Tuesday, June 21, 2011

War Weary Pakistanis Disapprove of US, Taliban and Al Qaeda

Pew polls conducted in 2010 and 2011 show that overwhelming majority of Pakistanis take a dim view of the actions of the United States, Taliban and Al Qaeda.

According to the latest poll, only 12% express a positive view of the U.S. and just 8% have confidence in President Barack Obama to do the right thing in world affairs. Most Pakistanis see the U.S. as an enemy, consider it a potential military threat, and oppose American-led anti-terrorism efforts. The killing of bin Laden has had little effect on the results.

Pew conducted the survey in Pakistan as part of its Global Attitudes Project in April, and conducted a second poll right after the May 2 raid on Bin Laden’s compound in the city of Abbottabad, Pakistan. Pakistanis’ views of Bin Laden had become increasingly negative in recent years. In a 2005 Pew poll, 51 percent said they had confidence that Bin Laden would do the right thing in world affairs; in April only 21 percent had such trust.

Looking forward, 51 percent of the respondents in the latest survey expect relations to deteriorate between the countries as a result of the American military action, only 4 percent anticipate better relations and 16 percent said there would be no change. And after the death of Bin Laden, Pakistanis took a more pessimistic view of relations between their country and the United States. In a prior survey in April, Pakistanis were divided: 35 percent said relations had improved in recent years and 35 percent disagreed. After the Abbottabad raid, 29 percent said relations with the United States had improved and 44 percent had the opposite view.

Pakistanis continue to reject suicide attacks against civilians as a means to defend Islam. Fully 85% of Muslims in Pakistan say this kind of violence is never justified; another 3% says it is rarely justified and just 5% say it is sometimes or often justified.

Pakistanis continue to view their traditional rival India negatively. Three-in-four express an unfavorable opinion of India, up from 50% five years ago.

When asked which is the biggest threat to their country, India, the Taliban, or al Qaeda, a majority of Pakistanis (57%) say India.

Still, roughly seven-in-ten say it is important to improve relations with India, believe increased trade with their neighbor would be a good thing, and support further talks to reduce tensions between the two countries.

Similarly, Indians express negative opinions of Pakistan; 65% have an unfavorable view of their traditional rival and more name Pakistan as India’s biggest threat (45%) than name Lashkar-e-Taiba (19%) or Naxalites (16%). Yet, like Pakistanis, Indians would like to see improved relations between the two countries and most support increased trade between India and Pakistan.

At the heart of tensions between India and Pakistan lies the Kashmir dispute. Nearly three-fourths (73%) of Pakistanis consider the Kashmir dispute a very big problem. Majorities in both countries think it is important to find a resolution to the Kashmir issue, but Pakistanis are more likely than Indians to give this issue high salience (80% vs. 66% very important). Majorities of Pakistanis across age, education and ethnic groups agree that resolving this issue is very important.

Even though the Pakistani military has come under sharp criticism since the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden, it remains overwhelmingly popular: 79% say it is having a good influence on the country. Ratings for military chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani have remained on balance positive – 52% give him a favorable and 21% an unfavorable rating. This represents a slight change from the April poll conducted prior to bin Laden’s death, when 57% rated him favorably and 18% unfavorably.

Among the politicians, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan scores the highest with 68% of respondents approving, and President Asif Zardai is the least popular with a mere 11% support. Nawaz Sharif has lost some of his popularity with his approval down to 63% from an earlier poll showing 71% support. Ninety two percent say that the country is heading in the wrong direction. 85 percent of those surveyed see the economic condition as bad and 60 percent fear further deterioration in the next 12 months. Most people consider rising inflation, unemployment, crime, terrorism and political corruption as key issues of the country.

Aside from confirming the ongoing India-Pakistan rivalry and mounting dissatisfaction with the nation's leadership, the Pew survey results essentially reinforce the fact that vast majority of Pakistanis are tired of rising violence and wish to be left alone by the United States, Taliban and al Qaida.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pew Poll in Pakistan 2011

Appeasement in Swat

Kashmir in Context

ISI Rogues-Real or Imagined?

Pakistanis See US as Biggest Threat

Daily Carnage in Pakistan

King's Hypocrisy

Military Mutiny in Pakistan?

India's Guantanamos abd Abu Ghraibs

Obama McCain Debate on Pakistan Policy

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pakistan Wins Release of Indian and Pakistani Sailors

In a humanitarian gesture, Pakistan raised funds to help secure the release of 22 sailors, including 11 Egyptians, 6 Indians, 4 Pakistanis and a Sri Lankan. The sailors were held captive for ransom by the Somali pirates for over 10 months aboard a hijacked Egyptian vessel MV Suez. The ship is now sailing to freedom escorted by Pakistan Navy's PNS Babar after a second hijack attempt by Somali pirates. Pakistani ship came to the rescue of the Suez after the Indian Navy ignored its repeated calls for help, according to India's NDTV.

Of the $2.5 million ransom, the ship’s owner paid $1 million and the Ansar Burney Trust raised the remaining $1.5 million with the help of Pakistani officials, according to the Indian Telegraph newspaper.

The freed Pakistanis are the ship's captain Syed Wasi Hasan and crew Muzzamil, Mohammed Alam and Ali Rehman. Captain Wasi Hasan told Geo News that his captors had threatened to kill him. He thanked the nation and the media and particularly praised Ansar Burney for the role played in securing the sailors' release.

Acknowledging Pakistan's role, Madhu Sharma, whose husband N.K. Sharma was among the six Indians, said from Jammu: “If my husband is free today, it is because of the efforts of (Pakistani human rights activist) Ansar Burney and governor (of Pakistan’s Sindh province, Ishrat-ul Ibad)."

The gratitude was echoed by Sampa Arya the wife of sailor Ravinder Gulia, 30, in Haryana. “Burney raised funds with the help of the Pakistan government. The Indian government let us down. We met many leaders but nobody helped us. They said paying ransom is not the right way. I have lost all faith in Indian politicians,” she said.

Ravinder’s father Rajender Gulia said: “Pakistan has helped us like an elder brother and emerged as a saviour.”

Unlike the grateful relatives of the freed Indian sailors, India's foreign minister SM Krishna has not thanked Pakistan, and said, “Let us not get into a speculative analysis on who is behind it and who is provoking it.”

Altaf Husain, the leader of Pakistan's MQM party that is part of Pakistan's ruling coalition, has called upon India to reciprocate the Pakistani gesture.

"Pakistani organizations worked tirelessly to secure the release of the captive Indians as well, proving that Pakistan does not favor hostility but humanity," Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain said.

"India must recognise this spirit and reciprocate with amity, not enmity," Urdu daily Jang Tuesday quoted him as saying.

Hussain said his comments were addressed to the entire Indian leadership including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. The mistrust between India and Pakistan must be overcome for a new relationship of friendship, he said.

Here's a video clip of Indian sailors' families thanking Pakistan:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Indian Hostility Toward Pakistan

India's Sane Voice Warns Against Smugness

Is Pakistan Too Big to Fail?

Our faff-Pak Policy

Obama's Retreat in Mid East and South Asia

Pakistan is Not Falling

Can India Do a Lebanon in Pakistan?

Gaza Killings---Spectator Sport in Israel

Indians' Old Obsession With Pakistan

India Projects Maritime Power on High Seas

Aman Naval Exercises

Pakistan On the Brink

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Per Capita Income, Corruption and Religiosity

Guest Post By Mohammad Asghar Aboobaker

Riaz Haq recently published a post on his blog about the culture of corruption in Pakistan.

Riaz's post reminded me of a Pew Survey I saw a few years ago which asked people from many countries the following question: How important is religion as part of your daily life? The survey results are shown here in a bar graph.

The original corruption index was shown between 1-10 with 1 being the most corrupt. I changed that to make it easier to see. I plotted 10 minus corruption index (higher number representing higher corruption) against the importance of religion by country (Chart 1). I was expecting that it will not show much of a trend but it showed some interesting insight. If you draw a best fit linear line to this data, it shows an upward slope, meaning that the countries with lower importance of religion are less corrupt. More interesting was how the high importance of religion and high corruption had many data points clumped together in the top right hand corner.

chart 2

One would think that corruption maybe related to per capita income of a country. Sure enough, when you plot GNI per capita adjusted for buying power, the lower income was related to higher corruption. (Chart 2)

chart 3

The analysis would not be complete if I did not plot importance of religion with per capita income. (Chart 3). If nothing else, it proves Marx to be correct to some extent that the religion is opium for (poor) masses.

This maybe just different insight and one can extract different conclusions that I have drawn. The data is from 2009 and 2010.

The author of this post, M. Asghar Aboobaker, is the founder, chairman and treasurer of Pakistani-American Cultural Center in Silicon Valley, CA. He has worked in high tech industry for more than 30 years as a business manager as well as engineering manager at companies like Intel Corporation. Currently he is the managing director of a venture fund, K2 Ventures. He has also run businesses as CEO and is on board of startups. He has been on board of directors of more than 3 non-profit organizations in last 20 years. Asghar has Masters of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from UCLA and BSEE from NED in Karachi.

Source: MotherJones

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

The Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

Pakistani Judges' Jihad Against Corruption

Incompetence and Corruption in Pakistan

Deeply Religious People Profoundly Ignorant About Religion?
Zardari Corruption Probe

Infections Cause Low IQ in Africa, South Asia?
NRO Amnesty Order Overturned

Transparency International Rankings 2009

Transparency International Corruption Index 2010

Straight Talk By Gates on Pakistan

"Well, first of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done."

That was Defense Secretary Robert Gates' straight talk in response to the phony outrage by Senator Patrick Leahy on the news of Pakistan arresting 5 CIA informants following Osama bin Laden's killing by US Navy Seals in Abbotabad.

Here is the text of the exchange between Gates and Leahy during the US Senate hearing on Pakistan that began with Leahy asking Gates how long the U.S. will be willing to "support governments that lie to us?"

GATES: Well, first of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done.

LEAHY: Do they also arrest the people that help us when they say they're allies?

GATES: Sometimes.

LEAHY: Not often.

GATES: And -- and sometimes they send people to spy on us, and they're our close allies. So...

LEAHY: And we give aid to them.

GATES: ... that's the real world that we deal with.

Outgoing Secretary Gates is clearly not a politician. He does not share the basic consensus among mainstream US politicians and media about American exceptionalism which gives them a broad license to criticize and denigrate others for some of the same or worse transgressions(or accomplishments) that the Americans are themselves guilty (or proud) of.

Another instance of plain talk by an American leader is the one where former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is reported to have said:

"There is only one thing more dangerous than being America's enemy; it's being an American ally".

With the recent series of extraordinary humiliations inflicted by Obama administration on their Pakistani allies, I think the current Pakistani leadership can wholeheartedly attest to Dr. Kissinger's enduring assertion.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Military Mutiny in Pakistan?

Twitter Revolution in Pakistan

Pakistan's Tax Evasion Fosters Foreign Aid Dependence

Seeing Bin Laden's Death in Wider Perspective

Daily Carnage Amidst Intelligence Failures in Pakistan

Can US Aid Remake Pakistan?

ISI Rogues-Real or Imagined?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pakistan's Per Capita Income Exceeds $3,100 in 2011

Pakistan’s nominal per capita income rose 16.9 percent to $1,254 in 2010-11 from $1,073 in 2009-2010, according to the Economic Survey of Pakistan. Using the IMF's purchasing power parity exchange rate of Rs. 34 to a US dollar (versus official exchange rate of Rs. 85 to a US dollar), Pakistan's per capita income in terms of purchasing power parity works out to $3,135.00.

Per Capita PPP GDP

Although Pakistan's per capita GDP rose by only 0.7% in real terms, the much higher 16.9% nominal per capita income increase reflects a combination of the nation's double-digit inflation rate and the the rupee's stable exchange rate with the US dollar which has been losing ground to most major world currencies in 2010-2011.

Similar to Pakistan's nominal growth, at least a part of India's nominal growth in per capita gdp and income is also driven by rising domestic inflation of over 10% and appreciating Indian rupee (5.5% from 48.32 in 2009 to 45.65 in 2010) from strong hot money inflows from the Fed's quantitative easing in the United States and elsewhere. India's FDI has declined by a third from $34.6 billion in 2009 to $23.7 billion in 2010. Its current account deficit is being increasingly funded by significant short-term capital inflows (FII up 66% from $17.4 billion in 2009 to $29 billion in 2010) rather than more durable foreign direct investment (FDI). This alarming trend of declining FDI and surging FII in India has continued into 2010-2011.

The idea of PPP or purchasing power parity is quite simple. A US dollar can be exchanged today for about 85 Pakistani rupees. But with Rs 85 you can buy more goods and services in Pakistan than one US dollar can buy in the United States. So Pakistan's GDP expressed in dollars at current exchange rates is about 40% of what it is when adjusted for PPP. The current ratio for both Indian and Pakistani GDP conversion from nominal US dollars to PPP dollars is about 2.5, calculated as follows:

Country......Official Rate....Purchasing Power.....Ratio

India...........INR 45.................INR 18..........2.5

Pakistan.......PKR 85................PKR 34..........2.5

Looking at the increase in per capita income alone is quite misleading in judging the health of Pakistan's economy. Other indicators, such as real GDP growth and investments, show that the state of the economy is very poor. The nation's GDP grew only 2.4% in real terms in 2010-2011. Domestic investment dropped to a 40-year low of 13.4% of GDP, and foreign direct investment (FDI) declined by 29 percent to $1.232 billion during July-April 2010-11 from $1.725 million in the same period a year earlier.

In addition to improved security environment, Pakistan has an urgent need for serious economic reform, greater social justice and better governance. Unless the PPP government acts to improve this situation, no amount of foreign aid, external loans and other help will suffice. The first step in the process is for the ruling elite to lead by example by paying their fair share of taxes and adopting less extravagant personal lifestyles to get Pakistan's fiscal house in order.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Incompetence Worse Than Corruption in Pakistan

Comparing US and Pakistani Tax Evasion

Pakistan's Economic Performance 2008-2010

Brief History of Pakistan's Economy 1947-2010

Daily Carnage in Pakistan

US Raid in Abbottabad

Economic Survey of Pakistan 2010-2011 Highlights

Pakistan's Rural Economy Showing Strength

Shaukat Tarin on Pakistan's Regressive Tax Policies

Economic Survey of Pakistan 2010-2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Huma Abedin Weiner Calm Amid Twittergate

New York's Jewish-American Congressman Anthony Weiner's scandal has brought unwanted attention to his wife Huma Abedin, a 34 year-old Michigan-born Muslim-American woman with an Indian-American father and a Pakistani-American mother. The Congressman is alleged to have sent a lewd photo of his crotch from his Twitter account to a 21-year-old female student in Seattle, Washington.

A graduate of George Washington University, Huma Abedin has been a close aide to Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton since 1996 when she was an intern in the White House and saw the Monica Lewinsky scandal from a front-row seat. President Bill Clinton officiated at her wedding in July 2010.

Abedin's father was of Indian descent and was an Iranian scholar who died when she was 17 years old, and her Pakistani born mother is currently a university professor in Saudi Arabia.

“Abedin has the energy of a woman in her 20s, the confidence of a woman in her 30s, the experience of a woman in her 40s, and the grace of a woman in her 50s,” Mrs. Clinton wrote in an email to Vogue Magazine which did Abedin's photo shoot in July 2007. “She is timeless, her combination of poise, kindness, and intelligence are matchless.”

As the American and the British tabloid and mainstream media appear to be having a field day covering the scandal, Abedin has returned to work as poised and unfaltering as ever, according to The Daily Mail.

Here is Anthony Weiner at a recent Congressional Correspondents Dinner proclaiming "I do the Weiner jokes around here":

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani-American's Game-changing Vision

OPEN Forum 2010

Pakistani-American in $500 Million NFL Deal

Is Pakistan Too Big to Fail?

Pakistani-American Elected Mayor

Fighting Poverty Through Microfinance in Pakistan

Silicon Valley Summit of Pakistani Entrepreneurs

Pakistan's Multi-Billion Dollar IT Industry

Media and Telecom Sectors Growing in Pakistan

Pakistan's Middle Class Growth in 1999-2009

Social Entrepreneurs Target India, Pakistan