Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book Sales in India: Profit Motive Drives Authors Bashing Pakistan

Have you ever wondered why the publication of anti-Pakistan books has become a major growth industry today? The answer is simple: Authors and publishers of books about Pakistan know where the money is. It's in India where the book sales are rising rapidly in the midst of continuing global decline. Strong profit motive drives them to write what Indians want to read. Those, like Professor Wendy Doniger of University of Chicago, who ignore this reality are punished by having their books withdrawn and pulped. No publisher wants to take this risk now. And authors who wish to get published have to understand it too.

Indian Book Market:

India's English language book market is the world's third largest, behind that of the United States at the top and of the United Kingdom at number 2.  It is the fastest growing market today which will make India the world's number 1 market in the next ten years.  It could happen sooner if the book sales in the US and the UK decline faster or those in India grow more rapidly than they are already.

India's Pakistan Narrative:

The best way to understand the Indian narrative about Pakistan today is to read "The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World" by Canada's McGill University Professor Thazha Varkey Paul, a graduate of India's Jawaharlal Nehru University, who describes Pakistan as a "warrior state" and a "conspicuous failure". It is among a slew of recently published anti-Pakistan books by mainly Indian and western authors which paint Pakistan as a rogue state which deserves to be condemned, isolated and sanctioned by the international community.  Others, including Christine Fair and Husain Haqqani have also used the same narrative to get a lot of buzz and sell books in India and the West.

Christine Fair's About-Face:

C. Christine Fair is an assistant professor in the Center for Peace and Security Studies (CPASS), within Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. She has only recently wised up to the opportunity to sell lots of books in India.

Before writing and promoting "Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War", an anti-Pakistan book, American analyst and author Christine Fair said this in 2009: "Having visited the Indian mission in Zahedan, Iran, I can assure you they are not issuing visas as the main activity! Moreover, India has run operations from its mission in Mazar (through which it supported the Northern Alliance) and is likely doing so from the other consulates it has reopened in Jalalabad and Qandahar along the border. Indian officials have told me privately that they are pumping money into Baluchistan".

Husain Haqqani's Double Game:

Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani ambassador to US, has been the darling of India and the West since the publication of his book "Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military" in 2005. He has recently followed it up with another Pakistan-bashing book "Magnificent Delusions" in which he accuses Pakistan of lying and playing a double-game with the West.

Washington Post's Richard Lieby's review summed up the book in the following words: "Read his book and you might think Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington from 2008 to 2011, is no friend of his homeland. Its leaders are liars, double-dealers and shakedown artists, he says. They have been this way for decades, and, as Haqqani ably documents, the United States often has served as Pakistan’s willing dupe. But for all its criticism of Pakistan, “Magnificent Delusions”is a necessary prescriptive: If there’s any hope of salvaging what seems like a doomed relationship, it helps to know how everything went so wrong. Haqqani is here to tell us."

If one really analyses Haqqani's 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?

Debunking TV Paul's Narrative: 

TV Paul describes Pakistan as a "warrior state" and a "conspicuous failure". Is it really?

Let's do a point-by-point examination of Paul's narrative:

1. Paul argues: Seemingly from its birth, Pakistan has teetered on the brink of becoming a failed state.

In 1947 at the time of independence, Pakistan was described as a "Nissen hut or a tent" by British Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten in a conversation with Jawarhar Lal Nehru. However, Pakistan defied this expectation that it would not survive as an independent nation and the partition of India would be quickly reversed. Pakistan not only survived but thrived with its economic growth rate easily exceeding the "Hindu growth rate" in India for most of its history.

Agriculture Value Added Per Capita in 2000 US $. Source: World Bank

Even now when the economic growth rate has considerably slowed, Pakistan has lower levels of poverty and hunger than its neighbor India, according UNDP and IFPRI. The key reason for lower poverty in Pakistan is its per capita value added in agriculture which is twice that of India. Agriculture employs 40% of Pakistanis and 60% of Indians. The poor state of rural India can be gauged by the fact that an Indian farmer commits suicide every 30 minutes.

2. Paul: Its economy is as dysfunctional as its political system is corrupt; both rely heavily on international aid for their existence.

The fact is that foreign to aid to Pakistan has been declining as a percentage of its GDP since 1960s when it reached a peak of 11% of GDP in 1963. Today, foreign aid makes up less than 2% of its GDP of $240 billion.

Foreign Aid as Percentage of Pakistan GDP. Source: World Bank

3. Paul: Taliban forces occupy 30 percent of the country.

 The Taliban "occupy" a small part of FATA called North Waziristan which is about 4,700 sq kilometers, about 0.5% of its 796,000 sq kilometers area. Talking about insurgents "occupying" territory, about 40% of Indian territory is held by Maoist insurgents in the "red corridor" in Central India, according to Indian security analyst Bharat Verma.

4. Paul: It possesses over a hundred nuclear weapons that could easily fall into terrorists' hands.

A recent assessment by Nuclear Threat Initiative ranked Pakistan above India on "Nuclear Materials Security Index".

5. Paul: Why, in an era when countries across the developing world are experiencing impressive economic growth and building democratic institutions, has Pakistan been such a conspicuous failure?

Pakistan's nominal GDP has quadrupled from $60 billion in 2000 to $240 billion now. Along with total GDP, Pakistan's GDP per capita has also grown significantly over the years, from about $500 in Year 2000 to $1000 per person in 2007 on President Musharraf's watch, elevating it from a low-income to a middle-income country in the last decade.I wouldn't call that a failure.

Pakistan Per Capita GDP 1960-2012. Source: World Bank 

Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill, the economist who coined BRIC, has put Pakistan among the Next 11 group in terms of growth in the next several decades.

6. Paul argues that the "geostrategic curse"--akin to the "resource curse" that plagues oil-rich autocracies--is at the root of Pakistan's unique inability to progress. Since its founding in 1947, Pakistan has been at the center of major geopolitical struggles: the US-Soviet rivalry, the conflict with India, and most recently the post 9/11 wars.

Pakistan is no more a warrior state that many others in the world. It spends no more than 3.5% of its GDP on defense, lower than most of the nations of the world.

7. Paul says: No matter how ineffective the regime is, massive foreign aid keeps pouring in from major powers and their allies with a stake in the region.The reliability of such aid defuses any pressure on political elites to launch the far-reaching domestic reforms necessary to promote sustained growth, higher standards of living, and more stable democratic institutions.

"Massive foreign aid" adds up to less than 1% of Pakistan's GDP. Pakistan's diaspora sends it over 5% of Pakistan's GDP in remittances.

8. Paul: Excessive war-making efforts have drained Pakistan's limited economic resources without making the country safer or more stable. Indeed, despite the regime's emphasis on security, the country continues to be beset by widespread violence and terrorism.

Pakistan Defense Spending as % of GDP Source: World Indicators

 In spite of declining military spending which is just 3.5% of its GDP now which is average for its size, Pakistan has achieved strategic parity with India by developing nuclear weapons. It has since prevented India from invading Pakistan as it did in 1971 to break up the country. Pakistani military has shown in Swat in 2009 that it is quite capable of dealing with insurgents when ordered to do so by the civilian govt.

Growth in Asia's Middle Class. Source: Asian Development Bank

While it is true that Pakistan has not lived up to its potential when compared with other US Cold War allies in East and Southeast Asia, it is wrong to describe it as "conspicuous failure". Pakistan should be compared with other countries in South Asia region, not East Asia or Southeast Asia. Comparison with its South Asian neighbors India and Bangladesh shows that an average Pakistani is less poor, less hungry and more upwardly mobile, according to credible data from multiple independent sources.


Pakistan is neither a "warrior state" nor a "conspicuous failure" as argued by Professor TV Paul. To the contrary, it has been the victim of the invading Indian Army in 1971 which cut off  its eastern wing. Pakistan has built a minimum nuclear deterrent in response to India's development of a nuclear arsenal. Pakistan has responded to the 1971 trauma by ensuring that such a tragedy does not happen again, particularly through a foreign invasion.

Pakistan is a complex country. It is much more upwardly mobile than many of its neighbors, including India.  While the country is suffering growing pains like any other developing nation, the false narrative of exaggeration of its difficulties being promoted by a flurry of books bashing Pakistan is driven more by desire for commerce than by serious academic search for truth. Assertions made in such books fall apart when subjected to the close scrutiny that I have done in this post.

Today, Pakistan faces some of the toughest challenges of its existence. It has to deal with the Taliban insurgency and a weak economy. It has to solve its deepening energy crisis. It has to address growing water scarcity. While I believe Pakistanis are a very resilient and determined people, the difficult challenges they face will test them, particularly their leaders who have been falling short of their expectations in recent years.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Debunking TV Paul

Challenging Gall-Haqqani-Paul Narrative

Looking Back at 1940 Lahore Resolution

Pakistan's Economic History

History of Literacy in Pakistan

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Asian Tigers Brought Prosperity

Value Added Agriculture in Pakistan

Are India and Pakistan Failed States?

Musharraf Accelerated Growth of Pakistan's Financial and Human Capital

Pakistan's Nuclear Program

Pakistan on Goldman Sachs' BRIC+N11 Growth Map


Muneeb Zaidi said...

Great Response.

I always wonder, why Pakistan hasn't been able to create its own voice.

Some of the possible short comings that I feel are

- Not enough professors in the western universities

- Not enough representation on conflict resolution forums

- Not enough penetration in the international media sources, (CNN, BBC, New York Times, Reuters etc)

- Poor or shall I say miserable marketing efforts

- Failure to realize developing the bomb is not the end, Human development is critical

-Less demanding as a society

-Unnecessary secrecy in dealing certain situations

- Low financial rewards ie not attracting the right, competent workers (resulting in poor / mediocre results in all the state institutes, including the secret agencies)

- Poor channeling of patriotism

- Focusing on symptoms rather than the problem (e.g settling the provinces issue is critical in limiting the ethnic divides and creating a new sense of identity leading it to reform the national unity )

- Firm foreign ministers (everyone wants to lead, rather then knowing their position in the team. e.g Bhutto a great fit for foreign minister, probably not so great for a head of state)

Majumdar said...

Prof Riaz ul Haq sb,

Even now when the economic growth rate has considerably slowed, Pakistan has lower levels of poverty and hunger than its neighbor India, according UNDP and IFPRI.

While I dont wish to dispute your above contention in case you wish to maintain your reputation as one of world's foremost development economist, it would be useful to read what you cite, else you wud end up meeting the same fate as Wendy Doniger. You have quoted IFPRI as saying that Pakistan as lower hunger than India. It is quite the reverse. IFPRI GHI 2014 has rated India higher at 55 (GHI of 17.8) vis-a-vis Pakiland at 57 (GHI of 19.1).


Unknown said...

Fantastic answer. I believe Pakistan's issues stem from the fact that our media is run by intellectuals and liberals who are fully immersed in India's narrative for Pakistan. We don't have a middle class stepping up to present the reality of this country.

I've come to realise that the Pakistani elite don't support pro-Pakistan opinions. You're only valuable when you bash Pakistan, but if you have something good to say about the country, they're not interested.

Shams said...


Your contention that Pakistan spends only 3.5% of its GDP on defence is bullshit. The issue to consider is the percentage of Pakistan's budget that goes to the defense structures. Pakistan pays nearly 50% of its total budget to the armed forces including their officers' pension benefits, PLUS all major arms acquisitions -- airplanes, ships, submarines -- are separately allocated. In addition, Fauji Foundation, Shaheen Foundation, and Bahria Foundation together account for nearly 60% of Pakistan's industrial, commercial, and real estate equity, not to mention the fact hat Fauji Founation also owns Sindh's major gas fields such as Mari Gas (Ghotki, etc.).

Riaz Haq said...

Shams: "Your contention that Pakistan spends only 3.5% of its GDP on defence is bullshit. The issue to consider is the percentage of Pakistan's budget that goes to the defense structures....."

You have a habit of playing fast and loose with facts and figures.

Your contention of defense being 50% of the Pakistan budget is bullshit. The actual figures for 2014-15 are: Total Budget is $40 billion; Defense spending is $7 billion.

The rest of the contentions and figures in your email are even more false.

Read the following by an Indian Defense Analyst:

Rehan said...

Riaz Sb, love your analysis! Thanks for all the great work in keeping their facts straight.

Riaz Haq said...

Majumdar: "You have quoted IFPRI as saying that Pakistan as lower hunger than India. It is quite the reverse. IFPRI GHI 2014 has rated India higher at 55 (GHI of 17.8) vis-a-vis Pakiland at 57 (GHI of 19.1). "

Yes, for the first time in history India is a couple of places above Pakistan on GHI. Quite an accomplishment for Shining India.

Oscar said...

One only has to look at the publication history of books and "ideals" to see that what is profitable is always going to be the most common topic. In the 40s it was Anti-Nazi and/or Anti-German rants.. in the early 50s and 60s it was Anti-Communism.. and so on.. the "villain" of the information media then took stage and more balanced voices rarely took the same limelight. Even today, before bemoaning the idea that profits push Anti-Pakistan ideas.. see how ratings and profits push Anti-White sentiments these days in the US among black Americans, how being Anti-Qadiyani or Anti-Shia pushes the profits of many "charity" organizations here.

If I ever intend to launch a book with the views that arent all rosy about Pakistan or certain revelations about the agencies and the terror networks.. Ill start off at the Jaipur festival and read the chapter about the Mumbai don.. sure to rake profits that way.

Its not personal, its just good business.

Shams said...

Anyone siding with Pakistan's army is a fool. You can keep your heads buried in sand, or you can read this:

Riaz Haq said...

Shams: "You can keep your heads buried in sand, or you can read this"

If you carefully read the link you shared, it clearly contradicts your claim of military eating 50% of total budget.

ET story adds up everything, including pensions and CSF funds, and concludes: "This means that in reality a whopping Rs 1113 billion has been allocated for the military, which is about 28.2 percent of the country’s total budget."

Vishesh said...

You are still as cuckoo as you ever were. Good luck creating a fan following of fellow jihadis based on denial and false/outdated facts. Most of these facts have been shown by you for the past 5 years. Just like Mr. Majumdar pointed out one, I can point out many other.

India is actually shining! Even in our worst year of economic growth. We are well ahead of what pakis have been trumping as their best. India's GDP per capita is higher, Mobile penetration, Internet penetration, Car and bike sales as a percentage of population, Ecommerce etc etc. All you pakis harp about is toilets to which neither are you great shakes and neither is it becoming better.

We can really see upwardly mobile pak where minorities are fleeing to India, thailand, sri lanka etc. in fear of persecution. Rape is rampant and in many cases legitimate. Your fellow countrymen are killing children. Polio and other deadly diseases are growing and polio workers shot. Women are shot at and killed for going to school and last but not least, your actors are begging India for jobs just like pakis bed from USA and China for aid.

The world knows pak is a shithole as was said by Homeland. Now, you'll say 'Homeland' is sponsored by RAW and Indians are the largest watchers of it in an ever growing international decline.

Can't expect anything better from a citizen from a terrorist state trying to contort facts and provide half baked truths to prove his losing point.

Kadeer said...

I am sorry but, there is a much graver situation. Pakistani's also want to read about how bad things actually are! Talk to Pervez H, Najam Sethi or the many talk shows like Hasb E Haal. The people who do end up talking about how good things are considered liars or worse turned off!

Riaz Haq said...

Vishesh: "India is actually shining!"

India is shining so bright that its poor farmers can't take the heat. They are killing themselves at rate of one per 30 minutes.

In terms of multi-dimensional poverty, India's only slightly better than Afghanistan in SAARC region, according to Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI)'s MPI, multi-dimensional poverty index.

Anonymous said...

You can cry and harp as much as you want Haq, point is simple. No one wants to trust any muslim after the Sydney shooting, Taliban shooting in the Pakistan itself. Makes everyone wonder why no other religion produces EDUCATED radicals like islam. You will not find any Christian or Hindu or Jewish radical blowing up the tubes in London or flying planes into buildings in New York or beheading journalists in Syria or Taking innocent civilians hostage in Sydney. Pakistan being a non oil producing Sharia touting state it is gets treated the way it deserves, with contempt and suspicion. Western countries and whole of civilised world for that matter is fed up of Islam and its radical stupidities. Canada recently passed a law called Bill C-24 to deport and revoke citizenship of the naturalised people who take part in terrorist activities. US will follow the suit. Australia already has similar laws. If I were you, I would be carefully distancing myself from both Islam and Pakistan, who know your good name may be tarred with the same brush. Your 'Allah', if at all he exists, may help you folks.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: " If I were you, I would be carefully distancing myself from both Islam and Pakistan, who know your good name may be tarred with the same brush. Your 'Allah', if at all he exists, may help you folks. "

You are most probably a Hindu Nationalist from India. Would you distance yourself from your Hindu faith after Sikhs massacre in 1984 and Muslim massacre of 2002 and destruction of Babri mosque in 1992 followed by massacre of Muslims by Hindu mobs?

If you were Buddhist, would you distance yourself from Buddhism because of marauding Buddhist mobs killing Muslims in Burma?

If you were Christian, would you distance yourself from Christianity because of the actions of Crusaders or European colonisers or Hitler?

Majumdar said...

Prof Riaz ul Haq sb,

In terms of multi-dimensional poverty, India's only slightly better than Afghanistan in SAARC region, according to Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI)'s MPI, multi-dimensional poverty index.

You must again read this report with care. Most of the data used for India is based on 2005/06 baseline, whereas for Pakiland it is based on 2012/13. No wonder it shows India's poverty much higher than Pakiland. However, my fear is that if they were to come out with a report in 2015 based on real time data, you might cut a sorry figure.

Btw, I still think India has higher poverty than Pakiland.


Anonymous said...

Wrong assumptions Haq. Wonder why you thought I am a hindu nationalist. I believe that modern nation states are above religion and not defined by religious affiliations. I am an atheist, or may be strong agnostic if you want to be technically correct, and humanist, I believe in rational and reasonable thought. That said, incidences of any other religiously motivated terrorist activities in modern times are way way less than Islam. All the incidences that you have mentioned are far too few with christian one being laughably old belonging to antiquity. Also, most of these acts of atrocities committed by these religions are limited to the regional issues but Islam seems to think on the lines of some weird world conquest ideology, ISIL is the latest addition to that. Point is simple, change or die. You cann't bring this old desert stupidity in the big cities and hence I said, distance yourself from something as stupid as Islam and Pakistan lest you are tarred with the same brush.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: " I believe that modern nation states are above religion and not defined by religious affiliations..."

Read the following excerpt from a piece titled "The myth of religious violence" that historian Karen Armstrong wrote for the Guardian recently:

If some Muslims today fight shy of secularism, it is not because they have been brainwashed by their faith but because they have often experienced efforts at secularisation in a particularly virulent form. Many regard the west’s devotion to the separation of religion and politics as incompatible with admired western ideals such as democracy and freedom. In 1992, a military coup in Algeria ousted a president who had promised democratic reforms, and imprisoned the leaders of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), which seemed certain to gain a majority in the forthcoming elections. Had the democratic process been thwarted in such an unconstitutional manner in Iran or Pakistan, there would have been worldwide outrage. But because an Islamic government had been blocked by the coup, there was jubilation in some quarters of the western press – as if this undemocratic action had instead made Algeria safe for democracy. In rather the same way, there was an almost audible sigh of relief in the west when the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted from power in Egypt last year. But there has been less attention to the violence of the secular military dictatorship that has replaced it, which has exceeded the abuses of the Mubarak regime.

After a bumpy beginning, secularism has undoubtedly been valuable to the west, but we would be wrong to regard it as a universal law. It emerged as a particular and unique feature of the historical process in Europe; it was an evolutionary adaptation to a very specific set of circumstances. In a different environment, modernity may well take other forms. Many secular thinkers now regard “religion” as inherently belligerent and intolerant, and an irrational, backward and violent “other” to the peaceable and humane liberal state – an attitude with an unfortunate echo of the colonialist view of indigenous peoples as hopelessly “primitive”, mired in their benighted religious beliefs. There are consequences to our failure to understand that our secularism, and its understanding of the role of religion, is exceptional. When secularisation has been applied by force, it has provoked a fundamentalist reaction – and history shows that fundamentalist movements which come under attack invariably grow even more extreme. The fruits of this error are on display across the Middle East: when we look with horror upon the travesty of Isis, we would be wise to acknowledge that its barbaric violence may be, at least in part, the offspring of policies guided by our disdain. •

pacman said...

Riaz, hats off to you. If this were an indian forum, the host would have deleted all the negative remarks. Can any indian here claim otherwise.
On another note, this christine woman has really good points against pakistan like she always bashing Pakistani (rightly so) if they have actually read the UN resolutions on kashmir?.. The answer is usually no. And upon reading the resolutions, I also conclude, if there is to be a peblicide in kashmir according to the resolution, Pakistan has to withdraw from Azad kashmir FIRST, then upon confirmation, the peblicide can be held. Can you please expound why Pak always harb about the peblicide and UN resolution without mentioning this crucial detail?
Hindu trolls, please avoid answering.

Anonymous said...

OMG!!!!! u r such a fucking paki Mr. Haq. You keep harping on poverty in India. Listen paki, u should well know that share of population below poverty line is not indicative of overall well-being of an average citizen. China has a greater share of its population under poverty than that of Iraq. But look where China is today and where Iraq is. On every economic parameter we score better whether it be GDP per capita/GNI per capita etc. So now u knw u r the real beggar......Poor paki

Anonymous said...

Dr Riaz,
Happy New Year. Great article.

Riaz Haq said...

Amid the storm of back patting and loud media congratulatory messages regarding the Coast Guards claims that it intercepted a Pakistani fishing vessel filled with explosives that blew itself up off the Gujarat coast, reports are now emerging that the boat in question may not have posed a terror threat to India after all.
An official statement by the Ministry of Defence on the incident, reads as follows:
As per intelligence inputs received on December 31, a fishing boat from Keti Bunder near Karachi was planning some "illicit transaction" in the Arabian Sea. A Coast Guard ship warned the fishing boat to stop for further investigation. However, the boat increased speed and tried to escape from the Indian side.
"The hot pursuit continued for nearly one hour and the Coast Guard ship managed to stop the fishing boat after firing warning shots. Four persons were seen aboard the boat and they disregarded all warnings by the Coast Guard. Soon thereafter, the crew hid themselves in the deck below and set the boat afire, which resulted in an explosion and a major fire on the boat."
Due to darkness, bad weather and strong winds, the boat and persons on board could not be saved or recovered.
However new reports indicate that there was little to suggest that the vessel in question really posed a threat, and says that the Coast Guard may have used disproportionate force in the incident. Doubts are also being raised on the MoD's version of events, such as the location in which the incident is said to have taken place, the way intelligence reports about the vessel were interpreted, as well as details of the pursuit.
Writing for the Indian Express, Praveen Swami claims that "Highly-placed government sources, said the intelligence had no link to terrorism, and made no reference to any threat to India. Instead, the sources said, the National Technical Research Organisation had intercepted mobile phone traffic involving small-time smugglers operating out of the fishing port of Keti Bandar, near Karachi.

Riaz Haq said...

As their forces are withdrawing from Afghanistan, think tanks in both the US and Europe have begun putting forth policy suggestions for dealing with Pakistan, a country considered important not only for Afghanistan’s stability, but one which is also struggling with its own terrorism problems, and is after all a nuclear-armed state.
Some think tanks are, however, doing a better job than others in thinking about Pakistan. Evidence of one lackluster effort is a recently released report “A transatlantic Pakistan Policy” by the German Marshall Fund and the Swedish Defence Research Agency.
This report advocates the need for a more coordinated transatlantic approach by the US and Europe to deal with Pakistan, using a combined carrot and stick approach employing both economic and security strategies.
The report’s assertions concerning how to deal with Pakistan’s nuclear development, authored by an Indian, are rather problematic. While acknowledging that Pakistan’s nuclear development is a result of strategic rivalry with India, it goes on to assert that although Israel and India have also developed nuclear weapons outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Pakistan’s nuclear capacity is the real threat.
It claims that Pakistan is developing tactical nuclear weapons, which are not needed for nuclear deterrence, and hence increase risks of nuclear conflict in the region, especially since Pakistan’s security forces “preserve ties to militant groups that target India”. India’s nuclear weapons development programme and its hostile posture is no where mentioned in this discussion.
The suspected nuclear proliferation by Pakistan is also highlighted here as a lingering threat, which does indeed strike a raw nerve the world over. An argument is thus built for both Europe and the US to compel Pakistan to adopt a more stabilising nuclear posture.
While one is not a fan of the nuclear arms race, and also cognisant of the immense financial drain of maintaining nuclear capacity, the claim that Pakistan’s “viable nuclear deterrent significantly decreases the leverage the United States and Europe have over Pakistan’s leadership” would provide a convincing argument for international opinion-makers without a nuanced understanding of foreign relations, and is certain to receive no traction within the country itself.
Moreover, the proposed transatlantic approach argues that discussion of Pakistan’s nuclear programme should feature not just in dialogues between the transatlantic allies, but also in dialogues with China, India and Afghanistan. What the agenda should be for such dialogues is however not specified. Nor are similar suggestions for regional consultations made to deal with Israel or India’s nuclear status.
Concerning counterterrorism, the authors of the report want the United States and Europe to establish a clearer division of labour to deal with Pakistan’s continued support for militant proxies. Nato’s own role in exacerbating regional conflicts due to its military intervention in the region is not paid the attention that it merits.
There is nothing novel or convincing about civil-military relations, governance and economic development policy in this report. Suggestions of using Western bilateral and multilateral economic leverage to help realise Pakistan’s potential as an emerging market, fails to realise the problematic role that earlier neo-liberal condiltionalities have played in exacerbating inequalities, not only in Pakistan, but many other developing countries.
It is unfortunate that no Pakistani scholar is involved in the writing of this report. Its overall tone is condescending, and it treats Pakistan like a pariah state, which will only serve to fuel hawkish sentiments within the country and enhance fears of a western conspiracy against us, besides increasing vitriol in policy-making circles within the West.

Riaz Haq said...

Economics was the basis of Pakistan’s creation

By Shahid Javed Burki
Published: January 12, 2015
A month or so ago, in the space of a few days, I got into an earnest debate with Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States. The substance of that debate is important given Pakistan’s current political difficulties as well as the country’s relations with the outside world. I have known Haqqani for decades. In fact, he reviewed one of earlier works on Pakistan, A Nation in the Making, for the now-defunct Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review. At the first meeting — a lunch at a restaurant in a Washington suburb — we talked about his recently published and much-discussed book, Magnificent Delusions.

The book, in dealing with Pakistan’s relations with the United States, covers a lot of ground, from the country’s founding to its current precarious situation. In the conversation with me, he questioned the political logic which led to the creation of Pakistan. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, he suggested, should have known that if his demand for the creation of an independent state was accepted, it would leave a significant number of his co-religionists behind in the Hindu-dominated independent India. A smaller minority would find their lives even more difficult in a country in which the Hindus would be even more dominant. This assertion by the former ambassador led me to ask the obvious question: was Pakistan’s creation a mistake? He said it was. I thought and told him so that this was an extraordinary statement by a person who had represented as its ambassador a country he believed was mistakenly created.

His other argument was developed in much greater detail at the house of a rich Indian businessman where the audience was presented his book so that it could be signed by the author. His speech on the occasion concerned Pakistan’s inability to live with its four neighbours — Afghanistan, China, India and Iran as well as with the United States, the country’s long-time benefactor. Including China in the list was puzzling but he said that Beijing had sent some strong messages to Islamabad about the latter’s alleged support to the dissidents in the country’s autonomous region of Xinjiang.

Both arguments need to be considered carefully since they have started a conversation in the American capital about the feasibility of what is sometimes called the ‘idea of Pakistan’. By pursuing the Islamic ideology as the basis of nationhood, the former ambassador thought that Pakistan itself had posed an existential threat to itself.

I responded to these views by saying that Pakistan was created not because its founding fathers thought that ‘Islam was in danger’ but for entirely economic reasons. The present rise of extremism is also owing to economic and political reasons. Those who follow it are not fighting a war of faith with the Pakistani state or the West. These people resent their exclusion from political and economic systems — both dominated by narrow elites — and some of them have opted for extreme violence as the preferred form of expression.

In order to understand the direction in which we should go, we must carefully understand why the country in which we live and of which we are citizens was created. The Pakistan Movement was largely the result of economic factors; religion intervened since the Muslims feared that they will be discriminated against on account of their faith. In the 1940s, when Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his political associates raised the demand for Pakistan, British India had a population of 400 million of which 100 million followed Islam. Two parts of this community, one in the northwest of the British Indian colony and the other in the northeast, accounted for 70 per cent of this community; the remaining 30 per cent was dispersed all over in what were called the Muslim minority provinces....

Riaz Haq said...

With a collection of over 200,000 individual titles, Saeed Book Bank in Jinnah Super Market is considered to be one of Asia’s largest bookstores. The founder and owner of the store, Saeed Jan Qureshi, has been involved in the business for almost 60 years. Dawn spoke to Mr Qureshi about the business of selling books.

Q. How did you end up in the book business?

A. After leaving my hometown in Tando Ghulam Ali in Sindh in 1956, I took up employment at the London Book House because I love books. To this day, I stay up reading till 3am every night. I also liked the kind of people who came to bookstores - educated and generally well-mannered. In 1964, I opened my own bookstore in Peshawar called Saeed Book Bank.

We did good business. We were the biggest bookstore in the north-western Pakistan and Afghanistan. There was frequent movement of people, tourism thrived and people would travel all the way from Kandahar and Kabul to shop at our store.

Thirty-six years later, politics had changed Peshawar. We also wanted to expand so in 2000, we opened the Islamabad branch.

Q. There is a general global decline in book sales, how is that affecting your business?

A. There may be a decline in sales globally, but fortunately in Pakistan and India, book sales are actually going up. The reason is the growth in population and even literacy rate. The trend of reading e-books on handheld devices may have affected book sales in the developed world but not here.

This is despite the fact that the Pakistani government has never taken steps to encourage the book business. Importing a book costs 18 per cent of the price, including taxes and transportation costs. In India the book business is thriving because the government offered publishers lucrative incentives.

The government even buys back any unsold book stocks from publishers at 10 per cent higher than the cost.

For Saeed Book Bank, in particular, business is good because of our scale. We import much of our stock. Publishers around the world know us and offer us better prices than smaller buyers. This allows us to offer competitive prices. Some publishers in the United Kingdom and the United States even offer us refunds on any unsold stock.

Secondly, even though it is a small city, Islamabad is a big market for books. It’s a city of diplomats and officers, so many people read. Book lovers from all over the region, come and shop at Saeed Book Bank. We even export books to South Africa, Nigeria and China.

Q. How do you choose the titles for your stock?

A. One needs years of experience and a lot of research to know which titles to stock. There are some obvious choices, such as authors who always sell such as Pervez Musharraf.

People place orders for books by these authors, before the book is even out. Then there are current topics in non-fiction books such as Taliban, terrorism, Kashmir which we know people are interested in and we stock-up on them.

To order latest titles, my sons and I travel to the world’s biggest book fairs. At these fairs, the biggest one of which is in Germany, publishers from around the world display latest titles. Booksellers like us, place orders with publishers at the fair and later stocks are delivered. This is how we ensure that we have all the latest titles.

Q. Is it true that your bookstore drove smaller shops selling cheap and second-hand books out of business?

It is true, although it was not our intention. Most other book sellers in the city buy containers of what we call pulp books from the United Kingdom and the United States. These are books which would otherwise have been recycled and are instead sold by weight to booksellers in the developing world. So, they are sold at very cheap prices and even if five to 10 per cent of the stock is sold, it is profitable for the seller.

Riaz Haq said...

From Newsweek about Lahore Literary Festival:

The hope that one day Pakistan will escape from the clutches of jihadist terrorism, corrupt politicians and an overbearing army came alive last weekend at the Lahore Literary Festival, where mostly young audiences averaging 25,000 people a day applauded criticisms and wider worries about the functioning of the country as well as enjoying other sessions on literature and the arts.

The festival took place in the shadow of a bomb blast in the city on February 17 that killed more than six people, but it matched the famous Jaipur Literature Festival for the mood, the energy and the excitement in the relaxed surroundings of the Alhambra Arts Centre, and it beat Jaipur for passion.

The enthusiasm during the three days was evident not only from the audience participation, but also from long lines of people waiting outside the five auditoriums and a queue that stretched 100 yards at a well stocked bookshop. People remembered and celebrated how Lahore had always been a center for the arts.

The secret that the organizers kept to themselves until the end was that the Punjab state government, worried about security risks, had canceled permission for the festival to take place on the afternoon before it was due to start, just as people were arriving from abroad and other parts of Pakistan. It took Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister and elder brother of Punjab’s chief minister Shabaz, to intervene and give the permission at 9 p.m. that evening.

Some music and other outside events were canceled, but otherwise the festival went ahead without fuss and included a stimulating exhibition that displayed the country’s vibrant contemporary art scene. There were several rings of highly visible security around the venue, though the police and other guards looked relatively relaxed and showed none of the officious heavy presence one would expect in India. A couple of foreign governments and agencies, including the British Council, panicked because of the bomb blast and withdrew approval for their sponsored speakers’ presence.

“People are almost surprised to see themselves here,” I was told by Salima Hashmi, a painter and writer, and daughter of the famous Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz. “They see it almost as an act of defiance, and they are speaking with the freedom to say what they want.”

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts from Christine Fair's recent generally anti-Pakistan narrative at World Affairs Council in San Francisco:

1. India's RSS is like the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the post-abolition violent white supremacist organization made up of former southern confederates, in USA. The difference is that while KKK has very little popular support in America, the RSS's political wing BJP recently won by a landslide making Narendra Modi ("KKK wizard") prime minister of India.

2. India's human rights record in Kashmir is appalling.

3. It's flat out wrong to say that "Indian Muslims do not participate in terrorism".

4. Pakistan can use Indian Mujahideen (IM) which includes India's deeply alienated Muslims to conduct covert actions in India with plausible deniability.

5. China has been talking with the Taliban since 1990s. Chinese can play a huge role to stabilize Afghanistan with investments and control Pakistan's behavior.

6. India has been able to establish significant presence in Afghanistan under US security umbrella. India's intentions in Afghanistan are not benign. US should want India to "go big" in Afghanistan to check Pakistan.

7. India has built the Iranian port of Chahbahar to compete with Gwadar port in Pakistan.

8. No one wants to pay Afghanistan's bills when US leaves. China can fill the gap. US and China can be partners for peace in Afghanistan.

9. Fair says she is a "personal fan" of India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Fair says "Pakistanis are afraid of him". Fair supports Modi's position of "India not engaging with Pakistan".

10. Current Indian government under Modi can aggressively "over-interpret" events such as the recent India claim of "terror boat" blown up by Indian Coastguard.

11. Fair says she wants the US to work to "reduce Pakistan Army's influence" but, in the next breath, she says "civilians are no better than the military".

Riaz Haq said...

Sellout Husain Haqqani dislikes his home country #Pakistan just as Gordon Chang and Mixin Pei abhor #China via @WSJ

Hussain Haqqani, in the same category as sellouts like Gordon Chang, Minxin Pei, Karim Sadjadpour, Fawad Ajami, etc, has a problem with China-Pakistan alliance. Here's his Op Ed in Wall Street Journal:

China’s President Xi Jinping arrived in Islamabad this week with promises of $46 billion in investment for Pakistani infrastructure. If all envisaged projects materialize, Pakistan would get a network of roads, railways and energy pipelines linking Pakistan’s port of Gwadar to China’s westernmost Xinjiang region. China would also build Pakistan’s half of a long-delayed natural-gas pipeline from Iran. This would be a shot in the arm for Pakistan’s faltering economy and consolidate a decades-old strategic partnership.

The Obama administration would also like China to induce Pakistan to abandon its role as a terrorist safe haven. China has been concerned by Pakistan-based jihadists operating in Xinjiang and U.S. officials hope Beijing can be successful in persuading Pakistan to clamp down on the various Islamist groups operating from its soil. But China’s economic reassurances could also reinforce Islamabad’s miscalculations about its regional clout and dangerous ambitions of keeping India strategically off-balance through subconventional means, including terrorism.

Just as Pakistan turned to the U.S. soon after independence in 1947 to seek weapons and economic assistance against India, Pakistan’s leaders today see China as a supporter in their bid to be India’s regional rival. The U.S. disappointed Islamabad by refusing to back its military confrontations with India even while selling Pakistan U.S. weapons (intended for other purposes). Now it might be China’s turn to be the object of unrealistic Pakistani expectations.

Unlike the U.S., China has refrained from lecturing Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders, creating an impression of consistency lacking in U.S.-Pakistan ties. China has been a major supplier of military equipment to Pakistan and was particularly helpful in Pakistan’s development of nuclear weapons.

By supporting Pakistan militarily, China has ensured that a large part of India’s military remains tied down in South Asia and is unable to challenge China in the rest of Asia. But India remains the larger market and China’s willingness to use Pakistan as a secondary deterrent against India hasn’t meant abandoning ties with New Delhi. Chinese trade with India in 2013 was $65 billion, six times its trade with Pakistan. In Pakistan’s 1965 and 1971 wars with India, China disappointed Pakistan by not opening a second front against India.


China’s investment in Pakistan, and indeed investment from other sources, would materialize more easily if Pakistan put its house in order. Instead of exhausting itself in competing with an Indian neighbor six times its size, Pakistan needs to confront religious extremism, eliminate terrorism and pursue economic reforms that they talk about but do not implement. Pakistan’s elite needs to start paying taxes to overcome one of the worst tax-to-GDP ratios in the world. Defense spending needs to be rationalized and critical investments made in education to overcome a paucity of skilled manpower.

More likely, the promise of Chinese money will lead Pakistan’s leaders to think China will become their economic and military patron. Mr. Xi would do well not to let that happen, and instead to emphasize reform. He shouldn’t forget that money does not always buy Pakistan’s favor or encourage change in Pakistan’s policies. China may actually lose popularity in Pakistan once its companies arrive and demand primacy of economic considerations. Then China might find itself where Pakistan’s previous benefactor, the U.S., is today. After having provided $40 billion in aid to Pakistan since 1950, the U.S. is now viewed favorably by only 14% of Pakistanis.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excepts of Nisid Hajari's NPR Fresh Air interview promoting his book "Midnight's Furies":

"This rivalry between India and Pakistan has been going on now for nearly 70 years and it seems like a feature of the landscape ... as if it has always existed, and once you created two countries out of one that it was inevitable," Hajari says. "I don't think it was inevitable and a closer look at what happened in 1947 teaches you how the seeds of this rivalry were planted. It was obviously worsened over the years by various actors, but this is where it all started."

They (Hindus) controlled the schools, they controlled the educational curriculum, they oversaw the police and they gave out jobs and patronage to their own followers. And Muslims could see, particularly professional Muslims, Muslims who would otherwise have perhaps won these jobs, could see that they would have very little power in a democratic system, a parliamentary system after independence.

On that (Direct Action) day (1946), the speeches that were given were fairly inflammatory, and some of the Muslim listeners of these speeches went out and started burning and looting in Hindu areas. At the same time, Hindus in different parts of the city were also throwing bricks and stones at Muslim marchers. It's very hard to say exactly how it started or who started it [but] both sides behaved violently.

The Sikhs really were the accelerant to the riots in August 1947, which is, when people talk about partition, this is what they're talking about. These are the massive riots that broke out around the time that the British withdrew from India, and anywhere from 200,000 to 1 million people were killed.

As independence was approaching, all sides were forming militias, which they claimed were for self-defense. The Sikhs, because so many of them had served in the army, were the best trained and the best armed and the best organized of these militias, and therefore the rampages that they engaged in were more effective and bloodier and more damaging.

The Pakistani support for the Taliban had to do with their desire to have an influence in Kabul and to block Indian influence in Afghanistan. Pakistani strategists have this idea of strategic depth that if they were engaged in a major conflict with India that they would be able to use Afghanistan as a sort of rear-guard area to fall back to. They have a fear of being encircled by Indians and there have always been rumors that the Indians were trying to gain influence with various Afghan governments and that they had spies in Afghanistan and so on. Afghanistan has never fully agreed to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, so that creates more tensions.

But this fear of Indian encirclement, that's what goes back to partition in 1947. The seeds of that rivalry were planted in these weeks and months of violence and bloodshed back when both countries were still being born and they were exacerbated over the years by further conflicts and by various military dictators and politicians and so forth, but the basic pattern was set very quickly. As a smaller, weaker country, this asymmetric strategy of using surrogates to do your fighting for you seems appealing, but it has very destructive repercussions.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpt of Aqil Shah on TV Paul's book "Warrior State" and Christine Fair's "Fighting to the End":

" in The Warrior State are contestable on several grounds.
One, both South Korea and Taiwan enjoyed varying degrees of external
security guarantees from the United States, so they had a better chance of
prioritizing economics over warfare. Two, and unlike ethnically divided
Pakistan, both South Korea and Taiwan were also homogenous societies,
which ultimately facilitated their transitions to democracy by insulating
them from the potential challenge of peacefully accommodating ethnic
diversity. Finally, neither Turkey nor Indonesia was even half as insecure
as Pakistan, and their main security threats were internal. Hence, as Paul
himself concedes, neither had the need to overspend on defense or develop
the tools, such as the use of nonstate actors, needed to fight a much stronger
external enemy (p. 165).
Second, he attributes Pakistan’s thwarted development to its geographic
location, which has put a “geostrategic curse” on the country (pp. 3, 15,
21–22, 33). According to the book, this strategic curse works much like the well-known curse of natural resources. In return for serving (and at
times undermining) U.S. security interests, Pakistan’s elites have enjoyed
access to strategic rents, which has discouraged them from expanding the
state’s extractive capacity to achieve the economic strength required for
maintaining the security competition with India (pp. 18–23).
This “rentier” thesis has much going for it but leaves one question
unanswered: why did Pakistan not reform itself when the strategic rents
dried up—for example, in 1965–80 and 1990–2001? Paul alludes to the
path-dependent nature of ideas (p. 23), so it is reasonable to infer that even
in the absence of U.S. military aid, Pakistani elites continued to harbor their
hyper-realpolitik strategic assumptions. However, it is not clear where these
assumptions come from, or how they stick. On closer analysis, it appears
more plausible that once Pakistan’s founding fathers adopted a warrior state
strategy in response to structural insecurity at the outset of independence,
these Hobbesian beliefs developed a life of their own, especially because the
powerful military institution internalized them. "

"Fair seems to discount the role of political learning on elite
attitudes and behavior. As the case of Brazil and other Latin American
countries demonstrates, the experience of authoritarian government can
unite political elite against military praetorianism and electoral competition
can create incentives for them to erode the military’s undue political and
strategic influence. Pakistan’s most recent transition from authoritarian rule
in 2007–8 has revealed that major political parties like the Pakistan Peoples
Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have learned
their lessons from exile, incarceration, and repression under authoritarian
rule and appear strongly committed to the democratic process. In May 2013,
Pakistan broke its seemingly permanent curse of zero democratic turnover
of power from one full-term elected government to another when the PPP
government completed its five-year tenure and Nawaz Sharif’s opposition
PML-N won the parliamentary elections to form a new government. As Fair
herself admits, this successful transition was made possible in good part by
Sharif’s ability to resist the temptation of knocking on the garrison’s door
to unseat the PPP government (p. 265). "

Riaz Haq said...

John G. Gill's review of books on Pakistan by TV Paul, Christine Fair and Aqil Shah:

As for the individual books, it would have been interesting to see
Fair and Paul examine how the Pakistan Army defines concepts such as
“friends” and “interests” in the international context. Fair approaches this
in her review of the army’s hagiographic treatment of China as compared
with the generally vitriolic rhetoric reserved for the United States, and
Paul touches on this issue when he depicts Pakistan as viewing the world
through a Hobbesian prism. But it would have been enlightening if they
had carried this line of thinking a few steps further. Shah, on the other
hand, may be too critical of the army in some of its recent interactions with
the civilian elements of the state. The former chief of staff of the Pakistan
army, General Ashfaq Kayani, for one, allegedly tried but failed to elicit
strategic guidance from the civilian leadership. Having cleared and held
zones of militancy such as Swat, the army may also legitimately complain
that civilian authorities are conspicuous by their absence when the time
comes for the military to withdraw. Furthermore, the army is the object of

urgent importunities by groups across the political spectrum whenever a
domestic crisis arises. For example, Shah might have explicitly addressed
the thorny issues associated with the army’s role—if any—when elected
officials undermine the political system through corruption, ineptitude, or
megalomaniac behavior. Breaking out of this destructive cycle requires civil
as well as military vision and steadfastness.
These lacunae and desiderata notwithstanding, all three works are
excellent additions to the growing scholarship on Pakistan and its army.
Policy-relevant and academically rigorous, thoughtful and readable, they
can be recommended highly for decision-makers, staffers, and analysts in
the policy, security, and intelligence communities. They will be especially
valuable for diplomats and military officers assigned to serve in Pakistan or
with Pakistani armed forces.

Riaz Haq said...

Anam Zakaria's oral history of bloodshed: "Footprints of Partition" #India #Pakistan #Britain #1947

Anam Zakaria is a development professional, educationist and researcher based in Pakistan. She has an academic background in international development from McGill University and started her career with the Citizens Archive of Pakistan in 2010. She led their Oral History Project, collecting narratives of the first and second generations of Pakistanis. The Footprints of Partition is her first book.

Tell us about the methodology of your research. What do oral histories offer to the existing discourse on Pak-India history?

Oral histories, for me, help deconstruct metanarratives. The dominant discourse in Pakistan that I was familiar with throughout my childhood revolved around the bloodshed and violence of Partition. It helped me value the creation of Pakistan but always left me with a bloody aftertaste, a gruesome picture of battered bodies, massacres and blood-strewn trains. While many people I spoke to narrated similar horrific stories of Partition, interviewing them helped me understand that the past can never be a linear trajectory, nor black or white. There are many nuances that are missed in recorded history and speaking to Partition survivors brings those nuances to light, giving me (and hopefully my readers) a more holistic understanding of the past.

You say at some point that you did over 600 interviews for the Citizens Archive of Pakistan. Why did you choose to include these ones in your book?

To give you a candid answer, I chose the ones that left me with a lingering to go back and know more, that opened my eyes to new realities and left me with a desire to further explore my history. These were the stories I wanted to share with people. The research and writing process was a very personal journey for me. I was learning, unlearning and relearning. I wanted my readers, especially the younger ones, to have a chance to do the same through my book. This is not to say, however, that I was only moved by a handful of stories and not by others. One aspect that I was sure of from the very beginning was that I wanted to particularly focus on those stories where people had a chance to revisit their past, or at least had a longing to do the same. I was interested in knowing about their experiences for this was something one did not find in history books. I also wanted to include stories from different generations in order to explore what the journey of Partition has been like and what meaning Partition and the ‘other’ hold for different groups of people.

These stories don’t often feature in history books, either for the purposes of propaganda or due to issues of verifiability. In the absence of evidence, how much weight can we attach to these stories? The job of oral histories is not just to record history but to also give us a glimpse into how people feel about an event and how they choose to remember it. To filter out the feelings and sentiments of people who went through Partition perhaps raises its own questions of validity.

Pakistan is one of the few countries left with their first generation alive, and to deny them a voice simply because it may not be considered fact would be an injustice to the nation. We need to understand what goes into making history, and the eyewitness accounts of those who saw the creation of this country must be recognised as part of it. After all, who decides what history is and how it should be recorded?

What do you hope it to achieve with this book?

I hope that my book is able to highlight these relationships, and that it is able to record this part of our history for the future generations that are at risk of absorbing a rigid understanding of the past. This, in no way, should challenge our nationhood or patriotism. Who says patriotism needs to be based on hatred and hostility?

Faruqui said...

Teresita Schaffer on how Pakistan negotiates with US:

How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States is an impressive, insightful and truly important book, especially for Americans who cannot decide whether Pakistan is America’s friend or foe. They will learn that the issue is more complex and respective grievances are more reciprocal. (Zbigniew Brzezinski, Counselor and Trustee, Center for Strategic and International Studies)

A fascinating account of how Pakistanis have historically used a mix of charm, military polish, occasional deception, guilt trips, pleas of national weakness, knowledge of Afghanistan, and strategically advantageous geography right next to Afghanistan to induce the United States to do more for them.

Riaz Haq said...

Farooqui: " Teresita Schaffer on how Pakistan negotiates with US"

U.S. Ex Def Sec Robert Gates: "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."

BTW, Is Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump getting foreign policy advice from Amb Haqqani when he says "Our negotiators are stupid" ? and " It all comes down to who your leader is. The president is the person responsible for putting together the right group of negotiators. And right now, we have the wrong group of negotiators who have led us to being totally out-negotiated" ?

Riaz Haq said...

“I AM a rambo b**ch”: Meet drone defender Christine Fair who wants #India to militarily SQUASH #Pakistan … via @Salon

In a debate on the Al Jazeera program UpFront in October, Fair butted heads with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, a prominent critic of the U.S. drone program. Fair, notorious for her heated rhetoric, accused Greenwald of being a “liar” and insulted Al Jazeera several times, claiming the network does not appreciate “nuance” in the way she does. Greenwald in turn criticized Fair for hardly letting him get a word in; whenever he got a rare chance to speak, she would constantly interrupt him, leading host Mehdi Hasan to ask her to stop.

The lack of etiquette aside, Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Shadi Hamid remarked that Fair’s arguments in the debate were “surprisingly weak.”

After the debate, Fair took to Twitter to mud-sling. She expressed pride at not letting Greenwald speak, boasting she “shut that lying clown down.” “I AM a rambo b**ch,” she proclaimed.

Fair also called Greenwald a “pathological liar, a narcissist, [and] a fool.” She said she would like to put Greenwald and award-winning British journalist Mehdi Hasan in a Pakistani Taliban stronghold, presumably to be tortured, “then ask ’em about drones.”

Elsewhere on social media, Fair has made similarly provocative comments. In a Facebook post, Fair called Pakistan “an enemy” and said “We invaded the wrong dog-damned country,” implying the U.S. should have invaded Pakistan, not Afghanistan.

In another Facebook post, Fair insisted that “India needs to woman up and SQUASH Pakistan militarily, diplomatically, politically and economically.” Both India and Pakistan are nuclear states.

Fair proudly identifies as a staunch liberal and advocates for a belligerent foreign policy. She rails against neo-conservatives, but chastises the Left for criticizing U.S. militarism. In 2012, she told a journalist on Twitter “Dude! I am still very much pro drones. Sorry. They are the least worst option. My bed of coals is set to 11.”

Despite the sporadic jejune Twitter tirade, Fair has established herself as one of the drone program’s most vociferous proponents. Fair is a specialist in South Asian politics, culture, and languages, with a PhD from the University of Chicago. She has published extensively, in a wide variety of both scholarly and journalistic publications. If you see an article in a large publication defending the U.S. drone program in Pakistan, there is a good chance she wrote or co-authored it.

Reviewing the “mountains of evidence”

After her debate with Greenwald, Fair wrote an article for the Brookings Institution’s Lawfare blog. While making jabs at Greenwald, Hasan, and Al Jazeera; characterizing her participation in the debate as an “ignominious distinction”; and implying that The Intercept, the publication co-founded by Greenwald with other award-winning journalists, is a criminal venture, not a whistleblowing news outlet, Fair forcefully defended the drone program.

Secret government documents leaked to The Intercept by a whistleblower show that 90 percent of people killed in U.S. drone strikes in a five-month period in provinces on Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan were not the intended targets. Fair accused The Intercept of “abusing” and selectively interpreting the government’s data. In a followup piece in the Huffington Post, she maintained that the findings of the Drone Papers do not apply to the drone program in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Saeed Book Bank: A Storied #Bookstore and Its Late Oracle Leave an Imprint on #Islamabad #Pakistan

That approach helped Mr. Qureshi make an extraordinary future for Saeed Book Bank, particularly in an era when online sales have been driving independent bookstores out of business, and in a region where unfettered book piracy adds to retailers’ travails.

With his passion for books, Mr. Qureshi built one of the biggest bookstores in the world — mostly selling books in English, in a country where that is a second language for most people.

Saeed Book Bank has 42,000 square feet of usually busy floor space over three stories, displays 200,000 titles, and stocks more than four million books in its five warehouses — all, Ahmad Saeed said, “by the grace of the almighty.”

(His visitor had not read “Fallen Leaves,” so Mr. Saeed sent one of his 92 employees to fetch a copy. “It is so good, you must read this book.” Another visitor to the office, an aged doctor named S.H. Naqvi, agreed, having himself read it at their insistence: “It will touch your heart,” he said.)

Saeed Jan Qureshi came from a family that worked for a feudal landlord named Mir Banda Ali. His estates in southern Sindh Province were so vast that five railway stops reputedly lay within his property lines. His library was similarly scaled, and as a 9-year-old, Saeed was put to work dusting the shelves. One day Mr. Ali found him reading instead of working, and told the boy to get back to work immediately — but added that he could take a book home every night, so long as he returned it in mint condition.

Saeed never got past high school but he was exceedingly well-read, and after school he found a job as a book salesman for a company that sent him to its Peshawar branch. Later, in the 1950s, he opened his own bookshop in Peshawar.

During the Cold War years that followed, Pakistan was an outpost in the American rivalry with the Soviet Union, and Peshawar became an important military base, and later a vital C.I.A. base of operations, particularly during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Say what you will about the spooks, they were readers, and Mr. Qureshi built his business around catering to their literary tastes.

(Speaking of Afghanistan, Mr. Saeed said: “Have you read ‘The Spinner’s Tale,’ by Omar Shahid Hamid? No?” He seemed mildly shocked. Moments later a Pan Macmillan paperback copy of the novel materialized. “I am sorry, we’ve sold out of ‘Fallen Leaves’ — it’s so hard to keep in stock — but read this,” Ahmad said. “A lot of it is set in Afghanistan.”)

Later the rise of terrorism and fundamentalist Islam made Peshawar, capital of the wild frontier lands of Pakistan, a dangerous place for a bookseller — especially one who insisted on carrying magazines like Cosmopolitan and Heavy Metal, books by Karen Armstrong on Islam, and even the scientist Richard Dawkins’s atheist treatise, “The God Delusion.” (“You just wouldn’t believe how that sells,” Mr. Saeed said. “We buy a thousand copies from Random House every year, year after year.”)

On the other hand, he said, another best-seller is “The Message of the Qur’an,” an English translation of the holy book by Muhammad Asad, a European Jewish scholar and diplomat who converted to Islam.

Forced to close shop in Peshawar, Mr. Qureshi focused his efforts in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, a place heavily insulated from the country’s more extremist elements. Hard times followed as even Islamabad became a “no families” posting for diplomats and aid workers, but by then the bookstore was so big that its sheer breadth kept it viable, as plenty of Pakistanis read books in English.

Riaz Haq said...

Saeed Book Bank: A Storied #Bookstore and Its Late Oracle Leave an Imprint on #Islamabad #Pakistan

NY Times Saeed Book Bank Story Contd:

“Other Pakistani booksellers laughed at us that we never carried pirated books,” Mr. Saeed said. “But only best-sellers get pirated, and we carry everything.”

The result is a bookstore of impressive scope, quirky and catholic. “Islamic Fashion,” a glossy coffee table book and a best-seller, vies for shelf space with “Queer Studies.”

A thick condolence book for Mr. Qureshi, the third so far, sits on a counter, which sags under the weight of a couple hundred miniature books as well. A few rows away, an entire shelf is given over to Noam Chomsky, 26 titles in all, which may well be more than any bookstore in the world displays for the radical linguist and philosopher.

“Honestly, Chomsky sells here,” Mr. Saeed said.

As the eldest son, Mr. Saeed was always destined to take over the business when his father passed away, and to learn the trade he traveled with his father to international book fairs; annually to Frankfurt, thrice yearly to London, twice yearly to Delhi.

But not to the United States, the Saeed Book Bank’s biggest source of books.

“We spend $500,000 annually in America, and I can’t get a visa,” Mr. Saeed said. “The consular officer said, ‘Why can’t you just order by email and fax?’ They just don’t understand about books. You have to go to the warehouses, and see them and feel them — that’s how you buy books.”

(“Fallen Leaves” again: “When my father was sick, he said, ‘Read this book, and you will calm down,’” Mr. Saeed said. “He was right.” Dr. Naqvi could quote lines from it. “What if it is for life’s sake that we must die?” Otherwise, “youth would find no room on the earth.”)

Mr. Qureshi made sure his children had the education he did not. Ahmad has a master’s degree in business administration, with ambitious plans to computerize the store’s inventory and build up what is now a clunky and unsophisticated online business. Nonetheless, it sells $1,000 worth of books a day online in a place where credit cards are still a novelty.

For his father, books were more than just a business, Mr. Saeed said. One of the penitent former book thieves who dropped in was Suleman Khan, the vice chancellor of Iqra University, in Islamabad.

“He came to say that when he was a child, 6 years old or so, he stole an Archie comic book and my father saw him,” Mr. Saeed said. “He said he was afraid he was going to get slapped, but my father said: ‘This is good that you like books. So every day you can take a book but keep it in mint condition and return it when you’re done so I can still sell it.’”

And then the vice chancellor said, “Everything that I am now, I owe to your father.”

(Dr. Naqvi, who is getting on in years, had seemed to doze off for a moment but awoke when he heard that story. “‘Fallen Leaves,’” he sighed. “You have to read that book. Everything is in there.”)

Riaz Haq said...

Much has already been said about former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani’s return to the public sphere after being accused of requesting an American intervention in Pakistani politics. The crux of Haqqani’s argument—to be developed in a forthcoming book on U.S.-Pakistan relations, Magnificent Delusions—is that the United States and Pakistan willfully mislead themselves about what their alliance means, leading to cycles of engagement and disenchantment. These cycles have had serious consequences, including feelings of distrust and betrayal, uncooperative behavior, and acts of violence. Haqqani called for a looser relationship—in his terms, a friendship, not a marriage—to break the cycle and enable the two states to cooperate more effectively in areas of common interest.

In some respects, this is not a revolutionary opinion. Pakistani distaste for America’s involvement is well-known, from the neatly-painted signs at Jamaat-e-Islami protests to the widespread nationalist grievance that followed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Polls suggest that about three quarters of Pakistanis see America as an enemy. American distaste for Pakistan is just as deep. For many Americans, for instance, the mention of Pakistan conjures of images of a flag-burning mob, while among the foreign policy elite it is not rare to hear that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are a more serious danger to America than any that Iran might acquire. The cover of The Atlantic branded Islamabad “The Ally From Hell;” nobody in Haqqani’s audience at the Center for the National Interest last month moved when he asked for a show of hands from those who thought the U.S. should have told the ISI before going after bin Laden.

What is revolutionary is that the call for 'divorce' is now coming from a man who spent three and a half years trying to keep the marriage together, for in spite of all the criticism of Washington and Islamabad’s dysfunctional relationship, few are willing to live with the risks of separation. Many American security officials have grave concerns about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. A close relationship with Pakistan, they reason, allows the U.S. to press for stronger safeguards and, in the event of a radical coup or other crisis, gives Washington more ways to keep the bombs out of the most dangerous hands. The United States has reportedly provided guidance on securing nuclear facilities and creating stringent launch procedures, even though Pakistan has understandably kept Americans away from the physical facilities. American efforts to deepen this cooperation have been rebuffed, but officials have expressed satisfaction with the general safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, and Islamabad is believed to keep its weapons systems partially disassembled, a lower state of readiness than America’s own. However, worries abound that in a nuclear crisis with India, Pakistan’s nuclear forces would disperse from their secured bases to ensure some would survive an Indian strike, and, according to some reports, Pakistan moves some warheads in unmarked vans even in peacetime. Enterprising extremists could seize some of these wandering weapons.

Haqqani argued that America’s worries about Pakistan’s bombs are not realistic and thus do not justify the alliance. After all, he noted, America did not provide assistance in securing the nuclear weapons of its rivals during the tensions of the Cold War, yet the weapons were not accidentally launched or seized by terrorists. Haqqani has a valid point. With or without American involvement, Pakistan’s government has a vital interest in the security of its nuclear weapons. Nuclear irresponsibility could have grave consequences for Pakistan’s international relations, and would increase the risk of accidental war. Pakistan’s leaders would be insane not to take steps to secure their bombs and clarify the chain of command.

Riaz Haq said...

Christine Fair says: "Pakistan is an army with a state rather than as a state with an army". She needs to be more original, not rip off what was said centuries ago about the Prussian Army.

Fair is a known Pakistan hater who wants India to invade Pakistan. She praises Ajit Doval for his hawkish stance against Pakistan.

She has little credibility. She supports US militarism around the world and proudly proclaims: “I AM a rambo b**ch"

Elsewhere on social media, Fair has made similarly provocative comments. In a Facebook post, Fair called Pakistan “an enemy” and said “We invaded the wrong dog-damned country,” implying the U.S. should have invaded Pakistan, not Afghanistan.

In another Facebook post, Fair insisted that “India needs to woman up and SQUASH Pakistan militarily, diplomatically, politically and economically.” Both India and Pakistan are nuclear states.

Fair proudly identifies as a staunch liberal and advocates for a belligerent foreign policy. She rails against neo-conservatives, but chastises the Left for criticizing U.S. militarism. In 2012, she told a journalist on Twitter “Dude! I am still very much pro drones. Sorry. They are the least worst option. My bed of coals is set to 11.”

Riaz Haq said...

For the love of #books in #Pakistan where book sales are growing amidst global decline #WorldBookDay

Q. There is a general global decline in book sales, how is that affecting your business?

A. There may be a decline in sales globally, but fortunately in Pakistan and India, book sales are actually going up. The reason is the growth in population and even literacy rate. The trend of reading e-books on handheld devices may have affected book sales in the developed world but not here.

This is despite the fact that the Pakistani government has never taken steps to encourage the book business. Importing a book costs 18 per cent of the price, including taxes and transportation costs. In India the book business is thriving because the government offered publishers lucrative incentives.

The government even buys back any unsold book stocks from publishers at 10 per cent higher than the cost.

For Saeed Book Bank, in particular, business is good because of our scale. We import much of our stock. Publishers around the world know us and offer us better prices than smaller buyers. This allows us to offer competitive prices. Some publishers in the United Kingdom and the United States even offer us refunds on any unsold stock.

Secondly, even though it is a small city, Islamabad is a big market for books. It’s a city of diplomats and officers, so many people read. Book lovers from all over the region, come and shop at Saeed Book Bank. We even export books to South Africa, Nigeria and China.

Riaz Haq said...

Former envoy (Husain Haqqani) lobbying against #Pakistan in #Washington: Aziz

A former Pakistani ambassador in Washington has been lobbying against his own country and creating problems for the government in Islamabad, says foreign policy wizard. Though Sartaj Aziz didn’t name anyone, it was obvious that he was referring to Hussain Haqqani.

“He is trying to circumvent all our diplomatic efforts aimed at boosting bilateral ties between Pakistan and the United States,” Aziz said. “The Foreign Office has serious reservations about his activities in the US.”

Indian PM’s visit to US: International lobby ‘active against Pakistan’

Aziz made the statement in the lower house of parliament after opposition MPs criticized the government over recent foreign policy fiascos. Aziz downplayed the opposition’s criticism, saying Pakistan had the lowest budget for the Foreign Office — Rs15 billion — while Turkey had a Rs82 billion budget and Iran Rs40 billion. “The Foreign Office budget has been increased by 14% over the last three years,” he said.

Foreign policy

According to Aziz, Pakistan was pursuing a ‘balanced policy’ based on non-interference and protection of national interests and nuclear assets and its sovereignty.

“Indian Prime Minister Narandra Modi’s recent trip to Muslim countries should not be construed as a failure of Pakistan’s foreign policy,” he said. Pakistan enjoys historical relations with the Muslim world based on common religion, Aziz said. “Modi’s visit will not affect our ties.”

Aziz also said that Pakistan was ‘making successful efforts’ against India’s attempt to seek a membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. About the new border management plan with Afghanistan, the de facto foreign minister said: “The war against terror cannot be won without effective border management.”

All is not bad

Aziz said criticism for criticism’s sake would not go down well as the CPEC, Central Asia-South Asia-1000 and besides Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline were the projects for regional connectivity. “Pakistan’s political role will enhance after becoming a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.”

About Afghanistan, the foreign policy wizard said Pakistan was pursuing a ‘no-favourite policy’ and making efforts to restore peace in the war-ravaged country through the Quadrilateral Coordination Group.

Meanwhile, NA approved 19 demands for grants of four ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Food Security and Water and Power. The opposition had moved over 700 cut motions but they were rejected in a voice vote.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts from a right-wing Hindu publication on the history of water issues between India and Pakistan:

Following the partition of the sub-continent, India and Pakistan signed a "standstill agreement" on 18 December 1947 which guaranteed to maintain water supplies at the level of allocation in the pre-partition days. However, on 1 April 1948, India without any warning cut off supplies to Pakistan from both Ferozepur and Gurdaspur. The action was contrary to the letter and the spirit of the international law covering interstate river waters. The Barcelona Convention of 1921 on interstate river waters to which India was a signatory disallowed every State to stop or alter the course of a river which flowing through its own territories went into a neighbouring country and also forbade to use its waters in such a way as to imperil the lands in the neighbouring State or to impede their adequate use by the lower riparians. But India as the upper riparian of the Indus rivers was in a position of strength. India could deflect the Beas into the Sutlej above Bhakra or divert the Ravi into the Beas at Madhopur. It could construct a dam on Wular lake in the Kashmir valley and dry up the river Jhelum. A headwork on the Chenab at Dhiangarh, north of Jammu, could deflect the Chenab from its natural course into Pakistan. The major projects of the Bhakra, Pong and Thein dams then in the offing, if completed, could drain off the rivers of Sutlej, Beas and Ravi.


The Indus water Treaty was signed at Karachi on 19 September, 1960 by Prime Minister Nehru and President Ayub Khan. Under the agreement India promised to supply waters to Pakistan for the payment of expenses for operating the Madhopur and Ferozepur head works and their carrier channels, and also to contribute Rupees 100 crore for construction of replacement headworks to Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

PPP and Zardari now recognize Husain Haqqani is toxic. Unfortunately it's too late. A lot of damage has already been done and continues to done to Pakistan by this Benedict Arnold. I think Iqbal's lines about Mir Jaafar and Mir Sadiq apply to this guy more than anyone else "Jaafar uz Bangal Sadiq uz Dakan/ Nang e Millat Nang e Deen Nange Watan"

Riaz Haq said...

A fair response to Fair

In the second session of the HSD a female scholar from the United States, Christine Fair, was a panel speaker. This woman is an Associate Professor at the George Town University. She's a known Pakistan baiter. She opened up with an attack on Pakistan. I have no issues with criticism of our policies but the foul language she used in her talk was as follows:

"Pakistan is a terrorist predator state. It is a hyena which is the ugliest scavenger. The clowns of Rawalpindi. It should be declared a terrorist state and sanctioned for exporting terrorism. It is dubious and liar state. It bites the hand that feeds it and took billions of dollars to fund the terrorists to kill American troops." Turning to Chinese Ambassador she said that "China should stop supporting this terrorist state."

I was absolutely stunned and furious. So I decided to respond to this utterly vulgar tirade. Briefly my response was: "I would like to respond to her who has used such disgusting words. Let me quote one of the greatest military thinkers JFC Fuller. He had said, "The United States has no historical sense. It thinks war is lethal game and whoever has more lethal force wins." I told her, "You compared my country to a hyena. Well hyena has some emotions and can be friendly if treated well. Your country is like a vulture. This bird has no emotions and flies over the entire savannah scavenging carcasses. It has been scavenging on carcasses in South America, Central America, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya etc. It has made the entire world unsafe. You just talk about the clowns in Rawalpindi. You have been very economical with the facts. What about your clowns in the CIA and Pentagon? These clowns had no problem to incorporate Rawalpindi in the SEATO and the CENTO to contain the USSR. They had no problems when starting the disastrous Afghan wars. When these clownish vultures didn't require Rawalpindi any more we are called clowns. And please stop giving unsolicited advice to the Chinese. Unlike you they have 4,000 years of civilization behind them. They have the wisdom and farsightedness to do what they have to."

The woman was absolutely furious. She was seething with anger. I had achieved what I wanted. She responded angrily and personal attack on me contemptuously calling me that General sitting over there. My response was, please get out of this region. You have created enough problems. We will solve our own problems and peace will come. That added further fuel to the fire. She feverishly started photographing me with her camera and cell phone. She even photographed me while we were having tea. Probably an article against me is coming with my photos. I am certain that I will be indelible in her memory till her grave. Pakistanis (unfortunately less some) after that could walk with a swagger.

Riaz Haq said...

From Wikipedia entry for Christine Fair:

Fair's work and viewpoints have been the subject of prominent criticism.[5] Her pro-drone stance has been denounced, and called "surprisingly weak" by Brookings Institution senior fellow Shadi Hamid.[5] Journalist Glenn Greenwald dismissed Fair's arguments as "rank propaganda", arguing there is "mountains of evidence" showing drones are counterproductive, pointing to mass civilian casualties and independent studies.[6] In 2010, Fair denied the notion that drones caused any civilian deaths, alleging Pakistani media reports were responsible for creating this perception.[7] Jeremy Scahill wrote that Fair's statement was "simply false" and contradicted by New America's detailed study on drone casualties.[7] Fair later said that casualties are caused by the UAVs, but maintains they are the most effective tool for fighting terrorism.[8]

Writing for The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf challenged Fair's co-authored narrative that the U.S. could legitimize support in Pakistan for its drone program using 'education' and 'public diplomacy'; he called it an "example of interventionist hubris and naivete" built upon flawed interpretation of public opinion data.[9] An article in the Middle East Research and Information Project called the work "some of the most propagandistic writing in support of President Barack Obama’s targeted kill lists to date."[10] It censured the view that Pakistanis needed to be informed by the U.S. what is "good for them" as fraught with imperialist condescension; or the assumption that the Urdu press was less informed than the English press – because the latter was sometimes less critical of the U.S.[10]

Fair's journalistic sources have been questioned for their credibility[11] and she has been accused of having a conflict of interest due to her past work with U.S. government think tanks, as well the CIA.[5] In 2011 and 2012, she received funding from the U.S. embassy in Islamabad to conduct a survey on public opinion concerning militancy. However, Fair states most of the grants went to a survey firm and that it had no influence on her research.[5] Pakistani media analysts have dismissed Fair's views as hawkish rhetoric, riddled with factual inaccuracies, lack of objectivity, and being selectively biased.[11][12][13][14] She has also been rebuked for comments on social media perceived as provocative, such as suggesting burning down Pakistan's embassy in Afghanistan or asking India to "squash Pakistan militarily, diplomatically, politically and economically." She has been accused of double standards, partisanship towards India, and has been criticized for her contacts with dissident leaders from Balochistan, a link which they claim "raises serious questions if her interest in Pakistan is merely academic."[13]

Riaz Haq said...

How the #American #CIA Infiltrated the World's #Literature Using Famous Writers as Tools … via @VICE

"The CIA's influence in publishing was on the covert ops side, and it was done as propaganda. It was a control of how intellectuals thought about the US."

The new book, Finks, reveals how great writers such as Baldwin, Márquez, and Hemingway became soldiers in America's cultural Cold War.

When the CIA's connections to the Paris Review and two dozen other magazines were revealed in 1966, the backlash was swift but uneven. Some publications crumbled, taking their editors down with them, while other publishers and writers emerged relatively unscathed, chalking it up to youthful indiscretion or else defending the CIA as a "nonviolent and honorable" force for good. But in an illuminating new book Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World's Best Writers, writer Joel Whitney debunks the myth of a once-moral intelligence agency, revealing an extensive list of writers involved in transforming America's image in countries we destabilized with coups, assassinations, and other all-American interventions.

The CIA developed several guises to throw money at young, burgeoning writers, creating a cultural propaganda strategy with literary outposts around the world, from Lebanon to Uganda, India to Latin America. The same agency that occasionally undermined democracies for the sake of fighting Communism also launched the Congress for Cultural Freedoms (CCF). The CCF built editorial strategies for each of these literary outposts, allowing them to control the conversation in countries where readers might otherwise resist the American perspective. The Paris Review, whose co-founder Peter Matthiessen was a CIA agent, would sell its commissioned interviews to the magazine's counterparts in Germany, Japan, and elsewhere. Mundo Nuevo was created to offer a moderate-left perspective to earn trust among Latin American readers, effectively muting more radical perspectives during the Cuban Revolution. Sometimes the agency would provide editors with funding and content; other times it would work directly with writers to shape the discourse. Through these acts, the CCF weaponized the era's most progressive intellectuals as the American answer to the Soviet spin machine.

While the CIA's involvement in anti-Communist propaganda has been long known, the extent of its influence—particularly in the early careers of the left's most beloved writers—is shocking. Whitney, the co-founder and editor at large of the literary magazine Guernica, spent four years digging through archives, yielding an exhaustive list—James Baldwin, Gabriel García Márquez, Richard Wright, and Ernest Hemingway all served varying levels of utility to Uncle Sam. (Not that the CIA's interest were only in letters: Expressionists Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko were also championed by arms of the agency.)

But don't let that ruin Love in the Time of Cholera. Whitney explains with methodical clarity how each writer became a tool for the CIA. This nuance not only salvages many of the classics from being junked as solely propaganda, but it serves as a cautionary tale for those trying to navigate today's "post-truth" media landscape. In an era where Facebook algorithms dictate the national discourse, even the most well-meaning journalist is prone to stories that distract on behalf of the US government.

"It was often a way to change the subject from the civil rights fight at home," Whitney said of the CIA's content strategy during the Cold War. We can easily draw parallels to today, where the nation's most dire issues are rarely our viral subjects. With Donald Trump's presidency just weeks away, Finks arrives at a crucial time, exposing the political machinery that can affect which stories are shared and which are silenced.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Tariq Ali, a Pakistani left-wing intellectual who graduated from Oxford, where he studied philosophy, politics, and economics, and was President of the Oxford Union. on Husain Haqqani:

One of Zardari and his late wife’s trusted bagmen in Washington, Husain Haqqani, whose links to the US intelligence agencies since the 1970s made him a useful intermediary and whom Zardari appointed as Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, has been forced to resign. Haqqani, often referred to as the US ambassador to Pakistan, appears to have been caught red-handed: he allegedly asked Mansoor Ijaz, a multi-millionaire close to the US defense establishment, to carry a message to Admiral Mike Mullen pleading for help against the Pakistani military and offering in return to disband the Haqqani network and the ISI and carry out all US instructions.

Mullen denied that he had received any message. A military underling contradicted him. Mullen changed his story and said a message had been received and ignored. When the ISI discovered this ‘act of treachery’, Haqqani, instead of saying that he was acting under orders from Zardari, denied the entire story. Unfortunately for him, the ISI boss, General Pasha, had met up with Ijaz and been given the Blackberry with the messages and instructions. Haqqani had no option but to resign. Demands for his trial and hanging (the two often go together when the military is involved) are proliferating. Zardari is standing by his man. The military wants his head. And now Nato has entered the fray. This story is not yet over.

Omarr Khan said...

Isn't it strange that Indians or friends of India are obsessed with Pakistan, anything which happens regarding the security situation in India is instantly blamed on Pakistan, the Pakistani army, Pakistani terrorists, the ISI, Pakistani fishermen, Pakistani embassy, Pakistani entertainers and everyone else connected to Pakistan without any evidence to support these pathetic accusations. I unfortunately have come to the conclusion that my Indian Hindu friends are some of the most brainwashed and ignorant people regarding the indo/Pak conflict and the Indian governments reluctance to resolve this issue. They bleat on about terrorism in Pakistan but have nothing to say when it is pointed out that it is being funded by RAW, they don't have anything to say about the non prosecution of a known hindutva extremist and a terrorist, instead they have given him the highest chair in the land. They have nothing to say about Shri Assamanand who gave a forty two page statement admitting to his and his hindutva groups involvement in numerous terrorist attacks on Muslim religious durghas and Musjids as well as the attack on Sumjauta ,train traveling from Delhi to Lahore which killed seventy people,and yet Assesmanand and most of his group were not found guilty.They absolutely have nothing to say about the murder of a Muslim man on the mare rumour of eating beef and yet India is the largest exporter of beef in the world.
The reason why these people are so ignorant is because first of all it is the Indian government's policy and secondly the xenophobic lying indian media makes sure that they don't come anywhere close to the truth.

Riaz Haq said...

International publishers forced to re-write approach in India

Copyright infringement and mercurial regulation prove hurdles to lucrative market

Dharam Pal Singh Bisht stoops to pick up a fresh stack of hot paper from the out tray of his photocopy machine and hands it to a student, who gives him Rs50 — less than $1 — for 100 pages of material. 

With this transaction and hundreds like it every day, Mr Bisht has single-handedly defeated three international publishers, slashed costs for students at Delhi University, and threatened an entire industry.

Mr Bisht runs Delhi University’s photocopy shop, a crowded room crammed with photocopiers and computers where students queue to get their entire course material copied for a fraction of what it would cost to buy the books.

Following the decision in March of three international publishing companies — Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis — to drop their legal case against Mr Bisht, his business is functioning with impunity.

The trio claimed his photocopying business undermined their intellectual property, but the Delhi high court ruled that it was not in students’ interests to shut him down. The companies appealed but later dropped the case, citing “longer-term interests”. Executives say they had given up hope of winning, but believed they could still make money in the country long term.

India is potentially very lucrative for English-language academic publishers. These include privately owned companies such as McGraw Hill Education of the US and Macmillan Education, which is owned by the German company Springer Nature, as well as publicly listed ones such as Informa — through its Taylor & Francis division — and Pearson.

The country is the sixth-biggest publishing market in the world, and the second-largest English-language market behind the US.

India has 25m students in 3m schools and, as of 2012-13, 700 universities and 35,000 affiliated colleges. That market is growing quickly, with the population increasing at 1.2 per cent per year and economic output by about 7 per cent annually.

Though the companies do not declare how much they make in India, figures from Nielsen, the research group show, that overall revenues in the academic publishing sector have rocketed. 

In 2013-14, about $2.9bn worth of academic books for schoolchildren were sold in India, and $860m worth of higher education books. By 2015-16, these figures had risen to $4.1bn and $1.2bn, respectively.

“Every publisher wants to come to India; there is a huge opportunity here,” says Vikrant Mathur, director at Nielsen. 

But while the opportunities are significant, so are the hurdles — none more so than the perception of weak intellectual property protection.

“Access to knowledge will be reduced if this ceases to happen, which we believe is detrimental to the interests of India’s knowledge economy.”

Suprahmanian Seshadri, managing partner at the publishing consultancy Overleaf and a former executive at Oxford University Press, says: “For the publishers, this is already a low-margin market, and it is going to become increasingly difficult for them to make money.”

According to Mr Seshadri, international publishers can expect to make 45 to 50 per cent gross profit margins in India, which translates into 10 per cent earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. That compares with gross margins of 65 to 75 per cent and ebitda of 15 to 20 per cent in more developed markets such as the UK.

Copyright infringement is not the only hurdle in India. Academic publishers saw their market abruptly shrink by about 18,000 schools in February when the government decided all schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education should use only state-published textbooks.

Meanwhile, ministers have also decided to impose a 12 per cent tax on paper as part of the new national goods and services tax due to come into force on July 1.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has got a new publisher of English books, and she’s looking to stir things up
‘The totemic figures of traditional publishing in Pakistan haven’t looked to sustain anything other than their own relevance,’ says Shandana Minhas.

Pakistan has produced several internationally acclaimed writers in English, including two Booker Prize nominees (Mohsin Hamid, 2007 shortlist; Mohammed Hanif, longlisted in 2008). But the English language publishing scene in the country is conspicuous by the absence of presses of any repute, barring Oxford University Press Pakistan. Enter, in this space, Mongrel Books, started by Shandana Minhas, author of three novels – Tunnel Vision, Survival Tips For Lunatics, and Daddy’s Boy. Excerpts from an interview on publishing in Pakistan, Mongrel’s vision and mandate, and the way ahead:

Why did you decide to set up Mongrel Books? How has the journey been so far?
For some years now my husband Imran and I have been quietly building the life we always imagined for ourselves, in the company of books, in the service of books. Recently we have been struggling to find books we want to read on shelves in Karachi, so we just decided to take the next logical step and publish them. The journey has just started. I hope you’ll ask me again in a year and I’ll be around to answer.

Why do you think that the English language publishing scene hasn’t evolved in Pakistan? Is it because of a lack of a dedicated readership, infrastructure or even security threats?
Lack of a dedicated readership and infrastructure would be news to the retired bureaucrats, landowners, politicians, socialites and inbred memoirists whose English language offerings have been, and continue to be, published in Pakistan. Just two minutes ago the host of the country’s most watched political talk show told us that all three of the night’s guests were published writers. Between them they had written books on law, dentistry and honour killing.

They might all be good books; the point is that traditional publishing in Pakistan is as riddled with greed, nepotism, cronyism and corruption as the body politick of the wider nation. Its totemic figures, the gatekeepers to visibility, haven’t looked to sustain anything other than their own relevance. If something happens and they aren’t involved in it, they won’t tell you about it. And given the opportunity they will tear it down.

This applies to everything from state-funded cultural bodies to privately owned enterprises to media coverage, and cuts across class. They might tell you they’re not publishing English language fiction because of security threats or censorship, but the truth might be closer to self-censorship: the margins aren’t big enough and “native Pakistani” writers (like me) don’t add to their social cache.

But there might be something stirring in English language fiction publishing too, finally. A distributor in Lahore set up a dedicated imprint a couple of years ago. A big distributor in Karachi is quietly testing whether the footfall at book fairs and festivals might translate into actual sales for its own new fiction imprint. Talented young writers have organised themselves into collectives and started publishing online and in print. And one of the older, smaller presses just published a book of English short stories. By the chairman of the senate.

Almost all Pakistani authors publish or aspire to publish with major Indian publishers. How does Mongrel plan to reverse this trend? And have you managed to poach any writers from bigger publishers?
We have no aspirations to trend setting, bucking, reversal and/or spotting. Pakistani writers need to continue to find as many publishers as they can. All writers should. We’d love to do co-editions with other indie presses in the region to bring our writers to as wide a readership as possible. Maybe one day we’ll all make enough to pay our electricity bills, haina?

Riaz Haq said...

Prices of textbooks to witness 5% to 10% increase
* APPMA member says increase in prices of paper and paperboard has affected price of notebooks, copies, textbooks and office stationery
27-Mar-17 by Razi Syed

KARACHI: The retail prices of text books for secondary school will witness a surge of up to 5 percent to 10 percent.

The increase will take place in the garb of using quality cardboard for title covers, including glossy fine paper for text pages.

Book publishers Oxford University Press, Gaba, FEP International and Paramount have more than 75 percent of the market share collectively.

More than 80 percent of English medium schools in Karachi are prescribed a number of books of these publishers for class I to VIII.

Besides they also recommend text books of these publishers for Montessori level (nursery and kindergarten level).

The publishers usually announce a discount up to 10 percent to buyers at the start of every academic year but this year it will be an increase and not a rebate.

In absence of any monitoring authority on a government level to monitor the prices of text books, these publishers unilaterally increase the price of books.

A senior member of All Pakistan Paper Merchants Association (APPMA) Rauf Ansari said, "Increase in the prices of paper and paperboard has affected the local price of notebooks, copies, textbooks and office stationery."

The leading publishers usually import around 60 percent of all types of paper and paper board for their requirements and rest of the produce need has been acquired from local purchase.

The commercial importers were paying minimum 25 percent more on imports, now the actual cost has been increased to 32 percent, he added. The country imports around 76,000 tonnes of paper products of all kinds annually.

While under customs tariff, paper is treated as a finished product under section (X) chapter 48 of the Pakistan Customs Tariff, a high customs duty slab, at the rate of 20 percent to 25 percent, while in customs policy, raw material is at 10 percent or zero rate duty slab.

He said the increased sales tax has increased the import cost by around Rs 8 per kg on all kinds of paper.

"We import paper and duplex box paper from Indonesia, China, UK and other countries to meet our domestic requirements, while local mills cater around 65 percent of our requirements."

He said around 60 percent of the imported material is used for making office stationery and high-grade paper products and imported cardboards cater to around 35 percent of our needs. The import cost on all types of paper and paperboard comes to around $750 a metric tonne to $850 a metric tonne.

Around 25 percent of imported material is used for making notebooks and high quality paperbacks books, while more than 50 percent of local paper is used for making secondary and higher secondary school books.

Prices of different standards of paper have also risen by Rs 6,200 per tonne in the local market just before the start of manufacturing and printing season of textbooks and copies.

The price of semi-fine paper has increased to around Rs 57,200 from Rs 48,400 per tonne, which is used in the production of textbooks.

The price of lower quality and normal paper increased from Rs 49,500 to Rs 54,000 per tonne, which is used in the production of copies and other items.

The price of fine quality paper used in different value-added products has increased to Rs 66,000 from Rs 56,000 per tonne. Around 75 percent paper merchants buy paper from local paper companies that supply paper to a majority of the publishers and manufacturers of various paper products.

Riaz Haq said...

A rare, more nuanced view of Pakistan, very different from the apocalyptic portrayal of the country common in the books and media published in the West

In Matthew’s own words: “Why do I describe Pakistan as ‘unjustly maligned’? Simply because, it is. The public perception of Pakistan is one of unremitting violence and injustice and this perception simply does not correlate with the facts. It is not representative, and it is not fair. If a cameraman followed me for a day filming everything I did and said and then edited out all of the good things, leaving only the bad – the time I shouted at the kids, the time I swore at a foolish motorist, the time I ignored a beggar by the side of the road – the resulting image would be accurate in parts, but I hope broadly unrepresentative. I would resent being depicted in this way, and yet this is precisely what we are doing to Pakistan. The positive aspects of life here are mostly unknown by people in the West.

The public image of Pakistan is wholly negative but the hidden face of Pakistan is, far more often than not, beautiful, kind, welcoming, gentle and filled with hope. When I stop to think of this hidden face of Pakistan, hundreds of memories come to mind: the files of smartly-dressed children wending their way to school in the morning, the crowds of intelligent young people thronging the Lahore Literary Festival in the hope of catching a glimpse of their favourite authors, the unfailing warmth of the hospitality, the taxi drivers who regularly refuse my money on the grounds that I am a guest, the sight of the elegant minarets of the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore or the soaring mountains of the Kaghan Valley or a squadron of emerald-green parakeets screeching over the pine-clad hills of Murree. This side of Pakistani life, while well known to Pakistanis themselves, is rarely, if ever, documented by people in the West, and yet it is far more representative of normal Pakistani life than the negative narratives of the media. Pakistan is by no means perfect, but after living here for four years the phrase.“This Sacred Land” seems less and less incongruous to me with every passing day.”

While Matthew is also concerned about problems that Pakistan faces e.g. eight hours of power cuts a day except during religious festivals, widespread poverty, violence and religious extremism, on book shelves where books related to Pakistan have apocalyptic titles, this book will be a good read – something positive and new!

Riaz Haq said...

Books published, last available year.

China: 440,000
US: 304,912
UK: 184,000
Russia: 101,981
Germany: 93,600
India: 90,000
Japan: 82,589
France: 77,986
Iran: 72,871
Italy: 61,966
Turkey: 50,752
South Korea: 47,589
Spain: 44,000

Riaz Haq said...

Husain Haqqani worries about his planned book sales after Jalaluddun #Haqqani's death in #Afghanistan, not in #Pakistan. #Pompeo #TalibanRiaz Haq added,
Husain Haqqani

Jalaudin Haqqani got killed in Afghanistan. I was writing a book on how he’s hiding in Pakistan. Sari sales kharab kardien

Riaz Haq said...

The Indian publishing industry is not just surviving, it is thriving, but who’s reading?

According to the India Book Market Report (2016), India is the sixth largest publisher in the world overall, and the second largest publisher in the world for English-language books. That’s huge! Led by educational books, publishing is a $6.76 billion sector expected to grow at an astounding 19.3% until 2020 (Nielsen Report, 2016). This means almost 250 books are published per day. 55% sales are of English books, 35% of Hindi, and the rest are regional-language books. 65% of English-language sales come from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Also, contrary to popular perception, on an average, Indians read around 2.1 books a week. According to World Culture Score Index, Indians spend more time reading than their counterparts globally.


Let’s take a look at some numbers: 90% of all books published in India sell less than 2,000 copies a year. A paltry 9% sell between 2,000 to 10,000 copies, and — hold your breath — less than 1% sell more than 10,000 copies. The number sounds ridiculous, but we are a population of almost a billion and a half. A book is typically considered a bestseller when it crosses the coveted 10,000 mark within a year of publication. Despite technological advances, digital revenue is still only 3-4% of total sales. The answer is in the facts.

Riaz Haq said...

RH: "It’s sad that the only thing that mediocre journalists and writers can get published in the international press are articles shitting on Pakistan and its society"

Profit motive drives #media . Top 3 markets for #English language books, articles and films are #US, #UK and #India. "Successful" #Pakistani writers/producers write/produce for these markets where there are few takers for anything positive about Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

More than 150,000 people visited the 17th Karachi International Book Fair in just two days and organisers of the event expect at least 400,000 people to take the trip to the five-day expo that ends on December 12.

The Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association (PPBA) has organised the annual exhibition at the Karachi Expo Centre that is open from 9am to 10pm daily.

Some 40 foreign publishing houses from 17 countries and over 130 noted publishers from Pakistan are participating in the event by setting up 330 book stalls.

According to the event organisers, the annual exhibition serves as a platform to let book publishers and retailers around the world share with each other the latest trends, technological improvements, and innovations introduced to upgrade the publishing industry.

Sindh Education and Culture Minister, Syed Sardar Ali Shah, said such events provided the opportunity to teach the new generation to stay away from violent and gory video games played on smartphones and reconnect with their native culture that stands for peace and security for everyone.

He conceded that the number of book readers had sharply gone down over the last several years due to excessive reliance on digital means of communication but still books play an important role in the lives of coming generations.

He advised the PPBA to organise fairs in other cities including in Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas, and Larkana as the authorities would provide all help in this regard.

The provincial government aims to expand the network of public libraries to small towns and in the first phase the number of libraries was being increased in Karachi.

The retired bureaucrat and former lawmaker, Mehtab Akbar Rashdi, said that the recent pandemic had provided an opportunity for many people in the world to reconnect with the hobby of book reading.

PPBA Chairman, Aziz Khalid, appealed to the government to lessen the duty on paper and also introduce incentives for local paper producers for promoting the Pakistani publishing industry which had been facing a challenging situation due to economic woes.

Haroon Aziz, a first-year college student, said it was an amazing sight for him that the Karachi Expo Centre, which just a month back had hosted an international arms expo was now exhibiting thousands of books under one roof.

He said the books displayed at the expo would be highly helpful in his studies in addition to encouraging him to adopt the reading habit in his leisure time.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani YouTubers And Praise India Movement in Pakistan - India Today

"Indians love people from abroad lauding their achievements, but seem to derive the biggest satisfaction when Pakistanis gush over India's success. Pakistanis have understood that and have tapped into that, creating an entire industry of YouTubers in Pakistan"


There is a Praise India Movement in Pakistan if one goes by the pro-India videos being churned out by Pakistani YouTubers. If some are praising India's space programme, others are talking about its economic and political successes. Why are Pakistanis creating such YouTube videos, and that too, in such huge numbers?

"India did a big favour to Pakistan. It was also a tight slap for those Pakistanis who said India would deliberately lose to the USA to get Pakistan out of the T20 World Cup tournament. India is the world's number one team, and can never lose to the US," a man in a black salwar kameez states emphatically, looking at the camera. The person isn't an Indian gushing at India's victory over the USA in a T20 World Cup match, but a Pakistani speaking to a popular Pakistani YouTuber at a market in Pakistan.

The video by YouTuber Shaila Khan on her channel Naila Pakistani Reaction has over 3 lakh views in a day.

Indians love people from abroad lauding their achievements, but seem to derive the biggest satisfaction when Pakistanis gush over India's success. Pakistanis have understood that and have tapped into that, creating an entire industry of YouTubers in Pakistan.

There are 5,500 channels and over 84,000 videos just with the hashtag pakistanireactiononindia on YouTube. The number of channels, tracked by IndiaToday.In since November 2023, has grown by 1,000 in a matter of six months. Over 5,000 videos have been added under this hashtag since November.

We are talking about just one hashtag. There are several others with India-related content, some of which every Indian would have come across while scrolling through shorts and videos on YouTube.

This content boom by Pakistani YouTubers has sparked a Praise India Movement in Pakistan.

Seeing is believing, especially if it is about YouTube.

So, just try keying in #Pakistani on the YouTube search bar. The first few results are Pakistani Reaction, Pakistani Reaction on India and Pakistani Public Reaction -- all to do with content related to India.

Such is the rage that even #PakistaniDrama, one of Pakistan's biggest cultural exports, trends below the #PakistaniReaction.

There was a flood of videos by Pakistani YouTubers lauding Team India right after their victory over the USA.

Though cricket is one of the favourites, the range of 'praise India' videos spans from India's economic might to infrastructural developments; from gastronomic delights to space programmes. Then there are videos of Pakistanis describing in amazement their wonderful discoveries during their first visit to India.

You name it, and they have it. There are Pakistani reaction clips to every Top 10 video, featuring India's shopping malls, highways, airports, college campuses, cars, bikes and even golgappas.