Sunday, April 29, 2018

Social Media Promote Tribalism in Pakistan

Social media newsfeeds are driven by users' profiles to reinforce their preferences and prejudices.  Newsfeeds are customized for each user. Any posts that don't fit these profiles don't get displayed. The result is increasing tribalism in the world. American and British intelligence agencies claim that Russian intelligence has used social media to promote divisions and manipulate public opinion in the West.  Like the US and the UK, Pakistan also has ethnic, sectarian and regional fault-lines that make it vulnerable to similar social media manipulation.  It is very likely that intelligence agencies of countries hostile to Pakistan are exploiting these divisions for their own ends. Various pronouncements by India's current and former intelligence and security officials reinforce this suspicion.

Tribalism:

All human are born with tribal instincts. People embrace group identities based on birthplace, language, region, sect, religion, nation, school, sports team, etc to define themselves.

Such group affiliations can give people a sense of belonging but they are sometimes also used to exclude others with the purpose of promoting hostility and violence. Social media platforms are being used both ways: To unite and to divide people.

Powerful new media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp lend themselves for use as extensions of covert warfares carried out by intelligence agencies against nations they see as hostile.

Social Media Platforms:

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are powerful magnets for marketers,  extremist groups and intelligence agencies. They spend a lot of time and money on such platforms to reach and manipulate their targets.

Trolls and bots proliferate and societies become more deeply divided along political, ethnic, racial, religious, ideological and regional lines.  It is a problem that all nations in the world have to respond to.

Developed nations in Europe and North America with stronger institutions are generally more capable of dealing with the consequences of such divisions.  But the increasing social media penetration in less capable developing nations with weak institutions cause them to sometimes descend into violent riots. In a recent piece titled "Where Countries Are Tinderboxes and Facebook is a Match",  the New York Times has mentioned recent examples of riots and lynchings caused by social media posts in India, Indonesia, Mexico, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Brexit and Trump:

The unexpected result of Brexit, the British vote to leave the European Union, shocked many in the UK and Europe. It was soon followed by an even bigger shock with the unexpected election of Donald J. Trump as the President of the United States. Western intelligence agencies have now concluded that Russian intelligence agency sponsored trolls played a major role in manipulating the public opinion in the United Kingdom and the United States.

In February 2018, the US justice department indicted 13 Russians and three Russian entities in an alleged conspiracy to defraud the United States, including by tampering in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton, according to media reports.

The US DOJ indictment identified the Internet Research Agency, a St Petersburg-based group to which millions of impostor social media accounts have been traced, as a primary offender. The indictment also charged Russian individuals who funded the alleged election tampering conspiracy or who otherwise participated in it.

Some of the Russian social media posts were used to organize protests and counter protests in the United States on issues relating to race and religion.

US Senator Richard Burr confirmed that two groups converged outside the Islamic Da’wah Center of Houston in 2016, the Texas Tribune reported. One had gathered at the behest of the “Heart of Texas” Facebook group for a “Stop Islamification of Texas” rally, while the other, spurred on by the “United Muslims of America” Facebook page, had organized a counter-protest to “Save Islamic Knowledge.”

A Russian-sponsored Facebook ad appeared in late 2015 or early 2016, sources told CNN, and though it was meant to appear supportive of Black Lives Matter movement, it may also have conveyed the group as threatening to some white residents of those cities.

Indian Trolls:

It can be safely assumed that Russians are not alone in using social media against nations they see as hostile to them. It is also a safe bet that Indian intelligence agencies are most likely deploying their troll farms and bots to divide Pakistanis.

India's ruling BJP party has extensively used social media apps to spread rumors, innuendo,  fake news, outright lies and various forms of disinformation against anyone seen to be even mildly critical of their leader Narendra Modi. Their harshest abuse has been targeted at the Opposition Congress party leaders, various liberal individuals and groups, Muslims and Pakistanis.

Swati Chaturvedi, author of I Am a Troll, has cited many instances of hateful tweets from Modi-loving Hindu trolls, including Singer Abhijeet's lies to generate hatred against Muslims and Pakistan and BJP MP Hukum Singh's false claim of "Hindu exodus" from Kairana in western Uttar Pradesh blaming it on Muslims.

Vikram Sood, a former top spy in India, has elaborated on India's covert warfare options to target Pakistan in the following words: "The media is a favorite instrument, provided it is not left to the bureaucrats because then we will end up with some clumsy and implausible propaganda effort. More than the electronic and print media, it is now the internet and YouTube that can be the next-generation weapons of psychological war. Terrorists use these liberally and so should those required to counter terrorism."

In a 2013 speech at Sastra University, Indian Prime Minister Modi's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval revealed his covert war strategy against Pakistan as follows:  "How do you tackle Pakistan?.....We start working on Pakistan's vulnerabilities-- economic, internal security, political, isolating them internationally, it can be anything..... it can be defeating Pakistan's policies in Afghanistan...... You stop the terrorists by denying them weapons, funds and manpower. Deny them funds by countering with one-and-a-half times more funding. If they have 1200 crores give them 1800 crores and they are on our side...who are the Taliban fighting for? It's because they haven't got jobs or someone has misled them. The Taliban are mercenaries. So go for more of the covert thing (against Pakistan)..."

Summary: 

Social media newsfeeds are driven by users' profiles to reinforce their preferences and prejudices.  Newsfeeds are customized for each user. Any posts that don't fit these profiles don't get displayed. The result is increasing tribalism in the world. American and British intelligence agencies claim that Russian intelligence has used social media to manipulate public opinion in the West.  Like the US and the UK, Pakistan also has ethnic, sectarian and regional fault-lines that make it vulnerable to similar social media manipulation.  It is very likely that intelligence agencies of countries hostile to Pakistan are exploiting these divisions for their own ends. Various pronouncements by India's current and former intelligence and security officials reinforce this suspicion.

Here's a discussion on the subject in Urdu:

https://youtu.be/zuPMy65O6-s




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Social Media: Blessing or Curse For Pakistan?

Planted Stories in Media

Indian BJP Troll Farm

Kulbhushan Jadhav Caught in Balochistan

The Story of Pakistan's M8 Motorway

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-Japan-US

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

London-based Exotix Capital: "Coalition led by PTI has become more likely"

Exotix Capital, a UK investment firm specializing in emerging markets, hosted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan at its London headquarter this week.  After the event, a tweet from the firm said the PTI Chief  addressed "senior representatives of some of the world’s biggest institutional investors" at this meeting.

Source: Exotix



During discussion that followed his presentation, Imran Khan showed "Reluctant acceptance that IMF assistance may be necessary" and expressed "pragmatism on the need for constructive US relations" and "regret over the lack of transparency of pricing in Chinese-led infrastructure projects", according to a report.

Based on the events in Pakistan since July, 2017 beginning with the disqualification of Mr. Nawaz Sharif from holding elected office, analysts at Exotix have concluded that a "coalition led by PTI has become more likely". The analysts say this is "positive long term, warning short term"

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Imran Khan Inspired by Allama Iqbal

Changing Face of Political Rallies in Pakistan

FUD Against CPEC

Panama Leaks

Disqualification of Nawaz Sharif

West Enables Corruption in Developing World

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Rape: A Political Weapon in Modi's India

An 8-year-old Muslim girl Asifa Bano was locked in a Hindu temple, drugged, gang-raped for several days and then bludgeoned to death in Indian occupied Kashmir, according to a report in a leading American newspaper.

Gang Rape Victim: 8-Year-Old Asifa Bano
Support of Rapists: 

The horror of a Muslim child's rape and murder was made even worse when the ruling BJP-affiliated right-wing Hindu lawyers marched in defense of her attackers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reluctantly condemned the crime after waiting for several days. His belated acknowledgment came in response to international outrage.

Is this just another rape in India? Did the child's Muslim faith make her a target? Has Islamophobia gone mainstream in India?  To answer these questions, let us put some context to what is happening in Modi's India.

India saw about 39,000 rape cases reported in 2016, a 12% jump over the prior year, according to Indian crime statistics.  Children were reported as victims in 42% of the cases.

It is hard to say how many of the rape victims were Muslim.  What is known, however, is the exhortation by iconic Hindutva leaders to rape of Muslim women.  Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, one of the founders of right-wing RSS who Prime Minister Modi describes as "worthy of worship", is among them. After getting elected to the highest office in India, Modi paid tribute to Savarkar by laying flowers at his portrait that hangs in India's Parliament.

VD Savarkar, in one of his books titled Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, elaborates on why raping of Muslim women is not only justified but encouraged.

Savarkar has used revisionist Hindutva history to exhort his followers to rape Muslim women as payback for historic wrongs he believes were committed by Muslim conquerers of India. “Once they are haunted with this dreadful apprehension that the Muslim women too, stand in the same predicament in case the Hindus win, the future Muslim conquerors will never dare to think of such molestation of Hindu women,” he writes.

Hindutva Revisionist History: 

American history professor Audrey Truschke, in her recently published book "Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India's Most Controversial King" has argued that colonial-era British historians deliberately distorted the history of Indian Muslim rule to vilify Muslim rulers as part of the British policy to divide and conquer India.  These misrepresentations of Muslim rule made during the British Raj appear to have been accepted as fact not just by Islamophobic Hindu Nationalists but also by at least some of the secular Hindus in India and Muslim intellectuals in present day Pakistan, says the author.  Aurangzeb was neither a saint nor a villain; he was a man of his time who should be judged by the norms of his times and compared with his contemporaries, the author adds.

Truschke says the original history of the Mughal rule was written in Persian. However, it is the English translation of the original work that are often used to distort it. Here's what she says about it in her book:

"The bulk of Mughal histories are written in Persian, the official administrative language of the Mughal empire but a foreign tongue in India today. Out of necessity and ease, many historians disregard the original Persian text and rely instead on English translations. This approach narrows the the library of materials drastically, and many translations of the Mughal texts are of questionable quality, brimming with mistranslations and abridgments. Some of these changes conveniently served the agendas of the translators, especially colonial-era translations that tend to show Indo--Muslim kings at their worst so that the British would seem virtuous by comparison (foremost here is Elliot and Dowson's History of India as Told by Its Own Historians). Such materials are great for learning about British colonialism, but they present an inaccurate picture of Mughal India."

Modi's Record: 

In 2002 when Narendra Modi was chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, hundreds of young Muslim girls were sexually assaulted, tortured and killed.  These rapes were condoned by the ruling BJP, whose refusal to intervene lead to the rape and killing of thousands and displacement of 200,000 Muslims.

Since his election to India's top elected office, Modi has elevated fellow right-wing Hindu extremists to positions of power in India. Yogi Adiyanath, known for his highly inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric, was hand-picked in 2016 by Modi to head India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

Adiyanath's supporters brag about digging up Muslim women from their graves and raping them. In a video uploaded in 2014,  he said, “If [Muslims] take one Hindu girl, we’ll take 100 Muslim girls. If they kill one Hindu, we’ll kill 100 Muslims.”

Yogi wants to "install statues of Goddess Gauri, Ganesh and Nandi in every mosque”.  Before his election, he said, “If one Hindu is killed, we won’t go to the police, we’ll kill 10 Muslims”.  He endorsed the beef lynching of Indian Muslim Mohammad Akhlaque and demanded that the victim's family be charged with cow slaughter.

Madhav S. Golwalkar, considered among the founders of the Hindu Nationalist movement in India, saw Islam and Muslims as enemies. He said: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindusthan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting to shake off the despoilers".

In his book We, MS Golwalkar wrote the following in praise of what Nazi leader Adolf Hitler did to Jews as a model for what Hindus should do to Muslims in India: "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

Rise of Hindu Nationalists: 

The situation for India's minorities, particularly Muslims, has become a lot worse in the last two years with Hindu mobs raping and lynching Muslims with impunity. The 2016 election of anti-Muslim radical Hindu priest Yogi Adiyanath as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, is seen as a clear signal from Mr. Modi that his anti-Muslim policies will continue.

Mohammad Akhlaq is believed to be the first victim of Hindu lynch mobs claiming to be protecting the cow. He was accused of consuming beef. For more than a week Prime Minister Narendra Modi remained silent over the incident and even after he spoke about it, he did not condemn it outright. The ruling BJP officials even tried to explain it as the result of the genuine anger of the Hindus over the slaughtering of a cow.

Pew Research Report:

A Pew Research report from data collected in 2015, about a year after Modi rose to power, found that the level of hostility against religious minorities is "very high". In fact, it said India scores 9 for social hostilities against religious minorities on a scale of 0-10.   Other countries in "very high" category for social hostilities include Nigeria, Iraq and Syria. Pakistan's score on this scale is 7 while Bangladesh is 5.5.

Pew Research Report on Religious Freedom

History of Anti-Muslim Riots in India:

Paul Richard Brass, professor emeritus of political science and international relations at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, has spent many years researching communal riots in India. He has debunked all the action-reaction theories promoted by Hindu Nationalists like Modi. He believes these are not spontaneous but planned and staged as "a grisly form of dramatic production" by well-known perpetrators from the Sangh Parivar of which Prime Minister Modi has been a member since his youth.

Here's an excerpt of Professor Brass's work:

"Events labelled “Hindu-Muslim riots” have been recurring features in India for three-quarters of a century or more. In northern and western India, especially, there are numerous cities and town in which riots have become endemic. In such places, riots have, in effect, become a grisly form of dramatic production in which there are three phases: preparation/rehearsal, activation/enactment, and explanation/interpretation. In these sites of endemic riot production, preparation and rehearsal are continuous activities. Activation or enactment of a large-scale riot takes place under particular circumstances, most notably in a context of intense political mobilization or electoral competition in which riots are precipitated as a device to consolidate the support of ethnic, religious, or other culturally marked groups by emphasizing the need for solidarity in face of the rival communal group. The third phase follows after the violence in a broader struggle to control the explanation or interpretation of the causes of the violence. In this phase, many other elements in society become involved, including journalists, politicians, social scientists, and public opinion generally. At first, multiple narratives vie for primacy in controlling the explanation of violence. On the one hand, the predominant social forces attempt to insert an explanatory narrative into the prevailing discourse of order, while others seek to establish a new consensual hegemony that upsets existing power relations, that is, those which accept the violence as spontaneous, religious, mass-based, unpredictable, and impossible to prevent or control fully. This third phase is also marked by a process of blame displacement in which social scientists themselves become implicated, a process that fails to isolate effectively those most responsible for the production of violence, and instead diffuses blame widely, blurring responsibility, and thereby contributing to the perpetuation of violent productions in future, as well as the order that sustains them."

"In India, all this takes place within a discourse of Hindu-Muslim hostility that denies the deliberate and purposive character of the violence by attributing it to the spontaneous reactions of ordinary Hindus and Muslims, locked in a web of mutual antagonisms said to have a long history. In the meantime, in post-Independence India, what are labelled Hindu-Muslim riots have more often than not been turned into pogroms and massacres of Muslims, in which few Hindus are killed. In fact, in sites of endemic rioting, there exist what I have called “institutionalized riot systems,” in which the organizations of militant Hindu nationalism are deeply implicated. Further, in these sites, persons can be identified, who play specific roles in the preparation, enactment, and explanation of riots after the fact. Especially important are what I call the “fire tenders,” who keep Hindu-Muslim tensions alive through various inflammatory and inciting acts; “conversion specialists,” who lead and address mobs of potential rioters and give a signal to indicate if and when violence should commence; criminals and the poorest elements in society, recruited and rewarded for enacting the violence; and politicians and the vernacular media who, during the violence, and in its aftermath, draw attention away from the perpetrators of the violence by attributing it to the actions."

Summary:

India is seeing a spate of gang rapes and lynchings of Muslims by Hindu mobs who have been emboldened by the rise of anti-Muslim Hindu Nationalist leader Narendra Modi since his 2014 election to the highest office in India.  In their writings, iconic Hindutva leaders like Savarkar have encouraged rape of Muslim women. The elevation of radical Hindu Yogi Adiyanath to the top job in Uttar Pradesh by Mr. Modi has further alarmed India's Muslim minority. University of Washington's Professor Emeritus Paul Brass, who has documented the history of anti-Muslim violence in India,  describes it as "a grisly form of dramatic production" by well-known perpetrators from the Sangh Parivar of which Prime Minister Modi has been a member since his youth. Pew Research report on religious violence confirms India's status as a country with "very high" levels of social hostilities against religious minorities.  There appears to be no relief in sight for them at least in the foreseeable future.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Islamophobia Goes Mainstream

700,000 Indian Troops vs 10 Million Kashmiris

Muslim Lynchings in Modi's India

Yogi Adiyanath as UP CM

Hindu Nationalists Admire Hitler

Hinduization of India Under Modi

Muslim Victims of Gujarat 2002

India's Superpower Delusions: Modi's Flawed Policies

What Do Modi and Trump Have in Common?

Pakistani Film Cake Breaks Sindhi Stereotypes

Pakistani movie "Cake" is a Sindhi family drama set in Karachi and rural Sindh.  I had the chance to see it on a Silicon Valley theater screen in California.

Cake is nothing like the usual Bollywood fare featuring an "item song" included in a series of song-and-dance sequences. It tells a story accompanied with a great soundtrack showcasing the classic Sindhi poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and Shaikh Ayaz, some of it sung by Allan Fakir in his mournful voice.

Directed by Asim Abbasi, the movie has an interesting plot and it tells a good story. What makes its  plot especially relevant to the Pakistani diaspora is that it involves a theme familiar to them: Ailing elderly parents  (Jamalis ably played by Mohammad Ahmed and Beo Raana Zafar) in Pakistan with two of their three children living overseas. It also defies the stereotypical depiction of patriarchal Sindhi men as cruel landlords oppressing their women and peasants.

At the center of the story is Zareen (Aamina Sheikh) who takes care of her aging parents in Karachi and their land in rural Sindh. She is joined by her sister Zara (Sanam Saeed) from London when their elderly parents' health suddenly deteriorates.  Many long unresolved family issues come to the surface as they spend time together.  Some of the issues are triggered by the arrival of Christian nurse Romeo (Adnan Malik) who helps the sisters in providing care to their parents.

Except for a few sentences spoken in Sindhi by Aamina Sheikh, the rest of the movie features Urdu as the primary language spoken by the main characters in the movie. It shows how widely Urdu has been embraced by all ethnic groups as the lingua franca binding Pakistanis together as a nation.

Cake is a well-made and beautiful movie featuring great acting talent that breaks old stereotypes. It is yet another confirmation of the renaissance that the Pakistani cinema has seen in the last decade.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investment Review

Bollywood Revenue in Sharp Decline

Bollywood Eyes Pakistan Market

Peepli Live Destroys Indian Myths

Bollywood-Hollywood Combos

Indian Bollywood Seeks Cultural Dominance

US Mortgage Fraud Funded Bollywood Movie


Friday, April 20, 2018

Post-Truth Partition Narrative Delegitimizes Pakistan

The partition of India to carve out the Muslim majority state of Pakistan was strongly contested by the Hindu-dominated Indian National Congress. It was also opposed by many within the Indian Muslim community from both the right and the left ends of the political spectrum. In the end, the vast majority of Indian Muslims sided with Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Pakistan became a reality on August 14, 1947. It was a great accomplishment of the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. His biographer and American historian Stanley Wolpert, Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), has acknowledged it as follows: “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.” Sore losers as they are, Pakistan's and Quaid-e-Azam's detractors continue to promote falsehoods to delegitimize both the founder and the country he created.


Quaid-e-Azam Mohamad Ali Jinnah Time Magazine Cover
Churchill Created Pakistan:

The latest attempt to delegitimize Pakistan is being made by some who now argue that it was late British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill who created Pakistan. The film "The Viceroy's House" is a new manifestation of this delegitimization campaign. It is nothing but false history.  Why? Because it ignores several well-documented facts contradicting it, including the following:

1. Churchill was ousted as prime minister of Britain two years before the partition of India when his party lost the 1945 British parliamentary elections. He was replaced by Clement Attlee who introduced the India Independence Act 1947 in the British Parliament. Churchill spoke in opposition to it.

2. Churchill opposed the end of the British Raj. "Churchill was very much on the far right of British politics over India," says Charmley. "Even to most Conservatives, let alone Liberals and Labour, Churchill's views on India between 1929 and 1939 were quite abhorrent." Churchill's stance was very much that of a late Victorian imperialist, says John Charmley, author of Churchill: The End of Glory.. "[Churchill] was terribly alarmed that giving the Indians home rule was going to lead to the downfall of the British Empire and the end of civilization."

3. Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had earlier accepted the Cabinet Mission proposal for full autonomy for Muslim majority provinces and the right to form regional groupings of provinces within India, a proposal that was rejected by Nehru thereby paving the way for the Partition of India.

4. British Viceroy Lord Mountbatten assured Indian leader Jawharlal Nehru in 1947 that Pakistan was only a "nissen hut", a temporary tent.   Here's the exact quote from Mountbatten: "administratively it [wa]s the difference between putting up a permanent building, a nissen hut or a tent. As far as Pakistan is concerned we are putting up a tent. We can do no more." Both expected Pakistan would soon fail, fold up and rejoin India. Pakistan has defied that "hope" by not only surviving but thriving in the face of mounting challenges from the first day it became an independent state.

Two Nation Theory:

The Quaid's quest for Pakistan as an independent state for Muslims was motivated by a desire to give India's disadvantaged minority Muslims better opportunities to grow and prosper. While it's true that Pakistan has not lived up to the Quaid's expectations, it is also true that, in spite of all their problems, Muslims in Pakistan are still much better off  than their counterparts in India.

The growing intolerance in Modi's India and the Indian government commission headed by former Indian Chief Justice Rajendar Sachar confirm that Muslims are the new untouchables in caste-ridden and Islamophobic India. Indian Muslims suffer heavy discrimination in almost every field from  education and housing to jobs and criminal justice.  Their incarceration rates are much higher than those of their Hindu counterparts.

According to Sachar Commission report, Muslims are now worse off than the Dalit caste, or those called untouchables. Some 52% of Muslim men are unemployed, compared with 47% of Dalit men. Among Muslim women, 91% are unemployed, compared with 77% of Dalit women. Almost half of Muslims over the age of 40 can not read or write. While making up 11% of the population, Muslims account for 40% of India’s prison population. Meanwhile, they hold less than 5% of government jobs.

Those who say that the Two-Nation-Theory died with the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 are wrong. They need to be reminded that the Lahore Resolution of March 23, 1940, in fact called for two "independent states",  not a single "state", in Muslim majority areas of India in the north east and the north west. The other fact to remember is that Bangladesh did not choose to merge with India after separation from Pakistan.

Muslim Zion:

There have also been attempts by some to compare Pakistan with Israel to argue that Pakistan is illegitimate as is the Zionist state.

Such arguments fail to highlight this fundamental difference between the two states: Unlike Israel that was founded by people brought in from Europe for the explicit purpose of creating the Jewish state in Palestine, Pakistan was created by indigenous population of Indian Muslims who were led by leaders born and raised in India. Pakistan is the result of Indian Muslim Nationalist movement, not an outpost of European colonialism started by foreign transplants.

Economic Opportunity For Muslims:

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah sought better opportunities for Indian Muslims who felt deeply deprived in India.  In 1947, most of the agricultural land in the largely agrarian provinces of Sindh and Punjab was owned by non-Muslims.  The urban elites of the major cities of Karachi and Lahore were almost entirely non-Muslims. Muslims were in majority in both provinces but they were mostly poor peasants.

In Punjab, two-thirds of the land-holdings and 99% of bank deposits of Rs. 100 crore in Lahore were held by Hindus and Sikhs, according to the British archives researched by Dr. Kirpal Singh, author of "PARTITION of PUNJAB", published in 1972.

Only 3 out of 16 colleges in Lahore were run by Muslims. Of the 15 professional colleges, excluding 3 run by the government, all were run by non-Muslims. All 12 hospitals were operated by non-Muslims. Muslims in undivided Punjab had very low standards of living relative to Hindus and Sikhs, they were poor and backward, and there was no Muslim professional or business class in Lahore of 1947.

In Sindh province, about 60% of the agricultural land was owned by Hindus. The rest of the land was owned by big and small Muslim landowners but they were almost always in debt to Hindu moneylenders who exacted over 100% interest on the money they lent, according to The Imperial Gazeteer of India by W.W. Hunter. These massive debt burdens on Sindhi Muslims were removed when most of the Hindu moneylenders fled to India at the time of the partition in 1947.

Education and health care in Sindh were entirely controlled by non-Muslims, mainly Hindu Sindhis, according to The Imperial Gazeteer of India by W.W. Hunter and Nandita Bhavnani, author of "THE MAKING OF EXILE: SINDHI HINDUS AND THE PARTITION OF INDIA", published in 2014.  The educated elite, including the professional and business classes, were mostly Hindus and a few Parsees.

The partition in 1947 has been tremendous boon for both Sindhi and Punjabi Muslims of Pakistan. They have reaped great benefits from: 1) Departure of powerful non-Muslims landowners and moneylenders to India in 1947 2)  Massive investments made by Pakistani government in major irrigation projects to create the world's largest contiguous irrigation system for farming since 1947. 3) Large investments in education, health care and urban development that have helped raise standards of living significantly as seen in various health (life expectancy) and wealth (per capita incomes)  indicators after 1947.

Quaid-e-Azam's Vision:

Pakistan's founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah sought Pakistan as a homeland for Indian Muslims where they had better opportunities to grow and prosperity. But the Quaid's vision was a pluralistic vision. It is reflected in the words of what he described as Prophet Muhammad's first constitution called Misaq-e-Madina. It is also found in Quaid-e-Azam's other speeches that are mistakenly seen by some as conflicting with his quote: "Who am I to give you the constitution? The Prophet of Islam had given us a constitution 1300 years ago."

Here is a quote from one of Quaid-e-Azam's August 11, 1947 speech that reaffirm his pluralistic vision of Pakistan:

"You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State"

This vision is a very much Islamic. It is a reflection of the constitution of the world's first Islamic state in Madina. Here's the opening line of Misaq-e-Madina:

"This is a document from Muhammad the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), governing relations between the Believers i.e. Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib and those who followed them and worked hard with them. They form one nation -- Ummah."

It clearly says that all citizens of "Yathrib" (ancient name of Madina), regardless of  their tribe or religion, are part of one nation--"Ummah". So the word "Ummah" here does not exclude non-Muslims.

Further into the "Misaq" document, it says: "No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew. The enemies of the Jews who follow us will not be helped. If anyone attacks anyone who is a party to this Pact the other must come to his help."

The Mesaq assures equal protection to all citizens of Madina, including non-Muslim tribes which agreed to it. The contents of Misaq-e-Madina, Islam's first constitution approved by Prophet Mohammad 1400 years ago, appear to have inspired Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah vision of Pakistan where people of all religions and nationalities live in harmony with equal rights and protections under the law.

Pakistani Nationalism: 

Some Indian and western writers and journalists present caricatures of Pakistan that bear no resemblance to reality.  They portray Pakistan as a artificial and deeply divided failed state. What they fail to see is  Pakistan is not one or two dimensional; it's much more complex as explained by Christophe Jaffrelot in his book "The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience".

Political, military, religious, ethnic, sectarian, secular,  conservative and liberal forces are constantly pushing and pulling to destabilize it but Pakistan remains resilient with its strong nationalism that has evolved after 1971. Pakistan is neither a delusion nor owned by mullahs or military as claimed by some of Pakistan's detractors.

In a 2015 Op Ed for NDTV titled "What Modi Has Not Recognized About Pakistan", Indian politician Mani Shankar Aiyar recognized Pakistani nationalism as follows:

"..unlike numerous other emerging nations, particularly in Africa, the Idea of Pakistan has repeatedly trumped fissiparous tendencies, especially since Pakistan assumed its present form in 1971. And its institutions have withstood repeated buffeting that almost anywhere elsewhere would have resulted in the State crumbling. Despite numerous dire forecasts of imminently proving to be a "failed state", Pakistan has survived, bouncing back every now and then as a recognizable democracy with a popularly elected civilian government, the military in the wings but politics very much centre-stage, linguistic and regional groups pulling and pushing, sectarian factions murdering each other, but the Government of Pakistan remaining in charge, and the military stepping in to rescue the nation from chaos every time Pakistan appeared on the knife's edge. The disintegration of Pakistan has been predicted often enough, most passionately now that internally-generated terrorism and externally sponsored religious extremism are consistently taking on the state to the point that the army is so engaged in full-time and full-scale operations in the north-west of the country bordering Afghanistan that some 40,000 lives have been lost in the battle against fanaticism and insurgency".

Summary:

Pakistan was created in the face of strong opposition from Hindu dominated Congress Party and some Muslim groups from the right and the left. The vast majority of Muslims of India supported the Muslim League and the partition of India to carve out the new state of Pakistan.  It was a great accomplishment of the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. His biographer and American historian Stanley Wolpert, Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), has acknowledged it as follows: “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.” Sore losers as they are, Pakistan's and Quaid-e-Azam's detractors continue to promote falsehoods to delegitimize both the founder and the country he created.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Is Two Nation Theory Dead?

Lahore Resolution of 1940

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Vision of Pakistan

Islamophobia in India

Hinduization of India

Pakistanis Send $5 Billion a Year to Relatives in India

Pakistan: A Blessing For Muslims

India-Pakistan Nuclear Arms Race

The Other 99% of the Pakistan Story

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Pakistan Daal Consumption Declines Sharply As Meat Consumption Rises

Pakistan's per capita daal (pulse) consumption has sharply declined to about 7 kg/person from about 15 Kg/person in 2000, according to data released by Food and Agriculture Organization and reported in Pakistani media. Meat has replaced it as the main source of protein with per capita meat consumption rising from 11.7 kg in 2000 to 32 kg in 2016. It is projected to rise to 47 kg by 2020, according to a paper published in the Korean Journal of Food Science of Animal Resources.

USDA Food Chart
Rising Incomes:

FAO report titled "State of Food and Agriculture in Asia and the Pacific Region" said rising incomes in developing nations are causing a shift from plant proteins — such as those found in pulses (daal) and beans — to more expensive animal proteins such as those found in meat and dairy.

According to the Household Integrated Surveys of Pakistan, the average monthly household income in the country jumped 15% from Rs. 30,999 in 2013-14 to Rs. 35,662 in 2015-16.

Pulses Consumption:

Per capita consumption of pulses in Pakistan has sharply declined from about 15 kg per person a year to about 7 kg per person a year, found a new report of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

In neighboring India, too, the consumption of pulse declined from about 22kg per person per year to about 15kg per person per year. In Sri Lanka, however, pulse consumption seemed to have fluctuated between 5kg and 10kg per person per year since 1960, except for a sharp drop from 1970 to 1985, the report said.

Dairy Consumption: 

Economic Survey of Pakistan reported that Pakistanis consumed over 45 million tons of milk in fiscal year 2016-17, translating to about 220 Kg/person.

FAO's "State of Food and Agriculture in Asia and the Pacific Region" says that Mongolia and Pakistan are the only two among the 26 countries in Asia Pacific region where per capita milk consumption exceeded 370 grams/day.

Meat Consumption:

Pakistan's per capita meat consumption has nearly tripled from 11.7 kg in 2000 to 32 kg in 2016. It is projected to rise to 47 kg by 2020, according to a paper published by the United States National Library of Medicines at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Organization for Economic Development (OECD) explains that meat demand increases with higher incomes and a shift - often due to growing urbanization - to food preferences that favor increased proteins from animal sources in diets.


Meat Production in Pakistan. Source: FAO

The NIH paper authors Mohammad Shoaib and Faraz Jamil point out that Pakistan's meat consumption of 32 Kg per person is only a third of the meat capita meat consumption in rich countries like Australia and the United States.

A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature magazine reports that Pakistanis are among the most carnivorous people in the world.  After studying the eating habits of 176 countries, the authors found that average human being is at 2.21 trophic level. It put Pakistanis at 2.4, the same trophic level as Europeans and Americans. China and India are at 2.1 and 2.2 respectively.

Chicken Vs Daal:

IN 2016, Pakistan's then finance minister Ishaq Dar suggested to his countrymen to eat chicken instead of daal (pulses or legumes). To some, the minister sounded like Queen Marie-Antoinette (wife of France's King Louis XVI) who reportedly said to hungry rioters during the French Revolution:  “Qu'ils mangent de la brioche”—“Let them eat cake”?

It was indeed true that some varieties of daal were priced higher than chicken. For example, maash was selling at Rs. 260 per kilo, higher than chicken meat at Rs. 200 per kilo. But other daals such as mung, masur and chana were cheaper than chicken.

The reason for higher daal prices and relatively lower chicken prices can be found in the fact that Pakistan's livestock industry, particularly poultry farming, has seen significant growth that the nation's pulse crop harvests have not.

Summary:

Per capita daal consumption is falling while meat and milk consumption is rising in Pakistan with rising household incomes. According to the Household Integrated Surveys of Pakistan, the average monthly household income in the country jumped from Rs. 30,999 in 2013-14 to Rs. 35,662 in 2015-16.  Pulse consumption has sharply declined to about 7 kg/person from about 15 Kg/person in 2000, according to data released by Food and Agriculture Organization and reported in Pakistani media. Meat has replaced it as the main source of protein with per capita meat consumption rising from 11.7 kg in 2000 to 32 kg in 2016. It is projected to rise to 47 kg by 2020, according to a paper published in the Korean Journal of Food Science of Animal Resources.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Washington-Based Baloch Activist "Let Down" by "India's RAW"

Ahmar Mustikhan, a pro-insurgency Baloch activist based in Washington D.C., has released a video recorded in Urdu in which he has lambasted Indian intelligence agency RAW for letting him down.  Mustikhan has been part of Indian sponsored media campaign to attack Pakistan in the United States. He has collaborated with Tarek Fatah known for his advocacy for Baloch insurgency in Pakistan. He has been in the news for heckling visiting Pakistani leaders during presentations at think tanks in the US capital.

Baloch Activist Ahmar Mustikhan With Tarek Fatah
Mustikhan says he "was promised huge help by those who were interested in the heckling of Nawaz Sharif. None of those promises were ever fulfilled. There was this gentleman in the Indian embassy who left (for India) in January and never fulfilled his promise. There were other things that happened too," according to Pakistani media reports.

"RAW's system is so corrupt that its high officials keep 40 percent of what's earmarked. India should have been engaged in public diplomacy and helping those who are involved in raising the profile of Balochistan issue but while China is trying to build, India is choosing to bomb. India is going in the opposite direction—it should have helped the people who are involved in diplomatic effort," he said.

The RAW man he named in his video is Nagesh Bhushan. He says Bhushan worked at the Indian spy agency's Balochistan Desk.  Another Indian journalist Aveek Sen has described Bhushan as "media fixer" in a 2016 tweet in response to pro-independence Baloch activist Shah Nawaz Bugti. Sen's tweet said "hello, Mr. Nagesh Bhushan. Introducing the media fixer to the world".

Here's Mustikhan's video:

https://youtu.be/XOEaea4u8_4





The current Baloch Nationalist revolt in Pakistan started in 2003, the same year that Indian intelligence agency RAW recruited Kulbhushan Jadhav and gave him a new identity as Hussein Mubarak Patel, according to Indian media reports. This was three years before the killing of Baloch leader Akbar Bugti on August 26, 2006. Jadhav was sent to Chabahar in Iran to orchestrate insurgent attacks next door in Balochistan.

Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested in Balochistan in 2016. He has confessed to orchestrating insurgent attacks on targets in Balochistan that resulted in deaths, injuries and destruction of property.

India's former RAW officers, including one ex chief, have blamed Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, arrested by Pakistan in 2016, for getting caught in Pakistan as a "result of unprofessionalism", according to a report in India's "The Quint" owned and operated by a joint venture of Bloomberg News and Quintillion Media. The report that appeared briefly on The Quint website has since been removed, apparently under pressure from the Indian government.

It is believed to be the strongest and longest of the insurgencies seen in Pakistani Balochistan which has had earlier bouts of it in 1948, 1958-59, 1962-63 and 1973-77.

Friday, April 13, 2018

How Industrialized West Enables Corruption in Developing World

Some have called London the "Money Laundering Capital of the World" where corrupt leaders from developing nations use wealth looted from their people to buy expensive real estate and other assets. Private individuals and businesses from poor nations also park money in the west and other off-shore tax havens to hide their incomes and assets from the tax authorities in their countries of residence.

The multi-trillion dollar massive net outflow of money from the poor to the rich countries has been documented by the US-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI). This flow of capital has been described as "aid in reverse". It has made big headlines in Pakistan and elsewhere since the release of the Panama Papers and the Paradise Leaks which revealed true owners of offshore assets held by anonymous shell companies. Bloomberg has reported that Pakistanis alone own as much as $150 billion worth of undeclared assets offshore.

Politicians Dominate Off-shore Company Owners in Panama Leaks
Aid in Reverse:

In 2012, the latest year for which data is available, developing countries received $1.3 trillion, including all aid, investments, worker remittances, and other income from abroad. In that same year some $3.3 trillion flowed out of them. In other words, developing countries sent $2 trillion more to the rest of the world than they received, according to the data compiled by the US-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI) and the Centre for Applied Research at the Norwegian School of Economics and reported by the UK's Guardian newspaper.

Laws in America and Europe allow the creation of anonymous shell companies. An anonymous shell company is a corporate entity that has disguised its ownership in order to operate without scrutiny from law enforcement or the public. These “phantom firms” can open bank accounts and wire money like any other company, making them a favorite tool for money launderers to hide their business and assets from authorities, according to the US-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI).

GFI estimates that developing countries have lost as much as $13.4 trillion through unrecorded capital flight since 1980. Bloomberg reports that Pakistanis own $150 billion worth of undeclared offshore assets, attributing this estimate to Syed Muhammad Shabbar Zaidi, a partner at Karachi-based A.F. Ferguson and Co. -- an affiliate of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Impact on Economic Growth:

There's a direct relationship between investment and GDP. Flight of capital reduces domestic investment and depresses economic growth in poor countries. Lower tax revenues also impact spending on education, health care and infrastructure, resulting in poor socioeconomic indicators.

In Pakistan, for example, it takes investment of about 4% of GDP to grow the economy by 1%. Lower levels of investments in the country has kept its GDP growth below par relative to the rest of South Asia.  Any reduction in the outflow of capital to offshore tax havens will help boost economic growth in Pakistan to close the gap with its neighbors, particularly Bangladesh and India whose economies are both growing 1-2% faster than Pakistan's.

Panama Papers Leak:

There is an entire industry made up of lawyers and accountants that offers its services to help hide illicit wealth. Mossack Fonseca, the law firm that made headlines with "Panama Leaks", is just one example of companies in this industry.

Mossack Fonseca's 11.5 million leaked internal files contained information on more than 214,000 offshore entities tied to 12 current or former heads of state, 140 politicians, including Pakistan's now ex Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family.  Icelandic Prime Minister resigned voluntarily and Pakistani Prime Minister was forced out by the country's Supreme Court.

The Panama list included showbiz and sports celebrities, lawyers, entrepreneurs,  businessmen, journalists and other occupations but it was heavily dominated by politicians.

War on Tax Evasion and Money Laundering: 

Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the club of world's rich industrialized nations, and some of its member states appear to be taking some steps to stem the global rising tide of tax evasion and money laundering.

OECD is promoting  enhanced co-operation between tax authorities through AEOI (Automatic Exchange Of Information) to bring national tax administrations in participating countries in line with the globalized economy.

Several countries, including the United Kingdom, are working on legislation forcing the disclosure of the ultimate beneficial owners of the properties held by anonymous shell companies. The new laws will establish publicly accessible registry of beneficial owners of real estate.

Tax Amnesty Schemes:

Developing countries are offering tax amnesty schemes to bring back the off-shore wealth to help their economies. Argentina and Indonesia did this recently.  Indonesia's tax amnesty in 2017 saw $330 billion worth of assets declared.   Pakistan is in trying to the do the same to help build its dollar reserves and expand its tax base.

Under Pakistan's announced tax amnesty, Pakistani citizens can declare previously undeclared foreign assets and still keep them abroad by paying 5% penalty for liquid assets and 3% penalty for real estate. Alternatively, they can declare and repatriate liquid assets to Pakistan by paying just 2% penalty.

The assets covered by the amnesty include "real estate, mortgaged assets, stock and shares, bank accounts, bullion, cash, jewels, paintings, accounts and loan receivables, beneficial ownership or beneficial interests or contribution in offshore entities and trusts."

Summary:

Laws and practices in the West and other offshore tax havens encourage corruption in developing nations that results in net outflow of trillions from poor countries to the rich industrialized world, according to the US-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI). There are some efforts underway to stem this outflow. Pakistanis hold as much as $150 billion in undeclared assets overseas. The latest tax amnesty in Pakistan is an attempt to bring some of it back to the country, or at least collect 3-5% of it in the form of penalties.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Did Musharraf Steal Pakistani People's Money?

Pakistan Economy Hobbled By Underinvestment

Raymond Baker on Corruption in Pakistan

Nawaz Sharif Disqualified

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

US Investigating Microsoft Bribery in Pakistan

Zardari's Corruption Probe in Switzerland

Politics of Patronage in Pakistan

Why is PIA Losing Money Amid Pakistan Aviation Boom?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

India Top Recipient of Global Private Charity; Pakistan Ranks 12th

India tops the list of charity recipients from private foundations while Pakistan is ranked as the 12th largest recipient of philanthropic giving in the world, according to a report released by OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).

Private Foundation Philanthropy in Asia. Source: OECD 


Global Philanthropic Foundations:

Philanthropic contributions of major international private foundations in Pakistan totaled  $267 million out of the $42 billion global contribution in  2013-2015.  This compares with $1.6 billion in top-ranked India and $498 billion in second-ranked China.  US-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) contributed nearly half of the $42 billion in global charity by private foundations.

Private foundations are filling the huge gaps in public funding of health and education sectors in developing nations. . They contributed  $11 billion for the health sector alone in the three year period, ranking third behind the United States and a global fund for fighting disease.

Massive Western Aid to India:

In addition to being the biggest recipient of private foreign charity,  India has been the number one recipient of official US aid since 1947, according to the US government data.   The country India's first Prime Minister turned to for help during the 1962 China-India war was also the United States.



India has received $65.1 billion in US aid since its independence, making it the top recipient of American economic assistance. Pakistan, with its $44.4 billion, is at number 5 on the list.  US data also shows that Pakistan is not among top 10 for military or total economic and military aid.

Local Charity in Pakistan:

Pakistanis donate generously to local charities in the country in the form of religiously mandated donations such as "zakat, sadaqa and fitrana".  One of the key measures of empathy is generosity to others, the kind of generosity demonstrated in Pakistan by the likes of  late Abul Sattar Edhi. The Edhi Foundation set up by 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."

A recent article written by Shazia M. Amjad and Muhammad Ali and published in Stanford Social Innovation Review said that "Pakistan is a generous country. It contributes more than one percent of its GDP to charity, which pushes it into the ranks of far wealthier countries like the United Kingdom (1.3 percent GDP to charity) and Canada (1.2 percent of GDP), and around twice what India gives relative to GDP."

OECD says corporate donations in Pakistan have increased from  $4.5 million to $56.4 million over the last 15 years. Corporate donations are dwarfed by individual donations made as zakat, sadaqa and fitrana as commanded by the Quran.

In addition to zakat, sadaqa and fitrana, Pakistanis spent about $3.5 billion on Eid ul Azha in 2017, according to analysts. This included sacrifice of $2.8 billion worth of livestock and another $700 million on clothes,  shoes, jewelry and various services. This amount represent a huge transfer of wealth from urban to rural population, including many rural poor, in the country. It also brings philanthropic donations of Rs. 2.5 billion to Rs. 3 billion ($25-30 million) worth of animal hides which are sold to the nation's leather industry.

Empathy Study:

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.





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.

Summary:

Pakistanis are among the most generous people in the world.   They contributes more than one percent of the nation's GDP to charity, which pushes Pakistan into the ranks of far wealthier countries like the United Kingdom (1.3 percent GDP to charity) and Canada (1.2 percent of GDP), and around twice what India gives relative to GDP, according to Stanford Social Innovation Review.  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

Study Says Pakistanis Have Higher Empathy Than Neighbors

Comparing Median Wealth and Income in India and Pakistan

Eid ul Azha Economy

Foreign Aid Pouring in India

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

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Alibaba and Amazon Entry to Accelerate E-Commerce in Pakistan?

Media reports suggest global e-commerce behemoth Amazon.com could purchase substantial stake in Pakistan's e-commerce site  Clicky.pk.  This comes on the heels of a Bloomberg story that quoted anonymous sources indicating Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is in serious negotiations to acquire Daraz.pk.  Online sales in Pakistan's $152 billion retail market are doubling every year,  according to Adam Dawood of Yayvo online portal. He expects them to pass $1 billion in the current fiscal year (2017-18), two years earlier than the previous forecast.

Amazon's Presence in Pakistan:

Amazon already owns about 33% stake in Clicky.pk through its acquisition in 2017 of Dubai-based online retailer Souq.  Souq acquired this stake in the Pakistani company in late 2016.

In March this year, Bloomberg cited sources saying that Alibaba and Daraz.pk are negotiating a a price for the acquisition. It said that the "deliberations are an early state and no decisions have been made".

E-Commerce Market Growth: 

Online sales in Pakistan's $152 billion retail market are growing much faster than the brick-and-mortar retail sales. Adam Dawood of Yayvo online portal estimates that e-tail sales are doubling every year. He expects them to pass $1 billion in the current fiscal year (2017-18), two years earlier than the previous forecast.

E-commerce in Pakistan is being enabled by increasing broadband penetration and new online payment options. Ant Financial, an Alibaba subsidiary, has just announced the purchase of 45% stake in Pakistan-based Telenor Microfinance Bank.

Payment Options: 

Mobile wallets, also called m-wallets, are smartphone applications linked to bank accounts that allow users to make payments for transactions such as retail purchases. According to recent State Bank statistics on branchless banking (BB) sector, mobile wallets reached a high of 33 million as of September 2017, up 21% over the prior quarter. About 22 percent of these accounts – 7.4 million – are owned by women, up 29% seen in Jul-Sep 2017 over previous quarter. Share of active m-wallets has also seen significant growth from a low of 35% in June 2015 to 45% in September 2017.

Summary: 

Online sales in Pakistan's $152 billion retail market are doubling every year,  according to Adam Dawood of Yayvo online portal.  The country's retail market is the fastest growing in the world, according to Euromonitor.  Expanding middle class, particularly millennials with rising disposable incomes, is demanding branded and packaged consumer goods ranging from personal and baby care items to food and beverage products. Strong demand for fast moving consumer goods is drawing large new investments of hundreds of millions of dollars.  Rapid growth in sales of consumer products and services is driving other sectors, including retail, e-commerce, paper and packaging, advertising, media, sports and entertainment. Potential downsides of soaring consumption include increased amount of  solid waste and decline in domestic savings and investment rates.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Retail Sales Growth

Advertising Revenue in Pakistan

Pakistan FMCG Market

The Other 99% of Pakistan Story

PSL Cricket League Revenue

E-Commerce in Pakistan

Fintech Revolution in Pakistan

Mobile Broadband Speed in Pakistan