Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sharif and Modi at SAARC; Ashraf Ghani and Pak Afghan relations; PTI's Nov 30 Plans; Ferguson riots

Can SAARC succeed without any working relationship between Pakistan's Sharif and India's Modi? Is any regional integration possible in South Asia? 

Why did Ashraf Ghani choose to visit first Beijing then Islamabad but not Delhi? Is that a positive signal for Pakistan-Afghanistan ties? 

What do PTI and Imran Khan hope to achieve on Nov 30 in Islamabad? How many protesters will show up? Will it ratchet up the pressure on Nawaz Sharif's government? 

Why did the Ferguson Grand Jury not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown? Is this decision motivated by racism?

 ViewPoint from Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these and other questions with author, journalist and analyst Raza Rumi and regular panelists Ali H Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (

Sharif and Modi at SAARC; Ashraf Ghani and Pak-Afghan relations; PTI's Nov 30 Plans; Ferguson riots from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India's Israel Envy: What If Modi Attacks Pakistan?

Pak-China Strategic Ties

China Deal To Set New FDI Records in Pakistan

PTI, PAT Change the Face of Protest Rallies in Pakistan

Bailouts, Blackouts in Energy-Rich Pakistan

Viewpoint From Overseas-Vimeo 

Viewpoint From Overseas-Youtube 


Kadeer said...

I reprinted this report to show what to expect next year as far as Pakistan is concerned.


WASHINGTON, October 6, 2014— Many South Asian countries show potential for accelerated growth in the short and mid-term:

Expected Growth Rates
With over 80 percent of regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) being concentrated in India, its expected growth acceleration from 4.7 percent in FY2013/14 to 5.6 percent in FY2014/15 and to 6.4 percent in FY2015/16 (all at factor cost) is setting the pace for South Asia. In the short term, continued growth in the U.S. should support demand for Indian merchandise and service exports, remittance inflows will strengthen domestic demand, and declining oil prices will boost private sector competitiveness. Further pursuing economic reforms and improving the investment climate, paired with maintaining prudent macroeconomic policy and a solid external position, would allow India to achieve its long-term growth potential.

South Asia’s second largest economy is expected to continue on a path of growth recovery, manageable inflation and fiscal consolidation. Real GDP growth is projected to reach 4.3 to 4.6 percent in FY2014/15, driven by services and large scale manufacturing on the supply side, and by strong remittance flows, improving private investment and renewed export dynamism on the demand side. However, this outlook is based upon the important assumption that the political events of August 2014 have not damaged investor confidence or increased overall country risk. These events have already inflicted short-term losses of 2.1 percent of GDP (early September estimates).

As Bangladesh has recently found its way back to political stability and is displaying a renewed focus on growth, its GDP growth is expected to recover, rising to 6.2 percent in FY2014/15. This is assuming continued macroeconomic stability and a boost for domestic consumption from remittances and for aggregate demand from public infrastructure investments.

Sri Lanka:
The outlook for Sri Lanka remains positive with an expected 7.8 percent GDP growth in 2014, subdued inflationary pressures, an improving external position and further fiscal consolidation and debt reduction.

In Nepal, GDP growth is expected to be in the 4.5 to 5 percent range in FY2014/15, below last year’s estimate of 5.2 percent. In the short term, performance will mainly depend on investment pick up (and hence political developments), and on trends in remittances.

If Afghanistan succeeds in reducing uncertainty and restoring confidence, it may achieve 1.5 percent GDP growth in 2014. However, a substantial downside risk concentrated around security and fiscal stability remains. Much depends on how the new government will address these challenges.

Riaz Haq said...

The U.S. has carried out a series of airstrikes in recent days against some of Pakistan's most wanted militants hiding in a remote border area, the latest sign of improving relations between the two reluctant allies after years of recrimination following the 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.

On Nov. 24, an American airstrike in eastern Afghanistan narrowly missed Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah, a top target for Pakistan's military and the leader believed to have ordered the attack on schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, a children's rights activist who survived and won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, a U.S. official said. The official was not authorized to be quoted by name discussing the clandestine operation.

Col. Brian Tribus, spokesman for the international coalition in Afghanistan, said the strike also killed three armed militants in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province.

The operation was one of a recent series along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border aimed at the group known as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, according to U.S. officials who were not authorized to be quoted by name discussing the strikes. While the State Department considers that group a terrorist organization, it poses a far greater threat to Pakistan than to the United States, having killed thousands of Pakistanis.

The U.S. airstrikes are the latest indication that the U.S.-Pakistan counterterrorism alliance has recovered from the serious breach it suffered after al-Qaida leader bin Laden was found hiding in Pakistan in 2011 and the U.S. launched a secret operation to kill him without telling Pakistan in advance.

While neither government fully trusts the other, the relationship has fallen back into its old equilibrium of wary cooperation, according to several American military, diplomatic and intelligence officials who declined to be quoted discussing the sensitive topic. The counterterrorism alliance is considered crucial to the future of Afghanistan and the effort to destroy al-Qaida.

As it has for years, the U.S. continues to accuse elements of the Pakistani government of secretly supporting terrorists who serve its interests in Afghanistan. But the U.S. also provides Pakistan more than $2 billion a year in military and economic aid, and the countries work closely on some counterterrorism matters.

"U.S.-Pakistani military cooperation is on the upswing after a long period of tense dysfunction," said Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee.

"We are on a much better trajectory," said a senior Pakistani military official who was not authorized to speak by name, but was expressing what he said was a widely held view in his government.

After a six-month pause while the Pakistan government pursued peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, the CIA in June resumed drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas near the Afghan border. That policy is opposed by Pakistanis concerned about civilian casualties and the compromise of their sovereignty. But the pace of attacks is much slower than it used to be, and no civilian deaths have been confirmed in the 20 strikes recorded since, according to two organizations that track media reports of the attacks. Criticism in Pakistan has been far more muted than it once was.

The Pakistani military, meanwhile, this year conducted a major offensive against militants in the tribal region of North Waziristan, clearing a town, Miramshah, that once was a headquarters for the Haqqani network, a terrorist organization with links to Pakistan's intelligence service. It was a move that had been demanded for years by the U.S. government, which has accused Pakistan of playing a double game by fighting militants who threaten Pakistan while secretly backing those who threaten only Afghanistan and the U.S.

Riaz Haq said...

#Afghanistan, #Pakistan and #Taliban: Seize the day. #Pakistan and Ashraf Ghani make fresh start via The Economist​

The bright spot is the efforts made by Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan’s president since September, to improve his country’s tattered dealings with Pakistan. Closer relations hold out the tantalising possibility of making peace with the Taliban....Peace in Afghanistan is inconceivable without help from Pakistan.... Hamid Karzai, went out of his way to taunt Pakistan, not least by flaunting his friendship with India, Mr Ghani is staking his political career on finding ways to work with it (see article). On a visit to Pakistan in November Mr Ghani broke with protocol by calling on the all-powerful army chief, General Raheel Sharif, as well as on the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif (who is no relation). Mr Ghani understands that General Sharif needs help to deal with Pakistan’s own terrorists, its version of a home-grown Taliban: a threat that Pakistani commanders and politicians for too long refused to acknowledge, but which was brought home by a murderous attack on a school in Peshawar in December that killed 132 children. So the Afghan president has sent forces to fight anti-Pakistan militants in their refuges in eastern Afghanistan, an unthinkable course under Mr Karzai. The army claims that it is now reciprocating by making it hard for Afghan militants to train in Pakistan. General Sharif is helping Afghan forces secure the long border. And he appears to be urging Taliban leaders to sit down with Mr Ghani and discuss peace.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan transfers 'state-of-the-art 'Jinnah #Hospital in #Kabul to #Afghan govt. Other #health facilities gifted by Pakistan in #Afghanistan include Nishtar Kidney Center in Jalalabad and under-construction 100-bed Naeb Aminullah Khan Hospital in Logar.

The Government of Pakistan on Saturday officially handed over the Kabul-based Jinnah Hospital to Afghanistan, according to a press release issued by the Foreign Office.

The FO said that Afghan Vice-President Sarwar Danish, Afghan Minister of Public Health Dr Ferozuddin Feroz and Pakistani Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Muhammad Khan, jointly inaugurated the "200-bed state-of-the-art" hospital in a ceremony held in Kabul today.

Khan, the Pakistani representative, expressed hope that the Jinnah Hospital — completed at a cost of $24 million — would be a "substantial contribution" to the health sector of Afghanistan.

The minister, as per the press release, also conveyed Prime Minister Imran Khan's message that Pakistan would continue to take all possible measures for the welfare of the people of Afghanistan, adding that the premier wished to see a "stable, secure, peaceful, prosperous and sovereign Islamic Republic of Afghanistan".

Afghan minister Dr Feroz expressed his gratitude for the "generous gift" and appreciated "Pakistan’s immense assistance in the health sector," which also includes the Nishtar Kidney Center in Jalalabad and the under-construction 100-bed Naeb Aminullah Khan Hospital in Logar.

Pakistan's Ambassador to Afghanistan, Zahid Nasrullah Khan, said that the Jinnah Hospital was a "flagship project" of the nation's US$1 billion development assistance to Afghanistan, which according to the press release, was in "in pursuance of Pakistan’s policy objective of deepening and broadening people-to-people connections between the two countries".