Showing posts from May, 2018

Pakistan Elections 2018: Significance of Social Media, Minorities

Pakistan's 46 million young voters of ages 18-36 years, up from 41 million in 2013, will likely have the biggest impact on the outcome of the elections this year.  Among other notable changes in the electorate is the number of non-Muslim voters that has jumped 30%, significantly faster than the 23% growth in overall voter registration in Pakistan since the last elections in 2013, according to data from the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Pakistan's young demographics and soaring use of social media platforms will almost certainly have a major impact on how political party candidates reach out to voters in general elections scheduled for July 25, 2018. The use of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and other social media apps may even make the Pakistani election campaigns and outcomes vulnerable to manipulation by both domestic and foreign players. It is a fact that was recently acknowledged by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his testimony to the United States Congress earlier this ye…

India-Pakistan Spy Chronicles; Trump-Sharif Troubles

What are Asad Durrani and AS Dulat, ex spooks of India and Pakistan, trying to accomplish with their joint appearances and book collaboration? What is “Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace" all about? What have the two revealed about the work of ISI and RAW spy agencies with Kashmiri insurgents? Has the Modi government lost control of the situation in Kashmir? Why does Durrani say that all Pakistan has to do now in Kashmir is "sit back and watch"? Why have both spy agencies been bribing the militants to buy influence? Is "corrupting someone with money more ethical than killing them" as AS Dulat has put it? Is Dulat's optimism about solution to Kashmir issue justified?

Why are both Nawaz Sharif and Donald Trump attacking the "deep state" or "establishment" in their respective countries? Why are they both spinning conspiracy theories? Is it to deflect public attention from the serious allegations against them? How serious ar…

Sharif's and Trump's Strikingly Similar Narratives

President of the United States Donald John Trump and Pakistan's former prime minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif are both under investigation by law enforcement agencies in their respective countries. Both men allege that they are victims of conspiracies against them by the "Criminal Deep State", better known as "the establishment" in Pakistan. The two men have accused the investigators, prosecutors and the judges of being biased against them. Their narratives are strikingly similar. Sharif and Trump have polarized and divided their nations by asking the voters to stand by them and to reject what they describe as a political "witch hunt". Both have succeeded in maintaining the support of the vast majority of their party legislators so far.

Attacking Investigators:

Donald Trump has denounced the FBI teams working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Russia Collusion as "partisan Democrats". He has demanded that the FBI be investigated for &qu…

Proliferation of Cyber Hacking Tools in Pakistan

Many intelligence agencies are turning to the use of smartphone malware and spyware for the purpose of hacking and surveillance. The list of such agencies includes but not limited to US CIA, NSA, Mossad, RAW, MI6, ISI and others. Global proliferation of cyber hacking tools appears to have been accelerated with the US CIA's loss of control of its hacking tools including spyware, malware, viruses and trojans.

Stealth Mango and Tangelo:

Lookout, an American mobile security firm based in San Francisco, has recently published a report claiming that a "group or individuals that are believed to belong to the Pakistani military "has developed and released a "set of custom Android and iOS surveillanceware tools we’re respectively calling Stealth Mango and Tangelo".  The report says: "These tools have been part of a highly targeted intelligence gathering campaign we believe is operated by members of the Pakistani military". The countries affected by it include A…

History of Pakistan's Business and Industry

Pakistan's $1.1 trillion GDP ranks the country as the world's 24th largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP).  Pakistan has come a long way since independence in 1947 when it was a poor agrarian country struggling to survive. Business and industry sectors now account for more than half of Pakistan's economy while agriculture's contribution is down to 20% of GDP.

The story of the country's business and industry parallels the ups and downs in its national history. It is the story of business individuals and families dealing with uncertainties. It is also the story of how the captains of business and industry were impacted by major events in the nation's history, particularly the breakup of Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. It is the story of survival in the midst of political instability, policy discontinuities and the fight against terror in recent years. It is the story of how the businesses and industries thrived under pro-busine…

British Government Lists Pakistan Among Top Money Laundering Sources

British National Crime Agency (NCA) has identified Pakistan, Nigeria and Russia as the top source countries for money laundering in the United Kingdom, according to British media reports. The NCA report says the UK is a prime destination for foreign corrupt and politically exposed people (politicians and their families) to launder money.

NCA Report Highlights:

In its annual assessment of serious and organized crime, the NCA says: “Investment in UK property, particularly in London, continues to be an attractive mechanism to launder funds....As the UK moves towards exiting the EU in March 2019, UK-based businesses may look to increase the amount of trade they have with non-EU countries....We judge this will increase the likelihood that UK businesses will come into contact with corrupt markets, particularly in the developing world, raising the risk they will be drawn into corrupt practices.”

Here are some of the key excerpts of the UK NCA report titled "National Strategic Assessment …

Free Speech: Myth vs Reality

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) recently acknowledged the practice of hiring journalists vetted by MI5, the UK intelligence agency, to keep out the "subversives".

The CIA is believed to have driven American investigative reporter Gary Webb to suicide after he exposed the agency's use of drug deals to fund Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

American researcher Joseph Overton has described a spectrum from "more free" to "less free", known as the Overton Window, with regard to the US government intervention in the media.

Here's how American philosopher Noam Chomsky has explained the US establishment's media management strategy:  “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."

It seems that "free speech" in the West is really not so free.

MI5 Vetting of BBC Staff:

The BBC recently acknowledged its long relationship with…

Open Forum 2018: Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs Summit in Silicon Valley

Hundreds of Pakistanis and Pakistani-Americans converged on Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley on Saturday May 12, 2018 for Open Forum 2018.  The attendees included entrepreneurs, technologists, business executives, investors, lawyers, accountants and others.What was different this year was the presence of an unusually large number of attendees from Pakistan, including dozens of Fulbright scholars studying in the United States,  entrepreneurs from Pakistan, and Husain Dawood of Dawood Group of Companies, the second largest business group in terms of market cap of the companies listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange. Driverless vehicle tech and leading-edge brain research were among the new research and technology topics discussed at the Forum.

Husain Dawood Keynote:

The morning keynote by Husain Dawood of Dawood Group was in the form of an on-stage interview of the visitor by Imran Sayeed. Sayeed is part of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation faculty at the MIT Sloan School …

Nawaz Sharif's Report Card 2013-18

The last five years of Pakistan's outgoing government of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) have seen the revival of Pakistan's economy and completion of many long delayed infrastructure and energy projects. Mr. Nawaz Sharif deserves full credit for it.  At the same time, the PML government is responsible for slow progress on human development indicators, major decline in exports, growing twin deficits of budget and external accounts, mounting public debt and lack of transparency in financial matters.  It is the lack of transparency that has been brought in sharp focus with the removal of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by the nation's Supreme Court in the aftermath of Panama Papers. The leak of these papers revealed his family's ownership of undeclared and unexplained substantial assets abroad.

Pakistan achieved 5.8% growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in fiscal 2017-18, the highest in the last 13 years.  Many long delayed projects ranging from roads, ports,…