How is 64-Year-Old Pakistan Doing?
“You tend to hear the worst 5% of the Pakistan story 95% of the time.”
The above is a quote attributed to Pakistani Entrepreneur Monis Rahman in Aug 8, 2011 Forbes Magazine story titled “Want to Start a Company in the World's Sixth-Most Populous Country? Time to Move to Pakistan”.
On Pakistan's 64th birthday today, there is a lot of coverage by the traditional media focused on "the worst 5% of the Pakistan story". To help my readers piece together the full story of Pakistan this August 14, 2011, I am writing today to present some of the key parts of the rest of the 95% of the Pakistan story that gets little or no coverage.
Let's start with some of the key indicators of progress Pakistan has made since independence in 1947.
1. Health & Wealth:
The health and wealth of a nation depend on availability of good nutrition and access to health care and education, which in turn rely on economic growth to support needed public and private social spending.
The most basic indicators of progress, such as the life expectancy and per capita incomes of many nations, have been compiled and brought to life in animations developed by Professor Hans Rosling and posted on gapminder.org.
The Gapminder animations show that life expectancy in Pakistan has jumped from 32 years in 1947 to 67 years in 2009, and per Capita inflation-adjusted PPP income has risen from $766 in 1948 to $2603 in 2009.
Literacy is also a very important indicator of progress. Though the literacy in Pakistan has increased from about 10% in 1947 to about 60% today, it remains dismally low relative to many other nations.
However, a closer examination of literacy data by age groups shows that the literacy rates are rising by every generation:
Over 55 years 30% literate
15-25 70% (Male 80%, Female 60%, UNICEF)
Rural and Female illiteracy are the biggest challenges.
3. Poverty, Hunger and Inequality:
The World Bank ranks Pakistan among lower-middle-income nations with per capita income exceeding $1000 a year.
Pakistan is still a country with significant population of poor people. However, its recent levels of poverty are among the lowest in South Asia.
The 2011 World Bank data shows that Pakistan's poverty rate of 17.2%, based on India's current poverty line of $1.03 per person per day, is more than 10 percentage points lower than India's 27.5%. Assam (urban), Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are the only three Indian states with equal or slightly lower poverty rates than Pakistan's.
Based on hunger data collected from 2003 to 2008, The International Food Policy Research (IFPRI) has reported that Pakistan's hunger index score improved over the last three consecutive years reported since 2008 from 21.7 (2008) to 21.0 (2009) to 19.1 (2010) and its ranking rose from 61 to 58 to 52. During the same period, India's index score worsened from 23.7 to 23.9 to 24.1 and its ranking moved from 66 to 65 to 67 on a list of 84 nations.
Pakistan is also more egalitarian than its neighbors. The CIA World Factbook reports Pakistan’s Gini Index has decreased from 41 in 1998-99 to 30.6 in 2007-8, lower than India's 36.8 and Bangladesh's 33.2.
4. Pakistan's Economy:
Pakistan state was broke in 1947 because India refused to give Pakistan its share of Sterling reserves. The situation was so bad that Pakistani govt couldn’t pay employees. In this first existential crisis, the Habibs bailed out Pakistani state by lending Rs. 80 million, more than half of Rs. 150 million budget.
Today, Pakistan's economy is the 27th largest in the world. As Part of "the Next 11" group of nations, it is one of the top 15 emerging economies (BRICs+Next11) picked by Goldman Sachs. Goldman forecasts Pakistan to be among the top 20 biggest economies in the world by 2025.
Since 2008, Pakistan's economy has been suffering from a serious stagflation, a very bad combination of slow growth and high inflation. But the history tells us that this current situation is not normal for Pakistan. After all, it's Pakistan's robust economic growth that has enabled significant progress based on the health and wealth indicators outlined earlier.
Beginning in 1947, Pakistani economy grew at a fairly impressive rate of 6 percent per year through the first four decades of the nation's existence. In spite of rapid population growth during this period, per capita incomes doubled, inflation remained low and poverty declined from 46% down to 18% by late 1980s, according to eminent Pakistani economist Dr. Ishrat Husain. This healthy economic performance was maintained through several wars and successive civilian and military governments in 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s until the decade of 1990s, now appropriately remembered as the lost decade.
In the period from 2000-2007, here's what the IMF agreed to in 2008 as part of the nation's bailout:
Pakistan became 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.
5. Science and Technology:
Here are some of the facts about Pakistan's progress in science and technology that never make the headlines in the mainstream media anywhere, including Pakistan:
-Pakistan has been ScienceWatch’s Rising Star for scientific papers published in various international journals.
-Pakistan is among a handful of nations with dozens of scientists working on CERN’s high-profile SuperCollider Project. Several SuperCollider components were built in Pakistan.
-Jinnah Antarctic Station puts Pakistan among a dozen nations doing research in Antarctica.
-Pakistan’s IT Industry is worth $2.8 billion and growing
-Pakistan leads the world in biometric IT services with the world’s biggest biometric database.
-Top-selling Blackberry application was developed by a Pakistani company Pepper.pk
6. Arts, Literature & Culture:
There has been an explosion of the uniquely Pakistani arts and literature:
-Sachal Orchestra, a Lahore Jazz Group, is topping western music charts
-Regular book fairs, music concerts, fashion shows & theater group performances
-UK’s Granta Magazine Special Issue Highlights Successful Pakistani Authors’ Books Published in Europe and America. Examples: Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), Daniyal Mueenuddin (In Other Rooms, Other Wonders), Kamila Shamsie (Burnt Shadows), Mohammad Hanif (A Case of Exploding Mangoes) and Nadeem Aslam (The Wasted Vigil) who have been making waves in literary circles and winning prizes in London and New York.
7. Heavy Manufacturing:
Pakistan has a significant heavy industry today. For example:
-Autos, Motorcycles, Tractors, Buses, Trucks (Auto Sales Up 61% in July, 2011)
-Nuclear Reactors (Khushab)
-Unmanned Drones (UAVs)
-Ballistic and Cruise Missiles
8. Natural Resources:
Pakistan is rich in energy and mineral resources.
-US Dept of Energy estimates 51 trillion cubic feet of shale gas mostly in Sindh. And there's good potential for shale oil in the country.
-Vast coal reserves at Thar for cheap electricity
-Huge deposits of copper, gold, iron and rare earths at Reko Diq, Dilband and Saindak in Balochistan
-High sustained wind speeds of 13 to 16 mph along the Arabian Sea coastline
-Lots of sunshine everywhere all year round
-Significant hyrdo energy potential
9. Strong Society:
The Habibs bailed out Pakistani state in 1947.
Now, let's see how Edhi doing it in 2011. Here's quote from Anatol Leiven's "Pakistan: A Hard Country":
"There is no sight in Pakistan more moving than to visit some dusty, impoverished small town in arid wasteland, apparently abandoned by God and all sensible men and certainly abandoned by the Pakistani state and its own elected representatives- to see the flag of the Edhi Foundation flying over a concrete shack with a telephone, and the only ambulance in town standing in front. Here, if anywhere in Pakistan, lies the truth of human religion and human morality".
Lieven says Pakistanis donate 5% of the GDP for charitable cause, making Pakistanis the most generous people in the world. As a benchmark, philanthropy accounts for 2.2% of gdp in the United States, 1.3% in the UK, 1.2% in Canada and 0.6% in India.
10. Weak State:
Unfortunately, Pakistani state, run by politicians and their hand-picked civilian administrators, is weak, incompetent and ineffective.
The Pakistani military and the civil society bails out the state each time it is found lacking. Examples include the earthquake in 2005 , Swat takeover by Taliban insurgents in 2009, and massive floods in 2010. In each of these cases, the politicians and the civilian administrators abandoned the people and the world media declared Pakistan a failed state on the verge of total collapse. But they were proved wrong.
The military launched the rescue and relief efforts by deploying all of its resources, and then the NGOs like Edhi Foundation stepped in to help the people stand on their feet again.
While the worst 5% of the Pakistan story gets all the headlines, the reality of Pakistan today as vibrant society and a strong nation gets ignored by the mainstream media. The real story of Pakistan is the resilience of its 180 million citizens who continue to strive to make it better and stronger.
The Taliban who get all the coverage do not pose an existential threat to Pakistan. Generations of military families have periodically fought FATA insurgencies. For example, Shuja Nawaz, the author of Crossed Swords says that his grandfather, his uncle and his cousin have all been deployed in Waziristan by the British and later Pakistani governments in the last century and a half. American withdrawal from the region will eventually calm the situation in Waziristan, and the rest of the country.
Climate change and the growing water scarcity are the main long-term existential threats to Pakistan and the region. Water per capita is already down below 1000 cubic meters and declining
What Pakistan needs are major 1960s style investments for a second Green Revolution to avoid the specter of mass starvation and political upheaval it will bring.
Note: Click here to get a pdf version of my presentation at P.A.C.C. in San Jose, CA.
Here's a video of Riaz Haq's interview on Aug 14, 2011:
Wide Angle Zoom: Formation and Future of Pakistan by wbt-tv
Ishrat Husain: Structural Reforms in Pakistan's Economy
Pakistan's Economic Performance 2008-2010
Incompetence Worse Than Corruption in Pakistan
Pakistan's Circular Debt and Load Shedding
US Fears Aid Will Feed Graft in Pakistan
Pakistan Swallows IMF's Bitter Medicine
Shaukat Aziz's Economic Legacy
Pakistan's Energy Crisis
Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performance
India Pakistan Contrasted 2010
Pakistan's Foreign Visitors Pleasantly Surprised
After Partition: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
The "Poor" Neighbor by William Dalrymple
Pakistan's Modern Infrastructure
Video: Who Says Pakistan Is a Failed State?
India Worse Than Pakistan, Bangladesh on Nutrition
UNDP Reports Pakistan Poverty Declined to 17 Percent
Pakistan's Choice: Talibanization or Globalization
Pakistan's Financial Services Sector
Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers
Pakistan's Decade 1999-2009
Pakistan's Other Story
South Asia Slipping in Human Development
Asia Gains in Top Asian Universities
Pakistan's Multi-Billion Dollar IT Industry
India-Pakistan Military Comparison
Food, Clothing and Shelter in India and Pakistan
Pakistan Energy Crisis
IMF-Pakistan Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies
About 21,000 children are still dying every day from preventable causes.
India leads the under-5 death toll with 1.7 million deaths, followed by Nigeria 861K, Dem Rep of Congo 465K, Pakistan 423K, China 315K, Ethiopia 271K and Afghanistan 191K.
In terms of deaths per 1000 live births, Pakistan is still at 87, compared with Bangladesh 48 and India 63.
Pakistan's rate of child mortality decline at 1.8% a year between 1990 and 2010 is among the slowest in the world, compared with 3% in India and an impressive 5.5% in Bangladesh.
Burkina Faso at 176 deaths per 1000 live births, Angola 161, Afghanistan 149, and Nigeria 143 are among the highest in the world.
...On both ends of the political spectrum in Pakistan, memogate will inspire high-strung, virtuoso performances, dripping with both the intellect and emotion that are signs of a people fully alive to the state of their country and the challenges it faces. Some will be appalled that someone (allegedly) sought an improved civil-military balance through cloak-and-dagger means. Some will be appalled that an attempt to fix this balance may force an elected government to toe the line of unelected soldiers and spies.
But ultimately, the vibrancy of Pakistani discourse is a good sign: Despite the menacing insecurity and instability that so many Pakistanis have endured in recent years, we can still have a robust, frank discussion about our problems.
Yet, as memogate consumes the national attention, three other robust debates are taking place across the country -- and they are just as important. In Sindh, the spiritual and political epicenter of the ruling PPP, a debate rages over what model of local government should be applied to the Pakistani megacity of Karachi. In Punjab, a province with a population of 90 million, the surging popularity of retired cricket star Imran Khan and his nationalist Tehrik-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice) party have captivated the national imagination with a message of hope for the future. Perhaps most heartening of all, in the Pakistani capital Islamabad this week, the much-maligned parliament, the most formal and most supreme of national institutions, just approved the Anti-Women Practices Bill of 2011, which bans and criminalizes many of the medieval customs that have so often enabled a systemic violation of women's rights. This is how politics is supposed to work, in a country where for decades it has not. ...
Luckily, Pakistan is a big, and surprisingly resilient country. It can absorb mistakes. The accumulated mistakes of recent years have conspired to create some valuable points of national consensus. Pakistan's independent judiciary is not the only accessible example. Even when it comes to memogate, there is a rough consensus out there. Among even the most extreme partisans, no one has argued against the need to address and resolve the civil-military imbalance.
No one has argued that our institutions are particularly strong. No one will dare advocate that individuals should again be allowed to run government on a whim. In the deafening cacophony of dissent generated by the cutthroat, 24-hour news media in Pakistan, it is vital to remember just how much Pakistanis agree on.
“The Bank has responded flexibly in the face of the tremendous challenges Pakistan has gone through over the past year or so,” said its Pakistan country director Rachid Benmessaoud.
“We will continue our strong support to Pakistan, while keeping a keen eye on implementation to ensure that these efforts translate into real results on the ground,” he said.
The bank’s progress report on its Pakistan program said its efforts had been disrupted over the past two years by the devastating floods of 2010-2011, ongoing security problems as well as “slow economic reform”.
“Shifting the focus and resources in response to the floods led to a delay in infrastructure investments,” it said.
It said Pakistan’s economic recovery from the floods and other problems remains slow, with growth of 3.9 percent expected next year.
“A range of governance, corruption and business environment indicators suggest that these areas remain a challenge,” it added.
The funds include $4 billion in development assistance and $1.5 billion from the bank’s International Finance Corporation, which helps private sector firms.
“We are committed to helping Pakistan realize its potential especially in key sectors such as infrastructure, renewable energy and agribusiness,” said IFC Middle East director Mouayed Mahlouf
Apne Ulloo Lyrics
Quaid-e-Azam aya angrezo ko bhagaya
Pakistan banaya teera maah chalaya
Ziarat ke dourey par aya maut ne isko bulaya
Dunya aakhir fani chor dya usko
Jani sacha tha Pakistani
Karachi mein dafnaya poora dunya aya
phoolon ka chadar chadaya
phir noton par photo aya
goro ko tune bhagya
Quaid-e-Azam ke baad baba jo bhi aata hai
apna ulloo seedha karta hai
Apne Ulloo kitne taire ap tak na hue yeh seedhe
Apne Ulloo korey korey woh yehi pe hai korey korey
Apne Ulloo kitne taire ap tak na hue yeh seedhe
Apne Ulloo korey korey woh yehi pe hai korey korey
Liaquat Ali Khan aya usko aamro ne marwaya
Iskandar Mirza aya usne nahin chalaya
General Ayub Khan aya marital law lagaya
Mirza ko bahadur banaya
1965 ka jang laraya Shastri ko maar bhagaya
Aisa sabak seekha moo tod jawab dilaya
[Nehr] bhi banwaya isne bhi nahin chalaya
Sir baad mein aya Yahya Khan adha Pakistan ganwaya
Fauj ko qaid karwaya Bangladesh chinaya
Isne bhi nahin chalaya
Taale, waadey, signal, dil sabkuch toda kuch nahin choda
kuch nahin choda
Do number kaamon mein bhi hum number two
hum number two
Kar Allah hoo
Apne Ulloo kitne taire ap tak na hue yeh seedhe
Apne Ulloo korey korey woh yehi pe hai korey korey
Bhutoo sahab jab aya aisa nizam chalaya
Pehle qaidy chudaya zameen takseem karwaya
Haari aur mazdooro ko dilwaya
Miloo ko taala lagwaya one unit toodwaya
Sarkari khatam karaya roti kapre ka nara lagaya
Sarmayadaro ne socha isse kabhi na hoga
mansooba banaya Zia-ul-Haq mangwaya bhutto ko qaid karwaya
Kasuri ka case chalaya suli par latqaya
Sir Marshal Law lagaya Junejo ko mangwaya Wazeer-e-Azam banaya
Usko mazool karwaya referendum karaya Khud ko bhi chunwaya
Bhutto ko bhi bhagaya court mein tune lagaya jailon mein bandh karwaya
11 saal chalaya
koi rule nahin hai rule yehi yeh baat sahi taariq ne ki
taariq ne ki
Apne Ulloo kitne taire ap tak na hue yeh seedhe
Apne Ulloo korey korey woh yehi pe hai korey korey
Rangeene ne Rang dikhaya Jaahaz uska giraya Islamabad dafnaya
Ghulam Ishaq Khan aya mehangayi ko bharhaya 500rs bori aate ka bharhaya
Ghareebo ko bhookh maraya aik saal PPP ko diya usko mazool kya
Nawaz Sharif ko mangaya wazeer-e-azam banwaya uksko mazool karwaya
Moin Qureshi aya emandari nibhaya vote jald karwaya
Fauj ko bulwaya dhandhali se bachaya jeet gya hai PPP
Benazir jab aya bijli aur gas dilwaya thoda tankha barhaya
Farooq ko sadar banaya siyasi chakar aya farooq ko gussa aya
Assemblies khatam karwaya nigrah wazeer bhitaya
Nishan tha jiska cheetah Nawaz Sharif ne jeeta
Aaane mein aaya 300 tankha barhaya
Bhai logo ko danda chadhaya aathwi tarmeem khatam karaya
Aate ki kilat karwaya Aik peice PAKISTAN ka America se atta karwaya
Soobha Baluchistan ke zilah Chagi mein aitamy dhamaka karwaya
Pervez Musharaff aya Nawwz sharif ko hataya aghwah ka kais chalwaya
100 takhwa barhaya karzey wapis karwaya Nawaz Sharif ko qaid sunwaya
mulk badar bhi karwaya aisa kaam karwaya ke tarar ko tune bhagaya
khud ko tune sadar banaya referendum karwaya khud ko jeetaya
intekhabad karwaya Jamali sahab ko wazeer-e-azam banwaya
Jamali ne jurat aur bahaduri yehi dikhaya ke apna mohallah azad karwaya
Sab hazm kiya sab khatam kya hum phir denge woh kaahe ge
Hum peeche hai hat jaye to backing to gayi voting bhi gayi
voting bhi gayi
Apne Ulloo kitne taire ap tak na hue yeh seedhe
Apne Ulloo korey korey woh yehi pe hai korey korey
Apne Ulloo kitne taire ap tak na hue yeh seedhe
Apne Ulloo korey korey woh yehi pe hai korey korey
Shehzad Roy ne gaana banaya kisi ko samaj na aya
Angelina Jolie aya baba sab ko samaj aya
Beginning with just 500,000 tons in 1947, Pakistan's cement production almost tripled from 16 million tons in 2000 to 44 million tons in 2010.
At 145 Kg per person, Pakistan's cement consumption is up from 75 Kg in 2003, but still about half of the world per capita consumption average of 270 Kg.
For the first time ever, political parties have started campaigning for votes in the militant-infested tribal areas of Pakistan that border Afghanistan, ahead of a general election likely within the next 12 months.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in August lifted a 64-year ban on political party activity in the seven federally administered tribal areas, saying the reforms would help defeat the "militant mindset" there.
However, the politicians leading party campaigns in the tribal areas fear that intimidation by the Taliban and human rights abuses by Pakistani security authorities could make a free and fair election virtually impossible.
In the tribal areas, "there is no political government, but one run by the security authorities ... who are responsible for the widespread disappearances of residents suspected of involvement in the insurgency," said Maulana Rahat Hussain, a former senator.
"As long as power remains delegated to them, the democratic process won't work," he said.
Hussain is leading electioneering in the tribal areas for the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, or JUI. The country's most popular religious party, the JUI is a former ally of the Pakistani Taliban that broke with the group when it launched an insurgency in 2007. The Taliban subsequently started suicide attacks against the party's leadership, killing several prominent cleric-politicians, and only just missing its chief, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman.
The JUI has held political rallies across the tribal areas over the last two weeks, including one at Mir Ali in North Waziristan, a stronghold of Pakistani Taliban insurgents.
The mountainous Dattakhel area neighboring Mir Ali is also a haven for fugitive al Qaida leaders and has been a focal point of U.S. drone strikes since 2009.
Hussain said the Taliban distributed pamphlets in the area warning residents not to attend the rally in Mir Ali and threatened him personally. Photographs of JUI cleric-politicians in the company of women in fancy clothes — taken at a wedding — were also distributed in an attempt to defame them among their conservative base, he added.
Nonetheless, the JUI rally attracted an estimated 15,000 tribesmen, local journalists said.
JUI candidates — contesting as independents because of the ban on parties — won National Assembly seats in North Waziristan and neighboring South Waziristan in 1997 and 2008, the first elections held in the tribal areas in which all adults were allowed to vote. In practice, however, that meant only that males could vote, because tribal traditions prevented women from casting ballots.
Despite Zardari's reforms, the estimated 5 million residents of the region are still governed largely by 19th century British colonial laws and don't enjoy the fundamental rights guaranteed by Pakistan's constitution.
Most power remains in the hands of administrators known as political agents, who enforce law and order through tribal and clan councils that, in turn, are collectively responsible for the areas they live in. The agents use paramilitary forces to punish the clans and tribes, often by levying massive fines, demolishing homes and barring them access to settled areas of Pakistan, politicians said.
The reforms have set up an appeals process for residents to contest abuses, but only to a tribunal headed by a senior civil servant. They continue to have no access to Pakistan's Supreme Court — which would leave politicians no legal recourse to contest voting irregularities, secular parties said.........
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/01/30/2615874/parties-campaign-in-pakistans.html
This finding does not appear to be credible.
All anecdotal evidence suggests that most Pakistani children are growing up to be taller than their parents. All one has to do is keep one's eyes open & observe.
The average height in Pakistan of 20 yrs old males is now 5' 6" vs 5' 4" in India. If one is to believe this "research", then one must also believe that the avg height in Pakistan in 1960s was 5' 10'' which is simply untrue based on all known evidence, anecdotal or otherwise.
In addition, if worsening malnutrition were indeed an issue, the life expectancy in Pakistan would not have doubled since independence. Published data shows that life expectancy in Pakistan has jumped from 32 years in 1947 to 67 years in 2009, and per Capita inflation-adjusted PPP income has risen from $766 in 1948 to $2603 in 2009.
Pakistanis are increasingly spending more on health, with spending rising to a total of Rs665 billion in 2011, up 14.5% over the previous year, according a to research report released by Business Monitor International (BMI), a UK-based research and consulting firm.
Within the overall sector, the largest in terms of total spending was that of hospitals and other healthcare facilities, which saw their total revenues rise to Rs456 billion in 2011, up 14.1% from the year before. The fastest growing segment was medical devices, which saw sales rise 18.1% to Rs35.5 billion. Pharmaceuticals grew a little slower, at 13.1%, to reach Rs173 billion in gross sales in Pakistan.
There are also several developments taking place within the sector that are likely to allow for even further expansion, according to BMI analysts.
In August 2011, the Drug Registration Board (DRB) approved the registration of 30 medical devices and 210 medicines after a meeting was held at the request of the Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who called for the uninterrupted provision of medicines to patients. Products approved for registration included vaccines, biologicals, cancer therapeutics, drugs for the treatment of blood disorders such as thalassaemia, and devices used in cardiac procedures.
BMI points out that there are many reasons why investors, particularly those outside the country may want to consider investing in this sector. “Pakistan has one of the most liberal foreign investment regimes in South Asia, with a commitment to low tariffs and 100% foreign equity permitted,” said BMI analysts in the report.
The analysts also note that Pakistan’s rapidly growing population – currently closing in on 190 million – should also be considered an asset. “A growing population is feeding increased demand for pharmaceuticals.”
Pakistan’s overall business environment gets a poor rating from BMI, which ranks the economy 16th out of the 18 economies that it tracks in the Asia-Pacific region. The only two economies behind Pakistan are Sri Lanka and Cambodia. “The business environment still suffers from poor infrastructure and, most problematically, an uncertain security situation that has declined considerably since March 2007,” said BMI analysts.
In addition, there are several structural challenges to the Pakistani healthcare industry itself that have little to do with the external environment of Pakistan that they operate in. “Procurement processes are bureaucratic and often lack transparency, raising the risks of corruption,” said BMI in its report.
The affair of the printing press highlighted the biggest problem being faced by Pakistan. India, which had finally been recognized by the British government as the successor state on 17 June after further pressure from Mountbatten, would simply take over a going concern with everything in place. Pakistan, on the other hand, would be starting from scratch without any established administration, without armed forces, without records, without equipment or military stores.
As early as 9 May, during his stay in Simla with Nehru, Mountbatten had admitted the problem. "What are we doing?" he had asked then. "Administratively, it's the difference between putting up a permanent building, a nissen hut, or a tent. As far as Pakistan is concerned, we are putting up a tent".
Salman Rushdie was recently asked for his opinion on contemporary Indian fiction. The celebrated novelist surveyed the landscape for his interviewer, offering nods of approval to what is now a well-established range of Indian writing in English. But it wasn’t as attractive as what was happening across the border. “I actually think,” Rushdie said, “that the Pakistani stuff is more interesting.”
Thirty years ago, Rushdie published Shame, still considered one of the finest novels on Pakistan, and one that narrowly missed out on the Booker Prize. For much of that time, there was only the occasional novel written in English from Pakistan. Now, as Rushdie noted, there’s “the sense of a sudden explosion.”
As the world’s attention has been drawn to Pakistan’s problems with Islamist militancy in recent years, a flurry of exciting new voices have stepped forward to share with their readers a more intimate and rounded look at the country and its people — winning many plaudits along the way. Mohsin Hamid was recently described by the New York Times as, “one of his generation’s most inventive and gifted writers.” Nadeem Aslam’s latest novel, The Blind Man’s Garden, was praised in the Guardian as a product of “grace, intelligence and rare authenticity.”
This past month, Pakistani novelists writing in English also had the opportunity to meet readers from their own country at two different literary festivals in the largest cities of Karachi and Lahore. “For a while now we’ve had issues with public events,” says novelist and journalist Mohammed Hanif. “I guess weddings are the only things that really happen in public now. Music concerts have mostly disappeared. Other festivals are less well attended.” The literary festivals in Karachi and Lahore, adds Hanif, offer a rare occasion for “people to get out of their houses and go and talk about books.”
The two cities, with a combined population approaching 30 million, are also suffused in a rich cultural history. It would be difficult to pull off similar events in relatively soulless cities like Dubai, Singapore, or even Islamabad. “There is the requisite infrastructure here, engaged audiences, and a critical mass of novelists and poets that reside in each city,” says novelist H.M. Naqvi, the prize-winning author of Home Boy. “I expected large audiences. I expected energy.”
Strikingly, the festivals attracted thousands of young school and college students who had eagerly consumed the books and were brimming with questions for their authors. In Karachi, Hamid met a young man who handed over a missive composed by himself and two other friends. The trio, from the southern Punjabi town of Rahim Yar Khan, had pooled money together for one of them to make the several-hour-long bus journey to Karachi. The letter carried seriously worded instructions for the novelist. “We loved the sex-and-drugs scenes in Moth Smoke,” they wrote to Hamid, referring to his first novel. “We want to read more of this stuff.”
The Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) has published translation of several literary works in English and other international languages to promote Urdu and other regional languages.
The 340 pages text includes translation of literary writings in Urdu, Punjabi, Potohari, Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi, Brahvi, and Khowari. The publication also includes work of Pakistani writers in English. Noon Meem Rashid’s poem “Hasan Kooza Gar” is translated into English, Arabic, French, Turkish, and Chinese.
The publication was unveiled by PAL Chairman Abdul Hameed in an event held at PAL’s Writer’s House.
This anthology represents various genres including prose, poetry, article, column and poetry. The publication is divided into sections based on the languages. The separators are designed by renowned artist Jamal Shah while the book jacket is designed by another art giant Dr Ajaz Anwar.
While talking to the Pakistan Today, PAL Director General Zaheer-ud-Din Malik said, “It is one of PAL’s main responsibilities to translate Pakistani literature into international languages.” We want to hand out this publication to ambassadors and foreign missions for helping them explore the real face of Pakistani society, he added. Malik said the only 500 copies of the publication were printed due to lack of resources but it would help us promote our mission.
PAL has also been unable to complete the Faiz Ahmed Faiz Auditorium due to lack of funds. The auditorium was due to be inaugurated on Faiz’s 100th birthday in February 2011.
Rarely has an event framed around books and ideas felt so urgent. A few weekends ago, a group of writers, artists, and editors gathered in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab heartland, to defend the written word. People turned up from every part of the country to hear them—Karachi and Islamabad, but also Balochistan and the remote tribal regions along the Afghan frontier. Sometimes filling the aisles and stairways of the three venues where the gathering was held, they listened to debates on everything from the future of the novel to the future of Pakistan.
In an age in which international literary festivals have become commonplace, there is very little ordinary about the Lahore LitFest, starting with the location. “PK! What are you doing there?” a US immigration official wondered, when I set out from New York. My barber asked me if I had a bullet-proof vest. Even in the Middle East, in places that have plenty of tension of their own, a Pakistani destination seems to raise red flags. “It would be a shame if you got yourself kidnapped,” an Arab journalist who covers political unrest told me, during a visit to the Arabian Peninsula two days before my journey on to Lahore.
To anyone who has actually been there, such reactions may seem grossly unfair. With a sizable liberal elite, a strong tradition in publishing and the arts, and an old city filled with extraordinary Mughal architecture, Lahore arguably has more in common with the leading cities of India and Europe than with the dark image of Pakistan shown almost daily in the news. The city’s best-known institutions of learning are not jihadist-grooming madrasas but humanistic and secular; consider the National College of Arts, the country’s premier art and design school, which began under British rule in the nineteenth century, with Rudyard Kipling’s father as its first principal.
And then there was Ardeshir Cowesjee (1926–2012), the legendary Karachi columnist who might more accurately have been described as a one-man shadow government. A wealthy businessman from the Zoroastrian religious minority, Cowesjee fearlessly exposed the corruption and mismanagement of Pakistan’s political class in a weekly column that not infrequently brought him death threats. As Karachi descended into violence and gang warfare in recent years, he continuously attacked the dirty real estate dealings, incompetent governance, decaying municipal services, and rising intolerance that were driving it. During a lively debate about his legacy, the power went out, and the panelists kept talking until someone lit the stage with an iPhone.
Even so, the theme of the discussion was “War on Culture,” a worldwide drama in which many Pakistanis view the US as arch malefactor. (I took part in the panel, along with Ahmed Rashid, the novelist Vikram Seth, and the Indian heritage expert Naman Ahuja.) When a gentleman who identified himself as hailing from South Waziristan protested that the US could never rectify the cultural destruction it had caused in the Middle East, the house erupted in applause. Taking the microphone, the ambassador, now sitting in the front row, stood up to respond. The crowd went quiet. He conceded the mistakes made by the previous US administration; he said that he and the current administration were committed to doing more to defend Pakistan’s heritage. It brought some applause of its own. Thus ended the festival, with Waziristan and Washington coming to some kind of temporary truce.
KARACHI, Pakistan — On the banks of the luminous China Creek, overlooking old mangrove swamps and the shipping cranes at the port, more than 50,000 people flocked to this year’s Karachi Literature Festival, held annually in February when the flowers bloom, the weather is temperate and the city feels alive with possibility.
The festival, featuring panel discussions, book promotions, debates, music and theatrical performances, has established itself as a safe space to discuss not just literature and the arts but also politics, history and society at a time when plurality of opinion is not always welcome in Pakistan.
A new Sindh Festival, also held in February, offered another approach to Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage. This extravaganza was a brainchild of the Pakistan Peoples Party’s patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari; it included a concert, art show, film festival, fashion show and horse-and-cattle show. Its aim was to showcase Pakistan’s “softer image,” in the distinctly political hope that by stimulating cultural pride, Pakistanis, especially the young, could be persuaded to reject militancy and religious extremism.
Two wars are being fought in Pakistan: a military one against the violence of religious extremists, and a psychological and emotional one to resist a more insidious change in society itself — the growth of intolerance, a drift toward the right and a decline in room for cultural, religious, ethnic or social diversity. This shrinkage of public space, or Talibanization, as the social scientist Ayesha Siddiqa puts it, is not violence itself, but creates support for “ideas which eventually feed violence.”
Talibanization has spread virally, thanks to right-wing talk shows, newspaper columns and social media. It silences debate about the role of religion, branding anyone who advocates secular democracy an atheist. For example, it whipped up a campaign against the autobiography of Malala Yousafzai, the teenage campaigner for education for girls who was severely wounded in an assassination attempt; earlier this year, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial government banned the book from private school curriculums. The proponents of Talibanization denigrate women’s rights activists as “NGO workers in tight jeans” and harass young men and women at universities who try to spend time together.
Some 60,000 schoolchildren attended the Karachi Children’s Literature Festival last month. They listened to storytellers, participated in interactive art and music sessions, and attended debuts of graphic novels that captured the lives of “azeem” (great) Pakistanis: Begum Raa’na Liaqat Ali Khan, who championed women’s rights; Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a poet and activist; Hakeem Said, a scholar and philanthropist assassinated in 1998.
The battle for Pakistanis’ hearts and minds will be as tough as the one for sovereignty and territory. But the message will spread best when it’s free from political manipulation or overt assertions of national or civic pride. The children at the festival weren’t asked to choose between extremism and peace; they were left to enjoy themselves, to clap and cheer, to sing and dance. Experiences like these, organic and unforced, will win the cultural wars in Pakistan — if they are encouraged to flourish on the strength of unifying, not divisive, narratives and values that we all share.
I was bowled over by this innocent question posed to me on a recent trip to New York. There was so much I wanted to tell this man to clarify, to explain that there was no hatred; that my country was a far cry from the images shown on TV. I wanted to tell him about the music, the love, the food, the people.
But in that one moment, I was tongue-tied, not knowing how to condense the diversity of this land into a few sentences. I finally managed to mumble something, but I've often since felt guilty of not projecting abroad, my country and all the love it held, the way I should have.
Hence, the utter delight at learning that “Humans of New York” was coming to Pakistan. The moment I read this news, I jumped up and down like a three-year-old for ice-cream. I had been an avid follower of this page for the last couple of years; its stories are about real people, with circumstances that are similar to ours that we connect with.
It made me fall in love with the people of New York. I, and many others, would read these stories and feel the boundaries fading – all I saw were amazing human beings.
I also felt a wave of relief wash over me when I learned of Brandon's visit. The guilt of not being able to express myself to that man in New York slowly receded. Now* I thought, we'd have the words to truly express ourselves.
And, then we did. The stories started pouring in.
Stories of love, labour, humour, hardship all morphed into beautiful pictures and words. Deep in my heart, I felt like an apprehensive mother, one who has trained and nurtured her only child for all these years, and is finally about to present him to the world. I am sure millions of other Pakistanis felt the same.
A new video of the swashbuckling Swede whose straight-talking upbeat missives about the state of the world have made statistics sing off the page, has gone viral in the wake of this week's tragic news of the death of a Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach.
The Danish news presenter is left speechless as Rosling explained that the message sent out by the global media of a divided world in crisis is failing to inform the public of the bigger (more positive) picture.
"You can't trust the news outlets if you want to understand the world. If you think that the majority of the world population is very poor and if you believe that the girls don't attend school, and that all of these people are trying to flee to wealthier countries, then you don't understand anything," he told broadcaster DR.
He cites the example of Nigeria as a case where a successful transition of power in a recent democratic election has been overshadowed by news of atrocities committed by Boko Haram.
"You can chose to only show my shoe, which is very ugly, but that is only a small part of me. If you choose to only show my face then that is another part of me," Rosling argued.
Rosling presented several indicators such as birthrates which are no longer growing, the widespread use of contraception and an increasing number of girls attending school, to argue that the world outside the borders of the western world is developing positively and that war and conflict is only a small part of the bigger picture.
When challenged for the source of his facts, Rosling replied:
"Statistics from The International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, nothing controversial."
"These facts are not up for discussion. I am right, and you are wrong," he concluded.
Barely anyone — one to two percent of the population — could read in ancient Rome and nobody thought more people should. Now we recognize that literacy is a human right; that being able to read and write is personally empowering and, in a world that relies more and more on technology, simply necessary.
Nonetheless, millions of children, the majority of whom are girls, still never learn to read and write today (pdf). This Sunday, September 8, is International Literacy Day, an event that Unesco has been observing for more than 40 years to highlight how essential literacy is to learning and also “for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy.”
774 million people aged 15 and older are illiterate, an infographic (pdf) from Unesco details. 52 percent (pdf) live in south and west Asia and 22 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. The latter region is where most of the countries with the lowest literacy rates in the world are located, according to data from the C.I.A.:
1. Burkina Faso: 21.8 percent of the adults in this West African country are literate.
2. South Sudan: This country in east Africa, which became an independent state in 2011, has a literary rate of 27 percent.
3 Afghanistan: 28.1 percent of this country’s population are literate with a far higher percentage of men (43.1 percent) than women (12.6 percent) able to read.
4. Niger: The ratio of men to women in this landlocked western African country is also lopsided: the literacy rate is 42.9 percent for men, 15.1 percent for women and 28.7 percent overall.
5. Mali: Niger’s neighbor on the west, the literacy rate in Mali is 33.4 percent. 43.1 percent of the adult male population can read and 24.6 percent of the country’s women.
6. Chad: This west African country is Niger’s neighbor on its eastern border; 34.5 percent of its population is literate.
7. Somalia: Long beset by civil war and famine, 37.8 of Somalia’s population is literate. 49.7 percent of the adult male population is literate but only 25.8 percent of adult females.
8. Ethiopia: Somalia’s neighbor to the north, the literacy rate in Ethiopia is 39 percent.
9. Guinea: 41 percent of this west African country’s population is literate. More than half (52 percent) of adult males are literature and only 30 percent of women.
10. Benin: 42.4 percent of Benin in West Africa are literate.
Around the world, two-thirds of adults who are illiterate are female, meaning that there are 493 women unable to read and write.
54 of the 76 million illiterate young women come from nine countries, most in south and west Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and not necessarily those with high rates of adult illiteracy: India (where almost 30 million young women are illiterate), Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Republic of Tanzania, Egypt and Burkina Faso.
Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have stolen a march over India in quality of school education.
Data from new research on female literacy show that India’s school education system is under-performing in terms of quality when compared to its neighbours, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. The research studies changes in female literacy over a number of schooling years.
The proportion of women who completed five years of primary schooling in India and were literate was 48 per cent, much less than 92 percent in Nepal, 74 per cent in Pakistan and 54 per cent in Bangladesh.
These findings, which are part of a forthcoming background paper, were released in a blog-post by New York-based International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (or Education Commission) last week. Justin Sandefur, one of the authors of the paper, said, “This is a simple but powerful signal that India’s education system is under-performing.”
The data also revealed that, female literacy rates went up by one to 15 per cent after completing two years of schooling. Corresponding numbers for Pakistan and Nepal were three to 31 per cent and 11 to 47 per cent respectively. “This implies that schooling is roughly twice as productive at generating literacy for women during the early grades in Pakistan when compared to India. Or, it could also mean that Indian schools are much more lenient about promoting students who cannot read,” Mr. Sandefur said.
For this research, the authors devised a way to measure the quality of education around the world, with a specific focus on girls, using data from nationally representative Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) — one of the most comparable data sources on living standards in the developing world. “We used data from all countries with DHS data that included the literacy measure,” Mr. Sandefur said. Around the world, female literacy rates are improving. However, it is not clear if that is because of improvement in school quality, the study says. India ranks low in global indices of female literacy as well. If countries are ranked by the earliest grade at which at least half of the women are literate — a proxy for quality of learning — India ranks 38th among the 51 developing countries for which comparable data is available. Indonesia, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania — all rank higher than India. Ghana is placed at the bottom. According to this study, just seven per cent of female students in Ghana can read after attaining their sixth grade.
Over the years, most countries studied made improvements in the number of girls finishing primary school, which should lead to more literate women. But for girls who don’t finish primary school, the trend is not encouraging: researchers found that little to no progress has been made in increasing basic literacy for the girls who drop out. The report notes, “Millions of women have spent multiple years in school and emerged unable to read a simple sentence” and “it’s not getting much better over time.”
By Prof Abhinav Prakash Singh
The first Republic was founded on the myth of a secular-socialist India supposedly born out of the anti-colonial struggle. However, the Indian freedom movement was always a Hindu movement. From its origin, symbolism, language, and support base, it was the continuation of a Hindu resurgence already underway, but which was disrupted by the British conquest. The coming together of various pagan traditions in the Indian subcontinent under the umbrella of Hinduism is a long-drawn-out process. But it began to consolidate as a unified political entity in the colonial era in the form of Hindutva. The Hindutva concept is driven by an attempt by the older pagan traditions, united by a dharmic framework and intertwined by puranas, myths and folklore, to navigate the modern political and intellectual landscape dominated by nations and nation-states.
Hindutva is not Hinduism. Hindutva is a Hindu political response to political Islam and Western imperialism. It seeks to forge Hindus into a modern nation and create a powerful industrial State that can put an end to centuries of persecution that accelerated sharply over the past 100 years when the Hindu-Sikh presence was expunged in large swaths of the Indian subcontinent.
India’s freedom struggle was guided by the vision of Hindu nationalism and not by constitutional patriotism. The Congress brand of nationalism was but a subset of this broader Hindu nationalism with the Congress itself as the pre-eminent Hindu party. The Muslim question forced the Congress to adopt a more tempered language and symbolism later and to weave the myth of Hindu-Muslim unity. But it failed to prevent the Partition of India. The Congress was taken over by Left-leaning secular denialists under Jawaharlal Nehru who, instead of confronting reality, pretended it did not exist.
Hindu nationalism has never been fringe; it is Nehruvian secularism that was the fringe. And with the fall of the old English-speaking elites, the system they created is also collapsing along with accompanying myths like Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb and Hindu-Muslim unity. The fact is that Hindus and Muslims lived together, but separately. And they share a violent and cataclysmic past with each other, which has never been put to rest.
Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb was an urban-feudal construct with no serious takers outside a limited circle. In villages, whatever unity existed was because the caste identities of both Hindu and Muslims dominated instead of religious identities or because Hindu converts to Islam maintained earlier customs and old social links with Hindus like common gotra and caste. But all that evaporated quickly with the Islamic revivalist movements such as the Tabligh and pan-Islamism from 19th century onwards. It never takes much for Hindu-Muslim riots to erupt. There was nothing surprising about the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests and widespread riots. As political communities, Hindus and Muslims have hardly ever agreed on the big questions of the day.
What we are witnessing today is twilight of the first Republic. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is but a modern vehicle of the historical process of the rise of the Hindu rashtra. In the north, Jammu and Kashmir is fully integrated. In the south, Dravidianism is melting away. In the east, Bengal is turning saffron. In the west, secular parties must ally with a local Hindutva party to survive.
Riaz Haq has left a new comment on your post "Nehru's Secularism Was An Aberration; Modi's Islamophobia is the Norm For India":
#IndiaAt75: #Modi is Proving #Pakistan's Case For #Partition1947. 75 years after #India split apart, the nation’s beleaguered #Muslims increasingly face the marginalization and brutal prejudice that Pakistan’s founder #QuaideAzam predicted. #PakistanAt75 https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-08-14/india-s-75th-anniversary-modi-is-proving-pakistan-s-case-for-partition
Opinion by Nisid Hajari
Jinnah’s main fear was how little power Muslims would wield in a united India. That’s what drove the initial break with his former allies in the Indian National Congress party — including Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister— a decade before independence. And it’s why Jinnah retracted his support for a last-minute compromise brokered by the British in 1946, after Nehru intimated that the Congress would not honor the agreement once the British were gone.
Partition very nearly proved Jinnah’s case. Somewhere between 200,000 and two million Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs were killed within a few short weeks of independence; 14 million were uprooted from their homes. The biggest massacres arguably began with attacks on Muslim villages on the Indian side of the new border.
India’s founding fathers, however, risked their lives to undercut Jinnah’s argument. When riots spread to the Indian capital Delhi and police and petty government officials joined in pogroms targeting Muslims, Nehru took to the streets, remonstrating with mobs and giving public speeches promoting communal harmony while only lightly guarded. He insisted the government machinery exert itself to protect Muslims as well as Hindus.
With even members of his cabinet convinced that India would be better off without tens of millions of citizens suspected of split loyalties, Nehru barely prevailed. The pressure to expel Muslims only really subsided months later after a Hindu fanatic assassinated the revered Gandhi, shocking the cabinet into unity and prompting public revulsion against Hindu bigotry.
That consensus and the rights enshrined in India’s secular constitution largely preserved religious harmony in India for more than seven decades. Al-Qaeda and other transnational terrorist groups made few inroads among Indian Muslims, even as jihadists flourished in nearby countries. While sectarian riots have repeatedly broken out, especially after provocations such as the 1992 demolition of a mosque in Ayodhya to make way for a Hindu temple, tensions have for the most part remained local and limited. And even if Indian Muslims faced discrimination and were on average poorer and less well-educated than Hindus, few doubted that they were full citizens — especially when their votes were needed at election time.
What makes the changes that have proliferated under Modi so dispiriting and dangerous is their corrosive impact on those feelings of belonging. The problem isn’t even so much the most horrific cases of bigotry, including dozens of lynchings of Muslims around the country. Those at least still draw outrage in some quarters, as well as international attention.
What’s worse is the steady and widely accepted marginalization of India’s nearly 200 million Muslims. An overheated and jingoistic media portrays them as potential fifth columnists, who should “go back” to a Pakistan most have never visited if they don’t like the new India. (Pakistani sponsorship of extremist groups that have carried out brutal attacks in India has exacerbated fears of an internal threat.) There’s widespread acceptance of hate speech, including open calls to exterminate Muslims. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has pursued laws that threaten to disenfranchise millions of them.