pledged full investigation of the incident and “in the coming days, most of all we want to make sure that we learn from this and this never happens again.”
He said the NATO attack was not intentional and the mechanism which should have stopped the incident failed on that day.
“The mechanism that should have prevented this failed. We need to work together to make sure that mechanisms are in place and this should not happen again.”
Munter said it was not true that there was no investigation into the case of Raymond Davis and said there was a group of officials of Department of Justice who were following up as promised
by Senator John Kerry and by him.
“These officials have come to Pakistan and they are talking to Pakistani officials to do their best to convince the Pakistani people that we are following up as we promised,” he added.When asked to respond to continuing halt of NATO supplies, Munter said he was hopeful that the stoppage will not last. “As we work through this tragic incident, which should never have happened, we find a way to work together and this stoppage would not be necessary.”
He said US, Pakistan and all of their friends are trying to fight militants to protect their way of life and values that they share and they need to work together to fight them.
“We are in constant contact with Pakistan people to find out how we can work together in the fight against militants and how you understand our sorrow about this tragedy.”
The ambassador said the US Central Command has formed a commission led by Brigadier General Clarke to investigate the NATO attack.
“We do not want to judge what he has found and there is difference of opinion about what happened that day. We do not want to judge until that investigation is finished and when that investigation is finished we want to be able to share it with you,” he remarked when asked why the US is not offering an apology.
To a question, he said there are two investigations, one being run by NATO and the other by the US Central Command into the Mohmand Agency incident and they will share information and findings with Pakistan.
He stressed that the NATO attack on Pakistani troops in Mohmand Agency was not deliberate and even President Obama and General Dempsey told this to their Pakistani counterparts.
“We are terribly distressed. It should not have happened it was not done on purpose.”....
Here's Economist magazine on the travails of Indian infrastructure development:
ONE recent evening in Mumbai a tangerine Lamborghini could be seen taxiing past a sign prohibiting bullock carts, wheeling left and then letting rip on the Sea Link toll-bridge, one of the city’s few bits of decent infrastructure. For three miles all the driver’s Michael Schumacher fantasies must have came true. But by the fourth he drove off the bridge back into reality: roads whose surfaces often wash away during the monsoon and whose repair is said to be in the hands of mafias. The supercar returned to rickshaw speed.
For the past half decade India’s infrastructure industry has enjoyed a Sea Link moment; a blast of growth when one could imagine that the private sector could deliver all the new roads, bridges, power stations and airports that the country needs so badly. The government says the boom will continue. Over the next five years it predicts that infrastructure investment will reach a new high relative to GDP, with some $1 trillion spent, half of it by the private sector. The trouble with this rosy prediction is that the balance-sheets of many Indian infrastructure firms are as potholed as the roads they resurface.
Exclude state-owned and telecoms firms and leverage is worse (see table). From public disclosures it is impossible to work out the liquidity position of these firms, but it is likely that most will have to refinance existing credit lines in today’s far less forgiving world, a process not helped by high local rates and a weak rupee.
It looks like a mess. Shareholders have taken a beating, with the market value of those 70-odd stocks having fallen by some two-fifths since March 2011. India’s banks may be next in line for a thrashing. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the regulator, reckons they have 13% of their loan book in infrastructure (vaguely reassuringly, the RBI’s implied absolute debt figure roughly matches the $130 billion of gross debt of the 70 listed firms). Thus far non-performing loans are low—so low it suggests banks are fibbing. But the RBI is probably right that a rickety infrastructure sector does not endanger the banking system.
What it does endanger is India’s growth prospects. Those new airports, roads and bridges are essential. And the country does not need financial zombies, slashing their investment in order to shore up dodgy balance-sheets.
Some reckon the solution is to develop a bond market, so that more debt can be raised. But while a more sophisticated capital market might mean more funds available and might even reduce the amount of financial engineering going on, it is not the solution to today’s predicament.
Instead, two things need to happen. The government needs to unsnarl stalled projects. And infrastructure firms need to raise lots more equity—not debt. That might dilute the stakes which are held by some of the magnates who control these businesses, but would be a fair price to pay to resuscitate the balance-sheet of a vital industry. Even on selfish grounds it makes sense, hastening the day when an honest Indian oligarch can at last put the pedal to metal in his supercar for more than three miles in a row.
UAE to invest more in Pakistan, reports The News:
UAE Ambassador Eissa Abdullah Al-Basha Al-Noaimi said Monday Pak-UAE relations would be taken to the new heights as the leaders of the two brotherly counties are showing keen interest in this.
Federal Minister for Commerce Makhdoom Amin Fahim has said that the trade and business ties of both the countries are satisfactory but the scope of enhancing them does exist and the leadership of the two countries is sincerely trying to expand the same.
They were addressing the gathering of representatives, CEOs, directors of the UAE investment companies and joint venture investing corporations in Pakistan here Monday evening. The meeting provided the two countries officials’ rare opportunity to interact with each other.
Ambassador Eissa Al-Noaimi told the guests that current bilateral trade between the two countries is US $7.6 billion while 27 companies of Pakistan and UAE are working in joint venture. The volume of the business in joint venture is US $21 billion. The UAE firmly believes in the principles of importance of strengthening economic coordination with Pakistan as the later presents suitable environment ready for investment. The fruit of this interest was holding the conference on ‘promotion investment in Pakistan’ in March 2010. The ‘UAE Expo Magnificent 7’ held in Karachi and it was honoured and inaugurated by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani while the UAE delegation was led by Sheikha Luba Bint Khalid Al-Qasmi, the UAE foreign trade minister.
Ambassador Al-Noaimi recounted that the UAE investment covers all sectors such as aviation, navigation, banks, real estate and energy. In aviation sector, it extends its facilities to different cities in Pakistan to serve the passengers and for cargo. This also applies to the navigation sector. The banking sector actively contributes in developing Pakistani society while the real estate and energy sectors have effective role also.
All those sectors serve the human and economic development in the brotherly country Pakistan. “We might not exaggerate if we describe this relationship as model one, thanks to its solid foundation and due to its divaricating so that to cover different fields and according to agreements and memorandums of understanding which are looked by joint commission headed by both foreign ministers of the two countries. We consider the meeting of the businessmen and officials of both countries would furnish common ground to discover more investment opportunities and to discuss investment related topics,” the ambassador said.
Ambassador Eissa Al-Noaimi said the distinguished relationship and the contacts among the officials of the two countries and the diplomatic delegations here and the UAE are fully ready to solve any issue which might be faced by the companies and investors and if such matters occurred then it would be a natural issue usually happens during investment in countries. “One of my goals that I would be contributing during next stage to establish joint committee especially for businessmen of both the countries. The history of relationship among the businessmen is spread over decades due to religious, geographical, cultural connections and mutual interests in this excellent relationship,” Ambassador Al-Bash Al-Noaimi added.
The ambassador said the UAE leadership including President Khalifa Zayed Al-Nahyan, Prime Minister Muhammad Rashid Al-Maktoum, and Foreign Minister Abdullah Al-Nahyan are taking personal interest in enhancing ties with Pakistan in all spheres. A documentary was also shown on the occasion that depicted the marvelous all-round development of the UAE. The U-fone chief executive Abdul Aziz Khan, honorary counsel of the UAE in Lahore Chaudhry Munir Ahmad were also present on the occasion.
Here's a Guardian report on German Nobel Laureate's criticism of Israel & its western backers:
German Nobel literature laureate Günter Grass labelled Israel a threat to "already fragile world peace" in a poem published on Wednesday that drew sharp rebukes at home and from Israel.
In the poem, titled What Must be Said, published in German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Italy's La Repubblica among others, Grass criticises what he describes as western hypocrisy over Israel's own suspected nuclear programme amid speculation it might engage in military action against Iran to stop it building an atomic bomb.
The 84-year-old Grass said he had been prompted to put pen to paper by Berlin's recent decision to sell Israel a submarine able to "send all-destroying warheads where the existence of a single nuclear bomb is unproven".
"The nuclear power Israel is endangering the already fragile world peace," he wrote. His poem specifically criticises Israel's "claim to the right of a first strike" against Iran.
Grass also called for "unhindered and permanent control of Israel's nuclear capability and Iran's atomic facilities through an international body".
Grass did not mention calls for the destruction of Israel that have been made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but obliquely referred to the Iranian people being "subjugated by a loudmouth".
Israel is widely believed to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons but has never admitted it, pursuing instead an official policy of "ambiguity" to deter potential attackers.
Israel has three Dolphin submarines from Germany – one half-funded and two entirely funded by Berlin – two more are under construction, and the contract for a sixth submarine was signed last month.
Dolphin-class submarines can carry nuclear-tipped missiles, but there is no evidence Israel has armed them with such weapons.
Iran insists it only seeks nuclear power for energy and medical research.
Grass said he long kept silent on Israel's own nuclear programme because his country committed "crimes that are without comparison", but he has come to see that silence as a "burdensome lie and a coercion" whose disregard carries a punishment – "the verdict 'antisemitism' is commonly used".
The left-leaning Grass established himself as a leading literary figure with The Tin Drum, published in 1959, and won the Nobel Prize in 1999. He urged fellow Germans to confront their painful Nazi history in the decades after the second world war.
"Iran is the threat for world peace – and Israel the only democracy in the entire region, and at the same time the world's only whose right to exist is openly questioned," said Charlotte Knobloch, a former leader of Germany's Jewish community.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is a staunch ally of Israel, and her spokesman reacted coolly to Grass's remarks.
"There is artistic freedom in Germany, and there thankfully also is the freedom of the government not to have to comment on every artistic production," Steffen Seibert said.
The head of the German parliament's foreign affairs committee – lawmaker Ruprecht Polenz, a member of Merkel's Christian Democrats – told the daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung that Grass was a great author "but he always has difficulties when he speak about politics and mostly gets it wrong".
"The country that worries us is Iran," he was quoted as saying, adding that "his poem distracts attention from that".
I don't understand why Indians are so jealous of Pakistan. I totally agree Indians are a nation of super poor.
They are only nation that eats rat meat and drinks cow's piss.
Indians should focus more on making their lives better instead of taking every opportunity to speak against Pakistan. We are Pakistanis. We are proud, brave and much more organized and humane than Indians. There is simply no comparison between us and Indians. We never compare but I don't know why Indians start taking piss when someone praises Pakistan. We have ruled Indians for almost 1,000 years and that's why Indians have developed a Pakistan phobia. My word to Indians is stop talking shit about Pakistan and focus on improving their own shitty image in the world. And Mr sheetal or wotever your name is please note it down if Pakistan is to become a super power India can't do shit about it. By the way it really made me laugh when you said powers like India, Germany etc would never let Pakistan become a super power. You are on drugs or what. India is not a G8 nation and it can never be. Yeah India has some post colonial clerks, data entry operators and totally incompetent doctors and engineers to boast about. Indians are incompetent professionally:
Indians aren't an emerging power they are a lowly rapist nation which don't spare even five year old kids:
So my dear stinky Indians, you literally stink, please don't try to become an authority on Pakistani affairs, you don't qualify.
Mr Riaz Haq I read your blogs regularly Sir and they are a great source of information. U are doing a great job here. Sir can u plz also write on the economic impact on Pakistan of an economic union between Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and the Arab world. Or basically the economic impact on Pakistan of an Islamic economic block and all its plusses and minuses for Pakistan economically. Would be really grateful sir
Here's a Japan Times story on Saudi quest for military help from Pakistan:
The Saudi rulers view Pakistan as one of three regional powers, along with Iran and Turkey, capable of having a decisive impact on the Middle East. An alliance with Shiite Iran — the kingdom’s supreme ideological enemy, and one with regional hegemonic ambitions — is out of the question. Turkey, for its part, is regarded as a competitor for the mantle of Sunni Muslim leadership — a position long held by the Ottoman Empire.
The frequent description of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as harboring “neo-Ottoman” ambitions for his country clearly implicates this rivalry. It was the Ottomans who brought down two historical Saudi/Wahhabi states. The first such state (1745-1818) was destroyed by Egypt’s Mehmet Ali with Ottoman support; the second (1824-1891) was also defeated by the Ottomans.
By contrast, the kingdom has no problematic history with Pakistan. On the contrary, the Saudis have bankrolled the Pakistani state, and proved a generous host to its current prime minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, during his long exile following the military coup that toppled his government in 1999.
Indeed, Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in Pakistan since the early years of its independence. Given that Pakistan was founded in 1947 on a religious basis, it is not surprising that its leaders sought support from the source of Islam, Mecca, then under Saudi rule. The kingdom, in turn, exported its Wahhabi teachings to the “Land of the Pure,” ultimately fueling the Islamic extremism and sectarian violence of the Taliban and others.
Part of the Saudi plan today is to use Pakistanis as the backbone for a new Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) joint military force. Pakistani forces under Saudi command were used in operations to quell Shiite uprisings in Bahrain in 2011, and the Saudis now want a standby force ready to put down Islamist and Shiite provocations whenever and wherever they may appear in the gulf. In the event of an existential threat in the region, in particular a confrontation with Iran, Pakistan would offer the kingdom a form of deadly protection denied it by the West.
So to what extent can Pakistan really enhance Saudi Arabia’s security, particularly in a war against Iran? Pakistan is badly fractured, with domestic terrorism running rampant. Its military lacks the capacity to intervene in Saudi Arabia’s defense while maintaining not only domestic security, but also readiness for war against India (an obsession of Pakistani generals).
Moreover, Pakistan’s substantial Shiite population might join the ranks of the violently disaffected if the military backed the Saudis in a sectarian war. And the Pakistan People’s Party, now in opposition but still a powerful domestic force, shares interests with Iran.
So, although the strategic value of closer military ties with Pakistan seems highly questionable, Saudi Arabia has little choice. The GCC is in fact disintegrating, following Qatar’s ouster for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Oman’s voluntary departure from the group. That, together with the kingdom’s deepening distrust of the U.S., is fueling a growing sense of isolation. Pakistan may not be anyone’s idea of an ally when facing an existential threat; for Saudi Arabia, however, it is an idea whose time has come.
So do you think this alliance can bring a sizeable Arab investment in Pakistan... Even if they invest $100 billion this can change our destiny?Do u think they will make an investment of such a size?
#Asia's quiet #superpower: #Pakistan Army’s teetering balance between #Saudi and #Iran https://shar.es/1Ufb30 via @MiddleEastEye
By Kamal Alam, Visiting Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, UK
When one thinks of the Pakistan Army, one does not instinctively think of a force that is relevant to conflicts in the Middle East. Yet increasingly – and without actually being involved in any operations - it is the most influential military in the region.
Who will lead the Islamic NATO, a new Saudi-led, terrorist-fighting military alliance? None other than Pakistan’s General Raheel Sharif
It has trained more Arab armies than any other country and has been present both in a combat role in the Arab-Israeli wars in 1967 and 1973 and also provided mentorship as the Gulf countries' armies were founded.
This is mostly thanks to the legacy of the British Indian Army, which was one-third Muslim, and which the British relied on to pacify the hostility of Arab Muslims when it marched through Jerusalem, Damascus and Baghdad. After India’s partition in 1947, these troops became the founders of the Pakistan military and thus began a long relationship that exists to this day.
After the fall of Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi army, and Iran’s rising influence across the Middle East, the Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, have looked to Pakistan as the final guarantor.
When the current Pakistan Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Bajwa recently stated that Pakistan views Saudi Arabia’s protection as its own, it was seen as an indirect warning to Iran and the terrorist groups threatening Saudi Arabia.
And who will lead the "Islamic NATO", a new Saudi-led, terrorist-fighting military alliance? None other than Pakistan’s General Raheel Sharif.
Though it was rumoured for a good year before his retirement, when Defence Minister Khwaja Asif confirmed Sharif’s appointment to the "Muslim NATO" a few weeks ago, it came as a surprise to the Pakistani parliament in much the same way as the announcement two years ago that Pakistan was to participate in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
There was a furore in the GCC when, after the surprise announcement, the Pakistani military eventually refused the role in Yemen in 2015. The UAE even cancelled visa waivers for Pakistani military officials, a process that had existed for decades, while leading Kuwait and Saudi state-owned media attacked Pakistan and how it had back-stabbed its "brothers" in the Gulf.
Pakistan itself was split down the middle over Yemen. The majority of the military was apparently in favour of the army’s participation. However, given Operation Zarb e Azb, in which the army was targeting cross-border violence and domestic terrorist groups on the Afghan border in North Waziristan, the military was overstretched fighting its own war on terror.
Ultimately, Pakistan did not take part in Yemen with troops on the ground, but did provide border support to guard Saudi sovereignty and offer advice during the air campaign.
However, two years down the line, with Pakistan military’s operations winding down in the northwest of its country, there is increased stability within the army and, tactically speaking, troops are now available. So the question of a more active role for Pakistan in Yemen may arise again.
One of the main reasons Saudi Arabia is going back to Pakistan for help, despite its previous refusal in Yemen, is that Pakistan and General Raheel Sharif himself warned that ground operations in Yemen were futile given the terrain, and proximity to the sea making impractical the use of the hammer and anvil tactic - and they were proven right.
While Pakistan will definitely not put troops in Yemen (Sharif has made that clear), the army can help by mediating conflict resolution mechanisms it used with success in Waziristan and Swat Valley.
Strategic Insights by #India's Sunil Sharan : #Pakistan, a rising power
https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/strategic-insights/pakistan-a-rising-power/ … via @TOIOpinion
Yet, one nation is a rising power, ready to take its rightful place in the comity of nations, while the other is deemed a global pariah, a jelly state if not a failed state. Huh? How did this happen?
The reality is different. The world pays lip service to India for its large middle class and its ability to buy arms on a large scale. India seems to consider this courting as its emergence on the world stage.
Scratch the surface, and you will find something else. The US is denying Indians H1-B visas. The US has delinked the Haqqanis, who they want, from Hafiz Saeed, who they couldn’t care less about, so that they can give dollops of aid to the Pakistanis.
Today the Yanks hector the Pakistanis, but that is empty bluster. The Pakistanis have trumped them; the Yanks’ wails appear like crocodile tears. The Yanks forgot when they invaded Afghanistan and enlisted the Pakistanis’ help by threatening to bomb them into the stone age that the Pakistanis had been there once before.
That time they trumped the Russians, with significant money and arms from the Americans and the Saudis. But the Americans never took to battle in Afghanistan the first time round. Sure they had read that Afghanistan was a graveyard for empires, from the British to the Soviet, but they believed, foolishly, that they themselves would win out.
They struck a Faustian bargain with the Pakistanis, without ever realizing that they were dealing with the devil. In the nineties, the Pakistanis used Afghanistan to hijack Indian planes and launch jihad in Kashmir. Afghanistan had become both strategic depth as well as a launching pad for them. How were they expected to give up this twin treat?
Once the Yanks entered Kabul, the Taliban vanished. Into thin air? Oh no, many of them disappeared into Pakistan. The Yanks forgot about Afghanistan, until first the Iraqis, and then the Taliban, started knocking their teeth out. One by one their Nato brethren fled Afghanistan, until the Yanks realized that they had to flee as well.
Go to Kabul today, and you will find disdain for Pakistan everywhere. But the Pakistanis don’t care. The real people who matter in Afghanistan are the Taliban, and you don’t find many of them in Kabul. The writ of the government of Afghanistan extends over only Kabul, much as the later-day Mughals were derided as the mayors of Delhi.
The Taliban control over sixty percent of the country. The Talibs don’t like the Pakistanis, referring to them often as blacklegs. But the Talibs need Pakistan to capture Kabul, much as the Pakistanis need the Taliban to capture Afghanistan.
The Pakistanis are disdainful of the threats emanating from the Yanks. The Yanks need Pakistani territory to transport supplies to their legionaries in Afghanistan. The Pakistanis blocked their land routes once, and all hell broke loose then. It’s almost impossible to transport goods from the west of Afghanistan.
Today Pakistan stands on the cusp of victory in Afghanistan. It spurns the Americans for the Chinese, and lo and behold, the Russians, the very people it had helped kick out of Afghanistan. Politics, or rather realpolitik, sure does make for strange bedfellows.
Pakistan is able to stymie India at every international forum, be it the UN or the nuclear suppliers group. There have even been strong rumours about the Obama administration offering the Pakistanis their own nuclear deal. Trump yells and curses at the Pakistanis, but is the first one to give it gobs of military aid.
Pakistan sure doesn’t seem like a loser. It appears to have come out of Afghanistan smelling of roses. It can blackmail America to its heart’s content, and what is more, happily get away with it. Does it seem like a failed state? A terrorist state? A terrorized state? At least not now. For now it seems that Pakistan’s star, that star in their beloved crescent, is rising. And rising.
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