Stories about economy

70 years of Pakistan and two successful elected governments – should we celebrate democracy?

Democracy is a system of procedural consistency, which is perhaps why the reason Pakistan has failed to strengthen its democracy over the past few decades is because it has been marred by inconsistencies. As the government fulfils its five-year tenure once again, we see the emergence of a new dawn, something unimaginable even a decade ago. For the first time in our 70-year history, two democratic governments have successfully completed their entire five-year terms and engaged in a smooth transition. It has become a common habit for people to criticise our “desi democratic principles”. And why not, they ask? ...

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Is China making Pakistan a client-state with its ‘debt-book diplomacy’?

In Pakistan, China is the most active and positive economic force. So much so that continued cooperation between the two countries is supported by virtually all sides of this otherwise deeply divided country. Everyone from the Taliban to the secularist military leaders view Chinese investment as a boon to the country, the main source of job creation, and, in all truth, the most promising source of kickbacks for themselves. It certainly is the case that the infrastructure projects part of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative are the most significant economic development stimulus in the economically underdeveloped country, and the ...

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While Saudi Arabia was busy pointing fingers at Iran, it didn’t see its own looming doom

Saudi Arabia has viewed the recent protests in Iran as no less than a geopolitical opportunity as the Kingdom is currently locked in a regional power struggle against the Islamic Republic. Saudi commentators have publicly lambasted Iran, calling the protests a “fierce blow to the heart of Khomeinism” and stating that the protests had “made Iran boil like it’s on a crater of a volcano”. Some commentators warned “collapse” would be next. Apparently, Saudi Arabia has forgotten that not too long ago, it launched a crackdown of its own (something Iran initially tried to avoid doing in response to the protestors, believe it or not). While at ...

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Would you invest in Bitcoin, the future of global currency?

Mark Hanna, a student at New York University (NYU) in 2011, bought a few odd Bitcoins for a $1 each from some guy in Canada through PayPal. He only bought those novelty digital coins to purchase illicit drugs through Silk Road – an online black market – which had begun to use Bitcoin to hide its transactions from governmental oversight. If Hanna had seen Bitcoin as a speculative asset instead, and somehow managed to hold on to his Bitcoin for six years, each one of his Bitcoin would have been worth $11,000 today – the new high reached by Bitcoin on Wednesday ...

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Can Nawaz Sharif salvage his legacy by normalising relations with India and the economic alleviation stemming from it?

The battle lines have been drawn. Nawaz is out flaunting his muscles on the street, and his choice seems clear – defiance over acquiescence. But to what end? One possibility is that the power play is simply intended to gain political leverage and bargain relief from those the former prime minster (PM) feels have vindictively disarmed him. But two factors refute this theory – Khawaja Asif and Mushahidullah Khan. We all know the perversity with which Asif is viewed within the General Headquarters (GHQ), and the comments that led Khan to be scapegoated and removed from his ministry. The appointment of the two ...

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Of Pakistan’s strategic position and progressing economy

Pakistan’s geostrategic location is a major attraction for developed economies to invest in for lucrative returns. The country is strategically located in the crossroads of Asia with China as its neighbour in the north, India in the east, and Iran and Afghanistan in the west.  The country lies in a region which has great political, economic and military importance. Being in the same vicinity as two major powers, China and Russia, adds to its position. Similarly, Pakistan has an access to the six Muslim central Asian states through Afghanistan. These states are landlocked and Pakistan can provide a link between the Gulf States as well as African, European and Central Asian ...

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Pakistan and India should celebrate independence from the British – not from each other

Sometime back I ran into an elderly man at work. Since I live in an area of Canada that is densely populated with immigrants from Indian Punjab, I knew the gentleman was from India. After I was done helping him out, he looked at my name-tag and asked me what part of India I was from. I told him I was from Pakistan, not India. A wide smile appeared on his face, and he asked me what city of Pakistan I belonged to. After I mentioned that I was from Lahore, his smile grew even wider as he got teary-eyed. ...

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In Pakistan, the reality of poverty is hidden behind inaccurate numbers

Credit Suisse insisted that the world lagged behind Pakistan in the rate of total wealth increase between 2000-2015. Surprised? According to a report published in October 2015, the total wealth in Pakistan has increased at the rate of 7.4 % between 2000 and 2015, whereas the total wealth of the world increased at an average of 5.2% annually over the same 15-year period. The total wealth in Pakistan increased from $170 billion in 2000 to $495 billion in 2015. Similarly, the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16 has claimed that the per capita income in dollar terms has increased from $1,516.8 in fiscal year (FY) 2015 to $1,560.7 ...

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Will the people of Punjab stand up for education? Because the government just cut the budget – again

“The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.” (Thomas Payne) In the midst of so much uncertainty there is one thing in Pakistan that can be predicted with absolute confidence: administrative policy. We can rest assured that the average reprobate and hanger-on populating the federal and provincial assemblies will do everything possible to prevent the nation from progressing. Case in point: the Punjab Assembly has cut the budget allocation for the education sector from 21% in the last fiscal year to 18.6% for 2016-17. Furthermore, the allocation of 21% in the last fiscal year was 3% down from the previous year, which in turn was down ...

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Budget 2016-17: Reinforcing the same old Pakistani agricultural story – no improvement!

Imagine the trickledown effect on the economy of a country when its largest employer, absorbing 42.3% of the country’s total labour force, and the highest contributor to the national export basket (up to 73.1%) fails miserably! During Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the performance of the agriculture sector witnessed a negative growth of 0.19%. The growth of important crops (cotton, sugarcane, rice, maize and wheat) other crops (bajra, jowar, gram, barley, tobacco, potatoes, onions) and cotton ginning registered a growth of -7.18%, -0.31% and -21.26% respectively. But in view of random and arbitrary agricultural reforms and policy interventions by successive military and civil governments, this was expected sooner ...

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