Pakistan and India have cheap labour too, so how is Bangladesh surpassing them?

Lisbon, Portugal, is a scenic and hilly city which has preserved its old Christian traditions and has a hint of romance to it. It’s also rare to come across any South Asians there, unless it’s a Bangladeshi. So is the case in Madrid, Spain, where I lived for some time. From the deserts of Saudi Arabia to the concrete jungle of New York, wherever I have travelled in the world, I have always come across Bangladeshi people. After some research, I have found out that my chance encounters with Bangladeshis in every nook and corner of the world were ...

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What happened to the Bitcoin hype, and why it’s time to invest in it

Two years ago, a phenomenon known as Bitcoin gained hype across the globe, including in Pakistan. Anyone with even a modicum of tech knowledge was head over heels to invest in it, and it seemed unstoppable. Fast forward to the present, the hype seems to have vanished and Bitcoin is rarely the centre of discussion now. Back then, Bitcoin sounded like a method to make easy money, but investors soon became wary of the challenges associated with it. While Bitcoin was still making space in Pakistan in 2017, the cryptocurrency seemed to offer promising returns at a global level. The price was ...

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From Nashwa’s death to doctors spreading HIV, what is happening to Pakistan’s healthcare?

“Primum non nocere.”  (First, to do no harm) This is how I started a blog for the Express Tribune a few years ago. I wrote it then because I felt I had to speak out. A sweeper in Karachi had been rushed to a nearby hospital after he succumbed to noxious gases while trying to clear a sewer. The shocking bit was that the fasting doctor on duty refused to treat the critically ill sweeper covered in sewage water, claiming that doing so would have broken his fast. Interestingly, it is Ramazan again, so perhaps an apt time to remind my fellow healthcare ...

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Controlling inflation: why the State Bank of Pakistan should be autonomous

The rise in the interest rate as well as the depreciation of the rupee against the US dollar have both become topical issues in recent months. What is considered a conventional policy measure globally – often implemented in light of declining foreign currency reserves – has been scrutinised and discussed in mostly political terms. It is evident from the reaction of our political class and media that the concept of an autonomous central bank is still not fully appreciated by many. The aim of an autonomous central bank is simple: credibility. Politicians are always tempted to lower interest rates to ...

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Vladimir Putin ‘snubbing’ Imran Khan – why all the fuss?

When Pakistan failed to secure a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the recent Belt and Road Forum, a report in the Express Tribune called it a major “diplomatic setback”. Sure, many would have expected Prime Minister Imran Khan to have at least had a casual meet up with the president of Pakistan’s new “regional ally on Afghanistan,” however, it seemed that Putin had other, and more important, commitments. In light of this failure, should it really be seen as a major “diplomatic setback”? Sure, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is already going through a series of governance and public ...

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Why did Pakistan release Indian prisoners when India is not interested in peace?

US President Ronald Reagan was fond of using the Russian proverb “Doveryai, no proveryai” (trust, but verify). If Prime Minister Imran Khan hasn’t heard of this then he has probably seen the movie, The Italian Job, where the heist gang’s mantra is to trust everyone but not the devil inside them. In the interest of honesty, PM Imran must understand that India is not just the devil from inside, for the rhetoric emanating from within it is absolutely devilish as well. Pakistan has now released 360 Indian prisoners, mostly fishermen, in four phases as a goodwill gesture amidst very tense relations between the ...

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Why CPEC is not a debt trap after all

US President Donald Trump once stated that he was for free and fair trade, but he just wanted better deals. This statement can be applied to his trade war with China, which he initiated last year to bring down the massive trade imbalance between China and the US. Pakistan, too, faces a trade imbalance with China. It signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China in 2006, which was touted as Pakistan’s gradual phasing out of protectionism. However, there were concerns that exposure to big export powerhouses had the potential to damage developing countries such as Pakistan, that were unable ...

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22 loans in 61 years: Pakistan’s unwavering habit of going to the IMF

If we take a look at Pakistan’s history of borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), some interesting facts come to light. Pakistan’s history of knocking upon the IMF’s door started back in 1958, when General Ayub Khan first took the country to the IMF route and signed an agreement to secure special drawing rights (SDR) 25 million under a Standby Agreement. The money was never withdrawn.  Not too long after, Ayub’s finance team pursued two back-to-back IMF programs in 1965 and 1968 respectively. This time, however, they ended up withdrawing around SDR 112 million, the entire agreed upon amount. ...

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A presidential system will only ‘save’ Imran Khan, not Pakistan

A presidential system does not mean one person can wield unlimited power. Sorry to break this to those who have recently grasped on to the idea that a presidential system will somehow save Pakistan. If you want that kind of government structure, you’re looking for a dictatorship. Most advocates of a presidential system in Pakistan are hoping for an unchecked executive being granted limitless powers. A person above the petty politics of Parliament, and who – through their iron resolve – will steer Pakistan out of the choppy waters it has found itself in and on towards the shores of ...

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The consequences of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s words

Prime Minister Imran Khan finally paid a visit to Iran upon the invitation of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and the two-day visit was very important considering the strategic importance of both countries combined with the extreme tension between them on their over 900-kilometre long border. During his visit, apart from meeting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Imran addressed a joint press conference with Rouhani in which both countries stressed upon the importance of improving relations through bilateral dialogue, especially to combat the threats of drug smuggling and terrorism. This was a rather strange joint presser, as both Pakistan and Iran have ...

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