Showing posts from March, 2010

Pakistani Chief Judge's Anti-Corruption Campaign

Led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, the judges of Pakistan Supreme Court have overturned former President Musharraf's amnesty order for 8000 top politicians, including current President Asif Ali Zardari, and declared jihad against corruption at the highest levels of government.

Pakistani judiciary's battle against rampant corruption has recently escalated with the jailing of a top serving police official at the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and the ultimatum to the anti-corruption chief of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to reopen domestic and international corruption cases against the beneficiaries of the NRO amnesty, or be prepared to go to jail.

Some critics of the Supreme Court actions see the top court's recent orders against top officials as abuse of power by Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry, the head of the unelected and independent judiciary in Pakistan. They accuse the Chaudhry court of engaging in unwarranted judicial activism designed to usurp the power…

Judging Indian Democracy on Right to Food

There is no basic human right more important than the right to adequate food. This right is recognized as a basic human right within the U.N. Universal Human Rights framework. Specifically, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (U.N. 1948), Article 25, states that “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food.”

In practice, however, the right to food is widely ignored by the most vociferous human rights campaigners, as well as the leaders of the world's largest democracy in India. This is particularly true when the critics compare human rights records of India and China. The harshest criticism by various human rights groups is reserved for China, while India gets only a minor slap on the wrist for its most egregious violations of basic human right to food, shelter, clothing, health and education.

Since 2001, even the Indian Supreme Court has upheld the right to food as a basic human right…

Pakistan Signs Iran Gas Pipeline Deal

In clear defiance of the US campaign to isolate Iran, Pakistan this week formally signed an agreement for the construction of a 560-mile, $7.5 billion gas pipeline from Iran's South Pars gas field in the Gulf through Pakistan's Balochistan province to Sindh province. The agreement with Iran came within days of America's announcement of plans to push stricter sanctions against Iran, and just days before the start of the planned US-Pakistan strategic dialog in Washington.

"By connecting itself with the world's second largest gas reserves, Pakistan would guarantee reliable supply for decades to come," U.S. energy analyst Gal Luft told UPI.

Pakistan is not alone in snubbing the world's sole superpower. Just last week, the Israelis did the same when they announced plans to build 1600 new units in occupied East Jerusalem during Vice President Joseph Biden's visit there. Subsequent denunciations of Israeli actions by the Quartet (UN, Europe, Russia and US) an…

Chinese Yuan as Reserve and Trade Currency?

A series of Chinese government policy changes are enabling Asian companies to settle trades with their Chinese counterparts in renminbi, according to website. And increased intra-Asian trading volume may lead Beijing to also consider allowing other trade-related insurance and derivatives denominated in renminbi to be done offshore, according to bankers and regulators in Hong Kong.

Although it is still very early, the Chinese move aims for its currency to join the US dollar and EU's Euro as a major trade and reserve currency. A key hurdle that the Chinese need to cross is the full convertibility of the yuan into other major currencies. Beijing is beginning to get around the convertibility issues by signing currency swap agreements with several of its trading partners, including Argentina, Indonesia, India, Japan, Pakistan, Russia and South Korea. The agreement requires that the central banks of the partner countries have adequate deposits of each others’ currencies. These …

Creative Solutions For Child Malnutrition in South Asia

Although it's a subject I have often written about, this particular post about fighting child malnutrition is inspired by a recent email from Col. Pavan Nair, an Army officer turned social activist, and a patriotic Indian with a deep sense of service to those in the greatest need in his country and its neighborhood.

In 2009, the Indian government banned the import of Plumpy'Nut nutrient bar by UNICEF to treat moderate to severe acute malnutrition among Indian children. Defending the government action, Mr. Shreeranjan, the joint secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, told the Reuters that "Nothing should come behind our back. Nothing should be done in the name of emergency when we have not declared an emergency."

Clearly, Mr. Sheeranjan does not see the food emergency that is causing almost half of India's children to be malnourished. According to UNICEF's State of the World's Children's report carried by the BBC, India has the worst…

Newsweek Eyes Pakistan Media Market

With the planned September launch of its Pakistan edition, Newsweek magazine is the latest publication to join Pakistan's media revolution, according to Newsweek Pakistan will be the first licensed international news magazine for the country and the eighth local edition under the Washington Post Co.-owned Newsweek brand. Other country editions published by Newsweek include those in Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Mexico, Poland, Russia and Turkey. In addition to featuring more local content, the country editions target local and international advertisers with special pricing to be competitive in the targeted media markets.

Newsweek Pakistan Edition

Newsweek Pakistan will be published under license by AG Publications, a privately-owned media company in Pakistan. Fasih Ahmed, who has reported for The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek International, will be the editor of Newsweek Pakistan. Ahmed won a New York Press Club award in 2008 for Newsweek's coverage of the assassinat…

100 Million Missing Girls of India and China

The last century saw the largest total population increase ever in the history of the world. At the start of the twentieth century, there were 1.6 billion people, according to Gaia Watch. At the end there were 6.1 billion people. However, the total fertility rates in the world are now rapidly declining; it is happening in America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. With increasing urbanization and rapid economic growth, there are tremendous pressures being felt to reduce the family size in the emerging economies of the world. And it's a trend often missed by the casual consumer of frequent sensational media stories warning us about "the population bomb". Dramatic increase in female Genocide or gendercide—the title of a 1985 book by Mary Anne Warren—is seen as an unintended consequence of pressure to have smaller families in countries like India and China.

As we are constantly bombarded by such stories and arguments about the the dangers of increasing world population, let…

Privatizing Police in Pakistan?

The last few years in Pakistan have seen significant proliferation of privatization of traditional state functions. There are a growing number of private security companies providing armed guards, private toll roads, private education at all levels, private hospitals and clinics, private water delivery businesses, and private clubs. Instead of helping improve the situation for all of their fellow citizens, it seems that the Pakistani elite are retreating into their own shells to isolate themselves from the terrible effects of deteriorating governance in their land.

Privatization wave is not limited to Pakistan alone. Prompted by growing security concerns and faced with huge budget deficits, the United States is seeing increasing privatization of security functions, often referred to as "dual law enforcement". Gated communities patrolled by private security guards are popping up all over the United States. Privately operated prisons are also growing, along with private police …

Pakistan's Economy: What Went Wrong 2008-2010?

Guest Post By Prof. Ashfaque Hasan Khan

This post briefly reviews two years of economic performance of the present government. What it inherited, what it informed the IMF and the people of Pakistan, why it went to the IMF, and where we stand now - are the subject matter of this article.

Pakistan positioned itself as one of the four fastest growing economies in the Asian region during 2000-07 with its growth averaging 7.0 per cent per year for most of this period. As a result of strong economic growth, Pakistan succeeded in reducing poverty by one-half, creating almost 13 million jobs, halving the country's debt burden, raising foreign exchange reserves to a comfortable position and propping the country's exchange rate, restoring investors' confidence and most importantly, taking Pakistan out of the IMF Program.

These facts were acknowledged by the present government in a Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) for 2008/09-2009/10, while signing agreement with th…