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Pakistan’s gray-listing in FATF blows to Pak-US exacerbating relations

By Ahmed Khan

In 1980, the G-7 countries formed an intra-governmental body is called the Financialpic_1519466065 Action Task Force (FATF). This discussed forum objectives are control money laundering and financing to terrorist organizations. The FATF is therefore “Policy making body” which works to bring about legislative and regulatory reforms among member countries.

Since its creation FATF has led the efforts to approve and implement policies shaped to combat the use of financial system by criminals. In various periods it presented recommendations; in 1990, revised in 1996 and in 2003 to ensure the suspension of money laundering and develop relevant measures for curbing this threat. This union also sets out the framework for anti-money laundering exertions and it shows determination the policies application against money laundering, globally.

The FATF has not defined tight constitution yet. And this also has not established any set of code for its future. The Task Force reviews periodically its mission.

The FATF latest mandate was set in 2004-2012, through this it reviews a mid-term and this was approved and revised in April 2008 by Ministerial meeting of member countries.

During 1991 and 1992, the FATF expanded its membership from basic 16 to 28. In 2000 the FATF expanded to 31 members, and has since expanded to its current 36 members.

Originally, the Group of Seven (G-7); Industrial Countries comprising on Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States of America have developed the FATF. These mentioned countries have great influence on world politics, presently.

The America and Afghan government have allowed the India for free trade in Afghanistan; consequently, the India has occupied entire Afghan trade market and Pakistan is incompetence regarding this. Before Islamists were ruling on Afghanistan, so it was like fifth province of Pakistan and India could not penetrate in this country.

In war on terror which was focused on Talban, the Pak-US were ally, but when Pakistan felt slipping out the Afghan market from its hands, then changed its priorities. Pakistan fought against bad Talban but has not let patronization of good Talban which are its assets. Through good Talban or Jihadists Pakistan deters India in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Presently, the US’s demand is abolishment of these fomented assets, and Pakistan seems reluctant about this.

History tells, the US ever enjoyed support of Pak army but now defiance is not affordable to it. The US is not ready to get infighting with Talban directly because in case it faces heavy fatalities of soldiers, therefore, it has adopted the policy of ‘carrot and stick’ about Pakistan, intentionally avail Pak army in this long-lasting battle.

The US has stopped its Coalition Fund Assistance to Pakistan, removed non-NATO status and now put it on gray-list of Financial Action Task Force – FATF plenary in February 2018. After June 2018, may Pakistan be listed in black list of FATF and it will be ranked with North Korea and Iran. The gray-listing of Pakistan in FATF plenary is another blow to Pak-US exacerbating relations.

The analysts have forecasted that the gray-listing of Pakistan will squeeze its economy and in future it will face harder to meet mounting foreign financing needs, including potential borrowing from the International Monitory Fund. Further analysts forecasted that gray-listing could cause to a downgrade in Pakistan’s debt ratings, making it more difficult to tap into the international bond market.

The financial analyst also predicted that gray-listing in FATF will cause the Pakistan suffer a risk downgrade by multilateral lenders such as World Bank, Asian Development Bank, International Monitory Fund. As a result, the country stock exchange is expected to fall sizably and China take advantage of the economic situation by expanding investment footprint. Being in “gray-list” means that accessing funds from international markets, for instance, would become tougher for Pakistan. In such situations only option will be China and its interest rate on loans is highest in world. In other way, the China will loot the Pakistan’s minerals on very low rates because of struck in muddle.

Pakistan was removed from FATF in 2015 after three years but its inaction put it back in the grey list with fear of being put in the black list in June. Some global financial institutions would be wary of transacting with Pakistani banks and some might want to even avoid Pakistan altogether, viewing the legal risks associated with doing business there far outweigh economic benefits, if any.

The gray-listing in FATF would cause a decline in foreign transactions foreign currency inflows could lead to further widening of Pakistan’s already account deficit. Pakistani economy had to be bailed out by the IMF in 2013. The financial sector might take a hit as Standard Charter, the largest international bank in Pakistan with 116 branches, as well as Citi Bank and Deutsche Bank, which mostly deal with corporate clients might decide to pullout.

Amid intense pressure from global regulators to guard against money laundering and terrorist financing, banks have been retreating from high-risk countries in recent years. The level of due diligence by banks already high in countries as Pakistan, but after the listing, banks may have to reassess the vulnerability in Pakistan.

It is also noteworthy that friends countries like China and Saudi Arab also did not support Pakistan to exclude FATF’s gray-listing. Perhaps these countries will manipulate over the Pakistan when it is in dilemma. The said countries already are enjoying the resources of Pakistan and benefiting from its army on high level in very low return.

The US demands are increasing one to next from Pakistan. The gray-listing in FATF is deficit for Pakistan but destroying the Haqqani Network and other assets is also not bearable to it. In suppose, Pakistan breaks Haqqani Network, then next US demand will be extermination of Lashkar-e-Tayaba, and this series will be continued to next.

The Pakistani authorities, like Miftah Ismail the Prime Minister’s Financial Advisor told media that the gray-listing in FATF will not affect substantially to Pakistan. In fact, such impressions do not seem true, because country already is suffering from financial crises and its currency is more devaluing. Beside this, the trade volume with Afghanistan has shrunk to half and this market has occupied by India due to great subsidies.

Now Pakistan is to review its internal and external policies. This time reliant foreign policy on any country including China would not be applicable. The current leaned foreign policy on superpowers is core reason of country on national and international level malign and its prevalence in future will create serious threats for sovereignty of country.

China woos Pakistan militants to secure Belt and Road projects

Beijing in talks with tribal separatists in Baluchistan to protect $60bn investment

Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad and Kiran Stacey in New Delhi

China has been quietly holding talks with Pakistani tribal separatists for more than five1171552-cr-1472448747-637-640x480 years in an effort to protect the $60bn worth of infrastructure projects it is financing as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Three people with knowledge of the talks told the Financial Times that Beijing had been in direct contact with militants in the south-western state of Baluchistan, where many of the scheme’s most important projects are located.

For more than half a century, Beijing has maintained a policy of non-interference in the domestic politics of other countries. But that has been tested by its desire to protect the billions of dollars it is investing around the world under its Belt and Road Initiative to create a “new Silk Road” of trade routes in Europe, Asia and Africa.

In Pakistan, Beijing appears keen to fill the void left by Washington, which has drifted from its former ally after becoming frustrated at Islamabad’s failure to tackle extremism. Beijing’s willingness to get involved in Pakistani politics has fuelled concerns in New Delhi, which is worried about China’s growing political influence in neighbouring countries, including Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

“The Chinese have quietly made a lot of progress,” said one Pakistani official. “Even though separatists occasionally try to carry out the odd attack, they are not making a forceful push.”

As it seeks to boost the Chinese economy, China’s plans for a new Silk Road has pitched Beijing into some of the world’s most complex conflict zones.

Chinese peacekeepers are already in South Sudan, where Beijing has invested in oilfields and is planning to build a rail line. China has also contributed troops to a UN peacekeeping operation in Mali and even talked about launching attacks against Isis in Iraq, where it has been the largest foreign investor in the country’s oil sector Pakistan, which is set to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the infrastructure initiative, is one of the riskiest parts of the world in which to do business. Last year 10 local workers were killed by unidentified gunmen while working near Gwadar port, the linchpin of the economic corridor.

Some have warned that China’s investment could lead to Pakistan being treated like a client state by Beijing, despite promises that Chinese troops would not be stationed there.

“The Belt and Road Initiative is portrayed as an economic project to boost infrastructure and connectivity but, increasingly, it has significant local political and strategic dimensions,” said Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Pakistani officials, however, have welcomed the talks between Baluch rebels and Chinese envoys, even if they do not know the details of what has been discussed. “Ultimately, if there’s peace in Baluchistan, that will benefit both of us,” said one official in Islamabad.

Another said the recent decision by the US to suspend security assistance to Pakistan had convinced many in Islamabad that China was a more genuine partner. “[The Chinese] are here to stay and help Pakistan, unlike the Americans, who cannot be trusted,” the person said.

Pakistan is planning to buy Chinese military helicopters and components for surveillance drones as part of its plan to fortify its border with Afghanistan with a 2,600km-long fence.

Chinese officials did not comment on the talks, though the Chinese ambassador to Islamabad said in a recent interview with the BBC that militants in Baluchistan were no longer a threat to the economic corridor.

One provincial tribal leader said many young men had been persuaded to lay down their weapons by the promise of financial benefits. “Today, young men are not getting attracted to join the insurgents as they did some 10 years ago,” he said. “Many people see prosperity” as a result of the China-Pakistan corridor, he said.

Pulished in Financial Times

Saudi Arabia to open luxury beach resort where women can wear bikinis

By Raf Sanchez

Saudi Arabia’s new heir to the throne has announced plans for a beach resort whereScene from a public beach near the famous Corniche in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia special laws will allow women to wear bikinis instead of covering up their skin.

As part of his drive to modernize the Saudi economy, Prince Mohammed bin Salman has unveiled plans for a luxury Red Sea resort on a stretch of coast line in the country’s northwest.

Knowing that foreign visitors are unlikely to come to beaches where women are forced to cover up in an abaya – a robe-like dress – the government said the resort will be “governed by laws on par with international standards”.

Saudi Arabia’s own laws on women are among the most repressive in the world, with women banned from driving and unable to travel without permission from a male relative.

Women are expected to cover their skin and hair when they are outside, although the laws are not uniformly enforced. Last month, a young woman was arrested for wearing a miniskirt in an abandoned village.

Alcohol is banned under Saudi law and it is not clear if it will be allowed on the resort.

Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund described the project as an “exquisite luxury resort destination established across 50 untouched natural islands”.

“The Red Sea project will be a luxury resort destination situated across the islands of a lagoon and steeped in nature and culture.

“It will set new standards for sustainable development and bring about the next generation of luxury travel to put Saudi Arabia on the international tourism map,” the fund said.

Construction is set to begin in 2019 and the first phase of the project will be completed by 2022, according to the announcement. It hopes to host a million visitors a year by 2035.

The Red Sea project is part of Prince Mohammed’s Vision 2030 – a plan to diversify the Saudi economy and wean it off its dependence on oil.

Some foreign investors have applauded the young prince, who is often referred to by his initials “MbS”, but others have said the plan is unlikely to succeed.

Saudi Arabia may seen an opening in the tourism market as neighbouring Egypt struggles to convince foreigners that its own Red Sea resorts are safe.

The Egyptian holiday area has been wracked by a number of attacks in recent years, including the bombing of a Russian airliner that took off from Sharm el-Sheikh. Visitor numbers have slumped as a result.

The Saudi statement stressed that the project “will be an extremely safe and secure environment that will ensure the protection of all visitors in accordance with the highest international best practice”.

Most foreigners will be able to fly straight into the tourism zone without a visa, another easing of Saudi law designed to make the resort more attractive.

Prince Mohammed was elevated to the role of crown prince in June after his cousin, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, was stripped of the role.

Prince Mohammed is the son of the current king, Salman, and already has broad authority over the kingdom’s economy as well as its defence and foreign policies.

A spokesman for the public investment fund did not respond to a request for comment.

Courtesy to The Telegraph

US want military-to-military relationship with Pakistan: Gen Joseph

Bolan Voice Report

A top US general state appear in international media through that he has totally dismissed the impression that the United States and Pakistan were on a collision course, saying they valued the military-to-military relationship with Pakistan.

Gen Joseph Votel — who as head of the Central Command is responsible for all US military operations in the Pakistan-Afghan region — told a congressional panel on Tuesday that the US had preserved the valuable military-to-military relationship with Pakistan and attempted to increase transparency and communication with military leaders.

In doing so, the US continues to press its serious concerns about Pakistan’s alleged provision of sanctuary and support to militant and terrorist groups that target US personnel and interests, he added.

“Achieving long-term stability in Afghanistan and defeating the insurgency will be difficult without Pakistan’s support and assistance,” said Gen Votel while explaining why he believed maintaining this military-to-military relationship was important.

The US commander pointed out that the military had recently seen some “positive indicators” from Pakistan, which led to believe that Islamabad was becoming more responsive to US concerns about alleged militant safe havens in the country.

“Recently, we have started to see an increase in communication, information sharing, and actions on the ground in response to our specific requests — these are positive indicators,” Gen Votel told the House Armed Services Committee.

However, he said, Pakistan had not yet made a strategic shift, which could satisfy Washington. “Ongoing national counterterrorism efforts against anti-Pakistan militants throughout the country have not yet translated into the definitive actions we require Pakistan to take against Afghan Taliban or Haqqani leaders,” he added.

Gen Votel also told the committee that the “enduring tension between the nuclear powers of India and Pakistan remains unreconciled” and militants operating out of remote areas in Pakistan continue to threaten Afghanistan and India.

He said the Afghan problem was “compounded by increasing cross-border terrorist attacks and fires between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” which hinders both countries’ abilities to coordinate on border security.

Stephen Hawking, Who Examined the Universe and Explained Black Holes, Dies at 76

A physicist and best-selling author, Dr. Hawking did not allow his physical limitations to hinder his quest to answer “the big question: Where did the universe come from?”

By DENNIS OVERBYE

Stephen W. Hawking, the Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who hawking-obit-web-1-master675roamed the cosmos from a wheelchair, pondering the nature of gravity and the origin of the universe and becoming an emblem of human determination and curiosity, died early at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76.

His death was confirmed by a spokesman for Cambridge University.

“Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world,” Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, said in an interview.

Dr. Hawking did that largely through his book ”A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,” published in 1988. It has sold more than 10 million copies and inspired a documentary film by Errol Morris. The 2014 film about his life, “The Theory of Everything,” was nominated for several Academy Awards and Eddie Redmayne, who played Dr. Hawking, won the Oscar for best actor.

Scientifically, Dr. Hawking will be best remembered for a discovery so strange that it might be expressed in the form of a Zen koan: When is a black hole not black? When it explodes.

What is equally amazing is that he had a career at all. As a graduate student in 1963, he learned he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neuromuscular wasting disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was given only a few years to live.

The disease reduced his bodily control to the flexing of a finger and voluntary eye movements but left his mental faculties untouched.

He went on to become his generation’s leader in exploring gravity and the properties of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits so deep and dense that not even light can escape them.

That work led to a turning point in modern physics, playing itself out in the closing months of 1973 on the walls of his brain when Dr. Hawking set out to apply quantum theory, the weird laws that govern subatomic reality, to black holes. In a long and daunting calculation, Dr. Hawking discovered to his befuddlement that black holes — those mythological avatars of cosmic doom — were not really black at all. In fact, he found, they would eventually fizzle, leaking radiation and particles, and finally explode and disappear over the eons.

Nobody, including Dr. Hawking, believed it at first — that particles could be coming out of a black hole. “I wasn’t looking for them at all,” he recalled in an interview in 1978. “I merely tripped over them. I was rather annoyed.”

That calculation, in a thesis published in 1974 in the journal Nature under the title ”Black Hole Explosions?,” is hailed by scientists as the first great landmark in the struggle to find a single theory of nature — to connect gravity and quantum mechanics, those warring descriptions of the large and the small, to explain a universe that seems stranger than anybody had thought.

The discovery of Hawking radiation, as it is known, turned black holes upside down. It transformed them from destroyers to creators — or at least to recyclers — and wrenched the dream of a final theory in a strange, new direction.

“You can ask what will happen to someone who jumps into a black hole,” Dr. Hawking said in an interview in 1978. “I certainly don’t think he will survive it.

“On the other hand,” he added, “if we send someone off to jump into a black hole, neither he nor his constituent atoms will come back, but his mass energy will come back. Maybe that applies to the whole universe.”

Dennis W. Sciama, a cosmologist and Dr. Hawking’s thesis adviser at Cambridge, called Hawking’s thesis in Nature “the most beautiful paper in the history of physics.”

Edward Witten, a theorist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, said: “Trying to understand Hawking’s discovery better has been a source of much fresh thinking for almost 40 years now, and we are probably still far from fully coming to grips with it. It still feels new.”

In 2002, Dr. Hawking said he wanted the formula for Hawking radiation to be engraved on his tombstone.

He was a man who pushed the limits — in his intellectual life, to be sure, but also in his professional and personal lives. He traveled the globe to scientific meetings, visiting every continent, including Antarctica; wrote best-selling books about his work; married twice; fathered three children; and was not above appearing on “The Simpsons,” ”Star Trek: The Next Generation” or ”The Big Bang Theory.”

He celebrated his 60th birthday by going up in a hot-air balloon. The same week, he also crashed his electric-powered wheelchair while speeding around a corner in Cambridge, breaking his leg.

hawking-obit-web-2-superJumboIn April 2007, a few months after his 65th birthday, he took part in a zero-gravity flight aboard a specially equipped Boeing 727, a padded aircraft that flies a roller-coaster trajectory to produce fleeting periods of weightlessness. It was a prelude to a hoped-for trip to space with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic company aboard SpaceShipTwo.

Asked why he took such risks, Dr. Hawking said, “I want to show that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit.”

His own spirit left many in awe.

“What a triumph his life has been,” said Martin Rees, a Cambridge University cosmologist, the astronomer royal of Britain and Dr. Hawking’s longtime colleague. “His name will live in the annals of science; millions have had their cosmic horizons widened by his best-selling books; and even more, around the world, have been inspired by a unique example of achievement against all the odds — a manifestation of amazing willpower and determination.”

Stephen William Hawking was born in Oxford, England, on Jan. 8, 1942 — 300 years to the day, he liked to point out, after the death of Galileo, who had begun the study of gravity. His mother, the former Isobel Walker, had gone to Oxford to avoid the bombs that fell nightly during the Blitz of London. His father, Frank Hawking, was a prominent research biologist.

The oldest of four children, Stephen was a mediocre student at St. Albans School in London, though his innate brilliance was recognized by some classmates and teachers.

Later, at University College, Oxford, he found his studies in mathematics and physics so easy that he rarely consulted a book or took notes. He got by with a thousand hours of work in three years, or one hour a day, he estimated. “Nothing seemed worth making an effort for,” he said.

The only subject he found exciting was cosmology because, he said, it dealt with “the big question: Where did the universe come from?”

Upon graduation, he moved to Cambridge. Before he could begin his research, however, he was stricken by what his research adviser, Dr. Sciama, came to call “that terrible thing.”

The young Hawking had been experiencing occasional weakness and falling spells for several years. Shortly after his 21st birthday, in 1963, doctors told him that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. They gave him less than three years to live.

His first response was severe depression. He dreamed he was going to be executed, he said. Then, against all odds, the disease appeared to stabilize. Though he was slowly losing control of his muscles, he was still able to walk short distances and perform simple tasks, though laboriously, like dressing and undressing. He felt a new sense of purpose.

“When you are faced with the possibility of an early death,” he recalled, “it makes you realize that life is worth living and that there are a lot of things you want to do.”

In 1965, he married Jane Wilde, a student of linguistics. Now, by his own account, he not only had “something to live for”; he also had to find a job, which gave him an incentive to work seriously toward his doctorate.

His illness, however, had robbed him of the ability to write down the long chains of equations that are the tools of the cosmologist’s trade. Characteristically, he turned this handicap into a strength, gathering his energies for daring leaps of thought, which, in his later years, he often left for others to codify in proper mathematical language.

“People have the mistaken impression that mathematics is just equations,” Dr. Hawking said. “In fact, equations are just the boring part of mathematics.”

By necessity, he concentrated on problems that could be attacked through “pictures and diagrams,” adopting geometric techniques that had been devised in the early 1960s by the mathematician Roger Penrose and a fellow Cambridge colleague, Brandon Carter, to study general relativity, Einstein’s theory of gravity.

Black holes are a natural prediction of that theory, which explains how mass and energy “curve” space, the way a sleeping person causes a mattress to sag. Light rays will bend as they traverse a gravitational field, just as a marble rolling on the sagging mattress will follow an arc around the sleeper.

Too much mass or energy in one spot could cause space to sag without end; an object that was dense enough, like a massive collapsing star, could wrap space around itself like a magician’s cloak and disappear, shrinking inside to a point of infinite density called a singularity, a cosmic dead end, where the known laws of physics would break down: a black hole.

Einstein himself thought this was absurd when the possibility was pointed out to him.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope and other sophisticated tools of observation and analysis, however, astronomers have identified hundreds of objects that are too massive and dark to be anything but black holes, including a supermassive one at the center of the Milky Way. According to current theory, the universe should contain billions more.

As part of his Ph.D. thesis in 1966, Dr. Hawking showed that when you ran the film of the expanding universe backward, you would find that such a singularity had to have existed sometime in cosmic history; space and time, that is, must have had a beginning. He, Dr. Penrose and a rotating cast of colleagues went on to publish a series of theorems about the behavior of black holes and the dire fate of anything caught in them.

Dr. Hawking’s signature breakthrough resulted from a feud with the Israeli theoretical physicist Jacob Bekenstein, then a Princeton graduate student, about whether black holes could be said to have entropy, a thermodynamic measure of disorder. Dr. Bekenstein said they could, pointing out a close analogy between the laws that Dr. Hawking and his colleagues had derived for black holes and the laws of thermodynamics.

Dr. Hawking said no. To have entropy, a black hole would have to have a temperature. But warm objects, from a forehead to a star, radiate a mixture of electromagnetic radiation, depending on their exact temperatures. Nothing could escape a black hole, and so its temperature had to be zero. “I was very down on Bekenstein,” Dr. Hawking recalled.

To settle the question, Dr. Hawking decided to investigate the properties of atom-size black holes. This, however, required adding quantum mechanics, the paradoxical rules of the atomic and subatomic world, to gravity, a feat that had never been accomplished. Friends turned the pages of quantum theory textbooks as Dr. Hawking sat motionless staring at them for months. They wondered if he was finally in over his head.

When he eventually succeeded in doing the calculation in his head, it indicated to his surprise that particles and radiation were spewing out of black holes. Dr. Hawking became convinced that his calculation was correct when he realized that the outgoing radiation would have a thermal spectrum characteristic of the heat radiated by any warm body, from a star to a fevered forehead. Dr. Bekenstein had been right.

Dr. Hawking even figured out a way to explain how particles might escape a black hole. According to quantum principles, the space near a black hole would be teeming with “virtual” particles that would flash into existence in matched particle-and-antiparticle pairs — like electrons and their evil twin opposites, positrons — out of energy borrowed from the hole’s intense gravitational field.

They would then meet and annihilate each other in a flash of energy, repaying the debt for their brief existence. But if one of the pair fell into the black hole, the other one would be free to wander away and become real. It would appear to be coming from the black hole and taking energy away from it.

But those, he cautioned, were just words. The truth was in the math.

“The most important thing about Hawking radiation is that it shows that the black hole is not cut off from the rest of the universe,” Dr. Hawking said.

It also meant that black holes had a temperature and had entropy. In thermodynamics, entropy is a measure of wasted heat. But it is also a measure of the amount of information — the number of bits — needed to describe what is in a black hole. Curiously, the number of bits is proportional to the black hole’s surface area, not its volume, meaning that the amount of information you could stuff into a black hole is limited by its area, not, as one might naïvely think, its volume.

That result has become a litmus test for string theory and other pretenders to a theory of quantum gravity. It has also led to speculations that we live in a holographic universe, in which three-dimensional space is some kind of illusion.

Andrew Strominger, a Harvard string theorist, said of the holographic theory, “If it’s really true, it’s a deep and beautiful property of our universe — but not an obvious one.”

The discovery of black hole radiation also led to a 30-year controversy over the fate of things that had fallen into a black hole.

Dr. Hawking initially said that detailed information about whatever had fallen in would be lost forever because the particles coming out would be completely random, erasing whatever patterns had been present when they first fell in. Paraphrasing Einstein’s complaint about the randomness inherent in quantum mechanics, Dr. Hawking said, “God not only plays dice with the universe, but sometimes throws them where they can’t be seen.”

Many particle physicists protested that this violated a tenet of quantum physics, which says that knowledge is always preserved and can be retrieved. Leonard Susskind, a Stanford physicist who carried on the argument for decades, said, “Stephen correctly understood that if this was true, it would lead to the downfall of much of 20th-century physics.”

On another occasion, he characterized Dr. Hawking to his face as “one of the most obstinate people in the world; no, he is the most infuriating person in the universe.” Dr. Hawking grinned.

Dr. Hawking admitted defeat in 2004. Whatever information goes into a black hole will come back out when it explodes. One consequence, he noted sadly, was that one could not use black holes to escape to another universe. “I’m sorry to disappoint science fiction fans,” he said.

Despite his concession, however, the information paradox, as it is known, has become one of the hottest and deepest topics in theoretical physics. Physicists say they still do not know how information gets in or out of black holes.

Raphael Bousso of the University of California, Berkeley, and a former student of Dr. Hawking’s, said the present debate had raised “by another few notches” his estimation of the “stupendous magnitude” of Dr. Hawking’s original discovery.

In 1974, Dr. Hawking was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the world’s oldest scientific organization; in 1982, he was appointed to the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge, a post once held by Isaac Newton. “They say it’s Newton’s chair, but obviously it’s been changed,” he liked to quip.

Dr. Hawking also made yearly visits to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, which became like a second home. In 2008, he joined the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, as a visiting researcher.

Having conquered black holes, Dr. Hawking set his sights on the origin of the universe and on eliminating that pesky singularity at the beginning of time from models of cosmology. If the laws of physics could break down there, they could break down everywhere.

In a meeting at the Vatican in 1982, he suggested that in the final theory there should be no place or time when the laws broke down, even at the beginning. He called the notion the “no boundary” proposal.

With James Hartle of the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, Calif., Dr. Hawking envisioned the history of the universe as a sphere like the Earth. Cosmic time corresponds to latitude, starting with zero at the North Pole and progressing southward.

Although time started there, the North Pole was nothing special; the same laws applied there as everywhere else. Asking what happened before the Big Bang, Dr. Hawking said, was like asking what was a mile north of the North Pole — it was not any place, or any time.

By then string theory, which claimed finally to explain both gravity and the other forces and particles of nature as tiny microscopically vibrating strings, like notes on a violin, was the leading candidate for a “theory of everything.”

In “A Brief History of Time,” Dr. Hawking concluded that “if we do discover a complete theory” of the universe, “it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists.”

He added, “Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of why it is that we and the universe exist.”

“If we find the answer to that,” he continued, “it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we would know the mind of God.”

Until 1974, Dr. Hawking was still able to feed himself and to get in and out of bed. At Jane’s insistence, he would drag himself, hand over hand, up the stairs to the bedroom in his Cambridge home every night, in an effort to preserve his remaining muscle tone. After 1980, care was supplemented by nurses.

Dr. Hawking retained some control over his speech up to 1985. But on a trip to Switzerland, he came down with pneumonia. The doctors asked Jane if she wanted his life support turned off, but she said no. To save his life, doctors inserted a breathing tube. He survived, but his voice was permanently silenced.

It appeared for a time that he would be able to communicate only by pointing at individual letters on an alphabet board. But when a computer expert, Walter Woltosz, heard about Dr. Hawking’s condition, he offered him a program he had written called Equalizer. By clicking a switch with his still-functioning fingers, Dr. Hawking was able to browse through menus that contained all the letters and more than 2,500 words.

Word by word — and when necessary, letter by letter — he could build up sentences on the computer screen and send them to a speech synthesizer that vocalized for him. The entire apparatus was fitted to his motorized wheelchair.

Even when too weak to move a finger, he communicated through the computer by way of an infrared beam, which he activated by twitching his right cheek or blinking his eye. The system was expanded to allow him to open and close the doors in his office and to use the telephone and internet without aid.

Although he averaged fewer than 15 words per minute, Dr. Hawking found he could speak through the computer better than he had before losing his voice. His only complaint, he confided, was that the speech synthesizer, manufactured in California, had given him an American accent.

His decision to write “A Brief History of Time” was prompted, he said, by a desire to share his excitement about “the discoveries that have been made about the universe” with “the public that paid for the research.” He wanted to make the ideas so accessible that the book would be sold in airports.

He also hoped to earn enough money to pay for his children’s education. He did. The book’s extraordinary success made him wealthy, a hero to disabled people everywhere and even more famous.

The news media followed his movements and activities over the years, from visiting the White House to meeting the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, and reported his opinions on everything from national health care (socialized medicine in England had kept him alive) to communicating with extraterrestrials (maybe not a good idea, he said), as if he were a rolling Delphic Oracle.

Asked by New Scientist magazine what he thought about most, Dr. Hawking answered: “Women. They are a complete mystery.”

In 1990, Dr. Hawking and his wife separated after 25 years of marriage; Jane Hawking wrote about their years together in two books, “Music to Move the Stars: A Life With Stephen Hawking” and “Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen.” The latter became the basis of the 2014 movie ”The Theory of Everything.”

In 1995, he married Elaine Mason, a nurse who had cared for him since his bout of pneumonia. She had been married to David Mason, the engineer who had attached Dr. Hawking’s speech synthesizer to his wheelchair.

In 2004, British newspapers reported that the Cambridge police were investigating allegations that Elaine had abused Dr. Hawking, but no charges were filed, and Dr. Hawking denied the accusations. They agreed to divorce in 2006.

A complete list of survivors was not immediately available, but on Wednesday morning, his children, Robert, Lucy and Tim, released the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”

Among his many honors, Dr. Hawking was named a commander of the British Empire in 1982. In the summer of 2012, he had a star role in the opening of the Paralympics Games in London. The only thing lacking was the Nobel Prize, and his explanation for this was characteristically pithy: “The Nobel is given only for theoretical work that has been confirmed by observation. It is very, very difficult to observe the things I have worked on.”

Dr. Hawking was a strong advocate of space exploration, saying it was essential to the long-term survival of the human race. “Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of,” he told an audience in Hong Kong in 2007.

Nothing raised as much furor, however, as his increasingly scathing remarks about religion. One attraction of the no-boundary proposal for Dr. Hawking was that there was no need to appeal to anything outside the universe, like God, to explain how it began.

In “A Brief History of Time,” he had referred to the “mind of God,” but in “The Grand Design,” a 2011 book he wrote with Leonard Mlodinow, he was more bleak about religion. “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper,” he wrote, referring to the British term for a firecracker fuse, “and set the universe going.”

He went further in an interview that year in The Guardian, saying: “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

Having spent the best part of his life grappling with black holes and cosmic doom, Dr. Hawking had no fear of the dark.

“They’re named black holes because they are related to human fears of being destroyed or gobbled up,” he once told an interviewer. “I don’t have fears of being thrown into them. I understand them. I feel in a sense that I am their master.”

Published in NYTimes

The American neo-colonialism and corporatocracy

By Kamran Razzaq

No doubt, Washington eschews imperialistic policies since the day of its inception. As the imagesnew world order emerged eradicating the concept of bipolarism it further convoluted the rules of the game. After the end of cold war there is only a single super power “the USA”. Now the Red Revolutionary Socialist USSR exists no more.

But the question is how does Washington advances its credentials of global imperialism? What strategies and methodologies does it bring in use to subjugate weaker nations? How does it exploit the natural resources-oil and gas- at the cost of harm provided to the interests of host nation, as a part of great game?

Before the WW-II, the American use of military might against weaker nations was their popular tool of colonialism. But with the end of war, the international scenario totally changed. The last US-manoeuvred coup led to the toppling of democratically elected Iranian president Muhammad Musaddag, in late 1950s. The history tells us that Musaddag wanted to nationalize the Iranian oil, and it was not in the interests of then exploring their oil giant i.e. British Petroleum (BP). So as a result, US brought Muhammad Raza Shah Pahlavi on the throne to help cash American interests. It all happened with the direct involvement and patronage from CIA. Kermit Roosevelt –a relative of Theodore Rosevale-himself was present on the ground, having led the campaign. However, the Cuba in 1950s portrays a similar picture of US military adventurism but that is totally a different story. From the Iranian- orchestrated coup, US learned a new lesson; instead 0f taking its national interests at risk by its direct involvement, why not better use the clutches of multi-national corporations as Trojan horses.

No need to say that, there always exists a cozy affiliation of the multi-national companies with the relative working governments. Even theses business corporations play an important role in the policy formulation of a state. The new tactics of colonialism were to be applied in Latin American states viz. Panama and Ecuador.

The Panama of Torrijos is a case in point. After the Colombian and French dominion over the region surrounding Panama Canal, US continued to control it until 1977, Torrijos-Carter treaties. Later the Panama Canal issue became the bone of contention between US and Panama state. Furthermore, Torrijos wanted a political negotiation between the Latin American states and the leftist guerilla fighters.

Actually, Torrijos was endeavoring to bring a permanent peace in the region by political settlements. But it was opposed to US policies. The Americans rather focused on a military solution of the Marxist Revolutionary issue.

Washington opted to eliminate leftist guerilla forces by military adventurism and Torrijos was an an existing threat in her way. So then came the stage, when US carried out the assassination of Torrijos with the help of its CIA jackals, as they had done with Zia-ul-haq in Pakistan.

The Jaime Roldos of Ecuador was also in a bad company with Torrijos, as he intended to revive the hydrocarbon sector, on the other hand Roldos entered into a pact with Peru and Colombia. A pact which president Regan perceived as a tilt toward USSR. These all factors combined were against the American interests, so Roldos too sealed the same fate of assassination in 1981.

The American neo-colonialism follows the Marxism-based economic philosophy of economic-dependency i.e. it proposes an economic system in which wealthy and powerful countries are at the Centre and the poor countries are at the periphery, while the wealthy state extract their wealth by exploiting poor countries. Noam Chomsky in his book “the Washington connection and the third world fascism”, has truly described the American hegemony by its continuous application of doctrines such as capitalism, globalization and cultural imperialism.

Hence, the American supremacy had existed and still exists, but with an iota policy shift in its doctrine of subjugation: transition from colonialism to neo-colonialism.

The writer is a civil engineer, political analyst and a critique.

Rescue on the sea

By ZEENAT HAKIMJEE

Very little has been written about the ancient coastal people of Lyari – the irrepressible 8621123_origMakranis – who take their name from the Makran coast of Sindh and, Balochistan, which also indicates a common history of the two provinces; the Makran coast constitutes the South-East of Iran and the South-West of Pakistan; a 1,000 km stretch along the Gulf of Oman from RA’s (cape) Al-Kuh, Iran (West of Jask), to the Lasbela District of Pakistan (near Karachi). The Makran coast is on the Arabian Sea, to the North-West of Quetta in Balochistan.

The following is a story of one such coastal village:

Children on bare – back camels, watch the sea, its vastness spanning even beyond the grasp of their eyes. Fishermen on the beach watch the sky like the city dwellers read their newspapers first thing in the morning. Through the knots of their nets hanging on the line, they seem to predict the weather. This exercise determines whether they should take a boat out or not on the deep sea, for their daily expedition to catch fish. The air is filled with the smell of rancid water that is due to the deposits of oil, resulting in decayed and dead sea-life. Music, which is a part of their lives, plays in the background. The sounds are a fusion of musical cultures from the Middle East, Indo-Pakistan, and Africa.

The shells on the beach look like the abandoned toenails of the old fishermen, and they are more beautiful there than on the foot. The broken wings, the sand-logged crabs, a woman’s lonely shoe, a rusty toy damaged beyond recognition, the plank or sail from a doomed boat, all lay sprawled on the beach, each with a story behind it, cleaned and sterilized by the salt and iodine in the great hospital of the sea. In the night, the light from the tower was but a spot against the background of the sky and spectacular cliffs.

The weather-beaten villager’s munched dates from the interior while watching holidaymakers trying to teach their children to swim, like fish to water, amidst the shouts and screams of the children who are already submerged in the waters. The steps of the ladies faltered as they approached the sea, clad in shalwar kameezes filled with the wind, the Shalwar Kameez itself a deterrent for swimming.

The story told here is that of a villager who because of his sharp sense of hearing helped in the rescue of a drowning man. The villager was alone and as he had no family to fend for, hence he had no responsibilities to drain his energy. Somehow he had also preserved his youth, which he owed to mother nature. A religion that usually comes into the house with the presence of a woman was lacking in his and he was quite oblivious to it.

One evening when it was well after ten and the moon was full with black clouds scudding in ordered masses across the sky, he was still sitting on his wall, all alone. A cool wind suddenly sighed from an unexpected quarter and in its wake was a noise like that from a distant cavalry charge. His razor sharp ears picked up the sound. His brow creased up as his eyes searched the distance. He hobbled to his neighbor’s house and banged on the door of his traditional mud-hut – the two men, though natural life-guards, knew thoroughly all that was written in the books about the rescue on the seas. The coastal blacks were descendants of imported slaves – the fishermen being known as the Meds and the seamen as the Koras – when there was no response; he banged on the door again. A groggy fellow soon appeared. He pointed towards the horizon and mumbled something in the Makranic dialect. The man’s eyes tried to see beyond the direction of the location being pointed at. A boat in trouble, he thought aloud. Without wasting any time, they woke the other men.

A rule of the sea states, that half the purchase price of the vessel of the sea is given to the rescue party. This prize money was quite a temptation, but since it was always dangerous the case required to be argued, all hands knew that the proposed journey was perilous.

The village women all having gathered on the beach, saw their men disappear, reappear, disappear, reappear and finally disappear into the darkness. They were now a tiny speck in the vast vista of the sea – the ocean that is open to all and merciful to none, that which threatens even when it seems to yield, pitiless always to weakness.

Many of the Makrani women now worked as domestic servants in Karachi; they were also experts in the art of massaging any mother and child after birth. Their traditional long dresses with hand-woven embroidery gave them a distinct ‘folk’ touch, separating them from the typical Karachiites. The skirt-like look, with its wide circumference, and the loose shalwar could be compared to the costumes of the Pathan and Kabuli women.

The men in the rescue boat changed sides, so as not to tip the balance of the boat as the surf-sprayed them from head to toe. The taste of salt lingered in their mouths during the voyage. They were not bothered by their appearance. On the contrary, they felt no different from when they started out dry.

Suddenly, a dark object was thrown at them on the crest of a wave. It was a man. They held on to the poor fellow and eventually succeeded in dragging him aboard. Nobody felt sorry that this time, there was no prize. They rowed back to their village.

Couples fought with each other to offer hospitality to this half dead man, and they almost came to blows in their struggle for this visa to heaven.

They fetched a doctor from a nearby village, while the women sat all around him wearing their beads. The doctor was a Karachiite who had been sent to the village to serve them. The doctor prompted the man to speak. The man said, “Mahganj” very faintly. Repeated attempts, received the same response. The diagnosis stated that he was a victim of a traumatic shock and was suffering from amnesia, which meant a loss of memory, if only temporarily.

The Priest, who was also a member of the village council, was also summoned, as was the case in other similar incidents. “What’s going on here?” he asked one of the ladies. “A miracle,” said all the ladies together. The Makrani women are predominantly Muslim.

The Priest was briefed about the rescue and what followed. Being

an elderly fellow, he recalled that a girl by the name of ‘Mahganj’ had been registered in the mosque some eighteen years ago.

Now, it was easy to put two and two together. The man they found was associated with Mahganj and was discovered as belonging to the same village as hers. He was also supposed to marry her.

Mahganj was the granddaughter of the village tailor. Thus it was decided that the man should be taken back to the same village that he originated from. Similar surroundings would help to revive his memory, it was hoped.

A therapist was hired from the city and surely, slowly though, his memory came back in bits and pieces. Mahganj’s presence always evoked a response in the man, so strong was the bond of love. His memory did eventually return, which in turn led to their marriage. They led a happy married life.

Students protest against controversial entry test on Medical seats

Bolan Voice Report

Balochistan is much underdeveloped in all fields of life including education and Bmc-Hec-Test-1021x580economy, and these sectors are most conspicuous among all. In Balochistan, very few youths are able to devote their time for education and outnumber is engage in labor and other activities to win bread for them and their dependent family members.

Regrettably, this small number of youth who are enthusiastic to get degree in a good profession and be supportive in society, are also hampered with various barricades to desired destination. The present protesting student for Medical Seats in Medical University about Health Sciences and Medical Colleges in province are epitomize of this logic.

A large number of students hailing from different localities in Balochistan are protesting for weeks in front of Quetta Press Club against unfair test conducted by Higher Education Commission (HEC). Students blame that entry test for Medical Sciences University and Medical Colleges of Balochistan was not transparent and during this mismanagement was noticed largely. They also blamed that supervising staff openly had favored some influential candidates, mostly they are relatives of present serving doctors. In this way, the rightful candidates are being dropped deliberately by dominating section in our society. The students argued that Deputy Commissioner in his report duly mentioned that mobile phones were recovered from candidates who were using these in exam room for cheating means. And this proves that test was not transparent.

The protesting students’ demand is annulment of previous test, and this test is to be held again under supervision of authorities honestly. Then deserving and able students will be able to obtain seats in medical field.

Some critics about this issue commented that government official’s actions are merely for showoff against cheating in province but this time they are ignoring the voice by students who are openly demanding for merit and transparency in exams. They further said that first time in Balochistan is observed that students stood against cheating which make this effort some revolutionary in education field. They stressed on government to meet the genuine demand of students and conduct again entry test on Medical seats in honest way that should contend to all.

Provincial high profile politicians and human right activists visited protesting student and showed solidarity with them. Who were informed and provided evidences regarding irregularities in test on medical seats. Weeks long protest is inclusive which indicates senselessness of politician and provincial authorities.

Researchers finally confirm that cancer is a purely man-made disease

Researchers confirm that cancer is a ‘man-made’ disease.

Cancer is such a huge health problem worldwide; it is now estimated that in some parts of the world one in two people will develop cancer at some stage in their life.

There is currently no cure for cancer and as it stands, it is one of the most debilitating and life changing diseases. But the scariest part is that it seems to have come out of nowhere.

Just going back to the 1950’s cancer rates were a fraction of what they are today, people who are old enough to remember will recall cancer being something that was fairly uncommon, highly dangerous and not properly understood.

Now researchers at the University of Manchester have confirmed what doctors have been suspecting – the reason that cancer rates have sky rocketed is that they are a human-borne disease that is being fed year on year.

The team of researchers focused their study on looking at the skeletons of mummified bodies alive thousands of years ago, and they made the groundbreaking discovery that not a single ‘mummy’ dies from cancer, or even had tumors present in their body at time of death.

This result proves that cancer is something that has developed in recent years, tumors being able to develop and grow in our bodies due to the environments we now live in.

Poor diets and lifestyle choices such as having totally sedentary lives, not getting enough exercise and eating way too much processed foods and foods that contain chemicals are all factors that contribute to cancers these days that the Egyptians just weren’t exposed to.

Lead researcher Michael Zimmerman said:

“In an ancient society lacking surgical intervention, evidence of cancer should remain in all cases. The virtual absence of malignancies in mummies must be interpreted as indicating their rarity in antiquity, indicating that cancer-causing factors are limited to societies affected by modern industrialization,”

While Professor Rosalie David noted:

“In industrialized societies, cancer is second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death. But in ancient times, it was extremely rare. There is nothing in the natural environment that can cause cancer. So it has to be a man-made disease, down to pollution and changes to our diet and lifestyle.

The important thing about our study is that it gives a historical perspective to this disease. We can make very clear statements on the cancer rates in societies because we have a full overview. We have looked at millennia, not one hundred years, and have masses of data.

Yet again extensive ancient Egyptian data, along with other data from across the millennia, has given modern society a clear message – cancer is man-made and something that we can and should address.”

Anonhq.com

Francis Fukuyama: China’s ‘bad emperor’ returns

By Francis Fukuyama

Francis Fukuyama is a senior fellow at Stanford University and director of its Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. His book “Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment” will be published in September.

Since 1978, China’s authoritarian political system has been different from virtually all imrsother dictatorships in part because the ruling Communist Party has been subject to rules regarding succession. Term limits for senior leadership have kicked in at regular 10-year intervals three times so far, and the party’s system of cultivating and training new leaders to replace the outgoing ones had allowed it to avoid the stagnation of countries like Egypt, Zimbabwe, Libya or Angola, where presidents ruled for decades.

But all of this is out the window now because of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent announcement that term limits on the presidency will be abolished. This means that he will likely be China’s ruler for the rest of his life, turning at one stroke an institutionalized autocracy into a personal one. This builds upon the massive cult of personality he has been cultivating, with “Xi Jinping Thought” now canonized in the Constitution alongside Chairman Mao.

Clear rules putting limits on the power of any one individual are critical for the success of any political system, democratic or not, because no one individual is ever wise or benevolent enough to rule indefinitely. Succession is therefore a point of weakness of all dictatorships: the lack of rules necessitates a damaging power struggle upon the death of the supreme leader.

A great advantage that China has had over contemporary Russia was precisely in those rules: should Russian President Vladimir Putin drop dead of a heart attack tomorrow, a huge power vacuum would emerge and plunge the country into uncertainty as powerful elites fought one another. But even short of succession, regular leadership turnover means that new ideas and new generations can rejuvenate policy and hold prior leaders accountable to some degree.

The rules that have just been tossed out the window were the result of China’s own painful experience during the Cultural Revolution. The weakness of the country’s traditional authoritarian political system has for centuries been called the “bad emperor” problem. A dictatorship with few checks and balances on executive power, like independent courts, a free media or an elected legislature, can do amazing things when the emperor is good: think of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew during the early years of Singapore’s growth. The downfall of earlier Chinese regimes has been the emergence of a bad emperor, who could plunge the country into terrible crisis since there were no effective limits on his or (as in the case of the Tang Dynasty’s “Evil Empress Wu”) her power.

The last bad emperor that China had was Mao Zedong. Mao liberated the country from foreign occupation but then went on to trigger two enormous catastrophes: the Great Leap Forward starting in the late 1950s and the Cultural Revolution starting in the late 1960s. The latter set China back a generation and scarred the elites who endured it. Collective leadership emerged as a direct reaction to that experience: Deng Xiaoping and other senior leaders of the party vowed that they would never let a single individual accumulate as much charismatic power as Mao.

The opacity of the Chinese system does not allow us to know definitively how or why Xi has been able to consolidate power behind his personal rule. Part of the motive may stem from worries that power has leached out to a number of regional and ministerial barons who have been corrupt and hard to control from the center (like Bo Xilai, former party chief of Chongqing). Another issue may have been resentment from “princelings” (children of high Communist officials) like Xi of the outsiders who were let into the party under Jiang Zemin and his successors.

Another factor is the simple passage of time. As in Eastern Europe, the experience of living through a harsh dictatorship scars individuals and inoculates them from wanting to resurrect the system that allowed this type of unchecked power. As I was once told by a senior party official: “You cannot understand contemporary China if you don’t understand what an utter disaster the Cultural Revolution was.” But the generation of elites that were sent to the countryside in that period are getting older, and the country has not done anything to educate its young people about Mao’s bloody legacy. They can hear songs from that era like “The East Is Red” and imagine that this was a time of greater solidarity and happiness.

The seemingly casual abolition of term limits in China shows why constitutional government is a good thing. The Chinese Constitution is written by the party’s top leadership and does not constrain them. By contrast, Latin America is full of constitutional democracies with judiciaries that are often surprisingly independent. Presidents in Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and elsewhere in the region have tried to extend their terms in office but they actually have to spend political capital to do so, and they have not always been successful.

Former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, for example, hoped to add a third term to his presidency in 2009 but was stymied by the constitutional court, which ruled the extension unconstitutional. He may have done good things for Colombia as president, but the country is much better off with a system that forces even popular presidents to leave office. Last year, Ecuador’s authoritarian President Rafael Correa was similarly forced to step down, and his successor, President Lenín Moreno, has breathed new life into the country’s democracy.

How bad China’s current emperor will be has yet to be determined. So far, he has crushed the hopes of many Chinese for a more open, transparent and liberal society. He has emphasized the party over the country, cracked down on the slightest instances of dissent and instituted a social credit system that uses big data and artificial intelligence to monitor the daily behavior of the country’s citizens. As such, China under Xi may end up showing the world the unimagined forms that a 21st century totalitarian state can take.

Published in Washington Post

This was produced by The WorldPost, a partnership of the Berggruen Institute and The Washington Post. 

How she became Asma

By I.A. Rehman

HER death was the top news in all media outlets. Tributes to her from national and sub-buzz-854-1518345079-1international leaders have been pouring in large numbers. Millions of people across the country, in jhuggis as well as in posh bungalows, are numb with grief because the voice that was unfailingly raised in their support has gone quiet forever. Many at her funeral agreed that she had touched more hearts than any other living Pakistani. How did Asma Jahangir attain this stature?

Quite a few have tried to sum up Asma’s character in a single word such as ‘courage’, ‘commitment’, ‘leadership’, ‘love’ and so on. None of these words fully defines Asma, and even a combination of all of them might be inadequate.

Courage — she was threatened by mail and verbally from many a platform. Some young men scaled the walls of her house with the intention of causing her harm. Shots were fired at her vehicle in Balochistan. She was warned of having been put on the hit list of privileged gunmen. But nothing could deter her from standing up for the people’s rights.

Courage for her did not mean merely absence of the fear of death, it meant essentially an ability to say whatever needed to be said in any situation, on any issue. It meant resistance to oppression, dictatorship and injustice, regardless of the consequences. It also meant determination to stay firmly on course in the struggle for fellow Pakistanis’ entitlements.

Many agree that she touched more hearts than any other living Pakistani.

Commitment — Asma’s reservoir of courage was a measure of her commitment to the causes of the fellow beings she chose to uphold. She fought for Samia’s freedom from an unwanted marriage and for other girls’ right to marry boys of their choice. Journalist Jugnu Mohsin says women in her village tell their husbands to behave otherwise they will seek Asma’s help. She was among the women who defied Zia’s police on the Mall in Lahore in February 1983, and many were the occasions when she stood at the barricades and faced police baton charges while condemning violence against women and lawyers.

While establishing gender justice was her first ideal, she never failed to defend men in distress. She fought for Gilgit-Baltistan’s popular hero, Baba Jan, and also for Okara’s peasant leader, Mehar Sattar, both victims of the abuse of law. She fought for the freedom of bonded workers at Punjab’s brick kilns and in Sindh’s agriculture, and she fought since 2007 till her death for the recovery of ‘missing persons’ and for an end to enforced disappearances.

For the last many years, she had been concentrating on defending the people’s right to democratic governance, rule of law, due process, and protection against illegal detention and torture.

She began rejecting authoritarianism in her teens when her father was thrown in jail for resisting it and had her name entered in Pakistan’s law records as the petitioner in the Asma Jilani case, the only case in the country’s history in which a dictator was declared a usurper. No one in Pakistan has rejected authoritarian rule so firmly and so consistently as Asma Jahangir did. Even when some of the civil society stalwarts were deceived by Pervez Musharraf’s rhetoric, Asma declined to accept authoritarianism under any garb.

Such a strong commitment to defend democracy, even at the risk of being misunderstood by the morality brigade, could come only from an absolute clarity of vision and rejection of halfway houses on the path to democratic freedoms.

As a firm believer in the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession, she was in the vanguard of the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of the judges thrown out by Pervez Musharraf. She was disappointed like the original leaders of the French Revolution at the post-victory behaviour of the young cavaliers and the beneficiaries of the victory. But she did not allow frustration on this account to affect her resolve to do her bit for the Supreme Court Bar Association.

Leadership — many years ago, according to Shahid Kardar, seasoned politician and one of the principal leaders of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Dr Mubashir Hasan, declared that Asma had the qualities of a leader who could put the state back on the rails. This opinion was perhaps based on the way Asma had laid the foundations of HRCP and guided its destiny directly for its first six years and indirectly till the last working day of her life.

Her success lay firstly in persuading, with the help of Munir Malik and the late Sabihuddin Ahmad, the incomparable Justice Dorab Patel to be the HRCP’s first chairperson. And, secondly, in running the commission by consensus without compromising on its principles and its strategy. She also succeeded in bringing into the HRCP a galaxy of jurists, senior lawyers and trade union leaders, from all the four provinces, reflecting the country’s cultural diversity. She did all this while maintaining the commission’s federal and democratic character.

The Supreme Court Bar Association was another institution where Asma demonstrated her leadership qualities. The standards of personal integrity and commitment to fellow lawyers’ welfare she set will be remembered for long. Besides, says a senior colleague and one of the leaders of the Pakistan Bar Council, so long as Asma was there they were sure she would sort out whatever mistakes were made by them.

One of Asma’s greatest services to Pakistan, which is often not recognised, is that as a UN special rapporteur she raised Pakistan’s prestige not only in international councils but also among the people of the countries she visited.

Everybody is saying that the void caused by Asma Jahangir’s passing can never be filled. The gap indeed appears to be hard to bridge. But Asma has left a legacy of hope. Who knows how many from amongst the young men and women she inspired, trained and worked with — women paralegal workers, human rights activists, interns at the legal aid organisation AGHS and HRCP, and young lawyers guided by her — may learn to speak for all the disadvantaged who Asma loved.

Published in Dawn

India occupies Trade Market of Kabul

By Shehzad Baloch

India has succeeded to penetrate in Kabul slashing the market share of Pakistan by more than 50 per cent in the last two years, Chairman Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry Zubair Motiwala told media.

Motiwala who recently visited Kabul said the penetration of India and China has limited Pakistan’s option to retain its market share while India subsidises heavily on its exports. He said Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan fell to $1.2 billion from $2.7bn within in the last two years and the country has been losing even the traditional markets of flour, men and women’s clothes and red meat.

India has been providing goods at subsidised rates to capture the market and are providing air tickets with a 75pc rebate, said Motiwala, adding that Afghans find it easy to travel to India with cheap tickets and free multiple visas without police checks.

Kabul has been the natural market for Pakistani exports but that is changing as cheaper products from China and India flood the country. According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, exports to Afghanistan dropped to $1.271bn in FY17 from $1.437bn in FY16. Exports in the first quarter of 2017-18 stood at $319 million.

Each year thousands of Afghans used to visit Peshawar for medical treatment but now they prefer India due to cheaper treatments and other attractions like concessional treatments. “Medical tourism of Peshawar, which was mainly due to Afghans, is now at zero level; hospitals in Hayatabad are empty,” he continued.

He said Peshawar is the main victim of the declining trade with Afghanistan where people have lost their businesses on a large scale. Out of 200 flour mills, about 100 have been closed down due to a drastic fall in the export of flour to Afghanistan, he added.

He also referred to the decreasing containers’ traffic from Pakistan to Afghanistan. He said 70,000 goods containers were used to pass through between the two countries which has now dropped to just 7,000, reflecting the change of routes for imported goods to Afghans.

Pakistan was the biggest supplier of shalwar qameez suits to Kabul but that too has changed since both India and China are now supplying the readymade suits which are traditionally Pakistani products.

State Bank’s data showed that the imports from Afghanistan increased to $68m in FY17, compared to $40m in FY16.

U.S. Universities: Seeking the Best and Brightest in Pakistan

27 U.S. University Representatives met with thousands of students and their parents across Pakistan to encourage study in the U.S.

Press Release

Representatives from 27 U.S. universities traveled to Pakistan as part of the United Statesimages Educational Foundation in Pakistan’s (USEFP) and Education USA’s effort to facilitate U.S. study opportunities for Pakistani students. This 12th biannual South Asia Spring Tour marks the largest group of U.S. universities to visit Pakistan since USEFP began hosting such events in Spring 2011, including ten that traveled to Pakistan for the first time. During stops to Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad, the representatives participated in college fairs, visited schools and universities, and met with students and their parents to share information regarding admissions, financial aid, and academic programs in the United States.

“We were thrilled with the number of Pakistani students who attended the college fairs and met with representatives from U.S. universities visiting Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore. We strongly encourage Pakistani parents and students to consider the opportunities that a U.S. education represents for graduates.  With more than 4,700 institutions of higher education, the United States has options that fit every career goal and pocketbook. We hope to see more Pakistani students studying in the U.S. and sharing their cultural heritage with their American classmates,” said Arlissa Reynolds, country Cultural Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassy Islamabad.

“The number of U.S. universities represented in this tour continues to grow.  This shows that U.S. universities appreciate how talented and well-prepared students are in Pakistan. They are looking for people with potential and Education USA offices in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi can help such students through the admission process. USEFP is pleased to be able help good students get to their dream of a higher education in the United States.” said USEFP Executive Director Rita Akhtar.

The visiting delegation included representatives from University of La Verne, University of Iowa, University of Colorado-Boulder, St. Cloud State University, California State University, Hiram College, DePaul University, Augustana College, State University of New York-Plattsburgh, Wabash College, Southern New Hampshire University, Winona State University, Kansas State University, Valparaiso University, Western New England University, Western Kentucky University, Creighton University, Colorado State University, Minerva Schools at KGI, University of South Dakota, State University of New York-Buffalo, Northern Kentucky University, Pima Community College, Berkeley College, University of Bridgeport, Stony Brook University and Merrimack College.

About Education USA:

Education USA, with its global network of over 400 advising centers, is the U.S. Government office responsible for providing information on study in the United States. Education USA offers free advice and assistance to students interested in applying to or learning about U.S. colleges and universities. In Pakistan, the program is administered by USEFP and supported by the U.S. Embassy and its Consulates and has three offices in various locations throughout the country. USEFP is a bi-national commission established in 1950 by the governments of Pakistan and the United States. It is one of 49 Fulbright Commissions located throughout the world.  For further information about Education USA’s services, please visit

http://www.usefpakistan.org.

Why Ashraf Ghani’s Peace Offer to the Taliban Is Doomed to Fail

BY MOHAMMAD TAQI

On the face of it, the proposal looks like a good roadmap. But it’s been tried – and has failed – before.

The first two months of this year were marred by a barrage of bloody terrorist attacks inashraf-ghani_reuters Afghanistan by the Taliban and the ISIS’s Wilayah Khorasan (Khorasan province/ISIS-K). The Taliban formally claimed a perfidious attack using an ambulance as an improvised bomb and have continued to target Afghan civilians and security forces in similar attacks while announcing, last month, their desire to talk peace – but only directly with the US.

On the heels of this barbarity has come the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani’s peace offer to the Taliban last week. While dubbed as an unprecedented peace proposal, the speech had something borrowed, something blue, something old and something new.

The nature of conflict in Afghanistan over the past 40 years has been such that any peace plan invariably ends up borrowing from the previous attempts. The belligerents have continued to be the Afghan state on one side and the Pakistan-backed Islamists ranging from extremists like the former Mujahideen to outright terrorists like the Taliban and its sword arm, the Haqqani Network (HQN).

The presence of a superpower in Afghanistan, whether the erstwhile Soviet Union or the present-day US, has only served as a lightning rod for the jihadists. Other regional spoilers like Iran and Russia add considerably to the complexity. The multiethnic composition and the historically decentralized nature of the Afghan state with its endemic governance problems provide fault lines ready for exploitation. Ghani’s speech – which he described as a ‘perspective’, saying ‘vision’ might be too grand a word – attempted to address most of these issues.

The Afghan president spoke in English, Persian and Pashto with each linguistic section of the speech directed at a particular audience. Speaking in English, Ghani outlined the historical perspective and geographical realities of his country and the region to drive home the point that Afghanistan has not always been at war.

Poignantly striking was the Afghan president recalling his travels along with his wife in the 1970s within Afghanistan to evoke the thought of peace. It reminded me of my own Kabuli aunt who would often mention the late king Zahir Shah’s era to reminisce about a peaceful Afghanistan.

The Persian part of Ghani’s speech was clearly directed at the non-Pashtun Afghans and focused on regional cooperation and economic, trade and development projects like the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. The third and most important part of his speech was directed at the Taliban and was delivered in Pashto.

The peace scheme

Ghani offered the Taliban a rather comprehensive peace scheme, without any preconditions for talks, as he put it. There were, however, built-in pre-conditions including a ceasefire, and that the Taliban accept the state, its constitution and the government as well as human rights including women’s rights. He offered passports to the Taliban, repatriation of their families, the release of Taliban prisoners, removal of their names off the UN terrorists’ blacklists and, above all, a political office for them in Kabul.

He proposed that the Taliban organize themselves as a political party and participate in the political process and elections. Ghani also suggested that the venue for the proposed parleys could be Afghanistan or any Islamic country which is not involved in the conflict, i.e. it cannot be Pakistan. He, however, mentioned openness to direct, state-to-state contact with Pakistan as a part of the peace process. A key component of Ghani’s message to the Taliban was an emphasis on women’s rights and that all consultations and even negotiations must include women in leadership.

Past proposals

On the face of it, the proposal looks like a good roadmap. But it’s been tried and tested – and has failed – before. Listening to Ghani, it was hard not to think of the late Afghan president Najibullah’s “National Reconciliation” programme which had essentially the same salient features. That Ghani quoted the Quran in support of his reconciliation pitch was also reminiscent of Najibullah.

Long before the Soviet withdrawal, Najibullah had proposed a comprehensive programme called “Aashti-e-Milli or Masaleha-e-Milli” or national peace and reconciliation programme. Najibullah had changed the constitution to allow for multi-party politics and an elected parliament instead of single-party rule by his Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). He called a Loya Jirga (grand assembly of elders and nobles) in November 1987, first to ratify his proposal and amend the constitution and then to incorporate Islam as the state’s grundnorm. He coopted Mohammad Hasan Sharq and then appointed Fazl-e-Haq Khaliqyar, former loyalists of President Daud Khan as prime ministers.

Najibullah declared a unilateral ceasefire and offered the defence minister’s post to his Mujahideen adversary, Ahmad Shah Massoud, and left the position vacant for several months when the latter didn’t accept it. Najibullah changed the PDPA’s name to Hizb-e-Watan (Homeland or National Party) and inked the 1988 Geneva Accord with Pakistan, leading up to the Soviet troops’ withdrawal.

More recently, the former Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, had also offered peace to the Taliban. He even expressed willingness to directly meet Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Mullah Omar, the then ‘amir’ of the Taliban. The former president conducted first a grand peace Jirga (assembly) in 2010 and then a Loya Jirga in 2011, which endorsed talks with the Taliban. He too offered an amnesty to the Taliban, the removal of their names from terrorist blacklists and promised to provide ”work, education, pensions and land to Taliban fighters who lay down their weapons”.

The Taliban rejected Karzai’s offer just as the Mujahideen had spurned Najibullah’s offer to them. In fact, the Taliban had assassinated the chief of the Afghan High Peace Council – the former president, Burhanuddin Rabbani – weeks before the 2011 Loya Jirga.

Is the outcome of Ghani’s peace overtures going to be different? I am afraid, not. While Ghani, in his speech, flaunted the successful peace deal he has cut with the insurgent leader Hekmatyar and his return to Kabul as a template for the Taliban, there are qualitative differences between the two.

Unlike the Taliban, Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami, its obnoxious and vicious creed notwithstanding, has been a political entity from its beginnings in Kabul University. It was inspired by and patterned after the Egyptian Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon, with emphasis on both militancy and politics as well as making inroads into the intelligentsia, bureaucracy and military services of the state.

In contrast, the Taliban have remained a fighting machine with a medieval revivalist mindset that has consistently detested modern politics. At the height of Taliban power, Mullah Omar, its reclusive leader, chose to live in Kandahar rather than in the capital Kabul, where his ministers ran a horror show of a government.

In the 17 years since its ouster from power, the Taliban have shown no inclination to morph into even a basic political outfit that can challenge the Kabul government on electoral-constitutional grounds. While Ghani invoked the Good Friday Agreement in an interview as a template for reconciling with militant outfits, the Taliban are neither the Irish Republican Army nor do they have a political wing like the Sinn Féin, which believed in a nation-state. Additionally, an ageing Hekmatyar had little battlefield leverage and had lost his Pakistani and Iranian patronage, something which the Taliban continue to enjoy.

The Taliban and their Pakistani backers have consistently used the peace talks ruse to prolong the conflict so as to wear out the US and international forces, plan and execute terror attacks, and, much more importantly, seek international political legitimacy for the insurgents.

The Pakistani foreign minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, was quick to use Ghani’s peace offer to declare the Taliban a “political force”. Pakistan, even though under pressure from the Donald Trump administration, continues to bet on a US withdrawal. Getting the Taliban’s foot in the political legitimacy door helps Pakistan seek a much bigger political role for that outfit than it deserves or can ever muster on its own.

It would be major surprise if the Taliban even considers the offer to open shop in Kabul. While both the Taliban and Pakistan pretend that the former is an enterprise free of the latter’s influence, the fact is that the Taliban did not last even two months without Pakistani patronage when the 2001 war started. Its reliance on Pakistan for military planning, logistics, medical care and sanctuary for the jihadists’ families remains as crucial as ever.

The Taliban war plan is also rather clear with the spate of its recent attacks across several provinces and in Kabul. The deadly terror attacks, especially in the capital, seek to delegitimize the central government, demoralize the Afghan people and erode their confidence in the Kabul dispensation.

The Taliban are also trying to mount attacks against peripheral cities and garrisons and seek to topple the regional governments but not necessarily hold ground afterwards. They will again attempt to move the face-off to the ethnically mixed regions, as they did in Kunduz a few years ago, in an effort to exploit the country’s ethno-linguistic fault lines. The thrust into the areas away from the Durand Line gives some level of deniability of Pakistani patronage and also compels the Afghan government forces to expose their southern and western flank, which could allow moving some elements – but not the core leadership – of the Quetta Shura over to the Helmand and Kandahar areas.

Next step?

It is understandable that Ghani needed to exhaust the diplomatic bag of tricks, including a genuine and comprehensive peace proposal. Now that he has done so, he, the Afghan government and the US must plan in earnest for the next step. The Taliban have not issued a formal response to the Afghan government’s offer but their bombings continue to speak on their behalf. An erroneous belief that has been peddled during this conflict is that all wars, including insurgencies, end with negotiations. This is far from the truth.

In the not-so-distant past, Sri Lanka neutralized the Tamil insurgency by force, while more recently Pakistan itself fought and militarily subdued the Pakistani Taliban, after several failed efforts at appeasement and negotiations. The Afghan and US governments must act in unison to not just neutralize the Taliban on the battlefield inside Afghanistan but to also go after their leadership, wherever they have sanctuary. Designating the Taliban as terrorists and their backers as sponsors of terrorism is the way to go, not the other way around. The US must prepare to go after the terror-financing engines that have bankrolled the Taliban war machine and sanction the individuals and regimes involved. In an asymmetric or guerrilla war where there’s no defined front, decapitating the insurgent leadership helps slow down its momentum, stir chaos within the cadres and eventually help break its back. Targeting the Taliban leadership and denying them sanctuary ought to be the US priority otherwise, as the old dictum holds, the guerrilla wins by merely not losing, while a traditional army loses by not winning. A US withdrawal must not be hasty, arbitrary or on the Taliban’s terms. It should take place if and when the peace process leads to it. A withdrawal, like that of the Soviets in 1989, will produce more war and chaos, not peace and stability.

The late Selig Harrison and Diego Cordovez had noted in their book, Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of The Soviet Withdrawal, that “Dr. Najibullah’s policy of national reconciliation went just far enough to antagonize hard-liners in the PDPA but not far enough to win over significant local tribal and ethnic leaders to support his government”.

A beleaguered Najibullah was hamstrung by a Soviet Union wilting on the vine but Ghani does not have any such problems. The genuine peace offer by Ghani is likely to expose the Taliban as the perfidious enemy that they are; meanwhile he, along with Afghanistan’s international backers should prepare for hitting them where it hurts.

Published in TheWire

Mohammad Taqi is a Pakistani-American columnist. He tweets @mazdaki.

What Called for Cheers and What Disappointed at the 90th Academy Awards

BY TANUL THAKUR

Many at the Oscars 2018 highlighted the need for Hollywood to be a more inclusive, safe place that tells stories of different kinds, of blacks, Muslims and other groups rendered to the margins.

The Academy Awards are, among other things, an annual reminder that American download-3cinema is not the only cinema in the world. It is important to remember that because among all the film events in the world, the Oscars is the most watched, discussed and written about. This is not to say that the Oscars don’t matter. Of course they do, especially for those who are on the periphery of Hollywood: film technicians; short, animated, and documentary filmmakers; makers of indie productions – the people whose work, which may have been otherwise ignored, come to the fore due to such a massive recognition.

One of the most striking aspects of the 90th Academy Awards, mostly honouring the best American films of 2017, was not the films that made the cut, but one that did not: Sean Baker’s The Florida Project – a funny, heartbreaking, heartwarming drama about impoverished children in search of a childhood and home in a Florida motel, near Walt Disney World – that was nominated for just one Oscar (Willem Dafoe for Best Supporting Actor). An unflinching look at American poverty seen through the eyes of children who can’t help but be themselves, The Florida Project is the kind of film that Hollywood doesn’t make often. Which perhaps explains its exclusion. The ‘Oscar snubs’ and ‘Oscar baits’ are a sub genre of films in themselves, minor annoyances that most have gotten used to.

But that wasn’t the only disappointing bit about this year’s Oscars. The trail of letdown was, in fact, led by the award ceremony’s host, the comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who headlined the last year’s ceremony, too, becoming the second person to host consecutive Oscars since Billy Crystal in 1997 and 1998. If Kimmel was unimpressive in 2017, then this year he was worse, showing a distinct lack of effort, and more importantly humour, in leading an event usually known for its verve and vitality.

It was surprising because the 90th Academy Awards came on the heels of the powerful #MeToo movement, which was set into motion by the many allegations of sexual assault against who was once the most powerful man in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein. But Kimmel, a largely apolitical comedian, couldn’t channelise the energy of the movement, or the repercussions of Donald Trump’s administration, into something lasting, impactful and memorable. (Kimmel did crack a joke or two on Trump, but they were so run-off-the-mill that it looked as if he was checking a list rather than making a statement.)

However, in a rare original moment during the ceremony, Kimmel, along with Gal Gadot, Mark Hamill, Armie Hammer and Guillermo del Toro, went to a local theatre across the street and surprised the movie audiences, thereby paying homage to those who make the films and, consequently, the Oscars possible. At another point, filmmakers such as Lee Daniels and Ava DuVarnay and actors such as Salma Hayek, Mira Sarvino and Kumail Nanjiani spoke about the need for Hollywood to be a more inclusive and safe place that tells stories of different kinds, of blacks, Muslims and other groups rendered to the margins by an industry dominated by whites, and, more importantly, to encourage women to not be intimidated by men in positions of power. (Last year Hayek and Sarvino were among the many actresses to break their silence on Weinstein’s predatory behaviour.)

Unlike most years’ Oscars, the 90th Academy Awards didn’t tilt in favour of one film. Even though Del Toro’s fantasy drama The Shape of Water – an entertaining, sympathetic story that diluted its potency by being too safe – was nominated for 13 awards, it won only four (Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Director, and Best Picture). Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, in contrast, a substantially complicated drama, was nominated for seven awards and won two, both well deserved, for Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell) and Best Actress (Frances McDormand). Christopher Nolan’s Second World War epic, Dunkirk, won three major technical awards: Best Sound Editing (Richard King and Alex Gibson), Best Sound Mixing (Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, and Gary A. Rizzo), and Best Film Editing (Lee Smith). Phantom Thread, a fine examination of obsession and love by Paul Thomas Anderson, nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Picture, managed to win only one award, for Best Costume Design (Mark Bridges).

The Best Actor award, won by Gary Oldman for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in the British war drama Darkest Hour, was easily the most surprising choice of the night. There were better performances this year – Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread and Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name. Another surprise was the award for the Best Documentary Feature, won by Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan’s Icarus, an investigative piece on the biggest scandal in sporting history, which revealed Russia’s state-sponsored doping programme that had helped its athletes win numerous Olympic medals in the past. Although Icarus is an undeniably important documentary – Fogel helped The New York Times break the story a few months before the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival – it’s a lesser piece of journalism, marked by naiveté. The film never investigates the motives of its primary source and whistleblower who himself played an instrumental role in the country’s doping program; as a result, Icarus presents an entertaining and compelling story, but one that is incomplete.

On the other hand, the true-crime documentary Strong Island, by Yance Ford, the first transgender filmmaker to be nominated for an Academy Award, is a stunning exploration of racial tension in modern-day America. Based on the murder of Ford’s elder brother, a young black man, whose killer, a white teenager, wasn’t indicted by an all-white jury, Strong Island tells a deeply painful, personal, and political story that is as relevant to the United States now as it was when the crime was committed 25 years ago – or, for that matter, since the time slavery was constitutionally abolished in the country.

Indian cinema briefly made an appearance at the ceremony’s In Memoriam section, which paid homage to actors Sridevi and Shashi Kapoor. The 90th Academy Awards, however, gave few memorable moments. Even the acceptance speeches by the award winners were a usual litany of thanking friends, families and colleagues. The Oscar podium is an important stage; even under the constraints of time, the award winners can say something meaningful transcending themselves and their achievements. Or they can just be funny and excited. (Who can forget Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s acceptance speech in 1997?)

But this year, the winners didn’t seem to care as much, which was surprising especially in light of what happened last year – that is, until McDormand came on stage to accept the award for Best Actress. She, like most, first thanked her director, her husband and her son. Then she placed the statuette on the floor, saying, “Now I want to get some perspective. If I may be so honoured to have all the female nominees in every category stand with me in this room tonight.” She continued, “Look around everybody, look around, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight. Invite us into your office in a couple days or you can come to ours, whichever suits you best, and we can tell you all about them.” She bookended her speech with, “I’ve two words to leave you with tonight, ladies and gentlemen, inclusion rider” – a clause that A-list actors can insist on being included in their contracts that ensures diversity in the film’s cast and crew; and then she left the stage. McDormand’s speech – sharp, candid, and essential – stuck out in the ceremony that was nothing like the woman it awarded.

Published in TheWire

To Fall in Love, Click Here

BY BARNABY LEWER

Inside the love triangle between you, your soul mate, and capitalism.

After a breakup a friend will inevitably turn to you over a drink, look you in the eye anddownload (1) declare, “It’s time to move on.” Others join in approval. Your increasingly desperate calls to just be left alone are met by deaf ears, and your excuse that you never meet anyone when you go out no longer holds any water. “It’s easy to meet people,” they say, “I mean, haven’t you tried Internet dating?”

Marx argued that capitalism overcomes its tendency toward stagnation through commodification — the “transformation of relationships, formerly untainted by commerce, into commercial relationships, relationships of exchange, of buying and selling.” This extension of the market provides new channels for investment and profit that help capital avoid recession and depression.

This transformation of social relationships into commercial relationships has a dual character. The market, particularly during the early days of capitalism, was expanded physically — boundaries were geographically stretched by sail ship, colonial whip and surveyor stick; but the market was also extended through the reconfiguration of relationships and cultural practices toward the extraction of value and profit.

Internet dating can easily be read as the latest example of marketization. It’s an industry that has grown to be worth over £2 billion by essentially extracting a surplus from the social practice of meeting potential lovers and partners.

Along these lines, Slavoj Zizek has bemoaned Internet dating as an extension of commodification, n+1 also recently decried the  “life-hacking apps… [as] self-Taylorizing programs” central to a process of self-commodification.

But when have ideas, practices, and concepts of love ever been separated from material conditions?

Pick up any Jane Austen novel and the relationship between the economic system and the practices of courting and of romance, and how they have changed in relation to each other over time, are abundantly clear. Are we merely in a new phase of Mr. Darcy vs. Mr. Collins?

Commodify Everything

The new frontiers of commodification and capital accumulation are always uneven, murky, and hard to recognize at their birth. The rise of finance — financialization — is no exception.

Cutting through fuzzy notions that “something structural” has changed, two Australian academics — Mike Rafferty and Dick Bryan — offer a clear-eyed analysis of the frontiers of financial innovation and accumulation along with the mechanisms and instruments of change, particularly the micro and macro manifestations and implications of what the authors dub “risk shifting.”

At the core of Bryan and Rafferty’s argument is the idea that the frontier for financial innovation and accumulation has been shaped and expanded by risk and uncertainty — specifically, how financial markets have been able to develop products to trade risk and uncertainty.

The emergence of tradable products like derivatives — including things like options, swaps, futures, asset-backed securities — and processes such as securitization have been central not only to the explosion of new financial markets and their associated trades but also opens up questions about who is left holding the risks for the system as a whole.

And while these products and processes often appear mystifying, they contain some important unifying features. Many derivatives offer the ability to lock in future prices as a means to manage risk. Take for example a dairy farmer who needs to buy enough feed for the cattle in her care. Since, the price of hay on the market fluctuates on a daily basis, it may skyrocket and put the farmer at risk of bankruptcy. This is where a derivative contract comes in, in this case an option. It gives the farmer the right to buy a set amount of feed at a set price at a set date in the future, safe in the knowledge that she has locked in a certain price for this crucial input.

The key point here is that the value of the option is “derived” from the underlying asset; in this case, cattle feed, while the asset itself remains untraded. And increasingly, for every commodity the cow produces or comes into contact with (milk, the farmer’s tractor, the mortgaged farm itself, etc.) the same process of disassembly and reconfiguration is in play. In this way derivatives, “establish pricing relationships that readily convert between different forms of assets. Derivatives blend different forms of capital into a single unit of measure.”

Financial innovation, allows every production process to be broken down into its constituent elements, converted into an asset stream, reconstituted as a financial product, and made commensurable (and tradable) with everything else.

Take another example. Imagine walking into your nearest mobile phone provider — Verizon for example — and signing up for a new twenty-four month contract. You pay nothing now but over the life of the contract you can expect to pay, say, $1000. The new financial instruments (asset backed securities in this case) allow Verizon (or Vodafone, or AT&T) to sell your future monthly bill repayments to someone on the futures market for less than the $1000, say $900. Why would the mobile phone provider take the smaller $900 in their pocket now and the subsequent blow to their bottom line?

The answer, simply, is risk. For $900 in the here and now Verizon no longer holds the risk of you, the customer, not paying back the $1000 over the 24-month contract. The company who bought access to your repayments now holds the risk of your default. If you fail to make a payment, Verizon still has the $900 in the bank.

In both examples commodities are broken down into their constituent elements which are then converted into asset streams. This means two interrelated things: First, the thing being traded — the key currency determining each transaction — is risk. Why do my future mobile phone repayments cost $900 now? Because that’s the price the market has determined the risk is worth. The farmer and Verizon are trying to manage their risks, to not be exposed to default and failure — to have a safe position in the market. The way to achieve this is to trade in the new financial products.

Second, there is no “outside” this new market in risk. No company, product, or process is untouched by it. Corporations which produce commodities seemingly completely unrelated to finance (such as General Motors) are involved in complicated balance sheet management, creating liquid, securitized asset streams from physical commodities, buying and selling risk on financial markets. The entire productive process is implicated in the financial system in novel ways which are still being made and understood.

The construction company no longer simply trades in bricks and mortar but must have a position on foreign currency fluctuations and mortgage repayments and even the weather. Rafferty and Bryan argue that workers can easily lose out in this game of risk. Where employers or the state once managed risks of sickness or retirement, increasingly it’s up to individuals to “manage” those risks themselves.

Personal Risk Management

What other aspects of our lives are being reworked as risk management practices?

The late Randy Martin, dancer turned academic, and author of Financialization of Daily Life, has posited a “social logic of the derivative,” arguing that “[w]hat we call identity is certainly an attribute of self that gets bundled, valued and circulated beyond an individual person.” Here it is not the underlying asset/person being considered but our constituent elements.

For Deleuze this relationship between (financialized) capital and social control is captured in the notion “dividuation” — instead of a singular identity, articulated through the process of individuation, Delueze sees a separation of the underlying individual and their various attributes, analogous to a financial derivative.

The categories by which people are articulated are those attributes useful to capital — your Amazon book preferences, your credit score, etc. Dividuation “defines and measures an attribute of an individual, and exists discretely from the “underlying” individual from which it is derived … Dividuation serves the purpose of control by being measurably in categories that are functional for capital.” For Deleuze, increasingly we are simply constituted points of data mining searches and computer profiles, divorced from any unitary whole.

And surely Internet dating apps and websites are the proponents of dividuation par excellence. When you look for love (or sex or companionship) online your physical attributes are broken down into their constituent elements (hair color, skin color, body shape), your interests declared and differentiated (basketball, walking, the novels of Balzac) your sexual persuasions and proclivities demanded (gay, straight, polyamorous, BDSM, etc.).

In fact, your very choice of dating venue may determine which elements you chose to trade among: Grindr for sexual preference, Tinder for looks, Ashley Madison for extra-marital affairs, Guardian Soulmates for walking and the novels of Balzac. Meanwhile over at eHarmony the whole edifice is gleefully revealed: “we partner people on their behaviors, values, characteristics, and you know the things that matter.”

And this is where the matching potential of supply and demand comes into its own. You submit these constituent elements into a patented algorithm to be “matched.” And just like contemporary financial markets, the sophistication of the trademarked algorithm is a selling point in itself — with Eharmony offering “29 Key Dimensions that are crucial for relationship success” compared to OKCupid’s algorithm magic: ” Algorithms, formulas, heuristics — we do a lot of crazy math stuff to help people connect faster.” Whatever the brand, the veneration of a particular algorithm or method is par for the course.

And just like the derivatives market, the only way to ensure a “successful” outcome is to continually participate; to trade, to take multiple positions in the market, to hedge your risk, to be constantly active. To only engage in a single conversation with a sole potential suitor is a dangerous game. And so you sit and swipe, and sit and swipe, engaged in an elaborate system of matching, risking, and hedging. And as a result of all this trading the algorithm improves; your chances of a better match improve: “So when you head out on an eHarmony date, you know it will give you butterflies not awkward silences.”

And just like Verizon trading away repayments, the promise of Internet dating is that it is actually possible to remove risk and, instead, lock in certainty — to know and to be sure.

The perverseness of the logic here is that the only way to have as much upside risk as possible (more potential good outcomes than bad) is to continually go back to the well. The idea of hedging so prevalent in financial rhetoric is apt here — to remove as much downside risk as possible, to open up the future to good outcomes solely.

And so just like a foreign exchange futures trader you become implicated in a systemic logic that promotes the dismantling of things into their constituent elements, demands a calculative agenda of commensurability, and rewards the individual management of risk.

Whose fault is it but yours if you fail at Internet dating? You must have done it wrong. Or maybe you put all your eggs in one basket. And so in our online pursuit of love we are unwittingly cast into what Bryan and Rafferty have dubbed, “capital’s risk project,” whereby “the incorporation of financial ways of thinking and acting — often without us knowing it — sees competition and the pricing of everything becoming normalized.”

The digital collection of information from places like match.com happens automatically, with platforms recording information not only offered up directly by users but also about their behavior on the site itself. Christian Rudder of OKCupid fame claims he can “lay bare vanities and vulnerabilities that were perhaps until now just shades of truth,” while over at EHarmony they bleat that more than 19 million people have filled in their online questionnaire.

But beyond the creepy and conspiratorial (or not) claims about big data, it is the logic of the derivative that unites individuals, industries, and the economy as a whole: When your personal information or information about your behavior is sold for marketing or another purpose, it is not the individual person that is being sold but your constituent elements; your interests, characteristics, communications, behaviors, and habits.

Individual profiles may be constructed but data points far outweigh actual individuals; your interests and proclivities are packaged up and sold as asset streams on yet another marketplace that is increasingly coming to resemble the particularities of financial markets.

And here we come to the crux of the matter. Why does all this matter at all?

Fans of Internet dating will point to the happily married couple at the end of the table and challenge you to say ill of the thing that brought them together. But the point is not to cast aspersion on the love borne from Internet dating or smart phone apps, but to see Internet dating as part of a broader project of the financialized self.

So just as capital has developed the financial products to trade in, and profit from, risk, so too, does it have an interest in measuring and managing risk across the entirety of the system that is composed of individuals.

It is not just a matter of companies selling big data but also studying it. Our individual riskiness is constantly assessed through our inputs (social media, Internet dating, census data) to determine the likelihood of our defaults on loan repayments, our job prospects, our political proclivities etc. Think Fitbits and your health information, collected and disseminated.

Internet dating has turned social relationships — which were once seen as part of the public good and defined by their use value (meeting people, finding partners, sharing photos, etc.) — into financialized commodities. And capital’s risk project is now central to these relationships, both in terms of providing the quantitative data for systemic risk measurement and assessment, and simultaneously promoting a discourse of individual participation in risk hedging behaviors.

The square is circled when we realize that for banks, too, our happily ever after is good business.

Economists in a working paper for the Federal Reserve Board have been examining “the role that credit scores have in predicting the stability and potential longevity of a relationship that’s starting to get serious.” They found that those with higher credit ratings were more likely to be in a stable relationship, that “credit scores are indicative of trustworthiness in general, and couples with a mismatch in credit scores are more likely to see their relationships end for reasons not directly related to their use of credit.”

This kind of information is crucial for banks and lenders making decisions about where to lend money and analysis of their own exposures to potential risks. Couples from different socioeconomic backgrounds are riskier proposition according to this research. Will your next dating app contain a credit-rating filter?

Are we happy to have the palpations of our heart reduced to a strategy of risk management and traded according to an increasingly sophisticated algorithm which also harvests our data?

As Croatian philosopher Srecko Horvat argues in The Radicality of Love, falling in love occurs on that revolutionary plane of the imagination: Love renders the ability “to see another person, to relate to another being, and vice versa, to relate to themselves meaningfully though the other person.”

A financialized love seems devoid of love’s power — its inexplicability, its inherent, unavoidable risks, its immeasurability in a world increasingly systemically reliant on such measurement.

The answer, surely, as always, is to imagine something different. To, as it were, swipe left.

Published in Jacobin Magazine

Time has come to consider values of secularism

By Kamal Naffa

The time has come to consider the values and practices of secularism as a way of sekularisme-660x400organizing society. We live in a world where there are many sources of truth and not one and where pluralism and multiculturalism is what we really should be aiming for. The time has come for a critical reflection to challenge our inherited assumptions.

Secularism essentially means separation of state and religion. This separation does not mean antagonism to religion, in fact separation purifies religion and make it a better way of worship. As an example, and although the US is a secular state, with no official religion, more Americans go to church every Sunday than ever before. According to Gallup, close to 40 per cent of Americans report they regularly attend religious services.

Secularism means that all citizens have equal rights and equal obligations, regardless of ethnic or racial or religious affiliations. Secularism in the Middle East started with the teachings of the founder of the Syrian National Socialist Party, Anton Saadeh, who believed that secularism is the way to fight sectarianism. Thousands of his followers in the Arab world lived his doctrine of the separation of religion and state.

Here are some of the features of secularism:

Secularism goes back to ancient Greece where Greek culture was secular in the sense that the purpose of life was the glorification and celebration of life. For Greeks, the purpose of life was the attainment of human happiness and not salvation or aiming to go to heaven. In both Christianity and Islam, the purpose of life is to prepare oneself to heaven and the aim of life is salvation and not happiness. This is why thousands of young fighters in Syria believed that death is a route to heaven where there is eternal bliss. Secularism believes that all these aspects of heaven, hell, angels, resurrection are nothing but religious myths that have no foundation in reality.

Secularism believes deeply in democracy and that everyone should be free to make his/her own choices without dictation from a despotic ruler or king. Secular countries in Europe are enjoying to a great extent democratic governance where there is an intimate connection between democracy and secularism and economic prosperity. Contrary to many countries in the Middle East who rely on religion as a way of existence. Turkey and Israel are two examples of countries claiming to be democratic, however govern with a lot of coercion and racism and legitimize it through religion. Netanyahu’s claim for Jerusalem and his call for a religious state based on Torah is nothing more than theocracy in which the “Rule of God prevails.”

History has proven that religious states have been violent, fanatical and self-destructive. Historically, this occurred in Spain, France, and England.

Secularism is the answer to the needs and freedoms of women in the Arab world. States dominated by religion have suppressed women for thousands of years and denied their rights and freedoms, and dictated unfair practices in marriage, divorce and inheritance. Solving legal matters on the basis of religion and based on what the holy books say is obsolete and changing, contrary to the requirements and needs of modern day life.

A Secular system is a system based on merit in education, employment and in the government. A system that does not acknowledge secularism remain mediocre, where hierarchy of titles and positions for example takes precedence over quality and achievement. Management and leadership become very stifling for progress.

However, with all its benefits, some criticize secularism. Secularism is based on the assumption that human beings are rational beings and motivated by rational considerations, but research has shown that human beings are sometimes irrational motivated by desires rather than rational thoughts. This means that irrational considerations and beliefs in mortality, resurrection and religious dogmas have a great grip on the human rational and psyche, pushing a human being to desire first and think next. Therefore, it is difficult to strip human beings of these irrational tendencies, of believing in religion and all aspects of religion. It will remain with us, which means humans cannot eradicate them even if we have the intention to do so.

Life will continue to be a balance between rational and irrational, and therefore secularism will have religious dogmas attached to it now and always. The question remains how to compromise between two systems, two tendencies and two beliefs? We need to be fully aware of the permanent nature of irrational tendencies of religion and consider the fundamental positive changes that secularism will bring to our societies, communities, economies and education.

The debate in Jordan on secularism should be amplified and should be encouraged by decision makers to pave way for the gradual acceptance by the public at large of the need and value of secularism.

Kamal Naffa is former professor of philosophy at California State University, Fullerton. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

Balochistan Needs More Reporters at BBC

By ZN Baloch, Turbat

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is a British public broadcaster with itsdownload headquarter in London (UK). The BBC is renowned as the world’s oldest national broadcasting organization that employs 20 thousand plus employers and many others working in different public sectors. In addition, people do listen to The BBC all over the world, for instance, Germany, UK, USA, France and many other African countries since it provides authentic and informative news. On the other hand, people from Balochistan (Pakistan) are accustomed to listen to BBC Sairbeen. Unfortunately, Balochistan covering 43 percent lands of Pakistan has only one permanent reporter (Muhammad Kazim) who reports from capital of Balochistan (Quetta). As a result, several salient news goes unreported. Therefore, I request to concerns to have a serious glance over this matter.

IN MEMORIAM: THE SUFI COMMUNIST

By Moniza Inam

It was a nippy morning and the so-called Super Highway to Hyderabad was blocked due Jam_Saqito a massive gridlock. While patiently waiting for the traffic to resume, I was magically drawn back to the ’80s when the world seemed like a different place. It was a bipolar world, clearly divided into two blocs: communist/socialist and capitalist. Concepts such as neo-liberalism and privatization had yet to make their mark on global politics.

Pakistan was firmly in the capitalist camp and communism was viewed as a grave danger to the country, with the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) banned. At the height of this frenzy, a conspiracy case called the Jam Saqi Case was filed by General Zia’s regime in the military courts in 1980 which generated much national attention.

A firebrand communist leader, Jam Saqi — then the Secretary General of the CPP — along with other illustrious members of the party such as Professor Jamal Naqvi, Nazeer Abbassi, Shabbir Sher, Sohail Sangi, Kamal Warsi, Amar Lal and Badar Abro were charged with “destabilizing the country.” Nazeer Abbassi was killed by torture soon after his arrest. Saqi, who was already serving a 10-year sentence passed down by another military court, was then considered the longest-serving political prisoner in Pakistan. And his personality acquired nearly mythical proportions after the case, in which politicians such as Benazir Bhutto, Wali Khan, Ghous Bux Bizenjo, Mairaj Muhammad Khan, Fatehyab Ali Khan, and the JUI Secretary General Maulana Shah Muhammad Amrothi, as well as journalists and women’s rights activists, came to testify on behalf of the accused.

Saqi, who was acquitted in 1984 but not freed until December 1986 on a constitutional petition filed by his father, came to be regarded as ‘a prisoner of conscience’ by Amnesty International and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) and there was widespread support in the global media for his release.

In fact, he remained immensely popular in the student community until the end of his politically active days. From Karachi to Peshawar, college campuses often resounded with slogans such as “Tera Sathi, Mera Sathi, Jam Saqi, Jam Saqi” [Your friend, my friend, Jam Saqi, Jam Saqi].

There was a reason I was thinking back to this time. I was on my way to meet Saqi in Hyderabad. Saqi had been in failing health for some time and the first part of the interview was held at his modest home, in various sessions spanning a number of days, necessitated because of his frail health. I would meet him again in Karachi a few weeks later after he was rushed to the city to be hospitalized. On March 5, as this piece was being readied for print, news came that he had passed away.

With him, passed an era of ideological politics.

ROLE IN POLITICAL DISCOURSE

In his Hyderabad home, with strains of lilting Sufi music filling the background, Saqi was in his element, notwithstanding various ailments and a failing memory.

Looking at him bedridden, I could not help think that there was a time when this frail-looking man had challenged the might of the state and faced the repression of three martial law governments and one civilian regime which were hell-bent on arresting him at any cost. I recalled the famous picture of him in the military court when a young Benazir had come to testify on his behalf, with Saqi standing, his iron handcuffs slung across his shoulder like a shawl. He had been subjected to relentless and brutal torture, which was partly responsible for his continuing physical ailments. And I could not help but think about how he lay forgotten by a new generation that is not aware of his contributions to the restoration of democracy and other basic human rights we now often take for granted.

Considering his political struggle, and the hard and perilous life he had lived, I asked him what he thought had been his major contribution to political discourse in the country.

He answered after a long and studied silence. “I think my foremost contribution was that I raised my voice against tyranny and the exploitation of oppressed groups such as minorities, women, labor and haris [landless peasants] and that I strived to change the exploitative system,” he finally replied. “I demanded equal rights for smaller provinces and insisted on making Pakistan a true federal state. I was also among the few people in West Pakistan who unequivocally condemned the army action in East Pakistan [Bangladesh]. I openly called for an end to feudalism and tribalism and demanded land reforms and distribution of state land to peasants.

“I also openly challenged American influence in the country and its internal affairs. I worked actively to unite all progressive forces and worked with the Hari Committee, the trade unions, women’s organizations and literary organizations such as the Sindh Adabi Sangat, etc. In all these roles, I raised awareness and political consciousness.”

It is perhaps inherent in the nature of raising political consciousness, that those who are successful make themselves redundant.

EARLY LIFE AND POLITICAL CAREER

The former Communist Party leader belonged to a village near Chachro in Tharparkar district, Sindh, one of the province’s poorest areas. His father was a primary-school teacher and a social worker. “He played a vital role in my upbringing,” Saqi told me. Enrolling at the Government College Kalimori in Hyderabad in 1962 was the beginning of a long career as a political activist.

“My first political campaign was about educational problems,” Saqi recalled. “We made many demands to improve the system which became very popular among students. In 1964, we formed the Hyderabad Students Federation with other like-minded friends to organize students at the provincial level.”

In 1966, Saqi joined the Communist Party and became active in the leftist National Awami Party (NAP). He also began to organize labor unions and haris, with the help of the Sindh Hari Committee. On March 4, 1967, the students of Sindh University staged a procession protesting the appointment of the vice-chancellor. Police unleashed brutal force against them. But Saqi and his friends turned this incident into a political movement that would have a long-lasting impact on the province in the coming years. “There were different students’ organizations in various cities,” explained Saqi, “we merged them and formed the Sindh National Students Federation (SNSF) on November 3, 1968. All progressive political forces, including the Communist Party, were against the dictatorial policies of the Ayub regime and demanded the abolition of One Unit, and the holding of free and fair elections. The SNSF provided the vigor and momentum of youth to that movement.”

As a student leader and political activist, Saqi was imprisoned many times during the 1960s. In order to buy his loyalties and reduce his political influence, he was also offered a job and scholarships. He, however, remained steadfast in his commitment and declined all such offers.

In 1969, with the help of other comrades, Saqi organized the historic Hari Conference in Sakrand, the first congregation of peasants which called for sweeping land reforms. At the conference, Saqi announced he would formally join the peasants’ front of the Communist Party i.e. Hari Committee. After he completed his education, Saqi was asked by the CPP to mobilize and organize the Hari committee after the death of its founder Hyder Bakhsh Jatoi as Saqi was considered an excellent mobilizer.

In the landmark 1970 polls, he contested from his native constituency in Thar, but lost to a feudal landlord due to lack of resources. Explaining the course of events, Saqi said, “All these policies and actions [of the government in East Pakistan] had brought great turmoil to the country and Pakistan was discredited in the comity of nations. I talked against military action and organized many public meetings and agitations. I was sentenced in absentia by a military court for one-year imprisonment. It brought me into direct confrontation with the government and its agencies. I spent most of the Bhutto regime years underground and playing hide-and-seek with police and law-enforcement agencies.” Despite being in hiding, he was politically active and was part of many political movements and campaigns and regularly published press releases.

NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND

Saqi still recalled a wealth of anecdotes from that era and he remembered his time on the run with much fondness. For example, he told me that once, while he was travelling to Tando Jam disguised as a maulvi, he had got up to offer his bus seat to an elderly and ill Bheel passenger. “Nazeer Abbassi said to me, ‘If there were any intelligence personnel in the bus they would have recognized you by this act’,” he laughed.

At another time, while staying in a rest house, he’d overheard two officers talking about how ‘Jam Saqi had also proved to be a traitor and had left for India for greener pastures.’ Saqi joined the conversation without disclosing his identity and asked them for evidence for their claim, to which they replied that they had heard his speech on All India Radio. “I said to them that I’d met him [Jam Saqi] once, and had also got the feeling that he was a defector.” The twinkle in his eyes clearly showed that these memories, from 50 years ago, were still crystal clear for him.

THE BHUTTO ERA

When Bhutto came into power, Saqi resurfaced after completing his one-year jail sentence. He joined the NAP and was elected as its joint secretary. But after Bhutto dissolved the Mengal government in Balochistan and banned NAP, he went underground again. In his statement filed against the ban, he wrote: “You can understand where my loyalties lie, as I [have been] Sindhi for 5,000 years, Muslim for 1,000 years and Pakistani [only] since three decades.”

THE REPRESSIVE MARTIAL LAW

The arrival of Gen Zia’s military government in 1977 began a new phase of brutal repression. The military was determined to arrest Saqi and to silence the influence of the Communist Party once and for all. In December 1978, they were finally successful in arresting him from Hyderabad. But ironically, his two statements in the military court — published in Urdu as Zameer ke Qaidi [Prisoners of Conscience] and in Sindhi as Akhr Fateh Awam jee Theendi [Eventually Victory Will Be the People’s] only added to his popularity.

MAJORITY/MINORITY SPLIT

What Gen Zia could not achieve, however, came to pass after the dictator’s death. A split in the CPP in the late ’80s divided the party into two factions called Majority and Minority. Saqi was in the Majority faction which rejected the demands by the Minority members to transform the party. In the course of the discord, Saqi became a target of malicious attacks and was accused of being unclear on the question of nationalities and of lacking intellectual depth, among other allegations.

Saqi was surprisingly candid about the split. “The CPP was not allowed to work openly due to state repression and recurring martial laws and, after 1988, when it was allowed to operate freely, differences emerged,” he said. “It was an era of great political upheaval and technological change. The whole capitalist system and factors of production were changing. We were standing at the crossroads and were unable to understand the change. Even in the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev had launched Glasnost and Perestroika to deal with simmering discontent and defection.

“Most of the Minority members who went to the Soviet bloc and had international exposure and were aware of these realities were mid-level leadership. Moreover, our party workers and leaders who went to the USSR had come back disillusioned and dejected, because it seemed like more of a security state than a welfare state. In summary, it took me some time to comprehend these realities after my visit to the Soviet Union and, in 1991, I revisited my position. However, our other party members weren’t ready to accept it. So, in 1991, in the Fourth Congress, I resigned as the secretary general and left communist politics for good.”

Nevertheless, Saqi was blamed for this stance and held responsible, along with others, for the break-up of the party. Aside from a brief stint in 2009 with Socialist Revolution (IMT) of Comrade Lal Khan, Saqi would never venture back to active socialist politics.

LAUNCHING THE JAMHOORI TEHREEK

Instead, Saqi formed the Jamhoori Tehreek (Democratic Movement) in 1991. “Sindh was in great turmoil at that time. In the rural areas, dacoits were ruling the roost and, in urban areas, ethnic division was at its peak. I tried to work for peace and solidarity in society as I convened a long march which started from Kamu Shaheed — which is the last station on the Sindh-Punjab border — towards Karachi. The march was a great success and brought people together on one platform.” The great sense of pride in him when he talked about this was almost palpable.

ADVISER IN PAKISTAN PEOPLES PARTY GOVERNMENT

In 1993, after suffering a brain hemorrhage, Saqi was sent to London for treatment by the PPP government in Sindh. Upon his return after convalescence, he joined PPP and the Sindh government as an adviser on Benazir Bhutto’s request. He was given charge of the bonded labour department. “I held many conferences and formed numerous committees to improve the conditions for this most disadvantaged section,” he explained. However, these committees became dormant once the PPP government was toppled in 1996.

He later joined the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), which “gave me a lot of satisfaction and sense of self-fulfillment” he told me.

THE SUFI CONNECTION

In his last few years, Saqi had become a strong adherent of Sufism, saying it had given him strength and solace. I asked him if adherence to Sufism, a branch of organized religion, was a contradiction to his past beliefs in dialectical materialism and Marxism. “I believe that Sufism is beyond any religion and that Sufis are found in every faith,” he replied wryly. “They preach humanism and, in fact, they are the people who led class struggle before communism.” For him, communism was a continuation of Sufism because both call for pursuing the rights of common people. “All Sufi poets such as Baba Bulleh Shah, Baba Fareed Ganj Shakar, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sachal Sarmast, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and numerous others preach universal love and humanity.”

FAMILY LIFE

There was perhaps more than one reason Saqi needed such solace — his domestic life had had its share of tragedies as well. He had been married in 1972 to his first cousin Sukhaan. They had had two children. “My wife was a party worker but was very insecure about my safety,” he recalled. “The intelligence personnel had told her categorically that if they were successful in arresting me, they would kill me right away. On hearing the news of my arrest, Sukhaan committed suicide by jumping into a well, leaving behind two young children.”

According to Saqi, he got news of her death after a long time — he was in solitary confinement at that time — and was naturally devastated. “Sukhaan believed in the power of the regime and its agencies, but she didn’t realize the power of the masses,” he said ruefully.

Saqi later on married Akhtar Sultana, commonly known as Indara among her friends, in 1987. They had four kids, two daughters and two sons, and also adopted one daughter. His widow, daughters and daughters-in-law are all highly educated working women.

PARTING NOTE

After a whirlwind tour through his life and times, as I was getting ready to leave, I asked if Saqi had any regrets about his personal and political life.

He kept quiet for a long time. Then he began by quoting Faiz Ahmed Faiz. “‘Har daagh hai is dil mein ba-juz daagh-i-nadaamat’ [My heart is fraught with blemishes, except the blemish of regret]. On the personal level, I have no regrets as I have lived my life on my own terms. But on the political level, I always have had this regret that due to the split in the party I lost many of my close friends and comrades with whom I had a long association and with whom I shared a common dream — that of a just society.”

Published in Dawn

Arrest warrant issued by SC for Husain Haqqani

By Muzamil Baloch

The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued an arrest warrant for former envoy Husain maxresdefault-78Haqqan.

The SC had directed Husain Haqqani to appear in the Memogate case but the latter failed to comply with the court orders.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has asked Interpol to issue a red warrant for Haqqani, Additional Attorney General Rana Waqar told the top court.

Earlier today, AAG Rana Waqar told the bench that they had spoken to officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Interior Ministry, as well as the FIA chief regarding the matter.

Subsequently, a committee had been constituted to take up the issue with the relevant authorities in the United States, Waqar said, adding that it had done so.

Furthermore, he said that the FIA had approached Interpol and formally asked them to issue a red warrant.

The AAG told the bench that according to the standard operating procedure, the FIA needs an arrest warrant issued by the court.

In response, the apex court issued an arrest warrant for Haqqani.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, who was heading a three-member bench, remarked that Husain Haqqani had submitted an undertaking in court before leaving for the US that he would appear before the SC but he had not followed through.

On February 1, the SC had constituted a three-member bench to resume hearings of the controversial Memogate case involving the former ambassador to the US.

The case, first taken to the apex court by then opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, had forced Haqqani’s resignation.

In December last year, three people had separately lodged FIRs against Hussain Haqqani in two police stations of Kohat for delivering hate speeches and writing books and articles against the armed forces and the ‘sovereignty of Pakistan’.

The complainants alleged that Haqqani was responsible for the Memogate scandal and had issued visas to CIA and Indian agents while serving as Pakistani ambassador to the US. They had argued that Haqqani maligned Pakistan in the books he wrote, “which proves that he is a traitor”.

The cases were registered under Sections 120(b) (hatching a criminal conspiracy) and 121(a) (waging a war against Pakistan) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

More recently, Haqqani’s name had echoed in the apex court while a three-judge bench heard a set of petitions moved by PTI chief Imran Khan and a group of citizens in connection with the right of overseas Pakistanis to participate in the democratic process.

The case had reminded the chief justice of Haqqani.

“Should we also give him the right to vote?” the chief justice had wondered.

“Why don’t we issue him [Haqqani] a notice and summon him to face the Memogate case,” the chief justice had then said.

Later, while reviewing previous progress on the case, the bench had observed that, following his resignation, Haqqani had left the country on the assurance that he would return, but never did.

The ‘memo’ in question, delivered to a high-ranking American official allegedly at Haqqani’s behest in May 2011, had exposed serious rifts between the PPP government and the army after a US-based businessman brought it to light.

It was delivered to a high-ranking official and asked for help for the civilian government against the military because of the domestic turmoil triggered by the US raid that killed Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

Haqqani, however, had denied having anything to do with the memo.

In 2012, a judicial commission tasked with probing the matter had submitted its report to the apex court, holding Haqqani guilty of authoring the controversial memorandum and adding that the former US envoy “was not loyal to the country”.

Pakistan may be put on FATF blacklist after June

By Shehzad Baloch

International media reports and American top-brass released statements about Pakistan downloadhints it possibly will be put on the blacklist of a global financial watchdog if it does not prepare an ample action plan to eradicate terrorist financing by June, some sources broached.

The 37-nation Financial Action Task Force (FATF) held its plenary meeting in Paris last week where it placed Pakistan on a watchlist of the countries where terrorist outfits are still allowed to raise funds.

The group issued an updated grey list, along with a statement announcing the decisions taken at the plenary session, and Pakistan was not on the list. Officials in Islamabad interpreted this as a “breather”, although it’s more of a technical detail.

The grey list identifies the “jurisdictions with strategic anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism deficiencies for which they have developed an action plan with the FATF”. Pakistan has not yet worked out the proposed plan with the FATF and that’s why it’s not on the list.

The FATF carries out an in-depth study of the financial system of a country – known as “mutual evaluation” – as part of the process to avoid blacklisting. The next evaluation starts in April, which may take 18 months, and will be followed by another 12 months of analysis. A mutually agreed action plan for overcoming “strategic deficiencies” would become operative at the end of evaluation.

Between now and June, Pakistan will have to work out the details of the evaluation process with the FATF and a failure to do so could trigger another process, which may push Pakistan on the blacklist of willful violators.

Usually, the FATF waits for a mutual evaluation report before starting the listing process but in Pakistan’s case, the group took an unprecedented step when it agreed to debate a US proposal, backed by Britain, France and Germany, to nominate Pakistan as a country having “strategic deficiencies” in “countering financing of terrorism”.

“The move was against the understanding given to Pakistan that Islamabad will be asked to work with the FATF on an action plan, before the listing process starts,” an official told.

The Paris plenary held its first meeting on Pakistan on Feb 20 where China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which was representing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as it’s not a full member, opposed the move to place Pakistan on the watchlist. But the US pushed for an unprecedented second discussion on Pakistan, held on Feb 22.

By then, Washington had convinced Riyadh to give up its support to Pakistan in return for a full FATF membership. This left only two – China and Turkey – in the Pakistan camp, one less than the required number of three members to stall a move.

At this stage, the Chinese informed Islamabad that they were opting out as they did not want to “lose face by supporting a move that’s doomed to fail”, official further informed. “Pakistan appreciated the Chinese position and conveyed its gratitude to Turkey for continuing to support Islamabad against all odds,”.

After the Feb 20 meeting, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif sent out a celebratory tweet, saying that Pakistan had won a three-month reprieve.

Hours after the tweet, US State Department Spokesperson Hea­ther Nauert indicated at a news briefing in Washington that Islamabad’s celebrations were premature. She said the Paris plenary was not over yet and it would hold another meeting on Pakistan on Feb 22, as it did.

She also mentioned Hafiz Saeed and his activities while detailing US complaints against Pakistan and the sources that spoke to Dawn after the Feb 22 meeting said that indeed Hafiz Saeed and his “charities” were top on the list of the groups that the FATF wanted Pakistan to act against.

Pakistan did make some laws before the Paris meeting that would allow it to act against these groups but apparently that was not enough to convince the FATF.

Pakistan was first put on the FATF grey list in 2012 but was removed in 2015, after the FATF certified that Islamabad had done enough to counter terror financing.

Now, Pakistan will have to follow the same process that it did in 2015, starting with an action plan that Islamabad is required to submit in May. If the FATF approves the action plan in June, it will make a formal announcement about placing Pakistan on the grey list. Should Islamabad fail to submit an action plan, or if the FATF does not accept it, the group can place Pakistan on its black list, along with North Korea and Iran.

Pakistan’s Saudi deployment risks entanglement in Yemen

Agreement to dispatch Pakistani border brigade forces to Saudi Arabia raises questions of strategic intent and civil-military power relations

By KUNWAR KHULDUNE SHAHID and SAIKAT DATTA

Pakistan has obliged Saudi Arabia’s request to send more troops to the kingdom in the Pak-Army-Chief-Qamar-Bajwa-and-MBS (1)name of border security.

The deployment comes as Riyadh ramps up its battle against Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen, raising questions about whether the troops will ultimately be dragged into combat. Pakistan’s Parliament passed a resolution in 2015 to maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict.

The Pakistan Army confirmed the deployment after Saudi Ambassador Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki met Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on February 15 at Pakistan’s military headquarters at Rawalpindi.

Initial details of the deployment were outlined during General Bajwa’s meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, who also serves as defense minister, during a meeting in Riyadh on February 1, military sources told Asia Times.

“The Crown Prince maintained that as per the two countries’ bilateral agreement Pakistan is bound to safeguard Saudi Arabian territory,” a senior military official told Asia Times. “The urgency of the matter can be gauged by the fact that the Crown Prince himself took up the matter with [the] army chief.”

Multiple government sources confirmed to Asia Times that Saudi Arabia’s apparent urgency owes to its continued military involvement in Yemen and rising cross-border attacks into Saudi territory by Houthi rebels.

On January 20, Saudi Arabian air defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile fired by rebels headed toward the southern Saudi province of Najran. On February 13, over 41 Houthi fighters were killed and almost 50 injured during fighting in Yemen’s Hodeidah province, according to reports.

On February 15, the day Saudi ambassador Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki met Pakistani General Bajwa, the Saudi-led Arab coalition’s fighter jets launched 68 air strikes at rebel positions in six Yemeni provinces.

Former Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif is already in Saudi Arabia as the first commander of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), an inter-governmental alliance of 41 countries launched in December 2015.

However, Pakistan is sending troops to Saudi Arabia as part of its bilateral agreement to help guard the kingdom’s territorial integrity and not as part of the IMCTC, which is yet to become fully operational.

While confirming that Pakistan is indeed sending more military personnel to Yemen, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistan Armed Forces, maintained that the troops will not be involved outside of the Saudi kingdom.

“Troops already there will not be employed outside [Saudi Arabia]. The Pakistan army maintains bilateral security cooperation with many other [Gulf Cooperation Council]/regional countries,” the statement said.

Sources with knowledge of General Bajwa’s meeting with both Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Ambassador Al-Maliki say that Pakistan only agreed to station its troops along the border and won’t be sending its personnel to fight inside Yemen.

“Although technically defending Saudi Arabia against Houthi rebels and their attacks, [the deployment] makes Pakistan firmly a part of the Saudi camp. This, in turn, makes them a party to the Yemen War,” a senior military official who spoke to Asia Times claimed.

On February 16, Pakistan’s Senate summoned Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir to appear before Parliament’s upper house to explain the decision to send troops to Saudi Arabia, which was reportedly taken by the military rather than civilian leadership.

This was confirmed by Indian security analysts and New Delhi-based diplomats monitoring developments in Pakistan. “Our information is that the decision to send the brigade was presented as a fait acompli to the civilian leadership,” a senior Western diplomat in New Delhi told Asia Times.

“The deliberately nuanced Foreign Office statements condemning the Houthi missile attacks as a threat to the [Saudi] kingdom and holy mosques also seem aimed at justifying sending Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia for active engagement in the conflict,” Senator Farhatullah Babar said in a session.

Others see the deployment as another point of friction between the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)-led government and the powerful army. It is believed that the army is pushing behind-the-scenes for a consolidation of opposition parties to keep the government in check and ensure its defeat in forthcoming general elections.

In April 2015, Pakistan’s Parliament passed a resolution to uphold its neutrality in the Yemen conflict. However, with the military establishment increasingly consolidating its power, the Saudi royal family has recently coordinated directly with the Pakistani army leadership to fulfill its requests.

“The fact that it was the ISPR and not the government that made the announcement to send troops shows how the military dominates policy-making in Pakistan,” Lieutenant General Talat Masood, a retired former secretary of the Ministry of Defense Production, told Asia Times. “The decision should’ve been taken by the Parliament because they had already passed a resolution against Pakistan’s involvement in Yemen.”

Strategic analyst Hassan Askari Rizvi, author of The Military and Politics in Pakistan, said that it is not surprising that the army took the decision to send troops, of which he said the civilian government “has been informed.”

“Pakistan has over 1,000 troops deployed there already as military trainers,” he said. However, there are credible reports to suggest that Pakistan Air Force (PAF) pilots fly Saudi fighter jets on occasion. “The only reason why this is being seen as an extraordinary development is because of the current rivalries in the Middle East,” he added.

Lieutenant General Talat Masood notes an increasing inclination in the Pakistan army’s involvement on behalf of Saudi Arabia. “Pakistan has openly become involved on the Saudi side in the Yemen war. First, it used to say that it is only supposed to guard the two [Saudi] holy sites in Makkah and Madinah, then it became Saudi domestic interests, and now there’s open involvement in Saudi wars,” he said.

The decision also has implications for Pakistan’s bilateral relations with neighboring Iran. There has been concern in Tehran over Pakistan’s growing military ties with Saudi Arabia.

“The Iranians view the [IMCTC] as a force against them,” a senior New Delhi-based diplomat said. “General Bajwa has made considerable effort to maintain a balance between the two but this will heighten tensions.”

Published in Asia Times.com

Pakistan slipping out of US influence into China’s orbit, say intelligence agencies

Bolan Voice Report

Pak-US deteriorating relations are causing split of old allies into other circles and 660542-china-pakistaninternational media has attentive eye on these variations. Recently seventeen US intelligence agencies have warned Congress that Pakistan will continue to slip out of America’s influence and into China’s orbit in 2019, and will become a threat to Washington’s interests in the South Asian region.

The review is part of an annual report that Director of US National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee in previous days, underlining worldwide threat assessment of the American intelligence community.

The 17 agencies that jointly produced this report include Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency.

In their report on Pakistan, the agencies warned that the country will continue to threaten US interests by “deploying new nuclear weapons capabilities, maintaining its ties to militants, restricting counterterrorism cooperation, and drawing closer to China”.

The report claimed that Islamabad-backed militant groups will continue to take advantage of their alleged safe haven in Pakistan to “plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests”.

The agencies also warned Pakistan’s perception of its “eroding position relative to India, reinforced by endemic economic weakness and domestic security issues, almost certainly will exacerbate long-held fears of isolation and drive Islamabad’s pursuit of actions that run counter to US goals for the region”.

In a brief assessment of Islamabad’s nuclear program, US intelligence agencies informed Congress that Pakistan continues to produce nuclear weapons and develop new types, including short-range tactical weapons, sea-based cruise missiles, air-launched cruise missiles, and longer-range ballistic missiles.

“These new types of nuclear weapons will introduce new risks for escalation dynamics and security in the region,” the report added.

US agencies also expect relations between India and Pakistan to remain tense, with continued violence on the Line of Control and “the risk of escalation if there is another high-profile terrorist attack in India or an uptick in violence on the Line of Control”.

The agencies informed Congress that in 2019, relations between India and China will remain tense and will possibly deteriorate further, despite the negotiated settlement to their three-month border standoff in August.

This “elevates the risk of unintentional escalation”, the report added.

The US intelligence community expects the overall situation in Afghanistan to “deteriorate modestly” this year in the face of persistent political instability, sustained attacks by the Taliban-led insurgency, unsteady Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) performance, and chronic financial shortfalls.

The agencies warned that the National Unity government in Kabul “probably will struggle” to hold long-delayed parliamentary elections, currently scheduled for July 2018, and to prepare for a presidential election in 2019.

“The ANSF probably will maintain control of most major population centers with coalition force support, but the intensity and geographic scope of Taliban activities will put those centers under continued strain,” the agencies assessed.

The agencies believe that Afghanistan’s economic growth will stagnate at around 2.5 percent per year, and Kabul will remain reliant on international donors for the great majority of its funding well beyond 2018.

About Russia the US intelligence agencies see as bringing pressure on Central Asia’s leaders to reduce engagement with Washington and support Russian-led economic and security initiatives, and believe that “concerns about [the militant Islamic State group] in Afghanistan will push Moscow to strengthen its security posture in the region”.

Title December, 2017

title December edition 2017 for blog

Plague of Hepatitis-B kills outnumber villagers in Kharan

By Basheer Ahmed Ejbari

26943428_960888594074735_192907892_nThe province of Balochistan is largest as land-wise in Pakistan. It is 347190 square kilometers and covers 45 percent of Pakistan’s total land mass. It is also the least populated and is mostly underdeveloped. Balochistan is primarily known globally because it’s wealth of natural gas, vast gold reserves and other precious minerals. Unfortunately, the sparse population in Balochistan is lacking basic facilities of living. Such as clean drinking water and emergency health care.

District Kharan is situated 400 kilometers South-East of Quetta the provincial capital of 1550166-bloodtest-1509857686-113-640x480Balochistan. In Kharan district the blight of Hepatitis-B has affected the lives of thousands of people but authorities on provincial and national level are totally unaware of this. Though they every year allocate budget of Rs. 17 billion in health sector and make large claims for facilitating of this basic human need. The ground realities totally negate their claims and show a bleak picture of Kharan, especially in account of health.

Very first the history of Hepatitis-B is required to be broached here. The virus of Hepatitis-B was discovered in 1965 by Dr Baruch Blumberg who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery. Originally, the virus was called the “Australia Antigen” because it was named for an Australian aborigine’s blood sample that reacted with an antibody in the serum of an American hemophilia patient.

What is Hepatitis-B:

Hepatitis-B is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis-B virus (HBs). HBs is one of five types of viral hepatitis. The others are hepatitis A, C, D, and E. Each is a different type of virus, and types B and C are most likely to become chronic.

Symptoms:

Symptoms of acute Hepatitis-B may not be apparent for months. However, common symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • dark urine
  • joint and muscle pain
  • loss of appetite
  • fever
  • abdominal discomfort
  • weakness
  • yellowing of the whites of the eyes (sclera) and skin (jaundice)

Any symptoms of Hepatitis-B need urgent evaluation. Symptoms of acute Hepatitis-B are worse in people over the age of 60. Let your doctor know immediately if you have been exposed to Hepatitis-B. You may be able to prevent infection.

Diagnose of Hepatitis-B:

Medics usually diagnose Hepatitis-B with blood tests. Screening for Hepatitis-B may be recommended for individuals who:

  • have come in contact with someone with Hepatitis-B
  • have traveled to a country where Hepatitis-B is common
  • have been in jail
  • use IV drugs
  • receive kidney dialysis
  • are pregnant
  • are men who have sex with men
  • have HIV

Performing of a series of blood tests by doctors during the screen for Hepatitis-B requires.

People at risk for Hepatitis-B:

Certain groups are at particularly high risk of HBs infection. These include:

  • healthcare workers
  • men who have sex with other men
  • people who use IV drugs
  • people with multiple sex partners
  • people with chronic liver disease
  • people with kidney disease
  • people over the age of 60 with diabetes
  • those traveling to countries with a high incidence of HBS infection

A Hepatitis-B surface antigen test shows if you’re contagious. A positive result means you have Hepatitis-B and can spread the virus. A negative result means you don’t currently have Hepatitis-B. This test doesn’t distinguish between chronic and acute infection. This test is used together with other Hepatitis-B tests to determine the state of a Hepatitis-B infection.

Test of Liver function:

Liver function tests are important in individuals with Hepatitis-B or any liver disease. Liver function tests check your blood for the amount of enzymes made by your liver. High levels of liver enzymes indicate a damaged or inflamed liver. These results can also help determine which part of your liver may be functioning abnormally.

If these tests are positive, you might require testing for Hepatitis-B, C, or other liver infections. Hepatitis-B and C viruses are a major cause of liver damage throughout the world. You will likely also require an ultrasound of the liver or other imaging tests.

The area Errikalag-Kharan people have not been taught regarding health care initiatives and in such areas literacy rate is too low.  As a result, the health care providers cannot study and research about preemptive methods. Communication and transportation systems are totally inadequate. In such conditions, people totally are unaware about vaccinations regarding Hepatitis-B, so this disease has become a catastrophe here.

The Union Council Raskoh’s village Errikalag of Kharan is situated amongst the mountains where meadows grow which makes it like a resort.

The village of Errikalag has been hit the worst by disease of Hepatitis-B and it is suffering from this disease for approximately two decades. Subsequently, many locals of all ages and genders have died.

Some people of area Errikalag acute patient of Hepatitis-B and other victims are interviewed by Bolan Voice reporter as follow:

Abdul Ghofoor’s four family members are died from hepatitis B. He says, “I am a farmer by occupation, so I cannot afford the treatment my patients by qualified doctors and standard hospitals in settled areas. Five members of my family are suffering from this disease and I am also diagnosed by this virus, but hapless to get fine treatment and vaccination because of indigence”.

21433395_344220499371740_4822748536783241216_nEid Muhammad’s story is heart wrenching and inviting the attentions of government authorities including philanthropies to come forward for sake of humanity. He empathically said, “My two family members have been died by Hepatitis-B and he also is positive of this virus and on final stage of this test.” He showing helplessness said, “I am totally penniless and cannot buy a tablet for medication. I am waited to death, and family members affected by this disease are similar to me”.

Ghulam-ud-Din’s more than two family members are died including his son in young age by Hepatitis-B. And other family members are also affected; one of them is reaching the final stage of disease. Here it is saddening that for them there is no treatment or vaccination.

Dad Muhammad’s three sons are died and one son is aching from Hepatitis-B and that is also reached the final stage. His entire family was affected by hepatitis B virus and no one could survive. Alas! indigence never let him to treat his endeared family medically, even he is unable to save his life from the hepatitis B disease because he also is patient of this disease.

Hepatitis killed one son and two brothers of Nawaz Ahmed and his entire family is diagnosed positive for this virus. While shedding tears in hopelessness he says, “We don’t find any way to survive from this disease and our end is death by this.”

Gul Hassan says, his two brothers died from hepatitis B and his father was suffering critically. The deteriorating condition of his father cautions that he is about to die, because neither he can walk nor move, but is lying on bed paralyzed. Gul Hassan’s story is similar to other villagers, and he also have no money to take his father and other patients of his family to Karachi or Quetta where health facilities are improved.

Abdul Raziq a teenager on age 19 year died, aftermath his sister left this world. Their death was caused by the disease of hepatitis B. The relatives of Abdul Raziq informed that no one is alive of his siblings. They further told that Raziq with his father were taken to Agha Khan hospital in Karachi but late medication was futile, so died by this mortally disease.

Moula Bukhsh says, his one son died and three others are affected by the virus of hepatitis B. He further informed that they are financially not sound and treatment of Hepatitis is costly and unaffordable to them. He says, they were expecting some sort of help by government and generous people to counter the vicious disease of Hepatitis-B but yet no helping hand they have accessed.

Fazal’s father and one son died by Hepatitis. While dropping tears he informed, “My young son departed and reason behind his death is the hepatitis B virus. We are desperate that someone can survive from hepatitis B, because we witnessed countless fatalities in our area by this deadly disease. Now we have taken off our hands front of this.” People showed hopelessness and defeat to hepatitis B virus after seeing death of their town fellows and relatives.

Remat Ullah narrating the devastations of Hepatitis said, “My two sons and wife were both killed by the hepatitis B virus, when I got tested my elder son from Agha Khan Hospital’s laboratory, so he also found positive of hepatitis virus, even the said hospital official declared him on final stage of disease, and then he died in Quetta. We wanted to take him Kharan but he couldn’t survive to reach there. Following his death my younger son also died. We don’t know about disease, when and how attacks and what are the preemptive measures regarding Hepatitis-B.”

The appalling situations of village Errikalag-Kharan requires emergency measures by the provincial government and health department authorities to save the human lives. Where every family is victim by the disease of Hepatitis-B. In mentioned area, some families totally vanished away by the hepatitis virus and many lost its members.

While reporting the area people informed that no health and government authority contacted them or visited area. They also showed a massive cemetery and told that there mostly buried are died by the fierce disease of hepatitis.

Though a huge amount of PKR 17 billion is allocated on provincial level for health department, but Errikalag-Kharan deserving people are totally deprived of any health facility or financial assistance. This seem that these villagers are not citizen of this country and inhabitant of Balochistan province. Due to mismanagement and corruption all funds and resources go in hands of wicked peoples, while deserved are dying in terrible conditions.

In prevailing situations, the vaccination for Hepatitis is utmost needed in the area of Errikalag-Kharan for the sake of human lives. It is also mandatory to protect the upcoming generations form this disease by massive vaccination campaigns. The comprehensive vaccination repeatedly is to be practiced to halt spread of virus after an interval.

The international organizations pertaining to health also should take notice of the drastic situation of Errikalag-Kharan and they ought to dispatch teams for relieve of people. Further they should search out the reason behind spread hepatitis B virus in area. After thorough exploration a medical remedy is to be sought on humanitarian basis.

Prevention from Hepatitis-B for Kharan area people and others

The Hepatitis-B vaccine is the best way to prevent infection. Vaccination is highly recommended. It takes three vaccines to complete the series. The following groups should receive the Hepatitis-B vaccine:

  • all infants, at the time of birth
  • any children and adolescents who weren’t vaccinated at birth
  • adults being treated for a sexually transmitted infection
  • people living in institutional settings
  • people whose work brings them into contact with blood
  • HIV-positive individuals
  • men who have sex with men
  • people with multiple sexual partners
  • injection drug users
  • family members of those with Hepatitis-B
  • individuals with chronic diseases
  • people traveling to areas with high rates of Hepatitis-B

In other words, just about everyone should receive the Hepatitis-B vaccine. It’s a relatively inexpensive and very safe vaccine.

There are also other ways to reduce your risk of HBS infection. You should always ask sexual partners to get tested for Hepatitis-B. Use a condom or dental dam when having anal, vaginal, or oral sex. Avoid drug use. If you’re traveling internationally, check to see if your destination has a high incidence of Hepatitis-B and make sure you are fully vaccinated prior to travel.

The organization Doctors without Borders and likewise health workers are obligated to visit the area and observe the appalling situations, and give a helping hand to the helpless people of Kharan Errikalag who are suffering from plague of Hepatitis-B and they lost many unrecoverable human lives due to negligence of state authorities. The international organizations and local authorities help the area people in prevention measure, diagnose, lever test function and inform them about symptoms. In this way, the affected area people may be taken out from the plague of Hepatitis-B or its intensity got minimized to some extent.

The writer is can be reached. Email basheerahmeed30@ yahoo.com twitter @basheerejbari, blog basheerejbari. wordpress.com

Pak-US exacerbating ties

By Ahmed Khan

The United States of America’s President Donald Trump on eve of New Year 2018 twittedPakistan-US-ties-625x330 that Pakistani authorities gave nothing except “lies and deceits”.

President Trump twitted, “The United States rulers have foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 16 years, and they have given nothing us but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools.”

This is second time the US rulers bullied Pakistanis. In 2000 decade the secretary of state Mr. Richard Armitage threatened Pakistani Army Chief cum president Musharraf that they provide them logistic support and intelligence too in Afghanistan the War on Terror. Otherwise, they will be bombard from Karachi to Kabul indiscriminately and pushed them into stone age.

At that time, Talban regime was operating in Afghanistan and it was considered the fifth province of Pakistan. Because the Talban were production of Pakistan, so they were totally submissive to this. All policies and other affairs of neighboring country were settled in favored of Pakistan.

The sole superpower and ally of Pakistan the United States of America pressed hard it to become part again against those to whom it had bolstered and gained Dollars. By now, the Pakistan was got to destroy the Mujahidin. Beside the pressure, it was coaxed by heavy amount of aid of Dollars in shape of Coalition Support Fund and Pakistani authorities had tasted such funds and enjoyed in Soviet era, so refusal to these was some startling, too.

The United State of America had onslaught on Afghanistan in 2000 after incident of 9/11. At that time, the US had support of Pakistan in shape of logistic and intelligence. Consequently, the theocratic government of Talban was overthrown. Aftermath, the Arab Mujahidin means the Al-Qeada members were hunted in Afghanistan and in FATA the tribal areas administered federally by Pakistan. The prominent figures of Al-Qeada were caught and handed over to US and were collected handsome amount as imbursement.

The United States has been stationing its army with NATO forces in Afghanistan since 2000. Where the US provided lucrative opportunities of business to India in civil and military sectors. And this irritated much Pakistani authorities, so they also turned their priorities covertly about Afghanistan. In this way, mistrusts penetrated in two allies and this resulted the failure of policies implementation by US in Afghanistan.

The prolong war and presence of army in Afghanistan much nagged the US rulers and heavy incurrences also peeved policy makers that this war is going on as fruitless. Now they are accusing Pakistan for this failure.

Recently, the president Trump in a statement said, “Pakistan is providing safe heaven to chaos of agents on its soil.”

On another occasion the US president said, “Pakistan is obliged to assist the US in War on Terror because they make them every year payments.”

On the other side, according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report published in October 2007, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost taxpayers a total of $2.4 trillion by 2017 when counting the huge interest costs because combat is being financed with borrowed money.

A CNN report tells, President Trump vowed to beef up the American military presence in Afghanistan, a strategy that promises to extend the longest war in U.S. history and add billions to its financial cost. And one current estimate pegs the conflict’s total cost at $841 billion. That comes from Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Cordesman, who served as a consultant to the Departments of State and Defense during the Afghan and Iraq wars, says that figure includes Trump’s budget request for next year.

For instance, Neta Crawford, a co-director of the Cost of Wars Project at Brown University, has estimated that total war spending in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2001 is approaching $5 trillion. Of that, roughly $2 trillion is attributable to Afghanistan. That includes some future cost obligations.

Above given figures show that US has spent much in Afghanistan that costs about $2 trillion and this heavy amount stumbles it to withdraw from this land because seems unbearable for it. On this juncture, they only view to victory there, and sighted to Central Asian unexploited resources.

In prevailing situations, the Trump administration only tries to get engage Pakistan Army in War on Terror. And they also have offered Pakistan for more earning but this time did not use phrase of “do more” in their latest press briefing. Presently, they are using formula of ‘stick and carrot’ about Pakistan.

On the opposite, the Pakistani authorities replying to US statements spoke, they have done much in War on Terror. They say, their effort and sacrifices made possible defeat of Al-Qaeda in region. They also say, the recent statements by president Trump are belittling their sacrifices in this ongoing war.

Authorities claim, they provided transit route to NATO supply line to Afghanistan and other services, and the US even not disbursing their endeavors.

A Pakistani official counting country’s exertions said, after 16 years of fighting terror, the US owed Pakistan $23 billion. He added that, of this amount, Pakistan has been paid $14bn and an amount of $9bn is pending.

A report published by International organization of Physicians in 2015, shows At least 80,000 Pakistanis have been killed in the US-led War on Terror. Whilst Pakistani authorities tell more two divisions troop have been killed in War on Terror and civilian casualties are apart from the mentioned figures. A large number of civilian also have been killed in American Drone attacks mostly in FATA and some in KPK, rarely in Balochistan too.

The Pakistani authorities also claim for a great fiscal loss in War on Terror, but all these sacrifices are being underestimated by president Trump and its administration through new revealed South Asian policy.

The United States is demanding for destroy of Haqqani Newtork, which is involved in attacks on Afghan and foreigner forces in Afghanistan. And this instability is not letting smooth business in Afghanistan the investor countries mainly the India.

If Pakistan on demands of US destroys its assist ‘good Talban’ commonly the Haqqani Network, so it will be helpless in Afghanistan. And subsequent to this, the US will demand for dismantling of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, and eventually Jamait-ud-Dawa. The discussed militant organizations operate in Kashmir and within Pakistan, they combat the defiant elements to establishment. Mostly the fostered religious elements are used against nationalists particularly the Baloch and Sindhis.

The mentioned forces and voluntary groups of establishment work on political, religious and armed grounds. If these will be undermined, so the military on its behalf may not be able to get a favored Afghanistan. Beside this, the India also will be eased that presently is pressurized by militant organizations. While within Pakistan, the separatists also thrive more in absence of establishment’s volunteers in shape religious fanatics.

Another factor of strained relations between Pakistan and US is increasing influence of China in Pakistani trade and other affairs. Recently, the State Bank of Pakistan has omened about exchange of Yauan in Pakistani market. This act will cause expulsion of Dollar or it will devalue the US currency in Pakistani market. Other signed agreements between Pak-China are also not unbearable to US and its regional ally the India.

In firsthand, the Trump administration took retributive measure and the White House confirmed suspending $255 million of military aid to Pakistan which was being paid through Coalition Support Fund, a move seen as the first step to implementing Trump’s pledge to tighten economic restrictions on Pakistan.

About exacerbating relations of Pak-US, the Pakistani authorities showed strong reaction of statement by Trump administration and its tweet that Pakistan reciprocated only ‘lies and deceit’ to fool the American top brass against payments. The Pakistani authorities said in case of Drone strikes on its settled areas will defend the state’s sovereignty on their capacity. Though the Pakistan allowed the US for such strikes on Al-Qeda and Talban militants in past.

In the perspective of Pak-US relations it is being foreshowed that the US will condition its aid or Coalition Support Fund to Pakistan, it may remove the status of Non-NATO ally to Pakistan, resume the Drone strikes in FATA, KP and in Balochistan on Talban and likewise fundamentalists. And the US may raise its sympathies to separatists in Pakistan to Baloch and Sindhis. Eventually, the US also probably impose some sort of sanctions on Pakistan to get obedient.

On an occasion the American authorities in media stated that if Pakistan does not come forward in War on Terror, so it may lose its territories. This sort of statement indicates that US may elevate the issue of Durand Line which Pakistan considers permanent border with Afghanistan. The line of Durand was demarcated by British in its ruling era on this region and many areas presently fall in Pakistan were got on lease from Afghanistan for a century and mentioned agreement date has expired years ago.

In first step, the United States of America has suspended entirely aid to Pakistan. The US State Department said it was suspending security assistance to Pakistan until Islamabad takes action against the Afghan Talban and the Haqqani network, which Washington believes is destabilizing the region. Apart from this, the US also placed Pakistan on a special watch list for ‘severe violations of religious freedom’. Further the US will take what sort of actions against Pakistan are awaited and how Pakistan will deal with them are part of future.

Qudoos Bizenjo elected as new Cheif Minister of Balochistan

Bolan Voice Report

Nation Party was given the highest post in Balochistan the Chief Minister for two andqudoos half years. It enjoyed its turn and then it was handed over to PML-N’s Sana Ullah Zehri. This party leader Mr Zehri had been handling Balochistan government for more than two years but at the end of tenure his own party members and coalition parties’ politicians got discontented, resultantly they decided to bring non-confidence motion in house. On 9th of January 2018, the motion of non-confidence was to be presented against former CM Sana Ullah Zehri but he did see support of members and resigned from the post.

After the resignation of Sana Ullah Zehri the ruling parties’ members selected Mr Qudoos Bizenjo hailing from Awaran district and he is the least votes winner only 445 out of 57000 in election 2013 for the prime position in province Chief Minister.

Balochistan Assembly’s former deputy speaker Abdul Quddus Bizenjo was sworn in as the new chief minister of the province on 13th December 2018.

Bizenjo’s cabinet will comprise 14 members including Tahir Mehmood Khan, Sardar Sarfaraz Khan Domki, Nawab Changez Khan Marri, Mir Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti, Mrs Rahat Jamali, Abdul Majeed Abro, Mir Asim Kurd Giloo, Mir Amir Rind, Ghulam Dastagir Badini, Mohammad Akbar Askani, Sheikh Jaffer Khan Mandokhel, Agha Raza, Manzoor Ahmad Kakar and Prince Ahmed Ali.

PML-Q’s Bizenjo had earlier in the day been voted in as the third chief minister of Balochistan in four years in a session of the provincial assembly. He was elected after former CM Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri stepped down from his post last week.

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s (PkMAP) Agha Syed Liaqat Ali was the only contestant against Bizenjo after Abdul Rahim Khan Ziaratwal, also of PkMAP, stepped down in his favour.

Balochistan Assembly Speaker Rahila Durrani announced Bizenjo’s victory after the process of voting formally ended.

Talking to the media after his election, he dismissed speculations about the dissolution of Balochistan Assembly, terming them the rumors and nothing else.

He vowed to bring peace to the province and make efforts to alleviate reservations of disgruntled Baloch leaders. However, he warned that elements that tried to disturb the country’s peace will not be spared.

“Writ of the government would be ensured at all costs”, he said.

On 12th December 2018, Mr Bizenjo, an MPA from Awaran, had submitted five nomination papers each proposed and seconded by members of allied parties.

He was proposed by Jan Muhammad Jamali, Sardar Bhootani, Dr Ruquyia Saeed Hashmi, Zafarullah Zehri and Ghulam Dastagir Badini, and supported by Sarfaraz Bugti, Amanullah Notezai, Prince Ahmed Ali, Mir Aamir Khan Rind and Molvi Maazullah.

Sana Ullah Zehri, the former chief minister of Balochistan, had stepped down last week after opposition benches filed a motion of no-confidence against him. He turned in his resignation on January 9, the day when opposition parties planned to move a no-confidence vote against him in the provincial assembly.

He was reportedly asked to resign ahead of the session to spare his party — the PML-N — further embarrassment after Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi failed to win over the disgruntled elements in the Balochistan assembly.

PM Abbasi had reportedly advised Zehri to resign after dissenting leaders rejected his invitation to discuss outstanding issues, sources within the PML-N had told the media.

Saeed incited UK Muslims to militancy, says BBC report

By Sajid Iqbal

HAFIZ Muhammad Saeed, the head of the banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), toured Britain2B0D5BA100000578-3183318-image-a-1_1438561735737 during the 1990s, stirring up Muslim youths to become jihadis years before 9/11, a BBC investigation has found.

Hafiz Saeed, who has a $10 million bounty on his head for allegedly masterminding the Nov 2008 attacks in Mumbai, thrilled audiences in packed mosques in cities around this country by calling for a return to the days when Muslims waged jihad and infidels paid them protection money.

Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), has always denied involvement in the Mumbai carnage.

The revelation came amidst concerns for the British government and intelligence agencies about the large number of Muslims going abroad to fight “holy wars”. For most people this controversial religious calling came to the fore after 9/11, 7/7 (the attacks in Britain in July 2005) and the Arab Spring — young, disenfranchised and radical recruits heading from Britain to Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Syria.

The investigation, which was the basis of a 40-minute BBC Radio 4 documentary, The Dawn of British Jihad, was broadcast. It revealed that the roots of violent religious struggle by British Muslims were laid in the mid-1990s, much earlier than previously thought.

The tour of Britain was chronicled in Mujalla Al Dawah, a monthly magazine published by his organization, Markaz Dawa Wal Irshad.

According to the articles uncovered during the BBC investigation, Hafiz Saeed arrived in Britain on Aug 9, 1995, and set about lecturing the youth about jihad.

There was silence in Birmingham as he urged his audience to “rise up for jihad” and vilified Hindus.

That address “in real terms laid the foundation of … jihad in the UK,” according to the articles.

In Huddersfield, Saeed said: “In order to defeat infidels, it is our duty to develop all forms of arms and ammunition, including nuclear bomb. That is God’s command. We (LeT) have declared jihad and killing as first condition of our belief.”

In Leicester on Aug 26, Saeed spoke at a conference attended by 4,000 people. His address “infused a new spirit in the youth. Hundreds of young men expressed intention to get jihad training”.

Summing up the British tour, the author wrote: “A large number of young people want to get jihad training. A group of around 50 college and varsity students has so far finalised its programme. The valleys of Britain are resounding with chants of jihad. The time is not far off when Muslims will wake up” and the era of the early Muslim invaders of Europe “will come back in the vales of Europe. There will be chants of Allahu Akbar over Alhamra if the spirit of jihad is back among Muslims of Europe.”

Manwar Ali, a computer science graduates from London who became a jihadist but has now renounced violence, told the BBC he had persuaded Hafiz Saeed to visit Britain to rally support for jihad and raise funds.

“Whenever Hafiz Saeed would come to Green Lane [Birmingham] or Rochdale, Skipton, Rotherham, Birmingham, Leicester thousands of people would turn up,” Mr Ali told BBC.

Each trip raised £150,000 or more. Women removed their gold bangles and earrings in response to his call. Hundreds of Britons went to battlefields in the Philippines, Kashmir and Bosnia, with some losing their lives.

Britain banned LeT in early 2001.

The militant group was banned by Pakistan in 2002, but shortly before that Hafiz Saeed resigned and formed JuD, which is currently on a watch list but officially not banned. Saeed was confined to his home in Pakistan for several months last year, but has been freed since.

According to Raffaello Pantucci’s book, We Love Death As You Love Life, LeT has retained a complex network in Britain.

Omar Khyem from Crawley, ringleader of a five-strong gang jailed in 2004 for plotting to use fertilizer bombs to blow up the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent and the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London, claimed to have established a camp in Kashmir with LeT.

Aabid Khan, from Bradford, who was jailed for 12 years for heading a cyber-grooming radicalization gang, claimed to have links to LeT.

The United Kingdom is not the only western country visited by Hafiz Saeed during the 1990s. He visited the US in 1994. The Jan 1995 issue of Mujalla Al Dawah published an interview with Hafiz Saeed about his visit to the US. “I was invited by an Islamic organization called New York Cultural Centre (Al Markaz Al Saqafati New York). It is an organization of our Salafist brothers and counts a number of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis among its members,” he said in the interview.

“I was invited on the letterhead of the cultural centre as a professor and there was no mention of any jihadist organization,” he added.

Published in Dawn

State Bank of Pakistan allows yuan-based trade with China

By Shehzad Baloch

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Monday made it clear that all arrangements for101422213-166794923.530x298 using Chinese yuan for bilateral trade as well as financing investment activity between Pakistan and China are already in place.

On Dec 19, 2017, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said that the government was considering a Chinese proposal to use renminbi (RMB or yuan) instead of the US dollar for payments in all bilateral trade between China and Pakistan.

The decision was taken after rejecting a Chinese proposal to allow yuan as legal tender in Gwadar, Balochistan.

“The SBP, in the capacity of the policy maker of financial and currency markets, has taken comprehensive policy related measures to ensure that imports, exports and financing transactions can be denominated in yuan,” said a statement issued by the SBP.

It further said both public and private sector enterprises (ie both Pakistanis and Chinese) are free to choose yuan for bilateral trade and investment activities.

The RMB is an approved currency for denominating foreign currency transactions in Pakistan. The SBP has already put in place the required regulatory framework which facilitates use of yuan in trade and investment transactions such as opening of letter of credits (LCs) and availing financing facilities in yuan.

In terms of regulations in Pakistan, yuan is on a par with other international currencies such as dollar, euro and Japanese yen, etc.

In FY17, Pakistan exported goods and services worth $1.62 billion while the imports from China were $10.57bn reflecting a great imbalance. The two countries have yet not finalised a free trade agreement (FTA). The FTA may benefit exports from Pakistan as the country critically needs to improve its exports due to huge trade deficits.

After signing a Currency Swap Agreement (CSA) with People’s Bank of China (PBoC) in 2012, the SBP had taken a series of steps to promote use of yuan in Pakistan for bilateral trade and investment with China.

The central bank has allowed banks to accept deposits and give trade loans in yuan.

For onward lending the proceeds of CSA, the SBP has put in place the loan mechanism for banks to get the yuan financing from the SBP for onward lending to importers and exporters having underlying trade transactions denominated in the Chinese currency.

In 2012, the SBP issued a circular that said the authorised dealers may open foreign currency accounts and extend trade loans under FE-25 Scheme in US dollar, pound sterling, euro, Japanese yen, Canadian dollar, UAE dirham, Saudi riyal, Chinese yuan, Swiss franc and Turkish lira.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) Pakistan has been allowed to establish a local yuan settlement and clearing setup in Pakistan enabling it to open yuan accounts of the Chinese banks operating in Pakistan and to facilitate settlement of yuan-based transactions such as remittance to/from China.

“With the opening of Bank of China in Pakistan, the access to onshore Chinese markets will strengthen further. Apart from the above, several banks in Pakistan maintain onshore yuan nostro accounts,” said the SBP.

The SBP said considering the recent local and global economic developments, particularly with the growing size of trade and investment with China under CPEC, the Bank foresees that yuan denominated trade with China will increase significantly and will yield long term benefits for both the countries.

When asked, the SBP spokesman said the statement on yuan was issued due to many queries from media about the use of the currency for bilateral trade. He said it seemed there was confusion about the use of yuan for bilateral trade which was clarified with this detailed statement.

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