Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Prospects for India-Pakistan trade

The India-Pakistan trade is estimated to be of the order of $2 billion per year; experts think that if trade were conducted under WTO rules, it could easily expand to $40 billion per year.   However, Pakistan has been hesitating; part of the reason is fear of being overwhelmed by India.

In my opinion, the window for opening up trade while Pakistan still has some competitive advantages over India is rapidly passing.

In 2010, Pakistan ranked 85th in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index; India ranked 133rd.
In 2015, Pakistan ranked 138th, India ranked 130th -- and the report cut-off date for data was even while GOI was in the process of simplifying regulations, for e.g., start up of a business.

The best time to open up for trade for two economies is, IMO, while the smaller/weaker one still has some competitive advantages. That window has passed, I think; in particular, the current Government of India is very keen on climbing up these competitive rankings, and so Pakistan will find it hard to keep up.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Najam Sethi on a Liberal Pakistan

Sounds too good to be true!

Now, thankfully, positive change is in the air. Nawaz Sharif was handpicked and nurtured by the military three decades ago to do its bidding. He duly became the nemesis of the PPP, in the bargain getting into bed with the religious parties, passing Islamic laws and promoting jihad against India. Now he is all for peace with India, wants to stop all jihad across borders, is waking up to action against sectarian parties and religious terrorists and is embarrassed and hampered by the Islamic laws passed on his watch. The military, no less, sees the primary and immediate national security threat as emanating from internal religious extremism and not externally from archenemy India. Unfortunately, however, Imran Khan’s PTI is still muddying the waters by continuing to resist the development of a new national narrative of state and society based on modern notions of liberal and secular democracy.

Friday, October 2, 2015

"Liberal" heartburn

Nadeem F. Paracha is a good writer, e.g., read his Storming heaven: A revolt in Makkah and is also what would count as a liberal in Pakistan.  That doesn't prevent him from having heartburn caused by progress in India.   Very much like Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer, who was liberal enough and lost his life for criticizing Pakistan's blasphemy law, but had heartburn because of India's space program.  (Taseer's Indian son, Aatish, explained this phenomenon in a Wall Street Journal article - it stems from Pakistan's existential confusion.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pakistan's CNIC: cannot exit Islam

Pakistan has a national identity card (CNIC - Computerized National Identity Card).

A checklist for applicants for the card, or for those who have a card but need to make changes, is available here from a Govt. of Pakistan website.  (PDF)

For a modification in CNIC, due to change in religion, there is a note:
Note: Change of religion from ISLAM to any other religion will not be entertained.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Why blame Zia alone?

Salman Zafar has a newspaper blog article that points out that the rot in Pakistan long precedes General Zia-ul-Haq, whom it is fashionable nowadays, to blame for Pakistan's ills.

These include the Objectives Resolution, 1949, which bound state and religion together; the Doctrine of Necessity, 1954, that enabled constitutional processes to be broken at will; the One Unit program, 1954, that made West Pakistan into one province to try to match East Pakistan; the Constitution of 1956, that made Pakistan into an Islamic Republic, and gave the President the right to declare emergency; the first coup of 1958; the Constitution of 1962 that set up the Council of Islamic Ideology; the unequal treatment of East Pakistan that created massive unrest 1965-1970; the denial of the right of the East Pakistan based Awami League to form the government after it won the elections; the genocide during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971; the second amendment to the Constitution of 1973 that declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pakistan by the numbers

Via tradingeconomics.com: Pakistan's Debt-to-GDP ratio:
Pakistan's External Debt:
External Debt in Pakistan decreased to 62649 USD Million in the first quarter of 2015 from 63960 USD Million in the fourth quarter of 2014. External Debt in Pakistan averaged 49206.62 USD Million from 2002 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 66490 USD Million in the third quarter of 2011 and a record low of 33172 USD Million in the third quarter of 2004. External Debt in Pakistan is reported by the State Bank of Pakistan.
The external debt fell under Musharraf not because of any great policies he had. PS: Academic paper from 2001: (PDF) http://www.pide.org.pk/pdf/PDR/2001/Volume4/689-704.pdf
Recently, debt of amount USD 3.8 billion is rescheduled in 1999–2001. After September 11, Paris club rescheduled bilateral debt of USD 12.5 billion and time period is 38 years.
Pakistan's total external debt at the time was around $38 billion. Pakistan's Annual GDP growth rate:

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Limits of self-criticism

Kaalchakra wrote in a comment on pakteahouse.net, about the boundaries within which Pakistanis must remain:
“One can ‘criticise’ Pakistan, and promote ‘self-introspection’. But to not fall “beyond the pale” one must offer ‘solutions’ that call for at least one of the following three –

(1) more Pakistani military, to protect Pakistan against a rapacious India

(2) more Islam, to save Pakistan against the ill effects of Hinduism

(3) more Jinnah, to make Pakistan different from what Hindu/Gandhian leadership would want it to be.

The less a person buys into this living TNT as Pakistan’s universe of solutions, the more unacceptable/sell out the person becomes.”
(TNT = Two-Nation Theory)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

PAKISTAN: A Sea of Forced Conversions Floods the country

The Asian Human Rights Commission reports that in Pakistan, "the attack on minorities and forced conversions are on a dramatic upswing resulting in mass exodus of minorities, particularly the Hindu community."

Sunday, June 21, 2015

What did Modi say in Bangladesh?

At an event at the Jinnah Institute, it was said that:
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most recent statements against Pakistan in Bangladesh reflected New Delhi’s new provocative posturing.
What did PM NaMo say in Bangladesh?  From the published text of the remarks, not much.

1. Text of the PM’s statement to media in the Joint Press Briefing with Prime Minister of Bangladesh

Pakistan does not feature there.

2. Text of PM’s acceptance speech at the conferment of Bangladesh liberation war honour on Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

The text is in Hindi.  But the video is there, Urdu speakers can understand most of it.  Certainly there is mention of the Bangladesh war of liberation; but there is no mention of whom it was fought against.

We now come to

3. Text of PM’s address at Bangabandhu Convention Centre This too is in Hindi.

"हम Asian countries आज भी दुनिया के कुछ देशों में महिला के प्रमुख के रूप में स्वीकार करने की मानसिकता कम है, ये भू-भाग दुनिया में ऐसा है कि जहां पर नारी को राष्ट्र का नेतृत्व करने का अवसर बार-बार मिला है। चाहे हिंदुस्तान हो, बांग्लादेश हो, पाकिस्तान हो, इंडोनेशिया हो, आयरलैंड हो। अब देखिए इस भू-भाग में श्रीलंका, ये विशेषता है हमारी लेकिन फिर भी हम कहीं और होते तो दुनिया में जय-जयकार होता लेकिन हम गरीब हैं, हम पिछड़े हैं, कोई हमारी ओर देखने को तैयार नहीं, हम सम्मान से, गर्व से खड़े हो कि दुनिया को दिखाने के लिए हमारे पास ये ताकत है, दुनिया को मानना पड़ेगा कि women empowerment में भी हम दुनिया से कम नहीं हैं।"

Here he is talking about women's empowerment and that Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, etc. have had women leading the nation.

This is the second mention:
और इतिहास देखिए 90 हजार जिन लोगों ने बांग्‍लादेश के नागरिकों पर जुल्‍म किया था, ऐसे 90 हजार सेना को आत्‍मसमर्पण के लिए भारत की सेना ने मजबूर किया था। आप कल्‍पना कर सकते हैं जो पाकिस्‍तान आए दिन हिंदुस्‍तान को परेशान करता रहता है, नाको दम ला देता है, terrorism को बढ़ावा की घटनाएं घटती रहती है। 90 हजार सैन्‍य उसके कब्‍जे में था, अगर विकृत मानसिकता होती तो पता नहीं निर्णय क्‍या करता। आज एक हवाई जहाज को कोई हाइजैक कर दे न, तो 25, 50, 100 Passenger के बदले में दुनिया भर की मांगे मनवा ले सकता है। भारत के पास 90 हजार सैनिक पाकिस्‍तान के कब्‍जे में थे, लेकिन यह हिंदुस्‍तान का चरित्र देखिए, हिंदुस्‍तान की सेना का चरित्र देखिए। हमने बांग्‍लादेश के विकास की चिंता की, बांग्‍लादेश के स्‍वाभिमान की चिंता की, बांग्‍लादेश की धरती का उपयोग हमने पाकिस्‍तान पर गोलियां चलाने के लिए नहीं किया। हमने बांग्‍लादेश के स्‍वाभिमान के लिए, मुक्ति यौद्धाओं के लिए लड़ाई लड़ी लेकिन उन 90 हजार का blackmail करके पाकिस्‍तान के खिलाफ लड़ने के लिए हमने बांग्‍लादेश की भूमि का उपयोग नहीं किया है। क्‍यों? हम चाहते थे कि बांग्‍लादेश बंगबंधू के नेतृत्‍व में आगे बढ़े, विकास की नई ऊंचाईयों को पार करे। यह हमारा सपना था और इसलिए हमने हमारे सपनों को चूर कर दिया। हमारी मुसीबतों को हमने दफना दिया। और हमने 90 हजार सैनिक वापस दे दिए, 90 हजार सैनिक वापस देने की एकमात्र घटना की ताकत इतनी है कि पूरे विश्व ने भारत की शांति के प्रति प्रतिबद्धता कितनी है, विश्व शांति के लिए प्रतिबद्धता कितनी है, इसको नापने के लिए ये एक घटना काफी है और भारत को permanent membership के लिए रास्ते खुल जाने चाहिए. लेकिन मुझे मालूम है गरीब देशों को, developing countries को, हम जैसे इस इलाके में दूर-सदूर पड़े हुए लोगों को मिल बैठकर के लड़ाईय़ां पड़ेंगी। विश्व के रंगमंच पर हम सबको एक ताकत बनकर के उभरना पड़ेगा, हमारी समस्याओं का समाधान करने के लिए हम अपने आप कंधे से कंधा मिलाकर के समस्याओं का समाधान कर सकते हें।

The key part is around minute 50.  My rough translation is:  NaMo talks about how the world does not pay attention to the poor countries of the world; about how the 70th anniversary of the United Nations is coming up; but how the United Nations has not kept up with the times. Despite contributing a million men to fight in World Wars I & II, despite contributions to peace-keeping forces today, despite every one in six of humanity being Indian, India does not have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

NaMo then goes further into India's credentials.  He talks about how Indians and Banglas fought together for the liberation of Bangladesh.  He says, India forced a surrender of an army of 90,000 of those who had committed crimes against Bangladeshis.  You can imagine, India had 90,000 captives of that Pakistan that has been annoying India  (परेशान - Google translation is "upset", "disturb", "perturb", "annoy" -  the English press used "nuisance"), harasses India (नाकों दम लाता है), incidents of terrorism keep occurring, if India had a perverted (विकृत)mentality, who knows what would have happened?  Today if someone hijacks an airplane, in return for 25-50-100 passengers, they bring all kinds of demands.  India had in custody 90,000 Pakistani soldiers, but witness the character of Hindustan, of Hindustan's army, we were concerned about Bangladesh's progress, about Bangladesh's self-respect, we did not use Bangla soil to wage war on Pakistan.  We fought for the freedom fighters of Bangladesh, not to capture 90,000 Pakistani soldiers and blackmail Pakistan.  Why, we wanted Bangladesh to develop, with the leadership of BangaBandhu (Sheikh Mujibur Rehman), to reach new heights, that was our dream, and so we put aside our own issues, put aside our own difficulties and sent the 90,000 soldiers back to Pakistan.   This one incident is enough for the world to see how dedicated India is to peace, to world peace; and a permanent seat for India in the Security Council should have opened up.  So, we poor countries, we developing countries, have to work together to solve our problems and to make an impact on the world stage.

 PS: from speech #2 above, Modi's memory of 1971:

और तीसरी एक बात जो शायद मैंने पहले कभी बताई नहीं है वो मुझे आज बताते हुए जरा गर्व होता है। मैं राजनीतिक जीवन में तो बहुत देर से आय़ा। ’98 के आखिरी-आखिरी काल खंड में आय़ा लेकिन एक नौजवान activist के नाते, एक युवा worker के रूप में जो कि मैं राजनीतिक दल का सदस्य नहीं था, मैं भारतीय जनसंघ का कभी कार्यकर्ता नहीं रहा – लेकिन जब अटल जी के नेतृत्व में भारतीय जनसंघ ने बांग्लादेश के निर्माण के समर्थन के लिए एक सत्याग्रह किया और जिसका उल्लेख इस annotation में है, उस सत्याग्रह में एक volunteer के रूप में मैं मेरे गांव से दिल्ली आया था। और जो एक गौरवपूर्ण लड़ाई आप लोग लड़े थे और जिसमें हर भारतीय आपके सपनों को साकार होते देखना चाहता था, उन करोड़ों सपनों में एक मैं भी था, उस समय उन सपनों को देखता था।

and his quote of Modi:

आज मैं इस अत्यंत पवित्र अवसर पर वाजपेयी जी ने 6 दिसंबर 1971 को भारत की संसद में एक विपक्ष के एम.पी. के रूप में जो भाषण दिया था, उसका एक पेराग्राफ मैं पढ़ना चाहता हूं। दीर्घदृष्टा नेतृत्व क्या होता है, यह 6 दिसंबर के 1971 के उनके भाषण से हमें याद कर सकते हैं। उनके भाषण से मैं उनका ही quote बोल रहा हूं – “देर से ही सही बांग्लादेश को मान्यता प्रदान करके, एक सही कदम उठाया गया है। इतिहास को बदलने की प्रक्रिया हमारे सामने चल रही है। और नियति ने इस संसद को, इस देश को ऐसे महत्वपूर्ण क्षेत्र में रख दिया है जब हम न केवल मुक्ति संग्राम में अपने जीवन की आहूति देने वालों के साथ लड़ रहे हैं, लेकिन हम इतिहास को एक नई दिशा देने का भी प्रयत्न कर रहे हैं। आज बांग्लादेश में अपनी आजादी के लिए लड़ने वालों और भारतीय जवानों का रक्त साथ-साथ बह रहा है। यह रक्त ऐसे संबंधों का निर्माण करेगा जो किसी भी दबाव से टूटेंगे नहीं, जो किसी भी कूटनीति का शिकार नहीं बनेंगे। बांग्लांदेश की मुक्ति अब निकट आ रही है।“

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Upper class Jihadis

Ayesha Siddiqa points out that upper-class jihadis in Pakistan is not a new trend:

The capture and confession of an IBA graduate to several acts of terrorism, including the Safoora chowk massacre and Sabeen Mahmud’s murder resulted in the publication of opinion pieces with most viewing these educated terrorists as heralding a new chapter in the history of terrorism in Pakistan. Notwithstanding that the confession reminded me of a joke about a Pakistani police constable forcing a donkey to confess to being Queen Elizabeth’s lost dog, I also realised that people don’t read, else how could they miss existing reports on radicalisation amongst the educated middle and upper-middle class? Reports were published and papers written that mentioned socioeconomically upscale jihadis. In a country like Pakistan, which rates very low in terms of book publication and reading, why am I not surprised to read such analyses?

The evidence of educated boys from the middle class randomly joining militancy is not a new phenomenon. It has happened before. For instance, the mastermind of the Parade Lane attack of 2009 was a student at the International Islamic University. One of the key people of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Islamabad is a student at the National Defense University. In 2012, an NED engineering graduate and leader of the Islami Jamiat-e-Tulaba (IJT) was killed in a drone attack in North Waziristan. During Pervez Musharraf’s rule, a federal secretary’s son had also gone for jihad. Not to forget the two nuclear scientists who went to Afghanistan to meet Osama bin Laden.
One particular analysis suggested these educated boys denoted a new trend since they were not connected with any militant organisation but were driven towards terror for ideological reasons. The writer probably forgot that Omar Sheikh was connected with both al Qaeda and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). The son of a PAF air marshal, Faisal Shahzad also had links with militant groups. In case we forget, David Headley worked for and trained with the LeT in order to do his bit in the Mumbai attacks. Despite that, one particular opinion piece tried to suggest that the new educated terrorists were courtesy the Jundullah. The fact is that our urban centres, especially Karachi, have no dearth of jihadi propaganda and inspiration. Not too long ago, civil society activists remembering Salmaan Taseer were attacked by educated Barelvi militant youth.
 Ms. Siddiqa thinks the trend is only strengthening:

 Various militant organisations, especially those considered state proxies, have deep links in professional colleges and universities in major urban centres. In Karachi in particular, the NED engineering university and the Dow Medical College, for example, were centres of jihadi attention for long. In any case, outfits like the JeM and the LeT progressively shifted their attention away from totally madrassa trained militants to the more educated types. These outfits are more organised and created sophisticated structures. For instance, the LeT has associations of medical doctors, engineers, farmers and even factory workers. Just couple of months ago, French author, Laurant Gayer, speaking at T2F, mentioned the ASWJ’s presence amongst labour unions in Karachi.
Increasingly, internal terror financing in Pakistan points in the direction of the extended middle class.
One of the issues at this juncture is that our nationalism and radicalism have begun to collate. There is very little resistance against militant outfits and their leadership as they appear on television, issue statements on social media or give interviews in the print media presenting themselves as defenders of the state and its religious ideology. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Creeping radicalization

Abbas Nasir, a former editor of Dawn, writes about the accused in the Safoora Goth Ismaili Shia massacre.  They are all from the well-off, well-educated segment of Pakistani society.

Radicalism in Pakistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world isn’t necessarily a function of deprivation and poverty alone.

Deprivation, poverty and outright ignorance are undoubtedly exploited heavily by those who brainwash young (mostly) men often into picking up arms and even agreeing to become suicide bombers.

But if you examine, for example, the profiles of the 9/11 hijackers whose mass murder led to victims in excess of 3,000 on a single day, it wouldn’t be difficult to reach the conclusion that want had nothing to do with what they did. They were fed on an ideology of hate and bought into it so totally.
That most of them belonged to far from poverty-stricken Saudi families and had the means to be getting an education or pilots’ licences at US institutions substantiate the suggestion that their radicalisation was engineered by manipulating an ideology rather than anything else.

Omar Saeed Shaikh, a Briton of Pakistani origin and a graduate of the reputed London School of Economics, is currently in prison awaiting execution for his involvement in the beheading of the US Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Karachi.

Then there was Faisal Shahzad, the US-based son of a senior Pakistan Air Force officer, who was convicted of trying to explode a vehicle bomb during rush hour in Manhattan, New York and is currently serving a life sentence in the States.

There is a long list of apparently ‘normal’ (read recipients of a Western-style education) Pakistanis such as doctors, engineers, even some who reportedly worked on the country’s nuclear programme, having been seduced by a radical ideology.

There is no point listing these facts apart from underlining the challenge Pakistan is facing today.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Forbes on Axact

Forbes seems to have withdrawn the article mentioned here: (click on image)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

C. Christine Fair: Pakistan, the Taliban and Regional Security

Prof. C. Christine Fair, among other things, says that a possible evolution to democracy with civilian supremacy in Pakistan requires that America tear up its check-book, both in bilateral aid and via the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Seen on Facebook:  ( a "we love ISI" type of page):

Today, the satanist Khawarij in Syria/Iraq burnt alive a Jordanian Muslim pilot who was in their custody. Astaghfurullah !! The Khawarij in Pakistan slaughter the children, play football with heads of shaheeds and their brothers in Iraq burn Muslims alive.. !

Which Sharia allows this punishment even to a Kafir ?? Look at the Khawarij standing behind. They are NOT volunteers but Israeli Jewish soldiars. Their levels of training, their face masks, their weapons.. their media propaganda -- everything is Jewish, and so are the Khawarij !

Recite Fatiha for this Shaheed Muslims killed at the hands of Khawarij. He died a painful death. Jordan has promised to kill all Daish prisoners in retaliation. This is what we must also do -- Kill all khawarij in jails.

BT team
#‎CharlieHebdo‬ Remember this -- Honor & respect of the Prophet is sacred to us & we will NEVER forgive any provocation! NEVER! Dont mess here. When you do blasphemy, you sign your own death warrants! If Muslims wont kill you, then Jewish Mossad will to blame Muslims!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Shia/Sunni conflict in Pakistan

Shia/Sunni conflict in Pakistan http://brownpundits.blogspot.com/2015/01/shia-killing-in-pakistan-background-and.html

About how the Shia Sunni conflict in Pakistan intensified (excerpts)

At ground level a lot of this was not due to any single organized conspiracy but involved the confluence of several factors: Islamization put the question of “whose Islam” on the table; Zia’s personal leanings led to support for anti-Shia factions; Saudi Arabia inserted Wahabi-Salafi propaganda into the mix; The Shia response to the Zakat law and open (even if mostly symbolic) support from Iran helped opponents to label them Iranian agents; and modernization and modern education themselves led to a preference for modern (and fascist) versions of Islam in preference to Indian folk Islam with its “superstitious”, it's heavy Indian coloring of  rituals and folk beliefs and it's striking multicultural colorfulness.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Debate Between Taliban and Army Officer

A youtube with English subtitles,  for the debate between Taliban and Pakistani Army Officer previously mentioned on this blog, has appeared (I have not listened to it fully):