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Why is America So Deeply Involved in the Middle East? Energy? Geography?

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What is the importance of the Middle East for the West? Is it energy resources to fuel the industrialized West? Or the key trade and shipping routes passing through the Persian Gulf and the Suez Canal used by ships to sail from Asia to Europe and North America?


Why is oil, the most traded commodity, priced and traded in US Dollars? Does oil trade help maintain the US Dollar as the international trade and reserve currency and solidify US control of the global financial system, giving the US a very powerful tool to control the world?

What is the history of West's involvement in the Middle East? Can it be traced back to the fall of the Ottoman Empire in early 20th century?

When did the United States take over where Britain and France left off? Cold War? Iranian leader Mosaddegh's overthrow by CIA? Suez Crisis?

Energy revolution is in full swing in Silicon Valley with widespread use of solar panels, electric vehicles and storage batteries. Like other technologies emerging from Sil…

Lower Import Duties Rattle Pakistan's Mobile Handset Makers

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Pakistan Federal Board of Revenue has recently announced that “Sales Tax and Income Tax at import stage has been drastically reduced in case of smartphones of Rs15,000 or below". This action was apparently taken after Digital Pakistan Initiative led by Tania Aidrus asked for it. It has come under fire from the country's nascent mobile phone and smartphone manufacturing industry which is producing low-cost mobile phones. Pakistan's mobile handset market is the 8th largest in the world. Current annual demand is for about 40 million units of which 13 million are assembled in Pakistan while the rest are imported, according to a report by Dunya News. The import bill for Fiscal Year 2020 is expected to be about $1.2 billion. Boosting it will save billions of dollars of precious foreign exchange. It will create tens of thousands of jobs and spawn new auxiliary manufacturing industries for chargers, headphones, USB cables, cases, etc.  In future, Pakistan could become a significa…

Pakistan's Middle Class Consumer Population Among World's Fastest Growing

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Although the rate of growth has slowed since 2018, Pakistan's middle class consumer population still remains among the fastest growing in the world. In a report titled "Emerging Markets Transforming As Velocity Markets", Ogilvy and Mather, a global market communications firm, has put Pakistan among what it calls "Velocity 12" group of economies that include Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines and Vietnam.  The term velocity describes both the rate of real change in the size of the middle class as well as a priority for companies as they consider business investment and marketing in V12 countries. These 12 countries will be the biggest contributors to the next billion middle class consumers, according to the report.

The Velocity 12 report says that this next billion middle-class group will:

1. Be increasingly defined by women and youth as the change agents, with purchasing power crossing cultural, r…

Are Pakistani Leaders Slaves of Arab Royals?

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Are Pakistani leaders slaves of Arab Royals? Or simply doing what is in Pakistan's best interest?


Why did Imran Khan not attend the Kuala Lumpur Islamic Summit that was organized by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad and attended by Turkish President Erdogan and Iranian President Hasan Rouhani? Why did he yield to Saudi pressure to skip it?

What are Pakistan's key economic and security interests in Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC)? Is labor Pakistan's biggest export earning over $20 billion a year? What is the biggest export market for Pakistan's labor? What would happen if Pakistan joined Malaysia and Turkey in creating a new Muslim bloc competing with the Arab-led Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC)? Will OIC try to live up to Pakistan's expectation of a tougher stance against India's Modi vis a vis Indian Occupied Kashmir and Indian Muslims?

Who makes Pakistan's foreign and security policies? How influential is Pakistani military in making th…

Soleimani Was the Hardest of the Hardliners in Iran

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Iran's General Qassem Soleimani was in America's cross-hairs for many years. He was the hardest of the hardliners in Tehran. He was very effective in his role as the head of the elite but ruthless Qods Force which is part of Iran's "Pasdaraan" (Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps). He had made many powerful enemies, both at home and abroad. Some conspiracy theorists are speculating that his assassination was staged by American and Iranian intelligence agencies to get rid of the Iranian general who was getting too big for his boots. American and Iranian Intelligence agencies have cooperated in their common battle against ISIS in recent years. Both sides wanted to eliminate Soleimani for their own reasons but without starting a real US-Iran war.

Soleimani Assassination: 

His assassination on President Donald Trump's orders last week brought Washington and Tehran to the brink of yet another major war in the Middle East as  Iran lobbed over a dozen missiles at two Iraq…

Battle For Pakistan 2007-2019: Pak-US Ties and Civil-Military Relations

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Shuja Nawaz's "The Battle For Pakistan: The Bitter Friendship and a Tough Neighborhood" looks at key events of the last decade that have characterized US-Pakistan ties and civil-military relations in Pakistan.  One of the biggest developments in the period covered by Shuja Nawaz's book is the rise of Narendra Modi and the Hindu Nationalists in India. His book is a well-written treatise but it is strangely silent on the implications of this major development for South Asia region and the world.


US Raid in Abbottabad:

On May 2, 2011, US commandos raided a house in Pakistani city of Abbottabad and killed Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden. There are many stories about who led the Americans to Bin Laden's hideout. The story that Shuja Nawaz appears to confirm is the one about ex Pakistani spy Lt Col Iqbal Saeed Khan walking into the US Embassy in Islamabad to tell the CIA station chief the exact location of Bin Laden. This spy was apparently well rewarded for it. He now …

Pakistan's Year 2019 in Review: Economic and Security Challenges

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Pakistan started the year 2019 in the midst of a very serious economic crisis with very high twin deficits and extremely low foreign exchange reserves. While Pakistan's internal security challenges subsided, the external security concerns grew with India's attack on Balakot in 2019. Tough actions by PTI government have started to pay off at the end of year 2019.  Toward the end of the year, Pakistan's twin deficits declined substantially and credit rating agency Moody's upgraded Pakistan's outlook from negative to stable. Mass migration continued both within and outside Pakistan. About 600,000 Pakistanis went to work overseas in 2019. And at least 4 times more Pakistanis moved from rural to urban areas.  Pakistan had high profile visits of the royal families from the UK and the Netherlands as well as the visit of the Sri Lankan cricket team, the first foreign team to play test series in Pakistan in a decade. Conde Nast Travel picked Pakistan as the top tourism dest…