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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

Pakistan Elections 2013: The view from afar

by Omar Ali

If all goes well, Pakistanis will go to the polls on May 11th to elect a new national assembly and all 4 provincial assemblies.  The Pakistan People’s Party was the largest party in the outgoing parliament and under the guidance of President Asif Ali Zardari, successfully held together a disparate coalition regime in the face of multiple challenges to complete its 5 year term of office. Unfortunately, that huge achievement is almost their only major achievement in office. While things were not as absolutely abysmal as portrayed by Pakistan’s anti-PPP middle class (rural areas, for example, are better off economically than they have ever been), they are pretty awful.  Chronic electricity shortages (inherited from Musharraf’s Potemkin regime, but still not fixed), galloping inflation, widespread corruption and endless terrorism have tried the patience of even the most devoted PPP supporters and make it difficult for the PPP to run on their record. There are a few bright spots (including a relatively well run welfare scheme called the Benazir income support program) and with Zardari deploying his coalition building magic, it is not a good idea to completely rule them out.  Still, they are clearly not the favorites in the coming elections. The middle class excitement (especially in Punjab and KP) is all about Imran Khan, while more serious pundits seem to be betting on Nawaz Sharif and his PMLN. Being out of the country, I have little direct knowledge of what retail politics looks like on the ground; but there is such a thing as a long-distance view and I am going to take that view and try and make some predictions. We will know in 3 weeks how out of touch I really am.

If you do want to look up what is happening on the ground in detail there are several excellent sources available, for example:  Saba Imtiaz’s election watch, the Dawn newspaper’s election page (including an interesting motor cycle diary from Tahir Mehdi as he motors across Pakistan), an election page from journalist and public intellectual Raza Rumiand last but not the least, the wonderful young team at fiverupees.com, who don’t have a lot of coverage yet, but do have writers who prefer carefully checked facts and data to mere opinion.

The future of Pakistan.. a view from the US

Stephen Cohen summarizes some views on the future of Pakistan.

excerpt:

Another Five Years: More of the Same

The most likely future for Pakistan over the next five to seven years, but less likely than it would have been five years ago, is some form of what has been called “muddling through”, and what, in 2004, I termed as an establish-

ment-dominated Pakistan. The military will play a key although not always and not necessarily central role in state and political 73 Quoted in The News (Lahore), May 31, 2009.

74 “Mapping the Global Future,” Report of the National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project Based on consultations with nongovernmental experts around the world (Washington, DC: National Intelligence Council, December 2004), p. 21.

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decisions. This scenario could also include direct military rule. As several of the Bellagio participants have noted, it has not made much difference whether the military or the civilians are in power, since both had progressive moments, but each has also contributed to the long decline in Pakistan’s integrity as both a state and a nation.

In this scenario, the political system would be bound by certain parameters: the military might take over, but only for a temporary fix; it will neither encourage nor tolerate deep reform; and civilians will be content with a limited political role. The political system would be frozen in an intermediate, gray zone between full-fledged democracy and military autocracy. The state will always be in transition, but will never arrive ….

Read more » Brown Pundits
http://www.brownpundits.com/2013/01/02/10403/

An Open Letter to Prime Minister of India to Demand for DD SINDHI channel – From Sindhis of India

By Dilip Tekchandani, India

Please write a post card to the Prime Minister of India to demand for the DD SINDHI channel, the text for the letter is given below;

Dr. Man Mohan Singh,

Honorable Prime Minister of India

South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi, 11 00 01

Dear Sir, I am a SINDHI speaking Citizen of India. We sacrificed our motherland SINDH for the Independence of India.

Help us to preserve our Language, Culture & Identity through TV. Give us 24 Hours DD SINDHI channel to preserve our Identity.

Thank you

Sindhi Citizens of India

An era of misinformation – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

The combination of religious extremism and unbridled capitalism became very lethal in Pakistan. Every sector, including the media, produced a new class of rich people all spewing a demented worldview

Whenever something critical is written about religious extremism, jihadis, the Taliban or the Pakistan military, it is considered the magic of American dollars. Perhaps some confused misguided individuals genuinely believe that most of the $ 1.5 billion of US aid is being deposited in the bank accounts of a few liberal and enlightened columnists. The fact of the matter is that one or two English dailies that publish such material are always in financial trouble, unable to pay the wages and compensation to workers and writers. On the contrary, most of the media outlets are owned and run by the most conservative tycoons who generously compensate the pro-jihadi and pro-military columnists, talk-show hosts and their handlers.

It is very easy to find out who has benefitted from the explosion of the media as an industry. Count the number of shows and their hosts who are preachers of Islamisation, and who are always finding a Yahood-o-Hunood (Jewish and Hindu) conspiracy for everything that goes wrong in Pakistan. Most of the media men getting salaries in millions per month will fall into this category. The fortunes of these right-wing media persons are just like Hollywood-Bollywood top stars. The only difference is that the largest film industries’ rags to riches stories are related to an independent entertainment industry while said Pakistani media persons are pushing the corporate media’s fuzzy thinking and disinformation endorsed by the military, its agencies and mentally challenged emerging ruling classes.

Besides other things, Islamisation and jihad-preaching has become a huge industry involving millions of stakeholders. Writing jihad-preaching textbooks for millions of students for the government/privately-run educational system (from kindergarten to university level) to printing and publishing them is a mammoth industry. Unlike most other countries that prepare the students for improving the production of the economic sector, Pakistan’s education is geared towards producing jihadi producers and consumers. Once the jihad-fed generation of producers (media men) and consumers (readers and viewers) came of age, the stage was set for an unprecedented age of misinformation in Pakistan.

The overwhelming ethos of religious self-righteousness was accompanied by infinite greed, corruption, lack of work ethics and professionalism. In the British ‘pagan’ era, all such socio-economic ills were minimal. Unleashing of Darwinian capitalism on the international level by the Reagan-Thatcher era also confounded the problem. The combination of religious extremism and unbridled capitalism became very lethal in Pakistan. Every sector, including the media, produced a new class of rich people all spewing a demented worldview. Religious extremism, jihad, political anarchy, and the collapsing of different state institutions have immensely benefited the new rich: their simultaneous rise has to have some interlocking dynamics. One obvious link is the abandonment of any sense of equity, where the gains of economic development have been usurped by the top five or ten percent, including the media persons.

In Pakistan, jihadi Islam has been a big business after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Billions of dollars, pumped in by the US, Europe and the Middle Eastern monarchies have changed hands. Pakistan’s military and its agencies were the main channels to distribute jihadi money among the mullahs, politicians and media outlets. Further, since the state was run by the military and its agencies, they were the only ones who had key information that can make or break the media outlets, pen-pushers, and tongue-twisters.

No bigwig media warrior could survive or sustain without having deeper links in the ‘agencies’ because these military outfits were the only ones who had the know-how, manpower, finances and coercive authority to collect information about everyone, particularly the politicians and other state operators. The secret agencies were holding the purse and the information to create media jihadi warriors and eliminate the few who would try to deviate from the ‘path.’ Umar Cheema and Saleem Shahzad’s cases are the latest in a series of murders and disappearances of ‘wanderers of truth’, particularly if they happened to be from smaller nationalities or minority ethnic groups.

The parameters of media control have never changed even after the American departure from Afghanistan by the end of the 80s and re-entry after 2001. In the interval of the US’s absence, the Middle Eastern monarchies have been supplying the funds. Nonetheless, the funds coming in from all these channels have been disbursed by the same old agencies to the same old beneficiaries. A few poor liberal enlightened media men are not the ones upon whom dollars shine. The greenback is still blessing the same old jihadi crowd, nowadays called the ‘ghairat’ (honour) brigade.

With the expansion of the jihad market, the media has gained its own clout and the US is more interested in buying out the most anti-America media outlets, pen-pushers and tongue-twisters. Some were bought in broad daylight and many of us know about it. Now media tycoons have accumulated huge sums of profit and the US may not be the only source of outrageous (given Pakistani median income) compensation. Just read daily ‘khutbas’ (sermons) in the most popular newspapers and listen to the talk shows and decide yourself. Other than jihadi fuzzy-thinking, what else are these media groups selling to the market? Short answer: nothing!

Courtesy: → WICHAAR.COM

The Empire Without Clothes – by Waris Husain

WITHOUT DEVELOPING A SECULAR AND TOLERANT STATE IDENTITY THAT CAN PROVIDE EQUAL PROTECTION TO ALL ITS CITIZENS REGARDLESS OF THEIR BACKGROUND, INCIDENTS LIKE THE ASSASSINATION OF GOV. TASEER WILL BECOME COMMON-PLACE.

However, the inability of the general public to see the nakedness of Pakistan is due to the inter-generational brainwashing towards conservative orthodoxy.

The heinous murder of Governor Taseer was shocking, but one should consider the reactions in support of his assassin amongst some Pakistanis as a sign that the society is at a crossroads. Governor Taseer’s life was stolen from him because he rejected a blasphemy law based on a narrow-minded view of Islam that subjects the nation’s minorities to discrimination. Laws such as these reveal the increasingly conflicting view of Pakistan’s future: either as a nation that is able to adapt to modern times and protect the rights of all its citizens or one destined for devolution into chaos through a medieval view of Islam and the state. …

Read more : SOVEREIGN MINDS

Pakistan’s democracy: need for a change in world view

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

The writer is High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and former Advisor to late Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. 

Media blitzkrieg by prophets of doom against largely consensus presidential candidate Senator Asif Ali Zardari has died unsung on the eve of the elections rendering its perpetrators deeply bruised by the backlash of humiliation. At the time of writing this just before the polls not even an iota of doubt was left in any body’s mind about PPP Co-Chairperson’s sure victory through an overwhelming parliamentary vote overly backed by the general will of the people. Not only that, most of the senior columnists believe that Mr Zardari has proved his political acumen beyond any reasonable questioning and that a PPP President would be a pillar of strength for democracy.

Continue reading Pakistan’s democracy: need for a change in world view