Posts

Showing posts from 2017

Does Pakistan Hold Any Cards in Dealing With Trump Administration?

Image
The U.S. relationship with Pakistan has always been essentially transactional since the early days of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. What would the quid pro quo look like between Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the Trump administration in the current differences over America's new Afghan policy? Let's try and answer this question.

Transactional History: 

Aid and cooperation has been forthcoming whenever successive American administrations needed something from Pakistan and then suddenly stopped and sanctions imposed on Pakistan when the US goals were accomplished. This happened in 1960s, 1990s and likely to happen yet again now under the Trump administration.

The history of the relationship is such that Pakistan has often been described variously as "the most allied ally" and "the most sanctioned ally" in the last few decades.

Trump's Tough Talk:

U.S. President Donald Trump, a real estate developer, sees all …

Pakistan Population Boom; Rohingya Ethnic Cleansing

Image
Is Pakistan's growing population a "disaster in the making"? Is it a bigger disaster than the population bust in Europe and East Asia with their aging societies and shrinking labor force? Where will the investment in education, health and job creation come from in Pakistan to meet the growing population? Is there a demographic dividend with Pakistan's labor force growing faster than the overall population? Will growth in labor force help increase domestic savings rate in Pakistan? What is the relationship between GDP growth and job creation? What is Pakistan's employment elasticity relative to other nations in South Asia?


Who are the Rohingya? Why are they being attacked, raped, killed and driven out of their homes in Rakhine state? Why is the Myanmar government and its allied Buddhist militias, including monks, burning Rohingya villages? Is it a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing" as described by the UN Human Rights chief? Why is Nobel Peace laureat…

Can Pakistan Economy Add 2 Million Jobs a Year?

Image
About 20 million Pakistanis are expected to enter the labor market over the next 10 years. Can Pakistani economy add jobs at a rate of 2 million a year for the next decade to absorb all new entrants to its work force? What is Pakistan's employment elasticity? How fast must it grow to create these jobs? How much investment is needed to achieve the required growth rate?

Pakistan Labor Market:
Pakistan's work force is about 68 million, according to the World Bank. Its labor force expansion is the 3rd biggest in the world after India's and Nigeria's, according to UN World Population Prospects 2017.  Pakistan's working age population in 15-64 years age bracket is expected to increase by 27.5 million people to 147.1 million in 10 years, according to Bloomberg News' analysis of data reported in UN World Population Prospects 2017.  Pakistan's increase of 27.5 million is the third largest after India's 115.9 million and Nigeria's 34.2 million increase in wor…

Apple iOS 11 Supports Nastaliq as Default Font for Urdu

Image
Apple today announced iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and a $1000 iPhone X today, the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone launch, at its new Spaceship-shaped headquarter in Silicon Valley.  iOS 11operating system is also being launched along with the new hardware to support many advanced new features for face identification, wireless charging and augmented reality (AR).  In addition, the OS 11 will include nastaleeq font that is popular with Urdu publishers in Pakistan, according to Silicon Valley based Urdu lover and Nastaliq campaigner Mudassir Azeemi.

History of Nastaliq on Apple:

Apple did include nastaliq font in iOS 9 Beta 1 after a persistent campaign by Mudassir Azeemi. Unfortunately, it was later dropped in the released version of iOS X.  But Mudassir continued his efforts which appear to have born fruit with iOS 11 being released this month. Apple will now drop naskh and support only nastaliq in native mode for rendering Arabic, Persian and Urdu languages.


Naskh vs Nastaliq:

Apple to…

Where's the Real Population "Disaster in the Making"? Pakistan or the West?

Image
Multiple western newspaper headlines are screaming of a "disaster in the making" in Pakistan after the latest population census in the country. These headlines beg the following questions:  Is Pakistan's total fertility rate of 2.62 children per woman a bigger disaster than the sub-replacement level of less than 2 children per woman in the West? Are the rapidly aging western societies and declining working population less of a disaster than Pakistan with its younger population and a growing percentage of it in the work force?  To answer these questions, let's consider the following quote:

“So where will the children of the future come from? Increasingly they will come from people who are at odds with the modern world. Such a trend, if sustained, could drive human culture off its current market-driven, individualistic, modernist course, gradually creating an anti-market culture dominated by fundamentalism - a new dark ages.” ― Philip Longman, The Empty Cradle: How Fal…

Journalists Murders in India; BRICs Xiamen Declaration; DACA Repeal

Image
Why was Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh murdered? Who killed her? Why are Modi's Hindu Nationalists supporters targeting public intellectuals and journalists critical of Indian government policies? Why has India joined the reporters without borders' list of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists? Why has Muslim become a "derogatory term" in the words of Indian journalist Anoo Bhuyan? How are anti-Muslim Hindutva trolls using the social media to spew hate and issue threats?

Why did China allow BRICs Xiamen Summit declaration to mention some of the "terrorist" groups targeting India over Kashmir issue? Was this a mistake as claimed by some Chinese think tank analysts like Hu Shisheng of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations? How will this impact China-Pakistan ties? Is this a success of Modi's campaign to slander and isolate Pakistan?

What is DACA and why did President Trump repeal it? Is it a wise decision from mo…

Trump's DACA Repeal Could Affect Thousands of Pakistanis in America

Image
There are 3,476 Pakistani beneficiaries of DACA, former President Barack Obama's initiative providing relief from deportation to over a million young people brought illegally in to the United States as children. President Trump's decision announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions today to end DACA in 6 months' time has put the future of these young men and women in doubt.

What is DACA?

DACA is the acronym for President Barack Obama's executive order titled "Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals".  It was issued to stop possible deportations of over a million young men and women after the US Congress failed to pass the "Dreamers Act" that would have given them legal status in the United States.

DACA Beneficiaries:

About 1.3 million DACA applications have been approved as of the second quarter of year 2017, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

While the overwhelming majority of DACA recipients are from Mexico,  the benefi…

Pakistan: Impact of Labor Force Expansion on Savings, Investments and GDP Growth

Image
Pakistan's labor force expansion is the 3rd biggest in the world after India and Nigeria, according to UN World Population Prospects 2017. Rising working age population and growing workforce participation of both men and women in developing nations like Pakistan will boost domestic savings and investment, according to Global Development Horizons (GDH) report. Escaping the low savings low investment trap will help accelerate the lagging GDP growth rate in Pakistan, as will increased foreign investment such as the Chinese investment in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.



Labor Force Expansion:

The latest Census 2017 results show that Pakistan's population growth rate has declined to 2.34% between 1998 and 2017, down from 2.61% (from 1981 to 1998) and 3.4% (from 1961-81). Life expectancy has increased from about 62 years in 1998 to 66.5 years now. The total fertility rate has declined from 4.6 children per woman in 1998 to to 2.62 children per woman in 2017.  At the same time, Pakist…

Eid ul Azha Observance in Pakistan Transfers Billions of Dollars From Urban to Rural Population

Image
An often overlooked benefit of buying and sacrificing millions of animals during Eid ul Azha celebration is the massive transfer of wealth from relatively rich urban population to the comparatively poor village population.   In other words, it helps create jobs and redistribute wealth to alleviate poverty in a similar way as zakat, taxes and sadaqa (charity) do.  Here's a blog post I wrote last year (2016) on this subject and I am reproducing it below:

Pakistanis are spending about $3.5 billion on Eid ul Azha this year, according to analysts. This includes $2.8 billion worth of livestock and another $700 million on clothes,  shoes, jewelry and various services. This amount represent a huge transfer of wealth from urban to rural population in the country.

Animal Sacrifice:

Eid al Adha commemorates the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his most beloved son Ismail (Ismael) when asked to do so by God. It follows Hajj, the annual pilgrimage of Mecca by Muslims from a…

India Medical Tourism: Pakistanis Spend the Most Per Patient

Image
As Indian medical visas granted to Pakistani patients regularly make headlines in India, it is hard not to conclude that it's all part of a PR campaign by the Hindu Nationalist Modi government in India.

What is often left out of the media stories is the minor detail that Pakistanis pay more to use services of for-profit Indian hospitals than do people of other nationalities for such "humanitarian gestures".

Pakistan is an important and lucrative source of medical tourism dollars in India.  The kind of facilities Pakistanis pay to use in India are not accessible to poor Indian masses who must rely on India's decrepit public health system.

A 2017 report by Indian ministry of commerce and industry says an average Pakistani spends Rs 187,000 on treatment in India. Those from Bangladesh spend Rs 134,000 on an average, followed by those from Commonwealth countries (Rs 125,000), Russia (Rs 104,000) and Iraq (Rs 98,554).

Times of India quoted Manish Chandra of Vaidam medical…

Trump's Afghan Strategy: Will Pakistan Yield to US Pressure?

Image
Announcing the new US strategy on Afghanistan this week, President Donald Trump singled out "valued partner" Pakistan for increased American pressure to act against "agents of chaos" such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network who attack American service members and officials. Trump said this "will have to change, and that will change immediately." He also sought India's help in Afghanistan while ignoring the increased Iranian and Russian involvement in helping the Afghan Taliban.

Pakistan's Response to US Pressure:

Will Trump's pressure on Pakistan work? Will Pakistanis do the bidding of the new US administration? To answer this question, let us look at the following two quotes:

1.  "The Pakistani establishment, as we saw in 1998 with the nuclear test, does not view assistance -- even sizable assistance to their own entities -- as a trade-off for national security vis-a-vis India". US Ambassador Anne Patterson, September 23, 2…

Pakistani Diaspora Thriving in America

Image
Nearly half a million people of Pakistani origin call America home. Pakistani-Americans' education and income levels are significantly higher than those of the general population of the United States. Among them are doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants, journalists, politicians, business executives, professional sports team managers and owners, artists, actors, entrepreneurs, salespeople, policemen, soldiers, convenience store clerks and taxi, bus and truck drivers. United States is the 5th most popular destination for Pakistani-born international migrants and the 6th largest source of remittances to Pakistan. In addition to participating in local philanthropy and community activities, several Pakistani-American organizations help raise funds for schools, hospitals and other human welfare projects in Pakistan.

Pakistani-American Population:

Over 450,000 Pakistani immigrants and their children live in the United States as of 2013, according to a report compiled by Migration Poli…