Saturday, October 31, 2020

Pakistan's Exports Surging At The Fastest Rate in South Asia

With several major brands moving production to Pakistan amid the COVID19 pandemic, the country's exports have grown at a faster pace than those of Bangladesh and India, according to Bloomberg News. Pakistan's total textile shipments rose 7% in September, compared with India’s 6% and  Bangladesh’s 3.5%. 


South Asia Region's Exports. Source: Bloomberg




“Pakistan has seen orders shifting from multiple nations including China, India and Bangladesh,” said Shahid Sattar, secretary general at the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, in an interview with Bloomberg's Faseeh Mangi. “Garment manufacturers are operating near maximum capacity and many can’t take any orders for the next six months.”

Pakistan's Textiles Growth. Source: Bloomberg


Bloomberg attributed Pakistan's export surge to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration  to be the first in South Asia  to ease the COVID19 lockdown after controlling the spread of the disease. It helped draw companies like Guess Inc., Hugo Boss AG, Target Corp. and Hanesbrands Inc.

Investor Confidence: 

 Pakistan's benchmark stock index KSE-100 has soared 52% since March, beating runners-up Vietnam and India, and gaining twice as much as China, according to Bloomberg News. In spite of the rapid rise, the valuation of the KSE-100 listed companies is among the world's lowest with forward price-earnings multiple of just 7.4 times. Pakistan is heading for an IPO spree, with as many as 10 companies lining up to go public.

IPO Spree in Karachi Stock Market. Source: Bloomberg



V-Shaped Recovery:

With coronavirus spread contained, Pakistan economy is rebounding with V-shaped economic recovery.   Pakistanis have once again defied all foreign and domestic doomsayers, including media, activists and think tanks of all varieties. The nation's monthly Quantum Index of Manufacturing (QIM) for July 2020 has returned to where it was a year ago in July 2019, according to data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.  Meanwhile, the number of daily new cases has declined from over 6,000 a day in June to around 500 a day now. There has also been dramatic reduction in hospital admissions and the need for intensive care. The LSMI output increased by 5.02% for July, 2020 compared to July, 2019 and 9.54% in June, 2020.  The recovery in manufacturing is quite broad, extending from cement production to fuel sales and growing demand for automobiles to home appliances, according to Bloomberg News.  Pakistan has successfully overcome the challenges posed  by the pandemic and its economic impact. Khan-Bajwa cooperation has been one of the keys to the country's success in dealing with the twin crises.


Covid19 Cases in Pakistan. Source: Our World in Data


Broad Recovery: 

The recovery in manufacturing is quite broad, extending from cement production to fuel sales and growing demand for automobiles to home appliances, according to Bloomberg News. The nation's monthly Quantum Index of Manufacturing (QIM) for July 2020 has returned to where it was a year ago in July 2019, according to data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.  Meanwhile, the number of daily new cases has declined from over 6,000 a day in June to around 500 a day now.  There has also been dramatic reduction in hospital admissions and the need for intensive care. The LSMI output has increased by 5.02% for July, 2020 compared to July, 2019 and 9.54% if compared to June 2020. Month-wise trend of QIM from July, 2018 to July, 2020.    

Pakistan Monthly Quantum Index of Manufacturing. Source: PBS

Cement Sales: 

Pakistan is once again experiencing a construction boom with new incentives under Naya Pakistan Housing Program. Monthly cement sales rose to near all-time high of almost 5 million tons in July 2020 as construction activity picked up in both housing and CPEC-related projects. 

Pakistan Cement Sales. Source: Bloomberg


Car Sales:

Gasoline sales in June, 2020 hit new record  and local car deliveries rose to about 10,000 units as people returned to work after easing of lockdown in May, 2020. Kia Motors Corp.’s local unit is planning to add a second shift at its factory in Karachi from January.  

Pakistan Car Sales Recovery. Source: Bloomberg

Multiple Sectors Growing: 

Sectors including food, beverages & tobacco, coke & petroleum products, pharmaceuticals and non metallic mineral products saw an increase in production in July 2020.  Muzzammil Aslam, chief executive officer at Tangent Capital Advisors Pvt., was quoted by Bloomberg as saying, “It has surprised everybody".  Aslam expects Pakistan economy at 4%-5% in current fiscal year, higher than the government’s 2.1% target. “The growth is led by an aggregate demand push.”

Summary:

Pakistanis have defied all foreign and domestic doomsayers, including media, activists and think tanks of all varieties. Pakistan has successfully fought off the deadly COVID19 virus and begun to bounce back economically. With several major brands moving production to Pakistan, the country's exports are rebounding faster than its peers in South Asia.  Moody's rating agency has raised Pakistan's economic outlook from "under review for downgrade" to "stable". Pakistan's Planning Minister Asad Umar is talking of a "V-shaped recovery". Monthly cement sales have rebounded to pre-pandemic level, fuel sales have increased, tax collection is up,  exports are rising and the Karachi stock market is booming again. Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief General Javed Bajwa have been on the same page in tackling the health and economic crises faced by Pakistan. Contrary to the critics of Pakistan's civil-military ties,  Khan-Bajwa cooperation has been one of the keys to the country's success in dealing with the twin crises.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

COVID19 in Pakistan: Test Positivity Rate and Deaths Declining

Naya Pakistan Housing Program

Construction Industry in Pakistan

Pakistan's Pharma Industry Among World's Fastest Growing

Pakistan to Become World's 6th Largest Cement Producer by 2030

Is Pakistan's Response to COVID19 Flawed?

Pakistan's Computer Services Exports Jump 26% Amid COVID19 Lockdown

Coronavirus, Lives and Livelihoods in Pakistan

Vast Majority of Pakistanis Support Imran Khan's Handling of Covid19 Crisis

Pakistani-American Woman Featured in Netflix Documentary "Pandemic"

Coronavirus Antibodies Testing in Pakistan

Can Pakistan Effectively Respond to Coronavirus Outbreak? 

How Grim is Pakistan's Social Sector Progress?

Pakistan Fares Marginally Better Than India On Disease Burdens

Trump Picks Muslim-American to Lead Vaccine Effort

Democracy vs Dictatorship in Pakistan

Pakistan Child Health Indicators

Pakistan's Balance of Payments Crisis

Panama Leaks in Pakistan

Conspiracy Theories About Pakistan Elections"

PTI Triumphs Over Corrupt Dynastic Political Parties

Strikingly Similar Narratives of Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif's Report Card

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Convicted Money Launderer Altaf Khanani Had Close Ties to Top Pakistani Politicians

Convicted money launderer Altaf Khanani and his patrons among Pakistani politicians appear to have brought FATF's attention to Pakistan when the country was first put on its grey list back in 2012. A new national financial crimes bill was introduced by the ruling Pakistan People's Party which was so full of holes that a senior FIA official complained publicly it was "drafted by a money-launderer".  Khanani is believed to have moved over $12 billion a year of dirty money through Pakistani banking system. Altaf Khanani's 2015 conviction on money laundering charges by a US court and recent FinCEN files confirm that Khanani was a big time international criminal. Khanani has recently been released after serving a 5 year sentence in a US jail. His current whereabouts are unknown.  Pakistan was removed from FATF grey list in 2015 but it was back on it again in 2018. 


Pakistan on FATF Grey List

Who is Altaf Khanani?

Altaf Khanani is a member of Karachi's memon business community. Along with his twin brother Javed, he started their money-changing business under the name of Khanani and Kalia Inc (KKI) in 1984. By the 1990s, more foreign currency was passing through KKI than the banking system of Pakistan! By 1997 many governments were looking into KKI’s network but the twins were close to Pakistan's ruling elite. In 2008, Khanani brothers were charged with money laundering in Pakistan but later exonerated due to lack of evidence. FIA's appeal against their acquittals were rejected by the Sindh High Court as recently as 2019. However, a US court convicted Altaf Khanani of money laundering in 2015 and sentenced him to 5 years in jail. His brother Javed died in mysterious circumstances in 2016.  His death was labeled as suicide.  KKI partner Munaf Kalia now lives in Karachi. Altaf has recently been released from a US prison after serving his 5 year term. His whereabouts are unknown. 

US Report:

A 2017 US State Department report labelled the Altaf Khanani group as a money laundering organization (MLO) and said it laundered billions of dollars of dirty money. 

The 2017 US report said: “The Altaf Khanani money laundering organization (Khanani MLO) is based in Pakistan. The group, which was designated a transnational organized crime group by the United States in November 2015, facilitates illicit money movement between, among others, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), United States, UK, Canada, and Australia.” “There is a substantial demand for money laundering and illicit financial services due to the country’s black market economy and challenging security environment,” the report added. 

Australian Report: 

In 2007 and 2008 alone, Khanani's company  Khanani and Kalia's official banking records showed the company handled $2.3 billion, according to the Australian Federal Police. David Stewart, an assistant commissioner of Australian Police, said the Khanani's hawala-based operation was "turning over between 14 and 16 billion US dollars annually".

Pakistan FIA: 

In 2008, Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) alleged  that Khanani's company had illegally siphoned $US10 billion out of Pakistan. But few among the ruling politicians seemed to want to see the case proceed. "For fear of their own identities being revealed," Dawn newspaper columnist Khurram Husain said, "a very wide spectrum of very powerful interests mobilized in order to try and protect these [KKI] people." 

In 2010, a critical affidavit omitted the names of the very KKI directors who had been originally arraigned, according to ABC News. A new national financial crimes statute was introduced by the ruling Pakistan People's Party which was so full of holes that a senior FIA official complained publicly it was "drafted by a money-launderer". In 2012, a specially convened banking court acquitted the eight company officials, and in 2013, Altaf Khanani was also exonerated by the District and Sessions Court in Karachi.

Chaudhry Nisar:

In 2016, Pakistan's then Home Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan accused the Pakistan People's Party of being hand-in-glove with Khanani. He said: “During the tenure of the previous government, PPP officials had massively laundered money with the help of one of the biggest money changers, Khanani and Kalia, and later destroyed the evidence". 

“Billions of rupees had been laundered by the currency dealer in connivance with people in the then government. On the direction of ‘these people’ the record had been destroyed and now I am looking for this record,” Nisar added.


British Crime Agency Report:

In its 2018 annual assessment of serious and organized crime, the British National Crime Agency named Pakistan among the top 3 sources of money laundering. It said: “Investment in UK property, particularly in London, continues to be an attractive mechanism to launder funds....As the UK moves towards exiting the EU in March 2019, UK-based businesses may look to increase the amount of trade they have with non-EU countries....We judge this will increase the likelihood that UK businesses will come into contact with corrupt markets, particularly in the developing world, raising the risk they will be drawn into corrupt practices.”

Here are some of the key excerpts of the UK NCA report titled "National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organized Crime 2018":

1. "The UK is a prime destination for foreign corrupt PEPs (politically exposed persons, a euphemism for politicians and their family member) to launder the proceeds of corruption. Investment in UK property, particularly in London, continues to be an attractive mechanism to launder funds. The true scale of PEPs investment in the UK is not known, however the source countries that are most commonly seen are Russia, Nigeria and Pakistan".

2. "The overseas jurisdictions that have the most enduring impact on the UK across the majority of the different money laundering threats are: Russia, China, Hong Kong, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Some of these jurisdictions have large financial sectors which also make them attractive as destinations or transit points for the proceeds of crime." 

End UK Safe Haven:

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

Daniel Bruce, the head of Transparency International UK, has recently called on the British government to act against corrupt politicians who have found safe haven in London. Here's what he told the Financial Times:  “Foreign politicians with convictions relating to corruption should not enjoy impunity in Britain. Nor should their unexplained wealth, stashed in luxury London properties, fall out of the reach of law enforcement. The UK government should work constructively with democratic countries such as Pakistan to uphold the rule of law. Action should also be taken to seize and return illicit assets held here in Britain in order to deliver justice for the victims of corruption. Failure to act on cases such as this, earns the UK an unwelcome reputation as a safe haven for dirty money.”

Terror Financing: 

FATF may have been used against Pakistan as a political tool of the imperial powers. It may turn out to be a blessing in disguise to help document Pakistan's vast underground economy, cut rampant financial corruption and reduce widespread tax evasion. The loopholes in laws and systems that permit money laundering are used by corrupt politicians, businessmen and the terrorists alike. FATF is asking for these loopholes to be closed. Closing these loopholes will help Pakistan's economy and help fight terrorism at the same time. Recent anti-AML legislation passed by Pakistan's parliament is good start.

Summary:

Pakistan first came on the radar of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 2008 when reports emerged that Altaf Khanani, Pakistani foreign exchange dealer, was moving over 12 billion US dollars a year of dirty money from Pakistan via Dubai. Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) filed charges against him that did not result in conviction when powerful politicians ordered key evidence destroyed. Later, a new national financial crimes bill was introduced by the ruling Pakistan People's Party which was so full of holes that a senior FIA official complained publicly it was "drafted by a money-launderer". As a result, the FATF decided to put Pakistan on its grey list in 2012.  Altaf Khanani's 2015 conviction on money laundering charges by a US court and recent FinCEN files confirm that Khanani was a big time international criminal. His brother and business partner Javed died in mysterious circumstances in 2016. Javed's death was ruled as suicide.  KKI partner Munaf Kalia now lives in Karachi. Altaf has recently been released from a US prison after serving his 5 year term. His whereabouts are unknown. Pakistan was removed from FATF grey list in 2015 but it was back on it again in 2018. 

Related Links:

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Pakistan's Per Capita Milk Consumption Reaches 231 Liters

Per capita milk consumption in Pakistan reached 231 liters (231 Kg) in 2019, according to a new research report entitled ‘Asia – Whole Fresh Milk – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. It has almost doubled from 119 liters per person in 2011. Milk production in Pakistan is the second highest in Asia and the third highest in the world.  Per capita milk consumption of 231 kg in Pakistan is the third highest in Asia, behind Uzbekistan's 339 Kg and Turkey's 281 Kg, according to the IndexBox report

Top Milk Producing Countries. Source: FAO

Milk Production:

Pakistan produced 47 million tons of milk in 2019, the third largest in the world after top-ranked India's 198 million tons and the United States' 100 million tons. Pakistan’s milk production is projected to increase by an average of 3% a year due to an increase in the herd population. According to FAO projections, Asian production is expected to increase by 2% in 2020 due to expected growth in India, Pakistan, and China, while Turkey may experience a decline.

In value terms, India ($146.8B) led the market, alone. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Pakistan ($37.3B). It was followed by China.

Milk Production Growth in Pakistan


Milk Consumption: 

Milk consumption in Pakistan in 2019 was 231 Kg per capita. It has grown an average of 3.2% a year in the last decade. From 2009 to 2019, the average annual rate of growth in terms of volume in India totaled +5.4%. The remaining consuming countries recorded the following average annual rates of consumption growth: Pakistan (+3.2% per year) and China (-1.2% per year).  

Pakistan Dairy Sector:

Vast majority of milk producers in Pakistan are small farmers who own a few cows or buffaloes and sell unprocessed milk. However, commercial scale dairy farming is starting to grow in the country.  Since the year 2000, corporate sector has seen the potential and jumped in with brand names like Dawood's Engro and Nestle's MilkPak.  This has led to the enlargement of herds with imports of high-quality milk germ plasm, the productivity per animal, milk collection, processing and marketing, the supply of dairy inputs (machinery, equipment, feeds, semen, and elite dairy animals), and farmers knowledge, and skills on modern management practices.   

The size of the opportunity for selling dairy products in Pakistan has attracted significant investments from European giants like Nestle, FrieslandCampina and Unilever. Commercial dairy farms like JK Dairy.  

Pakistan Agriculture Output: 

As of 2016, Pakistan's agriculture output is $52.5 billion, the 10th largest in the world in terms of gross value of agricultural production at current prices, according to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). China leads with $1.2 trillion in agricultural output, followed by India's $365 billion, United States with $329 billion, Brazil's $167 billion, Indonesia $135 billion, Japan's $91 billion, Russia's $69 billion, Turkey's $69 billion, France's $65 billion and Pakistan's $52 billion.  

Top 10 Countries by Agriculture Output. Source: FAO



Summary:

Pakistan is among the world's largest dairy producing and consuming nations. Pakistan produced 47 million tons of milk in 2019, the third largest in the world after top-ranked India's 198 million tons and the United States' 100 million tons. Per capita milk consumption in Pakistan reached 231 Kg in 2019. Pakistan’s milk production is projected to increase by an average of 3% a year due to an increase in the herd population. Vast majority of milk producers in Pakistan are small farmers who own a few cows or buffaloes and sell unprocessed milk. However, commercial scale dairy farming is starting to grow in the country. Overall, Pakistan's agriculture output is the 10th largest in the world.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Chicken Cheaper Than Daal

Meat Industry in Pakistan

Bumper Crops and Soaring Tractor Sales in Pakistan

Meat and Dairy Revolution in Pakistan

Pakistanis Are Among the Most Carnivorous

Eid ul Azha: Multi-Billion Dollar Urban-to-Rural Transfer

Pakistan's Rural Economy

Pakistan Leads South Asia in Agriculture Value Addition

Median Incomes in India and Pakistan

Monday, October 19, 2020

Nawaz Sharif's Anti-Military Rhetoric; Moeed Yusuf on Indian Sponsored Terror in Pakistan

Former Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif has alleged that the Pakistan Army Chief and the ISI leader orchestrated his conviction on corruption charges and his subsequent ouster. In a clear departure from prior allegations against "the establishment", Mr. Sharif has named names of the chiefs of the Army and the ISI in his anti-military address over the telephone from London to a joint opposition rally in Gujranwala. Where does he go from here? Is he following in the footsteps of MQM founder Altaf Husain? Has Sharif given up on any hope of returning to claim power in Pakistan? Is the end of his political career for all practical purposes? 



Pakistan's two major political parties PMLN and PPP have joined Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) as the joint opposition movement under Maulana Fazlur Rehman go from here. In a show of strength, PDM has held two big political parties in Gujranwala and Karachi. Their objective is to force Prime Minister Imran Khan's resignation, followed by fresh general elections. How far will the PDM leadership go to achieve this objective? Will they succeed in bringing large numbers of people on the streets to create chaos? How will the Pakistani military respond to it? Will the majority of Pakistanis support any military intervention to end chaos and bring order? Will such intervention be a direct military takeover of power or will it be in support of Prime Minister Imran Khan's government? 

Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Prime Minister Imran Khan's National Security Advisor, has said that "we have evidence to the T" of India's links to several terrorist attacks in Pakistan. In an interview with Indian journalist Karan Thapar, Dr. Yusuf mentioned specific terrorist incidents with Indian intelligence agency's fingerprints on them. Specifically, he mentioned terrorist attacks on Army Public School in Peshawar that killed 149 people including 132 schoolchildren. “Malik Faridoon who masterminded the attack from Jalalabad (in Afghanistan) was in touch with handlers at the Indian consulate as children were massacred in broad daylight,” he said. Yusuf also mentioned India's links to terrorist attacks on Chinese consulate, Pakistan Stock Exchange and Gwadar 5-star hotel. Kulbhushan Jadhav "has been caught with his pants down" India recently spent $1 million to bring about TTP, 4 other militant organizations' merger in Afghanistan Kashmiris should be made 3rd party in any India-Pakistan talks. 

Is Dr. Yusuf beginning to build a common Pakistan narrative on Indian sponsorship of terror in Pakistan?  Can he do it with without it getting politicized in Pakistan by anti-military and anti-ISI politicians and activists? 

Pakistan's economy has been hit hard by one-two punch: a balance-of-payments crisis and the coronavirus pandemicFood prices have soared in Pakistan and the world as uncertainty about the pandemic has increased speculation and hoarding of basic foods. Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, a measure of key farm goods futures contracts, is up almost 20% since June. There's anger and impatience among Pakistanis that is creating an opportunity for PDM to direct it at Prime Minister Imran Khan's government. Will the PTI government be able to address these issues and survive the Opposition's onslaught? 

ALKS host Faraz Darvesh discusses these issues with Ali Hasan Cemendtaur, Sabahat Ashraf (iFaqir) and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com).

https://youtu.be/THKiOsYdbC8










Sunday, October 18, 2020

Ex Treasury Sec Summers: US Would Have Saved $10 Trillion If We Handled COVID Pandemic Like Pakistan

Speaking with Fareed Zakaria on US cable news network CNN, former US Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers told Zakaria's audience that "if the US had handled the pandemic as well as Pakistan,  we would have saved around $10 trillion ". 

Ex US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers Praised Pakistan on CNN


After similar praise of Pakistan's handling of coronavirus by Bill Gates on CNN GPS show, this was yet another rebuke of Fareed Zakaria who never misses any opportunity to disparage Pakistan. It reminds us all  how wrong headed is his earlier statement that Pakistan "has done almost nothing as far as I can tell, you know, infections are not going crazy, death rates are not going crazy, there may be some underreporting"

Below I am reproducing a post I wrote on this subject on August 12, 2020: 

Interviewing Bill Gates on global fight against COVID19, CNN GPS host Fareed Zakaria said on Sunday August 9 that Pakistan "has done almost nothing as far as I can tell, you know, infections are not going crazy, death rates are not going crazy, there may be some underreporting". Needless to say, Zakaria's claim is debunked by "Government Response Stringency Index" and Google Mobility Reports which Bill Gates  is clearly aware of.  So he ignored Zakaria's claim and responded as follows:"Pakistan had a pretty bad peak in Karachi but those numbers have come down and now they look like Europe. India is still sadly in growth phase as is South America...in Africa South Africa is top...in the rest of Africa we've been funding a lot of testing because it's a bit opaque..what goes on in the lungs..you are more exposed to indoor and outdoor particulates even at younger ages you can get disease compared to let's say a rich country"

CNN GPS Anchor Fareed Zakaria


Data on Pakistan's Response to COVID19: 

Is Fareed Zakaria right? Has Pakistan really done nothing to fight COVID19 pandemic? Let's answer this question.

The first answer can be found in the video flashes from Pakistan that were playing as Fareed Zakaria was disparaging Pakistan's efforts to control the spread pf coronavirus. The video shows people wearing masks on the streets in Pakistan. It also shows a worker spraying disinfectant. Another scene shows worshippers wearing masks while sitting apart from each other in a mosque. Does Fareed Zakaria think "nothing" of what is visible on the screen in his show? Did he ask his producer what was being transmitted to the audience as he spoke?

COVID19: Government Response Stringency Index. Source: Our World in Data


The second and more data-centric answer can be seen in the "Government Response Stringency Index" that tracks various restrictions imposed by governments to control the spread of coronavirus. The Index tracks restrictions including school closures, workplace closures, and travel bans, scaled from 0 to 100 where 100 is the strictest response. It's based on data from Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker.  The tracker shows that  Pakistan government response was nearly as stringent as India's and more stringent than that of the United Kingdom.

Another indicator of restrictions comes from Google Mobility Index which also confirms dramatic effect of lockdown imposed by federal and provincial governments in Pakistan. It shows that mobility was down as much as 65% during the lockdown when compared with the period just prior to the lockdown.

CNN GPS Screenshot



Health Chief Dr. Zafar Mirza's Interview: 

What has improved the COVID19 situation in Pakistan? Is it just Pakistan's good fortune? Why is it so different from the situation in neighboring India where the infections are rising?  Is it the result of a series of deliberate interventions by Pakistan's government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan? What are the key factors contributing to falling coronavirus transmission rate in the country? Here are some  of Pakistan's Health Chief Dr. Zafar Mirza's answers to these questions that came to light in a recent interview with Pakistani journalist Bilal Lakhani:


1. There were 50 different interventions with 2300 smart lockdowns covering 47 million people based on data driven evidence of disease spread.

2.  Significant change in people's behavior with large percentage wearing masks and taking other precautions to prevent transmission.

3. A fall in positivity from over 22% to below 10%, and excluding Sindh, near 5% for the country.

4. Significant decline in hospitalizations and fewer patients in critical care.

5. The government staying the course while ignoring the mass hysteria for total nationwide lockdown like India's stirred up in the media came mainly from the well-fed rich and the upper middle class. The voices of the ordinary people and daily wage earners were not part of public discourse reported by the media.

Zakaria's Views on Terrorism: 

Fareed Zakaria has often talked of what he labels "Islamic Terrorism", a label that both Presidents Barack Obama and Geoge W. Bush shunned. Both ex presidents rejected associating terrorism with any religion. But not Fareed Zakaria who has essentially toed the Indian line of calling it "Islamic Terrorism" and labeled Pakistan as "epicenter of Islamic Terrorism".

Far from being objective, Zakaria is in fact a cheerleader for India, the country of his birth. In his book "The Post-American World", he describes India as a "powerful package" and claims India has been "peaceful, stable, and prosperous".

Summary:

Former US Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers told Zakaria's audience that "if the US had handled the pandemic as well as Pakistan,  we would have saved around $10 trillion ". After similar praise of Pakistan's handling of coronavirus by Bill Gates on CNN GPS show, this was yet another rebuke of Fareed Zakaria who never misses any opportunity to disparage Pakistan. CNN GPS host Fareed Zakaria has shown yet again that he is incapable of being objective when it comes to discussing anything related to Pakistan. He claims that Pakistan "has done almost nothing" in fighting COVID19 pandemic, a claim that is debunked by "Government Response Stringency Index" and Google Mobility Reports. In fact, the video flashes from Pakistan that were playing as Fareed Zakaria was disparaging Pakistan's efforts to control the spread pf coronavirus show people wearing masks on the streets in Pakistan. They also shows a worker spraying disinfectant. Another scene shows worshippers wearing masks while sitting apart from each other in a mosque.  Fareed Zakaria's bias against Pakistan is ridiculously obvious to any objective observer who has even the slightest knowledge of the country.

Here's a video clip from CNN GPS Show:

https://youtu.be/KpAMVLwBJkM



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

COVID19 in Pakistan: Test Positivity Rate and Deaths Declining

Fareed Zakaria Never Misses Any Opportunity to Bash Pakistan

Retired Justice Markanday Katju on Modi's India

Lynchistan: India is the Lynching Capital of the World

73 Year After Independence, Caste-Ridden India Dominated By Brahmins

Pakistan's Pharma Industry Among World's Fastest Growing

Is Pakistan's Response to COVID19 Flawed?

Pakistan's Computer Services Exports Jump 26% Amid COVID19 Lockdown

Coronavirus, Lives and Livelihoods in Pakistan

Vast Majority of Pakistanis Support Imran Khan's Handling of Covid19 Crisis

Pakistani-American Woman Featured in Netflix Documentary "Pandemic"

Coronavirus Antibodies Testing in Pakistan

Can Pakistan Effectively Respond to Coronavirus Outbreak? 

How Grim is Pakistan's Social Sector Progress?

Pakistan Fares Marginally Better Than India On Disease Burdens

Trump Picks Muslim-American to Lead Vaccine Effort

Democracy vs Dictatorship in Pakistan

Pakistan Child Health Indicators

Pakistan's Balance of Payments Crisis

Panama Leaks in Pakistan

Conspiracy Theories About Pakistan Elections"

PTI Triumphs Over Corrupt Dynastic Political Parties

Strikingly Similar Narratives of Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif's Report Card

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Friday, October 16, 2020

India Tops South Asia Hunger Chart Amid COVID19 Pandemic

India ranks 94th among 107 nations ranked by World Hunger Index in 2020. Other South Asian have fared better: Pakistan (88), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (75), Sri Lanka (64) and Myanmar (78) – and only Afghanistan has fared worse at 99th place. The COVID19 pandemic has worsened India's hunger and malnutrition. Tens of thousands of Indian children were forced to go to sleep on an empty stomach as the daily wage workers lost their livelihood and Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the South Asian nationPakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan opted for "smart lockdown" that reduced the impact on daily wage earners. China, the place where COVID19 virus first emerged, is among 17 countries with the lowest level of hunger. 

World Hunger Rankings 2020. Source: World Hunger Index Report



India Among Worst Hit: 

India has 17.3% child wasting rate, the worst in South Asia region. Child stunting is also extremely high across South Asia. “Data from 1991 through 2014 for Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan showed that stunting is concentrated among children from households facing multiple forms of deprivation, including poor dietary diversity, low levels of maternal education, and household poverty,” the World Hunger Report said. China, the place where COVID19 virus first emerged, is among 17 countries with the lowest level of hunger. 

Hunger and malnutrition are worsening in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia because of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in low-income communities or those already stricken by continued conflict. 


India has performed particularly poorly because of one of the world's strictest lockdowns imposed by Prime Minister Modi to contain the spread the virus. 

Global Epicenters of Covid19. Source: Bloomberg



Global Food Prices:

Global food prices are soaring by double digits amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Bloomberg News. Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, a measure of key farm goods futures contracts, is up almost 20% since June. It may in part be driven by speculators in the commodities markets. These rapid price rises are hitting the people in Pakistan and the rest of the world hard.  In spite of these hikes, Pakistan remains among the least expensive places for food, according recent studies. It is important for Pakistan's federal and provincial governments to rise up to the challenge and relieve the pain inflicted on the average Pakistani consumer.  

Global Agricultural Futures Contracts. Source: Bloomberg

Global Food Prices:

Global food prices are increasing at least partly due to several nations buying basic food commodities to boost their strategic reserves in the midst of the pandemic.  A Bloomberg News report says that "agricultural commodity buyers from Cairo to Islamabad have been on a shopping spree since the Covid-19 pandemic upended supply chains".  It may in part be driven by speculators in the commodities markets. Here's an excerpt of the Bloomberg story:

"Agricultural prices have been on the rise as countries stepped up purchases, adding to demand from China and a drought in the Black Sea region. That has helped push the Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, which measures key farm goods futures contracts, up almost 20% since June. Sugar prices have gained a boost as China replenished stockpiles, said Geovane Consul, chief executive officer of a Brazilian sugar and ethanol joint venture between U.S. agribusiness giant Bunge Ltd. and British oil major BP Plc." 

Supply Constraint in Pakistan: 

The Pakistan Government estimates final wheat production ended up at 25.5 million tons, slightly above the five-year average of 25.38 million tons, according to Grain Central. While that represented a 1.2 million tons increase on the 24.3 million tons harvested in 2019, it was well short of the government’s target of 27 million tons, forcing Pakistan to import wheat at higher global prices.

Demand for fruits and vegetables is also rising at about 9.5% a year, according to Mordor Intelligence. The supply is falling short of demand, putting pressure on prices. 


Global Food Price Comparison. Source: Bayut



Food Prices in Pakistan:

The food prices have risen 14% for urban and 16.8% for rural areas of Pakistan in the last 12 months, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. In spite of this inflationary trend,  the grocery prices in Pakistan remain among the lowest in the world. A comparison by Dubai-based Bayut shows that groceries in Pakistan cost 72.9% less than in the United States. Other least-expensive countries for groceries include Tunisia ( 67% less), Ukraine ( 66.7% less), Egypt (65.6% less) and Kosovo (65.6% less). 

Globally, Switzerland sells the most expensive groceries, with prices 79.1% higher than in the U.S. Norway is the second most expensive place to buy groceries, with prices 37.4% more expensive than in the U.S., and Iceland is third most expensive, where food items are 36.6% pricier, according to Bayut.

Cost of Dining Out. Source: Commodity.com


Summary:

India ranks 94th among 107 nations ranked by World Hunger Index in 2020.  China, the place where COVID19 virus first emerged, is among 17 countries with the lowest level of hunger.  Other South Asian have fared better: Pakistan (88), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (75), Sri Lanka (64) and Myanmar (78) – and only Afghanistan has fared worse at 99th place. However, global food price hikes have also hit average Pakistani hard in spite of the fact that grocery prices in Pakistan remain the lowest the world.  Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, a measure of key farm goods futures contracts, is up almost 20% since June. It may in part be driven by speculators in the commodities markets. World food commodity prices are increasing at least partly due to several nations buying basic food commodities to boost their strategic reserves in the midst of the pandemic. It is important for Pakistan's federal and provincial governments to intervene in the markets to relieve the average Pakistani consumer's pain. 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

COVID19 in Pakistan: Test Positivity Rate and Deaths Declining

Naya Pakistan Housing Program

Construction Industry in Pakistan

Pakistan's Pharma Industry Among World's Fastest Growing

Pakistan to Become World's 6th Largest Cement Producer by 2030

Is Pakistan's Response to COVID19 Flawed?

Pakistan's Computer Services Exports Jump 26% Amid COVID19 Lockdown

Coronavirus, Lives and Livelihoods in Pakistan

Vast Majority of Pakistanis Support Imran Khan's Handling of Covid19 Crisis

Pakistani-American Woman Featured in Netflix Documentary "Pandemic"

Coronavirus Antibodies Testing in Pakistan

Can Pakistan Effectively Respond to Coronavirus Outbreak? 

How Grim is Pakistan's Social Sector Progress?

Pakistan Fares Marginally Better Than India On Disease Burdens

Trump Picks Muslim-American to Lead Vaccine Effort

Democracy vs Dictatorship in Pakistan

Pakistan Child Health Indicators

Pakistan's Balance of Payments Crisis

Panama Leaks in Pakistan

Conspiracy Theories About Pakistan Elections"

PTI Triumphs Over Corrupt Dynastic Political Parties

Strikingly Similar Narratives of Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif's Report Card

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Food Price Hikes Badly Hurting Average Pakistani Consumers

Global food prices are soaring by double digits amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Bloomberg News. Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, a measure of key farm goods futures contracts, is up almost 20% since June. It may in part be driven by speculators in the commodities markets. These rapid price rises are hitting the people in Pakistan and the rest of the world hard.  In spite of these hikes, Pakistan remains among the least expensive places for food, according recent studies. It is important for Pakistan's federal and provincial governments to rise up to the challenge and relieve the pain inflicted on the average Pakistani consumer.  

Global Agricultural Futures Contracts. Source: Bloomberg

Global Food Prices:

Global food prices are increasing at least partly due to several nations buying basic food commodities to boost their strategic reserves in the midst of the pandemic.  A Bloomberg News report says that "agricultural commodity buyers from Cairo to Islamabad have been on a shopping spree since the Covid-19 pandemic upended supply chains".  It may in part be driven by speculators in the commodities markets. Here's an excerpt of the Bloomberg story:

"Agricultural prices have been on the rise as countries stepped up purchases, adding to demand from China and a drought in the Black Sea region. That has helped push the Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, which measures key farm goods futures contracts, up almost 20% since June. Sugar prices have gained a boost as China replenished stockpiles, said Geovane Consul, chief executive officer of a Brazilian sugar and ethanol joint venture between U.S. agribusiness giant Bunge Ltd. and British oil major BP Plc." 

Supply Constraint in Pakistan: 

The Pakistan Government estimates final wheat production ended up at 25.5 million tons, slightly above the five-year average of 25.38 million tons, according to Grain Central. While that represented a 1.2 million tons increase on the 24.3 million tons harvested in 2019, it was well short of the government’s target of 27 million tons, forcing Pakistan to import wheat at higher global prices.

Demand for fruits and vegetables is also rising at about 9.5% a year, according to Mordor Intelligence. The supply is falling short of demand, putting pressure on prices. 


Global Food Price Comparison. Source: Bayut



Food Prices in Pakistan:

The food prices have risen 14% for urban and 16.8% for rural areas of Pakistan in the last 12 months, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. In spite of this inflationary trend,  the grocery prices in Pakistan remain among the lowest in the world. A comparison by Dubai-based Bayut shows that groceries in Pakistan cost 72.9% less than in the United States. Other least-expensive countries for groceries include Tunisia ( 67% less), Ukraine ( 66.7% less), Egypt (65.6% less) and Kosovo (65.6% less). 

Globally, Switzerland sells the most expensive groceries, with prices 79.1% higher than in the U.S. Norway is the second most expensive place to buy groceries, with prices 37.4% more expensive than in the U.S., and Iceland is third most expensive, where food items are 36.6% pricier, according to Bayut.

Cost of Dining Out. Source: Commodity.com


Summary:

Global food price hikes have hit average Pakistani hard in spite of the fact that grocery prices in Pakistan remain the lowest the world.  Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, a measure of key farm goods futures contracts, is up almost 20% since June. It may in part be driven by speculators in the commodities markets. World food commodity prices are increasing at least partly due to several nations buying basic food commodities to boost their strategic reserves in the midst of the pandemic. It is important for Pakistan's federal and provincial governments to intervene in the markets to relieve the average Pakistani consumer's pain. 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

COVID19 in Pakistan: Test Positivity Rate and Deaths Declining

Naya Pakistan Housing Program

Construction Industry in Pakistan

Pakistan's Pharma Industry Among World's Fastest Growing

Pakistan to Become World's 6th Largest Cement Producer by 2030

Is Pakistan's Response to COVID19 Flawed?

Pakistan's Computer Services Exports Jump 26% Amid COVID19 Lockdown

Coronavirus, Lives and Livelihoods in Pakistan

Vast Majority of Pakistanis Support Imran Khan's Handling of Covid19 Crisis

Pakistani-American Woman Featured in Netflix Documentary "Pandemic"

Coronavirus Antibodies Testing in Pakistan

Can Pakistan Effectively Respond to Coronavirus Outbreak? 

How Grim is Pakistan's Social Sector Progress?

Pakistan Fares Marginally Better Than India On Disease Burdens

Trump Picks Muslim-American to Lead Vaccine Effort

Democracy vs Dictatorship in Pakistan

Pakistan Child Health Indicators

Pakistan's Balance of Payments Crisis

Panama Leaks in Pakistan

Conspiracy Theories About Pakistan Elections"

PTI Triumphs Over Corrupt Dynastic Political Parties

Strikingly Similar Narratives of Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif's Report Card

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

Monday, October 12, 2020

Gallup Survey Showed 75% of Pakistanis Welcomed 1999 Coup

On October 12, 1999, Pakistani military toppled democratically elected Prime Minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif. This action followed the Prime Minister's sudden decision to sack Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf and the Prime Minister's simultaneous orders to deny landing permission to the Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777-200 that was bringing the Army Chief back to Karachi from Colombo, Sri Lanka. Polls conducted immediately after the coup showed broad public support for it. 

October 1999 Gallup Survey:

A Gallup poll conducted immediately after the coup showed that 75% of respondents supported the military takeover, while less than 10% supported restoring Mr. Nawaz Sharif's government. 

Gallup Pakistan Survey Report October 13, 1999. Source: Bilal Gilani

Benazir Bhutto's Reaction:

It was not just the ordinary Pakistanis who welcomed the coup that toppled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government. Here's how Pakistan's first woman prime minister late Benazir Bhutto reacted to it in 1999:

"Here, a coup has taken place against an unpopular despot (Nawaz Sharif) who was hounding the press, the judiciary, the opposition, the foreign investors. And when he decided to divide the army, the last institution left, the army reacted. Without going into the justifications of who is worse and the frying pan or the fire, I would like to say 'let's move forward'. This is a very dangerous period for a country which has physical bankruptcy and I would like to urge the western community to stay away from Nawaz Sharif, he is not liked by the Pakistani people"

Public Opinion Surveys:

There were frequent public opinion surveys conducted by multiple professional pollsters in Pakistan in the decade that followed the 1999 coup. One such credible survey was done regularly by Pew Global Research.  It showed that the majority of the people believed the country was headed in the right direction in Musharraf years. It also showed that people's satisfaction with Pakistan's direction has been in rapid decline. It fell sharply during the governments headed by the Pakistan People's Party. 

Source: Pew Research in Pakistan


Another survey conducted by Gallup Pakistan  in August 2013 showed that 59% of Pakistanis have a positive view of President Muaharraf (31%  say they hold a favorable opinion of him and another 28% say he was satisfactory). 34% had an unfavorable opinion of the former ruler. 

Pakistani Military's Popularity:

Multiple polls conducted over many years in Pakistan have consistently shown that the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis have high confidence in the Pakistani military. This is in sharp contrast to significantly lower levels of confidence they have shown in the country's politicians and bureaucrats. These results appear to reflect the Pakistanis' fear of chaos...the chaos which has hurt them more than any other threat since the country's inception in 1947. Indian Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has described this situation in the following words: "Despite numerous dire forecasts of imminently proving to be a "failed state" Pakistan has survived, bouncing back every now and then as a recognizable democracy with a popularly elected civilian government, the military in the wings but politics very much centre-stage .....the Government of Pakistan remaining in charge, and the military stepping in to rescue the nation from chaos every time Pakistan appeared on the knife's edge". Pakistanis are not alone in their fear of chaos. Chinese, too, fear chaos. "In Chinese political culture, the biggest fear is of chaos", writes Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani in his recent book entitled "Has China Won".   

PILDAT Survey 2015


2015 poll conducted by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development (PILDAT) found that 75% of respondents trust the country's military, a much higher percentage than any other institution. Only 36% have confidence in Pakistan's political parties.  


Gallup Poll Findings in Pakistan. Source: Gallup International

Here's a 2014 snapshot of how Pakistanis see various other institutions, according to Gallup International

1. Institutions - Less than one-third of Pakistanis have confidence in the national government, local police, and honesty of elections, and the ratings for those institutions have declined over the last six years. Pakistan's military is the one institution that has retained the confidence of an overwhelming majority (roughly 80%) of people in the country. 

2. Corruption - Eighty-one percent of Pakistanis see their government as rife with corruption. This is an increase of 13 percentage points over the last six years. 

3. Leadership - Approximately one in three Pakistanis approve of the leaders in the city or area where they live. Their approval of national leaders is lower - approximately one in five Pakistanis approve of them.

Why is Pakistani Military Popular?

The popularity of the military among Pakistanis' appears to reflect their fear of chaos. Pakistani military has helped the nation defy the most dire predictions of Pakistan's demise. Political, military, religious, ethnic, sectarian, secular, conservative and liberal forces are constantly pushing and pulling to destabilize it but Pakistan remains resilient with its strong nationalism that has evolved after 1971. 

A recent example is Pakistan Army's efforts to defend the state by its anti-terror operations Zarb e Azb and Radd ul Fasad that dramatically reduced the level of violence and significantly improved security in the country. It resulted in increased confidence of businesses, investors and consumers in the economy.  Another recent example is the military's active role in Pakistan's success against  pandemic caused by the deadly coronavirus

Terror Stats in Pakistan. Source: satp.org



Here's how India's ex cabinet minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has described Pakistani military's role in defending national integrity:  

"Despite numerous dire forecasts of imminently proving to be a "failed state" Pakistan has survived, bouncing back every now and then as a recognizable democracy with a popularly elected civilian government, the military in the wings but politics very much centre-stage, linguistic and regional groups pulling and pushing, sectarian factions murdering each other, but the Government of Pakistan remaining in charge, and the military stepping in to rescue the nation from chaos every time Pakistan appeared on the knife's edge." 

Pakistanis are not alone in their fear of chaos as being their biggest enemy. Chinese too fear chaos, as described by former Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani in his recent book "Has China Won":

"In Chinese political culture, the biggest fear is of chaos. The Chinese have a word for it: lu├án. Given these many long periods of suffering from chaos—including one as recent as the century of humiliation from the Opium War of 1842 to the creation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949—when the Chinese people are given a choice between strong central control and the chaos of political competition, they have a reflexive tendency to choose strong central control". 

Summary: 

Pakistani military remains the most popular institution in the country, according to multiple polls conducted over several decades. In October 1999, the military coup against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was widely welcomed in Pakistan. A Gallup poll conducted immediately after the coup showed that 75% of the people supported the military action. Only 10% of the respondents in the poll supported restoring Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government. These results appear to reflect the Pakistanis' fear of chaos...the chaos which has hurt them more than any other threat since the country's inception in 1947.  Indian Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has described this situation in the following words: "Despite numerous dire forecasts of imminently proving to be a "failed state" Pakistan has survived, bouncing back every now and then as a recognizable democracy with a popularly elected civilian government, the military in the wings but politics very much centre-stage .....the Government of Pakistan remaining in charge, and the military stepping in to rescue the nation from chaos every time Pakistan appeared on the knife's edge". Pakistanis are not alone in their fear of chaos. Chinese, too, fear chaos. "In Chinese political culture, the biggest fear is of chaos", writes Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani in his recent book entitled "Has China Won".