Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nawaz Sharif's Heart Surgery; India Racism; India-Iran Chabahar Deal; Pak IIC on Women

How serious is Prime Ministry Nawaz Sharif's heart condition? What kind of surgery is he undergoing? Is it to fix a hole in his heart caused by prior atrial fibrillation ablation complications he developed during surgery in 2011? What are the risks? How soon can he recover?

Why did the United States kill Taliban Chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in a drone strike in Pakistan's Balochistan province? Is the US trying to promote dissensions among the Talibs? What was Mansoor doing in Iran just prior to his killing after crossing the Iran-Pakistan border into Balochistan? Did Pakistan's intelligence service ISI help orchestrate Mullah Mansoor's assassination by the United States Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)? Will weakened Afghan Taliban make room for the rise of ISIS in South Asia?  What are the driving motivations of United States, Iran and Pakistan in their dealings with the Taliban? These are some of the questions that come to mind when attempting to analyze the current situation in Afghanistan.

Why was a Congolese young black man murdered in Delhi? Why are Africans being targeted in India? Why are African diplomats in Delhi so angry about it? What do Indians think of Black Africans? Is it blatant racism as reported in World's Values Survey that termed India most racist nation in the world? How will it impact India's plans for close ties in African continent? What kind of damage control must Modi and Swaraj do?

What is India-Iran deal to build Iran's Chabahar port close to Gwadar in Pakistan? Is it aimed by India to bypass Pakistan to reach Afghanistan and Central Asia? Will India-Iran compete with China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)? Will India use it as base to launch covert ops in Baluchistan to sabotage CPEC? How will it impact Iran-Pakistan ties?

What are the recommendations of Pakistan Islamic Ideology Council (IIC) on "women's protection"? Is it meant to legalize wife-beating? Is it to enforce absolute gender segregation in all walks of national life? Is Pakistan society changing in profound ways to resist it? Will such proposals be taken seriously by Pakistan's national and provincial legislators? Or will these proposals make IIC totally irrelevant?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelists Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsYDpMY35U8






https://vimeo.com/168501742


Nawaz Sharif's Heart Surgery; India Racism; India-Iran Chabahar Deal; Pak IIC on Women from Ikolachi on Vimeo.


http://dai.ly/x4dautu



Nawaz Sharif's Heart Surgery; India Racism... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Will Taliban Chief's Killing Help ISIS in Afghanistan?

Gwadar vs Chahbahar

World Values Survey: Indian Most Racist Nation

Social Revolution in Pakistan

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel

Comparing Iran's Chabahar and Pakistan's Gwadar Ports

Chabahar port in Iran is only about 100 miles from Gwadar port in Pakistan. Both are natural deep sea ports in the Arabian sea.

Gwadar Extends into Deep Sea with East & West Bays


Eastern Half of Gwadar Port 


Gwadar port's planned capacity when it is completed will be 300 to 400 million tons of cargo annually.  It is comparable to the capacity of all of India's ports combined annual capacity of 500 million tons of cargo today.   It is far larger than the 10-12 million tons cargo handling capacity planned for Chabahar.

Completed Gwadar Berths & Cranes





To put Gwadar's scale in perspective, let's compare it with the largest US port of Long Beach which handles 80 million tons of cargo, about a quarter of what Gwadar will handle upon completion of the project. Gawadar port will be capable of handling the world's largest container ships and massive oil tankers.



Gawadar port is being built in Pakistan by the Chinese as part of the ambitious $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that will eventually serve as Hong Kong West for  growing Chinese trade with the Middle East and Europe.  CPEC will also enable Pakistan to bypass Afghanistan to trade with Central Asia through China across China's borders with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Gwadar Port Authority Building

Chabahar is ostensibly an Indian effort to build a port in Iran to bypass Pakistan for India's trade with landlocked Afghanistan and other Central Asian states.  Prime Minister Modi has committed $500 million investment in Chabahar, a tiny fraction of the Chinese commitment for Gwadar. A trilateral agreement was recently signed in Tehran by Indian Prime Minister Modi, Iranian President Rouhani and Afghan President Ghani.

Trade with Afghanistan through Afghan-Iran border in the West will probably remain a pipe dream given that 1) most of Afghan population lives in east and south close to the border with Pakistan and 2) Afghanistan has very poor infrastructure making it very difficult to move cargo across land from west to east and south of the country.

Big Chinese Ship Docked at Gwadar

Pakistan suspects that India's real objective in Iran is to locate its intelligence agents under the cover of Chabahar port construction workers to sabotage China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and support Baloch insurgency to destabilize Pakistan. These suspicions were strengthened when Indian spy Kulbhushan Yadav, operating under the fake name Husain Mubarak Patel, was arrested in Balochistan in March this year. Yadav confessed he was operating as an undercover RAW agent from his base in Chabahar, Iran.

If Iran does nothing to stop Indian covert activities from its soil against Pakistan, Iran-Pakistan relations could suffer irreparable harm. Efforts to sabotage CPEC will not please China either, and the Chinese are far more important to Iran as trading partners than India. This should give pause to hardline anti-Pakistan sectarian elements in Tehran.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsYDpMY35U8





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Gwadar as Hong Kong West

China-Pakistan Industrial Corridor

Indian Spy Kulbhushan Yadav's Confession

Ex Indian Spy Documents RAW Successes Against Pakistan

Saleem Safi of GeoTV on Gwadar

Pakistan FDI Soaring with Chinese Money for CPEC

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hollywood: America's Unofficial Ministry of Propaganda?

Some say Hollywood is more powerful than the Pentagon. Others talk about US Military-Entertainment complex. Yet others accuse American media of using language as a tool for mass mind control.

Professor Joseph Nye encapsulates these various elements into what he calls America's soft power. Nye defines soft power as “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payment.” It's the opposite of hard power projected by the US military.

America's soft power is asserted subconsciously in the form popular media and entertainment as well as branded products ranging from soft drinks, fast foods and apparel to various computer-communication devices and social media platforms widely used around the world.

I recently heard an interview of Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer prize winning Vietnamese-American author of "The Sympathizer", a spy novel set during and just after the war in Vietnam. Nguyen was speaking with Terry Gross, the host of popular NPR radio show "Fresh Air". The interview was aired on the eve of President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam this week.

Among the various statements Nguyen made during this interview, the one thing stood out for me is his description of Hollywood as "the unofficial ministry of propaganda for the Pentagon".

Here are some excerpts of Nguyen's responses to Terry Gross:

One of the first movies that I remember watching was "Apocalypse Now." I was probably about 10. And I think that was the first indication, also, that I had that there was something called this war and that this was how Americans saw this war as one that had divided them. And that was my first glimmering that there was something like a civil war happening in the American soul and that we as Vietnamese people were caught up in that because I watched that movie as a good, American boy who had already seen some American war movies - John Wayne in World War II. And I was cheering for the American soldiers until the moment in "Apocalypse Now" where they started killing Vietnamese people. And that was an impossible moment for me because I didn't know who I was supposed to identify with, the Americans who were doing the killing or the Vietnamese who were dying and not being able to speak? And that moment has never left me as the symbolic moment of my understanding that this was our place in an American war, that the Vietnam War was an American war from the American perspective and that, eventually, I would have to do something about that.

Their (Vietnamese) function is to literally just be stage props for an American drama. And my narrator understands this. And he understands it very intellectually and viscerally that what is happening here is that Hollywood is the unofficial ministry of propaganda for the Pentagon, that its role is to basically prepare Americans to go fight wars by making them focus only on the American understanding of things and to understand others as alien and different and marginal, even to their own histories, right? And so his belief is that he can somehow try to subvert this ministry of propaganda, this vast war epic that is going to continue to kill Vietnamese people in a cinematic fashion, which is simply the prelude to actually killing Vietnamese people in real life. So he believes that he can try to make a difference. And, of course, the humor and the tragedy is that he can't.

 You know, that the United States lost the (Vietnam) war, in fact, in 1975. But for the very same reason that the United States was able to wage a war in which it lost 58,000 American soldiers, which is a human tragedy, but was able to create the conditions by which 3 million Vietnamese people died of all sides and 3 million Laotians and Cambodians died during those years and in the years afterwards. For the very same reasons that the industrial power of the United States is able to produce this vast inequity of death, that's the same reason that the United States, in the years afterward, through its incredibly powerful cultural industry, is able to win the war in memory because wherever you go outside of Vietnam, you have to deal with American memories of the Vietnam War. Inside Vietnam, you have to confront Vietnamese memories. But outside, wherever I've gone and talked about the Vietnam War and memory, one of the first questions that I get is what do you think of "Apocalypse Now?" So... 

Americans are preoccupied with their own experiences. That's an exact replication of the mindset that got us into Vietnam and that has now allowed Americans to remember the Vietnam War in a certain way that makes it an American war.

Hollywood, like the rest of American mass media, pushes the American narrative through its products. It enables America to write the story even after losing the war as it did in Vietnam.  Viet Thanh Nguyen who fled his village with his family in South Vietnam in 1975 when he was just 4 years old has attempted to offer a Vietnamese-American perspective of the American war (Vietnam war) in his book.

The American soft power is at work today to effectively shape favorable international opinion on the "war on terror" that the United States is fighting in Afghanistan, the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. Whether America wins or loses, the powerful American media and entertainment industry will most likely write the story of this war as it wrote the story of Vietnam war that America lost.  Will there be an Afghan or Iraqi version of Pulitzer Prize winning Viet Thanh Nguyen to contest it?

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Rulers & Media Manufacturing Consent

Lack of Diversity in Hollywood

Can ISPR Fight Indian Spin?

Godfather's Vito Corleone: A Metaphor for Uncle Sam Today?

US Media Role in Iraq War

Will US Actions in Afghanistan Contribute to the Rise of ISIS?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Will Taliban Chief's Assassination Contribute to Rise of ISIS in South Asia?

Why did the United States kill Taliban Chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in a drone strike in Pakistan's Balochistan province? Is the US trying to promote dissensions among the Talibs? What was Mansoor doing in Iran just prior to his killing after crossing the Iran-Pakistan border into Balochistan? Did Pakistan's intelligence service ISI help orchestrate Mullah Mansoor's assassination by the United States Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)? Will weakened Afghan Taliban make room for the rise of ISIS in South Asia?  What are the driving motivations of United States, Iran and Pakistan in their dealings with the Taliban? These are some of the questions that come to mind when attempting to analyze the current situation in Afghanistan. Let me try and make some sense out of it.

Deceased Taliban Chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor
Taliban-Iran Connection:

Multiple reports indicate that Iran has been working closely with the Afghan Taliban for sometime. Tehran may be hedging its bets to deal with the aftermath of US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The vacuum left by the US will most likely be filled by the Taliban who already control large swathes of territory outside of Kabul. The other emerging force most likely to challenge the Taliban is Daesh, or ISIS, also known as the Islamic State. Iran would much rather deal with the Taliban than ISIS. They see the Taliban as lesser evil.

American Strategy: 

The US and Pakistan (along with Afghanistan and China) have been unsuccessfully pushing the Afghan Taliban to talk peace with the government of President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul.  At the same time, Americans and the Afghan governments are talking secretly with various factions among the Taliban to promote dissensions in their ranks. The latest killing is a signal to the Taliban that America is willing to use lethal force to remove those stand in the way of the quadrilateral reconciliation process.

Taliban Thinking:

The Taliban hardliners, like Mullah Akhtar Mansoor's deputies Mullah Yaqoob and Commander Sirajuddin Haqqani, believe that government of Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah has little public support and no legitimacy, particularly among the Pashtuns.  They expect it will fall quickly after the departure of the US forces from the country. Taliban also fear that engaging with the United States would signal their weakness and it will strengthen the growing ISIS appeal to hardline rank and file among the Talibs. They see no reason to engage in peace talks with Kabul.

Pakistan's Fears:

The deceased Taliban Chief's strategy of getting close to Iran to reduce Pakistan's leverage over him did not sit well with Pakistani intelligence. It may be driven by the fear of the possible India-Iran-Taliban axis hurting Pakistan's interests in the region, particularly the massive China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. This may be why the ISI could have chosen to help the Americans remove Mullah Akhtar Mansour.

What's Next?

The Afghan situation is getting more and more complicated every day with multiple players pushing their own conflicting agendas. But they all must understand this: If the Taliban are weakened, the biggest beneficiary of it will be Daesh or ISIS which is rapidly gathering momentum. Such an outcome would be far worse for everyone, including America and Pakistan, than the return of the Taliban after American withdrawal from the region. It's very very important for the United States and Pakistan to work together to prevent the rise of ISIS in South Asia.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Who Are the Haqqanis?

Facts and Myths about Afghanistan

Indian Spy Kulbhushan Yadav's Arrest in Balochistan

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Sykes-Picot and the Rise of ISIS

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sharif's Offshore Co Defense; India Threat to Bangladesh Water; Sykes-Picot Centenary

How was Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's parliament speech defending his family's offshore assets received in Pakistan? Was he perceived as sincere? Was his speech effective? Did it answer the 7 key questions posed to him by the combined Opposition? Or did it raise many more questions than it answered? How will Panama Leaks impact Pakistani politics and governance going forward?

How severe is India's drought? Will India's massive $400 billion project to divert Brahmaputra and Ganga Rivers solve India's water crisis? How will it impact Bangladesh? Will it devastate the livelihoods of 100 million Bangladeshis living downstream? Does Bangladesh have any recourse with India similar to the mechanisms built in India-Pakistan Indus Water Treaty (IWT) to protect Pakistan's interest?

What is Sykes-Picot accord that was signed between Britain and France in May 1916 after the fall of the Ottoman Empire? Why is ISIS bulldozing the Middle East borders created by Sykes-Picot? And why do the Kurds share this goal with ISIS? Has the colonial-era Sykes-Picot contributed to the rise of ISIS today? What about the contribution of subsequent events like the creation of state of Israel and western invasions of the Middle East to the rise of ISIS?

What happened to EgyptAir Flight 804 flying from Paris to Cairo? Did an act of terror bring it down? Or was there a fire on board due to a technical failure like an electrical short-circuit in the cabin? Why was there a smoke alarm on board prior to the crash? Was it a bomb? Why has there been no claim of responsibility by any terrorist organizations so far?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelists Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/0gJUALGaml4





https://vimeo.com/167596956


Sharif's Offshore Co Defense; India Threat to Bangladesh Water; Sykes-Picot Centenary from Ikolachi on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Panama Leaks Impact on Pakistan

India River Projects Impact on Bangladesh Water Security

Sykes-Picot Centenary and ISIS

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel


Thursday, May 19, 2016

India's Plan to Divert Ganges & Brahmaputra Rivers Alarms Bangladesh

New Delhi is starting massive series of new projects to divert water from major rivers in the north and the east of the country to India's drought-stricken western and southern regions. This news has sounded alarm bells in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, according to the UK's Guardian newspaper.

The $400 billion project involves rerouting water from major rivers including the Ganga and Brahmaputra and creating canals to link the Ken and Batwa rivers in central India and Damanganga-Pinjal in the west. Its target is to help drought-hit India farmers who are killing themselves at a rate on one every 30 minutes for at least two decades.




The Indo-Gangetic Plain, also known as Indus-Ganga and the North Indian River Plain, is a 255 million hectare (630 million acre) fertile plain encompassing most of northern and eastern India, the eastern parts of Pakistan, and virtually all of Bangladesh, according to a Wikipedia entry.

India and Pakistan have a formal internationally-brokered and monitored treaty called Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) signed in 1960 between Indian Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan President Ayub Khan in Karachi.



The IWT allocated water from three eastern rivers of Ravi, Beas and Sutlej for exclusive use by India before they enter Pakistan, while the water from three western rivers of Jhelum, Chenab and Indus was allocated for exclusive use of Pakistan. The treaty essentially partitioned the rivers rather than sharing of their waters. The treaty also permits India to build run-of-the-river hydroelectric projects on the western rivers but it can not divert any water from them for its own use.

In the east, River Ganga upon reaching the Indian state of West Bengal splits into two main branches, the Hooghly which continues its course south into West Bengal and the Padma that flows into Bangladesh. Similarly, the Brahmaputra upon reaching Bangladesh splits into two main distributaries, the Jamuna and the Meghna. Both enter Bangladesh at different points.

At least 100 million Bangladeshis living downstream in Jamuna (Brahmaputra) and Padma (Ganga) river basins will be hit hard if India carries out the project as planned.

Alarmed by this development, Bangladesh’s minister of water, Nazrul Islam, has pleaded with the Indian government to take Bangladesh’s water needs into consideration, noting that 54 of 56 Indian rivers flowed through his country.

Bangladesh is already suffering from India's increasing withdrawal of Ganges water in recent years. India has built at least 26 water diversion projects upstream the Ganges which has led to crop failure and even desertification of certain areas in the lower riparian Bangladesh, according to Dhaka Tribune.

Unlike the internationally-brokered and monitored Indus Water Treaty (IWT) between Pakistan and India, there is no similar water-sharing treaty between Bangladesh and India. The 1996 Farakka treaty has done little to help Bangladesh.  It is dependent entirely on the good-will of the rulers in Delhi for its water life-line.

Will Modi respond positively to the pleas of his strong ally in Bangladesh's Shaikh Hasina to take its eastern neighbor's water needs into consideration? Will Modi assure Bangladesh by signing a binding water-sharing treaty along the lines of the Indus Waters Treaty? Unfortunately, the history suggests otherwise.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Water-Scarce Pakistan

Indian Farmer Suicide One Every 30 Minutes

Recurring Floods and Droughts in Pakistan

Indian Media Coverage of Regional Issues

Shaikh Hasina's Witch Hunt

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Sykes Picot Centenary: Did the West Sow the Seeds of ISIS?

The Middle East continues to threaten global peace a century after British and French representatives, Sir Mark Sykes and Francois Georges Picot, signed the Sykes-Picot agreement named after them. This accord, concluded on May 19, 1916, divided the region extending from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean between the two colonial powers.



Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire after the first World War, the British and the French colonial masters created a variety of states whose borders were drawn with little regard for ethnic, tribal, religious or linguistic considerations.

Today, Daish (ISIS) militants are erasing the border between Iraq and Syria and pushing to get rid of all the region's frontiers created by Sykes-Picot. It is ironic that the Kurdish foes of ISIS share the goal of dismantling the borders that divide ethnic Kurds into several nations today.

The West's actions since Sykes-Picot have further exacerbated the wounds inflicted on the peoples of the region during the European Colonial rule of the Middle East. Examples include the CIA-supported restoration of the Shah of Iran to power, the creation and the unconditional support of the State of Israel, the Suez crisis and the US invasions of Iraq.

In an interview with Vice News, President Barack H. Obama acknowledged that the rise of ISIS was directly linked to the 2002 American invasion and occupation of Iraq during President George W. Bush's administration.

 “Two things: One is, ISIL is a direct outgrowth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion,” Obama said in an interview with VICE News. “Which is an example of unintended consequences. Which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.”



In an earlier testimony to the US Congress, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said very candidly that "the terrorists we are fighting today we funded 20 years ago".

I hope the Sykes-Picot centenary causes the West, particularly the United States as its leader, to introspect about the West's actions in the Middle East in the past and the dangerous consequences of such actions we together face today.  I hope the leaders of the West will ponder the unintended consequences before starting more wars in the region.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Unintended Consequences of Charlie Wilson's War

Jihadis Growing After Afghan & Iraq Wars

US Invasion of Iraq

Global Power Shift After Industrial Revolution

Seeing Bin Laden's Death in Wider Perspective

Straight Talk by Gates on Pakistan

What If Musharraf Had Said No to US After 911? 

Who Are the Haqqanis?

Creation of the State of Israel

Monday, May 16, 2016

Pakistanis Make Up Silicon Valley's Largest Foreign-Born Muslim Group

Pakistani-Americans are the largest foreign-born Muslim group in San Francisco Bay Area that includes Silicon Valley, according to a 2013 study. The study was commissioned by the One Nation Bay Area Project, a civic engagement program supported by Silicon Valley Community Foundation, The San Francisco Foundation, Marin Community Foundation and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.

 Overall, US-born Muslims make up the largest percentage at 34% of all Muslims in the Bay Area, followed by 14% born in Pakistan, 11% in Afghanistan, 10% in India, 3% in Egypt and 2% each in Iran, Jordan, Palestine and Yemen.

Silicon Valley Pakistani-American by the Numbers:
Bay Area Muslims by Country of Birth 

There are 35,000 Pakistani-born Muslims in San Francisco Bay Area,  or 14% of the 250,000 Muslims who call the Bay Area home, according to the study. Bay Area Muslim community constitutes 3.5 percent of the area’s total population and is one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in the country.

As of 2013, South Asian Muslims, including Pakistanis, have the highest income levels, with nearly half (49%) of them having a household income above $100,000. In comparison, those groups with the lowest proportion of household incomes above $100,000 were Hispanic Muslims (15%), Afghans (10%), and African American Muslims (10%).

The Bay Area Muslim community is very diverse in terms of race and ethnicity:

South Asians (30%)

Arabs (23%)

Afghans (17%),

African Americans (9%)

Asian/Pacific Islanders (7%)

Whites (6%)

Iranians (2%)



Based on the survey findings, the majority of Muslims live in the following three counties:

Alameda (37%)

Santa Clara (27%),

and Contra Costa (12%)

Pakistani-American Techies:

Thousands of Pakistan-born techies are working at Apple, Cisco, Google, Intel, Oracle and hundreds of other high-tech companies from small start-ups to large Fortune 500 corporations. Pakistani-Americans are contributing to what Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee describe as "The Second Machine Age" in a recent book with the same title.

A Representative Sample of Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley

Pakistani-American entrepreneurs, advisers, mentors, venture capitalists, investment bankers, accountants and lawyers make up a growing ecosystem in Silicon Valley. Dozens of Pakistani-American founded start-ups have been funded by top venture capital firms. Many such companies have either been acquired in M&A deals or gone public by offering shares for sale at major stock exchanges. Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN) has become a de facto platform for networking among Pakistani-American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.

Pakistani-American techies presence in Silicon Valley has been recognized in a popular HBO show called "Silicon Valley" that stars a Pakistani actor Kumail Nanjiani playing a Pakistan-born Silicon Valley techie.

Silicon Valley's biggest tech start-up incubator Y-Combinator is now headed by Qasar Younis, a Pakistani-American born in the Pakistani village of Lala Musa. Younis was a keynote speaker at the Pakistani-American entrepreneurs conference called OPEN Forum 2016 just last month in Silicon Valley.

Islamophobia in America: 

Muslim-Americans, including Pakistani-Americans are thriving in the high-tech Bay Area in spite of the recent rise of Islamophobia in parts of America where the Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump appears to be popular.

But Muslim-Americans can not afford to ignore the gathering clouds of Islamophobia and xenophobia in America. The economic difficulties of many Americans are being exploited by demagogues like Donald Trump who is blaming foreigners for their unemployment and underemployment which can be traced to the twin forces of automation and globalization.

First, it was the manufacturing jobs that moved offshore in 1980s and 1990s in an effort to save costs and fatten profits. This forced many factory workers to move into service industries and take pay cuts. Now the service sector jobs are also falling prey to outsourcing and automation.

Instead of addressing the root causes of economic difficulties faced by many Americans, Republican front-runner Donald Trump's presidential primary campaign is blaming immigrants and Muslims for their problems. This is  giving rise to forces of racism, bigotry, xenophobia and Islamophobia in America.

Summary: 

It's in the best interest of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, particularly Muslim-American entrepreneurs, to pay attention to the economic difficulties being faced by many Americans who are losing jobs to automation and globalization. These difficulties lie at the root of growing xenophobia and Islamophobia. The Muslim-American entrepreneurs need to think of new ways to help people who are being left behind. They need to explore ideas such as helping build new skills needed for the new economy, promote policy discussions on the idea of universal basic income and expansion of safety nets and development of new gig economy to ensure full employment with decent incomes. Failure to do so could lead to significant social strife and cause irreparable damage to the very foundations of the system that has brought great wealth and power to America as a nation.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

The Trump Phenomenon

Islamophobia in America

Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans

Pakistani-American Leads Silicon Valley's Top Incubator

Silicon Valley Pakistanis Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Karachi-born Triple Oscar Winning Graphics Artist

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fire-eye Goes Public

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

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Trump's Backtrack on Muslim Ban; India's Map Law; Pakistan Commission on Corruption

Donald Trump has said his Muslim ban "hasn't been called for yet" and it was "only a suggestion". Is the presumptive Republican nominee for president backing away from his call "for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States"? If so, why? Has the Republican party helped him understand how the GOP's dog-whistle campaigns work? Will Trump's racism and Islamophobia become less overt now in the general election campaign? Has London Mayoral Election affected GOP's campaign?

Why is the Indian government pushing a highly punitive legislation for those found guilty of "incorrect maps of India" not showing all of Kashmir as part of India? Will the law also apply to the Hindu Nationalists pushing maps of Akhand Bharat, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, which are patently incorrect? How will digital mapmakers try to not run afoul of this law if it passes the Indian parliament?

Why is the Chief Justice of Pakistan resisting "the constitution of a toothless commission" to probe offshore companies owned by Pakistani politicians and others including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family? Why did Chief Justice Jamali say that such a commission "will serve no useful purpose , except giving a bad name to it"?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Ali Hasan Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com).


https://youtu.be/eEQg1CX5KGs






http://dai.ly/x4akylh



Trump's Backtrack on Muslim Ban; India's Map... by ViewpointFromOverseas
https://vimeo.com/166681565


Trump's Backtrack on Muslim Ban; India's Map Law; Pakistan Commission on Corruption from Ikolachi on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Trump Phenomenon

London Mayor Sadiq Khan Hails Triumph of "Hope Over Fear"

Non-Muslim Leaders in Muslim Majority Countries

Islamophobia in America

Hindu Nationalists' Akhand Bharat

Panama Leaks 

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Any Non-Muslim Leaders in Muslim Majority Nations?

Are there any non-Muslims in leadership positions in majority Muslim countries? This question is being repeatedly asked by many after the historic election of a British Pakistani Muslim Sadiq Khan as London's mayor.

The answer is: There are at least 8. Here's a brief list as reported in UK's The Independent newspaper:

Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama of Jakarta, Indonesia
1. The governor, equivalent of a mayor, of Jakarta, the capital of the largest Muslim country by population, has a Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. Indonesia is 87.2 per cent Muslim.

2. The city of Mardin in Turkey has a female Christian co-mayor Februniye Akyol. Turkey is 99.8 per cent Muslim.

3. In Bahrain, Alees Thomas Samaan became the first Christian and first woman to chair the country's upper house of Parliament, the Shura Council in 2005. Bahrain is 70.3 per cent Muslim.

4. Pakistan currently has a Christian minister of Ports and Shipping, Kamran Michael. Pakistan is 96.4 per cent Muslim.

5. In Egypt, Boutros Boutros Ghali, a Coptic Christian, was the country's Foreign Minister for 14 years. Egypt is 90 per cent Muslim.

6. The Palestinian city of Ramallah had a female Roman Catholic mayor, Janet Michael.

7. Senegal had a Catholic president, the late Léopold Sédar Senghor, for 20 years. Senegal is 95.4 per cent Muslim.

8. Lebanon had a Christian president, Michel Suleiman. Lebanon is 54 per cent Muslim.

This list defeats many Islamophobes argument that Muslims would never do what the Londoners just did: Accept a person of minority faith in leadership position.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Islamophobia in the West

Pakistani Diaspora

British-Pakistanis

Silicon Valley Pakistanis

Modi Accelerating Hinduization of India

Gujarat Pogrom under Modi

Monday, May 9, 2016

Has GOP's Dog-whistle Politics Produced Donald Trump?

Is today's Republican Party still the party of Abraham Lincoln, the celebrated American president who fought the American civil war to end slavery in 1860s? How could the rank-and-file members of this party vote overwhelmingly for a racist xenophobic demagogue like Donald Trump?



Nixon's Southern Strategy:

Republican Party stopped being the party of Lincoln when it deployed its "southern strategy" after the Democrats pushed through civil rights legislation, including voting rights act, under Democrat President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1960s.

President Richard Nixon's political advisor Kevin Phillips, analyzing 1948-1968 voting trends, saw the angry Southern white voters as ripe for Republican picking. Phillips helped the Republican party shift its national base to the South by appealing to whites' disaffection with liberal democratic racial and welfare policies.

President Nixon used this "Southern strategy" by promoting affirmative action in employment, a "wedge" issue that later Republicans would exploit to split the Democratic coalition of white working class and black voters.  This strategy soon produced the racial party alignments that still exist today.

Dog-whistle Politics:

Conservative Party candidate Zac Goldsmith's unsuccessful campaign for the mayor of London has been attacked by his critics as a "dog-whistle campaign" aimed at defeating Sadiq Khan, his British Pakistan Muslim opponent, the Labor candidate.

Republican election campaigns, particularly those waged in southern and mid-western states of the United States, have also been described as "dog-whistle" campaigns for the use of code words to appeal to white American voters.

A Wikipedia definition of Dog-whistle politics goes as follows: It is political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup. The phrase is often used as a pejorative because of the inherently deceptive nature of the practice and because the dog-whistle messages are frequently distasteful to the general populace. The analogy is to a dog whistle, whose high-frequency whistle is heard by dogs but inaudible to humans.

Trump Phenomenon:

What distinguishes Donald Trump's campaign from those of other Republicans? The key difference is that Trump has switched from the use of coded language to overt declarations of xenophobia.

For example, he has openly called Mexicans "criminals" and "rapists" who are "bringing drugs" to America.

Trump has encouraged his supporters to use violence against protesters, including African-American protesters who have been beaten and bloodied in Trump rallies.

Before declaring his candidacy for president, Trump led the "birther" movement to question President Obama's birth certificate in an attempt to de-legitimize the first African-American president of the United States.

Trump has attacked Muslims and called for a ban on entry of all Muslims to the United States.

Trump's overt use of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia has drawn support for him from well-known American racists including members of the Ku Klux Klan and prominent Muslim-haters.

Conservative Republicans:

Conservative Republican leaders like Paul Ryan respond to Trump's overtly racist rhetoric by claiming "it's not who we are". Given the Republican Party's extensive use of "Southern strategy", this claim by Ryan sounds hollow.

William F. Buckley, credited with the development of modern Republican Conservatism, did not hide his racism when he called white Americans as "the advanced race".

In a 1957 National Review editorial titled “Why the South Must Prevail", Buckley wrote that the Southern white community was “entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically?”

So Ryan's and his fellow Republicans argument that Republican Conservatism does not condone racism is just flat wrong.

American Demographic Changes:

What Trump and his fellow racists in the Republican Party do  not realize is that today's America is very different from 1960s America in terms of demographics. Whites now account for a little less than 70% of the US electorate. And, even though the majority of white voters still vote Republican, this majority is not enough to win presidential elections.

Here's why Trump's win in November 2016 is unlikely: John McCain and  Mitt Romney, the last two Republican candidates since 2008, won the majority of white votes but failed to win the general election. Each of them got 60% of the 70% white votes that add up to 42% of the overall electorate. In addition, each of them got only 6% of Black votes and about 26% of the Asian and Hispanic votes that prevented them from gaining the overall majority needed to win. Trump's campaign rhetoric has managed to anger all minority groups, particularly Mexicans and Muslims. He will get even fewer minority votes than McCain and Romney polled in the last two general elections.

Summary:

Is Trump's campaign going to fail in the United States just like Goldsmith's Trump-like campaign has failed in London? Goldsmith's tactics of fear and division have backfired with a landslide win for Mayor Sadiq Khan in London. It's clearly a triumph of hope over fear, unity over division. Will Americans take their cue from Londoners to deal a historic defeat to Donald Trump on Tuesday, November 8, 2016? Let all Americans of good-will come together to make it happen.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Sadiq Khan Hails Triumph of Hope Over Fear

Trump Phenomenon in America

Is Trump Getting Foreign Policy Advice From Husain Haqqani?

Trump's Muslim Ban

What Can Pakistani-Americans Do to Stop Trump?

Silicon Valley Opposes Islamophobia

Saturday, May 7, 2016

London Mayor Sadiq Khan Hails Triumph of "Hope Over Fear; Unity Over Division"

British Pakistani Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan of London told Londoners in his historic victory speech after the official confirmation of his landslide win that “I’m so proud that London has today chosen hope over fear and unity over division”

Sadiq Khan (L) and Donald Trump (R)
Mayor Sadiq Khan was referring to the nasty and divisive Islamophobic campaign of his defeated Conservative rival Zac Goldsmith.  Question: Is Donald  Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for US President in 2016, paying attention to what just happened in London? If elected, would Trump ban Sadiq Khan's entry into the United States?

Prior to Sadiq Khan's historic win, several British Pakistanis have been elected and served as mayors of major British cities like Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester.

The landslide win of Mayor Sadiq Khan has made history in multiple ways:

1. Khan has won more votes than any other politician in the entire electoral history of the United Kingdom.

2. Khan is the first elected Muslim mayor of a major European capital that served as the seat of the global British Empire for several centuries. The British Empire was once so large that the sun never set on it.

3.  Khan, whose father was a London bus driver, is the first mayor of the British capital to emerge from the working class.

4. Khan comes from a family of two generations of immigrants: His grandparents migrated from what is now India to the newly created state of Pakistan in 1947 and his parents migrated from Karachi to London in 1969. Sadiq Khan was born in London in 1970.

The Conservative party campaign of Zac Goldsmith resorted to the desperate tactics like the use of anti-Muslim bigotry to overcome Sadiq Khan's big lead. British Prime Minister David Cameron made the false allegation of Sadiq Khan's links to ISIS supporters.

Cameron appealed to London's British Indians of Hindu faith in a letter highlighting the warm welcome he, Zac Goldsmith and the Conservative party government extended to Narendra Modi, the Hindu Nationalist prime minister known for the state-sponsored 2002 massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat state.  The election results show that these cynical actions of the Conservatives backfired.

Goldsmith's Trump-like tactics of fear and division have backfired with a landslide win for Mayor Sadiq Khan in London. It's clearly a triumph of hope over fear, unity over division. Will Americans take their cue from Londoners to deal a historic defeat to Donald Trump on Tuesday, November 8, 2016? Let all Americans of good-will come together to make it happen.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Will London Make History With Sadiq Khan? 

Furies of 1947

Trump Phenomenon

Islamophobia in the West

Pakistani Diaspora

British-Pakistanis

Silicon Valley Pakistanis

Modi Accelerating Hinduization of India

Gujarat Pogrom under Modi

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Is London Ready to Make History With British Pakistani Muslim Mayor?

Opinion polls conducted a day before the May 5 London mayoral election are showing a 20-point lead for Labor Party's British Pakistani Muslim mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan over his Conservative rival Zac Goldsmith, brother of Imran Khan's ex-wife Jemima Khan. Is London ready to make history?

London Mayoral Candidates Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan


Conservatives Use Islamophobia: 

The Conservative party campaign of Zac Goldsmith has resorted to the desperate tactics like the use of anti-Muslim bigotry to overcome Sadiq Khan's big lead.  Even British Prime Minister David Cameron made the false allegation of Sadiq Khan's links to ISIS supporters. Cameron even courted British Indians in a letter highlighting the warm welcome he, Zac Goldsmith and the Conservative party government extended to Narendra Modi, the Hindu Nationalist prime minister known for the state-sponsored 2002 massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat state.  The polls now show that these cynical actions of the Conservatives appear to have backfired.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chief Imran Khan with ex-Brother-in -law Zac Smith 


Imran Khan's Endorsement of Zac Goldsmith:

In late March, Imran Khan tweeted his strong endorsement of Zac Goldsmith, his ex-brother-in-law. The endorsement raised eyebrows for two reasons: 1. Goldsmith, like Imran Khan's political rival Nawaz Sharif, has been been dogged by questions about his own offshore accounts. And 2. Goldsmith has engaged in a racist and Islamophobic smear campaign against his rival Sadiq Khan who shares his faith and national origin with Imran Khan. The question is: Will Imran Khan's endorsement really help Zac given the fact that he is sometimes referred to as Taliban Khan by his detractors in Pakistani media?

Will Hidden Racism Surface in London?

Will London voters saying they support Sadiq Khan actually vote for him when they go behind the curtain to cast their secret ballots?  The Bradley effect (less commonly the Wilder effect) refers to discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in some United States government elections where a white candidate runs against a minority candidate. It is named after Tom Bradley, the Los Angeles' Black Mayor who lost the 1982 California gubernatorial election to George Deukmejian after the opinion polls showed Bradley enjoyed a double digit lead over his opponent. Will the Bradley effect change the outcome on Thursday May 5?

Summary:

Several British Pakistanis have been elected and served as mayors of major British cities like Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester. But London is unique. Will the Londoners make history by electing Sadiq Khan as their mayor this year?

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Islamophobia in the West

Pakistani Diaspora

British-Pakistanis

Silicon Valley Pakistanis

Modi Accelerating Hinduization of India

Gujarat Pogrom under Modi

Sunday, May 1, 2016

OPEN Forum 2016: Pakistani Entrepreneurs Conference in Silicon Valley

OPEN Forum 2016 in Silicon Valley drew over 700  Pakistani-American entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, bankers, accountants, lawyers and high-tech executives to Santa Clara Convention Center on Saturday, April 30, 216. The forum featured keynotes by Qasar Younus, the Pakistani-American head of Silicon Valley's top incubator Y-Combinator, and  Atif Rafiq, Chief Digital Officer at fast food giant McDonald's Corp.





OPEN Forum 2016 Agenda:

The conference included presentations and discussions in four parallel tracks to inform and educate attendees on various aspects of starting and building businesses at different stages. In addition, there were panels on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, inspiring Pakistani-American youth and dealing with the rise of Islamophobia in the United States. Also screened was a documentary "K2 and the Invisible Footmen" about the unsung mountaineering heroes of Pakistan's tallest and the world's second tallest mountain peak K2 and the film "The PHD Movie" about grad school.




Silicon Valley's Impact on Jobs in America:

The first keynote I attended in the morning was about order automation at fast food giant McDonald's. The effort is spearheaded by Atif Rafiq, a Pakistani-American who has been hired by the restaurant chain operator as its first Chief Digital Officer. After the presentation, I asked Atif as to how he sees the impact of his work on employment at McDonald's? Given the fact that the service sector is the largest employer in the United States, how would the ongoing service sector automation efforts impact the larger jobs picture?  Would the emerging gig economy a la Uber be enough to make up for service sector job losses?   Rafiq confessed it's a significant issue but he did not directly answer it.



Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, including Pakistani-Americans, are credited with creating millions of new jobs in new industries ranging from semiconductors to computers, communications and software  and biotechnology over the last several decades. The question is: Will the new industries spawned by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs help or hurt the overall employment in America?

Twin Forces of Globalization and Automation:

The twin forces of automation and globalization are now causing significant unemployment and underemployment in the United States. The impact of job losses and growing inequality are  the subject of the current election campaigns.

First, it was the manufacturing jobs that moved offshore in 1980s and 1990s in an effort to save costs and fatten profits. This forced many factory workers to move into service industries and take pay cuts. Now the service sector jobs are also falling prey to outsourcing and automation.

Instead of addressing the root causes of economic difficulties faced by many Americans, Republican front-runner Donald Trump's presidential primary campaign is blaming immigrants and Muslims for their problems. This is  giving rise to forces of racism, bigotry, xenophobia and Islamophobia in America.

Future of Capitalism and Democracy in America:

The success of American capitalism and democracy is built on the firm foundations of nearly full employment and a large middle class. The erosion of these two ingredients threatens the very foundations of America's peace and prosperity.

In response to high unemployment in 1930s, British economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) argued: "The government should pay people to dig holes in the ground and then fill them up." He advocated massive spending by government to stimulate demand when all else fails.

John Maynard Keynes:

 Who was Keynes?  Here is how UC Berkeley's Robert Reich described him a few years ago: "A Cambridge University don with a flair for making money, a graduate of England's exclusive Eton prep school, a collector of modern art, the darling of Virginia Woolf and her intellectually avant-garde Bloomsbury Group, the chairman of a life-insurance company, later a director of the Bank of England, married to a ballerina, John Maynard Keynes--tall, charming and self-confident--nonetheless transformed the dismal science into a revolutionary engine of social progress."

Keynes was clearly a very smart man. His ideas of modern Capitalism have created unprecedented wealth and lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. And his ideas may still help save capitalism yet again. However, what Keynes couldn't have imagined are the new heights of avarice and wickedness of the modern political-industrial elite in America that has threatened the very foundations of the system that brought them wealth and power. During recent decades, the behavior of American capitalists and politicians has been unbelievably self-destructive.

What Can Silicon Valley Do?

I think it's in the best interest of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, particularly Pakistani-American entrepreneurs, to pay attention to the economic difficulties being faced by many Americans who are losing jobs to automation and globalization. These difficulties lie at the root of growing xenophobia and Islamophobia. The Pakistani-American entrepreneurs need to think of new ways to help people who are being left behind. They need to explore ideas such as helping build new skills needed for the new economy, promote policy discussions on the idea of universal basic income and expansion of safety nets and development of new gig economy to ensure full employment with decent incomes. Failure to do so could lead to significant social strife and cause irreparable damage to the very foundations of the system that has brought great wealth and power to America as a nation.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Can American Capitalism Survive?

The Trump Phenomenon

Islamophobia in America

Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans

Pakistani-American Leads Silicon Valley's Top Incubator

Silicon Valley Pakistanis Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Karachi-born Triple Oscar Winning Graphics Artist

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fire-eye Goes Public

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

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley