Why Nawaz Sharif’s Economic Model Failed

South Asians (from India-Pakistan-Bangladesh) are well known for low wages, good work ethics and more importantly for delicious feasts. Investment Bankers from Europe and Americas like to congratulate South Asians for being at the center of global financial attraction and the preferred destination for investment. Especially since China, Singapore, Thailand, Korea and Malaysia have achieved their development objectives, its now time for South Asia to move up. South Asians however, disappointed the world and more importantly its citizens for repeated failures in Transparency, Governance and Rule of Law.

All this despite the fact that South Asia happens to be blessed with abundant resources ranging from the majestic Himalayas in the north to the beautiful blue waters of the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal in the south. Population of 1.5 billion people, mostly young and hard working. Large agricultural lands add to its growing industrial base enjoying a good portion of world textiles and garments production. Resources couldn’t help Pakistan from spiraling down to its current low. South Asians would like to know “is it because of the corrupt politicians, or is it because of the System itself?”

First, there was the war of 1971, until then Pakistan was the combination of West and East Pakistan and a shining star for Development Economics, before the generals decided it launch genocide on its own citizens in the country’s Eastern Wing, resulting in a humiliating defeat for the Pakistan Army, making way for the birth of independent Bangladesh.

In reality, West Pakistani generals in their utter brilliance managed to secede from the majority part of the country (East Pakistan), breaking up a united Pakistan into the new Pakistan and Bangladesh. Statistics will show that the economic progress of united Pakistan in the 60’s came mainly from the export of Jute (East Pakistan) and Cotton products (West Pakistan), whereas the distribution of wealth favored mostly the Western wing, regardless of East Pakistan’s contribution or its majority population.

It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out why the poor farmers and workers in the East would stand up to this economic injustice. But the generals knew better, they chose guns and bullets to do the talking. By December 1971, Pakistan was defeated, general Niazi surrendered half of Pakistan to India along with 90,000 soldiers.  The highly prosperous, populous, hard working wing of the country had been lost forever. The stupid generals still couldn’t get it.

Neither did the politicians rallying around Bhutto understand what they lost. For them, it was not possible for Mr Bhutto to loose an election to a nobody called Mujib from the backward farm land of Bengal (East Pakistan). Heck, Bhutto was UC Berkley, Oxford, UN, Foreign Minister, Nuclear Weapons and all that, and what did Mujib have – nothing! that was according to the enlightened men and women around Bhutto. Mujib did have something. Brains. Yup, he knew how to talk to his people, he knew to what extent his people would tolerate injustice, he knew how to break that tolerance level. That was the magic of Mujib which Bhutto’s ego refused to see, no matter the consequences.

In post 9171 scenario, the country went from being Divided Pakistan to Weakened Pakistan. For decades the country saw the rise and fall of one military dictator after another. Politicians lined up to the generals like models holding signs reading “Take me, I’ll be obedient!”. Generals chose. And the “models” delivered, faithfully. In the process, some “models” earned billions. Connections with other equally shameful and corrupt “royals” were established and exploited for mutual gains.

Business was booming. Except for the poor man who had to work harder than before for his tax and Vat had to bear the responsibility for filling up the deep pockets of the greedy top brass. Electricity generation, foreign currency reserve, current account deficit, devaluation of currency, unemployment and inflation joined hands in an unholy alliance to convert a Weakened Pakistan into a Bankrupt Pakistan. None of these economic causes qualify as anything other than man made, the  work of few elites abusing the mass people, while billions of dollars found their way into European banks, picking up multi million pound flats along the way.

Nawaz Sharif’s economic model rested on Chinese and Arabian investments in mega infrastructure projects. While that sounds very promising, the country’s ability to sustain long term foreign debt was deteriorating quickly. Country’s ability to service foreign debt depends on its foreign currency earnings and reserves, not on Chinese investments in roads although in the long run good infrastructure becomes essential. Pakistan’s foreign currency reserve as of writing stood at 2 weeks imports. It should be more like 3 to 6 months imports. Exports stagnated while imports increased. Are workers becoming more costly to hire?

Foreign buyers like the low wages in South Asia. But that’s not all. Low labor wages is but one of the many ingredients making up total production cost. Energy, shipment, insurance, technology, labor efficiency etc contribute just as well. More than anything else, lack of power hindered manufacturers from investing in export driven factories, on the other hand, due to higher production costs foreign buyers preferred to look east, leaving the country with stagnating foreign currency earnings. This could not have happened without the contribution of the C factor.

This political-economic model, its architecture, guarantees the enrichment (beyond our imagination) of few elites at the top while the “productive forces” will continue to break their backs – working, paying vat and taxes and finally be forced to vote (thereby legalize) in favor of a blood thirsty greed based corruption ridden “system” of hidden imperialism. Imran Khan may be clean, but him alone hardly stands a chance to rectify the grand old system of greed and corruption that plagues the administrative machinery.

When would be a good time to strengthen the argument for upscaling an alternative to this unjust and harsh political-economic abusive system? Have you given the “alternative” a thought, would you even like to know what the alternative is…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nelson Mandela’s Borrowed Idea

Mandela remains a legend, a hero, for millions of freedom loving people around the world. I bet his popularity in the “white” world shadows all other colored worlds. It is always with reverence that this man is remembered by all people of all shades. Mandela’s God gifted abilities were many, but the one that stands out for me is the one on communication. Dictators somehow seem also to be eloquent Orators but its that special gift of touching peoples’ hearts that separates an ordinary leader from a Superhero. I think Mandela belonged not to the first category.
He could reach out to people with simple words. I meant that in the most literal sense. He chose the most simple English words, used simple sentences and did not make long nested sentences. Very different a style taught in my English class.

I wanted to use Mandela to reach out to you for another agenda. Our education system as you know is being transformed regularly. Its as if the entire education system is being redesigned to produce at the end of 12 years compliant workers to feed the ever growing balloon economy of the Corporate world. Do you ever get a sense of the feeling that somehow our lives revolve mostly around our jobs, or businesses, and we have just few precious hours for ourselves (or our families). I feel like that quite often. The long commutes, long working hours, more business targets, pressure on cost reduction, and things like that which you know quite well.

There’s nothing new about these feelings. They’ve been there since the early days of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. We could look back and claim that at least we moved on from sweat shops to decent working conditions in most factories in the developed world. We do have another problem now. Factory owners, lets call them C, would always want to grow the top and bottom lines (revenues and profits). Since C had to increase the cost of maintaining environmentally compliant factories in the West, so he moved his manufacturing base to poor countries of the East where working for a dollar a day in some of the worst possible working conditions in the world was a dream job and it meant his very survival along with his family. This sad but true reality created the situation which turned the East into the world’s manufacturing continent and the Western Cs as the ultimate beneficiaries of the “system” built on the exploitation of the poor man’s labor.

People in the East, sorry guys no hard feelings, have another C to deal with, especially when it comes to managing the regulators and law enforcers. This other C retains the number one position in the top reasons for the East to remain a basket case. All the hard work of the poor factory workers get stolen by the few elite sitting at the top of the food chain. Ever higher taxes and VAT/GST continue to ensure that a heavy weight greater than carrying capacity forces workers to remain bowed to the unfair system.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. If taxes are not enough, no problem, the corrupt system switches on the “Inflation” button and this weapon is a sure shot when it comes to making common hard working tax paying citizens poorer.

You are right, this is quite sad, but then I want you to see the world without your designer shades, please. Its a cruel, nasty, merciless world for majority of the poor population. They are made to believe they live in a free, independent sovereign state and country and nothing could be farther from the reality. Workers in the East have been turned into modern day slaves of the Corporate world. Remember the Hebrews under the Pharaoh. Here we are, we are the Hebrews and the government of Pharaoh is upon us. We must work or die. Workers are at the mercy of the C. Citizens are at the mercy of the C system. No way out mate. Or is there really no way out of this dark scenario? BTW, don’t be fooled by that smiling factory pin up boy in an M&S suit boasting of his six figure USD salary. Below him work 7000 poor men and women on dollar a day basis. C’s show him only to ridicule the fact that life is hard over here.

Never despair. Hope is just around the corner. There is light in every dark situation, only if you know how to turn the switch on, thanks Gendalf and Dumbledore. The fact is, since the start of human civilization, I don’t know when, man has struggled against injustice. And guess what, man has always won the fight against the dark forces. Voldermort will loose in the end. We must believe that from the very beginning. What makes our epic battle look interesting are all those events and battles that connect our lives in more than one way. Enter Mandela. One of my favorite Mandela quotes is this: Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

This is a borrowed idea, from Islam ofcourse. The Holy Quran’s first word was IQRA – READ, or educate yourself, enlighten yourself, know yourself, and only then can you go ahead and change the world. Well done indeed, for Mandela did change the world with this borrowed idea, and he did well. Rest in peace Nelson Mandela…

You, the Great Achiever

One who finds the Truth, finds peace, a peaceful life is what all of us are really after, I should hope. To begin that journey, to seek peace, one needs to reconfigure his mindset, not his society at large. You can change your thoughts if you try but not the thoughts of the person sitting next to you, let alone changing cultures and social beliefs. A seeker has only one ambition, to find the truth, to know how to separate right from wrong, and through this journey a Seeker will find happiness along the way.
Would you like to become a seeker? I am happy to offer a path for you.

First, get yourself a copy of the Holy Quran, “the Qur’an” by Abdel Haleem highly recommended! https://www.amazon.com/Quran-Oxford-Worlds-Classics/dp/0199535957
You’re not a Muslim, no problem. The first Muslims 1400 years ago weren’t Muslims by birth either. You choose which belief system (or un-belief system) suits you best. Regardless of that choice, you still can go to the Quran as a Seeker of Truth and Justice. No power can hold you back from the divine wisdom that awaits to welcome your curious eyes!
You’re a Muslim but you feel embarrassed because you never bothered to read the holy Book. No problem. This is why you didn’t read it for so long. You were waiting for the right moment which is knocking on your spiritual doors right now. Go ahead open the door and welcome your heavenly guest.
You don’t know Arabic. No problem there either. The holy Book has been translated into dozens of language, allowing you to choose the language most comfortable for you.
Basic idea is this: get a copy of the Holy Quran.

Next step, take a piece of paper, write down what’s bothering you. Next, Open the Quran and just sift through the pages randomly until you come to a page you “feel” you should read, intuitively. Stop. Relax. Close your eyes.

Third step, open your eyes and start reading. You will find sooner or later, the Holy Quran will have something to say to you connecting the divine message with what you wrote down just minutes ago.

Let me share my recent experience. For some time I was struggling with these questions, “is life all about working and paying bills? Is this it? I give my life to a company for a few thousand dollars, I retire and get sent off to some lonely boring place to wait for the arrival of the angel of death. Do you call this “destiny” or “fate”?” How sad. I felt broken, devastated, reduced, defeated? I reached out to my Book, The Holy Quran, skimmed through a few pages and then I come across the following.

Its from the Holy Quran, chapter 40, The Forgiver, or also known as the Believer. It says:

Those [angels] who carry the Throne and those around it exalt [ Allah ] with praise of their Lord and believe in Him and ask forgiveness for those who have believed, [saying], “Our Lord, You have encompassed all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who have repented and followed Your way and protect them from the punishment of Hellfire.

Angels, hang on – its not just ANY angel, we’re talking about very special ones ones who keep the Throne of God, how wonderful is that, and its these angels who beg the Almighty to forgive some people. Who are these lucky people for whom such elite angels plead with God the Glorious? As the verse tells us, these are people who have repented. What does that mean? Who repents? a sinner or a non-sinner? Obviously its people like me, sinners, men and women who committ wrongs and become aware of their short cummings. These are ordinary people with jobs, families, kids, social and financial problems. These are ordinary common folks from your everyday life. When they repent, something so great happens that the VIP angels near the Throne of God beg for His Mercy!! And this is what the angels say:

Our Lord, and admit them to gardens of perpetual residence which You have promised them and whoever was righteous among their fathers, their spouses and their offspring. Indeed, it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.

Did you read that carefully? Angels ask the Lord God, to forgive the seekers, to have mercy upon them, admit them, their parents, their spouses and their children into paradise. Think about that. Would you like it, on the Final Day, if you were forgiven but then you see your family members being taken away to the fire? Or would you like to see that because of you, your dear and beloved family also receives the Good News of Paradise? How lovely would that be? Yes, this is what the Throne Angels beg of God Almighty for those who repent. Paradise for the seekers, their families.

How did this marvelous imagery of the Final Day answer my problem? Let me quote from the next verse:
And protect them from the evil consequences [of their deeds]. And he whom You protect from evil consequences that Day – You will have given him mercy. And that is the great attainment.”

All Praise and Thanks be to God, ALLAH SWT, the Almighty. Receiving God’s Mercy and Forgiveness on the Final Day would be the “great attainment”. That’s what I wanted to know all along, how can I achieve greatness without being forced into the materialistic rat race of our crazy money loving world. Alhamdulillah, all thanks and praises for Allah, who revealed the Holy Book to His Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) as a Mercy and a Guide for all Human beings..

Learning About Islam – What is Bismillah

IN the name of God (Bismillah), the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy! Praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy, Master of the Day of Judgment.
It is You we worship, it is You we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path; the path of those You have blessed, those who incur no anger and who have not gone stray. (AL-Quran, chapter 1).

Seven Verses from the HOLY QURAN define the Islamic faith. Muslims memorize these seven verses (also called Ayats) in the original Arabic and recite it during prayers 5 times a day. For those of you who want to learn about Islam, and also for those Muslims who want to clarify thoughts on Islam, this is the starting place, the opening verses of the MAJESTIC AL QURAN AL KAREEM.

Lets get started. How do we know these Ayats were not made up by a man? What is the proof that the verses were “revealed” from the Heavens?
Belief can be of two types, either one believes its truly from the heavens or one believes it was written by a man or a team of men and women. Lets say we have the belief that it was written by humans. Fair enough, who were these men and women? Were they Arabs or non Arabs? Were they followers of One God or multiple gods? Did they have a portfolio of written or oral literature as was the custom in Arabia in the 6th century? It is very natural for humans to want to pen their names (real or fake) on their works, and even more so when they gather together to write the verses for a new religion. Who were these “humans” who acquired PhD level linguistic, historical, scientific, psychological and above all civilization knowledge. Surely they must have left behind track record of discussions and debates with their locals before embarking on such an advanced form of philosophical cum literary adventure that would go on to become a watershed in human history of civilization. I understand, for 1400 years not a single convincing idea could prove human intervention behind the formulation of the Ayats. So, lets leave it at that.

Wait a minute, what about the Prophet of Islam, the Holy Messenger Nabi Muhammad (sallillahu alihi wa alihi wa sallam, Peace be Upon Him, PBUH) wrote the verses. He (PBUH) recited the verses to his companions which makes the idea convincing that he must have drafted the verses himself. Lets look at that more closely. First of all, Prophet Muhammad (Sallillahu alihi wa alihi wa sallam) was known as the un-lettered prophet, that is at the start of his mission he had not acquired the skills for reading and writing. For 40 years he (PBUH) lived in Makkah with very high honor and prestige, he was called Sadeq and Amin (the truthful and the trustworthy) by the Makkans due to his honest personality without ever being credited for reciting any kind of poetry or prose, let alone writing Ayats of the highest classical (Fushat) Arabic language which would become the standard for Arabic grammar.

Would you believe it if I told you that the greatest work of English language was written by someone who was not only un-lettered but had never written or expressed English literary or grammatical skills ever in his life? Obviously not. You might call it an “obnoxious idea”. Lets be fair and apply the same thought for the author of the Verses above. It could not have been written by any man or woman, therefore the only author must be other than what we know or understand as humans. Lets stop here, and move on with the verses.

The opening verses have combined two important ideas of our age. Science and Philosophy. Science because we know from Quantum Physics about time, space and matter. The first cause behind these three has to be the will of God. It is only after the First Cause has been established that the process of matter and antimatter, evolution and the development of human civilization can be discovered scientifically. Let say then today is the very first day for the first cause, the starting point of Time itself, how would the beginning look like, what would it begin by, under whose authority would the beginning take place? These questions are generally asked for any major event. Its like a person while inaugurating a ceremony says “on the authority given to me by and so and so….”.

Should Time, space and matter (humans, the milky way, the solar system, the galaxies, the nebula etc) start its journey by the will of God, by the authority given to the properties of matter and atoms and by the Power of God, then it makes absolute sense that this journey should start by the name of God. That is “BISMILLAH”. the starting point of all that we know on Earth, in the Oceans and in Space.

Muslims will thus say BISMILLAH at the start of anything. At the time of waking up, before a meal, before starting a journey, before starting work, before getting into a transport, before take off, before reading and so on.

Thanks for reading. Take care…

Why the West Fears Islam

When one examines the West’s fear of Islam, and tries to relate it to the reasons usually given — Muslim fundamentalism, militancy, radicalism, terrorism, totalitarianism — it is difficult, if not impossible, to justify this fear on the basis of reasons given. One has to believe, however, given all the facts and expertise available to the West, that the fear has to be rational. What is this fear that causes enemies of the Muslim world to play subtly on the theme of the Crusades in order to demonize Islam and Muslims? Let us first examine what it is not, before we draw our conclusion as to the real reason why the West fears Islam.

The fear of Islamic fundamentalism, militancy, radicalism, terrorism, totalitarianism, and the West’s discovery of the “rogue states,” appeared quite conveniently with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Former Defense Secretary McNamara, in his 1989 testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, said U.S. defense spending could safely be cut in half. It became clear that the U.S. had to either undergo massive shifts in spending, a painful and unwelcome prospect for the defense establishment, or find new justification for continuing high levels of military expenditures. To provide this justification the Pentagon manufactured the threat of “rogue states and nuclear outlaws.” The Gulf War was a contrived opportunity to sell this justification to the American people, to protect oil company profits, and to control the flow of oil to Europe and Japan which need it much more than does the U.S.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies calculates that the $262 billion U.S. defense budget accounts for about 37 percent of global military expenditures. Russia, Japan, and China each will spend about $80 billion, $42 billion, and $7 billion. The six “rogue states” — Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, North Korea — have a combined annual military budget of $15 billion. The U.S. budget for covert operations (U.S. terrorism?) alone is double this amount. Given the paltry defense expenditures of all the “rogue states” combined, even after correcting for differences in costs, one has to believe that the “rogue states” are no match, militarily, for the West.

And, leaving aside the morality of U.S. covert operations which invite retaliation, Muslim terrorists should not be a major fear. Far more acts of terrorism and violent crime in the U.S., according to government statistics, are committed by non-Muslims than Muslims. And if Muslims do pose a terrorist threat to the U.S., one hears little discussion of what it is that the terrorists really want. Perhaps, all they want is for the West to stop interfering in their countries, in ways that we would never tolerate in the U.S.

Islamic totalitarianism, an oxymoron to anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of Islam, should not be a Western concern. A Muslim ruler may be totalitarian, but then her rule would not be Islamic. Furthermore, the Western record on supporting totalitarian Muslim regimes — Iran under the Shah, Iraq before the Gulf War — and doing business with non democratic regimes — China, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia — speaks for itself.

As for fundamentalism, Islam has no parallel to the U.S. Protestant Christian movement which opposed modern scientific theory, and which coined the term in 1920 to designate those “doing battle royal for the fundamentals.” Rather Islam has from its birth stressed the use of reason and logic.

Islamic law is based upon the Quran, examples and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, analogical deduction, consensus among the learned, and individual reasoning. When the Prophet’s contemporaries heard the words islam and muslim, they understood them as denoting man’s “self-surrender to God” and “one who surrenders himself to God,” without limiting himself to any specific community or denomination, eg. in the Quran, 3:67, where Abraham is spoken of as having “surrendered himself unto God” (kana musliman), or in 3:52 where the disciples of Jesus say, “Bear thou witness that we have surrendered ourselves unto God (bianna musliman).” In Arabic, this original meaning has remained unimpaired.

Absent a generally accepted definition, the label Islamic fundamentalism serves only to obscure issues, rather than to resolve them. Meanwhile, the Christian Coalition, and the Zionists and their biblical claim to Palestine appear fundamentalist to many, yet both are courted by U.S. politicians, and not viewed as a threat.

One can go on eliminating Western arguments against Islam and Muslims. Eventually, one has to ask, what then is the source of the West’s fear of Islam and Muslims?

The late Marshall G. S. Hodgson, in Rethinking World History, states: “[Islam’s] conscious hopes for a godly world order represent one of the most remarkable undertakings in world history and because its less self-conscious general cultural heritage is laden with human values.” Muslims see the West beset with broken families, violent crime, drugs. They see a society divided by race, religion, and huge disparities in income. They long for a peaceful life in which they may provide for the basic needs of their families, and enjoy the respect due to all mankind regardless of their race, religion, position, or wealth.

These Muslims see their goals for a more just and compassionate society thwarted by a corrupt Muslim elite who pursue wealth and power regardless of the cost to their fellow human beings. They see these elites, who govern not by consensus as Islam prescribes, permitting outside powers to exploit their country while they derive few benefits, and find themselves subordinated by Western influences driving them down the troubled road taken by the West. They see few opportunities to earn a living because most opportunities are withheld for the elites and their sycophants. And they see these elites remaining silent when their faith, which offers solutions to the many social problems that plague the West, is denigrated in the propaganda which serves to maintain these elites.

The Muslim elites’ allies are the defense establishment and the neoimperialists. Islam’s mandate for justice and compassion opposes the primary objective of these neoimperialists who seek to follow policies outlined in 1948 by “the leading dove and peace prize winner” Mr. George Kennan, for the U.S. Department of State. In his top secret Policy Planning Study 23 Mr. Kennan stated in part: “. . .we have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population . . . Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity . . . To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality . . . We should cease to talk about vague and . . . unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization.”

To avoid exposure these neoimperialists and their allies in the U.S. defense establishment, spurred by the enemy within, divert attention by demonizing Islam and Muslims, thereby fanning the fires of bigotry and raising unrealistic fears among the people of the West.

Courtesy : The Wisdom Fund