Friday, October 30, 2015

Will Pakistan Benefit From LNG Glut Pushing Prices to New Lows?

LNG spot prices hit a new low of $4 per mmBTU as the supply continues to significantly outstrip demand. It's creating opportunities for Pakistan to get access to large supply of cheap fuel for its power generation.

With softening demand from China and 130 million tons per year (mmpta) of additional LNG supply set to reach market over the next five years, gas research firm Wood Mackenzie sees continuing downward pressure on global LNG spot prices.

LNG Price History Source: WSJ

“The entire industry is worried because it is hard to tell when China’s demand will pick up again,” said an LNG strategist at a Malaysian energy company who attended the Wood Mackenzie conference in Singapore, according to Wall Street Journal. “Rising demand from smaller countries such as Pakistan, Egypt and Bangladesh is not enough to offset the declining demand from north Asia.”

As recently as two years ago, LNG shipped to big North Asian countries like Japan and Korea sold at around $15 to $16 a million British thermal units. This month, the price has already hit $6.65 a million BTUs, down 12% from September, according to research firm Energy Aspects. It expects prices to fall further in Asia next year, to under $6 per million BTUs, as a wave of new gas supply in countries from the U.S. to Angola to Australia comes on line, according to Wall Street Journal.

Petronet LNG Ltd, India’s biggest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), is saving so much money buying the commodity from the spot market that it’s willing to risk penalties for breaking long-term contracts with Qatar.

This is a great opportunity for Pakistan to take advantage of historically low LNG prices to alleviate its severe load-shedding of gas and electricity.  Recently, Pakistan has launched its first LNG import terminal in Karachi and started receiving shipments from Qatar.  Pakistan has also signed a $2 billion deal with Russians to build a north-south pipeline from Gwadar to Lahore. But the country needs to rapidly build up capacity to handle imports and distribution of significant volumes of LNG needed to resolve its acute long-running energy crisis.

Here's a related video discussion:

Pakistan Local Elections; Indian Hindu... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Pakistan Local Elections; Indian Hindu Extremism; LNG Pricing; Imran-Reham Split from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Twin Energy Crises of Gas and Electricity

Affordable Fuel For Pakistan's Power Generation

Pakistan Shale Oil and Gas Deposits

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor 

Blackouts and Bailouts in Energy Rich Pakistan

Pakistanis Suffer Load Shedding While IPPs Profits Surge

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Uber Planning Pakistan Launch

Uber, the rapidly growing San Francisco based behemoth known for its taxi app,  appears to be getting ready to launch its service in Lahore, Pakistan, according to media reports.

A report in Tech In Asia points to the career page on Uber website that shows openings for “general manager”, “operations and logistics manager”, and a “marketing manager,” for Lahore,  Pakistan's second-largest city.

In fact, Uber has confirmed its plans to launch in Pakistan soon, according to TechJuice.

“We can confirm we are currently recruiting for a team in Lahore, and are very excited about launching in Pakistan as we see huge potential in the way we can help people move around their city safely and reliably,” Shaden Abdellatif, communications manager for Uber’s Middle East and Africa operations told TechJuice. “We are also excited about the opportunity for economic empowerment we can bring to the drivers we partner with.”

It makes sense given the size of the Pakistan's expanding urban middle class with its fast growing mobile broadband subscriptions combined with rising smartphone sales in the country.

Pakistanis are signing up for 3G and 4G services at a rate of 1 to 2 million new subscriptions a month. In September 2015 alone, Pakistan Telecom Authority reported 2.22 million new 3G and 4G subscriptions in the country. There's corresponding increase in demand for smartphones.

With over 18 million smartphones and mobile broadband subscriptions, Pakistan is ripe for a whole range of new businesses from e-commerce to gaming to various online services like Uber that are accessed through smartphone apps.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Mobile Broadband Subscription Growth Accelerates in Pakistan

Pakistan Car Sales Jump 72%; Cement Consumption Up 17%

iPhone 6 and 6S Launched in Pakistan

Pakistan Government Deploys Mobile Apps

E-Commerce Taking Off in Pakistan

Haier Pakistan to Manufacture Smartphones

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pakistan 3G Uptake Doubles: 2.22 million New Subscribers in September 2015

Monthly new subscriptions of 3G and 4G in Pakistan doubled to 2.22 million in September 2015, up from 1.1 million new subscribers in August 2015.  This brings the total number of mobile broadband subscribers to 18.04 million and total of all broadband subscriptions to 21.2 million since 3G-4G launch in May 2014, according to the latest data released by Pakistan Telecommunications Authority.
Mobile Broadband Subscriptions in Pakistan Source: PTA

Increasing use of the Internet is now being put to good use to deal with the tragic aftermath of the the earthquake in Pakistan.  Facebook and Google have set up special pages to help people find each other.

Demand for smartphones is also accelerating in Pakistan along with the rise in mobile broadband subscriptions. Forecasters estimate the number of smartphone sales to increase to 40 million by next year.

Overall, 3G and 4G subscriptions in Pakistan jumped 14.43 % during September 2015, the highest sequential monthly increase in the past six months. Among the carriers, Mobilink topped with 878,107 new mobile broadband customers, followed by Ufone with 637,131 new 3G users during September 2015. Telenor is number 3 with 393,969 new 3G users during the month.

Coming on the heels of data indicating 72% jump in car sales and 17% rise in cement consumption, this data on 2.22 million new mobile broadband subscriptions in September is yet another confirmation of Pakistan's ongoing economic recovery.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Car Sales Jump 72%; Cement Consumption Up 17%

iPhone 6 and 6S Launched in Pakistan

Pakistan Government Deploys Mobile Apps

E-Commerce Taking Off in Pakistan

Haier Pakistan to Manufacture Smartphones

Friday, October 23, 2015

US Reaffirms Ties With Pakistan; Obama Pledges Continuing Support

All the speculations about the United States walking away from Pakistan this year have been proved wrong by the joint statement issued by the White House after this week's summit meeting between Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and US President Barack Obama in Washington D.C.

US-Pakistan Joint Statement:

The US-Pakistan joint statement reaffirmed "enduring U.S.-Pakistan partnership" for "a prosperous Pakistan, and a more stable region."  It commits the two sides to work "jointly toward strengthening strategic stability in South Asia".  The statement further said that "President Obama expressed support for Pakistan’s efforts to secure funding for Diamer­ Bhasha and Dasu dams to help meet Pakistan’s energy and water needs."

Referring to the strained India-Pakistan ties, the statement said that both leaders "emphasized the importance of a sustained and resilient dialogue process between the two neighbors aimed at resolving all outstanding territorial and other disputes, including Kashmir, through peaceful means and working together to address mutual concerns of India and Pakistan regarding terrorism".

US Assistance to Pakistan:

There are also media reports indicating that President Obama has decided to sell 8 new F-16s to Pakistan.  Mr. Obama has also pledged $900 million in assistance to Pakistan for 2015-16. In addition, both Washington Post and New York Times have reported that the United States wants to negotiate a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan. Pakistan has said it will not accept any conditions that limit its nuclear weapons program in exchange for a civil nuclear deal with the United States.

India's Strong Negative Reaction:

As expected, India has reacted with anger to references to US support for strategic stability in South Asia region, support for Diamer Bhasha dam financing and resolution of Kashmir issue through peaceful means. The reports of F-16 sale to Pakistan and possible US-Pakistan civil nuclear deal have also elicited a strong negative reaction in New Delhi.

The US-Pakistan joint statement and several White House fact sheets have detailed US-Pakistan cooperation in education, energy, trade and investment, defense, cybersecurity and counter terrorism.

US-Pakistan Partnerships:

Under the U.S.-Pakistan Clean Energy Partnership, the United States said it "will work with the Government of Pakistan to advance energy sector reforms, improve the investment framework, and make targeted investments that will enable U.S., Pakistani, and international private sector developers to add at least 3,000 megawatts (MW) of clean power generation infrastructure to Pakistan’s national electricity system, benefitting 30 million Pakistanis".

Under the Education partnership, the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), committed $70 million to work jointly with the Government of Pakistan and other partners to help educate and empower more than 200,000 additional adolescent girls across Pakistan.

The United States is already funding three centers for advanced studies for agriculture, energy and water under the education partnership. The Center For Advanced Studies in Agriculture is at the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, the Center For Advanced Studies in energy at Peshawar University and the Center For Advance Studies in water at  Mehran University. These centers are working with major US universities.

Under Trade and Investment Partnership,  the United States will help upgrade the capabilities of the ready-made garments (RMG) sector through support of vocational centers dedicated to RMG and improvements in industry labor conditions. U.S. assistance will also help scale-up Pakistan’s International Labor Organization (ILO)-International Labor Standards (ILS) Textile program and support the launch of an ILO “Better Work Program.” Also, the United States will support an investment event in New York to highlight opportunities in Pakistan’s RMG industry and other sectors.  The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will assist the Government of Pakistan in identifying and petitioning for additional GSP tariff lines and to obtain eligibility for exports of goods under newly GSP-eligible travel goods tariff lines.


The latest Obama-Sharif Summit in Washington has cleared up any confusion that may have been created by the continuing US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and the expiration of Kerry-Lugar Bill. The US-Pakistan joint statement has firmly established continuing US interest in maintaining close ties with Pakistan.   Pakistan's strategic location makes it attractive to both the United States and China, the world's two largest economic and military powers, to maintain close ties with it. What comes out of these ties will ultimately be determined by how well the Pakistani leaders leverage them for maximum benefit for the well-being of the people of Pakistan.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

US-Pakistan Civil Nuclear Deal

China-Pakistan Industrial Corridor

How Strategic Are China-Pakistan Ties? 

India's Proxy War Against Pakistan

Pakistan Economic Recovery: Car Sales Jump 72%, Cement Sales Up 17%

Renewable Power in Pakistan

Floods and Drought Cycles in Pakistan

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Questioning American Muslim Teen Ahmed Mohammad's Move to Qatar

14-year-old American Muslim kid Ahmed Mohamed is moving to Qatar with his family. His attempt to impress his teacher with a homemade clock put him in jail in handcuffs when his teacher at his school in Irving, Texas, thought it was a bomb and called the police.

The story made headlines in western and international media and brought widespread condemnation of the anti-Muslim bigotry in his hometown.  There was also an outpouring of support for him from Silicon Valley tech titans who invited Ahmed to their campuses. President Obama tweeted his support for Ahmed and invited him to the White House.

The Dallas Morning News has reported that top schools from across the United States had tried to woo Mohamed, but it was the Qatari offer “that most intrigued the family.” The newspaper reported that Mohamed will study at the Doha Academy while his siblings find schools in Doha, the Qatari capital.

The news has intrigued me as well. I have friends and relatives from Pakistan who have been living and working in Qatar and other oil-rich Arab nations for several years. Although they are well educated and probably financially better off than they would be in Pakistan, they resent the fact that they are paid less than their white colleagues doing same or similar work. In the event that they lose their jobs, they would have to pack up and leave Qatar at very short notice. Even their Qatari born children have no rights there; they would have to leave with them. If Ahmed and his family think they are escaping racism in America, they will find much more of it in their new home in Qatar, with no bill of rights or  civil rights groups or independent courts to protect them.

There are several questions that I suggest Ahmed's father ponder as he prepares to move to Qatar along with Ahmed and the rest of the family:

1. When was the last time Qatar's Emir spoke out against wrongs done to the children of foreign-born residents of his country as President of the United States did for Ahmad?

2. Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) spoke out for Ahmed when he was subjected to abuse in Texas. Are there any civil rights organizations like CAIR in Qatar?

3. What chance does Ahmed have of realizing his full potential in Qatar as Pakistan-born Shahid Khan, India-born Vinod Khosla and many immigrants or children of immigrants have in the United States?

Even if Ahmed's father persists in his folly, he can have some comfort in the fact that the United States will still go to bat for him and his family because they carry US passports. And they can return to United States as American citizens when Qatar decides to expel them.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Silicon Valley Stands With Ahmed Mohamad

Shahid Khan is the Richest South Asian in America

Steve Jobs: The Son of Syrian Immigrant Father

Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans 

Free Speech and Islamophobia in America

King's Hypocrisy

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pakistan Economy: Car Sales Up 72%; Cement Shipments Rise 16.89%

Pakistan auto industry is booming. Toyota, Suzuki and Honda factories are working around the clock in the southern port city of Karachi and eastern city of Lahore -- yet customers can still wait for up to four months for new vehicles to be delivered, according to media reports. At the same time, increased construction activity is visible everywhere in the country.

Local car sales, excluding imported cars, jumped to 54,812 units in the first three months (Jul-Sep) of fiscal year 2016, up 72% from 31,899 units in the same period of last year, according to data released by the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (PAMA).

Pak Suzuki led the pack with 33,770 units followed by Indus Motors (Toyota) 14,767 cars and Honda Motors 6,184 units. Industry analysts at Topline Securities expect local car sales to reach 203,653 units during the current fiscal year.

Car sales (excluding imported ones) in Pakistan grew at a five-year (FY11-15) compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just 5.3% to 179,953 units. While volumes surged by 31% in fiscal year 2015 (FY15) on the back of the new model of Toyota Corolla, Punjab taxi scheme and an increase in car financing due to 42-year low interest rates in the country also helped, according to Express Tribune newspaper. “We forecast local car sales to grow at 13% in FY16 to reach 203,653 units,” Topline Securities reported on Monday.

In addition to car sales, domestic cement sales have also jumped by a phenomenal 16.89% to 4.29 million tons during July and August 2015 from 3.67 million tons shipped in the same period last year.

Car sales and construction activity are both believed to be driven by low interest rate financing available from banks and improved security situation across the country. With record low inflation, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the nation's central bank, has cut discount rate to a 42-year low of 6%.

After its September meeting, the SBP said the rise in fixed investment financing in the energy generation and distribution, chemicals and services sectors signal possible increase in their productive activity in coming months. “The implementation of infrastructure development and energy projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will further enhance the improving investment environment. Therefore, there is anticipation of higher economic activity in 2015-16, which is expected to boost credit uptake,” it said.

Per Capita Cement Consumption Source: Global Cement

A dramatic decline in terrorist violence in the country since the launch of Pakistan Army's Operation Zarb-e-Azb and a big drop in international oil prices have helped drive economic recovery in the country in recent months.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Auto Industry

Record Cement Sales Raise Hope Of Pakistan Economic Recovery

Credit Suisse Bullish on Pakistan Cement Industry

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Pakistan Army Acts Against Terrorists

Pakistan Middle Class Larger & Richer Than India's

Top Global Investor Bullish on Pakistan

The Role of Cement Industry in Economic Development of Pakistan

Friday, October 16, 2015

Wealth Report: Pakistan Middle Class Larger & Richer Than India's

Pakistan’s middle class consists of over 6.27 million adults, according to wealth criteria used by Credit Suisse in its Global Wealth Report 2015. It represents 5.7% share of Pakistan’s total adult population of 111 million, almost twice as large as India’s middle class made up of 3% of its adult population based on the same criteria.

Source: Credit Suisse Wealth Databook 2015

Average ($4,459) and median ($2,216) wealth figures for Pakistani middle class adults are higher than average ($4,352) and median ($868) wealth figures for their Indian middle class counterparts. It's a consequence of lower income wealth inequality in Pakistan compared to its neighbor.  For comparison, only 1.1% of Bangladesh adult population qualify as middle class. Their average wealth is $2,201 and median wealth $1,102 per adult.

Pakistan Wealth Source: Global Wealth Report 2015 Via Express Tribune
Credit Suisse's report estimates Pakistan's total private wealth in mid-2015 at $495 billion, Bangladesh's at $237 billion and India's at $3.45 trillion.

Credit Suisse said Pakistan's middle class is the 18th largest and India's 8th largest in the world. The report says 14% of world adults qualify as middle class in 2015 and they own 32% of the world's wealth. 6.7 million Pakistani adults make up 0.9% of the world's middle-class adult population. China tops the list with 108.7 million, followed by the United States 91.8 million and Japan 62 million.

A little more than 90% Pakistani adults had wealth less than $10,000 in 2015. The share of Pakistani adults with wealth between $10,000 and $100,000 in 2015 was 9.8% while only 0.1% adults owned wealth in the range of $100,000 and $1 million, the report revealed.

Other studies based on income criteria of $2 or more per day put Pakistan's middle class at 55% of the population. A 2010 ADB report titled "Asia's Emerging Middle Class: Past, Present and Future" report put Pakistan's middle class growth from 1990 to 2008 at 36.5%, much faster than India's 12.5% growth in the same period. Other reports have indicated Pakistan's median per capita income is higher than both India's and Bangladesh's.

Even though Pakistan's GDP growth has been relatively low compared to India and Bangladesh in recent years, the country's middle class has continued to grow rapidly. It's explained as follows: It's not the overall GDP growth and average per capita income and wealth increases but the median per capita income and wealth growth that tells you how the GDP gains are shared among the population.

Data shows that economic gains in Pakistan are shared better than India and Bangladesh because of lower inequality. Income poverty rate (those below $1.25 per capita per day) in India is 33% and Bangladesh 43% versus 13% in Pakistan, according to WB data on povcalNet. Gini Index for India is 33, Pakistan 29 and Bangladesh 32, indicating that Pakistan has lower inequality.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Middle Class Grows to 55%

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Median Per Capita Incomes of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan

India and Pakistan Compared in 2014

Bangladesh-Pakistan Comparison in 2012

Modi's Superpower Delusions

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Foreign Aid to Pakistan: Blessing or Curse?

This year's Nobel Prize winning economist Angus Deaton of Princeton University considers foreign aid to developing nations a curse like the oft-mentioned resource curse of energy and mineral-rich nations of Africa and the Middle East.

Deaton has studied poverty in India and Africa and spent many decades working at the World Bank whose charter it is to fight poverty. He argues that, by trying to help poor people in developing countries, the rich world may actually be corrupting those nations' governments and slowing their growth and hurting the poor in the process. Prof William Easterly of New York University has published a paper titled "Can Foreign Aid Buy Growth?" that supports the view that increase in foreign aid has reduced economic growth in Africa.

Source: William Easterly of NYU

In addition to being recipients of foreign aid, most African countries are also rich in resources ranging from oil and gas to diamonds and metals. Yet, their people are among the poorest in the world.  Why is it? The biggest reason appears to be their corrupt leaders who pocket most of the proceeds from mining. They also siphon off a big chuck of foreign aid left after paying the expensive western consultants employed by aid agencies.

So where does Pakistan stand in this mix? Charts published by Washington Post show that Pakistan, in spite of not being a major exporter of minerals, enjoyed an average economic growth rate of about 5% from 1970 to 2008.  This is about the same as India's but higher than Brazil's and Turkey's GDP growth rates. The economic growth rates for China and Korea are much higher than Pakistan's in this period.

Foreign aid to Pakistan has also been more effective in promoting economic growth than much of Africa. Even Dambisa Moyo, author of "Dead Aid" and a critic of western aid, acknowledges that the US aid for "the Green Revolution in India (and Pakistan) played vital roles in economic (re)construction" of the South Asian nations in 1960s and 1970s. The South Asian subcontinent could have faced starvation without this aid.

One of the key reasons for the success of Green Revolution was the ability of the human capital in India and Pakistan to absorb the technological knowhow that it brought along with money. Ms. Moyo offers the same reason for the success of Marshall Plan aid in Europe.

Foreign Aid to Pakistan as Percent of GDP Source: World Bank 

US aid to Pakistan after the Green Revolution has been much smaller as percentage of the nation's GDP and much less effective.  Total foreign aid to Pakistan has dramatically declined from a peak of over10% of GDP to less than 2% of GDP now, too little to impact economic growth even if it is utilized better.

The expected size and speed of the Chinese FDI of $46 billion in energy and infrastructure is much more likely to spur Pakistan's economic growth than the western aid has been in the recent past. It will put Pakistan on a path to rely much more on investment and trade than on aid or debt for its foreign exchange reserves.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Aid, Investment, Trade and Remittances for Pakistan

Declining Investment Hurting Pakistan's Economic Growth

Pak-China Industrial Corridor to Boost Investment and Trade

Pak Army Completes Over Half of CPEC Western Corridor

Pakistan Economic History 1947-2010

Top Global Fund Investor Bullish on Pakistan

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

Sunday, October 11, 2015

NA-122 Poll Significance; Ghulam Ali's Indian Concert; US-Pakistan Civil Nuclear Deal

Why is the Lahore NA-122 By-Election Significant? Why is it so hard fought?

How will the forced cancellation of Ghulam Ali's Mumbai concert affect India-Pakistan cultural ties?
Will it spill over into all people-people contact between the two countries? How is Indian media's intense anti-Pakistan propaganda hurting the entire region?

What are the chances of US-Pakistan civil nuclear deal? Why are Washington think tanks and US mainstream media talking about it ahead of Obama-Sharif summit scheduled for late October 2015?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Ali Hasan Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (

NA-122 Poll Significance; Ghulam Ali's Indian... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

US-Pakistan Civil Nuclear Deal

Indian Media Hostility To Pakistan

Rise of Sangh Parivar in India

Modi's Foreign Policy Blunders

US Gun Violence, Islamophobia and Terrorism

Has Modi Stepped Up India's Proxy War Against Pakistan?

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel

VPOS Dailymotion Channel

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

US-Pakistan Civil Nuclear Deal On Obama-Sharif Summit Agenda?

"The Pakistani establishment, as we saw in 1998 with the nuclear test, does not view assistance -- even sizable assistance to their own entities -- as a trade-off for national security vis-a-vis India". US Ambassador Anne Patterson, September 23, 2009

Having failed to persuade, intimidate, bribe and sanction Pakistan to abandon its nuclear weapons program, there are credible reports that Washington is now ready to accept Pakistan as a legitimate nuclear weapons state in exchange for limiting the range of the country's ballistic missiles.

Washington is abuzz with the news of major think tank analyses and credible media reports indicating that the October 22, 2015 Obama-Sharif summit agenda includes US-Pakistan civil nuclear deal along the lines of India-US civilian nuclear deal.

According to a Washington Post report, the deal with Pakistan centers around a civilian nuclear agreement similar to the one the United States arrived at with India, in exchange for a Pakistani commitment that would "restrict its nuclear program to weapons and delivery systems that are appropriate to its actual defense needs against India's nuclear threat."

As part of such a deal,  the United States will support an eventual waiver for Pakistan by the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, of which the United States is a member. At U.S. urging, that group agreed to exempt India from rules that banned nuclear trade with countries that evaded the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This so-called “civil nuclear agreement” allowed India partial entry into the club of nuclear powers, in exchange for its willingness to apply International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards to its civilian program, according to the Washington Post's veteran columnist David Ignatius.

Prior to the Washington Post report, the Washington-based Stimson Center and the Carnegie Endowment think tanks published a 20,000-word essay on Pakistan’s nuclear program and diplomatic ambitions last week. Written by Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon and titled "Nuclear Mainstream", it recommends Pakistan to agree to meet five conditions for its nuclear mainstreaming:

(1) Shift from the full spectrum deterrence to strategic deterrence

(2) Limit production of tactical weapons or short range delivery weapons

3) Become amenable to talks on the fissile material cut off treaty (FMCT)

4) Delineate civil and military nuclear programs

5) Sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

Given Pakistan's growing energy needs,  the country will most likely engage with the United States to try and get a stamp of legitimacy from the NSG. However, the Washington Posts's Ignatius believes that such "negotiations would be slow and difficult, and it's not clear that Islamabad would be willing to accept the limitations that would be required." Meanwhile, the issue is being discussed quietly in the run-up to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to Washington on October 22.

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses US-Pak Civil Nuclear Deal and other subjects with panelists Ali Hasan Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (

NA-122 Poll Significance; Ghulam Ali's Indian... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

US Must Accept Pakistan as Legitimate Nuclear Weapons State

Pakistan's Shaheen 3 Can Hit Deep Inside India and Israel

India-US Civilian Nuclear Deal 

Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani Bomb

Gen Kidwai on Pakistan 2nd Strike Capability and Nuclear Triad

India's Israel Envy: What If Modi Attacks Pakistan?

Monday, October 5, 2015

India-Pakistan Tensions; Kunduz Fall; Delhi Beef Murder; Oregon Shooting

Why is India summarily rejecting Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s peace overtures at the UN? Will Pakistan’s dossiers on Indian supported terrorism get the world’s attention? How’s India’s “muscular” foreign policy breeding resentment in Nepal and other countries in South Asia region?

Is the murder of an Indian Muslim for allegedly consuming beef an isolated incident? Or is it part of the Modi’s India’s sharp right turn? What can India’s Hindu Nationalists learn from the consequences of religious radicalization in Pakistan?

What does the fall of provincial capital Kunduz to the Taliban mean for the future of Afghanistan?

Will President Obama’s strong reaction to Oregon mass shooting finally help shape public opinion for gun control legislation in America?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelists Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (

India-Pakistan Tensions; Kunduz Fall; Delhi Beef Murder; Oregon Shooting from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Rise of the Sangh Parivar in India

Modi's Foreign Policy Blunders

US Gun Violence, Islamophobia and Terrorism

Has Modi Stepped Up India's Proxy War Against Pakistan?

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel

VPOS Dailymotion Channel

Sunday, October 4, 2015

India's Superpower Delusions: Modi's Flawed Policies

"If you (India) want to run with the big dogs, you have to stop pissing with the puppies".
 Robert Blackwill, Ex US Ambassador to India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Top Foreign Policy Advisor Ajit Doval 

What Mr. Blackwill said about India back in 2006 still rings true with Modi's foreign policy team's poor handling of Nepal.  In a piece titled "Has Narendra Modi's foreign policy bubble burst", a BBC report summed up the situation in the following words:

"For many in India, Narendra Modi is seen as the country's best brand ambassador. That's quite apparent from his many overseas visits in his first 16 months in office - he has generated plenty of interest, airtime and drawn adulation from the extensive Indian diaspora. But that may not be enough in sustaining relationships in the neighbourhood, as he is fast finding out."

India's Regional Ties:

There seems to be emerging consensus that Prime Modi's "Neighborhood First" policy he announced at the time of his inauguration last year appears to be on the verge of collapse.

The Hindu Nationalists' foreign policy spearheaded by former RAW Chief Ajit Doval is causing rapid deterioration of India's relations with most of its neighbors ranging in size from China and Pakistan to Maldives and Nepal. Written during Prime Minister Modi's recent US visit, including a large reception given by Indian Americans in Silicon Valley, an opinion piece by policy analyst Jyoti Malhotra concludes as follows:  "So as the prime minister charms America, flanked by his two key aides Ajit Doval and S Jaishankar, the thought surfaces: Let him also spare a thought for India’s crisis-ridden neighbourhood".

India's Biggest Policy Blunder:

India threw away its substantial conventional military edge over Pakistan when the Hindu Nationalist government of Atal Bihari Vajapayee decided to carry out its nuclear tests in 1998.  It gave Pakistan the justification it needed to go nuclear a few weeks later, thereby achieving balance of terror with its much larger neighbor with a huge conventional military.

Indian analyst Krishna Kant explains his country's policymakers blunder as follows: "Nuclear weapons have reduced Pakistan defense cost while we (India) have been forced to spend tens of billions of dollars to acquire latest military hardware in a bid to retain the edge. Its shows in the defence budget of the two countries since 1999 nuclear blasts. All through 1980s and 90s, Pakistan was spending around a third of its government budget and 5-6% of its GDP on defence, or about twice the corresponding ratios for India. After going nuclear, Pakistan’s defence spending decelerated and its share in GDP is expected to be decline to around 2.5% in the current fiscal year, slightly ahead of India’s 2%. This is releasing resources for Pakistan to invest in productive sectors such as infrastructure and social services, something they couldn’t do when they were competing with India to maintain parity in conventional weapons."

Ajit Doval's Rhetoric Against Pakistan:

Kant argues that the Hindu Nationalists blunders in the past have severely limited India's policy options vis-a-vis Pakistan. Here's how how he concluded his Op Ed in Business Standard: "In this environment, a hard talk by Mr Doval followed by a high-decibel drama by the government on the National Security Advisor’s talk between the two countries seems nothing more than a show for the gallery. The audience may be applauding right now, but claps may turn to boos as the public realises the inconsistencies in the script and the pain it inflicts on the hero."


Hindu Nationalists' superpower delusions have led them to policies that are hurting India's position in South Asia region and the world. No amount of hard talk by Ajit Doval can change this fact.  Former Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh has recently said: "India and Pakistan need sustained engagement to realise the vast potential of benefits of liberalisation of trade and investment in the South Asian region." Modi and Doval need listen to Mr. Singh. India's best bet is to engage with Pakistan as well as other neighbors on a sustained basis to deal with the realities as they exist.

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses the subject with panelists Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (

India-Pakistan Tensions; Kunduz Fall; Delhi Beef Murder; Oregon Shooting from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Link:

Haq's Musings

Modi's Pakistan Policy

Modi in Silicon Valley

Rise of  the Sangh Parivar

India's Israel Envy: What If Modi Attacks Pakistan

Jaswant Singh on India's Foreign Policy's "Strategic Confinement"

Ex RAW Agent Document's India's Successes in Pakistan

Friday, October 2, 2015

US Gun Violence, Islamophobia and Terrorism

President Barack H. Obama finally asked the questions that many American Muslim victims of Islamophobia have been asking for a long time: How many Americans have been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade?  And how many Americans have died in gun violence.

Here's the exact quote from Obama's speech after yet another mass shooting--this time in rural Oregon:

“I would ask news organizations – because I won’t put these facts forward – have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won’t be information coming from me; it will be coming from you. “We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?”

The President's question got the media attention. CNN, among others, compiled the data and put the following graph on its website:

Sources: CDC and US Security Officials Via CNN

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 316,545 people deaths by firearms on U.S. soil from 2004 to 2013. This figure is 1000 times higher than the total deaths of 313 Americans by terrorism at home and abroad in the same period.

Aided by the gun lobby and its conservative supporters, anti-terrorism and Islamophobia have emerged as major new US industries in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 911. Anti-terror industry is worth trillions of dollars. Islamophobia industry, estimated at $200 million, reinforces and promotes the fear of Islam and Muslims for its own gains. With their entrenched vested interests, the growth of these industries has served to distract attention from the 1000X bigger problem of gun violence. The National Rife Association, also know as the gun lobby, has taken full advantage of the situation by buying out the majority of US Congress which opposes even most modest gun safety regulations.

In addition to distracting Americans' attention from growing gun violence, increased spending on Islamophobia is having a significant impact on Americans' perception of Muslim Americans. Results differ by political party, with the majority of Republicans holding negative views of both Arab-Americans and Muslims. Democrats gave Arab-Americans a 30 percent unfavorable rating and Muslim-Americans a 33 percent unfavorable rating, while Republicans gave Arab-Americans a 54 percent unfavorable rating and Muslim-Americans a 63 percent unfavorable rating, according to public opinion survey conducted by Zogby Analytics.

I'm glad to see President Obama finally highlighting the issue of gun violence as the biggest public safety issue in America, far bigger than the issue of terrorism. I hope the President will continue to use his bully pulpit to highlight the problem of gun violence and persuade Americans to not vote for those to US Congress who oppose gun control legislation. I also hope that other individuals, organizations and the mass media will support Mr. Obama's campaign to bring about a sea change in American thinking about gun rights.

 Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Silicon Valley Stands Against Islamophobia

US Gun Violence 

Money is Free Speech in America

King's Hypocrisy

FBI Entrapping Young Muslims

Saudi Prince Funding Hate in America