Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pakistanis Sent $5 Billion to Relatives in India in 2015

Pakistanis sent nearly $5 billion to help their relatives in India in 2015, according to data released by the World Bank. This makes Pakistan the 4th largest source of foreign remittances to India, putting Pakistan ahead of Kuwait and the United Kingdom. Only United Arab Emirates, United States and Saudi Arabia sent more money to India.

Source: Wall Street Journal 

With over 1.4 million Pakistanis born in India, there are literally millions of family connections between the two countries and millions of reasons a person in Pakistan might find a way to get money to relatives in India. The money could be sent for a brother in need, a cousin’s wedding, an uncle’s funeral or even to help educate a niece, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Source: Hindustan Times

I personally know people in my own circle of friends and family in Pakistan who regularly send money to relatives in India to help them out in times of need. Such remittances are used to build homes, educate children, pay for health care or girls' weddings.

While Muslims in Pakistan have prospered, the Indian Muslims have become the new untouchables in their land of birth. They suffer widespread discrimination in education, employment, housing and criminal justice. Muslims make up 13% of India's population but 28% of Indian prisoners. Similarly, Christians make up 2.8% of India's population but 6% of India's prison population.  Meanwhile, the newly elected parliament has just 4% Muslim representation. Housing discrimination in India is so bad that an Indian MP Shashi Tharoor recently tweeted: "Try renting an apartment using a #Muslim name (In #India )".

The latest World Bank remittance offers yet another confirmation that the South Asian Muslims who migrated from what is now India to Pakistan have fared relatively better in terms of economic and other opportunities. Pakistani Muslims have the means to help their relatives in India. It reinforces my own anecdotal observation during my visits to both countries.  I see that my own relatives in Pakistan are much better off than those in India. My Pakistani relatives enjoy better opportunities for education and jobs giving them higher standards of living than those in India.

In fact, Pakistan has continued to offer much greater upward economic and social mobility to its citizens than neighboring India over the last two decades. Since 1990, Pakistan's middle class had expanded by 36.5% and India's by only 12.8%, according to an ADB report titled "Asia's Emerging Middle Class: Past, Present And Future.

Source: ADB
New York Times' Sabrina Tavernise described the rise of Pakistan's middle class in a story from Pakistani town of Muzaffargarh in the following words:

For years, feudal lords reigned supreme, serving as the police, the judge and the political leader. Plantations had jails, and political seats were practically owned by families.

Instead of midwifing democracy, these aristocrats obstructed it, ignoring the needs of rural Pakistanis, half of whom are still landless and desperately poor more than 60 years after Pakistan became a state.

But changes began to erode the aristocrats’ power. 
Cities sprouted, with jobs in construction and industry. Large-scale farms eclipsed old-fashioned plantations. Vast hereditary lands splintered among generations of sons, and many aristocratic families left the country for cities, living beyond their means off sales of their remaining lands. Mobile labor has also reduced dependence on aristocratic families.

In Punjab, the country’s most populous province, and its most economically advanced, the number of national lawmakers from feudal families shrank to 25 percent in 2008 from 42 percent in 1970, according to a count conducted by Mubashir Hassan, a former finance minister, and The New York Times.

“Feudals are a dying breed,” said S. Akbar Zaidi, a Karachi-based fellow with the Carnegie Foundation. “They have no power outside the walls of their castles.”

In yet another confirmation that Pakistani Muslims are much better off than Indian Muslims, the World Bank data has revealed that $5 billion were remitted by Pakistanis to help their Indian Muslim relatives in 2015 alone. Such remittances are used to build homes, educate children, pay for health care or girls' weddings. This flow will have to increase in the future given the Modi government policies of Hinduization that are adversely impacting Indian Muslims by worsening the depth of their deprivations.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Are Muslims Better Off in Jinnah's Pakistan?

Maulana Azad's Grand-Niece India's BJP Minister

Hinduization of India Under Modi

Tarek Fatah vs Riaz Haq on India, Pakistan and Muslims

Hindu Nationalists Admire Nazis

Friday, February 26, 2016

Understanding the Trump Phenomenon in America

Donald Trump, a political novice, has stunned the world with a string of successes in Republican primaries to become the leading candidate for the GOP (Grand Old Party, aka Republican Party) nomination for US President in 2016. The fear of a hostile takeover of the GOP by Trump has sent the party establishment into panic mode. What are the factors behind this development? Who are Donald Trump's supporters? What is motivating their anger and their disdain of the Republican party leadership? Let's try and answer these questions:

1. Changing Demographics and Economy:

When I first arrived in the United States in late 1970s,  America had very different demographics. It was about 85% white. Most Americans with just a high school diploma enjoyed middle class living standards.  They had good jobs in manufacturing industries like auto and steel. These jobs paid them well enough to buy a decent new home and drive late-model American-made cars.

The US demographics and economy have both changed dramatically in the last four decades. Minorities now account for about 30% of the US population. Low birth rate among whites and increasing immigration have both contributed to this reality. Meanwhile, unrelenting forces of globalization and continuing creative destruction have replaced the bulk of auto and steel manufacturing industries with new, high-tech industries. The high-tech sector in the United States is booming. It's creating a lot of new jobs. But most of these new jobs require at least a college degree and higher level skills, the kind of skills many middle-aged non-college-educated white Americans do not have.

2. Social Impact of Changes:

A combination economic and demographic changes has taken its greatest toll on middle-aged white Americans without college education. They are disillusioned and angry. And they are lashing out at the "establishment" politicians on both ends of the political spectrum, but mainly on the GOP side. Donald Trump has successfully exploited this anger by blaming immigrants, religious minorities and other nations for their problems.

In a paper titled "Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century" published last year, Princeton economists Anne Case and  Nobel Laureate Angus Deaton have shown that over the last 15 years, white middle-aged Americans have been dying at unusually high rates. Most of those deaths have been concentrated among people with only a high-school diploma, or less. Polls say that these older, less-educated whites form the core pf support for Donald Trump.

Source: New York Times

3. Voting Patterns By Race: 

Will Trump Become the Next President? It appears unlikely given his support base.  Here's why: John McCain and  Mitt Romney, the last two Republican candidates since 2008, won the majority of white votes but failed to win the general election. Each of them got 60% of the 70% white votes that add up to 42% of the overall electorate. In addition, each of them got only 6% of Black votes and about 26% of the Asian and Hispanic votes that prevented them from gaining the overall majority needed to win. Trump's campaign rhetoric has managed to anger all minority groups, particularly Mexicans and Muslims. He will get even fewer minority votes than McCain and Romney polled in the last two general elections.

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses the Trump Phenomenon with panelists Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (

Pakistan VIP Culture's Young Victim; Trump's Muslim Ban; PTI's Lodhran Win from WBT Productions on Vimeo.

Pakistan VIP Culture's Young Victim; Trump's... by ViewpointFromOverseas


The Trump phenomenon appears to be linked to the changing US economy that has left many middle-aged non-college-educated white Americans behind. Like many other demagogues before him, Donald J. Trump is exploiting their deep dis-satisfaction and rising anger by blaming minorities and immigrants for their problems. Even if Trump wins the Republican nomination, the chances of his success in 2016 general elections are remote.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Trump's Muslim Ban

Tarek Fatah Vs Riaz Haq Debate

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley

Obama's Historic Win

Monday, February 22, 2016

Tarek Fatah vs Riaz Haq on India, Pakistan and Muslims

Tarek Fatah, Canadian Muslim writer and broadcaster, and Riaz Haq, a Pakistani-American blogger, debate the following:

In a 2013 interview with Times of India, Tarek Fatah said, “Pakistan will soon disintegrate”. Is this a prediction or a wish? Why is he such a strong and vocal supporter of Baloch insurgents? If Pakistan does disintegrate, what will be its fall-out for the region and the world?

When Tarek Fatah was asked in an NDTV interview about Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban, why did he criticize Muslims, Obama and western liberals rather than address the question directly?

Why is Tarek Fatah seen in the company of well-known anti-Islam bigots like Robert Spencer and Frank Gaffney on Fox News and as a guest of honor of RSS student wing ABVP at JNU in India?

 Why does Tarek Fatah pander to the Indian Hindu Nationalists and western Islamophobes? Why does he not condemn Islamophobia?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh moderated the debate.

Tarek Fatah vs Riaz Haq on India, Pakistan and Muslims from WBT Productions on Vimeo.

Tarek Fatah vs Riaz Haq on India, Pakistan and... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Related Links:

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India's Proxy War Against Pakistan

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Hindu Nationalists Admire Hitler, Nazis

Western Islamophobia Industry

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Talk4Pak Think Tank

Friday, February 19, 2016

Can Pakistan Use Qatar LNG Price Leverage For Better Iran Gas Deal?

Pakistan has recently negotiated a good bargain with Qatar for importing $16 billion worth of liquified natural gas (LNG).

Pakistan will import as much as 20 million tons of the super-chilled gas annually from various sources including Qatar, enough to fuel about two-thirds of Pakistan’s power plants. Gas shortage has idled half the nation’s generators. A 75 percent drop in LNG prices since 2014 has  dramatically reduced the cost of the South Asian country’s energy needs, according to a Bloomberg report.

LNG arriving in Pakistan from Qatar will fetch 13.37% of the preceding three-month average price of a Brent barrel (considering the present Brent price as a proxy, that would equate to $167.5 per 1000 cubic meters), according to a report in Azerbaijan's Trend News.  It translates to $4.50 per million BTUs.

A comparison with Iran's gas deals with Turkey and Iraq indicates that Iranian gas will not be competitive with Qatari LNG on Pakistani market. In 2014 Iran was exporting gas to Turkey at above $420 per 1000 cubic meters, but the figure plunged to $225, or $6 per million BTUs, currently due to low oil price. Iran previously said that the price of gas for Iraq would be similar to Turkey's price.

International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) arbitration court has recently ordered Iran to reduce its gas price to Turkey by 15% after Turkey complained. It's not clear if Iran will comply but even if it does, its price will still be $5.10 per million BTUs, much higher than the Qatari LNG price of $4.50 per million BTUs for Pakistan.

As recently as two years ago, LNG shipped to big North Asian consumer like Japan and Korea sold at around $15 to $16 a million British thermal units. Late last year, the price hit $6.65 a million BTUs, down 12% from September, according to research firm Energy Aspects. It expects prices to fall further in Asia this 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.

Will Pakistan be able to negotiate a better price with Iran? It seems difficult given the fact that Iranians have a reputation of being very difficult to deal with. Here's an excerpt about Iranians' negotiating style from Iranian-American author Vali Nasr's book "The Dispensable Nation":

"I remember a conversation in 2006 with Jack Straw, who was then Britain’s foreign secretary, about his time talking to Iran. He said, People think North Koreans are difficult to negotiate with. Let me tell you, your countrymen [Iranians] are the most difficult people to negotiate with. Imagine buying a car. You negotiate for a whole month over the price and terms of the deal. You reach an agreement and go to pick up the car. You see it has no tires. “But the tires were not part of the discussion,” the seller says. “We negotiated over the car.” You have to start all over again, now wondering whether you have to worry about the metal rim, screws, or any other unknown part of the car. That should give you a sense of what talking to Iran looks like".

Source: US EIA
Regardless of whether Pakistan succeeds in using Qatar price leverage with Iran. it's good to see Pakistan finally beginning to take advantage of historic low gas prices to alleviate its severe load-shedding of gas and electricity.

Growing Demand-Supply Gap in Pakistan

In addition to signing the Qatar LNG deal, 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

Can Pakistan Take Advantage of Historic Low LNG Prices?

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, February 16, 2016

‎Massive Anti-Modi Student Protests Spreading Fast Across India

Students across India are rallying against Modi government's attacks on academic freedoms. Massive protests were triggered when the Modi government arrested Kahaiya Kumar, the student union president at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Universities across India are ringing with the following slogans:

"Geelani bole azaadi, Afzal bole azaadi, jo tum na doge azaadi, toh chheen ke lenge azadi! (Geelani and Afzal demanded freedom. If freedom is denied, we will snatch it!)".

"Modi ka Hindutva nahin sahenge, Modi ke Brahmangiri nahin sahenge." (We will not tolerate Modi's Hindutva oppression. We reject upper caste Brahmin domination).

Geelani is the separatist leader demanding freedom of Jammu and Kashmir from illegal Indian occupation. Afzal refers to Afzal Guru who was executed by the Indian government on trumped up charges of terrorism.

Students also chanted in memory of Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old Muslim woman who was gunned down in Gujarat in June 2004 when the current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ran the state as its chief minister. In September 2009, Ahmedabad metropolitan magistrate called encounter fake. CBI , India's federal investigating agency, did not find link between her and LeT as was alleged by Modi's government in Gujarat.

Afzal Guru was accused of carrying out an attack on Indian parliament in Dec, 2001. The Indian supreme court judgment acknowledged the evidence against Guru was circumstantial: "As is the case with most conspiracies, there is and could be no evidence amounting to criminal conspiracy." But then, it went on to say: "The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation, and the collective conscience of society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender." This shameful Indian Supreme Court verdict to approve Guru's execution is a great miscarriage of justice with few precedents in legal annals.

Independent educators and academics in India feel they are under siege since Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Modi ascended to power. A concerted move is underway in many states across India to Hinduize education. RSS ideologues are being given key positions in India's educational and cultural institutions to realize a Hindu Nationalist vision of India.

Last year, Modi's BJP appointed  Gajendra Chauhan as head of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).  The staff and students protested the appointment describing Mr. Chauhan as grossly unqualified for the position. The Indian media have sharply criticized his work that includes films such as “Jungle Love,” “Vasna” (“Desire”), “Jungle Ka Beta” (“The Son of the Jungle”) and various other B-grade  movies. Aljazeera reported that his main qualification appears to be his affiliation with the Hindu Nationalist BJP as national convener for culture, responsible for promoting “the party’s ideology through cultural activities,” as he put it in an interview with The Indian Express.

In the Aug. 13, 2015 issue of The New York Review of Books, the economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen described how the government pressured him to step down from his position as chancellor of the newly formed Nalanda University — most likely because of his criticism of Modi before the elections, according to Aljazeera.

According to the Aljazeeera report, Mr. Sen has listed the ways in which the government has interfered in the management of many academic institutions — the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay and the National Book Trust. It has proposed a bill that would give it direct control of the 13 Indian Institutes of Management. The caliber of two recent appointments is also alarmingly questionable: Lokesh Chandra, the newly selected head of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, which oversees India’s cultural relations with other countries, has said Modi is an incarnation of God, and Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, the new head of the Indian Council of Historical Research, has praised the caste system.

Massive student protests in India are the culmination of growing resentment against attempts by the Modi government to curb academic and intellectual freedoms and reshape educational and cultural institutions and the Indian society at large.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Dalit Death Shines Light on India's Caste Apartheid

Kashmiris Remain Defiant Against Indian Occupation

Hinduization of India Under Modi

Globalization of Hindutva

Hindutva Whitewash of Indian History

Hindu Nationalists Admire Hitler

Monday, February 15, 2016

Headley Testimony in India; PIA Strike in Pakistan; Islamophobia in New Hampshire

Why did Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley (aka Daood Gilani) testify in an Indian Court via video link from a US prison? Why did he implicate Pakistan’s ISI and India’s Ishrat Jahan? Why did the US Court not accept his testimony implicating Tahawwur Rana in Mumbai terror attacks? Is Headley a credible witness?

Was Pakistan International Airline employees union strike politically motivated? Why is Pakistan’s federal government trying to privatize public sector units including Pakistan Steel and PIA? Were PPP and PTI trying to take political advantage of the PIA privatization dispute between federal government and PIA employees union? Why did the strike fail?

Why are two-thirds of New Hampshire Republican voters for banning entry of Muslims in America? How is the leading US Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump promoting Islamophobia in America? Why are so many Americans being inspired by Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric? What will be its consequences for America and the world? What should Muslim Americans do to combat anti-Muslim bigotry?

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

Headley Testimony in India; PIA Strike in... by ViewpointFromOverseas

Headley Testimony in India; PIA Strike in Pakistan; Islamophobia in New Hampshire from WBT Productions on Vimeo.

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Haq's Musings

Saving Pakistan's Education, Airlines and Railways

Trump's Muslim Ban

IATA: Pakistan Among Fastest Growing Air Travel Markets

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel

Saturday, February 6, 2016

India on CPEC; Obama’s Mosque Visit; Start of US Presidential Primaries

How does India feel about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor called CPEC? Is Modi government involved in disrupting CPEC? Is insurgency in Balochistan a part of Indian efforts to sabotage China’s short direct access to the Indian Ocean? What does the Times of India editorial titled “Engage the Dragon on Balochistan” say about thinking in Delhi?

Why did President Barack Obama wait to visit a mosque until his eighth year in office? Was this decision triggered by a leading Republican candidate Donald Trump’s attacks on Muslims? What did Obama say about attacks on Muslim Republicans?

What is the primary elections process prior to general elections in the United States of America? Who are the likely 2016 general elections candidates of Democratic and Republican parties? Who is most likely to win?

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

India on Pak-China Corridor CPEC; Obama's... by ViewpointFromOverseas

India on Pak-China Corridor CPEC; Obama's Mosque Visit; Start of US Presidential Primaries from WBT Productions on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

China-Pakistan Industrial Corridor

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Karachi Local Government

Talk4Pak Think Tank

VPOS Youtube Channel

VPOS Vimeo Channel