Sunday, June 21, 2020

Impact of COVID19 Pandemic; Biden vs Trump; Modi's Blunders

What is the global impact of COVID19 pandemic? How has it affected the United States? How is Prime Minister Imran Khan handling the coronavirus crisis in Pakistan? Are complete lockdowns absolutely necessary to contain the spread of coronavirus?

Impact of COVID19 Global Pandemic

Has President Trump's handling of the COVID pandemic and its devastating economic impact hurt his re-election chances?  Who is better for Pakistan? Biden or Trump? Was President Obama's hostility toward Pakistan shared by Joe Biden who served as his vice president from 2009 to 2017? Why did Biden say "Pakistan is 50 times more important to US than Afghanistan"?

Have Prime Minister Modi's policies backfired? Why has Modi not succeeded in isolating Pakistan? Why do almost all of India's neighbors from China to Nepal to Pakistan have problems with India? Why is Modi under India so isolated? Why has President Trump not strongly backed India in Ladakh?

Despardes with Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com).


https://youtu.be/4REeQjTDHvw






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Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

6 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

Is #COVID19 pandemic peaking in #Pakistan? #Positive Test Rates, Weekly Cases and Weekly Deaths Suggest It is! #CoronavirusPandemic #CoronaVirusPakistan https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus/country/pakistan?country=PAK~IND


https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1276368202109349888?s=20

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan central bank governor says #coronavirus lockdowns are a ‘luxury of the rich’. #COVID19 #pandemic is a public #health crisis and until it’s addressed, there will most likely be #economic hardships ahead, State Bank Governor Reza Baqir told CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/02/pakistan-central-bank-governor-on-economic-challenges-during-coronavirus-pandemic.html?__source=sharebar|twitter&par=sharebar

The coronavirus pandemic is a public health crisis and until that’s addressed, difficulties on the economic front should be expected, Pakistan’s central bank governor Reza Baqir said.
Pakistan has reported more than 213,000 cases of infection and more than 4,300 people have died.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government lifted a two-month-long lockdown in early May, few weeks before an important festival, and as millions struggled in light of drastically reduced economic activity.

“We are very concerned. First and foremost, this is a public health crisis — we have to remind ourselves of that,” Reza Baqir said on CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Wednesday.

“And, only on a secondary basis, then it becomes an economic crisis. Until the public health crisis is addressed, we should continue to expect challenges on the economic front,” he added.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government lifted a two-month-long lockdown in early May, a few weeks before an important festival.

As millions were struggling with starvation during that time of drastically reduced economic activity, the country’s Covid-19 cases surged once the lockdown was eased, Reuters reported.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Foreign exchange: SBP reserves rise $1.27 billion to $11.2 billion, despite external #debt payments of $809 million. Increase attributed to official inflows from #WorldBank, #ADB, #AIIB and #China.
| The Express Tribune https://tribune.com.pk/story/2252987/foreign-exchange-sbp-reserves-rise-127b-to-112b


The foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank increased 12.75% on a weekly basis, according to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Thursday.
On June 26, the foreign currency reserves held by the SBP were recorded at $11,231 million, up $1,270 million compared with $9,961.2 million in the previous week.

The SBP received around $2,046 million in official inflows, including $737 million from the World Bank, $503 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), $500 million from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and $300 million as government of Pakistan loan disbursement from China, said a press release issued by the central bank.

“After incorporating government’s external debt payments of $809 million, SBP’s reserves increased by $1,270 million to $11,231 million,” it said.

During the current week, the SBP has received an additional $1,000 million as government of Pakistan loan disbursement from China. These funds will be part of SBP’s weekly reserves data as of July 3, 2020 to be released on July 9, 2020.

Overall, liquid foreign currency reserves held by the country, including net reserves held by banks other than the SBP, stood at $17,971 million. Net reserves held by banks amounted to $6,740 million.

Pakistan received the first loan tranche of $991.4 million from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on July 9 last year, which helped bolster the reserves. In late December, the IMF released the second loan tranche of around $454 million.

Previously, the reserves jumped on account of $2.5 billion in inflows from China.

A few months ago, the SBP successfully made foreign debt repayment of over $1 billion on the maturity of Sukuk.

In December 2019, the foreign exchange reserves surpassed the $10-billion mark owing to inflows from multilateral lenders including $1.3 billion from the Asian Development Bank.

Foreign investment of over $3 billion in the debt market in the previous fiscal year also played an important role in the growing foreign currency reserves.

Earlier, the reserves had spiralled downwards, falling below the $7-billion mark, which raised concern over Pakistan’s ability to meet its financing requirements. However, financial assistance from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and other friendly nations helped shore up the foreign exchange reserves.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan #FBR collects Rs50bn more than FY20 revenue target. Revenue board collects Rs3.95tr in FY20, as against the revised target of Rs3.90tr #COVID19 #lockdown #economy - Profit by Pakistan Today



https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/06/30/fbr-collects-rs50bn-more-than-fy20-revenue-target/

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) collected Rs3,957 billion during the fiscal year 2019-20, which was Rs50 billion more than the revised target of Rs3,907 billion.

According to the FBR spokesperson, the department collected Rs411 billion in June 2020, as against the target Rs398 billion. “The FBR managed to collect Rs4 trillion gross revenue for the first time in the country’s history, which is commendable,” he added.

It is pertinent to mention that the government had originally set the FY20 revenue target at Rs5.55 trillion. However, it was revised downward after the first review of Pakistan’s economy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).     

Meanwhile, following the second review by the IMF in February this year, the collection target was further revised downwards to Rs4.80 trillion. 

As coronavirus had crippled the country’s economy post March 2020, the revenue target was again revised to Rs3,907billion. 

It may be noted that during the last year, former FBR chairman Shabbar Ziadi had gone on indefinite leave due to bad health and did not return to the office. The government had then appointed Nausheen Javed Amjad, a grade-22 officer of Inland Revenue Service, as FBR chairperson in May this year. 

Riaz Haq said...

#Biden Could Be Bad News for #India’s #Modi.
Modi’s opponents in India may suddenly gain leverage. #KamalaHarris' heritage is #TamilNadu which remains a bastion of opposition. #Harris has been critical of the Modi's policies in #Indian Occupied #Kashmir https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/11/06/biden-harris-india-modi-election/

Indian Americans love Kamala Harris. The daughter of an Indian biologist who moved to the United States and became one of the country’s most respected cancer researchers, Harris embodies the values of hard work, intellectual accomplishment, and political engagement. As a U.S. senator, she pushed for immigration policies favored by the Indian American community, including a lifting of country caps on H1-B temporary employment visas and the retention of employment rights for spouses of H1-B visa holders. And Indian Americans are understandably proud to see one of their own rising to the top of the U.S. political system.

But good for Indian Americans does not necessarily mean good for the current government of India. On the contrary: The Biden team’s priorities (from what we know so far) are likely to drive a wedge between the United States and continental Asia’s oldest democracy at a time when Washington is looking for new allies in its strategic rivalry with China.

Harris may be a part of that wedge herself. As senator, Harris has been diplomatically circumspect in her few public comments about India’s government but has shown no love for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Last year, she even publicly criticized Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar while he was on an official visit to the United States. Jaishankar had refused to share a platform with U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the Indian American sponsor of a House of Representatives resolution calling out the Indian government for its policies in Kashmir.

Harris’s own family connection to India may color her attitude. Her mother hailed from Tamil Nadu in southern India, a state in which Modi’s BJP did not win a single seat in last year’s national parliamentary elections. The BJP is often described as a Hindu nationalist party, but it can also be seen as a regional movement centered on the Hindi heartland of northern India. That regional base has expanded in recent years, but Tamil Nadu—which is almost 90 percent Hindu but not Hindi-speaking—remains a bastion of opposition.

Harris herself has been critical of the Indian government’s policies in Kashmir and strongly suggested (without explicitly saying) that she would put human rights at the center of her approach to India—and the rest of the world. That sounds like political boilerplate until you realize that in India, “human rights” often translates as “anti-BJP.” Unable to beat Modi at the polls, his domestic critics have focused on what they say are policies and incitement directed against minorities, such as India’s 172 million Muslims. With Harris in the West Wing, Modi’s opponents in India may suddenly have much more leverage at their disposal.

Riaz Haq said...

Giving a blow-by-blow account of the Abbottabad raid by American commandos that killed the world’s most wanted terrorist on May 2, 2011 in his latest book “A Promised Land”, the former U.S. president said that the top secret operation was opposed by the then Defence Secretary Robert Gates and his former Vice President Joe Biden, who is now the President-elect.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/certain-elements-inside-pakistan-military-had-links-to-al-qaeda-obama-on-raid-that-killed-osama/article33114312.ece


“Based on what I’d heard, I decided we had enough information to begin developing options for an attack on the compound. While the CIA team continued to work on identifying the Pacer, I asked Tom Donilon and John Brennan to explore what a raid would look like,” Mr. Obama writes in his memoir.

“The need for secrecy added to the challenge; if even the slightest hint of our lead on bin Laden leaked, we knew our opportunity would be lost. As a result, only a handful of people across the entire federal government were read into the planning phase of the operation,” he said.

“We had one other constraint: Whatever option we chose could not involve the Pakistanis,” he wrote.

“Although Pakistan’s government cooperated with us on a host of counterterrorism operations and provided a vital supply path for our forces in Afghanistan, it was an open secret that certain elements inside the country’s military, and especially its intelligence services, maintained links to the Taliban and perhaps even al-Qaeda, sometimes using them as strategic assets to ensure that the Afghan government remained weak and unable to align itself with Pakistan’s number one rival, India, Obama revealed,” added Mr. Obama

“The fact that the Abbottabad compound was just a few miles from the Pakistan military’s equivalent of West Point only heightened the possibility that anything we told the Pakistanis could end up tipping off our target.”

“Whatever we chose to do in Abbottabad, then, would involve violating the territory of a putative ally in the most egregious way possible, short of war — raising both the diplomatic stakes and the operational complexities,” he wrote.

In the final stages they were discussing two options. The first was to demolish it with an air strike. The second option was to authorise a special ops mission, in which a select team would covertly fly into Pakistan via helicopter, raid the compound, and get out before the Pakistani police or military had time to react.

Despite all the risks involved, Mr. Obama and his national security team opted for the second option, but not before multiple rounds of discussions and intensive planning.

The day before he gave the final approval for the raid, at a Situation Room meeting, Hillary Clinton, the then Secretary of State, said that it was a 51-49 call. Gates recommended against a raid, although he was open to considering the strike option, he said.

Joe (Biden) also weighed in against the raid, arguing that given the enormous consequences of failure, I should defer any decision until the intelligence community was more certain that bin Laden was in the compound.

“As had been true in every major decision I’d made as President, I appreciated Joe’s willingness to buck the prevailing mood and ask tough questions, often in the interest of giving me the space I needed for my own internal deliberations,” Mr. Obama wrote.

After the successful Abbottabad raid, Mr. Obama made a number of calls domestically and internationally, the toughest of which he expected to be that with the then Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, he wrote.

I expected my most difficult call to be with Pakistan’s beleaguered president, Asif Ali Zardari, who would surely face a backlash at home over our violation of Pakistani sovereignty. When I reached him, however, he expressed congratulations and support. ‘Whatever the fallout,’ he said, ‘it’s very good news. He showed genuine emotion, recalling how his wife, Benazir Bhutto, had been killed by extremists with reported ties to al-Qaeda, Mr. Obama wrote.