Wednesday, April 30, 2014

World Bank ICP 2011 Calculates Pakistan PPP GDP at $788 Billion

Pakistan is the second least expensive country in the world. Pakistan's GDP is $788 billion as of 2011 based on purchasing power parity (PPP), according to International Comparisons Program (ICP) findings 2011 released yesterday by the World Bank.

World Bank's International Comparison Program (ICP) does a detailed study of a list of around 800 household and nonhousehold products to compare real purchasing power for trans-national income comparison program (ICP). The latest ICP findings conclude that Pakistan's per capita income is US$4,450.00, just slightly below India's US$4,735.00

ICP Based GDP Per Capita. Source: World Bank

At US$4,450 per capita, Pakistan's PPP GDP works out to US$788 billion for 2011, and more than a trillion US dollars now.

The results of an earlier ICP program for 2005 and 2006 released by Asian Development Bank in 2009 concluded that Pakistan's per capita income was HK$ 13,528.  It reported India’s per capita as HK $12,090.

Price Level Index Rankings. Source: World Bank

The ICP program uses Price Level Index (PLI) as an indicator of cost of living in a country. It defines PLI as the ratio of a PPP (purchasing power parity) to a corresponding exchange rate. An index over 100 means prices are higher on average than in the world, and one less than 100 means prices are relatively lower. Pakistan's PLI of 28.2 ranks it at 176, just above the last-ranked Egypt's PLI of 27.2 at 177. India's PLI of 32.4 ranks it at 127.

23 economies are showing a PLI of 50 or below. The cheapest economies are Egypt, Pakistan, Myanmar, Ethiopia and Lao People's Democratic Republic, with indices ranging from 35 to 40.

The most expensive economies in GDP terms are Switzerland, Norway, Bermuda, Australia and Denmark, with indices ranging from 210 to 185. The United States ranked 25th in the world, lower than most other high-income economies, including France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

Here are some of the other major findings of World Bank ICP 2011:

1. The six largest middle income economies – China, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico – account for 32.3 percent of world GDP, whereas the 6 largest high income economies – United States, Japan, Germany, France, United Kingdom, and Italy – account for 32.9 percent.

2. Asia and the Pacific, including China and India, accounts for 30 percent of world GDP, Eurostat-OECD 54 percent, Latin America 5.5 percent (excluding Mexico, which participates in the OECD and Argentina, which did not participate in the ICP 2011), Africa and Western Asia about 4.5 percent each.

3. China and India make up two-thirds of the Asia and the Pacific economy, excluding Japan and South Korea, which are part of the OECD comparison.

4. Russia accounts for more than 70 percent of the CIS, and Brazil for 56 percent of Latin America.

5. South Africa, Egypt, and Nigeria account for about half of the African economy.

Last week, another survey done by Cato Institute found that Pakistan fares better than its neighbors on world misery index. Back in 1960s, distinguished American economist Arthur Okun defined misery index as sum of inflation and unemployment rates. America's high misery index was cited by candidate Jimmy Carter as a reason to elect him president in his 1976 presidential race against President Gerald R. Ford. The Cato Institute has now revived it by adding interest rates to the sum of inflation and unemployment rates and subtracting per capita GDP growth rate from it.

Pakistan (score 21.9) at 28 ranks below Iran (score 61.6) at 2 and India (score 25.6) at 19 on world misery index rankings for 2013 compiled by Washington's Cato Institute. Other nations worse off than Pakistan on the list include Serbia, Argentina, Jamaica, Egypt, Spain, South Africa, Brazil, Greece, Macedonia, Palestine, Turkey, Cyprus, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Georgia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Jordan, Ukraine, Peru, Uruguay, Portugal and Barbados. Indonesia (score 21.6) at 29 is only slightly better off than Pakistan.

Earlier this year, Economist Intelligence Unit's latest Worldwide Cost of Living survey revealed that Pakistan’s Karachi is the second cheapest city of the world in 2014 while India’s Mumbai is the cheapest. The top 10 cheapest cities include Mumbai, Karachi, New Delhi, Kathmandu, Damascus, Algiers, Bucharest, Panama City, Jeddah and Riyadh in that order, according to EIU.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Per Capita Income

Pakistan Fares Better Than Neighbors on World Misery Index

Pakistan's Underground Economy

India Pakistan Comparison 

Pakistan Economic History\

Pakistan's Expected Demographic Dividend

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pakistan's Chaudhry Court Scared Investors Away

Organization of Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs (OPEN) Silicon Valley has just announced a panel discussion featuring Pakistan's former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and former attorney general Munir Malik.

Pakistan's Ex-Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry
This discussion is titled "The Pakistani Legal Code And How It Impacts Investors And Entrepreneurs". It is scheduled  for 10:15 AM at "OPEN Forum 2014", the organization's annual conference on Saturday, May 10, 2014, at the Santa Clara Marriott in Silicon Valley

If I were asked to moderate this panel, I would not treat it as an abstract discussion of how rule of law impacts investors and entrepreneurs anywhere in general. Instead, I would focus on how Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry conducted himself and how his conduct affected the investment climate and the economy in Pakistan during his tenure as Chief Justice of Pakistan.

Foreign Direct Investment in Pakistan:

World Bank's data shows that foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan reached a peak of over $5 billion (3.6% of GDP) in 2007 and then fell sharply in the wake of Justice Chaudhry's reversal of the privatization of Pakistan Steel Mills. FDI has essentially dried up and the Pakistan Steel Mills Corporation has accumulated losses over Rs. 100 billion in spite of multiple bailouts at taxpayers expense. It is currently operating at just 3% of capacity and its monthly payroll adds up to Rs. 500 million, according to Dawn.

FDI as % of GDP in Pakistan Source: World Bank

Canceled Privatization Deals:

Huge subsidies are being given at taxpayers' expense to Pakistan Steel Mills and several other state-owned enterprises which take resources away from more pressing needs for spending on education, health care and infrastructure. In fact, Pakistan Education Task Force Report 2011 reported that "under 1.5% of GDP [is] going to public schools that are on the front line of Pakistan's education emergency, or less than the subsidy for PIA, Pakistan Steel, and Pepco."

Speaking at a recent international judicial conference in Islamabad, Dr. Ishrat Hussain, current dean of the Institute of Business Administration and former governor of The State Bank of Pakistan, said there has not been a single privatization deal in Pakistan since the Supreme Court's 2006 decision voiding the steel mill transaction.

Dr Hussain said that despite fulfilling the legal requirements, the fear that the country’s courts may take suo motu notice of the transaction, and subsequently issue a stay order, deters businesses from investing in Pakistan, according to a report in The Express Tribune. “A large number of frivolous petitions are filed every year that have dire economic consequences. While the cost of such filings is insignificant the economy suffers enormously,” he added.

Crucial Projects Delayed:

Among other projects, Dr. Hussain particularly cited Reko Diq and LNG projects which could not proceed because of judicial activism of Pakistan Supreme Court judges.

The lack of progress on liquefied natural gas (LNG) deal has exacerbated Pakistan's energy crisis. It would have brought in 400 million cubic feet of gas per day to bridge the growing supply-demand gap now crippling Pakistan's economy.

The invalidation of Reko Diq license to  Tethyan, joint venture of Canada's Barrick and Chile's Antofagasta, has turned away Pakistan's single largest foreign investment deal to date. The deposit in Balochistan was expected to produce about 200,000 tons of copper and 250,000 ounces of gold annually. Under the deal Baluchistan province would hold a 25 percent stake in the project, with Tethyan holding the remaining 75 percent.

Militants Released:

In addition to activist judges intervention in economic matters, there have also been many instance in which known militants have been released by Pakistani courts. Those released have then committed acts of terror which have also scared away investors, both foreign and local.


Dr. Hussain closed his speech by pleading with Pakistan's judges "with all the humility and without sounding arrogant or offending anyone’s sensibilities, that economic decision are highly complex and its repercussions are interlinked both in time as well as space.”

I hope that this opportunity to question the former chief justice is not wasted by an adoring crowd asking him soft-ball questions at the OPEN conference on  May 10, 2014. It's important that we, including the honorable judge, do an honest assessment of our past mistakes to learn from them.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Shaukat Aziz's Economic Legacy in Pakistan

Saving Pakistan's Education, Steel Mill, Railway and PIA

Politics of Patronage Trumps Public Policy 

Iftikhar Chaudhry is no Angel

Musharraf Earned Legitimacy by Good Governance

Vindictive Judges Pursue Musharraf

Rare Earths at Reko Diq?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pakistanis Better Off Than Neighbors on World Misery Index

Pakistan (score 21.9) at 28 ranks below Iran (score 61.6) at 2 and India (score 25.6) at 19 on world misery index rankings for 2013 compiled by Washington's Cato Institute. Other nations worse off than Pakistan on the list include Serbia, Argentina, Jamaica, Egypt, Spain, South Africa, Brazil, Greece, Macedonia, Palestine, Turkey, Cyprus, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Georgia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Jordan, Ukraine, Peru, Uruguay, Portugal and Barbados. Indonesia (score 21.6) at 29 is only slightly better off than Pakistan.

What is Misery Index?

Back in 1960s, distinguished American economist Arthur Okun defined misery index as sum of inflation and unemployment rates. America's high misery index was cited by candidate Jimmy Carter as a reason to elect him president in his 1976 presidential race against President Gerald R. Ford. The Cato Institute has now revived it by adding interest rates to the sum of inflation and unemployment rates and subtracting per capita GDP growth rate from it.

Source: Cato Institute

Cato's 2013 Ranking:

According to the analysis published by the Cato Institute, Venezuela tops the list of 90 countries as the most miserable nation in the world. The countries listed in the misery index were selected based on data from the Economist Intelligence Unit and calculations from Steve Hanke, a professor of Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University.

Venezuela's misery score of 79.4 is far above the second-ranked Iran (61.6) with the rest of the top 22 countries scoring above 25 on the index. Inflation is the major contributing factor plaguing three of the top four nations listed. The other countries are either hampered by high unemployment or interest rates.


In spite of Pakistan's multiple crises including the economic crisis, Pakistanis can take some solace in the fact that they are not alone in their misery. There are at least 27 nations, including their neighbors India and Iran, where people are economically suffering more than they are.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistanis Happier Than Neighbors

Farmers Suicides in India

World's Largest Population of Poor, Hungry and Illiterates

World Bank on Job Growth in South Asia

Pakistan Offers Higher Economic Mobility Than US and China

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Friday, April 25, 2014

Pakistani-American Foundation Releases 1700 Khan Academy Urdu Tutorials

Guest Post by Ali H. Cemendtaur

Koshish Foundation, a Silicon-Valley based non-profit corporation (Chairman, Suhail Akbar) with a strong presence in Pakistan where it works on education-related projects, has announced the completion of over 1700 math and basic science videos that are Urdu translations of the Khan Academy tutorials. These math and basic science videos can enable students learn Grade 3 to Grade 12 level math, chemistry, physics, and biology in Urdu.

Funding for the video translation work was provided by renowned Pakistani-American technologist and philanthropist Safi Qureshey, with Bilal Musharraf, Khan Academy’s Dean of Translations, acting as the liaison between Safi Qureshey and the Koshish Foundation. Safi Qureshey rose to fame in 1992 when AST, a computer company in California he co-founded with two partners, entered the list of Fortune 500 companies. Qureshey was the first Pakistani to walk the path of entrepreneurship in computer technology in the US, and he was the pride of his country of birth. Pakistanis in general and Karachiites in particular took Qureshey’s international success with teary-eyed pride.
Source: AppAppeal as of April 10, 2014. Note: Youtube is blocked in Pakistan

This scribe remembers seeing billboards with Safi Qureshey’s picture along Shahrah-e-Faisal in Karachi. Qureshey has definitely been an inspiration in one way or another for today’s large pool of Pakistani Americans starting up their own businesses, putting hard work in them, and taking them to success. Safi Qureshey realizes the importance of education and has been helping out people and institutions focusing on primary education in Pakistan. Muhammad Mahboob Akhter, a long term associate of Safi Qureshey, helps Qureshey in identifying and supporting education causes. In 2000-2001 Safi Qureshey provided funds for educational TV program ‘Khul Ja Sim Sim’ (popular US "Sesame Street" shows localized in Urdu for young TV viewers in Pakistan).

Koshish Foundation’s Urdu translation work of the Khan Academy videos—funded by Safi Qureshey--is being done by two top-notch translators in Karachi: Aleem Ahmed of the Global Science magazine and Zeeshan Hyder. Currently there is a ban on YouTube in Pakistan. Since the original Khan Academy videos and their Urdu translations are hosted at YouTube, very few students in Pakistan can access this educational resource. (A few Urdu videos are available on Dailymotion).  Even when access to YouTube is restored in Pakistan, a large number of students not connected to the Internet will not be able to reach these educational videos.

Koshish Foundation views a different way its work will be utilized in Pakistan. Koshish sees non-profit organizations and conscientious citizens downloading this material on their computers and using it to run their own schools with minimum operating expenses. All they need will be a classroom, a computer with downloaded videos on it, and a projector; a chaperone can oversee the students and the learning process. When better resources are available students can be given computers to do related practice exercises.

Ali Hasan Cemendtaur, the author of this post, is a Silicon Valley blogger and writer. Ali appears with me on the weekly Viewpoint From Overseas show recorded in Silicon Valley. Ali has been instrumental in Microsoft's support of Urdu fonts on Microsoft Word, and he is currently managing Urdu translations of videos at Khan Academy. Ali is a friend and a fellow NED University alumnus. 

Here's an example of Khan Academy Urdu video:

20-Solving equations and inequalities through... by khanacademyurdu
Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Khan Academy Draws Pakistani Visitors

Silicon Valley NEDians Digitize Pak School Lessons 

Khan Academy Urdu Channel on Dailymotion

Khan Academy Urdu Channel on Youtube

HBO Comedy "Silicon Valley" Stars Pakistani-American

Burka Avenger: Pakistani Female Superhero 

Burka Avenger  Videos on Vimeo Channel

UN Malala Day

Pakistan's Cowardly Politicians

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 

US Promoting Venture Capital & Private Equity in Pakistan

Pakistani-American Population Growth Second Fastest Among Asian-Americans

Edible Arrangements: Pakistani-American's Success Story

Pakistani-American Elected Mayor

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Commission Must Investigate Hamid Mir's Ties to Spies & Militants

Attempt on Hamid Mir's life has rightly drawn widespread outrage in Pakistan and around the world. It has to be condemned without reservations. Hamid Mir is reported have suspected that he was on Pakistani intelligence agency ISI's "hit list".

Pakistani Journalist Hamid Mir
In addition to raising serious questions about the role of the media and the ISI, the assassination attempt has also refreshed memories of journalist Saleem Shahzad's murder in 2011 for which ISI was blamed. Here are some of the questions that I would like to explore:


1. What is the relationship between Pakistani journalists and the various spy agencies, including the ISI, operating in Pakistan?

2. How do Pakistani journalists work with militants to cover multiple ongoing insurgencies in Pakistan?

3. Has Pakistani media played a responsible journalistic role in covering national security issues?

Saleem Shahzad's Murder:

To answer the above questions, let us look at the media coverage of Saleem Shahzad's murder in 2011.

World media widely reported the allegations made against the ISI by former US Chairman of Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen in a Senate committee hearing in Washington. Adm Mullen alleged that Pakistani government "sanctioned" Shahzad's murder.

What the media left out of their coverage of Shahzad's murder were internal emails of Stratfor analysts leaked by Wikileaks. Stratfor bills itself as a "global intelligence" company. It is widely believed to be a leading intelligence contractor for US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The leaked emails talked about the "Fine line between an investigative journalist and spy" and added that "The poor bastard went down the rabbit hole and was neutralized".

In another secret email, Stratfor Vice President Fred Burton wrote as follows:

"I'm sure the ISI extracted a confession of his CIA work before he died. There will be a leaked story about his double agent work and the Pakis rub the CIA's nose in it. Its what intel agencies do. Tit for tat. The world will soon forget him. Price one pays for playing the game."

Hamid Mir with TTP terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri. Mir said he also met TTP leaders
Hakimullah Mehsud and Mullah Fazlullah. 
Attempt on Hamid Mir:

Hamid Mir has built a successful career in journalism on close contacts with Al Qaeda and the Taliban. He is known to have had unusual access to Al Qaeda, Taliban and Baloch militants not granted to others. Mir is the only journalist with the distinction to have interviewed Osama Bin Laden three times, including the last interview that took place after Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. It has raised questions about his interlocutors, including the ISI and the Taliban.

A 13 minute taped audio conversation between Hamid Mir and a TTP militant (believed to be Usman Punjabi alias Mohammad Omar) was released in 2010 just after the double murder of former ISI agents Colonel Imam and Squadron Leader Khawaja Khalid by the Taliban.

Here are a few excerpts of Hamid Mir's alleged statements from the audio tape:

"... he (Khalid Khwaja) had done all this. After that Maulana Abdul Aziz was arrested and Mr Abdul Rashid Ghazi telephoned me and said, “Now, I don’t have any option. Now, my family and ulema have been defamed as my brother was arrested in a burqa and presented on Pakistan Television. This is a large stain which can only be removed with my blood.” So, he lived up to his words and sacrificed. So, Khalid Khawaja and his wife, anyone may know or not, they will have to answer before Allah Almighty."

"He (Khawaja) himself has confessed in front me that he had links with William Casey. Ok! Leave William, ask him about the Qadiyanis, because I personally believe that Qadiyanis are worse than infidels, what kind of links does he have with Qadiyanis? What relationship does he have with Mansoor Ijaz? Why does he use his money? Why does he go everywhere with him when he comes to Pakistan? Why does he bring him to the mujahideen?"

"He (Canady) was martyred in North Waziristan. He (Khawaja) came to me with Canady’s wife and a daughter, saying Canady’s son, Karim, is at Rawalpindi’s CMH and is injured and the army had arrested him. He asked me to arrange a meeting between the injured and his mother. I said this is very difficult for me and I can’t do this because already they are all against me. But, he said all that you need to do is to arrange a meeting between a mother and her son. So, I arranged it with a lot of difficulties and sent the woman to Rawalpindi CMH, but when she reached there she took a camera out of her burqa and asked her son to record a message that he is innocent, has no links with anyone and has been kept here illegally. She was arrested there because a nurse saw her and seized the camera from her. But I was held responsible for all of it as they told me that I had sent this woman. It was revealed after her arrest that the woman had a Canadian passport and had visited Canada two months ago. After that I faced a lot of difficulties. The Canadian government released the woman and her daughter and then she went back to Canada. In Toronto, she held a press conference and admitted that she worked for the CIA. Now Khalid Khawaja has a long beard and his wife wears a full veil so people like us, who are involved in worldly affairs and have committed sins, believe that if we will help them, we might be forgotten for our sins. When these kinds of people betray us, we lose confidence on the religion itself."

The Daily Times newspaper, which first reported on the tape, said at the time that the information passed on by Mir to the Taliban "could have led to the execution" of former ISI official Khalid Khwaja. Mir denied it was his voice but others authenticated it. Jang Group said it would investigate but nothing came out of it.


It appears from the above mixture of allegations and facts that Hamid Mir is not just a journalist but a player in the ongoing militancy in Pakistan. He seems to have worked closely with both the spies and the militants in the past. It also appears that he has managed to alienate both over time and made himself their target. Any serious judicial commission investigation of what happened to Hamid Mir last week must take into account his dealings with the intelligence agencies and the militant outfits to reach any credible conclusion. It is necessary to protect journalists and restore Pakistanis' faith in the media.
Here's a video discussion on the subject:

GeoTV's Hamid Mir Survives Murder Attempt, Blames ISI & Triggers Media Wars from WBT TV on Vimeo.

 Here are the tapes of Hamid Mir's alleged conversation with Usman Punjabi:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Karachi to Hollywood: Triple-Oscar Winning Pakistani Engineer

Academy Award winning Hollywood hits Frozen, Life of Pi and The Golden Compass have one thing in common:  Each used extensive computer-generated imagery (CGI) created by Pakistani-American Mir Zafar Ali who won Oscar statuettes for "Best Visual Effects" in each of them.

Pakistani-American Mir Zafar Ali With His Oscar Award For Frozen
Karachi-born technologist Mir Zafar Ali specializes in mixing art and technology to create beautifully realistic visual effects for Hollywood movies. He studied computer science at FAST Institute in Karachi. He then attended sculpture classes at Karachi's Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture.

Mir Zafar Ali worked at Karachi production houses Sharp Image and Nucleus Media where he created visual effects used in popular television commercials.  In 1999 he came to the United States to study film arts at Savannah School of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia.

In addition to his Oscar-winning hits, IMDB lists Mir Zafar Ali's other credits as follows: "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" , "The Cabin in the Woods", "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked", "X-Men: First Class", "Hop", "Yogi Bear", "Aliens in the Attic", "Land of the Lost", "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor", "The Incredible Hulk", "Surf’s Up", "Spider-Man 3", "Ghost Rider", "Open Season", "Monster House", "Stealth" and "The Day After Tomorrow".

Mir is on a growing list of Pakistani-Americans making their mark in entertainment and sports. Kumail Nanjiani, a Karachi-born comedian, is currently starring in an HBO comedy series "Silicon Valley". The new Ms Marvel Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American character co-created by another Pakistani-American Sana Amanat. Lahore-born billionaire Shahid Khan has made history by becoming the first non-white owner of an NFL franchise team when he bought Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

HBO Comedy "Silicon Valley" Stars Pakistani-American

Burka Avenger: Pakistani Female Superhero 

Burka Avenger  Videos on Vimeo Channel

UN Malala Day

Pakistan's Cowardly Politicians

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 

US Promoting Venture Capital & Private Equity in Pakistan

Pakistani-American Population Growth Second Fastest Among Asian-Americans

Edible Arrangements: Pakistani-American's Success Story

Pakistani-American Elected Mayor

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Challenging the Gall-Haqqani-Paul Narrative of Pakistan

The intent of this post is to carefully assess, analyse and challenge the narrative about Pakistan being offered in a number of recent books by authors like Indian-American Professor TV Paul (Pakistan: The Warrior State), New York Times' Carlotta Gall (The Wrong Enemy) and Mr. Husain Haqqani (Magnificent Delusions), former Pakistani ambassador in Washington. Here's the essence of their narrative:

President John F. Kennedy Receiving President Ayub at Andrews AFB 
 L to R: Ayub Khan, Nasim Aurangzeb, Jackie Kennedy, John F. Kennedy

1. Partition of India was a mistake. In 1947, many in the US, the UK and India believed Pakistan would not survive and the partition would soon be reversed.

2. Pakistan has been lying to the United States to get aid since its inception in 1947.

3. The US has provided massive aid but Pakistan has not delivered anything substantial in return.

4. The duplicitous Pakistan game continues to this day.

5. Pakistani military is the main villain. It uses the pre-text of threat from India as an excuse for Pakistan being a national security state.

If one really analyses this narrative, one has to conclude that Pakistanis are extraordinarily clever in deceiving the United States and its highly sophisticated policymakers who have been taken for a ride by Pakistanis for over 6 decades. It raises the following questions:

Question 1: Given the belief that Pakistan would not survive, how did the country defy such expectations? What role did its "villainous" military play in its political and economic survival? What does the history say about rapid economic development of Pakistan under military regimes?

Question 2: Wouldn't any country that suffered a military invasion by its much larger neighbor and its break-up be justified in feeling threatened? Wouldn't such a country build deterrence against further adventures by its bigger neighbor?

Question 3:  If the standard western narrative is correct, why have successive US administrations been so naive and gullible as to be duped by Pakistan's politicians and generals for such a long period of time? Is it not an indictment of all US administrations from Harry S. Truman's to Barack H. Obama's?

Question 4:  What role did Pakistan play in the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and the subsequent break-up of the Soviet Union?

 Question 5:  What price has Pakistan paid for facilitating US military operations in Afghanistan? How many Pakistani soldiers and civilians have lost their lives since 911?

Please read the following posts on my blog:

1.  Straight Talk by Gates on Pakistan

When asked by US Senator Patrick Leahy during a US Senate hearing on Pakistan as to how long the U.S. will be willing to "support governments that lie to us?"

"Well, first of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done." Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates June 2011

2.  US and Europe Must Accept Pakistan as a Legitimate Nuclear State:

When asked about US policy options in Pakistan after President Obama assumed office in 2009, here's what US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson wrote in a cable leaked  by Wikileaks:

"The Pakistani establishment, as we saw in 1998 with the nuclear test, does not view assistance -- even sizable assistance to their own entities -- as a trade-off for national security vis-a-vis India". US Ambassador Anne Patterson, September 23, 2009

3. Pakistan's Economic History:

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.


Although Pakistan is in the midst of multiple crises of economy, energy and internal security, it has survived, even thrived, for many decades after its independence. Its economic growth rate has exceeded its neighbor India's for most of its history since 1947. Initially, the US aid of as much as 10% of its GDP was very helpful to Pakistan's development. The US aid has been decreasing over the years. It now accounts for less than 1% of Pakistan's GDP.  As to US-Pakistan ties, Pakistan has been supportive of US interests when such interests do not directly conflict with Pakistan's. An alliance should not mean compliance, and it's true of all US alliances. The interests of US and its closest allies in Europe and elsewhere do not always converge on all issues. Pakistan is no exception.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Straight Talk by Gates on Pakistan

Terror Deaths in Pakistan

US and Europe Must Accept Pakistan as a Legitimate Nuclear State

Looking Back at 1940 Lahore Resolution

Pakistan's Economic History

Pakistan: A Warrior State? A Conspicuous Failure?

Obama and US-Pakistan Ties

Can Pakistan Say No to US Aid?

Soviet Defeat in Afghanistan

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pakistan's Top Politicians Guilty of Treason under Article 6?

Many actions of top Pakistani politicians have been and continue to be in clear violation of several articles of the Constitution of Pakistan since 2008. The biggest examples are violations of Articles 62, 63 and 140A. Should they, along with former President Musharraf, be tried for treason under Article 6 of the Constitution? Let's try and examine this question in some detail.

Articles 62:

About half of Pakistani lawmakers do not pay any tax. Tax dodgers and lawbreakers can not be allowed to serve in Parliament under Article 62, clause F of the Constitution of Pakistan. They can not vote for nor serve as Prime Minister or cabinet ministers.

Article 63:

Most of the politicians of all stripes in the national parliament and provincial legislatures steal electricity and gas and do not pay their utility bills. Many have also defaulted on bank loans worth billions of rupees. The constitution (Article 63) says that any defaulter of electricity and gas bill of more than Rs. 10,000 over six months can not serve as a member of parliament. Hundreds of members of parliament, including government ministers, have had electricity cut off multiple times for defaulting.

Article 140A:

Under Article 140A of Pakistan's constitution, each province is required to  "establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments". All provincial governments in Pakistan have violated this article since 2008, an extended  period of six years. In addition, the top ruling politicians in each province  have also ignored Supreme Court orders to hold local government elections.

Article 6:

Article 6 says that "any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason". "Any person aiding or abetting [or collaborating] the acts mentioned in clause shall likewise be guilty of high treason.

The constitution bars the courts from intervening in offenses under article 6 unless the parliament asks the courts to hear such cases, leaving it to the discretion of the politicians to pursue such cases.


While it is clear that the courts can not begin Article 6 proceedings against any individual on their own, it is necessary for the courts to pursue violations of Articles 62, 63 and 140A, thereby laying the basis for future prosecutions of current ruling politicians under Article 6 for practically subverting the Constitution and holding key parts of the Constitution in abeyance by virtue of being in power.

The current ruling politicians should be treated no differently than President Musharraf whose decisions while in office in 2007 are now being used to prosecute him under Article 6. President Musharraf's case should serve as a powerful precedent for future cases against all Pakistani rulers, both civilian and military.

Here's a video discussion on the subject:

Sharif's Aides Statements Anger Army; Pak Economy Recovering; Modi Acknowledges Wife from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Kudos to Qadri

Musharraf's Treason Trial

Musharraf Wants to Face Trial But Army Opposes it

Vindictive Judges Pursue Musharraf

Musharraf Earned Legitimacy By Good Governance

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pakistani-American Doctor is the Second Highest Medicare Biller

Dr. Asad Qamar, a graduate of Lahore's King Edwards Medical College, received $18.2 million in payments from US Medicare program in 2012, making him the second highest billing doctor in America. Dr. Qamar is a member of APPNA, Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent in North America. He was a candidate for the presidency of APPNA in 2013.

Asad Qamar M.D.

Dr. Qamar, a Pakistani-American cardiologist, and his family have given at least $300,000 to politicians and political causes in the 2012 election cycle and in 2013, according to contribution disclosure records reported by Reuters. Dr. Asish Pal, a Florida-based Indian-American, is the second highest billing cardiologist in America. Dr. Pal was paid $4.5 million by Medicare.

Dr. Qamar has been subjected to lengthy reviews of his billing practices by US Department of Health and Human Services. He has complained to President Obama and other officials that the contractors conducting the reviews for the HHS were slow and unresponsive. Dr. Qamar told New York Times that his payments were high because his practice, which has 150 employees and a caseload of 23,000 patients, routinely handles complicated procedures like opening blocked arteries in the legs of older patients, which normally would be billed by a hospital.

Only Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida Ophthalmologist, billed Medicare for a larger amount than Dr. Qamar did in 2012. Dr. Melgen, too, is a major contributor to Democratic party. Dr. Melgen’s firm donated more than $700,000 to Majority PAC, a super PAC run by former aides to the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada. The super PAC then spent $600,000 to help re-elect Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, who is a close friend of Dr. Melgen’s. Last year, Mr. Menendez himself became a target of investigation after the senator intervened on behalf of Dr. Melgen with federal officials and took flights on his private jet, according to The Times story.

Top Medicare Billers. Source: Washington Post

The top 1% of 825,000 individual medical doctors accounted for 14% of the $77 billion in billing recorded in the data. There is a pattern of of large Medicare payments and six-figure political donations among several of the doctors whose payment records were released for the first time this week by the Department of Health and Human Services in response to a lawsuit filed The Wall Street Journal. Health-care economists say the data—despite several limitations—could help identify doctors who perform far more surgeries, procedures and other services than their peers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

President Barack Obama's Affordable Healthcare Act ( also known as Obamacare) is aimed at achieving universal health care coverage for all Americans. However, as the name indicates, it is also an attempt to make such coverage more affordable, a goal that will remain elusive unless waste, fraud and abuse are brought under control.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pakistani Technologist Umar Saif Visits Silicon Valley

Umar Saif was invited by Organization of Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs (OPEN) to an event yesterday at the Palo Alto offices of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pitman Law Firm  in Silicon Valley to talk about the state of technology in Pakistan. The event was appropriately titled: "Presenting Umar-The Force Behind Plan 09- Pakistan's Leading Incubator For Startups"

Umar Saif is just 35 years old and his name is already synonymous with technology in Pakistan. He was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2010, selected as one of top 35 young innovators in the world by MIT Technology Review in 2011 and received a Google faculty research award in 2011.

Saif got his PhD in computer science from England's University of Cambridge at 22. Then he joined Massachusetts Institute of Technology to do post-doctoral research. He worked at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory where he was part of the core team that developed system technologies for the $50 million Project Oxygen.

Saif now wears multiple hats in Pakistan; he is an associate professor at Lahore University of Management Science (LUMS); he works for the Punjab government as the head of Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB); he is vice chancellor of Information Technology University and he is the founder of Plan 9, a government-financed tech startup incubator in Lahore. He says there is a possibility that he might soon move to Islamabad to work for the federal government as its Chief Technology Officer.

PITB's work in Pakistani Punjab under Saif has been described in recent World Bank report as "unprecedented in the public sector in developing countries". The objective of these efforts is to reduce corruption, increase productivity and improve service delivery in both private and public sectors. Saif said other provincial governments, particularly KPK's PTI-led govt, are now asking for his advice and help for similar projects in their provinces. 

After a brief introduction by OPEN's Riaz Karamali, Saif started his presentation by talking about his work on SMSall messaging platform and how it has been used by relief workers, protest movements, political campaigns and social activists in the country. In particular, he mentioned Imran Khan's PTI's extensive use of his platform as a tool to organize the party's election campaign last year.

The featured speaker then briefly described a couple of companies in Plan 9 incubator: Groopic and Tunacode. Both of these companies are in a Silicon Valley Immersion Program funded by Google. He said Plan 9 offers facilities such as free office space on the 9th floor in Arfa Karim IT Park, a modern building in Lahore. In addition, there are monthly stipends,  free laptops, uninterrupted power supply, internet connectivity, mentoring, training workshops, legal advice, connection with potential investors and customers, etc.

Story of Pakistan's Plan9 Incubator

Saif then sought the help of his Silicon Valley audience in promoting technology. In the ensuing discussion, a number of audience members pointed out some of the work that Saif seemed unaware of.

I mentioned a Forbes story in its current issue that talks about Pakistan as one of a dozen countries where Sequoia Capital funded companies' founders were born. Fireeye and OpenSilicon are two such Sequoia-funded companies with Karachi-born founders. OpenSilicon has a design center in Pakistan. Rehan Jalil, a Pakistani-born Silicon Valley entrepreneur who graduated from NED University of Engineering and Technology, has a development center in Karachi for his latest cloud security startup Elastica. Wichorus, Jalil's earlier startup later acquired by Tellabs for $150 million, also employed engineers in Karachi.  Idris Kothari's Vertical Systems Inc. (VSI), a hospitality IT company, does most of its engineering work in Karachi, Pakistan.

Sajid Sohail of Jadoo TV, who was in the audience, pointed out that his company employs 100 engineers in Pakistan to do the development work for his streaming TV box and network that delivers Urdu channels. Muhammad Irfan, CEO of Whizz Systems, said he too has engineering offices in Pakistan.

As the meeting came to a close, there was broad agreement that Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans can and should do more to help promote technology in Pakistan. Muhammad Irfan of Whizz Systems suggested setting up a basic legal framework and a transparent process to fund young companies in Pakistan through a Pakistani-Americans' angel network. In my view, the first steps toward this goal should be as follows:          

1. Analyze risks, allow the usual risks associated with tech startups and offer legal and financial protection against unacceptable risks from terrorism, violence, corruption and malfeasance.

2. Look at a Silicon Valley style term sheet for high-tech venture capital investors and build a legal and policy framework to ensure enforceability of its terms.

Without creating adequate investment environment, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to attract private venture capital in Pakistan.

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Arfa Karim's Inspirational Legacy

Two Pakistani Tech Start-ups in Silicon Valley Immersion Program

NEDian Rehan Jalil's Startup Elastica Gets $6.3 Million VC Funding

Pakistani-American Stars in HBO Comedy "Silicon Valley"

Pakistani-American's Fireeye Goes Public

Organization of Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs 

US Promoting Venture Capital in Pakistan

Friday, April 4, 2014

Jama'at-e-Islami Dumps Syed Munawwar Hasan

"Tehrik-e-Taliban Chief Hakimullah Mehsud is shaheed (martyr). Pakistani soldiers killed in the war against the Taliban are not shaheed".  Syed Munwwar Hasan, Ex-Amir, Jama'at e Islami, Pakistan

Jama'at e Islami members have broken the long tradition of re-electing their serving chiefs. Jama'at-e-Islami Pakistan is unique as the only political party in the entire South Asia region which is not family-owned or dynastic and holds regular credible elections. In recent elections, the Jam'atis have rejected Munawwar Hasan's candidacy and replaced him with the KP Jama'at chief Siraj ul Haq. Most Jama'at watchers believe Munawwar Hasan is being seen as a serious liability by majority of Jama'at members since he made statements openly endorsing the Taliban war on the Pakistani state, its institutions, and innocent civilians. 

Siraj ul Haq (L) and Munawwar Hasan (R)
Munawwar Hasan's pro-Taliban position was a significant departure from Jama'at's stance before he took the reins of his party as its National Amir in 2008. His predecessor Qazi Husain Ahmad famously said in an interview that what the Taliban are doing in Pakistan is "fisad", not Jihad. At another time, Qazi Husain Ahmad said: “The (Afghan) Taliban regime cannot be termed a model Islamic government, as little of what they did was Islamic." The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were so upset by it that they attempted to assassinate Qazi sahib in a suicide bombing. 

Few Pakistanis know that the Taliban movement was midwifed by Benazir Bhutto with crucial support of Jama'at's ideological rival Maulana Fazl ur Rehman, the leader of Jamiat Ulema Islam which ran many madrassas in the tribal belt along Pakistani border with Afghanistan.  Benazir's right-hand man and interior minister Naseerullah Babar was instrumental in building the Taliban during her term in office in 1993-1996. 

Before Benazir decided to help create the Taliban, the Pakistani establishment (Army and ISI) favored the Afghan Mujahedeen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who was aligned with the Jamat-e-Islami, Maulana Fazl ur Rehman's main rival Islamic political party in Pakistan. Maulana Maudoodi, the founder of  Jamaat-e-Islami was considered a Kafir by many of Maulana Fazl ur Rehman's fellow Deobandis. Both Maulana Fazal and Benazir intensely disliked the Jamat-e-Islami leadership. Jamat-e-Islami had supported late Gen Zia ul Haq who executed Benazir's father and former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1979. Maulana Fazlur Rehman saw this as an opportunity to edge out Jamat-e-Islami by aligning himself with Benazir Bhutto to create and nurture the Taliban who opposed Gulbuddin Hikmetyar. 

Page 1 of TTP Leader Khurasani Letter to Jamaat-e-Islami's Siraj ul Haq

Since the change in the Jama'at leadership was announced, the TTP leadership has written a letter to the new Amir of Jama'at-e-Islami Siraj ul Haq reminding him that "our destination is the same but the difference is in the modus operandi to achieve it.". TTP leader Omar Khalid Khurasani, the man who recently claimed responsibility for brutally beheading 26 Pakistani soldiers in his captivity, has asked the new Jama'at leader to "carry forward the mission of Syed Munawwar Hassan without compromise". 

Page 2 of TTP Leader Khurasani Letter to Jamaat-e-Islami's Siraj ul Haq

It will be interesting to see how Siraj ul Haq responds to TTP's expectations. Is he going to try and appease them? Or take a more uncompromising position as Qazi Husain Ahmed did? 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pak Taliban Target Right-Wing Politicians

What is Nawaz Sharif's Counter-Terrorism Strategy?

Can Pakistan Learn From Sri Lanka's War on LTTE?

Is Hakimullah Mehsud a Shaheed? 

Imran Khan in Silicon Valley

Nawaz Sharif's Silence on Taliban Terror in Inaugural Speech

Taliban vs. Pakistan

Yet Another Peace Deal and Shia Blockade

Taliban Insurgency in Swat

Musharraf's Treason Trial

General Kayani's Speech on Terror War Ownership

Impact of Youth Vote and Taliban Violence on Elections 2013

Imran Khan's Social Media Campaign