Tag Archives: business

Load shedding in America!

Rolling Blackouts: a Black Eye For Texas?

By Dave Fehling

There’s fear in Austin over what could happen if the state runs short of electricity and has to use rolling blackouts to keep the statewide electrical grid from collapsing.

The fear is for the state’s image.

At a meeting of the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) June 13th, Chairman Donna Nelson expressed concern that pleas to the public to conserve electricity during the late afternoon when demand is greatest might also send a message that Texas was running out of power and therefore was no place you’d want to do business. ….

Read more » State Impact

http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2012/06/27/rolling-blackouts-a-black-eye-for-texas/

I did not give bribes, I was blackmailed: Malik Riaz

By Shaheryar Popalzai / Ema Anis / Web Desk

ISLAMABAD: Business tycoon Malik Riaz, speaking with reference to the Dr Arsalan Iftikhar suo motu case, on Tuesday claimed that he did not give any bribes to anyone but rather was blackmailed.

Riaz, who had earlier appeared before the Supreme Court to hand over his statement, was speaking to the media at a hotel in Islamabad.

Blackmailers were sent after me. Where should I go? Why was I pushed against the wall?” Riaz questioned.

Riaz said that despite being blackmailed, he continued to “bear” the trouble to avoid destroying his credibility and his career. “I cannot see this country collapsing. I have helped built it.”

He further claimed that there is no free judiciary in the country and it is being run by a ‘don’. “Arsalan Iftikhar is the don. But I still respect the chief justice.”

Continue reading I did not give bribes, I was blackmailed: Malik Riaz

Preying on Poverty: How Government and Corporations Use the Poor as Piggy Banks

by Barbara Ehrenreich
Individually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month’s rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene. But as Business Week helpfully pointed out in 2007, the poor in aggregate provide a juicy target for anyone depraved enough to make a business of stealing from them.

The trick is to rob them in ways that are systematic, impersonal, and almost impossible to trace to individual perpetrators. Employers, for example, can simply program their computers to shave a few dollars off each paycheck, or they can require workers to show up 30 minutes or more before the time clock starts ticking.

Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest. When supplemented with late fees (themselves subject to interest), the resulting effective interest rate can be as high as 600% a year, which is perfectly legal in many states.

It’s not just the private sector that’s preying on the poor. Local governments are discovering that they can partially make up for declining tax revenues through fines, fees, and other costs imposed on indigent defendants, often for crimes no more dastardly than driving with a suspended license. And if that seems like an inefficient way to make money, given the high cost of locking people up, a growing number of jurisdictions have taken to charging defendants for their court costs and even the price of occupying a jail cell. ….

Read more » Common Dreams

India-Pakistan Trade: Making Borders Irrelevant

By: Tara Beteille, co-authors: Kalpana Kochhar

In our blog post last November, we discussed Pakistan’s decision to grant India most favored nation (MFN) status. We were hopeful about the gains from easier trade between the two, but noted the many stumbling blocks in between. In the past 20 weeks, both countries have made serious efforts to address these blocks. Things are looking good. Here is an update.

Both countries mean business

In addition to the goodwill gesture of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visiting India this April and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh considering visiting Pakistan, important issues addressed include:

  • Pakistan issued an order in March 2012 to move from a positive list of 2,000 items for India to a negative list of 1,209 banned items. Pakistan intends to phase out the negative list altogether and formally give India MFN status by the end of 2012.
  • India, which formally granted Pakistan MFN status in 1996 (but maintained barriers) has agreed to reduce its sensitive list of 865 items by 30% within four months. India has also agreed in principle to allow Pakistani foreign direct investment in the country.
  • Both countries recently agreed to allow yearlong multiple-entry visas for business visitors, with visitors allowed to enter and exit through different cities.
  • The two countries have agreed to allow each other’s central banks – the Reserve Bank of India and the State Bank of Pakistan – to open bank branches across borders to facilitate financial transactions and ensure smooth trade.
  • A second checkpost gate was inaugurated this March at the Attari-Wagah border to ease road traffic between the two countries. The checkpost, with elaborate security features and capable of accommodating 600 trucks at a time, will provide upgraded infrastructure, including new storage go-downs, wide roads, and a luxurious passenger terminal.

Opportunities and gains

Making borders irrelevant can have far-reaching effects for economic prosperity across sectors in Pakistan and India. Consider a key driver of growth: electricity. South Asia’s recent More and Better Jobs flagship report estimated that industrial load shedding in Pakistan has resulted in the loss of 400,000 jobs. Trade between energy surplus and deficit regions could counter such losses — indeed, Pakistan is already in negotiations with India to import up to 500 MW of electricity.

Continue reading India-Pakistan Trade: Making Borders Irrelevant

Chinese bank pulls out of Pakistan-Iran pipeline project

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China won’t help finance the natural gas pipeline to Pakistan, apparently because of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

By Paul Richter and Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Washington and Islamabad, Pakistan—

China’s largest bank has backed out of a deal to finance a proposed Iran-to-Pakistan gas pipeline that is opposed by the United States, a potential sign of the lengthening reach of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran.

Pakistani officials confirmed Wednesday that Industrial and Commercial Bank of China had withdrawn from plans to head a consortium that would finance the $1.6-billion Pakistani portion of the cross-border pipeline, apparently over concern that the bank could be excluded from the U.S. economy.

Continue reading Chinese bank pulls out of Pakistan-Iran pipeline project

Catch me if you can – Pakistan’s army the best business corporation

Pakistan’s answer to the iPad is the PACPAD

By CHRIS BRUMMITT

Catch me if you can … Mohammad Imran holds a locally-made PACPad computer tablet at his electronics store in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Inside a high-security air force complex that builds jet fighters and weapons systems, Pakistan’s military is working on the latest addition to its sprawling commercial empire: a homegrown version of the iPad.

It’s a venture that bundles together Pakistani engineering and Chinese hardware, and shines a light on the military’s controversial foothold in the consumer market. Supporters say it will boost the economy as well as a troubled nation’s self-esteem.

It all comes together at an air force base in Kamra in northern Pakistan, where avionics engineers – when they’re not working on defense projects – assemble the PACPAD 1.

“The original is the iPad, the copy is the PACPAD,” said Mohammad Imran, who stocks the product at his small computer and mobile phone shop in a mall in Rawalpindi, a city not far from Kamra and the home of the Pakistani army.

The device runs on Android 2.3, an operating system made by Google and given away for free. At around $US200, it’s less than half the price of Apple or Samsung devices and cheaper than other low-end Chinese tablets on the market, with the bonus of a local, one-year guarantee.

The PAC in the name stands for the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, where it is made. The PAC also makes an e-reader and small laptop.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/tablets/pakistans-answer-to-the-ipad-is-the-pacpad-20120220-1tk59.html#ixzz1n7Mx84Bb

Mansoor Ijaz ordered to pay $1.4m to bank in fraud case

NEW YORK: The credibility of Mansoor Ijaz, the principal instigator of the memo scandal, came in for another hit with the surfacing of court documents that show a European Bank accusing him of running a one-man business operation and obtaining loans that he was later unable to pay back on time.

Documents show that the Supreme Court of the State of New York Judge Charles E Ramos issued a judgement against Mansoor Ijaz on September 25, 2010, after Banca Sammarinese di Investimento (BSI) of San Marino filed a suit for the recovery of a loan obtained by Ijaz.

The suggestions of financial impropriety follow the emergence last month of a video in which Mansoor Ijaz acted as a commentator on nude women’s wrestling. These scandals are in addition to his contradictory claims about the memo and his inability to produce any email or BBM message that directly links any Pakistani official to the memo he admits to have drafted and sent to US officials on May 9, 2011. ….

Read more » Daily Times

Military-Owned Businesses Pose Unique Corruption Risks

By Samuel Rubenfeld

Businesses owned by militaries around the world pose unique corruption risks to the sectors in which they operate, a new report found.

The report, released Thursday by Transparency International’s U.K. Defence and Security Programme, looks at how military-owned businesses are structured, what the inherent corruption risks are for these firms, and why and how the countries have made reforms to their military-owned companies.

“Once the military begins to engage in economic activities, it is often difficult to end such practices. In most situations, corruption becomes rampant and a major problem which (sic) harms the state and the national economy as well,” the report said.

Introducing a profit motive into the military increases the chance for distraction, the report said. Looking at case studies in China, Indonesia, Turkey and Pakistan, the report found that distraction often leads to outright graft, and in the more extreme cases that manifests itself in the form of embezzlement of state funds, tax fraud and even brutal coercive practices on workers. …..

Read more : The Wall Street Journal

The current Political crises in Pakistan – CPP’s analysis

By CPP

The Pakistan’s current political crises, is the most horrific tussle among its top institutions, has morphed grievous consequent deadlocks for the running of the affairs of the state. In order to understand its fundamental reasons, here, we would need to analyze its background circumstances.

1). The Pakistani military is no more a mere security agency , but an industrial and business corporation, in real terms. The economic and business positions of the army Generals, has over taken in many folds, the volume of the civilian business enterprises  on the basis of these economic interests, being a class in stalk ,the political privileges, advantages and access to power or supremacy over the political dispensation is for now realized to be an oxygen for them . Therefore , military, as a class no way can afford any civilian government to deliver things  independently without their prior approval .

2). Among ,the many businesses of the army, apart from industries and import -exports , “JEHAD” is adapted to be the most credible business corporation ,which has been for long greatly flourishing in leaps and bounds , under US imperialist’s patronage for the last 40 or so many years ,as a result almost all 5 stars Generals and Major Generals have turned billionaires and down to the rank of Majors ,have become Millionaires ,in quite short span of life.

3). The Obama’s administration ( democrats ), seems interested to work out some settlement for the Afghan issue, in order to cut down its colossal expenditures , there . They earnestly aspire for to have been successful in installing a US amicable government in Kabul, which would mean for the Pakistani Generals to wash off hands from the Jihad dividends . Consequently, the Generals have to resort, applying every means to keep up the past madcap policy on Afghanistan intact, so as to let the Jihad business go on . The present elected government, has opted, greatly, a US harmonious policy on this issue.

4). There is also, exists a profound contradiction between the army and the civilian government over the establishment of relations viz a vis, India concerned . The Pakistani government desires to normalize relations with India, which is a total opposite perspective to the basic policy stand of the Generals. Keeping the Kashmir issue alive at all costs to legitimate the false security apprehension from India, so as to justify the persistent un-auditable increase in military budget and its personnel strength . This is subject to keep intact the security state, status of Pakistan, through enhanced empowerment and role granted to play by the military institution.

Continue reading The current Political crises in Pakistan – CPP’s analysis

The Generals, Pakistan’s General Problem – How Pakistan’s Generals turned the country into an international disaster

BY Mohammad Hanif

What is the last thing you say to your best general when ordering him into a do-or-die mission? A prayer maybe, if you are religiously inclined. A short lecture, underlining the importance of the mission, if you want to keep it businesslike. Or maybe you’ll wish him good luck accompanied by a clicking of the heels and a final salute.

On the night of 5 July 1977 as Operation Fair Play, meant to topple Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s elected government, was about to commence, then Army Chief General Zia ul Haq took aside his right-hand man and Corps Commander of 10th Corps Lieutenant General Faiz Ali Chishti and whispered to him: “Murshid, marwa na daina.” (Guru, don’t get us killed.)

General Zia was indulging in two of his favourite pastimes: spreading his paranoia amongst those around him and sucking up to a junior officer he needed to do his dirty work. General Zia had a talent for that; he could make his juniors feel as if they were indispensable to the running of this world. And he could make his seniors feel like proper gods, as Bhutto found out to his cost.

General Faiz Ali Chishti’s troops didn’t face any resistance that night; not a single shot was fired, and like all military coups in Pakistan, this was also dubbed a ‘bloodless coup’. There was a lot of bloodshed, though, in the following years—in military-managed dungeons, as pro-democracy students were butchered at Thori gate (Thorri Phaatak) in rural Sindh, hundreds of shoppers were blown up in Karachi’s Bohri Bazar, in Rawalpindi people didn’t even have to leave their houses to get killed as the Army’s ammunition depot blew up raining missiles on a whole city, and finally at Basti Laal Kamal near Bahawalpur, where a plane exploded killing General Zia and most of the Pakistan Army’s high command. General Faiz Ali Chishti had nothing to do with this, of course. General Zia had managed to force his murshid into retirement soon after coming to power. Chishti had started to take that term of endearment—murshid—a bit too seriously and dictators can’t stand anyone who thinks of himself as a kingmaker.

Continue reading The Generals, Pakistan’s General Problem – How Pakistan’s Generals turned the country into an international disaster

The new brass on the block

by Wajahat S. Khan

The game is on. Not the brash politicking from Raiwind that promises to dismantle the Presidency. Not the unscrupulous ingenuity from the Presidency that has muzzled the MQM back into the fold. Not from the Supreme Court as it tries to throw its weight around in Karachi. And not from Kabul, or New Delhi either, where Hamid Karzai and Manmohan Singh have matured a strategic pact in half the time of a human pregnancy. No, those are all little games.

In Islamabad – correction, Rawalpindi – there is only one game in town. And it’s called the Promotion Game. Up for grabs are stars…preferably four, but three will work too. And if they’re made of brass, then the political alchemy for converting khaki cotton into the armour-plating of power becomes so much more easier.

Here’s the backgrounder: General Ashfaq Kayani is set to retire (for a second time) in November 2013. That’s when his office will be available for occupancy. But till that moment arrives, like any bureaucracy – and the army is Pakistan’s biggest, even most politicised one – the ‘grooming’ and placement of his subordinates is key for the operational efficacy as well as internal dynamism of the institution he commands.

Kayani’s latest move – the promotion of four major generals to the rank of lieutenant general – is a critical indicator of what lies next for Pakistan’s most powerful institution. Who’s going to be Spook-in-Chief (DG-ISI)? Or the guy who keeps all the brass connected (chief of General Staff)? Who’s going to be GHQ’s record-keeper (military secretary)? Or the man who will fight with (or talk to) the Taliban (commander XI Corps)? Which general shall keep the Americans out of Quetta while ensuring Baloch separatists are suppressed (commander XII Corps)? What about the chap who watches the nukes (commander Strategic Forces), or the one who keeps India busy across the LoC (commander X Corps) while keeping his ‘Coup Brigade’ (the ‘111’) oiled and ready? And let’s never, ever forget the next probable for the COAS title.

Continue reading The new brass on the block

AFGHANISTAN: TEN YEARS OF AIMLESS WAR

by Eric S. Margolis

NEW YORK – October 08, 2011 – Operation Enduring Freedom – the dreadfully misnamed ten-year US occupation of Afghanistan – has turned into Operation Enduring Misery.

The renowned military strategist, Maj. Gen. J.F.C Fuller, defined war’s true objective as achieving desired political results, not killing enemies.

But this is just what the US has been doing in Afghanistan. After ten years of war costing at least $450 billion, 1,600 dead and 15,000 seriously wounded soldiers, the US has achieved none of its strategic or political goals.

Each US soldier in Afghanistan costs $1 million per annum. CIA employs 80,000 mercenaries there, cost unknown. The US spends a staggering $20.2 billion alone annually air conditioning troop quarters in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The most damning assessment comes from the US-installed Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai: America’s war has been “ineffective, apart from causing civilian casualties.”

Washington’s goal was a favorable political settlement producing a pacified Afghan state run by a regime totally responsive to US political, economic and strategic interests; a native sepoy army led by white officers; and US bases that threaten Iran, watch China, and control the energy-rich Caspian Basin.

All the claims made about fighting “terrorism and al-Qaida,” liberating Afghan women and bringing democracy are pro-war window dressing. CIA chief Leon Panetta admitted there were no more than 25-50 al-Qaida members in Afghanistan. Why are there 150,000 US and NATO troops there?

Washington’s real objective was clearly defined in 2007 by US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher: to “stabilize Afghanistan so it can become a conduit and hub between South and Central Asia – so energy can flow south.”

The Turkmenistan-Afghan-Pakistan TAPI gas pipeline that the US has sought since 1998 is finally nearing completion. But whether it can operate in the face of sabotage remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Washington has been unable to create a stable government in Kabul. The primary reason: ethnic politics. Over half the population is Pashtun (or Pathan), from whose ranks come Taliban. Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara minorities fiercely oppose the Pashtun. All three collaborated with the Soviet occupation from 1979-1989; today they collaborate with the US and NATO occupation.

Most of the Afghan army and police, on which the US spends $6 billion annually, are Tajiks and Uzbek, many members of the old Afghan Communist Party. To Pashtun, they are bitter enemies. In Afghanistan, the US has built its political house on ethnic quicksands.

Worse, US-run Afghanistan now produces 93% of the world’s most dangerous narcotic, heroin. Under Taliban, drug production virtually ended, according to the UN. Today, the Afghan drug business is booming. The US tries to blame Taliban; but the real culprits are high government officials in Kabul and US-backed warlords.

A senior UN drug official recently asserted that Afghan heroin killed 10,000 people in NATO countries last year. And this does not include Russia, a primary destination for Afghan heroin.

So the United States is now the proud owner of the world’s leading narco-state and deeply involved with the Afghan Tajik drug mafia.

The US is bleeding billions in Afghanistan. Forty-four cents of every dollar spent by Washington is borrowed from China and Japan. While the US has wasted $1.283 trillion on the so-called “war on terror,” China has been busy buying up resources and making new friends and markets. The ghost of Osama bin Laden must be smiling.

The US can’t afford this endless war against the fierce Pashtun people, renowned for making Afghanistan “the Graveyard of Empires.” But the imperial establishment in Washington wants to hold on to strategic Afghanistan, particularly the ex-Soviet air bases at Bagram and Kandahar. The US is building its biggest embassy in the world in Kabul, an $800 million fortress with 1,000 personnel, protected by a small army of mercenary gunmen. So much for withdrawal plans. …

Read more » ericmargolis.com

Army wants Rangers’ operation to continue

– By Shamim-ur-Rahman and Baqir Sajjad Syed

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was briefed on Wednesday on the overall security situation in Karachi, an ISPR press release said.

The COAS, who visited the Corps Headquarters here, was also briefed on the flood situation in Sindh and the rescue and relief efforts being undertaken by the army.

A delegation of notables from the business community of Karachi also called on Gen Kayani and apprised him of their concern over effects of the law and order situation on business and industrial activities in the city.

Corps Commander Lieutenant General Muhammad Zahir ul Islam also attended the meeting.

Anticipating an early end to Karachi operation, the army has cautioned the government that the city could once again descend into lawlessness if special powers for Rangers were withdrawn.

“Progress in Karachi is reversible and operation being conducted by Rangers must continue,” a military official told Dawn on Wednesday.

He was speaking after Gen Kayani attended a briefing in Karachi on the ongoing Rangers’ operation against target killers, extortionists and terrorist groups.

The government has already said it will not extend the operation beyond the mandated period. It appeared from conversation with some military officers, who attended the briefing, that the government could end the operation prematurely and again hand over the responsibility of maintaining peace in the city to police, citing improvement in situation.

The army is, however, not ready to trust the city’s police, which is considered to be highly politicised and lacking the capacity to effectively act against all terrorists. …

Read more → DAWN.COM

Turkey takes over the Arab Spring

– By Pepe Escobar

Finally. Crystal clear. Someone finally said it – what the whole world, except Washington and Tel Aviv, knows in its collective heart; the recognition of a Palestinian state is “not an option but an obligation”.

It did wonders that the man who said it was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Cairo, at the Arab League, in front of all Arab foreign ministers and with virtually the whole Arab world glued to satellite networks scrutinizing his every word.

The current Erdogan Arab Spring tour – as it was billed by the Turkish press – comprising Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, has already rocketed him to the status of a geopolitical cross between U2’s Bono and Barcelona’s superstar Argentine footballer Lionel Messi.

Erdogan received a rock/soccer star welcome at Cairo’s airport – complete with “Hero Erdogan” banners brandished by the Muslim Brotherhood. He even addressed the crowd in Arabic (from “Greetings to the Egyptian youth and people, how are you?” to “Peace be upon you”).

Erdogan repeatedly stressed, “Egypt and Turkey are hand-in-hand.” But it’s the subtext that is even more incendiary. While Israel’s former good friends Egypt and Turkey are now hand-in-hand, Israel is left isolated facing a wall. There could not be a more earth-shattering development in the Levant – unheard of since the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt in 1978.

A model campaigner

Erdogan’s tour is a realpolitik master class. He’s positioning Turkey as the forefront supporter of the Palestinian cause. He’s also positioning Turkey at the core of the Arab Spring – as a supporter and as an inspirational model, even though there have been no full-fledged revolutions so far. He’s emphasizing solid Turkish-Arab unity – for instance planning a strategic cooperation council between Egypt and Turkey.

Plus the whole thing makes good business sense. Erdogan’s caravan includes six ministers and nearly 200 Turkish businessmen – bent on investing heavily all across northern Africa. In Egypt, they may not match the billions of dollars already committed by the House of Saud to the military junta led by Air Marshall Mohammed Tantawi. But in 2010, Turkish trade with the Middle East and North Africa was already at $30 billion, representing 27% of Turkish exports. Over 250 Turkish companies have already invested $1.5 billion in Egypt.

Crucially, Erdogan told Egyptian TV channel Dream, “Do not be wary of secularism. I hope there will be a secular state in Egypt.” Erdogan was subtly referring to Turkey’s secular constitution; and at the same time he was very careful to remind Egyptians that secularism is compatible with Islam.

The current Turkish model is enormously popular among the Egyptian street, featuring a moderate Islamic party (the Justice and Development Party – AKP) in power; a secular constitution; the military – albeit strong – back in the barracks; and an ongoing economic boom (Turkey was the world’s fastest growing economy in the first half of 2001). [1]

This model is not exactly what the regressive House of Saud wants. They would prefer a heavily Islamist government controlled by the most conservative factions of the Muslim Brotherhood. Worse; as far as Libya is concerned, the House of Saud would love to have a friendly emirate, or at least a government peppered with Islamic fundamentalists.

Erdogan also stressed that the “aggressiveness” of Israel “threatens the future of the Israeli people”. That’s music for the Arab street. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Erdogan in Cairo – and confirmed he’ll go ahead with Palestine’s bid to be fully recognized as a state by the United Nations Security Council later this month. ….

Read more → Asia Times

Freedom from darkness by Nadeem F. Paracha

Dear Pakistani Muslim brethren (and sisterren who became breteren), our armed forces have been fighting a war on two fronts. One is against corrupt civilian politicians, who want us to submit our sovereignty to Christian/Jew/McDonalds America and Hindu India, and one against uncircumcised Hindu/Christian/Atheist /Jain men posing to be Muslim warriors.

In this day and age of utter chaos and confusion in our Islamic republic, it is the duty of patriotic Pakistanis to continue informing their young compatriots as to why this country was formed.

There is so much these days out there in the electronic media and the cyber world about Pakistan, but unfortunately a lot of it is squarely aimed at confusing our young generations and making them rebel against their land’s ideology.

Dear compatriots, I must remind you that Pakistan came into being, first and foremost, to challenge the hegemony of the West, especially the United States.

To quote our great leader, Muhammad Ali Jinnah: ‘You are free to go to your mosques or some else’s mosques but only to a mosque in this Islamic republic. Religion is the business of the state and the business is gooood!’

Continue reading Freedom from darkness by Nadeem F. Paracha

CP of Pakistan’s 8th congress report

The 8th historical congress of the Communist Party of Pakistan was successfully convened and concluded from 11-13th April,2011, at Hyderabad city Sindh. The decision for holding the party’s most awaited congress,

Continue reading CP of Pakistan’s 8th congress report

Behind ‘Rising India’

Behind ‘Rising India’ lies the surrender of national dignity

From India’s prime minister down, the rotten state of the world’s largest democracy has been exposed for all to see

Even the racketeers of Pakistani military and intelligence appear dignified when compared with the Indians stampeding to plant kisses on US behinds!

by Pankaj Mishra

Food prices become intolerable for the poor. Protests against corruption paralyse the national parliament for weeks on end. Then a series of American diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks exposes a brazenly mendacious and venal ruling class; the head of government adored by foreign business people and journalists loses his moral authority, turning into a lame duck.

This sounds like Tunisia or Egypt before their uprisings, countries long deprived of representative politics and pillaged by the local agents of neoliberal capitalism. But it is India, where in recent days WikiLeaks has highlighted how national democratic institutions are no defence against the rapacity and selfishness of globalised elites.

Most of the cables – being published by the Hindu, the country’s most respected newspaper in English – offer nothing new to those who haven’t drunk the “Rising India” Kool-Aid vended by business people, politicians and their journalist groupies. The evidence of economic liberalisation providing cover for a wholesale plunder of the country’s resources has been steadily mounting over recent months. The loss in particular of a staggering $39bn in the government’s sale of the telecom spectrum has alerted many Indians to the corrupt nexuses between corporate and political power. …

Read more : guardian.co.uk

Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state

Failed state or Weimar Republic?

Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state, still committed to American and Gulf Arab alliances

By Omar Ali

A friend recently wrote to me that Pakistan reminded him of the Weimar republic; an anarchic and poorly managed democracy with some real freedoms and an explosion of artistic creativity, but also with a dangerous fascist ideology attracting more and more adherents as people tire of economic hardship and social disorder and yearn for a savior. Others (much more numerous than the single friend who suggested the Weimar comparison) insist that Pakistan is a failed state. So which is it? Is Pakistan the Weimar republic of the day or is it a failed state?

Continue reading Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state

The Chinese Cozy Up to the Pakistanis

by Selig S. Harrison

China’s expanding reach is a natural and acceptable accompaniment of its growing power—but only up to a point.

Beijing is understandably challenging a century of U.S. dominance in the Pacific and the South China Sea immediately adjacent to its shores. But the aggressive effort to block Indian hegemony in South Asia, reflected in its growing ties with Pakistan and its territorial claim to the adjacent northeast state of Arunachal Pradesh (for which there is no historical basis) is more ominous.

In contrast to its studied neutrality on the Kashmir issue in past decades, Beijing is now openly supportive of Pakistan and is establishing its economic and political influence both in Pakistan-occupied Azad (Free) Kashmir and in the Himalayan state of Gilgit-Baltistan. …

Read more : The National Interest

Pakistan Today Is Better Than It Was 20 Years Ago

by Farid Ahmad
Sitting in the middle of load-shedding, watching the political theater roll-on ad infinitum, and reading the news of another security incident somewhere, it is easy to be depressed about Pakistan these days.

Depression, however, is parasitic.

It jumps from person to person and grows in strength unless treated. It makes you weak and vulnerable  and sometimes it is necessary to break the circle. Yes, Pakistan is going through very tough times, but there is no reason to throw all hope to the wind and to start denying the things that are going right  and a lot has gone right in the past twenty or so years.

First, the necessary disclaimer: The intention here is not to sweep Pakistan’s problems under the rug or to try and rationalize away the immense suffering of the victims of recent violence and economic turmoil. There is no doubt that things have taken a very serious turn in recent months and millions of people are paying a heavy price every day.

With that disclaimer in place, here’s a collection of things that I have seen change for the better in my life in Pakistan – from high-school in the eighties to today.

It is necessarily a very personal list, though others might be able to relate to some of it. Traveling apart, I’ve spent my life living in Islamabad and Lahore and my memories are naturally specific to these places. So again, I’m fully conscious of the fact that not everyone can relate to or agree with my attempt at optimism.

But even if I come across as being overly optimistic, it is only to counter those who are becoming unnecessarily pessimistic.

Maybe you have your own stories, your own inspirations, your own rays of hope that keep you going… these are mine. And I share them with the hope that they will help someone else break out of the circle of pessimism.

Roads: 1989: Driving from Lahore to Islamabad was an ordeal on the mostly single-lane, badly maintained GT road.
2010: Driving from Lahore to Islamabad is a pleasure on the motorway. And it is not just this one road, a lot of roads have been added to the network or improved. I know people in my office in Islamabad who routinely drive to Karachi with their families. We need many more roads – but we have certainly not been sitting idle.

Communications: 1989: Calling from Islamabad to Lahore meant going to the market to a PCO, telling the guy to book a 3-minute call and waiting around till it got connected. Even if you had an STD line at home, your fingers were likely to get sore from dialing before you got connected. And once the call was connected you watched the clock like a hawk as it was so expensive.
2010: Instant, cheap calls worldwide for everyone from cellular phones.

Internet: 1995: I was first introduced to the wonders of Email in 1995. It was an offline ‘store and forward’ system (remember those @sdnpk email addresses?) . If you sent a mail in the morning, it reached in the evening when your Email provider called USA on a direct line to forward it.
2010: Broadband, DSL, WiMax, Dialup, Cable – instant connectivity for everyone. More generally, I’ve gone thru a series of denials about the adoption of new technologies in Pakistan. I went through thinking that cellular phones would never gain widespread adoption – I was wrong; that internet would remain a niche – I was wrong; that broadband would never take off here – I was wrong; that Blackberry would never be adopted – I was wrong. Here I speak from some experience as I work for a cellular company and I’ve seen all these numbers grow exponentially. The fact is that Pakistan and Pakistanis love technology and are eager to adopt and adapt the latest technologies as soon as they become available. With its huge population, this creates a large market for every new technology in Pakistan and businesses rush in to fill it. This bodes well for the future. ….

Read more : Pakistaniat

Welcome to WALL STREET: Current world financial situation

Once upon a time in a village in India, a man announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for $10.

The villagers seeing there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them.
The man bought thousands at $10, but, as the supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their efforts. The man further announced that he would now buy at $20. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again.

Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms. The offer rate increased to $25 and the supply of monkeys became so little that it was an effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch it!

The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now act as buyer, on his behalf.

In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers: ‘Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when he returns from the city, you can sell them back to him for $50.’

The villagers squeezed together their savings and bought all the monkeys.

Then they never saw the man or his assistant again, only monkeys everywhere!
Welcome to WALL STREET.

Development takes time.. as does public pressure

– Prof. Gul Agha

Take simple step: Demand that the Sindh Assembly to pass a law requiring the govt. to publish all local budgets, projects, tenders and awards on-line (in Sindhi, Sindh’s official language) so citizens can see how funds are being allocated and spent. Structural changes are needed in how business is done… Development takes time.. as does public pressure. Let’s see how much time we have..

Dec 4, 2008

This is how business is done! Think +++++ve

This is Awesome Father : “I want you to marry a girl of my choice” Son : “I will choose my own bride!”

Father : “But the girl is Bill Gates’s daughter.” Son : “Well, in that case…ok”

Next – Father approaches Bill Gates. Father : “I have a husband for your daughter.” Bill Gates : “But my daughter is too young to marry!” Father : “But this young man is a vice-president of the World Bank.” Bill Gates : “Ah, in that case…ok”

Finally Father goes to see the president of the World Bank. Father : “I have a young man to be recommended as a vice-president. ” President : “But I already have more vice- presidents than I need!” Father : “But this young man is Bill Gates’s son-in-law.” President : “Ah, in that case…ok”

This is how business is done!!

Moral: Even If you have nothing,You can get Anything. But your attitude should be positive. Think +++v.

Current World Economy Crisis

by G Mustafa Soomro, MBBS (Sindh) MRCPsych(UK), MSc( Oxford), MSc (Surrey), UK

The writer can be reached at: gmustafasoomro@gmsoomro.plus.com

Greenspan thought that the self interest of the corporations and individuals working in them would guard against any disastrous failures within the system (that they would mostly take proportionate risks). But he recently admitted that he was wrong and that in a de-regulated system the greed of corporations and individuals could become limitless (particularly when they are dealing with other people’s money).

Thus the greed lead to: 1) excessive risk taking, which is rewarded in the system by bonuses, 2) and also the blind faith that house prices could go up only, 3) also the loans were sold several times over (in the form of securities / derivatives – which not many understood how they were packaged) such that the buyers down the line did not even know what the risks were, 4) when the loans proved to be bad because of over-supply of housing units and falling house prices in the USA , they started to bring the system down like house of cards, 5) thus the governments had to absorb those loans though bailing out and capitalization (part-nationalizati on) due to the importance of the institutions involved, 6) even this has not lead to adequate thawing of the frozen credit (leading to businesses struggling for short term loans), 7) thus the recession / depression is about to dawn

Continue reading Current World Economy Crisis