Riaz Haq writes this data-driven blog to provide information, express his opinions and make comments on many topics. Subjects include personal activities, education, South Asia, South Asian community, regional and international affairs and US politics to financial markets. For investors interested in South Asia, Riaz has another blog called South Asia Investor at http://www.southasiainvestor.com and a YouTube video channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkrIDyFbC9N9evXYb9cA_gQ
Over 4,200 Indians have so far been jailed for illegally crossing US-Mexico border this year, according to available data reported by US media. It's a big jump from 3,100 Indians detained in all of 2017. Most are seeking asylum based on claims of religious and political persecution in their country of origin.
Portland-based newspaper "The Oregonian" found that the single largest group of detainees at Sheridan Federal Prison in Oregon came from India. It reported that there were 50 Indians among the 124 migrants being housed at the prison. The others hailed from Nepal, Armenia, Brazil, Mexico and parts of Central America.
India Fastest Growing Source of Illegals:
India has become the biggest source of illegal immigrants crossing into the United States. In 2014 about 136,000 people came to the U.S. from India, about 128,000 from China and about 123,000 from Mexico, census figures show. As recently as 2005, Mexico sent more than 10 times as many people to the U.S. as China, and more than six times as many as India, according to the WSJ story.
United States Department of Homeland Security estimates that there were 12.1 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States as of 2014. The top countries of origin are:
Mexico = 6.6 million
El Salvador = 700,000
Guatemala = 640,000
India = 430,000
Honduras = 400,000
Philippines = 360,000
Religious Hostilities in Modi's India:
The rise of Hindutva forces is tearing India apart along caste and religious lines. Hindu mobs are lynching Muslims and Dalits. A recent Pew Research report confirms that the level of hostility against religious minorities in India is "very high", giving India a score of 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10. Pakistan's score on this scale is 7 while Bangladesh's is 7.5.
Rising hostility against minorities in India has earned it a score of 9.5 on a scale of 0-10 assessed by Pew Research. This is manifested in a big jump in the number of Indians seeking asylum in the United States. Over 4,200 Indians have so far been jailed for illegally crossing US-Mexico border this year, according to available data reported by US media. It's a big jump from 3,100 Indians detained in all of 2017. Most are seeking asylum based on claims of religious and political persecution in their country of origin.
Pakistan's information technology exports have bucked the nation's declining exports trend with double digit growth to reach $1,065 million in fiscal year 2018, according to the State Bank of Pakistan. It is generally believed that Pakistan's central bank underestimates technology exports. Some have argued that the actual IT exports were closer to $5 billion in fiscal 2018. Some of the differences can be attributed to the fact that the State Bank IT exports data does not include various non-IT sectors such as financial services, automobiles, and health care.
Pakistan IT exports surged 13.4% to $1.06 billion in fiscal year 2018 from $939 million in fiscal year 2017. The growth was even more robust in the prior year with IT exports rising 19.1% from $789 million in fiscal 2016 to reach $939 million in fiscal year 2017.
Source: State Bank of Pakistan
About $320 million of IT exports revenue in fiscal 2018 came from software exports while the rest was made up of services such as consulting, telecom and call centers.
Double Digit CAGR in Pakistan IT-ITeS Exports in 2010-2018
Freelancers in Pakistan are benefiting from the growing access to broadband connections which are now being used by over 50 million Pakistanis across the country. Pakistan is ranked 4th in the world by the freelancing industry report. The country has rapidly increasing human capital of technologists.
Growth in IT exports is a good sign for Pakistan's export diversification beyond commodities such as textiles and food. In addition, air forces of about a dozen developing nations are buying and deploying Pakistani made aircrafts. The reasons for their choice of Pakistan manufactured airplanes range from lower cost to ease of acquisition, maintenance and training.
Pakistan's newly-elected Prime Minister Imran Khan has completed his first week in office. He has named his cabinet and key advisors to run his government. What key challenges does he face going forward?
Successive Pakistani governments have failed to manage the nation's external accounts and foreign exchange reserves, forcing incoming governments to seek IMF bailouts. IMF bailouts come with strings attached, strings that impact Pakistan's sovereignty. One of the key reasons is that 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.
US-Pakistan relations have been deteriorating for the last decade with new geopolitical realities and new alignments. This fact came into sharp focus and US and Pakistan disagreed on the readout of US Secretary of State Pompeo's first call to Prime Minister Imran Khan. The US continues to forge close alliance with Pakistan's archenemy India. Given US control of international financial system and Pakistan's dependence on IMF, Pakistan faces the challenge of managing the crucial US-Pakistan relationship. What must Pakistan do to avoid a complete rupture of this relationship.
A recent Pew Research report confirms that the level of hostility against religious minorities in India is "very high", giving India a score of 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10. Though the trend is in the direct direction for Pakistan, the country continues to see significant religious hostility toward minorities, particularly toward the small Ahmadi minority. Pakistan's score on this scale is 7 while Bangladesh's is 7.5. What must Imran Khan do to further improve the situation?
The scribe was interviewed live on Facebook for Day Dreamers Show by its host Dr. Aijaz Qureshi Canadawalla on August 24, 2018. The discussion began with introductions. It focused on the following topics:
1. Riaz Haq's background, education and 37 years experience in Silicon Valley: Graduated with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Karachi's NED University in 1974. Completed Master's degree in EE from New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1981. Worked at Intel Corporation for 15 years and led microprocessor design teams. Recognized by PC Magazine as Person of the Year for contribution to Intel 80386 processor. Started two high tech companies.
2. Silicon Valley Pakistanis: Over 50,000 Pakistanis in Silicon Valley. Many successful tech entrepreneurs. Some have taken companies public while others have sold companies to big tech giants like Cisco and Intel. Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs in active in Silicon Valley and holds a large annual conference in the valley every year. It is attended by technologists, entrepreneurs, executives, venture capitalists, lawyers and accountants making up the local tech startup ecosystem.
3. Pakistan's Human Capital: Pakistan's biggest natural resource is its young population. It can and should be developed into valuable human capital that will take Pakistan to the next level. It requires basic and higher education as well as skills training for the 21st century workforce.
4. Pakistan Water Crisis: The 150 million acre feet of water that flows annually through Pakistan's river and irrigation system is a critical resource. How can this precious resource be conserved, stored and used effectively for the benefit of its people?
Here's the recorded video of Facebook live interview:
Here's an Urdu newspaper written by Amar Chaudhry who apparently watch this show:
Pakistan graduated from low-income (level 1) to lower-middle-income (level 2) status at the end of Musharraf years in 2008, according to the United Nations. Can Prime Minister Imran Khan lead his nation to upper-middle-income (level 3) ranks by the end of his first term in office? What are his chances of accomplishing this ambitious goal?
The extensive data compilation and research by Professor Hans Rosling of Sweden has shown that the binary categorization of nations into developed and developing is no longer useful. Instead, he has proposed using 4 levels of development based on health and wealth indicators, a proposal that has now been accepted by the United Nations and the World Bank. Here's how Rosling and the United Nations define these 4 levels:
1. Level 1: One billion people live on level 1. This is what we think of as extreme poverty. If you’re on level 1, you survive on less than $2 a day and get around by walking barefoot. Your food is cooked over an open fire, and you spend most of your day traveling to fetch water. At night, you and your children sleep on a dirt floor.
2. Level 2: Three billion people live on level 2, between $2 and $8 a day. Level 2 means that you can buy shoes and maybe a bike, so it doesn’t take so long to get water. Your kids go to school instead of working all day. Dinner is made over a gas stove, and your family sleeps on mattresses instead of the floor.
Level 3: Two billion people live on level 3, between $8 and $32 a day. You have running water and a fridge in your home. You can also afford a motorbike to make getting around easier. Some of your kids start (and even finish) high school.
Level 4: One billion people live on level 4. If you spend more than $32 a day, you’re on level 4. You have at least a high school education and can probably afford to buy a car and take a vacation once in a while.
Imran Khan's Ambitious Agenda:
Imran Khan laid out his agenda in his first speech to the nation after taking the office of the prime minister. It was more like a fireside chat in which he spoke directly to the people to explain his priorities that emphasize education, health care and human development. These are the keys to leading Pakistan from level 2 to level 3. In order to pursue his priorities, Mr. Khan needs to first address the more urgent economic crisis which he acknowledged. Pakistan needs to deal with excessive public debt and pay for the necessary imports to move forward. He must also deal with financial corruption and mismanagement to free up the resources for his ambitious agenda of economic and human development of the nation.
Mr. Khan will almost certainly face stiff opposition from the status quo forces which stand to lose from the changes he seeks. They will fight to preserve their patronage networks and their power and privilege. They will try to bring down his coalition government with all they have got. They might even threaten his personal safety and security.
Democracy and Development:
Professor Hans Rosling has compiled extensive socioeconomic data and done serious research to understand how nations develop. He has shared his work in "Factfulness" that he co-wrote with his son Ola Rosling and daughter Anna Rosling Ronnlund. Here's an except on democracy and development from Factfulness:
"This is risky but I am going to argue it anyway. I strongly believe that liberal democracy is the best way to run a country. People like me, who believe this, are often tempted to argue that democracy leads to, or its even a requirement for, other good things, like peace, social progress, health improvement, and economic growth. But here's the thing, and it is hard to accept: the evidence does not support this stance. Most countries that make great economic and social progress are not democracies. South Korea moved from Level 1 to Level 3 faster than any other country had ever done (without finding oil), all the time as a military dictatorship. Of the ten countries with the fastest economic growth, nine of them score low on democracy. Anyone who claims that democracy is a necessity for economic growth and health improvements will risk getting contradicted by reality. It's better to argue for democracy as a goal in itself instead of as a superior means to other goals we like."
Pakistan's newly elected Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan has laid out an ambitious agenda that could take his country from level 2 to level 3 of socioeconomic development. It is achievable but the odds are against him because he faces stiff opposition from the status quo forces. The powerful dynastic duopoly of PPP and PMLN still dominates Pakistan's Senate whose support will be required for major reforms. The research by Professor Hans Rosling shows: "Of the ten countries with the fastest economic growth, nine of them score low on democracy." It's also supported by Pakistan's economic history where pace of development has consistently been faster under military governments than during civilian democratic rule.
Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan became Pakistan's 22nd prime minister after his 22-year-long quest for the highest executive office in the land. What is the historic significance of this event for Pakistan's democracy? Has it finally ended the three-decade-long dynastic duopoly of the Pakistan Muslim League and the Pakistan People's Party which are controlled by Sharifs and Bhuttos? Will the emergence of the PTI as the 3rd political force likely reduce corruption and improve governance in Pakistan?
Is Imran Khan's nomination of Sardar Usman Buzdar as Punjab Chief Minister a mistake? Will Prime Minister Imran Khan make mistakes as he begins his tenure? Will his opponents jump at every opportunity to attack him when he makes mistakes? Should he be allowed to make mistakes as he learns on the job? Is he entitled to a honeymoon period?
Do the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies call all the shots in Pakistan? Is the military's role in Pakistani electoral process highly exaggerated? Are there other forces including political parties and the voters which are as influential or even more influential in determining the outcome of elections? Does Imran Khan owe his victory to the alleged military support?
How is ISI different from other national intelligence agencies like CIA? Are Pakistani intelligence agencies unique in their influence on politicians and the political processes? Why does US President Trump think "Deep State" helped his opponents? Why did US Senator Charles Schumer warn Trump by telling MSNBC host Rachel Maddow: "they (intelligence agencies) have six ways from Sunday to get back at you"?
Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Sabahat Ashraf and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)
Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away today in New Delhi, India, according to media reports. He was 93. He was seen as the moderate face of Hindu Nationalism. Mr. Vajpayee led Hindu Nationalists to their first-ever outright election victory with the majority of seats won by his BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) in the Indian parliament in 1999. He had briefly held the prime minister's job twice earlier but the third time proved to be the charm. His third term in office lasted from 1999 until 2004.
Hardcore Hindu Nationalist:
Vajpayee represented kind and gentle face of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). Beneath the surface, however, he was a hardcore Hindu Nationalist. He joined the RSS at the age of 16. The RSS has sought to make India a Hindu Rashtra (nation) since its founding in 1925, a year after Vajpayee was born.
Vajpayee stoked hatred against India's large Muslim minority. In a speeches to Hindu audiences he said: "Wherever there are Muslims in large numbers, they do not want to live in peace."
In 2003 as Prime Minister of India, Vajpayee installed a portrait of virulently anti-Muslim Hindu Nationalist leader VD Savarkar in the Indian parliament house in New Delhi. 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. Prime Minister Modi describes Savarkar as "worthy of worship". After getting elected to the highest office in India, Modi paid tribute to Savarkar by laying flowers at his portrait that still hangs in India's Parliament.
Hindu Nationalist Leader VD Savarkar
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.
1971 India-Pakistan War:
Vajpayee saw India's military victory over Pakistan in religious terms. He lavished praise on Indira Gandhi by calling her Durga, Hindu goddess literally meaning "the invincible", on India's victory over Muslim Pakistan in the 1971 war in East Pakistan. `
Indian Muslims faced "insulting and provocative slogans" by Hindu Nationalists celebrating India's 1971 war victory over Pakistan. Here's an excerpt of a report from India:
"The chief reason for the resentment of the Muslims is that the event of the independence of Bangladesh and her severance of all ties with Pakistan was generally celebrated in India as if the 'victory' had been gained against the Muslims themselves. Insulting and provocative slogans were raised against them in public meetings in this country. A second reason is that the Muslims in general do believe that the war was primarily fought for the purpose of destroying the integral unity of Pakistan. Our Ministry of Information hands out all sorts of propaganda but does nothing to dispel the dejection and resentment of Indian Muslims" (Quoted in Sidq-i-Jadid; 21 January 1972).
Vajpayee's successor Prime Minister Narendra Modi has railed against Muslim rule of India by describing it as "bara so saal ki ghulami" (1200 years of servitude). Here's an excerpt of Modi's 2014 speech:
"Barah sau saal ki gulami ki maansikta humein pareshan kar rahi hai. Bahut baar humse thoda ooncha vyakti mile, to sar ooncha karke baat karne ki humari taaqat nahin hoti hai (The slave mentality of 1,200 years is troubling us. Often, when we meet a person of high stature, we fail to muster strength to speak up).
India-Pakistan Nuclear Tests:
Vajpayee ordered India's underground nuclear tests in 1998 to intimidate Pakistan and assert India's status as a nuclear power on the world stage. Within weeks, Pakistan responded to those tests with six of its own, forever altering South Asian security.
Vajpayee threw away India's substantial conventional military edge over Pakistan by going nuclear. It gave Pakistan the justification it needed to go nuclear a few weeks later, thereby achieving balance of terror with its much larger neighbor with a huge conventional military.
Indian analyst Krishna Kant explains his country's policymakers blunder as follows: "Nuclear weapons have reduced Pakistan defense cost while we (India) have been forced to spend tens of billions of dollars to acquire latest military hardware in a bid to retain the edge. Its shows in the defence budget of the two countries since 1999 nuclear blasts. All through 1980s and 90s, Pakistan was spending around a third of its government budget and 5-6% of its GDP on defense, or about twice the corresponding ratios for India. After going nuclear, Pakistan’s defense spending decelerated and its share in GDP is expected to be decline to around 2.5% in the current fiscal year, slightly ahead of India’s 2%. This is releasing resources for Pakistan to invest in productive sectors such as infrastructure and social services, something they couldn’t do when they were competing with India to maintain parity in conventional weapons."
In 1999, during Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to Pakistan, both countries agreed to the Lahore Declaration and pledged to make joint efforts for peace and stability in South Asia. The Kargil war came months later and proved to be major setback in this effort.
Contacts between India and Pakistan resumed at the highest level with talks in New Delhi between President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in July 2001. 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 told Indian Journalist Karan Thapar of India Today that the Musharraf-Vajpayee meeting resulted in agreement on Kashmir and other major bilateral issue but still ended in failure. He put the entire blame for its failure on India's Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani. Here's an AS Dulat quote from the interview:
“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.”
Rise of Hindu Nationalism:
The rise of Hindutva forces that began with Vajpayee's 1999 election victory is tearing India apart along caste and religious lines as the country celebrates 71 years of independence from the British colonial rule. Hindu mobs are lynching Muslims and Dalits. A recent Pew Research report confirms that the level of hostility against religious minorities in India is "very high", giving India a score of 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10. Pakistan's score on this scale is 7 while Bangladesh's is 7.5.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee represented kind and gentle face of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). Beneath the surface, however, he was a hardcore Hindu Nationalist. He led Hindu Nationalists to their first-ever outright election victory with the majority of seats won by his BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) in the Indian parliament in 1999. Vajpayee saw India's military victory over Pakistan in religious terms. He lavished praise on Indira Gandhi by calling her Durga, Hindu goddess literally meaning "the invincible", on "Hindu" India's victory over Muslim Pakistan in the 1971 war in East Pakistan. Vajpayee ordered India's underground nuclear tests in 1998 to intimidate Pakistan and assert India's status as a nuclear power on the world stage. Within weeks, Pakistan responded to those tests with six of its own, forever altering South Asian security. Vajpayee threw away India's substantial conventional military edge over Pakistan by going nuclear. It gave Pakistan the justification it needed to go nuclear a few weeks later, thereby achieving balance of terror with its much larger neighbor with a huge conventional military.
The rise of Hindutva forces is tearing India apart along caste and religious lines as the country celebrates 71 years of independence from the British colonial rule. Hindu mobs are lynching Muslims and Dalits. A recent Pew Research report confirms that the level of hostility against religious minorities in India is "very high", giving India a score of 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10. Pakistan's score on this scale is 7 while Bangladesh's is 7.5.
In recently published "The Raisina Model", British-Indian author Lord Meghnad Desai asks: "A country of many nations, will India break up?" The Hindu Nationalists who are blamed for deepening divisions are themselves divided on the key questions of caste, religion and trade. Professor Walter Anderson, co-author of "The RSS: The View to the Inside" raises the specter of "a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism".
The Raisina Model:
In "The Raisina Model", Lord Meghand Desai says that India's breakup can not be ruled out. Specifically, he points to three issues that could lead to it:
1. Cow protection squads are killing Muslims and jeopardizing their livelihoods. The current agitation about beef eating and gau raksha is in the Hindi belt just an excuse for attacking Muslims blatantly. As most slaughterhouses in UP are Muslim-owned, owners and employees of these places are prime targets.
2. India has still not fashioned a narrative about its nationhood which can satisfy all. The two rival narratives—secular and Hindu nation—are both centred in the Hindi belt extending to Gujarat and Maharashtra at the most. This area comprises 51% of the total population and around 45% of the Muslims in India.
3. India has avoided equal treatment of unequal units. Representation in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) is proportional to population size. If anything, it is the smaller states that may complain about being marginalized, though so far none has. The larger states thus dominate both Houses of Parliament. It would be difficult for small states to object, much less initiate reform. In future, small states could unite to present their case for better treatment. Except for Punjab and Nagaland, there has been no attempt to challenge the status quo.
Map of India(s) on the eve of British conquest in 1764
Hindutva vs Hinduism:
In "The RSS: The View to the Inside", the author Walter Anderson brings out several areas which could lead to a split within the Hindu Nationalists. These disagreements have to do with low caste Hindus, Muslims and foreign trade and investment policies.
1. The leadership of the the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is drawn entirely from the upper caste Brahmins. The RSS founder Golwalkar never spoke against the caste system. The RSS opposes affirmative action, called reservations, to benefit low caste Hindus. At the same time, they want to integrate Dalits and OBCs (Other backward classes of which Prime Minister Modi is a member) into the organization to promote Hindu unity.
Anderson believes that it will be extremely difficult to reconcile Hindutva embrace of lower castes with the entrenched Hindu caste system. He says the following:
"..there will eventually be a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism. Hindutva emphasizes the oneness of Hindus, whereas ground realities are very different. Let me give an example. Following the egalitarian ideology, Tarun Vijay, an RSS ideologue and former editor of Panchjanya and Organiser, once led some Dalits into a temple in central India, where they had not been before. He was beaten up, but few in the RSS family vocally supported him. They kept mostly quiet. As one important RSS functionary put it to me, the key question is: how do we keep our organisation intact if we do move towards an egalitarian Hindu society?"
2. When RSS leader MD Deoras invited Indian Muslims to join the RSS, he argued that Muslims were mostly India-born, and therefore Indian. But he made the Muslim entry into the RSS conditional upon accepting India’s “historic culture”. RSS leaders argue that South Indian Muslims, or Indonesian Muslims are ideal Muslims. South Indian Muslims speak the regional languages; and Indonesia, a primarily Muslim country, has the Ramayana as its national epic.
3. Many RSS ideologues oppose Prime Minister Modi's policies of promoting foreign trade and investment. They view Modi's economic policies with great skepticism.
The rise of RSS and its affiliates in India is deepening divisions in the country along multiple fault lines, the most important being caste and religion. The RSS leadership itself is not unified on how to deal with the divisions they have created and promoted. This situation has raised the social hostilities in India to very high levels. Pew scores social hostilities against minorities in India at 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10. Professor Walter Anderson, co-author of "The RSS: The View to the Inside" has raised the specter of "a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism". And it has caused Lord Meghnad Desai, author of The Raisina Model, to ask the question: Will India break up?
Pakistan's Independence Day celebrations this year coincide with a momentous change in leadership. It has been brought about by the triumph of the insurgent Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) over Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), both regarded as dynastic political parties. PMLN and PPP are each controlled by a family. Pakistan's Prime Minister Elect Imran Khan is part of a generation that he says "grew up at a time when colonial hang up was at its peak." How will the acknowledgement of this upbringing affect Imran Khan's leadership of "Naya Pakistan"? Let's examine the answers to this question.
Colonial Era Education:
Imran Khan attended Aitchison College, an elite school established in Lahore by South Asia's colonial rulers to produce faithful civil servants during the British Raj. He then went on to graduate from Oxford University in England. Here's an excerpt of what he wrote in an article published by the Arab News on January 14, 2002:
"My generation grew up at a time when colonial hang up was at its peak. Our older generation had been slaves and had a huge inferiority complex of the British. The school I went to was similar to all elite schools in Pakistan. Despite gaining independent, they were, and still are, producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis.
I read Shakespeare, which was fine, but no Allama Iqbal — the national poet of Pakistan. The class on Islamic studies was not taken seriously, and when I left school I was considered among the elite of the country because I could speak English and wore Western clothes.
Despite periodically shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ in school functions, I considered my own culture backward and religion outdated. Among our group if any one talked about religion, prayed or kept a beard he was immediately branded a Mullah.
Because of the power of the Western media, our heroes were Western movie stars or pop stars. When I went to Oxford already burdened with this hang up, things didn’t get any easier. At Oxford, not just Islam, but all religions were considered anachronism."
It is refreshing to see Imran Khan's acknowledgement that Pakistan's elite schools are "producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis". Pakistan achieved independence from the British colonial rule 70 years ago. However, the minds of most of Pakistan's elites remain colonized to this day. This seems to be particularly true of the nation's western-educated "liberals" who dominate much of the intellectual discourse in the country. They continue to look at their fellow countrymen through the eyes of the Orientalists who served as tools for western colonization of Asia, Middle East and Africa. The work of these "native" Orientalists available in their books, op ed columns and other publications reflects their utter contempt for Pakistan and Pakistanis. Their colonized minds uncritically accept all things western. They often seem to think that the Pakistanis can do nothing right while the West can do no wrong. Far from being constructive, these colonized minds promote lack of confidence in the ability of their fellow "natives" to solve their own problems and contribute to hopelessness. The way out of it is to encourage more inquiry based learning and critical thinking.
Orientalism As Tool of Colonialism:
Dr. Edward Said (1935-2003), Palestine-born Columbia University professor and the author of "Orientalism", described it as the ethnocentric study of non-Europeans by Europeans. Dr. Said wrote that the Orientalists see the people of Asia, Africa and the Middle East as “gullible” and “devoid of energy and initiative.” European colonization led to the decline and destruction of the prosperity of every nation they ruled. India is a prime example of it. India was the world's largest economy producing over a quarter of the world's GDP when the British arrived. At the end of the British Raj, India's contribution was reduced to less than 2% of the world GDP.
Education to Colonize Minds:
In his "Prison Notebooks", Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist theorist and politician, says that a class can exercise its power not merely by the use of force but by an institutionalized system of moral and intellectual leadership that promotes certain ideas and beliefs favorable to it. For Gramsci "cultural hegemony" is maintained through the consent of the dominated class which assures the intellectual and material supremacy of the dominant class.
In "Masks of Conquest", author Gauri Viswanathan says that the British curriculum was introduced in India to "mask" the economic exploitation of the colonized. Its main purpose was to colonize the minds of the natives to sustain colonial rule.
Cambridge Curriculum in Pakistan:
The colonial discourse of the superiority of English language and western education continues with a system of elite schools that uses Cambridge curriculum in Pakistan.
Over 270,000 Pakistani students from elite schools participated in Cambridge O-level and A-level International (CIE) exams in 2016, an increase of seven per cent over the prior year.
Cambridge IGCSE exams is also growing in popularity in Pakistan, with enrollment increasing by 16% from 10,364 in 2014-15 to 12,019 in 2015-16. Globally there has been 10% growth in entries across all Cambridge qualifications in 2016, including 11% growth in entries for Cambridge International A Levels and 8 per cent for Cambridge IGCSE, according to Express Tribune newspaper.
The United Kingdom remains the top source of international education for Pakistanis. 46,640 students, the largest number of Pakistani students receiving international education anywhere, are doing so at Pakistani universities in joint degree programs established with British universities, according to UK Council for International Student Affairs.
At the higher education level, the number of students enrolled in British-Pakistani joint degree programs in Pakistan (46,640) makes it the fourth largest effort behind Malaysia (78,850), China (64,560) and Singapore (49,970).
Teach Critical Thinking:
Pakistani educators need to see the western colonial influences and their detrimental effects on the minds of youngsters. They need to improve learning by helping students learn to think for themselves critically. Such reforms will require students to ask more questions and to find answers for themselves through their own research rather than taking the words of their textbook authors and teachers as the ultimate truth.
It is refreshing to see Imran Khan's acknowledgement that Pakistan's elite schools are "producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis". The minds of most of Pakistan's elite remain colonized 70 years after the British rule of Pakistan ended in 1947. They uncritically accept all things western. A quick scan of Pakistan's English media shows the disdain the nation's western educated elites have for their fellow countryman. Far from being constructive, they promote lack of confidence in their fellow "natives" ability to solve their own problems and contribute to hopelessness. Their colonized minds uncritically accept all things western. They often seem to think that the Pakistanis can do nothing right while the West can do no wrong. Unless these colonized minds are freed, it will be difficult for the people of Pakistan to believe in themselves, have the confidence in their capabilities and develop the national pride to lay the foundation of a bright future. The best way to help free these colonized minds is through curriculum reform that helps build real critical thinking.
Here's an interesting discussion of the legacy of the British Raj in India as seen by writer-diplomat Shashi Tharoor:
"Naya Pakistan" led by Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf Chief Imran Khan faces multi-dimensional challenges of governance, economy, security and ties with the United States and India.
The first and most pressing challenge is the severe balance of payments crisis. It will force Imran Khan to beg and/or borrow billions of US dollars to shore up the country's reserves. It must deal with the geopolitical challenge of potential US veto of the IMF bailout of Pakistan.
In addition to dealing with the looming bop crisis, the PTI government must address the issue of exports that have halved from 16% of GDP in 2003 to about 8% of GDP in 2017-18. It needs to make concerted efforts to promote exports by making the domestic industry more export-oriented. It must help exporters understand the requirements of foreign markets and use its diplomats to promote Pakistani products and services in international markets.
Pakistan must overcome the civil-military divide and build consensus to develop policies vis-a-vis the United States and India while at the same time maintaining close ties with China. The new leadership needs to use institutional processes such as regular national security council meetings attended by by top civilian, military and intelligence officials.
Azad Labon Ke Sath host Faraz Darvesh discusses these challenges with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)