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Posts tagged with: Economy

Cosmetic Changes in Islamabad

Guest Post by temporal from Baithak also posted on Desicritcs

Pakistan's Moment: We will fight terrorism — our way appeared under the byline of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. Since his name is on the mast, I will assume that he takes full responsibility for this article. He writes:

It is important for Pakistan — which has transited from an authoritarian regime to democratic governance — that the message of this first critical post-election period be bold and clear. Like newly elected governments in other democratic societies, we intend to set the tone and agenda. We want to show the world that our nation is back in business, with an overwhelming mandate from our people.

It has been thirty days since he and his cabinet took oath. What does he have to show for the past thirty days? Please keep in mind that his party (PPP) and his coalition partners, PML-N, ANP and JUI had nearly six weeks to prepare an agenda before this oath taking.

Inflation is unchecked, prices for rice, flour, petrol and other commodities are still escalating. Law and order is still in a mess. The ministers travel in motorcades and the traffic is still diverted and blocked as it was under the previous administration.
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Bear Witness With Me Dear Motherland

Watan Ki Miti Gawah RehnaI share with you a very heart touching article written by Anwar Mansuri and Munawer Azeem for DAWN’s Crime Diary. I suggest everyone to take the time to read this summarized reproduction of Umar Deen‘s suicide note. I fear this is just the tip of the ice-berg unless immediate drastic measures are not taken to bring our people out of the crushing economy things are bound to get worse. It is sad to see our endless list of corrupt leaders whitewash their own millions of dollars of debt while and sadly this poor Pakistani could not meet his commitment for the Rs. 80,000 loan he needed to make ends meet basically to survive

The image attached is written and signed by Umar Deen himself ‘Watan Ki Mitti Gawah Rahna [Bear Witness With Me Dear Motherland]’ and finally he wraps up his note with a touching statement I know my suicide will not bring any revolution in the country but it must not go waste. Let us, as citizens of Pakistan, promise him to not let his suicide go waste.

Published in DAWN on 9th April 2008
Last Friday an ice-cream vendor, Umar Deen, committed suicide by shooting himself at Aabpara chowk, Islamabad’s busiest and oldest landmark. Next day’s newspapers reported routinely that financial problems had driven him to the desperate act.

And that was the end of the sad story for the society. But should it be?

Umar, 28, left behind a pretty long suicide note titled Watan Ki Mitti Gawah Rehna (Bear Witness With Me Dear Motherland). Dawn is publishing excerpts from this testimony of a self-respecting youngman against a callous world. Written at leisure and with emotion, but not bitterness, the note has two parts — one addressed to his family and the other to the society. A matriculate, Umar apparently planned to take his life in front of the Parliament House as mentioned on the opening page of his suicide note book which he begins with seeking forgiveness from his mother for his act.

After a few Urdu couplets, reflecting the hard life he had lived, and decided to end, he writes an imaginary verdict which reads: “The court of Islamic Republic of Pakistan finds accused Umar Deen, alias Mazhar Iqbal (Umar Udas), guilty of not paying the money he owed to usurers and for living in worst of conditions and, rejecting all his mercy appeals, sentences him to death”.

As if he wanted it to be the last such sentence, Umar ended the verdict with the words: “The court is adjourned”.
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The NAB Diaries – The Aftermath

Guest Blog by Amer Nazir

I read about that in Introduction to Psychology; that, and the chapter on caged rats whod give themselves electric shocks for something to do. And the ones on the pigeons, trained to peck a button that made a grain of corn appear. Three groups of them: the first one got one grain per peck, the second one grain every other peck, the third was random. When the man in charge cut off the grain, the first group gave up quite soon, the second group a little later. The third group

never gave up. Theyd pecked themselves to death, rather than quit. Who knew what worked?

The Handmaids tale

Margaret Atwood.

I wrote the NAB Diaries with few objectives in mind. Firstly, I have to seek justice. Not just for my own sake but for the sake of my daughters as well. And then after all it is my right. And secondly, apart from that, beyond the issue of a heartless administration…I also wanted our society to look at itself…

This may not endear me to some but it is now time. If the peoples resistance, the only hope for this country of ours is to achieve anything, then our society at large has to look at itself critically, it should check its bearing, adjust its compass otherwise administrations may change, judiciaries may come and go but the situation will not change…

I suffered from the hands of my enemies but this is how it is suppose to be is it not… at least they did it for a reason and I failed to defend myself against them… but it is the actions of my own, the people around me, and the actions of the spectators, the indifferent lot, which was truly amazing. In my case, I dont cry foul when hurt by the enemies, it is just a consequence, a part of the game but it was those who took this opportunity to bring me down further, who made me stand trial for everything except for the crime at hand, as this was the most opportune moment is what I consider as the debasement of our society…
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Transcript of Dr. Kaiser Bengali’s Lecture – Making sense of Pakistan and its Economy

Attached is the entire transcript of the lecture given by Dr. Kasier Bengali in Dec at the invitation of People’s Resistance & The Green Economics & Globalisation Initiative where he talked on Making sense of Pakistan and its Economy at Shirkat Gah Office, Karachi

Alternatively Download the [download#2]

Let me begin by thanking Shirkat Gah for arranging this opportunity and you all for being here to exchange views. I am happy to see so many young faces here. This represents a change. I sensed the first indication of change in October 2005 when the earthquake hit. Young educated people, many of whom had never washed a spoon in their own houses, lived in tents and helped the victims. I think that something happened to bring a generation alive and we are seeing it again. In the current movement today, we may agree with a lot of things, not agree with a lot of things, but the point is that you are concerned, and that has been missing for 20 years, and 20 years is a long time. It’s a whole generation of people; people especially those in their 30s today, who in their own student days and youth were completely unassociated with any social issues. So I find this a very refreshing change and I consider myself fortunate that I am being able to interact with you today.

Now to the subject of economics. I know most of you do not have any economics background, but I will try to be simple. My ability to speak economics in rather simple language developed because when I started my career I started working with trade unions and I had to explain economics to people who were at best matriculates or even less, and that’s where I developed this ability to talk economics in the lay person’s language. I guess there was some kind of a social consciousness. I had no need to work with trade unions; I could have done consulting for the World Bank, or joined the World Bank. In fact I had an offer from an international bank. But like you, I thought I have to work with people and it is working with people that gave me the ability to speak the language of the people.
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Arif Hasan talks on “Urbanization, Politics, Public & National Interest”

A two part series of lectures are scheduled to be delivered by Arif Hasan on “Urbanization, Politics, Public & National Interest”. The part one of this series is being held tomorrow at Shirkat Gah, Karachi. The invitation is as follows

To undo damage, one has to know what caused it to find solutions. We have arrived at this crucial point in our series of lectures by leading authorities on our country and economy — the socio-economic processes that have led to the present morass.

Date: Sunday, 3rd February at 4 p.m.
Time: 4:00 pm
Location: SHIRKAT GAH Meeting Room, 1st Floor, Bath Island Road, Karachi, (near Bridge Store)
Organizers: PEOPLE’S RESISTANCE, in collaboration with The Green Economics & Globalisation Initiative

Kaiser Bengali explains the Economic performance of Shaukat Aziz

Kaiser Bengali is currently working for Collective for Social Science Research, a research company based in Karachi, economist Bengali has also served as the managing director Social Policy Development Centre between 2001-2004. Here he talks with TNS about a range of issues and gives his own economic blueprint which is closely tied up with politics. Excerpts of the interview follow:

The News on Sunday (TNS): How do see the relationship between military regimes and economic progress?
Kaiser Bengali (KB): There is a myth about development and economic performance of military regimes. In Pakistan, Ayub Khan, Ziaul Haq and Musharraf have all received unprecedented support from IMF and World Bank. In the case of Musharraf, it was the rescheduling and, of course, money that was coming as rental from the United States for using our space.

There were four factors which contributed to the high growth during the Zia period, none of which can be located in Zia’s economic policy. The oil price shock hit the world in 1973 but it was 1975-77 when the first emigrants from Pakistan began to leave for Saudi Arabia and it was 1978 when the remittance inflow began and it peaked in 1982onwards. So the price of the oil price shock was borne by the Bhutto regime but the benefits were accrued by the Zia regime. This rate of remittance inflow gave the govt sufficient fiscal space.

Second, there were very large investments made during the Bhutto period that had long gestation periods. The Pakistan Steel Mills construction started in 1974, and it started commercial production in1982. Similarly there were Heavy Mechanical Complex, Indus Highway, Heavy Electrical Complex, Port Qasim and Ittehad Chemicals (chemical lindustry’s foundation was laid in 1970s and chemicals are a major input in a large number of consumer industries). So this investment in the 1970s began to fruit in the 1980s leading to large chunk of output increases.
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‘l’etat, c’est moi’ – the state is me.

Guest Blog by Amer Nazir

The first time that I heard of him, was the day when I met him. It was at a ghazal party at the Defence Club. I noticed his penetrating eyes which seemed to be sizing a person on an already decided scale, his had shake was extremely firm and direct, and somehow it seemed, though this was of course a subjective appraisal this time on my part now that he was a simple man like me who had settled down to living his life according to a simplistic version of the Ten Commandments.

He seemed full of life during the evening. Often he would go to his staff car parked outside for obvious reasons and return with a rather boyish grin and a mischievous look in his eyes. He was a man who was enjoying his status in life to the fullest he was a Corps Commander with a difference, a man who seemed adamant not to be removed from the pleasures of the common company, from the common people with whom he mingled albeit from his vantage point high up on a pedestal. And after all (and I may not be able to do full justice to an urdu proverb here) that to what import to a peacock is the splendour of its dance if it takes place far away in a jungle where no one can see… To me it was obvious that we have a charming show man here who loves to play to an audience… that lucky are those who have him as their friend…

The evening when he was fired from his job and his plane was not being allowed to land, I had some entry mates from Hasanabdal over for dinner, and obviously by that time the rumours had started to spread, prompting different opinions. I on my part gave my prediction: I said that this man believes in standing next to his friends and would go all out to destroy his enemies a simple trait of a simple man who had never had the misfortune to contend with a much more complex world that lay outside his own very secure shelter. And I said to my friends that this man will take over the country…
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An Open Letter to EU, US, UH & COMMONWEALTH

Guest Blog by Sami Khan

An open letter to “All Concerned

European Union consists of 27 member states with complete civil liberties for the citizens one can only dream of in the third world country like Pakistan. But it is very unfortunate that whenever there is a minimal chance of establishing democracy in our country, of course not like yours, international community somehow supports or I would say does not take strong steps as should be taken against those elements that derail the process of democracy.

As a citizen of a sovereign country, one should not be writing to you in first place but when I see international community very keenly taking interest in our local affairs, it does not make me feel I am citizen of a sovereign country. Therefore, I am compelled to draw your attention toward the very serious and deteriorated situation in our country.

Whenever a military dictator like the present one in our country invades and conquers his own country after every 10 years, international community which includes US, EU, UN, Commonwealth come out with kind of lip service only. International community condemns, threatens and warns dictators of dangerous consequences before and after the occupation (coup), at the end here comes a very big “BUT and that BUT works as oxygen for dictators and that lip service gives us the impression of International communitys support for the unconstitutional and illegal steps of dictators.
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Chat with Cisco Country General Manager, Dr. Aamir Matin

Chat with Dr Amir MatinA few days back I had the opportunity to sit down for an hour long talk with Dr. Aamir Matin, the Cisco Country General Manager who had flown in from Islamabad to be in Karachi for a few days. The casual meeting was arranged through the efforts of Rabia Garib of Rasala Publications and editor of NetXpress Online who just wanted us to sit and talk about anything over a cup of coffee.

There were no questions, per se, but a casual conversation where we touched a number of issues related to the IT industry, the overall economy in Pakistan and at the same time we did also touch the political nerve somewhere in between. It goes without doubt that Dr. Matin catches you a little off guard, where I expected an aloof CEO sitting across the table, but this guy was simply fun to talk to his casual style was definitely worth noting and I must admit he does carry refreshing aura of energy around him

Cisco is without doubt a core player in Pakistan’s IT arena and seems to have done well in Pakistan promoting its products in the open market while at the same time being mindful of its due role of corporate social responsibility here in Pakistan. Dr. Matin heads this unit fully aware of the difficulties facing this country and he remains adamant at exploring every opportunity available to Cisco and Pakistan, he was upbeat to point out that there has been a marked growth in infrastructure in the past few years and expects this growth to continue on into the years to come. To explain this phenomenon he had one simple sentence which aptly summarized the issue ‘if our routers are selling like hotcakes there must be something going on right in the country to show this growth’.
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A New World Order

Guest Blog by Faisal KDeadpan Thoughts

In the last 10 years or so we have all watched in horror as disaster after disaster has struck the world. The events I am referring to are mostly man made ones which have left an indelible mark on our history and our conscience, they have also lead to a change in the very thought patterns and perceptions of the world.

This is not the only time in worlds history where a chain of events has happened resulting in wars, famine, destabilization of countries and then their destruction. It has happened before..for instance in the French revolution and the world wars. However If we consider, most of the calamities in the last 10 years have been attributed to militants and militancy in one form or the other. Al Qaeda claims responsibility for many of these events. The 9/11 disaster, the Gulf War, the Invasion of Afghanistan, The London Bombings, wide spread suicide attacks all over the world. Each one of these events has had a damaging impact on our collective trust in our people, our religions and our leaders.

Obviously with the amount of media coverage it has received, by those who control such things, Al Qaeda has been built up to be everyones Bogeyman. We must think clearly as to how and why Al Qaeda came into being to reveal many startling facts. Everyone knows that it happened at the end of an Afghan war when militants were established and were left with no cause to fight for, so they chose a religious one right? However a strange fact is that the Afghan people were getting support from the U.S even before the Russians moved in. In fact several theories exist that the Red Army made its move only because of tacit American involvement and support for the Afghans. Was the whole soviet Invasion made to happen? As a result of which militancy took root in this region? Is Al Qaeda a front?
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Postal workers in Lahore buying Votes for Rs 1,500 ($25) only ?

Vote BribeExposing election rigging is a tough job. as the onus of proof generally lies on the accuser, hence usually very tough to prove, at times opposing parties may even try to set each other up simply to humiliate them and pull a few extra votes in the process, everything seems to be fair in our elections. I on the other hand believe if we hear of any such report, it must be shared with everyone opening the argument to a larger audience, allow the case at hand be scrutinized in the hope that it can be verified or refuted when exposed to a larger reader base, little good will it do lying in my email box, since I cannot physically head out to confirm.

Since yesterday a number of reports have slowly trickled in saying that postal workers specifically in the Gulberg, Lahore going from door to door asking people for their National ID cards in exchange for Rs.1,500 ($25). This story might not be too far fetched, as every person is feeling the economic pressure and any spare change offered by filthy rich candidates does help the poor survive in this crushing economy. I quote an email verbatim, which I has already been forwarded to a number or monitoring agencies in the hope of getting some form of verifications,
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Cause of death, Gun Shots or Sunroof? Govt foul play suspected

Assassination of Benazir-3.jpgThe first reports arriving the day Benazir died was three gun shots to the head resulting in her death, after she was buried today the Govt of Pakistan Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema offers a complete new explanation for the cause of death, he said that she was NOT killed because of the three gun shots but in fact while collapsing into the car immediately following the explosion of the bomb ‘she collapsed and while collapsing a lever on the left side hit the right side of her head’, the left-right explanation sounds stupid enough since the gun shot came from the left. He was then quick to name Al-Qaeda as the organization behind all this.

In utter shock I feel this is yet another ploy by the government to blame the ‘terrorist organizations’, No one dares to accept that this could easily have been the outcome of Mushrraf’s eight year rule where he plunges his people in utter confusion and chaos – it is the people of Pakistan that saw Musharraf orchestrate blood shed on the streets of Karachi on May 12th killing hundreds, people seem to have forgotten the hundreds ruthlessly murdered inside Lal Masjid and their bodies were quickly buried within a matter of hours as if to hide a crime scene. Lets not also forget the annihilation being done in Swat and the northern areas.
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A Demented Musharraf talks to Newsweek

Newsweek Online has published excerpts of an interview with General (retired) Pervaiz Musharraf taken a few days before the Martial Law was lifted. I share it with you since reading the entire interview one does get an eerie bone chilling sensation that Musharraf has completely lost his sanity and seems to be raging maniac out to seek revenge against those who dared question is authority. He actually makes no effort to hide his anger and instead tries to offer a some lame logical [demented] justification for all his wrong-doings. Most important point to note is that there seems to be little or no concern about the future of Pakistan, only toeing the ‘Anti-terrorism’ concept to suit his own personal vested goal and in effect keep America off his back. Don’t take my words for it, read the entire interview and be a judge for yourself, do share your comments but in my opinion there is definitely a loose screw in the mind of this psychomaniac

Pervaiz MusharrafNEWSWEEK: Is there a difference now that you have shed your uniform and relinquished your post of army chief of staff?
MUSHARRAF: On a personal note, I loved my uniform. From the national point of view, I don’t think there is a difference. I think the overall situation will be better and stronger. The army is being managed by a chief of staff dedicated to the job, and I will be president of Pakistan, and if the two are totally in harmony, the situation is better.

You will appoint the heads of the Army?
I will appoint the chief. The security services report to the president and the prime minister … The ISI [military intelligence service] reports to the political leaders.

Once there is a prime minister, how do you see power being shared?
The prime minister runs the government. Then there is a National Security Council chaired by the president that meets to review situations. But this is only a consultative body. There is no sharing of responsibility really.

You announced [that the state of emergency] will lifted on Dec. 15. Does that mean that the regulations recently imposed on the press will be lifted?
There are no restrictions on the press.
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The NAB Diaries – Part One

Guest Post by Amer Nazir

Part Two of the ‘The NAB Diaries’ can be read here
Part Three of the ‘The NAB Diaries’ can be read here

My name is Amer Nazir. I live in exile in London. It is a forced exile. I left Pakistan as soon as NAB took my name off the Exit Control List after a period of three years. If I had not left, probably I would have also disappeared forever like my best friend Ahmed Shujaudin a leading architect.

God willing and the Teeth Maestro permitting, I intend to write about my journey from a modest middle-class background to one of the top IT entrepreneurs of Pakistan before I fell to the extent that I became homeless. Once a familiar face in the so-called corporate social circles in Karachi it came to a point where no one was willing to take my phone call after all, I was a NAB accused. I was never to be convicted but it did not matter. The logic was straight forward. If Shuja had been kidnapped then surely Shuja must have done something terrible to cause it or else at least deserve it…

The scope of these four narrations hopefully to be published during the next four weeks is to narrate a very brief account of my business journey, my labour of love, after a briefest possible introduction of myself, the major space will be given to my NAB experience, the actual inside account, and the behaviour and the attitude of our kings of the castle.
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Pakistans Rich List of 2008

Short-listing Pakistan’s most influential business magnates or Groups has never been an easy task because there are the people who have been very powerful in nearly every regime that has held this country’s reins since the last 60 years and then we have had those seasonal species that maneuvered their voice to be heard better than most within the power corridors, but later vanished into the oblivion for one reason or the other. We have selected only those tycoons who have made their presence felt for a better part of country’s history, have earned consistently, have been setting up units at regular intervals or have been legends in stocks, currency or real estate business.

The list excludes many names that have previously qualified and all of Pakistan’s most prominent feudal land lords who would definitely make it to the top 10, expect the few land owners which have declared their assets and work force and registered with the CBR Islamabad. In order to promote the new and “unknown” Pakistani magnates we have excluded in previous entities.

Unfortunately, our extensive research does not currently include the names of a few stars that shone brightly amidst the galaxy of the influential creed of yesteryear like C.M.Latif of BECO- the Steel Man of Pakistan- who did make a lot of name once, but then got gifted with contentment somehow, although the late business wizard got very badly hit by Bhutto’s nationalization of 1970 which had inflicted an astounding thud to everybody in business then. Had it not been the case, many of our tycoons may well have managed to gain the kind of status greeting the likes of Birlas and Tatas in India today, if not the one saluting Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. Among these gifted individuals, you will find politicians-turned-businessmen, businessmen-turned-politicians or even the businessmen-cum-politicians. With malice towards none and with no intention to decorate somebody, We thus takes the pride of announcing these names. We hope this document will go a long way in serving as the most authentic endeavor of its kind for a very long time to come. It has been prepared very carefully in consultation with leading real estate barons, stock moguls, business leaders of virtue and senior bureaucrats at the Central Board of Revenue.
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