Sunday, October 16, 2016

Study Says Pakistanis Have More Empathy Than Neighbors

A Michigan State University (MSU) study of 63 countries finds that Pakistanis have higher empathy for others than people in their neighboring countries. It also finds that the United States is among the most empathetic nations in the world.

Empathy Study:

The MSU researchers, led by William J. Chopik,  analyzed the data from an online survey on empathy completed by more than 104,000 people from around the world.

The survey measured people’s compassion for others and their tendency to imagine others’ point of view. Countries with small sample sizes were excluded (including most nations in Africa). All told, 63 countries were ranked in the study, according to MSUToday, a publication of Michigan State University.

Measure of Generosity:

One of the key measures of empathy is generosity to others, the kind of generosity seen in Pakistan by the likes of  late Abul Sattar Edhi. The Edhi Foundation set up the great man is funded mainly by small donations from ordinary people in Pakistan.

 Anatol Lieven, author of "Pakistan: A Hard Country" wrote the following tribute to the Mr. Edhi:

"There is no sight in Pakistan more moving than to visit some dusty, impoverished small town in an arid wasteland, apparently abandoned by God and all sensible men and certainly abandoned by the Pakistani state and its elected representatives - and to see the flag of Edhi Foundation flying over a concrete shack with a telephone, and the only ambulance in town standing in front. Here, if anywhere in Pakistan, lies the truth of human religion and human morality."  

What Professor Anatol Lieven describes as "human religion and human morality" is the very essence of the Huqooq-ul-Ibad (Human Rights) in Islam. Abdus Sattar Edhi understood it well when he said, "there's no religion higher than humanity".

Edhi understood the meaning of what the Quran, the Muslim holy book, says in chapter 2 verse 177:

"Righteousness is not that ye turn your faces towards the east or the west, but righteous is, one who believes in God, and the last day, and the angels, and the Book, and the prophets, and who gives wealth for His love to kindred, and orphans, and the poor, and the son of the road, beggars, and those in captivity; and who is steadfast in prayers, and gives alms."

Most & Least Empathetic Nations: 

Researchers conclude that Ecuador is the most empathetic country, followed by Saudi Arabia, Peru, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Korea, the United States, Taiwan, Costa Rica and Kuwait.

The least empathetic country is Lithuania. In fact, seven of the 10 least empathetic countries are in Eastern Europe. The study, published online in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, is co-authored by Ed O’Brien of the University of Chicago and Sara Konrath of Indiana University.


Average Pakistanis continue to be empathetic and generous in spite of the violence and the terror they have endured for over a decade. It can only be attributed to the strength of their faith and their adherence to what Prof. Lieven describes as "the truth of human religion and human morality".

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Huqooq-ul-Ibad in Islam

Philanthropy in Pakistan

Panama Leaks Scandal

Misaq-e-Madina Guided Quaid-e-Azam's Vision of Pakistan

Interfaith Relations in Islam

World Values Survey Finds Indians Most Racist


nayyer ali said...

In Lieven's book he made the point that Pakistani are extremely generous to their fellow citizens in poverty. One of the factors limiting income inequality in Pakistan is zakat. Given that it is a wealth and not income tax, it is extremely progressive, the most progressive form of taxation there is. In most nations, household wealth is about 4-6 times GDP. In Pakistan that would amount to over a trillion dollars. Exempting personal homes and household items, it would be reasonable to assume that wealth subject to zakat would be at least half of that, with the total zakat generated around 12.5 billion dollars per year. This amounts to 4% or so of GDP, a very large wealth transfer to the poorest. In reality, many people don't pay their full zakat dues, but enough do to make Pakistan among the most generous nations in the world in terms of percent GDP charitable givings.

S Qureshi said...

Another huge annual wealth transfer from rich to poor is at the time of Eid Ul Aza. While Zakat mostly stays in cities and towns, Qurbani (buying animal for sacrifice) money goes deep into smallest villages in every corner of Pakistan.

Shahzad S. said...

There has to be something wrong with the data. The map shows KSA has the most empathy! Hard to believe.

Riaz Haq said...

Shahzad S:There has to be something wrong with the data. The map shows KSA has the most empathy! Hard to believe."

Notwithstanding their widely publicized flaws, Saudis are among the most philanthropic people in the world.

Sometimes they are accused of giving to charities that some in the West see as terror outfits after 911.

They do give zakat which is a wealth tax (not an income tax) and amounts tens of billions of dollars each year.

Saudi Prince Waleed Bin Talal is giving away $32 billion to charities.

You've probably seen in the news recently that Saudi Arabia is among the top donors to the Clinton Foundation.

Riaz Haq said...

NYT Op Ed: Don’t Blame #Saudi ‘Wahhabism’ for #Terrorism. It's a Dangerous Red Herring. #Islam #ISIS #Taliban

Most Islamist militants have nothing to do with Saudi Wahhabism. The Taliban, for example, are Deobandis, a revivalist, anti-imperialist strain of Islam that emerged as a reaction to British colonialism in South Asia. Most members of Al Qaeda follow a radical current that emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement that defined itself largely in relation and opposition to the West and its values. While some terrorists do identify as Salafi, Islamic sects that are ideologically opposed to Salafism — Naqshbandi Sufis and Shiites, among others — have engaged in violent jihad in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

And yet much of the Western news media and far too many pundits put forward a different picture entirely, pinning the blame for terrorism on Wahhabi ideology emanating from Saudi Arabia. These arguments lead one to imagine that European terrorists end up joining the Islamic State by wandering the streets of Paris or Brussels and stumbling upon a Saudi-funded mosque. In this mosque, they read a single book, “The Book of Monotheism,” by Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, the 18th-century sheikh who founded Wahhabism. A week later, the book’s fundamentalist message inspires them to travel to Syria’s front lines or to plot terrorist attacks in Europe.

The reality is much more complex. Most of the perpetrators of terrorist attacks in Europe have been petty criminals who were known to drink alcohol and take drugs. Their radicalization has little to do with theology. Some European Muslims reportedly purchased books like “Islam for Dummies” before embarking on journeys to take part in jihad in Syria. What they all have in common is a belief that the Muslim world and the West are locked in an irreconcilable clash of civilizations.


The revival of a politicized form of radical Islam, which has been taking place in the Arab world since the 1970s, is not driven just by ideology, but by the failure of Arab governments to meet the expectations of their own populations and the brutal reprisals they have employed to quell demands for better, more transparent governance. Like the social and psychological alienation that drives some European Muslims to join extremist groups, this root cause must be addressed in order to truly fight terrorism.

There is no doubt that while certain strains of Salafism are intolerant, intolerance does not necessarily lead to terrorism. Ideological intolerance is a problem in its own right, one that carries risks and dangers and requires its own treatments. But conflating its dangers with the causes of violent extremism can diminish the effectiveness of serious counterterrorism efforts.

It is Saudi Arabia — the country accused of promoting ideas that lead to violent extremism — that has effectively harnessed religion to fight radicalism. Saudi Arabia has fought Al Qaeda not only operationally, but also by countering its ideology with religious arguments. Scholars have been mobilized to condemn both terrorist acts and rhetoric. Salafi scholars have been instrumental in the success of the rehabilitation programs for those convicted of aiding and abetting terrorism.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's first ever official report on multidimensional poverty launched here on Monday showed a strong decline, with national poverty rates falling from 55 percent to 39 percent from year 2004 to 2015.

However progress across different regions of Pakistan is uneven. Poverty in urban areas is 9.3 percent as compared to 54.6 percent in rural areas. Disparities also exist across provinces.

The report launched by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, details Pakistan's official Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) which was earlier published in the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16.

The report has been complied with technical support from UNDP Pakistan and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

According to the report, nearly 39 percent of Pakistanis live in multidimensional poverty, with the highest rates of poverty in FATA and Balochistan.

The report found that over two-third of people in FATA (73 percent) and Balochistan (71 percent) live in multidimensional poverty. Poverty in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stands at 49 percent, Gilgit-Baltistan and Sindh at 43 percent, Punjab at 31 percent and Azad jammu and Kashmir at 25 percent.

There are severe difference between districts: Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi have less than 10 percent multidimensional poverty, while Qila Abadullah, Harnai and Barkhan, all in Balochistan, have more than 90 percent poverty.

Deprivation in education contributes the largest share of 43 percent to MPI followed by living standards with contributes nearly 32 percent and health contributing 26 percent. These findings further confirm that social indicators are very weak in Pakistan, even where economic indicators appear healthy.

The report also found that the decrease in multidimensional poverty was slowest in Balochistan, while poverty levels had actually increased in several districts in Balochistan and Sindh during the past decade. The level and composition of multidimensional poverty for each of Pakistan's 114 districts are also covered in this report.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, said, Pakistan has set zero poverty goal much before the year 2030, adding,the reduction of multidimensional poverty is one of the core objectives of Pakistan's Vision 2025.

He said, inclusive and balanced growth, which benefits everyone and especially the marginalized communities, is government priority and is essential for promoting harmony in society.

MPI is a useful instrument for inform public policy for targeting, budgeting, resource allocation and inclusion.

Pakistan's MPI establishes baseline not for only Vision 2015, but also for Pakistan's progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and complements the consumption-based poverty estimates recently released by the government.

UNDP Country Director, Marc Andre Franche said,"We consider this a highly innovative approach because of its multi-faceted nature and the availability of estimates at the sub-national level."

Multidimensional poverty provides useful analysis and information for targeting poverty, and reducing regional inequalities.

Many countries are using MPI to inform government priorities for planning and it is encouraging to see government of Pakistan adopting MPI to complement monetary poverty measure in Pakistan, he added.

Director OPHI, Dr Sabina Alkire congratulated Pakistan on launching the national MPI as an official poverty measure.

Riaz Haq said...

All the SAARC countries lie in different categories. Like Bangladesh, Nepal and India are in high MPI countries, means there is poverty more than 50%. On the other hand Pakistan and Bhutan are in medium category, and Sri Lanka and Maldives are in low MPI countries. The data of MPI of Afghanistan is not given due to unavailable sources for the collection of the data.

Multi-dimensional poverty index is an international measure of acute poverty covering over 104 countries.
As everyone knows that Poverty is measured as a single dimensional index such as income. But income alone misses
a lot because India is growing fast in economic perspective but health, education and living standard not improved
yet. It is the fact that India’s per capita income lies in one of the top countries in the world but if we look on the
other aspects like health, education and standard of living, then we find that India is not so good in the other aspects
rather than the income. India lies on 73rd position from 104 countries with a 53% multidimensional poor. Among
the 29 states, some states of India having high per capita income, yet lies in the high multidimensional poverty index.
It means those states have high per capita income but lacks in the health and standard of living. Some states like
Kerala is in very good position in Multidimensional poverty index while remaining states are in very bad position in
MPI according to OPHI. MPI illuminates a different set of deprivation and reflects the deprivation in very
rudimentary services and core human functioning for people. It shows the number of people who are
multidimensional poor and the number of deprivation with which poor household typically content.

Riaz Haq said...

In God we trust; in the government, not.

The Muslim holy month ends this weekend, and hey, happy Eid to everyone. Some people will be relieved. In the lead-up to it, many affluent people in Pakistan visit their bank and fill out a form asking to be exempted from having zakat, an Islamic charitable tax, deducted from their accounts. By law, during this period the government is entitled to collect zakat from people whose assets reach a minimum threshold, and place it in a welfare fund for the needy.

In the same month of Ramzan — known as Ramadan in the Middle East — people give billions of rupees to various charities. Zakat may be a pillar of Islam, but Pakistanis just don’t like handing their money over to the state.

In a country of about 200 million people only about half a million pay direct income tax, for example. Even Pakistanis who live in huge mansions, have four cars or spend a few million rupees on a wedding dress pay zero income tax.

If we give to the government, the logic goes, it’s just going to steal some more. And after stealing from us, government officials will head off to Mecca to redeem themselves in the eyes of God. So why not just go ahead and do our own stealing and redeeming?\


In God we trust; in the government, not. Plus, the government can always go to the International Monetary Fund.

There is some merit to this view.

In Pakistan, some of the most basic functions of the state are performed by charities. If you are poor and have an accident or a medical emergency, the ambulance that takes you to the hospital probably was sent by a charitable organization. If you can’t pay for your medicine, it’s a welfare trust at the hospital that may help you out. You might even get a kidney for free.

If you live in a slum, your child might go to a school run by a bunch of do-gooders. If you are a daily wage laborer in the city, some nice folks will serve you a free lunch. If you see a wounded animal on the road, you can call a privately run shelter to pick it up.

If you die, chances are that your body will end up in a morgue run by a charitable trust. Your ride to the graveyard will be in a vehicle donated by some god-fearing, and probably tax-dodging, dude.

These charitable, god-fearing, tax-dodging souls become really generous in the holy month. During Ramzan, major Pakistani cities are overrun by beggars who travel from far-off rural areas to partake of the seasonal generosity.

Only there is less and less to go around. Last year in Karachi, I came across a family of eight from a village in southern Pakistan crammed into a tiny air-conditioned A.T.M. booth. They were taking refuge from the oppressive heat. How is the month going, I asked? Nothing but food, I was told. Not even enough cash to cover the bus fare to go back to their village. In previous years, they had been able to take at least some cash home.

The late Abdul Sattar Edhi, Pakistan’s most well-known philanthropist, who ran a countrywide network of ambulances, orphanages and shelters for abused women and unwanted babies, accepted donations from (almost) everyone. When he was short on cash, he would sit at a traffic signal, like a beggar, the hem of his shirt stretched out. People would come to him and give and give. Sometimes even beggars would stop by and throw their entire day’s earnings into Edhi’s lap. He used to say that it’s poor people who give the most.

A millionaire who lays a spread for fellow Muslims breaking fast is making an investment in the afterlife. A poor man who digs into his pocket and gives away his last few rupees to another poor man is doing Allah’s work.