Thursday, September 21, 2023

Canadian Sikh's Murder: How Long Will Modi Continue to Escape Accountability?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accused the Indian government of involvement in the murder of a Canadian Sikh leader on Canadian soil. Trudeau announced this week that Canada was "actively pursuing credible allegations" that Indian intelligence agents had potentially been involved in the murder of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June, 2023. Canada, a member of the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance with Australia, New Zealand, UK and the US, is reported to have shared intelligence on the incident with Washington.  The US and UK say they are "deeply concerned" and encourage Indian officials to cooperate in any investigation. There have been similar "mysterious" assassinations of Sikh leaders in Pakistan and the UK this year. Can the West afford to ignore these assassinations? Will Modi government be emboldened to continue its campaign of murder of more leaders of the significant Sikh diaspora in the West if the US fails to hold Modi to account now? 

Three Sikh Leaders Assassinated in 2023

Since the 2020-21 farmers' protests in Delhi, the Sikh diaspora has staged massive rallies at Indian diplomatic missions across western capitals. These rallies were followed by systematic, and near-simultaneous, killings of various Sikh leaders in Canada, Pakistan and UK. On May 6, 2023, Paramjit Singh Panwar was killed in Lahore, Pakistan. Avtar Singh Khanda was assassinated in Birmingham, England. on June 11. On June 18, Hardeep Singh Nijjar was murdered in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. 

Reacting to the report of Trudeau's allegation against the Indian government, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Syrus Qazi said: “We are aware of the nature of our eastern neighbor, we know what they are capable of … so it is not a surprise for us. “We caught [one of their] serving naval intelligence officers on our soil. He (Kulbhushan Jadhav) is in our custody and admitted that he came here to create instability and spread evil,” he added. 

Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said her country remained a “target of a series of targeted killings and espionage by (Indian Intelligence Agency) RAW".  “In December last year, Pakistan released a comprehensive dossier providing concrete and irrefutable evidence of India’s involvement in the Lahore attack of June 2021. The attack was planned and executed by Indian intelligence,” she said, adding that in 2016, a high-ranking Indian military officer Kulbhushan Jadhav confessed to his involvement in directing, financing and executing terror and sabotage in Pakistan.

Narendra Modi has a long history of murdering minorities in his country. After the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002, Narendra Modi made the cover of India Today magazine with the caption "Hero of Hatred". Modi was denied a visa to visit the United States.  The US visa ban on Modi was lifted in 2014 after he became prime minister. Since then,  Narendra Modi's image has been rehabilitated by the West as the US and Western Europe seek allies in Asia to counter the rise of China.  However, Modi's actions on the ground in India confirm that he remains "Hero of Hatred" and "Divider In Chief" at his core.  A recent two-part BBC documentary explains this reality in significant detail. The first part focuses on the 2002 events in Gujarat when Modi as the state chief minister ordered the police to not stop the Hindu mobs murdering Muslims and burning their homes and businesses.  The second part looks at Modi government's anti-Muslim policies, including the revocation of Kashmir's autonomy (article 370) and a new citizenship law (CAA 2019) that discriminates against Muslims. It shows the violent response by security forces to peaceful protests against the new laws, and interviews the family members of people who were killed in the 2020 Delhi riots orchestrated by Modi's allies. 

Having been caught by Ottawa in the act of murdering one of its citizens, the Indian government has reacted angrily, calling the Canadian allegations "absurd". In fact, India has labeled victims of assassination campaign "terrorists".  The Indian response will only force Canada to publicly share evidence of wrongdoing by New Delhi. Such public disclosures will expose India's links to similar recent "mysterious" murders in Pakistan and the UK.  It will also force London and Washington to confront the issue because the UK and the US also have hundreds of thousands of Sikh citizens whose leaders will be vulnerable to potential assassinations by the Modi government. 

Here's Indian National Security Advisor on how to use Taliban to attack Pakistan:


 Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Karan Thapar Dismantles Official Indian Narrative on Kulbhushan Jadhav

Why is India Sponsoring Terror in Pakistan? 

Indian Agent Kubhushan Yadav's Confession

Has Modi Stepped Up India's Covert War in Pakistan?

Ex India Spy Documents Successful RAW Ops in Pakistan

London Police Document Confirms MQM-RAW Connection Testimony

India's Ex Spooks Blame Kulbhushan Jadhav For Getting Caught

Ajit Doval Lecture on "How to Tackle Pakistan" 

Mohan Lal Bhaskar: An Indian Raw Agent in Pakistan

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Pakistan Among Top Sources of Foreign-Born STEM Workers in America

As of 2019, there were 35,000 Pakistan-born STEM workers in the United States, according to the American Immigration Council. They included information technologists, software developers, engineers and scientists. These figures do not include medical doctors and healthcare workers. 

Foreign-Born STEM Workers in America. Source: American Immigration Council

Foreign-born workers make up a growing share of America's STEM workforce. As of 2019, foreign-born workers made up almost a quarter of all STEM workers in the country. This is a significant increase from 2000, when just 16.4% of the country’s STEM workforce was foreign-born. Between 2000 and 2019, the overall number of STEM workers in the United States increased by 44.5 percent, from 7.5 million to more than 10.8 million, according to American Immigration Council

India and Pakistan Among Top 10 Countries Receiving US Immigrant Visas. Source: Visual Capitalist

India topped the top 10 list of foreign-born STEM workers with 721,000, followed by China (273,000), Mexico (119,000), Vietnam (100,000), Philippines (87,000), South Korea (64,000), Canada (56,000), Taiwan (53,000), Russia (45,000) and Pakistan (35,000).  Enormous number of Indian STEM workers in the United States can at least partly be attributed to the fact that India's "body shops" have mastered the art of gaming the US temporary work visa system. Last year, Indian nationals sponsored by "body shops" like Cognizant, Infosys and TCS received 166,384 H1B visas for work in the United States. By comparison, only 1,107 Pakistanis were granted H1B visas in Fiscal Year 2022.  In addition to H1B work visas, 9,300 Indian nationals and 7,200 Pakistani nationals received immigrant visas to settle in the United States as permanent residents in 2021. 

Doctor Brain Drain. Source: Statista

In addition to 35,000 Pakistan-born STEM workers, there were 12,454 Pakistan-born and Pakistan-trained medical doctors practicing in the United States, making the South Asian nation the second largest source of medical doctors in America.  Pakistan produced 157,102 STEM graduates last year, putting it among the world's top dozen or so countries. About 43,000 of these graduates are in information technology (IT).

H1B Visas Issued in Pakistan. Source:

Every year, applicants sponsored by Indian body shops claim the lion's share of H1B visas. In 2022, Indians received 166,384 new H1B visas, accounting for nearly three quarters of all such visas issued by the US government. The figures reported as India IT exports are in fact the wages earned by millions of Indian H1B workers in the United States.  

Related Links:

Sunday, September 10, 2023

G20 Summit in India: Modi's Personal PR Extravaganza?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully transformed routine rotational G20 presidency into an extravagant personal PR exercise this week. The Indian mass media and the general public saw Mr. Modi's face plastered all over the Indian capital. Some analysts described it as the kickoff of  the Indian leader's political campaign for national elections scheduled for next year. As Mr. Modi spoke of "one earth, one family, one future", his right-wing Hindutva allies continued their unhindered campaign of murder and mayhem against the Christian community in the Indian state of Manipur.  Globally, too, Mr. Modi lived up to his reputation of "Divider In Chief" as the Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Russian leader Vladimir Putin chose to stay away from the gathering attended by all the western leaders. Both China and Russia stand in the way of the continuation of centuries-old unchallenged western hegemony of the world. 

Modi: Hero of Hatred at G20. Source: India Today

After the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002, Narendra Modi made the cover of India Today magazine with the caption "Hero of Hatred". Modi was denied a visa to visit the United States.  The US visa ban on Modi was lifted in 2014 after he became prime minister. Since then,  Narendra Modi's image has been rehabilitated by the West as the US and Western Europe seek allies in Asia to counter the rise of China.  However, Modi's actions on the ground in India confirm that he remains "Hero of Hatred" and "Divider In Chief" at his core.  A recent two-part BBC documentary explains this reality in significant detail. The first part focuses on the 2002 events in Gujarat when Modi as the state chief minister ordered the police to not stop the Hindu mobs murdering Muslims and burning their homes and businesses.  The second part looks at Modi government's anti-Muslim policies, including the revocation of Kashmir's autonomy (article 370) and a new citizenship law (CAA 2019) that discriminates against Muslims. It shows the violent response by security forces to peaceful protests against the new laws, and interviews the family members of people who were killed in the 2020 Delhi riots orchestrated by Modi's allies. 

 Modi Divider In Chief. Source: Time Magazine

In a  recent piece for Nikkei Asia, Indian journalist Swaminathan Aiyar dismisses Modi's attempts to recast himself as "Vishwaguru", the teacher of the world. Here's an excerpt of Aiyar's piece titled "India's Modi is not the world's guru": 

"Modi's notion of being the world's guru is just as ridiculous as his twisted history of "centuries of enslavement," which has been used to attack India's religious minorities. A guru is nothing without disciples. If India or Modi himself is the world's guru, who are the disciples? The least likely candidates are Western powers which believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are the true global gurus. It might seem that India's disciples would be most likely to come from its geographic neighborhood rather than distant lands. But even a cursory examination shows otherwise. Does Pakistan regard India as a guru? No, it is India's greatest foe. It has allied with China, India's other major foe, to try and put India in its place. No disciples there. What about Bangladesh, which India helped to achieve independence from Pakistan in 1971? There is now little gratitude for India's help, which is accurately viewed as a ploy to split and disempower Pakistan rather than an altruistic move to aid Bangladeshis. Sri Lanka? Many there harbor ill will toward New Delhi in the belief that it supported the development of the Tamil Tiger insurgency when Indira Gandhi was India's prime minister in the early 1980s. The insurgency became a civil war in which up to 100,000 were killed. Hard to find disciples there. What about Nepal, a predominantly Hindu nation? Ever since then-Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru intervened in a royal power struggle in 1951, Nepalese have viewed New Delhi as an imperial power to be feared. India has on more than one occasion blocked essential supplies to Nepal to try to exert political influence. Nepalese may be Hindus, but they are anything but Modi's disciples" 

Cartoonist Mocks Modi's Answer at the White House. Source: Satish Acharya

President Joseph R. Biden and other western leaders are making a huge mistake by coddling divisive and dangerous Modi.  While the western nations are seeking an alliance with India to counter rising China, the Hindutva leadership of India has no intention of confronting China. In a piece titled “America’s Bad Bet on India”,  Indian-American analyst Ashley Tellis noted that the Biden administration had “overlooked India’s democratic erosion and its unhelpful foreign policy choices” in the hopes that the US can “solicit” New Delhi’s “contributions toward coalition defense”.

Earlier this year, India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar confirmed New Delhi's unwillingness to confront China in an interview: “Look they (China) are a bigger economy. What am I going to do? As a smaller economy, I am going to pick up a fight with bigger economy? It is not a question of being a reactionary; it is a question of common sense.”

Modi's India is driven much more by a desire to bring back what the right-wing Hindus see as the "glory days" of India through "Hindu Raj" of the entire South Asia region, including Pakistan. The arms and technology being given to Modi will more likely be used against India's smaller neighbors, not against China. 

Saturday, September 2, 2023

India's Chandrayaan 3 Success: Can Pakistanis Explore Space?

India's recent Chandrayaan 3 success has triggered serious soul searching among Pakistanis. They are asking: Can we explore space? Do we have the basic technical knowhow? Are there any serious rocket scientists among Pakistanis? The answer to all three questions is absolutely YES. Pakistan's NESCOM (National Engineering and Science Commission) has developed, tested and supported deployment of several solid and liquid fueled multi-stage rockets for the nation's highly advanced missile program. In multiple test flights conducted over the years, these NESCOM missiles have traveled long distances through space at hypersonic speeds to deliver payloads to their designated targets. 

From Rehbar to Shaheen: 

Pakistan has certainly come a long way from the Rehbar series of rockets tested by SUPARCO in the 1960s. With some investment of time and money, the NESCOM rockets designed for the military can be repurposed to launch satellites into space. But it has not been a priority for Pakistan. It will likely become a high priority when sending rockets into space starts to be seen as a matter of national security. After all, Pakistan has to prepare itself for the possibility of India using its kinetic capabilities to threaten Pakistan militarily by attacking its six satellites currently in space, including the Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite (PRSS). 

Pakistan's Shaheen 3 Launch. Source: ISPR

US-Soviet Space Race History: 

In the early years of the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union started developing rockets for use in long-range missiles. But this race to build weapons later turned into a race to build rockets for space exploration. The same rocket that could carry a nuclear warhead could (and sometimes did) also launch spacecraft into orbit. This intense investment in engineering for missiles and rockets sparked off the Space Race, according to space historians at the Smithsonian in Washington DC. 

Pakistan's Shaheen 3: 

Pakistan has successfully tested Shaheen III ballistic missile.  It is a medium-range ballistic missile with a maximum flight altitude of 692 kilometers. The Kármán line, the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space, is located at an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers) above sea level. Shaheen 3 can strike targets up to 2,750 kilometers away.  Its multi-stage solid-fuel technology can also be used to launch satellites into space. It has been jointly developed by the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) and the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO). It's the latest example of dual-use technology.  

Shaheen-III is the latest in the series of the indigenously produced Shaheen-I and Shaheen-II, which had shorter ranges.  Since the technology used in satellite launch vehicles (SLV) is virtually identical to that used in a ballistic missile, Shaheen 3, the latest enhancement to the Shaheen series of missiles, is expected to boost Pakistan's space program as well.  The United States and the Soviet Union used their military missiles in the space race.  More recently, several nations, including India and Israel, have used the same rocket motors for  both ballistic missiles and satellite launch vehicles (SLVs).  Israel's Shavit SLV and India's SLV-3 are examples of it. 

Space Defense: 

For its defense, Pakistan has non-kinetic anti-satellite (ASAT) options, including: Jamming, Spoofing, Meaconing, Laser, High-powered microwave attacks. Pakistan has to prepare itself for the possibility of India using its kinetic capabilities to threaten Pakistan militarily by attacking its six satellites currently in space, including the Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite (PRSS).  India has already demonstrated it in 2019 by destroying its own satellite with an anti-satellite missile system (ASAT).  The debris from the destroyed satellite still circulates in orbit. More than 50 pieces of debris remain in space, posing a small but potential threat to other spacecraft. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Pakistan's Improvised Cable Cars: Example of Rural Ingenuity

Global media coverage of a recent cable car rescue in northern Pakistan has brought to light the widespread use of the improvised aerial transportation systems across mountain communities in the country. The improvised cable car system and the recent zip-line rescue are both testaments to local rural ingenuity. These systems serve as a lifeline for villagers living on sparsely populated hilltops in places like Mansehra, Swat and Azad Kashmir. They allow them to access clinics, jobs, markets and schools on a daily basis. Building the alternative road infrastructure for these mountainous terrains would be much more expensive and time-consuming. A better example of a fast, safe and relatively less expensive public transportation system for such areas can be found in a modern cable car system built in La Paz,  Bolivia. Pakistan should explore a public-private partnership to use the local talent to build a safe, fast and cheap cable car system to meet their residents' needs.

Disabled Pakistan Cable Car Prior to Rescue

Improvised Cable Cars:

Improvised cable cars are built from scrap and strung up by local communities. It is cheaper and there is no comparable alternative infrastructure. They often use the upper body of a pick-up truck. The system relies on a network of cables which are anchored at various points along the route. These cables support the weight of the cabins and passengers. The main support cables run continuously, while the cabins are pulled by a moving "haul rope". 

The cabins are moved and stopped by a combination of mechanical systems. A drive mechanism located at the stations provides the propulsion to move the cabins along the cables. Braking systems are used to slow and stop the cabins. 

Zip-line Rescue:

A cable car with 8 passengers, mainly schoolchildren, was left dangling after a support cable broke earlier this month. Pakistan Army helicopters mounted a rescue effort that succeeded in rescuing only one child. The military called off its effort after the air stirred up by the helicopter rotor caused the cable car to shake violently and the daylight dimmed. That's when the local zip-line experts stepped in and successfully rescued the remaining 7 passengers who were trapped hundreds of meters above a valley. 

Cable Car System in La Paz Bolivia

Bolivian Example:

In 2014, Bolivia inaugurated  a cable car system with a length of nearly 7 miles threading through 11 stations, making it the world's largest network of aerial urban transportation.  Built by Austria's Doppelmayr Garaventa Group, the La Paz system has become very popular. It serves 18,000 people an hour. 

Pakistan's Options:

The governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir need to find safe, fast and cost-effective transportation systems for their far-flung hilltop communities. Neither the current road infrastructure nor the improvised cable car systems meet these objectives. Both governments should explore a public-private partnership to use the local talent to build a safe and cheap cable car system to meet their residents' needs.  In addition to providing job opportunities for locals, such a system could also become a big attraction for tourists to enjoy seeing the picturesque landscape from the air. It could also be used to promote winter sports in these beautiful areas extending from KPK to Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan Travel and Tourism Boom

Extreme Kayak Adventures in Pakistan

Helicopter Skiing in Karakorams

Climbing K2: The Ultimate Challenge

Indian Visitors Share "Eye-Opening" Stories of Pakistan

American Tourist Picks Pakistan Among Top 10 Best Countries to Visit

Pakistani American to Pakistani Diaspora: Go Back and Visit Pakistan

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Modi Co-opting Chandrayaan-3 Success For Hindutva Propaganda?

Well before India's Chandrayaan-3 landed on the moon on August 23, India's "Godi Media" started showing split screens with the landing craft’s animated image (no pictures or live video) alongside a photo of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was clearly meant to give him exclusive credit for ISRO scientists' major accomplishment after their decades-long hard work. This Hindutva propaganda has echoes of Adolf Hitler’s use of the 1936 Berlin Olympics to promote his Nazi ideology.  It is boosting the morale of the hateful Hindu supremacist trolls unleashed by the BJP “IT cell” on social media. It is easy to conclude that the Chandrayaan is now essentially a prestige project for the Hindu Nationalist government in New Delhi. Funding such projects is easier for politicians than implementing social sector programs to uplift hundreds of millions of poor and hungry Indians who are deprived of the most basic necessities. 

Chadrayaan3-Modi Split Screen Godi Media Propaganda

It is clear that Mr. Modi wants to claim credit for the moon landing but he refuses to take responsibility for high unemployment and widespread malnutrition in the world’s largest population living in extreme poverty in India. Nor does the Modi regime accept the blame for millions of preventable COVID19 deaths in India in 2020-21. This is what Princeton economist Professor Ashoka Mody, the author of “India is Broken”,refers to as India’s “lived reality”. Here's an excerpt from Mody's book: 

"The grim reality is that, to employ all working-age Indians, the economy needs to create 200 million jobs over the next decade, an impossible order after the past decade of declining employment numbers.1 Right from independence, the Indian economy produced too few jobs. For more than 80 percent of Indians, the informal sector employment became the safety net, where workers idled for long stretches, earning below- or barely-above-poverty wages. Demonetization in 2016, a poorly executed goods and services tax in 2017, and COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 struck hammer blows on the informal sector while creating no new options. Indeed, technology accelerated job destruction, especially in retail and wholesale trade. More Indians just stopped looking for work. Set against this bleakness, many pundits and leaders look back to celebrate and draw hope from India’s high GDP growth rates of the 1990s and 2000s. That celebrated celebrated growth, however, was an outcome of unusually buoyant world trade, rampant natural resource use, and a domestic finance-construction bubble. Even as wealthy Indians accumulated astonishing riches, job creation remained weak. The most severe forms of poverty came down, but still afflicted over 20 percent of Indians; another 40 percent lived precariously, ever at risk of falling back into a dire existence. The median Indian lived in that vulnerable zone—and, looking through a government-induced data fog, still lives there. The unchanging problem through the post-independence years has been the lack of public goods for shared progress: education, health delivery, functioning cities, clean air and water, and a responsive and fair judiciary. Along with scarcity of jobs, the absence or poor quality of public goods makes the lived reality of vast numbers."

India Ranks Low on Social Progress Indicators. Source: Economist 

India ranks 110 among 170 countries on the Social Progress Index (SPI), according to a dataset published by the Social Progress Imperative, a non-profit organization. The Social Progress Index combines 52 social and environmental indicators. 

Over 75% of the world's poor who are deprived of basic living standards (nutrition, cooking fuel, sanitation and housing) live in India compared to 4.6% in Bangladesh and 4.1% in Pakistan, according to a recently released OPHI/UNDP report on multidimensional poverty.  Here's what the report says: "More than 45.5 million poor people are deprived in only these four indicators (nutrition, cooking fuel, sanitation and housing). Of those people, 34.4 million live in India, 2.1 million in Bangladesh and 1.9 million in Pakistan—making this a predominantly South Asian profile". 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

India is Home 75% of World Population Deprived of Basic Living Standards

Hindu Nazis Join Forces With White Supremacists

America Does Not Respect India

India in Crisis: Unemployment and Hunger Persist After COVID

Impact of Russia Sanctions on Food, Fuel Availability

Record Number of Indians Seeking Asylum in US

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

Incomes of Poorest Pakistanis Growing Faster Than Their Richest Counterparts

Pakistanis Consuming More Calories, Fruits & Vegetables Per Capita 

How Grim is Pakistan's Social Sector Progress?

Pakistan Fares Marginally Better Than India On Disease Burdens

COVID Lockdown Decimates India's Middle Class

Pakistan Child Health Indicators

Pakistan's Balance of Payments Crisis

How Has India Built Large Forex Reserves Despite Perennial Trade Deficits

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Monday, August 21, 2023

Pakistan's Political Crisis: Did Washington Cause "Regime Change" in Islamabad?

Did the U.S. make it clear to Pakistan in 2022 that Imran Khan was not acceptable as the prime minister of the South Asian country? Did the Pakistani military then use the Opposition parties led by Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari to remove Imran Khan from power through a successful No-Confidence vote in the parliament? The answer to both of these questions appears to be a resounding "yes" based on the leaked contents of a secret diplomatic cable, the actions of the Opposition politicians and the attempts to dismantle the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the jailing of Imran Khan on trumped-up charges. These events have created significant political instability in the country and prompted former US National Security Advisor John Bolton to urge the Biden administration to take a clear position before the “terrorists, China and Russia take advantage” of the situation.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) and General Asim Munir

Diplomatic Cable:

A leaked diplomatic cable from Pakistani Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan quotes Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia in the Biden Administration, as saying,  “I think if the no-confidence vote against the Prime Minister succeeds, all will be forgiven in Washington because the Russia visit is being looked at as a decision by the Prime Minister. Otherwise, I think it will be tough going ahead.”

In answer to a question at a recent press conference, the US State Department spokesman Mathew Miller has essentially confirmed the contents of the diplomatic cable. 

This appears to have been enough for the then Pakistan Army Chief General Bajwa to orchestrate the passage of the No-Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan with the help of Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari and other politicians who ganged up on Imran Khan. 

PTI Dismantled, Imran Khan Jailed:

The Pakistani military did not just content itself with removing Imran Khan from power. A campaign to dismantle Khan's political party, the largest party in the country that ruled the country and two of its four provinces, is in full swing. A Gallup poll in February this year reported that 61% of voters approved of Imran Khan. His support is the strongest among young people who make up the bulk of the population. 

The jailing of Imran Khan and mass arrests of his party members are sending a clear signal that Pakistan's most popular leader, based on recent polls, is no longer acceptable to the military. The US government has remained silent in the middle of this mass crackdown in Pakistan. Washington appears to be unconcerned about civil liberties and democracy in Pakistan. 

US Interests in South Asia:

Are the US interests in South Asia best served by destabilizing strategically-located nuclear-armed Pakistan? Polls indicate that Imran Khan remains the most popular politician in Pakistan. The removal of his government from power and the dismantling of his party are increasingly turning ordinary Pakistanis against the United States. 

In an interview with Voice of America (VOA) Urdu service this week, former National Security Advisor John Bolton said he “worries about” the Biden administration’s foreign policy about South Asia because “it’s not clearly defined”.  

Replying to another question asked by VOA, Mr Bolton said Biden administration officials “don’t know what their strategic imperatives are. And it’s been confused and inarticulate on the situation in Pakistan”.

Here's a video clip of US State Department Mathew Miller's Press Conference:


 Related Links:

Monday, August 14, 2023

Independence Day: Growing Share of Working Age Population in Pakistan

Dependency ratio, defined as the percentage of children and retirees to the working age population, is rapidly declining in Pakistan (current dependency ratio is 69.03%) and the rest of the developing nations of Asia and Africa. This demographic shift means that the world's richest and most powerful nations with the largest share of working populations will no longer be in Europe and North America by 2050. Among South Asian nations, Bangladesh has already joined the list of top 10 nations in terms of the largest share of the working age population. India and Pakistan are expected to join it by 2050. Increasingly better educated working age population is expected to significantly enhance their productivity and increase their incomes. 

Shift in Share of Working Age Populations. Source: NY Times

The total dependency ratio reported for Pakistan in 2022 is 69.03%, much higher than Bangladesh's 47.09% and India's 47.5%, according to the World Bank.  Dependency ratio for China is 44.96% but it is rapidly increasing.  China's share of the working age population will no longer be in the top 10 by 2050 due to its aging population, according to the UN projections. 
Declining Dependency Ratio in Pakistan. Source: Trading Economics/World Bank

Global Age Dependency Ratio Map. Source: World Population Review

New York Times' visual journalist Lauren Leatherby recently described this major demographic and economic shift in the following words: "The richest most powerful countries today have long had these really large working-age populations. And economists agree that that’s been a huge, huge advantage economically and geopolitically. And meanwhile, a lot of developing nations have had quite high dependency ratios having a high number of children compared to working-age people. And so, I think we know a lot of these storylines one by one, but putting it all together, it’s just like the world is going to shift really dramatically". 

Current Share of Working Age Populations. Source: NY Times

"And then I think what we see (rapidly aging population) in Japan today is only the tip of the iceberg. A lot of East Asia, China, Europe, South Korea will be much older than Japan is today, in just you know, 20 or 30 years. Some countries will have upwards of 40% of their population that are 65 or older in just two or three decades. And meanwhile, on the other end, you have a lot of these other countries that have long been, you know, hindered economically by their age structures. And suddenly a lot of them will start to enjoy the exact same age structures that Europe and East Asia, the U.S., that a lot of those countries have historically enjoyed", Leatherby added. 

Prijected Share of Working Age Populations in 2050. Source: NY Times

It is based on this demographic shift that Goldman Sachs analysts Kevin Daly and  Tadas Gedminas are projecting Pakistan's economy to grow to become the world's sixth largest by 2075.  In a research paper titled "The Path to 2075", the authors forecast Pakistan's GDP to rise to $12.7 trillion with per capita income of $27,100.  India’s GDP in 2075 is projected at $52.5 trillion and per capita GDP at $31,300.  Bangladesh is projected to be a $6.3 trillion economy with per capita income of $31,000.  By 2075, China will be the top global economy, followed by India 2nd, US 3rd, Indonesia 4th, Nigeria 5th and Pakistan 6th. The forecast is based primarily on changes in the size of working age populations over the next 50 years.  

GDP Ranking Changes Till 2075. Source: Goldman Sachs Investment Research 

Economic Growth Rate Till 2075. Source: Goldman Sachs Investment Research 

Economic Impact of Slower Population Growth: 

Daly and Gedminas argue that slowing population growth in the developed world is causing their economic growth to decelerate. At the same time, the economies of the developing countries are driven by their rising populations.  Here are four key points made in the report:

 1) Slower global potential growth, led by weaker population growth. 

2) EM convergence remains intact, led by Asia’s powerhouses. Although real GDP growth has slowed in both developed and emerging economies, in relative terms EM growth continues to outstrip DM growth.

3) A decade of US exceptionalism that is unlikely to be repeated. 

4) Less global inequality, more local inequality. 

Goldman Sachs' Revised GDP Projections. Source: The Path to 2075

Demographic Dividend: 

With rapidly aging populations and declining number of working age people in North America, Europe and East Asia, the demand for workers will increasingly be met by major labor exporting nations like Bangladesh, China, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia and Vietnam. Among these nations, Pakistan is the only major labor exporting country where the working age population is still rising faster than the birth rate. 

Pakistan Population Youngest Among Major Asian Nations. Source: Nikkei Asia

World Population 2022. Source: Visual Capitalist

World Population 2050. Source: Visual Capitalist

Over a million Pakistani university students are currently enrolled in STEM courses. Over 10 million Pakistanis are currently working/living overseas, according to the Bureau of Emigration. Before the COVID19 pandemic hit in 2020,  more than 600,000 Pakistanis left the country to work overseas in 2019. Nearly 700,000 Pakistanis have already migrated in this calendar year as of October, 2022. The average yearly outflow of Pakistani workers to OECD countries (mainly UK and US) and the Middle East was over half a million in the last decade. 

Consumer Markets in 2030. Source: WEF

World's 7th Largest Consumer Market:

Pakistan's share of the working age population (15-64 years) is growing as the country's birth rate declines, a phenomenon called demographic dividend. With its rising population of this working age group, Pakistan is projected by the World Economic Forum to become the world's 7th largest consumer market by 2030. Nearly 60 million Pakistanis will join the consumer class (consumers spending more than $11 per day) to raise the country's consumer market rank from 15 to 7  by 2030. WEF forecasts the world's top 10 consumer markets of 2030 to be as follows: China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, Pakistan, Japan, Egypt and Mexico.  Global investors chasing bigger returns will almost certainly shift more of their attention and money to the biggest movers among the top 10 consumer markets, including Pakistan.  Already, the year 2021 has been a banner year for investments in Pakistani technology startups

Record Remittances From Overseas Pakistanis:

Pakistan is already seeing high levels of labor export and record remittances of over $30 billion pouring into the country. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates(UAE) are the top two sources of remittances but the biggest increase (58%) in remittances is seen this year from Pakistanis in the next two sources: the United Kingdom and the United States.

Remittances from the European Union (EU) to Pakistan soared 49.7% in FY 21 and 28.3% in FY22, according to the State Bank of Pakistan. With $2.5 billion remittances in the first 9 months (July-March) of the current fiscal year, the EU ($2.5 billion) has now surpassed North America ($2.2 billion) to become the third largest source of inflows to Pakistan after the Middle East and the United Kingdom. Remittances from the US have grown 21%, second fastest after the EU (28.3%) in the first 9  months of the current fiscal year. 

Pakistan ranks 6th among the top worker remittance recipient countries in the world.  India and China rank first and second, followed by Mexico 3rd, the Philippines 4th, Egypt 5th and Pakistan 6th.  

Pakistan Demographics

About two million Pakistanis are entering the workforce every year. The share of the working age population in Pakistan is increasing while the birth rate is declining. This phenomenon, known as demographic dividend, is coinciding with declines in working age populations in developed countries. It is creating an opportunity for over half a million Pakistani workers to migrate and work overseas, and send home record remittances. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

USDA Forecasts Bumper Harvest of Major Crops in Pakistan For 2023/24

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is forecasting bumper harvest of all major crops in Pakistan for 2023/24. Major crops in the country include wheat, rice, sugarcane, corn and cotton. These offer welcome relief for Pakistani farmers who suffered devastating losses in the epic floods of 2022.   

Major Crops Produced in Pakistan. Source: USDA

Pakistan is projected to produce 28 million tons of wheat,  10.5 million tons of corn (maize), 9 million tons of rice, 6.5 million bales of cotton, 7.8 million tons of sugar and 540,000 tons of rapeseed (canola) in 2023/24. Each of these production figures is significantly higher than last year's, and higher than the last 5-year average (2018-22) for the country. Potato production jumped 50% to 7.74 million tons in 2022, according to PotatoBusiness.  

Sugar Production in India and Pakistan. Source: Ragus

Pakistan will still need to import wheat but a lower amount than last year, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture. The record harvest will help lower the country’s forecasted import needs from 3 million to 2 million tons in 2023-24 even as total consumption grows to 30.2 million tonnes from 29.2 million tons. Pakistan imported 2.6 million tons last marketing year.

Higher cotton production in Pakistan will result in 2.3 million tons of cottonseed oil in 2023/24, a 34% increase over the 2022/23 output. This increase reflects expectations for a recovery in yield following the flood-damaged 2022/23 output. This will help reduce cooking oil imports, the country's largest food import, this year. Last year, Pakistan imported $4.5 billion worth of edible oil

Pakistan expects to export 5 million tons of rice worth $3 billion this year. India's ban on non-basmati rice exports will likely help Pakistani exporters fetch higher prices on the world market. 

Global Rice Market 2023. Source: Reuters

Pakistan's agriculture output is the 10th largest in the world. The country produces large and growing quantities of cereals, meat, milk, fruits and vegetables. Currently, Pakistan produces over 40 million tons of cereals (mainly wheat, rice and corn), 17 million tons of fruits and vegetables, 70 million tons of sugarcane, 60 million tons of milk and 4.5 million tons of meat.  Total value of the nation's agricultural output exceeds $50 billion. Improving agriculture inputs and modernizing value chains can help the farm sector become much more productive to serve both domestic and export markets.  

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