Chinese Investment in Pakistan: Rhetoric or Reality?

Chinese Investment in Pakistan: Rhetoric or Reality?

Much has been written and said about the announcement by the Chinese government in April this year to invest $46 billion in building an economic corridor, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), in Pakistan linking China to the Central Asian republics. The announcement came on the back of the $12 billion loan package made to Pakistan by the World bank the previous year. However, despite the political rhetoric and the show of bonhomie between the leaders of the two countries, and, the media frenzy that followed such announcement, there are serious questions that need to be raised as regard the risks of the promised Chinese investment in Pakistan.  The lion’s share of the investments are largely going to be in the form of loans of $22 billion by Chinese banks to help resuscitate some of the ailing debt-ridden Pakistani coal and nuclear power plants. The loans can be broken down into two broad temporal categories, the ‘Early Harvest’ ones in the next 3-4 years, and, the other loans promised after 2020. [1]  The key question that China watchers need to raise here is, how much is the Chinese government willing to stretch it’s banks now that there is a stock-market meltdown, currency devaluation, import stagnation and deepening recession within it’s own country? Advocates of China’s overseas investment model will no doubt point to the muscular investment by China in countries fraught with high political, financial and credit risks in Latin America and Africa in the last ten years. In fact, the example of Venezuela, a politically and financially high-risk country in which China has invested over $52 billion from 2008 up till 2014, the biggest Chinese investment in any single country so far, may hold some of the answers.  Although foreign loan-related information is hard to come by as regards most Chinese state-owned lenders, it is estimated that international investments comprised one-fifth of China Development Bank’s loans in end-2014. The majority of the loans were commodities-backed and have gone to resource rich countries in Latin America and Africa which were deemed extremely high risk by western banks or western multilateral institutions. [2]  The overseas investment model of China Development Bank was based on the oil-for-loan model...

Impact of Cultures, Ideals and Visions on Alternative Movements

Impact of Cultures, Ideals and Visions on Alternative Movements

Knowledge has been the foundation of all development and every age and era has seen some product or service that became a standard or benchmark for that time. This was always a general trend to follow and adopt a popular product or behavior but after the Industrial Revolution of 18th century it became possible to offer products made through different technologies that that offered alternative methodologies for producing the same product. An everyday example would be of soap that has remained a cleansing product for over two centuries. The end-use remains same despite change in technologies. It has become a dominant standard for cleansing. But in case of more complex products like software totally different technologies compete for space for same or similar value added end uses. An example is that of Microsoft Office that is based on Windows based technology while a similar product the Open Office that is based on Linux. Office was offered as a method of writing and recording. In this case the dominant trend is being impacted as the end-use is changed substantially by technological dexterity and Office is now used beyond its original simpler usage. Competitive advantage (Porter, 1980) has been the strategic reason for adoption of different technologies but this was until now product-centric. Competition has now moved to a different level. It is the different technologies that are now competing for producing the same product. This has been termed as differential generic strategy (Porter, 1996) that now attempts to corner niche markets or even carve out a new niche from the old one. A good example of this is the Southwest Airline that carved a niche for itself by offering low -cost no-frills flying to consumers and beat the dominating trend of flying with fully loaded services offered by traditional airlines. The competing methodology in this case was creating a new consumer who could now switch from driving or taking a train to flying short hauls at competitive or even lower price within a far shorter time. But can it be said that new alternatives, technological or strategic practices, can upset or change the dominating trend and set new standards or benchmarks? (Hofstede, 1991) said that...

Laws Swinging Cradle to Grave : Gallows to Pillows

Laws Swinging Cradle to Grave : Gallows to Pillows

The Year 2015 has been noted for an addition to its stereotype judgments; embarked and enshrined as ‘crude decision of the apex court’,for deciding the fate of a terrorist-cum-human for gallows. It has been decided after a prolonged wait of 20 years that 257 victims of 12th march 1993 Bombay Bomb Blast~Black Friday~, have perceived justice and the same appeals to them as incomplete, turning out into a National catharsis. With myriads of expectations and eyes lurking for justice, the cause of justice innocuously turned into rage of revenge and thirst of avenging the victims of bomb blast. The onus rested on the incumbency of 20 years of governance and the question of justice was brought up, at the beginning of each term, but with the glimpse, government could have taken a positive step towardsignominious efforts of predecessors; the demos prudential were left with a hope gripped in hands and painted in shades of saffron. The current scenario contemplates eyes of the common that the unprecedented issue is finished within a span of 2 weeks and still there are masses whostill believes that the justice is not served and questioned the technicality of law. The heartfelt condolences through empathy towards the terrorist-cum-human screamed louder than the shredded souls and bombed bodies. The questions raised by the rudimentary section of society left the “ignited Minds”to hover into the correctness of the actual issue at hand and left the righteousness of illicit actions to decide the fate of ‘’he who to be hanged’’. The 21st century has also stepped as a growth of Media and evolution of chivalrous mindset of scrupulous people, now they have actually learnt to raise a question and curb the dominating HAND. But eventually with time the power to raise question was capriciously confused with raising an issue rhetorically, they only wanted solution as the one they had decided while raising the issue. Thus this ideology and methodology turned the principle of ‘’Due Diligence’’ futile and connoisseur of law was vehemently questioned. The renaissance of conscious awakening, filtered people with a power in form of a right to fight for justice, rights and welfare, but consequently the same power left surreptitiously, a...

Jargon of Killing Oneself: Injustice in law?

Jargon of Killing Oneself: Injustice in law?

The concept of suicide has been developed since ages long. Historically, Suicide was considered as a serious offense. But modern society has changed the perspective of many westernized country. But many Asian countries like India still criminalize even attempt to suicide. People are penalize and imprison after their failed attempt. Tragedy doesn’t ends there their family who are already grief stricken after the death are made to follow legal consequences. In India section 309 of the IPC criminalizes attempt to suicide. Suicidal tendency is an unhealthy condition arising of an abnormality.   Circumstances leading   them behind   the legal bar  will surely worsen the condition. If the law enforcement bodies are shifting their focus from legal sanctions to medical sanctions it will create positive frequency around to get more vocal for this cause. There are three different kinds of attempt to suicide depending on the way people attempt it and the manner in which it gets legal sanctions.  Sometimes people   are deliberately reporting the matter to the police as accidental so as not to get into penal actions and even hospital are frequently denying to admit suicide attempters in case not to get into trauma or stigma. So at last   patients lacks the even only emotional support they can get. Recent cases of   suicide during the last few years has revealed that there has been significant increase in attempt   to suicide.  So the government has decided to repeal the section 309 of the IPC by   passing Medical health care bill 2013 which can be stepping stone towards decriminalization of attempt to suicide. Suicide has been crime since ages long. Historically law against suicide and mercy killing has been developed from religious doctrine –“One(god) who gave should only take”. And external manifestation of the act done by the person by ending life was so against the natural law of the land. History shows the followed consequences of suicide as well as associated matters of assisting suicide and attempting suicide. There were strict jurisdictions with regard to the same and moreover, after the death, legal consequences were suffered by their family members and they were left to face the miseries of exorbitant legal procedure involuntarily. Subsequently, family...

Where is Kashmir’s Much Touted Normalcy?

Where is Kashmir’s Much Touted Normalcy?

Syed Ata Hasnain The challenges of conducting elections in Kashmir’s turbulent scenario are in multiples especially when many a paradox exists For some months now, the media and influential members of Delhi’s civil society have been speaking of the return of normalcy in Kashmir. In pure security terms ‘normalcy’ could be defined as the relative absence of violence, the enhanced confidence of society and the rekindling of hope.        On all three counts the situation in Kashmir, a day prior to the first polls in the Valley, does not appear to inspire too much confidence. There has been more violence than even in the Maoist areas in the run up to the elections; and the northern passes have yet to open so this violence has not been executed by fresh inductees but rather by the residual terrorists left over from previous years.     Sarpanches, the ones who still have the courage to remain in their pseudo posts are resigning, threatening to resign or making a beeline to the nearest police stations to remain secure.  A Kashmir English media publication has this to say this morning – “On the last day of election campaign on Tuesday, not a single political party managed to organize an election rally in any part of the South Kashmir except Noorabad, where Chief Minister Omar Abdullah addressed an election rally amid tight security”.       Where are we and where are we heading, I often ask. As a veteran of many an election in Kashmir I can vouch that such a situation possibly did not exist even through 1999 to 2011 when in the early period militancy was at its peak and later civil strife the order of the day. Kashmir watchers the world over, the serious ones, must have waited for this moment to ascertain the validity of their assessments or otherwise. Most had predicted continuing stability and returning normalcy based upon the age old parameters of assessment; security related statistics, residual strength of terrorists etc. They would be a mite disappointed by the events of the last week which have upset all such deductions and appear to be pointing back to the Nineties.   The situation isn’t really so bad...

Blindfold in Bangladesh: Western Democracies’ Support to Islamic Forces

Blindfold in Bangladesh: Western Democracies’ Support to Islamic Forces

RAJIV KUMAR I just recently learnt about the lack of response from the majority of the Western countries to the recent electoral outcome in Bangladesh.  In a meeting with a senior Japanese diplomat, I found out that Japan had wisely decided to break the ranks of developed democracies to write a congratulatory letter to Sheikh  Hasina on her electoral victory. India had of course conveyed its support and good wishes to the prime minister immediately after the results were declared. And Pakistan for obvious reasons has not done that so far. Several ASEAN countries have acknowledged the Awami League victory but not whole heartedly supported it. The reason given for this lack of recognition of Sheikh Hasina’s electoral success is the boycott by the main opposition party, the BNP, led by Begum Khalida Zia. It is clear that the elections followed the constitutional provisions and process and BNP chose to boycott the elections at its own risk. The stand taken by the US and its European allies along with others like Pakistan is that an election boycotted by the largest opposition party does not measure up to the global democratic benchmarks. According to them, Sheikh Hasina does not command sufficient legitimacy to deserve to be congratulated on her victory. This is  a bogus stand and one which demonstrates lack of understanding of the complex realities of South Asia. To couch it in high moral rhetoric does not hide the fact that western powers completely fail to understand the dangers posed by a fundamentalist political Islam in South Asia and other parts of the world. Also it reveals dangerous inconsistency on their part as they condone and connive with the dismissal of Mohammed Morsi in Egypt while calling for a re-election in Bangladesh. This is despite the fact that Begum Zia derives her principal support from the Jamait- e Islami and other more fundamentalist Islamic groups in Bangladesh. It will do a lot of good for Americans and Europeans to realise the Sheikh Hasina has been fighting their  war against the ‘Islamisation’ of Bangladesh society. By this I do not for a minute mean that the people of Bangladesh or for that matter any other...

The Emotions of Alienation

The Emotions of Alienation

SYED ATA HASNAIN I must admit that I am a cricket buff and would miss everything else just to take in the thrills and pleasures of a hard-fought one day match involving the men in blue. In the midst of the anguish that I faced watching my favorite team lose to Pakistan in the recent Asia Cup came the nails in the coffin of defeat, delivered by the events in Meerut. A segment of 67 young students from Kashmir allegedly and admittedly cheered for Pakistan even as the negative emotions from defeat were just about eroding. On a social media discussion I initiated with a wise and mature group of people I made an opening statement. It stated that the action of the students was “akin to the famous Hindi proverb – ‘ Aa Bael Mujhe Maar’, an euphemism for harakiri. Human instinct usually ensures that when no advantage accrues to you from a certain action you desist from it. However, if you still insist on doing it then it is at the risk of your neck”. The subsequent discussion was shorn of any major emotions but one thing was clear the friends from Kashmir who were engaged in the debate displayed a surprising naivety about the reality of the situation surrounding the problem of Kashmir, the way it is viewed by people in rest of India and the emotions connected with it. I tried to explain the issue of Realism through an example. In 2011, the World Cup was approaching and the chances of Dhoni’s men lifting it were reputed to be strong. I was heading the Army in Kashmir and in the middle of an exciting experiment to change the narrative through innovative methods of outreach to the ‘Awaam’. There were daily meetings with different stake holders and suggestions were being received from all quarters. Someone suggested that cricket being a passion, a virtual ‘Diwaangi’, in Kashmir it would only be appropriate that people in way off villages and towns must get the opportunity to view the World Cup matches. In their usual innovative way the Army formations went a couple of steps beyond the normal television sets and utilized their video...

Knowing Kashmiri Women on International Women’s Day

Knowing Kashmiri Women on International Women’s Day

Kashmiri Women, Conflict Situation and the People’s Perspective of Women Empowerment   Adfar Shah Prelude If a more active role is assigned to the vital Observation technique and methodologically designed field studies are given a preference and sufficient time with proper follow-ups, the facts thus far established on Kashmir will automatically turn to half- truths! On the gender issue in Kashmir valley, though a great deal of literature has been produced but hardly any use of varied models and approaches of fact collection have been employed; rather thereseems to have been the incorporation of a unique mode though with several approaches but never juxtaposed against each other for maximum effect! Though there are ample ethnographic studies in existence as well, however there are not ethnographers but the enemies of ethnography-the methodology of direct observation. We need a deconstruction approach towards most of the gender discourses on Kashmir in order to get a fresh and realistic perspective. Introduction The world is still trying to do away with the burden of gender discrimination, gendered violence and exploitation of women besides the abhorrent issues of caste, religion, colour, class. Women are still the most disadvantaged segment of the world population, though efforts to alleviate the many ills that beset them, are on everywhere, in right earnest! However, acknowledging the fact that mainstreaming the gender and accomplishing the transformation process/achieving women’s emancipation is not a one day jo, this is an uphill task requiring immense and unswerving devotion and perseverance. This paper deals with  the question of the politics and politicization of women empowerment as a slogan and discusses the perceived empowerment as a local narrative beyond any feminist tendencies among women at the micro-level, with a special reference to Kashmiri women. The paper conceptually deliberates upon the women’s understanding of empowerment and realization of a viable social identity/identity at home against the grand theories of gender discrimination and feminism. It utilizes the people’s as well as women’s ‘thinking of being’ empowered against the labels of disempowerment and worthlessness, devoid of dignity. Amongst the myriad interpretations of empowerment, the paper discloses the never before exposed dimension of women’s sense of empowerment that is quite contrary to the conventional...

A Matter Of Honour

A Matter Of Honour

SYED ATA HASNAIN Some years ago I was commanding a Division in Kashmir. One morning I received a call from a senior staff officer at the Command HQ at Udhampur that the Army Commander was upset at the string of non-battle casualties in my formation; two suicides, a vehicle accident, a weapon lost in a training exercise, two jawans dead because of avalanches etc. I stated to the officer that none of these incidents were under my direct control; that while I was morally responsible physical responsibility did not rest with me. I was, however, willing to be removed from command if it pleased my superiors and sent an appropriate message to the command chain. I never heard of the issue again. However, in the wake of Admiral DK Joshi’s resignation as the Naval Chief all this came rushing back into the mental hard disc. The issue is one of physical versus moral responsibility. Let me start by stating unequivocally that Admiral Joshi is one of India’s finest scholar sailors, a gentleman to the hilt, a man of great virtue and someone who carries the stamp of being a professional to the core. Therefore my heart bleeds to see such a man go. No doubt he has raised the level of honor by many notches for all three Services by his act of resignation taking full moral responsibility for the string of accidents which have occurred in the Navy in the last few months, the one with the INS Sindhuratna being the latest. The morning blogs and papers are full of the necessity of some others also taking the rap for the failures, primarily the bureaucracy and the political level too. It actually boils down to the difference between the moral and physical responsibility, the issue I raised at the beginning of this piece. Who is responsible for what? Obviously there is nothing black and white about this. Are the numerous crashes of Migs the responsibility of the Air Chief, the AOCs, the Air Force Station Commanders or the Squadron Commanders; not easy to peg. Whose responsibility is the series of negative incidents on the LoC? The failure to provide sufficient intelligence to prevent...

A Visitor At Aligarh Muslim University

A Visitor At Aligarh Muslim University

Lt General Syed Ata Hasnain Travelogues may really not be a part of this e-paper’s scope yet when you make a brief foray into a neighboring town and it excites you with what you observe, you are duty bound to share impressions that you have returned with. Aligarh houses the famous Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) about which there has been more negative than positive publicity; remarks about its falling standards and inability to modernize. When one hears of such things it is not good to accept it at face value. Always better to take a look yourself if it is within the scope of your capability. I am not an Aligarhite, so to say but have many friends who have emerged from the hallowed precincts of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s iconic institution. I have heard and read so much about it and now I have the honor of being appointed the Visitor’s nominee on the University’s Executive Council. The Visitor happens to be the President of India. This is just a short travelogue of a day spent at AMU. I was there for a day; left at 5 AMand returned at 7 PM. In these 14 hours, including travel time I underwent a profound change in my perception about AMU and it gave me an insight into how institutions can become the vehicle of social change, if you want them to be so. It may be interesting to take note of my ignorance and my observations and provide a critique about what I write. What was the occasion? Nothing so earth shaking; I was invited to speak to a gathering on a supposedly mundane subject, ‘Internal Security Challenges of India and Human Rights Concerns’, a subject not usually touched by educational institutions in India. The reason, simply because this is an issue taken for granted by most without realizing that even more than external security it is your internal environ which gives you the capability to aspire and achieve what you have set out as your goals. The drive to Aligarh via the Expressway and then the 47 Km segment from Tappal needs to be experienced to get a measure of the difference between evolving, modernizing...

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