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View from McLeod Road: Why the Sino-Pak alliance is economically worthless

In the 12-year period between July 2000 and June 2012, net foreign investment in Pakistan amounted to about $29 billion, of that, just $0.8 billion came from China

KARACHI: Pakistan’s leaders love using laughably outrageous metaphors in describing the country’s relationship with China, yet the truth is that this so-called alliance means almost nothing positive for the Pakistani economy.

All of Islamabad – indeed all of Pakistan – appears to be bending over backwards in laying out the red carpet to welcome Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. But the fact of the matter is that China will give Pakistan almost nothing, and this two-day trip is really only being made by the Chinese premier to avoid slapping Islamabad in the face completely, after having made his first trip abroad a three-day visit to India, in a key signal about the real shifts in Chinese foreign policy.

Pakistanis love to proclaim China as our “all-weather friend. In his last visit to China, former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani described the relationship ashigher than mountains, deeper than oceans, stronger than steel and sweeter than honey.”

On this trip, Premier Li described the relationship as “a tree, now exuberant with abundant fruits”.

This was not him being poetic. It was delivering a message that nobody in Pakistan seems to have gotten: that China’s ties with Pakistan are not some eternal alliance of friends, but a strictly utilitarian relationship in which Beijing uses Islamabad occasionally to scare the living daylights out of the United States and India to get what it wants in its negotiations with Washington and New Delhi, and then abandons Pakistan once that transaction is completed.

A look at the numbers suggests that the Islamabad-Beijing relationship has had very little benefit for Pakistan as whole.

In the 12-year period between July 2000 and June 2012, net foreign investment in Pakistan amounted to about $29 billion, according to the State Bank of Pakistan. Of that, just $0.8 billion came from China, and nearly all of that was China Mobile’s investment in Zong.

China’s investment in Pakistan is less than that of tiny Netherlands, which invested $1.4 billion during that time. The supposed “Great Satan” – the United States – invested the most in Pakistan: $7.7 billion, or more than a quarter of all foreign investment in the country. There is only one major Chinese company with actual investments in Pakistan: China Mobile. The number of major US companies investing in Pakistan? More than 30.

Continue reading View from McLeod Road: Why the Sino-Pak alliance is economically worthless

Awami Tahreek annouced Train March from Karachi to Islamabad to oppose proposed anti Sindh projects.

AT mulls train march

KARACHI – The Awami Tehreek on Sunday announced a ‘train march’ from Karachi to Islamabad, where a sit-in would be staged in front of the Parliament House, against the proposed project of Zulfikarabad town and other anti-Sindh projects initiated by the ruling PPP and its allies. This decision came at Awami Tehreek’s central committee meeting in Hyderabad chaired by its chief Ayaz Latif Palijo.

According to party’s Information Secretary Noor Ahmed Katiar, the meeting weighed a number of options against certain anti-Sindh projects, including the proposed Zulfikarabad city.

“After thorough deliberations, the Awami Tehreek has decided to take out a ‘train march’ to the federal capital and stage a sit-in in front of the Parliament House after Ramazan,” Katiar said while speaking to this scribe by telephone. About other decisions taken during the meeting, the nationalist leader said these would be unveiled by Ayaz Latif Palijo at a press conference scheduled for Monday (today).

Continue reading Awami Tahreek annouced Train March from Karachi to Islamabad to oppose proposed anti Sindh projects.

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

China’s ‘Cake Theory’

‘Cake Theory’ Has Chinese Eating Up Political Debate

by Louisa Lim

What goes on inside China’s leadership is usually played out behind the closed oxblood doors of the compound where the top leaders live. This year, though, a political debate has sprung out in the open — and it has leaders and constituents considering how to move forward politically.

This ideological debate comes as China gears up for a once-in-a-decade political transition. The country’s future top leaders seem almost certain, with Xi Jinping in line for president and Li Keqiang on track for premier. Horse-trading is under way for other leadership positions, however, sparking a debate that could define China’s future.

The Chongqing Model: Equal Slices

In recent months, the streets of the city of Chongqing have been ringing with song. These are not spontaneous outbreaks; they’re government-mandated sessions, requiring employees to “sing the red,” patriotic songs praising China.

This is a leftist vision of China’s future, with powerful echoes of its Maoist past.

It’s the brainchild of Bo Xilai, Chongqing’s party secretary and the son of a revolutionary elder, Bo Yibo, one of the “eight immortals” of Communist China. Bo Xilai has taken a three-pronged approach by “smashing the black,” or attacking corruption and organized crime, with what some say is a disregard for the rule of law. His approach also includes putting in place measures to help those left behind by China’s economic boom.

“The government intervenes to correct the shortcomings of the market economy,” says Yang Fan, a conservative-leaning scholar at China University of Political Science and Law and co-author of a book about the Chongqing model.

“There are projects to improve people’s livelihood by letting migrant workers come to the city, by building them cheap rental places and allowing them to sell their land to come to the city,” he says.

This is where it comes to what’s been dubbed “cake theory.” If the cake is China’s economy, the Chongqing model concentrates on dividing the cake more equally.

The Market-Driven Guangdong Model

The competing vision, based in the province of Guangdong, focuses on making the cake bigger first, not dividing it. In economic terms, the Guangdong model is a more market-driven approach, pushing forward development ahead of addressing inequality.

“The Guangdong model aims to solve the concerns of the middle class,” says Qiu Feng, a liberal academic from the Unirule Institute of Economics. “It’s about building society and rule of law. It wants to give the middle class institutionalized channels to take part in the political process. Its basic thought is co-opting the middle class.”

He says the “Happy Guangdong” approach is aimed not at those left behind, but at those who have profited from the economic boom.

Guangdong’s party secretary, Wang Yang, has criticized the Chongqing model, saying people need to study and review Communist Party history, “rather than just singing of its brilliance.” In political terms, he’s throwing down the gauntlet at his rival, Bo Xilai.

Finding A Way Forward

Both these politicians are fighting for a place — and influence — inside the holiest of holies: the Politburo Standing Committee. This comes against a background of criticism of the current leadership from a surprising quarter.

“The bureaucracy is corrupt. Power has been marketized. Governance has been industrialized,” says Zhang Musheng, a consummate insider. “Local governments are becoming riddled with gangsters.”

Zhang’s father was secretary to China’s Premier Zhou Enlai. This makes him what’s known as a “princeling.” He’s attended a number of meetings held by children of former leaders, where criticism of the current leadership has been aired.

Despite their grievances, they came to one conclusion.

“China’s such a complicated society. Right now, it can’t leave the Communist Party. So the Communist Party must reform and improve,” Zhang says. “Although it’s criticized, right now there is no social force which can replace the Communist Party.”

Those are the key questions: how to reform or even if the Communist Party can reach consensus over which model it follows. ….

Read more » NPR

Would GEO and Express TV disclose how much money they get from Americans?

By Farrukh Siddiqui
Editor, State of Pakistan blog
One of the objectives of Kerry-Lugar aid bill for aid to Pakistan is to “support for promotion of a responsible, capable,and independent media.”
According to this RT TV broadcast of March 10, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UQCki_nC9c ,  the US government planned to spend $50 million on this objective. According to another report  dated Feb. 27, 2010 by the examiner , “the Obama administration plans to spend nearly $50 million on Pakistani media this year to reverse anti-American sentiments and raise awareness of projects aimed at improving quality of life, confirms a Washington insider. “
The history of collaboration between the agencies of the US government and some “ independent “ Pakistani media organizations is old. But more recently it was GEO TV that went public with jointly produced programs with Voice of America.
The following press release  dated Nov. 13, 2005 ( http://islamabad.usembassy.gov/pakistan/h05111301.html) of the US Embassy in Islmamabad is self-explanatory:
VOA Launches Urdu TV For Pakistan

11/13/2005 Washington, D.C. – The Voice of America (VOA) will launch Beyond the Headlines-its new television program in Urdu-on Monday, Nov. 14. The half-hour program will air on GEO TV in Pakistan at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and on selected international satellites, including AsiaSat (Virtual Channel 409) and IOR (Virtual Channel 420). …..

Read more : http://www.yousufnazar.com/?p=1219

The hijacking of culture

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

After the mid-1970s, rural migration to urban centres increased manifold. A new middle class, which had recently become urbanised, provided the basis for Zia’s Islamisation and, later on, jihadi projects.

I am not sure if Veena Malik was the most articulate person in characterising the mullah and questioning the cliché of Pakistani culture, but I do know that she was brave in speaking the plain truth. If our media is concerned about how Pakistani culture is portrayed abroad, then they should ask the world whether Veena Malik or the jihadis of different stripes and their supporting network of religious parties are giving a bad name to the country. They should ask the world if sentencing Aasia Bibi to death is more troublesome than Veena Malik’s entertainment stint in India.

Ms Malik was not the first one to have said that mullahs sexually exploit in the mosques, it was the greatest Punjabi poet, Waris Shah, who created the mullah’s character in the epic love story of Heer Ranjha to denounce the theocracy, and said the same thing. In one of the dialogues with the mullah, Waris Shah (stanza 37) characterises the mullah and in the last line he says exactly what Veena Malik said:

“(Mullah) Your beard is like a pious scholar and you act like a devil. You condemn (even) the travellers for nothing. …

Read more : Wichaar

Sindh’s discomfort with surging foreign debts

By Sabihuddin Ghausi

Mounting foreign loan burden has started telling on the nerves of Sindh’s economic managers. Officials at the Sindh Secretariat at Karachi complain of inflated cost of foreign funded projects that are thrust on them. “ All projects are virtually designed by the donors but are attributed to us without the consent of provincial political leadership and the concerned officials,” confided an official.

Continue reading Sindh’s discomfort with surging foreign debts

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