South Asia Investor Review is focused on reporting, analyzing and discussing the economy and the financial markets of countries in South Asia, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. For investors looking to invest in emerging markets beyond BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), this blog is designed to help international investors looking to learn about investing in South Asia with focus on Pakistan. Riaz has another blog called Haq's Musings at http://www.riazhaq.com
Remembering JFK on 50th Anniversary of Assassination in Dallas, Tx
After watching the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's welcome in Washington this week, one of my blog readers asked me the following question: "Has Any Pakistani leader ever received a warm Washington welcome like Modi's?"
The answer is: Yes, President Ayub Khan of Pakistan received a much bigger and warmer welcome in America than Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week. Before I describe it, let me try and put things in perspective for my readers.
President John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy receiving President Ayub Khan
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger of the United States has often been quoted as saying: “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.”
Let's interpret Kissinger's quote to explain the crux of the shifting alliances since the end of the US-Soviet Cold War in early 1990s. The United States needed Pakistan to counter the Soviet influence in Asia until late 1980s. Today, America needs India to check the rise of China as a great superpower which is seen as challenging the United States as the sole superpower now.
Even as the Obama administration courts Modi, the top US officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, are in Beijing for "Strategic and Economic Dialogue". It's an acknowledgment of the fact that the U.S. and China are the two largest economies in the world. American Treasury Secretary has described the US-China relationship as "the most important economic relationship in the world."
L to R: JFK, Nasim Aurangzeb, Jackie Kennedy & Ayub Khan at Mt Vernon
Now, let me describe in a little more detail Pakistani President Ayub Khan's 1961 visit to the United States. The fact is Modi's reception pales in comparison to what a Pakistani leader got during the Cold War.
The Pakistani President was extended the rare honor of being welcomed by the US President and the First Lady at the airport when the PIA airplane carrying him landed at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington DC.
He was also given the privilege of addressing a special Joint Session of the US Congress on Capitol Hill where he received standing ovation. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was the first Pakistani leader to address a session of US Congress back in 1950. Pakistani Prime Minster Benazir Bhutto also addressed a joint session of US Congress in 1989.
There was a state dinner in Ayub's honor hosted by President and Mrs. Kennedy at Mount Vernon, the historic residence of America's founding father and first president George Washington.
Later, he was hosted at a dinner by New York City mayor after he rode an open top car in a ticker-tape parade through the Big Apple with tens of thousands of New Yorkers lining the parade route and cheering him on.
Then President Ayub visited The Alamo in Texas where then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson hosted him for a Texas style barbecue. Ayub Khan addressed joint houses of Texas legislature.
On his way back, the then UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold of Sweden hosted a dinner in his honor before President Ayub returned to Pakistan.
The fact is Modi's reception pales in comparison with what the Pakistani leader was given during the Cold War.
While Fareed Zakaria, Nick Kristoff and other talking heads are still stuck on the old stereotypes of Muslim women, the status of women in Muslim societies is rapidly changing, and there is a silent social revolution taking place with rising number of women joining the workforce and moving up the corporate ladder in Pakistan. "More of them(women) than ever are finding employment, doing everything from pumping gasoline and serving burgers at McDonald’s to running major corporations", says a report in the latest edition of Businessweek magazine . Beyond company or government employment, there are a number of NGOs focused on encouraging self-employment and entrepreneurship among Pakistani women by offering skills training and microfinancing . Kashf Foundation led by a woman CEO and BRAC are among such NGOs. They all report that the success and repayment rate among female borrowers is significantly higher than among male borrowers. In rural Sindh, the PPP-led govern
Our Next Energy (ONE), a two-year-old Michigan startup founded by Pakistani-American Mujeeb Ijaz, has received $25 million in initial investment from Bill Gates' Breakthrough Energy Ventures and German automaker BMW. Storage battery technology is a key area of innovation to bring about clean energy revolution . Mujeeb Ijaz has engineered a way to achieve longer ranges for electric vehicles from lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries, a more stable but less powerful chemistry than the nickel-based batteries currently used by most automakers. Mujeeb's brother Mansoor Ijaz made headlines in 2011 when he wrote a Financial Times Op Ed regarding his conversations with Husain Haqqani who was serving as Pakistan's ambassador in Washington. Mujeeb's father Mujaddid Ahmed Ijaz was a Pakistani experimental physicist and a professor of physics at Virginia Tech. Mujeeb Ijaz, Founder CEO of Our Next Energy (ONE) Mujeeb Ijaz, Pakistani-American founder and CEO of ONE, is a 30
Pakistan-born, Harvard-educated economist Ms. Saadia Zahidi, author of "50 Million Rising" , is currently a member of the executive committee and the head of Education, Gender and Work at the World Economic Forum , Davos, Switzerland. She told Kai Ryssdal of APR Marketplace of her visit to a gas field in Pakistan with her geophysicist father where she met Nazia, a woman engineer who inspired her. Saadia Zahidi The "50 Million" in the title of her book refers to the 50 million Muslim women who have joined the work force over the last 15 years bringing the total number of working women in the Muslim world to about 155 million. In her book, Saadia talks about her father being the first in his family to go to university. He believed in girls' education and career opportunities. She recalls him suggesting that "my sister could become a pilot because the Pakistan Air Force had just starting to train women. Another time he speculated that I could become a
It was First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy who conceived of the summit at Mount Vernon between her husband John F. Kennedy and Pakistani President Mohammad Ayub Khan. She was inspired by the Kennedys’ visit to the Habsburgs’ Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna earlier in the year. She quietly approached the managers of the Mount Vernon estate, who eagerly agreed to host the Pakistanis. She also arranged for the jewelry store Tiffany’s to provide the flowers and decorations for the dinner.
Pakistan was an important partner for the United States in 1961, linked by treaty to the containment of the Soviet Union and China. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) flew U2 surveillance flights from Pakistani bases to monitor China’s emerging nuclear arsenal. The CIA also secretly supported Tibetan rebels fighting for independence from an airbase in what was then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
Ayub Khan had just suspended Pakistani cooperation with the Tibet covert operation because Kennedy had promised India a large economic aid package and signaled that a closer relationship with New Delhi was coming. The Pakistani dictator was against a closer American relationship with India. Shutting down the Tibet operation was a quiet behind the scenes way of expressing unease with Kennedy’s tilting towards India.
At the request of Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, JFK took Ayub Khan for a private one-on-one stroll in the mansion garden and asked the Pakistani leader to reopen the airbase for secret resupply flights to the rebels in Tibet. Ayub Khan agreed but asked for a commitment that no American military equipment would ever be provided to India without prior consultation with Pakistan. Kennedy agreed.
The dinner was a great success. The best and brightest of the new administration were there. The main course was poulet chasseur made in the White House and then reheated in a portable army kitchen in the grounds of the mansion.
The next spring Mrs. Kennedy traveled to India and Pakistan. It was the first trip abroad alone by a first lady in the television age. She dazzled viewers everywhere, including back home.
The 1962 crisis set in train the dynamics that would lead decades later to the geopolitics of today with the United States aligned with India and Pakistan aligned with China. It helped spark the nuclear arms race in Asia. The crisis resonates throughout Asia today.
Today Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world, with one of the most active nuclear weapons programs. It is China’s closest and most important ally. Relations with India remain tense. Most immediately, Pakistan is supporting the Taliban offensive designed to topple the Afghan government in Kabul after the American withdrawal, though it publicly says it wants a political solution, not a Taliban military victory. The Pakistani army gives the Taliban safe haven, arms, training, and logistical support which are crucial to their ability to operate.
President Joe Biden has yet to talk to Prime Minister Imran Khan once since taking office. Imran Khan has recently spoken publicly about Islamabad’s close ties to Beijing, praising it as a role model and defending its oppression of its Uyghur Muslims. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has spoken with Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa more than once but has yet to meet with him in person. For the Afghan withdrawal, it is probably too late to change Pakistan’s policy to back the Taliban. The puzzle is why the administration is not engaging more actively with this important country.