Tuesday, July 31, 2018

San Francisco Tech Firm to Invest $6 Million in Pakistan Game Development Studio

San Francisco based Cloudcade has announced it will invest $6 million to set up a game development studio in Lahore, Pakistan, according to Venturebeat.

The Lahore studio will be led by Ammar Zaeem, cofounder of Pakistan’s mobile game studio Caramel Tech which already has a team of 50 engineers. The move is a big investment into Pakistan as a tech hub, and it shows how the game business is expanding around the globe.

Cloudcade: 

Founded by Di Huang in 2013, Cloudcade is known for its popular multiplayer game "Shop Heroes" that pits players against each other in a competition to create the best shop they can. If a player can make a better store and perform more tasks than his or her rivals, he or she wins.

The game is available on the Apple iOS App Store, Google Play, Samsung Galaxy Store, Amazon, Kongregate, and Facebook. It is now also supported on the Apple Watch.

In his report, Venturebeat's Dean Takahashi says that "Pakistan’s emergence as a software engineering and startup ecosystem has been powered by an emphasis on technology education and a generation of tech-savvy youth." The country is seeing a dramatic increase in tech startup investments in recent years and is supported by 90 universities, 25-plus country-specific accelerators, foundations, communities, and the government itself, Ammar Zaeem said in an interview with GamesBeat.

Tech Jobs Moving to Pakistan: 

Late last year, Outlook India ran a story headlined "Noida to Islamabad". It suggested at least anecdotal evidence of information technology jobs beginning to move from India to Pakistan. The number of jobs was only 125 but could it be the tip of a larger iceberg. Are western companies finding Pakistan becoming more competitive with India in terms of cost and skills on offer? Let's try and answer these questions.

Noida to Islamabad:

Outlook India report said 125 employees at a US-based information technology service provider were laid off in Noida in New Delhi, India, and the very next day an equal number of workers started working for the company in Islamabad, Pakistan. Here's an excerpt of Outlook India story:

"On the night of November 1, stretching into early next morning, close to half the workforce at the Noida office of a US-based IT service provider was informed that their services were no longer needed. A former employee says salaries for the staff at the Noida office were declared delayed by a day on October 31. The official explanation was that the servers were not working. “They weren’t clear about how many people were going to be laid off,” he says. The next night, they “axed 125 people in half-an-hour.” They all got a severance package—a cheque for October and another two months of salary—and a termination letter. Rumors of layoffs had started doing the rounds four to five months ago. The talk was that the company was opening offices in a neighboring country. Curiously, the day the workforce in Noida was sacked, almost the same number of employees for the same low-level IT-enabled jobs logged into their systems, 676 kilometers away, in Islamabad, Pakistan. Job cuts have plagued the Indian IT sector for about two years now and have begun to get pretty serious from the start of this year. “Bloodbath in Bangalore” has been the recurring headline. But the trend of these jobs going to techies in Pakistan is more recent. Away from all the noise of ceasefire violations and surgical strikes, where Pakistan could really hurt India is in taking away low-end IT jobs. The neighbor has a budding IT industry, growing in its own space, looking to emulate the Indian IT success story where right now data operators and BPO callers come much cheaper."

The story did not identify the company by name.

Pakistan: The Next Software Hub?

There are tens of thousands of Pakistani IT engineers working in the West, particularly in Silicon Valley, the high-tech capital of the world. The popular entertainment industry recognizes this fact by featuring a Pakistani-American software engineer in lead role played by a real-life Pakistani-American Kumail Nanjiani in HBO's "Silicon Valley" serial.  Articles like the New York Times Op Ed piece in 2015 titled "Pakistan, the Next Software Hub?" have helped raise the profile of Pakistan's information technology industry in the West.

Afiniti and Careem: Tech Unicorns Made in Pakistan:

Afiniti and Careem are two technology unicorns engineered in Pakistan by Pakistanis. AI (artificial intelligence) startup Afiniti software has largely been engineered in Lahore while taxi hailing service Careem's technology has mostly been developed in Karachi.

Careem is a taxi hailing app that is giving its American competitor Uber a run for its money in a region stretching from Pakistan to the Middle East and North Africa. The company cofounded by Mudassir Sheika, a Pakistani national, is headquartered in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Careem's software has been developed by its technology partner VentureDive based in Karachi, Pakistan.  VentureDive was started by serial Pakistani entrepreneur Atif Azim who sold his earlier startup Perfigo to network equipment giant Cisco for $74 million in 2004, according to a report in Tech in Asia.

Washington D.C. based AI technology firm Afiniti, founded by serial Pakistani-American entrepreneur Zia Chishti, has filed for initial public offering (IPO) at $1.6 billion valuation, according to VentureBeat. The company has grown out of the technology used in the Pakistan-based call center business of The Resource Group (TRG) also founded by Zia Chishti.

Bulk of the Afiniti development team is located in Thokar Niaz Baig, Lahore. In addition, the company has development team members in Islamabad and Karachi.

Numbers,  Skills and Cost: 

Pakistani universities are producing over 10,000 IT engineers annually. Many of them have demonstrated their quality and skills by freelancing for American and European companies. Pakistani freelancers consistently rank among the top three year after year.

In terms of cost, Pakistani engineers cost significantly less than engineers in India and elsewhere. The average salary of a software engineer ($110,000) in Silicon Valley is about 20X more than the average salaries in India ($6,875) and Pakistan ($4,770), according to Glassdoor.

Source: Glassdoor

Summary:

Pakistan's emergence as a tech hub is drawing new entrants like San Francisco based Cloudcade with its investment in a game development studio. Recent move of 125 IT jobs from Noida to Islamabad in an indication that  Pakistan is becoming an attractive destination for software and information technology companies looking for highly skilled talent at significant discounts. It is an emerging center of technology with at least two unicorns, Afiniti and Careem, engineered by Pakistanis in Pakistan.  With growing numbers of young homegrown Pakistani technologists, a highly skilled diaspora and an evolving startup ecosystem with incubators, accelerators and investors, the country is beginning to demonstrate its vast potential as a vibrant technology hub of the future. Provincial governments, particularly those in Punjab and KP, are showing leadership in encouraging this trend. The main ingredients are all coming together to make things happen in Pakistan.

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Can Pakistan Avoid Recurring BoP Crises Requiring IMF Bailouts?

Every country needs US dollars to import products because the US dollar is the international trade and reserve currency. Only the United States can print dollars; all others must acquire them through exports and capital inflows like investments, remittances and loans. Pakistan has had serious problems in acquiring sufficient amount of dollars for its needs through trade and investments over the last several decades. It has been forced to seek IMF bailouts repeatedly.

China, India and East Asia:

China and other East Asian nations have built up large dollar reserves by running massive trade surpluses mainly through exporting lots of products and services to the rest of the world.

Others, such as India, have built up significant US dollar reserves in spite of running large trade deficits. India relies mainly on foreign investments, remittances from non-resident Indians and foreign debt for its dollar reserves.

India is consistently ranked among the top recipients of foreign direct and portfolio investments as percentage of its GDP.

Pakistan's Foreign Investment and Trade:

Like India, Pakistan also runs large trade deficits. It also depends on foreign investments, remittances from overseas Pakistanis and foreign debt for its dollar reserves.  So why does Pakistan have serious recurring balance of payments crises?

Unlike India,  Pakistan ranks very low among recipients of foreign direct and portfolio investments as percentage of its GDP. .  Part of it is the perception of insecurity since 911. The real security situation has dramatically improved in the last few years but the perception continues to lag.

Pakistan's exports have also lagged behind India's as percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). In fact, Pakistan's exports have halved from about 16% of GDP in 2003 to 8% of GDP in 2017. India's exports have increased from 15% to 19% of GDP in the same period, according to the World Bank.

Exports as Percentage of GDP. Source: World Bank


Export-Orientation of Industries:

Pakistan has a fairly diverse industrial sector which caters to its domestic market.  People running these businesses and industries have little or no knowledge of the customer needs and regulatory requirements of foreign markets where their products or services could be sold to boost Pakistan's exports and dollar earnings.

Pakistan's economic attaches posted at the nation's embassies need to focus on all export opportunities in international markets and help educate Pakistani businesses on the best way to take advantage of them. This needs to be a concerted effort involving various government ministries and departments working closely with industry groups.

Illicit Capital Flows:

Pakistan's new government led by the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf Chief Imran Khan needs to urgently crack down on illicit outflow of dollars. One of the ways large amounts of money moves across international borders is through trade misinvoicing.

Global Financial Integrity (GFI) defines trade misinvoicing as "fraudulently manipulating the price, quantity, or quality of a good or service on an invoice submitted to customs" to quickly move substantial sums of money across international borders.

How does trade miscinvoicing work? Here's an example:

Let's say an exporter in Pakistan exports goods worth $1 million to a foreign country and invoices it at $500,000 through an offshore middleman.  The middleman invoices and collects $1 million from the end customer, sends $500,000 to Pakistan and deposits $500,000 in an offshore account. The result: Pakistan is deprived of the $500,000 in foreign exchange.

Similarly, imports of goods worth $1 million to Pakistan are overinvoiced at $1.5 million through an offshore middleman and the difference is kept in an overseas account. The result: Pakistan loses another $500,000 in foreign exchange. Meanwhile, the Pakistani traders and the officials facilitating misinvoicing together pocket $1 million or 50% on the two trades.  Pakistan's trade and current account deficits grow and the foreign exchange reserves are depleted, forcing Pakistan to go back to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for yet another bailout with tough conditions.



Terror and Drug Financing:

It is not just greedy politicians, unscrupulous businessmen and corrupt officials in developing countries who rely on fraudulent manipulation of trade invoices; all kinds of drug traders, terrorists and criminals also use what is called TBML (trade-based money laundering).

John A. Cassara, former US intelligence official with expertise in money laundering, submitted written testimony for a US Congressional hearing on “Trading with the Enemy: Trade-Based Money Laundering is the Growth Industry in Terror Finance” to the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing Of the House Financial Services Committee February 3, 2016. Here's an except from it:

"Not long after the September 11 attacks, I had a conversation with a Pakistani entrepreneur. This businessman could charitably be described as being involved in international grey markets and illicit finance. We discussed many of the subjects addressed in this hearing including trade-based money laundering, terror finance, value transfer, hawala, fictitious invoicing, and counter-valuation. At the end of the discussion, he looked at me and said, “Mr. John, don’t you know that your adversaries are transferring money and value right under your noses? But the West doesn’t see it. Your enemies are laughing at you.”"

Summary: 

Pakistan needs to find a way to build up and manage significant dollar reserves to avoid recurring IMF bailouts. The best way to do it is to focus on increasing the country's exports that have remained essentially flat in per capita terms. Pakistan's economic attaches posted at the nation's embassies need to focus on all export opportunities in international markets and help educate Pakistani businesses on the best way to take advantage of them. This needs to be concerted effort involving various government ministries and departments working closely with industry groups. At the same time, the new government needs to crack down on illicit outflow of dollars from the country.

Azad Labon Ke Sath host Faraz Darvesh discusses Imran Khan's challenges with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/CQ41Qt_2XQM




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Money Laundering Through Trade Misinvoicing

Pakistan Economy Hobbled By Underinvestment

Raymond Baker on Corruption in Pakistan

Can Indian Economy Survive Without Western Capital Inflows?

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

Chinese Yuan to Replace US $ as Reserve Currency?

Remittances From Overseas Pakistanis

Politics of Patronage in Pakistan

Why is PIA Losing Money Amid Pakistan Aviation Boom?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Pakistan Elections 2018: PTI Prevails Over Corrupt Dynastic Political Elite

Millions of passionate young men and women enthusiastically voted for Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf led by cricket legend Imran Khan to help PTI win against corrupt dynastic political parties in July 25, 2018 elections. Scores of dynastic politicians lost their legislative seats in this election in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces. This election came to represent a generational shift in many families in which parents reliably voted for the “electables” based on biradries (clans) and feudal affiliations but the children voted for PTI. It is a resounding rejection of old feudal politics in large parts of the country. The only exception to this shift is probably rural Sindh where the dynastic Pakistan Peoples' Party gained seats.

Young Electorate:

Pakistan's 46 million young voters of ages 18-36 years, up from 41 million in 2013, made the biggest impact on the outcome of the elections this year, according to data from the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Pakistan Voter Population by Age Groups. Source: Dawn
The enthusiasm of PTI's young supporters was on full display at many large PTI pre-election rallies addressed by Imran Khan. These rallies set a new standard  with lots of lighting, singing, music and dancing by hundreds of thousands of boys and girls across Pakistan.

Smartphones and Social Media:

Thousands of smartphone wielding young voters were seen following the politicians around while streaming live footage of what a newspaper report described as "something extraordinary: angry voters asking their elected representatives what have they done for them lately".  Here's an excerpt of a report by South China Morning Post (SCMP):

“Where were you during the last five years?” they ask (Sikandar Hayat) Bosan, complaining about the poor state of roads in the area. An aide can be heard pleading that the leader is feeling unwell. To be held accountable in such a public manner is virtually unheard of for most Pakistani politicians, especially in rural areas where many of the videos have been filmed. There feudal landowners, village elders and religious leaders have for decades been elected unopposed. Many are known to use their power over residents to bend them to their will."

"Electables" Swept Away:

PTI's "Naya Pakistan" campaign inspired the voters to sweep away scores of "electables", dynastic feudal politicians who used to easily win elections at all levels in Pakistan. Among the prominent "electables" who lost are former prime ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Voters also rejected several "electables" who joined PTI just before the elections to improve their chances of winning. These include Nazar Gondal, Firdos Ashiq Awan, Raza Hayat Hiraj and Nadeem Afzal Chan.

Many top leaders and former ministers also lost. The list of losers includes:

1.Ch Nisar Ali Khan
2. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
3. Tariq Fazal Ch
4. Talal Chaudhey
5. Abid Sher Ali
6. Khawaja Saad Rafique
7. Rana Afzal
8. Awais Leghari
9. Qadir Baloch
10. Ameer Muqam
11. Asfandyar Wali
12. Ghulam Bilour
13. Moulana Fazal ur Rehman
14. Akram Durrani
15. Siraj ul Haq
16. Aftab Sherpao
17. Mehmood Achackzai
18. Qamar Zaman Kaira
19. Yousaf Raza Gilani
20. Nazar Gondal
21. Nadeem Afzal Chan
22. Raza Hayat Hiraj
23. Firdaus Ashiq Awan
24. Farooq Sattar
25. Mustafa Kamal
26. Raza Haroon
27. Zulifqar Mirza
28. Naheed Khan
29. Ijaz Ul Haq

Conspiracy Theories:

Media coverage of Pakistan's July 25, 2018 elections has been dominated by conspiracy theories alleging "orchestration" of the election process by Pakistan's "Deep State".

A recent episode of BBC's Hardtalk with Dawn Group's CEO showed that such allegations fail to withstand any serious scrutiny. The "orchestration" conspiracy theory challenges credulity by asking you to believe that everything starting with Panama Papers leak by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was managed by Pakistani intelligence agencies to oust Pakistan's ex prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Wide reporting of open criticism of the military and the judiciary by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui shows that the "worst ever media censorship" charge is not credible.

While it is possible that the Pakistani military "establishment" attempted to influence the outcome of the elections, there is scant evidence of "orchestration" as alleged by Hameed Haroon of Dawn Media Group and others. While the military is a key player and has the ability to tip the scales to some extent, it lacks the capacity to determine the outcome of the elections. In the end, it's the voters who decide the winners and losers.

Summary:

PTI has achieved a historic win because of the millions of young men and women came out to enthusiastically support and vote for Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf candidates on July 25, 2018.  It has swept away many of the corrupt and dynastic "electables" and brought to the fore a new crop of leaders in Pakistan.  There is new hope in Pakistan but these new leaders face many challenges starting with the economy being hurt by a serious balance of payments crisis. PTI will need to move quickly to address these and other challenges to begin to meet the huge expectations of their passionate but impatient supporters of "Naya Pakistan".

Related Links:

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Pakistan Elections 2018 Conspiracy Theories

What conspiracy theories are being bandied about in Pakistani media coverage of general elections scheduled for July 25, 2018?

Why are Jang and Dawn, Pakistan's top 2 media houses, promoting Nawaz Sharif and his supporters' narrative?

Is there any evidence of a conspiracy between Pakistan's intelligence agencies and the top judges in the country?

Is the speculation based entirely on history? If these theories are correct, what will be the most likely outcome of these elections? Which party will emerge?  Will it be the "agencies" alleged favorite PTI?

What office would PTI chief Imran Khan want if his party wins? Prime Minister or President? Will possible restoration of article 58-2B of the constitution mean Imran Khan chooses to be president with real power?

Faraz Darvesh, Sabahat Ashraf and Riaz Haq discuss these questions. First streamed live on Facebook on July 21, 2018.

https://youtu.be/xjRHrinZw7Y



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

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ISI Mea Cupla in 2002 Elections

Pakistan 2018 Elections Predictions

Free Speech: Myth vs Reality

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Nawaz Sharif vs "Khalai Makhlooq"

"Genocide" Headline Skewed All East Pakistan Media Coverage in 1971

Strikingly Similar Narratives of Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif

Ex CIA Official on Pakistan's ISI

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Conspiracy Theories Dominate Media Coverage of Pakistan Elections 2018

Pakistani media coverage of the general elections scheduled for July 25, 2018 is dominated by discussion of conspiracy theories about the alleged involvement of Pakistan's "establishment" (euphemism for Pakistani military and intelligence agencies) to "rig" the vote to favor Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. Some in the media also accuse the "Deep State" of "worst ever censorship".

In a recent airing of BBC Hardtalk, the host Stephen Sackur challenged Pakistan Dawn Media Group's CEO Hameed Haroon to show evidence of Pakistani "Deep State" interference in the upcoming elections. Haroon responded by saying there's strong perception of it and said "it's all over social media". Sackur then told Haroon about the widely held view that Dawn Media Group is openly taking sides by supporting PMLN for the last two years and its now "convicted" leader Nawaz Sharif.

BBC's Hardtalk:

Mr. Hameed Haroon, Chief Executive of Pakistan's Dawn Media Group, claimed in a recent BBC interview that the Pakistani military and intelligence services were "orchestrating" July 25, 2018 general elections in favor of a particular political party. Here's an except of the interview with BBC's Stephen Sackur as the host:

Sackur: You are defenders of journalistic integrity, independence and impartiality in Pakistan but you are not seen as entirely neutral and impartial because over the last couple of years you are increasingly giving platform to one particular political player Nawaz Sharif who's run into an awful lot of trouble due to allegations of corruption ....you, the self-proclaimed impartial, independent, neutral media group covering Pakistani politics are now seen to be supporting and sympathetic to Nawaz Sharif and his daughter who it has has to be said are convicted criminals...

Haroon: There's an element of orchestration by military of a campaign against us...

Sackur: Where is your evidence of orchestration?

Haroon: If you look at the social media attacks on Dawn by the ISPR trolls....not just going after us but anybody who stands in their way.

Media Censorship:

Some in the media accuse the "Deep State" of "worst ever censorship". They say that their coverage is being limited and their distribution disrupted.

This claim of "worst ever censorship" is undercut by almost all media outlets widely covering all political speeches by leaders and candidates of all political parties, including Pakistan Muslim League (N) favored by Pakistan's two biggest media giants Jang and Dawn groups. The fact that there is a lot of discussion of "deep state" trying to "fix elections" reinforces the relative media freedom to show all points of view.

Orchestration vs Influence:

Those alleging "orchestration" of elections by Pakistani "establishment" cite documented history of involvement of Pakistani military and intelligence services in previous elections on behalf of one party or another.

For example, they mention the mea culpa by General Ehtisham Zamir, head of ISI political cell during 2002 elections.

It should be noted that the former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto issued the executive order creating a political cell within the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) with the purpose of influencing political processes in Pakistan, according to Hien Kiessling, author of "Faith, Unity, Discipline: The Inter-Service-Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan".

Bhutto's fateful decision in 1975 eventually brought about his own downfall when he used this cell to unnecessarily rig the 1977 elections and was overthrown and executed by General Zia-ul-Haq. It was also this cell that helped Nawaz Sharif , a protege of General Zia-ul-Haq, get elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan after the General's death in a mysterious air crash followed by a brief term in office by Benazir Bhutto. In 1990 the ISI received 140m rupees (US$2.2m at current values) to rig national elections, according to supreme court testimony by the then chief of army staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg.

While it is possible that the Pakistani military "establishment" is attempting to influence the outcome of the elections, there is scant evidence of "orchestration" as alleged by Hameed Haroon of Dawn Media Group and others. While the military is a key player and has the ability to tip the scales to some extent, it lacks the capacity to determine the outcome of the elections.

Orchestration, as alleged by Haroon and others, would challenge our credulity to believe all of the following:

1. Pakistan Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) colluded with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to hack and leak Panama Papers.

2. The "establishment" made sure that Nawaz Sharif's family's undeclared assets were part of the leak.

3. Pakistan Army chief and ISI ordered NAB to investigate Panama leaks and Nawaz Sharif family's assets.

4. Pakistan Army Chief and ISI chief called a meeting of the top Supreme Court judges to hear the case, remove Nawaz Sharif and transfer trial to a NAB court. 5. Pakistan Army Chief and ISI ordered NAB court to render a guilty verdict.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui:

Pakistani media have widely reported the remarks of  Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui regarding the attempts to influence his decisions in cases pending in his court relating to Nawaz Sharif's recent conviction.

The broad coverage of Justice Siddiqui's remarks in Pakistani media appears to negate the claims of media censorship made by Dawn's Haroon and others.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui is a right-wing judge who was a Jamaat e Islami candidate for elections in 2002. He represented Lal Masjid clerics after the Pakistani military cracked down on them  in Islamabad. He has become increasingly vocal against the military and his fellow judges since he was charged with misappropriating funds and hiring relatives to fill jobs at the Islamabad High Court. There’s a judicial reference pending against him.

Summary:

Media coverage of Pakistan's July 25, 2018 elections is dominated by conspiracy theories alleging "orchestration" of the election process by Pakistan's "Deep State". A recent episode of BBC's Hardtalk with Dawn Group's CEO showed that such allegations fail to withstand any serious scrutiny. The "orchestration" conspiracy theory challenges credulity by asking you to believe that everything starting with Panama Papers leak by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was managed by Pakistani intelligence agencies to oust Pakistan's ex prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Wide reporting of open criticism of the military and the judiciary by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui shows that the "worst ever media censorship" charge is not credible.

Here's a short video clip of BBC's Stephen Sackur's Hardtalk interviewing  Hameed Haroon of Pakistan's Dawn Media Group:

https://youtu.be/JQbt2QlVbwI




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

ISI Mea Cupla in 2002 Elections

Pakistan 2018 Elections Predictions

Free Speech: Myth vs Reality

Panama Leaks in Pakistan

Nawaz Sharif vs "Khalai Makhlooq"

"Genocide" Headline Skewed All East Pakistan Media Coverage in 1971

Strikingly Similar Narratives of Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif

Ex CIA Official on Pakistan's ISI

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

"Deep State" AKA "Khalai Makhlooq" vs Trump and Sharif

US President Donald Trump says he is being investigated by the "US Deep State" because he is trying to improve his nation's bilateral relations with Russia.  Pakistan's ex Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also made similar allegations of being targeted by "Khalai Makhlooq" (Pakistani Deep State) because of his efforts to make peace with India.  Their narratives are strikingly similar. Sharif and Trump have polarized and divided their nations by asking their political supporters to stand by them and to reject what they describe as a political "witch hunt".

Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif
Trump vs US Deep State:

In a press conference after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Mr. Trump said: "We have 90 percent of nuclear power between the two countries. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe".  The probe Mr. Trump is calling "ridiculous" is the result of the consensus reached by US intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in 2016 US presidential election to help Mr. Trump win. President Putin confessed that he favored Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump's supporters have accused "US Deep State" made up of intelligence and security establishment and Democrats of pursuing an anti-Trump agenda to derail efforts to improve US-Russia ties. Trump himself at the Helsinki press conference said: "As president, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics or the media or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct. Constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia forwards the opportunity to open new pathways toward peace and stability in our world. I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics. As president, I will always put what is best for America and what is best for the American people".

Sharif vs Khalai Makhlooq:

Nawaz Sharif and his supporters have long accused "Khalai Makhlooq" (Pakistani Deep State) for targeting him because of his efforts to improve ties with India. They reject any criticism of Sharif's eagerness to make friends with Indian Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister while ignoring India's proxy war of terror to destabilize and damage Pakistan.

Sharif's critics say that he is too soft on India's Modi in the same way that Trump's critics accuse him of being too cosy with Russia's Vladimir Putin.  They cite Nawaz Sharif's total silence on the arrest and confessions of Indian intelligence agent Kulbhushan Jadhav in Balochistan. Sharif's silence on this issue is seen as his distrust in his own intelligence agencies.

Sharif and his supporters have bought the Indian narrative that Pakistani establishment is the root cause of all problems between India and Pakistan. It''s similar to the way Trump and his supporters accuse US establishment of being responsible for lack of progress on building better ties with Russia.

Sharm al Shaikh and Ufa Declarations:

In 2009 Sharm al Sheikh meeting between then prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Manmohan Singh, the joint declaration included the mention of India's involvement in Balochistan along with Kashmir and other issues.

In 2015 when Nawaz Sharif met with Narendra Modi in Ufa, Russia, the joint statement does not mention the the Kashmir issue. Nor did it raise the issue of the 2007 inquiry of the Samjhauta Express blast, the British government’s alleged findings that India was supporting the MQM, and the Pakistan's charge that India is supporting terrorist groups in Pakistan.

The difference between the Sharm al Sheikh and Ufa caught the attention of all in Pakistan and reinforced the perception that Sharif was eager to make any deal with Modi, even a deal that ignored Pakistan's national security interests.  Many Americans have similar views about Trump's eagerness to make a deal with Putin.

Civil-Military Divide:

Indian and Western analysts and media promote the narrative of civil-military divide in Pakistan for lack of progress on India-Pakistan relations. In an article titled "Pakistan’s civil–military imbalance misunderstood", Husain Nadim of the University of Sydney says as follows:

"This absence of nuance in Western academic writing and commentaries on Pakistan is not just a blind spot. It is deliberate neglect whereby the dominant characterization of Pakistan’s civil–military relations is constructed to suit Western political interests that include aligning Pakistan’s national security policies with that of the West, and having a strong check on its nuclear program. Through aiding the civil–military divide in the country, the idea is to push back the mighty role of the Pakistan army from national security and foreign policy in hopes to seeking concession from the civilian political leadership."

On Sharif's eagerness to seek better ties with India, Husain Nadim says that "(Pakistani) military leaders advised caution and small steps to achieving sustainable peace with India — advice which Sharif ignored. After several months of futile attempts to court Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who pressed hard on Pakistan after his rise to power, Sharif faced an embarrassing situation. He accepted that his strategy had been a failure and allowed the military to devise a new strategy to engage India".

Who's at Fault?

In “How India Sees the World: Kautilya to the 21st Century”, the former India Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran recalls the crucial meeting of the CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) on the eve of India-Pakistan Defense Secretary-level talks in May 2006, where the draft agreement, that had been approved by the Army and other stakeholders, was to be discussed. However, he said two key players, the-then National Security Advisor MK Narayanan and then Army Chief General J.J. Singh made last minute interventions to scuttle the proposal, according to a report in The Hindu newspaper.

“When the CCS meeting was held on the eve of the defense secretary–level talks, [Mr.] Narayanan launched into a bitter offensive against the proposal, saying that Pakistan could not be trusted, that there would be political and public opposition to any such initiative and that India’s military position in the northern sector vis- à-vis both Pakistan and China would be compromised. [Gen] J.J. Singh, who had happily gone along with the proposal in its earlier iterations, now decided to join Narayanan in rubbishing it,” Mr. Saran writes.

“This is when L. K. Advani surprised Musharraf by asking for Dawood Ibrahim. This took Musharraf back and a shadow was cast thereafter on the Agra summit.” “As Mr. Mishra put it: “Yaar, hote-hote reh gaya … Ho gaya tha, who toh.”  Ex Indian Intelligence Chief A.S. Dulat

The above quote is from A.S. Dulat who has served as Chief of India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and as Special Director of India's Intelligence Bureau. He was speaking with Indian Journalist Karan Thapar of India Today on a variety of subjects including Kashmir and Musharraf-Vajpayee Agra summit.

Dulat has essentially confirmed the fact that Indian hawks like the BJP leader L.K. Advani are responsible for sabotaging the India-Pakistan summit.

There have now been multiple revelations by former Indian officials like Shyam Saran and AS Dulat as well as leaked US diplomatic cables detailing the causes of failures to resolve disputes in India-Pakistan talks in the last two decades.  These disclosures thoroughly debunk the myth promoted by Indian security analysts, Indian politicians and some western think tanks blaming Pakistan, particularly the Pakistani military, for the continuing failures to resolve bilateral disputes with India.

Summary:

US President Donald Trump and Pakistan's ex prime minister Nawaz Sharif are both claiming they are victims of  conspiracies by "Deep State" also known as Khalai Makhlooq in their respective countries. Each says that they are being targeted for wanting better relations with the leaders of their arch rivals in Russia and India. Their narratives are strikingly similar. Sharif and Trump have polarized and divided their own nations by asking the voters to stand by them and to reject what they describe as a political "witch hunt". Their critics argue that both leaders are too eager to make any deals with the enemies, even deals that do not take into account their countries best interests.

Here's a video clip of BBC Hardtalk's host Stephen Sackur challenging Pakistan Dawn Media Group's CEO Hameed Haroon to show evidence of Pakistani "Deep State" interference in the upcoming elections:

https://youtu.be/JQbt2QlVbwI



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Sharif's and Trump's Strikingly Similar Narratives

Indian Agent Kulbhushan Jhadav's Arrest in Balochistan

MQM-RAW Link

A.S. Dulat and Shyam Saran on India-Pakistan Ties

America's "We're the Good Guys" Narrative

The Story of Pakistan's M8 Motorway

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-Japan-US

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Pakistan Elections 2018 Predictions; Nawaz Sharif's Future

What will be the impact of tragic terror attacks with mass casualties on Pakistan's July 25, 2018 general elections? How does the current situation compare with the situation in 2013 elections? Will the elections proceed as scheduled?

Pakistan Elections 2018 Forecast by  Intermarket and Exotix Investment Firms

Which party is likely to get the most votes and parliamentary seats in Pakistan's July 25, 2018 general elections? Will one party get a clear majority? Who will form the new government? Is PTI Chief Imran Khan likely to be the next prime minister of Pakistan? Will it be a coalition government? How can a weak coalition government implement a radical reform agenda proposed by Imran Khan?

Why did former prime minister of Pakistan Mr. Nawaz Sharif, convicted recently by a Pakistani court on charges of having assets beyond income, come back to Lahore to face certain arrest? What is his strategy? What is Nawaz Sharif's future in Pakistani politics after his conviction and arrest? How will PMLN fare in 2018 and future elections? Will the disgraced Sharif be able to rehabilitate himself and reclaim the mantle of national leadership? Will future judges of Pakistan Supreme Court set aide his conviction to clear the way for him to become Pakistan's prime minister for the fourth time?

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

https://youtu.be/4jcH3CMYc5w




Here's Urdu version streamed live on Facebook:

https://youtu.be/v9PQGN0Is50




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Nawaz Sharif's Report Card 2013-18

CPEC Transforming Pakistan's Least Developed Regions

Pakistan: The Other 99% of the Pakistan Story

How Pakistan's Corrupt Elite Siphon Off Public Funds

Bumper Crops and Soaring Credit Drive Tractor Sales

Panama Leaks

How West Enables Corruption in Developing Countries

Declining Terror Toll in Pakistan

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

Friday, July 13, 2018

Ethiopia's First Muslim Prime Minister Makes Peace With Eritrea

Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali, a former army officer with a doctorate in conflict resolution,  was elected first Muslim prime minister of Ethiopia by the country's ruling coalition in April 2018. Soon after making history, 41-year-old Prime Minister Ahmed used his conflict resolution skills to make peace with bitter rival Eritrea. The most important immediate benefit of this deal for landlocked Ethiopia is access to Eritrea's Red Sea ports. Both nations can now focus on developing their economies and reducing poverty to improve the lives of their peoples. Their example should inspire many other developing nations, including India and Pakistan, to reach similar peace deals in the best interest of their peoples.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethipia
Who is Abiy Ahmed?

Abiy Ahmed Ali, born 15 August 1976, is chairman of both the ruling EPRDF (Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front) and the OPDO (Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organization). Abiy is also an elected member of the Ethiopian parliament, and a member of the OPDO and EPRDF executive committees.

Abiy has a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, master's in business administration and PhD in conflict resolution. In 1991 as a teenager, he joined the armed opposition against the Marxist–Leninist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam. He served in Ethiopia's armed forces as an intelligence officer.

Abiy bridged the religious and ethnic divides to build a new alliance between Oromo and the Amhara regions which together make up two thirds of the total population of 100 million Ethiopians.

Ethiopian History:

Ethiopia's ancient name is Abyssinia. Among the first Muslims to arrive in Ethiopia was the first cousin of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) Jafar ibn Abi Taleb, the elder brother of Ali ibn Abi Taleb, who after accepting Islam escaped the persecution of Makkans in 7th century CE. He led a delegation of over 80 Muslim migrants to Habesha (Ethiopia) who were all granted refuge in the African Kingdom by Christian King Nejashi.

About a third of Ethiopia's population is now Muslim with the rest being mostly Christian.

Among the most prominent early Muslims was a slave named Bilal the Abyssinian or Bilal al-Habashi. Prophet Muhammad's close companion Abu Bakr secured Bilal's freedom from his abusive master. Bilal rose to become a close companion of Prophet Muhammad and the first muezzin of Prophet's mosque (Masjid Nabavi) in Madina.  Bilal is now among the world's most popular popular Muslim names.

Eritrean History:

Eritrea was ruled by the Ottomans from 16th to the 19th century. Then it was colonized by Italians. After World War II Eritrea was annexed by Ethiopia. In 1991 the Eritrean People's Liberation Front defeated the Ethiopian government to gain independence. Eritrea's population of about 5 million is equally divided between Christians (Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic and Lutheran protestants) and Muslims.  The population of the high plateau (Asmara) is predominantly Christian, whereas that of the lowlands and the coastal region are predominantly Muslim.

Ethiopia-Eritrea Relations:

The Eritrean People's Liberation Front fought and defeated the Ethiopian military to gain independence in 1991. There was brief period of peace between the two until 1998 when war broke out over disputed territory of Badme.

Conflict between the two neighbors in the Horn of Africa lasted 20 years and claimed 70,000 lives. It was over the  territory of Badme which is still held by Ethiopia. Under the peace deal reached Prime Minister  Abiy Ahmed Ali of Ethiopia and President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, Ethiopia accepted Eritrean sovereignty over Badme and agreed to  a plan to withdraw from the region.

Currently, landlocked Ethiopia relies on Djibouti ports for trade. Addis Ababa is connected by a 750 kilometer long railway line with the ports in Djibouti.  The peace deal opens the way for Ethiopia to gain access to Eritrean Red Sea ports which are much closer to Ethiopia.

Summary:

Ethiopia has recently made history by electing its first Muslim leader, Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali.  Soon after making history, the 41-year-old Prime Minister used his conflict resolution skills to make peace with bitter rival Eritrea. The most important immediate benefit of this deal for landlocked Ethiopia is access to Eritrea's Red Sea ports. Both nations can now focus on developing their economies and reducing poverty to improve the lives of their peoples.  Their example should inspire many other developing nations, including India and Pakistan, to reach similar peace deals in the best interest of their peoples.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Aman Ki Asha (Aspiration For Peace)

Case For Resuming India-Pakistan Talks

Aid, Trade, Investments Remittances in Asia and Africa

Does China Seek to Dominate Africa?

Asian Economic Growth Since 1960

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Pakistan GDP Growth 1960-2017: How Does Pakistan Compare With China and India?

The latest GDP figures in terms of current US dollars released by the World Bank for 2017 put Pakistan's GDP at $305 billion, India's at $2,597 billion and China's at $12,237 billion.  The World Bank also lists where the gross domestic products of each country in current US dollars stood in 1960.

GDP Growth in Current US$ 1960-2017. Source: World Bank

Economic Growth Since 1960: 

The World Bank report released in June, 2018 shows that Pakistan's GDP has grown from $3.7 billion in 1960 to $305 billion in 2017, or 82.4 times. In the same period,  India's GDP grew from $37 billion in 1960 to $2,597 billion in 2017 or 71.15 times. Both South Asian nations have outpaced the world GDP growth of 60 times from 1960 to 2017.

While Pakistan's GDP growth of 82X from 1960 to 2017 is faster than India's 71X and it appears impressive, it pales in comparison to Malaysia's 157X, China's 205X and South Korea's 382X during the same period.

Economic Growth Since 1998:

In spite of all of the multiple challenges on several fronts that Pakistan continues to face, the country's 5X GDP growth over the last two decades is not too shabby when compared with India's 6.5X jump in the same period. Here are the figures for several countries from Spectator Index:

China:  13X growth in  GDP from $1 trillion in 1998 to $13.1 trillion in 2018

India: 6.5X growth in GDP from $400 billion in 1998 to $2.6 trillion in 2018

Pakistan: 5X growth in GDP from $62 billion in 1998 to $310 billion in 2018

United States: 2.2X growth in GDP from $9 trillion in 1998 to $20 trillion in 2018

Japan: 1.25X growth in GDP from $4 trillion in 1998 to $5 trillion in 2018

Per Capita Incomes:

Pakistan has not done as well in terms of per capita income growth for several reasons including poor governance and corruption since 2008 and faster population growth than in China, India and other countries. Per Capita income in Pakistan grew 22% since 2012, half of the 43% growth in India during the same period. China topped with 48% in per capita income since 2012.

Here are per capita income growth figures for selected countries since 2012:

China: 48%, India: 43%, Turkey: 32%, Indonesia: 29%, Pakistan: 22%, UK: 15%, US: 15%, Japan: 15%, Germany: 13%, Canada: 13%, France: 11%, Saudi Arabia: 10%, Greece: 9.5%, Russia: 8%, Italy: 8%, Nigeria: 7.5% and Brazil: 0%.

Per Capita GDP Comparison. Source: Hindustan Times


Pakistan has lagged its peers in per capita income growth over the last 5 decades. Pakistan's economic performance is especially disappointing relative to Asian Tigers like Malaysia and South Korea.  Pakistan was on a similar trajectory as the Asian Tigers during 1960s under Gen Ayub Khan's rule. GDP growth in this decade jumped to an average annual rate of 6 percent from 3 percent in the 1950s, according to Pakistani economist Dr. Ishrat Husain. Dr. Husain says: "The manufacturing sector expanded by 9 percent annually and various new industries were set up. Agriculture grew at a respectable rate of 4 percent with the introduction of Green Revolution technology. Governance improved with a major expansion in the government’s capacity for policy analysis, design and implementation, as well as the far-reaching process of institution building.7 The Pakistani polity evolved from what political scientists called a “soft state” to a “developmental” one that had acquired the semblance of political legitimacy. By 1969, Pakistan’s manufactured exports were higher than the exports of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia combined."


Pakistan Growth By Decades. Source: National Trade and Transport Facility

Since 1947, Pakistan has seen three periods of military rule: 1960s, 1980s and 2000s. In each of these decades, Pakistan's economy has performed significantly better than in decades under political governments. The worst decade for Pakistan's economy was 1990s, also known as the lost decade, when the GDP grew just 4% as Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif took turns to mismanage it.

Pakistan's GDP growth in decades under military rule has been 1.5-2.5% faster on average than under civilian rule. Though the difference of 1.5% in GDP growth appears small, it would have made a huge difference when compounded over multiple decades and put Pakistan in the ranks of Asian Tigers.

Summary:

Pakistan has defied repeated dire forecasts of doom and gloom since its independence.  According to the report released in June, 2018 shows that Pakistan's GDP has grown from $3.7 billion in 1960 to $305 billion in 2017, or 82.4 times. In the same period,  India's GDP grew from $37 billion in 1960 to $2,597 billion in 2017 or 71.15 times. Both South Asian nations have outpaced the world GDP growth of 60 times from 1960 to 2017.  Pakistan's economy has grown 500% over the last two decades in spite of political corruption and serious security challenges and instability created by the Afghan war next door and Indian sponsored proxy war against it.  Pakistan's GDP growth in decades under military rule has been 1.5-2% faster on average than under civilian rule. Though the difference of 1.5% in GDP growth appears small, it would have made a huge difference when compounded over multiple decades and put Pakistan in the ranks of Asian Tigers.

Related Links:





Monday, July 9, 2018

A Muslim Woman Founded World's Oldest Continuously Operating University

Taxila University, the world's first known university, was founded in 600 BCE in what is now Pakistan. This university ceased to exist in 500 CE. University of Al Quaraouiyine, started by a Muslim woman in North Africa, is believed to be the world's oldest university that has been in continuous operation since its founding 859 CE.

University of Al Quaraouiyine
University of Taxila:

University of Taxila, the  world's oldest known university, was founded in 600 BCE  in the Kingdom of Gandhara, in Ancient India, but now in Pakistan. It was not a university in the modern sense of the word. It did not have any infrastructure like classrooms nor did it provide housing for its teachers or students. There was no established system of schooling or curriculum in Taxila. Taxila followed no system of examinations, and did not award degrees to its students.

The town of Taxila flourished between 600 BCE and 500 CE. Dozens of subjects were taught at the university including religion, language, philosophy, politics, warfare, music and commerce. Minimum  admission age was 16.  Over 10,000 students studied there, including students from many nations around the world.

University of Al Quaraouiyine:

University of Al Quaraouiyine (also spelled al karaouine) was founded by Fatima Al Fihri in 859 CE in Fez, Morocco. It is believed to be the world's oldest continuously operating university.

Al-Fihri, born in Kairouan (Qayrawan) in what is now Tunisia, was a well-educated daughter of a wealthy merchant. Her family migrated to Fez where she started the world's oldest continuously operating university named after her place of birth.

The University started as a madrassa affiliated with a mosque. It had the basic infrastructure and systems associated with modern universities. It had a formal curriculum, administered examinations and awarded degrees. It became part of the foundation of the glory days of the Islamic Civilization.

The University currently has staff and faculty of over 1000 and it has over 8000 students enrolled. The list of its most distinguished alumni includes Ibn Khaldun, widely regarded as the forerunner of the modern disciplines of historiography, sociology, economics, and demography. Other notable alumni are Jewish philosopher Maimonides,  Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Muslim geographer Mohammad Al-Idrisi.

The world's second oldest continuously operating university is Al Azhar in Cairo, Egypt established in 970 CE.

Universities in Europe:

University of Bologna, the oldest university in Europe, was established in 1088 CE, more than two centuries after  University of Al Quaraouiyine was founded by Fatima Al-Fihri in Fez, Morocco.

Then came Oxford University in 1096, Salamanca University in 1134, Paris University in 1160 and Cambridge University in 1209.

World Changing Inventions/Discoveries:

While the concept of universities has had the biggest impact on the world, there are several other innovations and-or discoveries by Muslims that have changed the world. A short list includes coffee, Algebra, marching band and camera. Here is a video about the top 5 Muslim inventions that changed the world:

https://youtu.be/CC6CkdsuN-k




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Rise and Fall of the Islamic Civilization

Pakistani Woman Leads Global Gender Parity Campaign

Muslims Have Few Nobel Prizes

Ibn Khaldun: The Father of Modern Social Sciences

Obama Speaks to the Muslim World

Lost Discoveries by Dick Teresi

Physics of Christianity by Frank Tipler

What is Not Taught in School

How Islamic Inventors Changed the World

Jinnah's Pakistan Booms Amidst Doom and Gloom

Friday, July 6, 2018

A Perspective on Deposed Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Conviction

Guest Post by Rashid Ahmad.

My thoughts on Nawaz Sharif (NS) verdict:

1. This decision, like all major decisions that involve national level politicians, will remain controversial as the people will look at this decision from their own perspectives. To Anti-NS folks he was guilty before the trial began, and it does not matter on which charge he is convicted, as long as he is knocked out. For those who support Nawaz Sharif, he would never be guilty even if he is caught red handed.

2. The conviction was a foregone conclusion. It may be selective justice but the real reason was the accountability court, working under direct supervision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which, to many people, is not a neutral arbiter any more, but the “REAL PROSECUTOR”.  It is selective application of the law.

3. Although not comparing, this kind of motivated convictions are not uncommon. Pakistan’s illustrious judiciary has to its “credit” many infamous decisions: Doctrine of necessity by Justice Munir, and all those decisions that approved violations of the constitution by “The Aliens”. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's wrongful conviction, later admitted by Justice Nasim Hasan Shah. Justice Qayyum’s decision to convict Benazir Bhutto (BB) for corruption in 1998, based on illegal collusion among politicians, judges, and bureaucrats. This collusion was recorded by phone taps ordered by NS, but a bureaucrat provided a copy of it to BB and to British media. (Ironically in a different case earlier, Pres. Farooq Leghari had claimed that BB had tapped the phones of judges.) More recently, under Musharraf regime, the court had convicted NS and sentenced him for several years of imprisonment! Thus, if people take the decisions of the judiciary with a pinch of salt, they have a reason to do so.

4. During General Pervez Musharraf's regime, Nawab Akbar Bugti was once told by a reporter, in an interview, that govt. is prosecuting you because police investigations have established that you killed such and such persons. His response was telling, “If that police officer was under my control and command, he would sing a different song. The same police officer would state that Musharraf killed that person”! That is why the common phrase in Punjab is: “Wakeel na karo, Judge hi kar lo” (Don’t retain a lawyer, retain the judge”).  Zero faith in politicians, police, institutions and the courts.

5. Surprisingly the judge has acquitted NS from corruption while-in-office charge. He convicted him on a different charge.

6. The key question here was: Who has the burden of proof? NS lawyer has argued that NAB (National Accountability Bureau) has not met the 4 requirements set in law to shift the burden of proof to NS. The judge concluded NAB has met them, hence it is NS who has to provide evidence (how his young children acquired the Avenfield properties) to establish his innocence.

7. And finally, this judge needs to take supplemental English to write better opinions/decisions. The quality of his writing is awful. The decision is full of typos, grammatical, spelling mistakes, and incorrect names etc. which makes it hard to read. There is even a sentence, which, if taken literally, is contradictory to his decision. I wonder if this is common in his writings or did he not have time to proof read his decision, or was it written by his staff on which he signed off.

Author Rashid Ahmad is a Pakistani-American civil engineer with a Master's degree from UC Davis. He was recently recognized for his community service by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg  with a key to the city. Ahmad came to the United States in 1970 and has since been living in Sacramento-Davis area in California. 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

British Government Report Says Pakistan Among Top 3 Sources of Money Laundering

Did Musharraf Steal Pakistani People's Money?

Pakistan Economy Hobbled By Underinvestment

Raymond Baker on Corruption in Pakistan

Striking Similarity Between Sharif and Trump Narratives

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?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

NGO-ization of Pakistan

Pakistan has seen more than 10-fold increase in the number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the country since 911. There is now one NGO per 2000 Pakistanis. A large slice of the billions of dollars in American aid to Pakistan has been funneled through these non-government organizations (NGOs). This has been particularly true since the passage of Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid bill in 2009 that tripled civilian aid to Pakistan from $500 million to $1.5 billion a year. Most of these new NGOs are not likely to survive the planned US aid cuts to Pakistan by the Trump Administration.

NGO Proliferation: 

Pakistan has been massively NGO-ized since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, according to data compiled by Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP), a certification organization for non-government organizations (NGOs) and charity institutions. The number of NGOs has exploded from 10,000-12,000 in 2001 (source: Aga Khan Civil Society Index) to 100,000-150,000 mostly foreign-funded NGOs in 2016 as estimated by PCP

NGOs Justification:

Why is there one NGO for every 2,000 Pakistanis? The usual justification for NGOs is that these organizations fill the gaps in services left by the state. An obvious example of such an organization is Edhi Foundation.

Edhi Foundation is widely recognized as a domestically funded legitimate NGO that provides badly needed emergency and other critical services in the remotest corners of Pakistan.  Anatol Lieven, author of "Pakistan: A Hard Country" wrote the following about Edhi Foundation:

"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."  

There are many many foreign-funded, mostly US-funded, NGOs whose work is not as visible and their funding and activities lack transparency.

US Aid Boost in Pakistan:

The United States decided to increase civilian aid to Pakistan after the 911 attacks. A big part of this aid was funneled through non-government organizations. This was particularly true after Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid bill in 2009 that tripled civilian aid to Pakistan from $500 million to $1.5 billion a year.

Why does the United States choose to funnel aid through NGOs? The answer to this question can be found in the following excerpt from a US State Department document:

"We will reach beyond governments to offer a place at the table to groups and citizens willing to shoulder a fair share of the burden. Our efforts to engage beyond the state begin with outreach to civil society--activists, organizations, congregations, journalists who work through peaceful means to make their countries better. While civil society is varied, many groups have common goals with the United States, and working with civil society be effective and efficient path to advance our foreign policy goals". (DoS, 2010, pp 21-22)

The notable part of this statement is that the NGOs represent an "effective and efficient path to advance our foreign policy goals". These US goals are not necessarily the same as the interests of the countries where these NGOs operate.

Tools of Imperialism?

In "Confessions of an Economic Hitman", author John Perkins has detailed his own experience as an EHM (economic hit man) to control and exploit resources of developing nations for the benefit of major US corporations. Perkins says EHMs like him persuade leaders of target countries to hire their firms to do the projects at highly inflated costs which are financed by the World Bank, USAID and regional development banks. The borrowed money and the natural resources extracted flow to the coffers of US corporations while the developing countries are left under heavy debt. The leaders who refuse to cooperate with EHMs are overthrown or assassinated by "Jackals" (Perkins term for CIA agents). If the jackals fail, the US military invades the countries in defiance to bring them to heel.

Many believe that proliferating western-funded NGOs are the latest tools in America's toolbox described by John Perkins in his book. NGOs are seen as a cheaper alternative to military invasions to achieve desired outcomes in developing countries.

CIA-NGO Collaboration:

In 2011, the US CIA used a Pakistani doctor working with Save the Children NGO to conduct a fake vaccination campaign in KP in search of Usama Bin Laden's whereabouts.  This revelation caused a major setback to Pakistan's efforts to eradicate polio and harmed many children who went unvaccinated.

As recently as in 2014, the New York Times reported that  USAID Office of Transition Initiatives works with the C.I.A. on hi-tech propaganda and destabilization programs in developing nations.

Professionalization of NGOs:

Well funded NGOs are capitalizing and professionalizing activism. Instead of organizing the masses at the grass-roots level to fight for their interests, NGOs are being accused of using them for their own benefit.

American activist Stephanie McMillan from South Florida describes the process of modern NGO creation in the following words:

"For those of us involved in organizing, there is an eerily familiar pattern: Some atrocity happens, outraged people pour into the streets, and once together, someone announces a meeting to follow up and continue the struggle. At this meeting, several experienced organizers seem to be in charge. These activists open with radical language and offer to provide training and a regular meeting space. They seem to already have a plan figured out, whereas everyone else has barely had time to think about the next step. The activists exude competence, explaining—with diagrams—how to map out potential allies, as they craft a list of specific politicians (or others) to target with protests."

NGO Shake-out:

The lion's share of NGO funding is likely to dry up with the Trump Administration's decision to significantly cut aid to Pakistan. It is likely that many NGOs, particularly those reliant on US funds, will not survive. This will cause a major shake-out in Pakistan's NGO industry. Some of the money will likely still be pumped into the country by the CIA but it is unlikely to make up for the lost aid money.

This will not affect legitimate NGOs like Edhi Foundation which is almost entirely funded by donations in Pakistan by Pakistanis.

Summary:

Pakistan has seen more than 10-fold increase in the number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the country since 911. There is now one NGO per 2000 Pakistanis. A large slice of billions of dollars in US aid has been funneled through non-government organizations. This was particularly true after Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid bill in 2009 that tripled civilian aid to Pakistan from $500 million to $1.5 billion a year. Most of these new NGOs are not likely to survive the planned US aid cuts to Pakistan by the Trump Administration.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Hollywood: America's Unofficial Ministry of Propaganda

Free Speech: Myth or Reality?

Social Media Tribalism

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