Category - Featured Articles

YouTube Banned in Pakistan? Unblock YouTube
Army and America Searching for Allah!
If US Really Wanted To Help Pakistan!
Should India Buy Weapons from Pakistan?
Pakistan Recieves $5.7 Billion in Remittances
Pakistan Government May Raise Gas Tariff

YouTube Banned in Pakistan? Unblock YouTube

The most breaking yet shocking news for all of the Pakistani Internet users is that YouTube has been banned in Pakistan. This came to me when I was about to open and watch a YouTube video on Firefox but instead it kept returning me the “server not responding” message after many failed attempts. Later it was confirmed by Shafiq on his blog.

This is not the first time that something like this has happened in Pakistan. Last time was blocked as some of the blogs on Blogger were targeting the religious and cultural values of Muslims however this time the matter is related to politics.

I will try my best not to go into the details rather I will teach you some ways to Unblock and Access YouTube. This is not only helpful for Pakistani users but for users of all the regions where YouTube is blocked.

1. Proxy Site   recommended proxy site

vTunnel is one of the best proxy site used world-wide to unblock and access YouTube. Here are some of the other proxies that will let you access YouTube as well.

Army and America Searching for Allah!

Contemporay Pakistani scholars including Ambassador Hussain Haqqani (Between Mosque and Military) have argued that a shady alliance between army and Mullahs has led to the current abysmal condition of democracy in Pakistan. Another one of my favorite Pakistani scholar Hassan Abbas in his book “Pakistan’s Drift Into Extremism: Allah, then Army, and America’s War Terror” has made similar arguments.

Many others, including this humble scribe, have pleaded that America yields tremendous amount of influence on Pakistan army and therefore, has the wherewithal to steer the country on the track of civilian rule.

I have come to conclusion that this hypothesis is flawed for two reasons: i) American influence in Pakistan is limited ii) it is not in American interest to alienate Pakistan army.

When Obama administration decided to align itself with the civil society and announced $7.5 billion in aid through Kerry-Lugar bill, a handful but very loud Pakistani journalists raised so much hell that General David Petraeus had to go to Pakistan and dress down the country’s Chief of Army Staff General Kayani.

Gen. Patreause and Sen. Kerry were sent to Pakistan after US President Barack Obama signed a record 7.5 billion dollar package tripling non-military aid to the nuclear-armed Muslim nation to boost its campaign against a virulent Islamist insurgency. Although the Zaradari government defended the package, Pakistan’s powerful military sparked a domestic showdown, expressing grave reservations about conditions that hinge some of the funds on efforts to battle Islamist extremism.

United States Central Command chief Gen David Petraeus and Chairman Senate Foreign Affairs committee Senator John Kerry on October 19th last year held separate meetings with the Pakistan Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashraf Kayani and the outcome of those meetings were an immediate yanking of the anti-KLB campaign from Pakistani private TV channels. When Central Command chief Gen David Petraeus went to the GHQ he categorically told Gen Kayani to halt anti-KLB campaign. “Gen. Kayani was told in absolutely clear terms that the Obama administration will not tolerate another Honduras,” said a source very close to this conversation.

In Pakistan, Zardari administration was portrayed by the media as too deferential to the United States. Pakistani journalists who unconditionally support their Army started the campaign against KLB and coalesced anti-Western politicians, and Muslim fundamentalists — implausibly claiming that Pakistan’s sovereignty was undermined and the country could end up as a U.S. neo-colony. Some of it is untrue!

To begin with, Pakistan has been an American neo-colony for last six decades and most of that time it was under a military dictatorship. And, most importantly Pakistan has been an American satellite state because of it’s army.

Pakistan’s military operates on the U.S. financial and technological assistance and it will receive even more support in the near future as it targets Taliban strongholds. Therefore conditions placed by the U.S. Congress on $7.5 billion in economic aid to Pakistan over the next five years should not have been of major consequence to Pakistani generals.

It is undoubtedly true that Pakistani government is too deferential to the Americans. Not that I condone it but this is not new. Bone of contention here was the ‘non-military’ aid. KLB was historic because it earmarked monies for health, education, infrastructure and civil society.

Pakistan army felt left-out. Although Pakistan army has backed out of KLB but democratic government is still hanging on the balance. NRO, food security, energy crisis all loom over Zardari’s head.

From trafficking heroin to grabbing precious land; from taking kick-back on purchase of equipment (sub-marines included) Pakistan army has looted everything we have ever had. Why then, I wonder, Pakistanis only discuss civilian corruption? Managing PR fiasco was easy for the Obama administration. They had to remind the source of opposition of an old proverb: you can’t bite the hand that feeds you. Pakistani Generals understood and complied.

But Americans also understood and acknowledged that Pakistan army truly represents Pakistan. Army is back on the table-and part of every session of strategic dialogue in Washington DC this week.

There are clear indications that Pakistan Army and America are strategizing how to engage Allah (represented by Taliban) to create veneer of peace in the region.

To my contemporary political analysts who have waited for Americans to change the course in Pakistan, I respectfully submit: change only comes from within. Pakistan army will rule as long as Pakistani people are ready to tolerate it’s reign.

If US Really Wanted To Help Pakistan!

Pakistan’s capacity to produce electricity compared to other states of it’s size (geography) and population puts it in the lower 20 percentile among the comity of nations.

Combining the three major energy sectors, Hydroelectric, Thermal and Nuclear, Pakistan has an installed capacity of 19.5 GW of electric power.

Turkey is a country similar in size to Pakistan, while Brazil has a similar population scale. Turkey has an installed capacity of over 40 GW, while Brazil produces about 95GW of electricity.

Brazil is a much larger country, with vast water resources; but Turkey is very similar to Pakistan in a number of respects, yet it manages to produce over twice the amount of electricity. Given that Turkey has about one-third the population of Pakistan, this statistics shows that its citizens enjoy 6 times more power than those in Pakistan.

Also noteworthy is that India, Pakistan’s arch rival and not the most well managed democracy in the world, has an installed capacity of 150 GW and has managed to significantly decrease power outage in the last 20 years. However, nothing has changed in Pakistan, if not for the worse.

This appalling state of power generation in Pakistan has been widely reviewed and commented upon by its local media. Last Friday, the Nation, an English language newspaper in Pakistan, reviewed the state of affairs and said that the load shedding (intentional power outage) in Pakistan is not only hampering the industry, but also causing unemployment on a grand scale. A report in the News, says that the major city of Karachi suffers from between 3-8 hours of load shedding throughout the Sunday and other Holidays. This is Karachi; the most developed city in Pakistan, with its own, separate electricity board.

The condition is incomparably worse in rural areas, especially the previously militant controlled North West Frontier provinces. These areas have virtually no power, and one hour of electricity a day is considered miraculous.

Thermal power generation produces about 65% of Pakistan’s electric power, while the Hydroelectric and Nuclear sectors account for 33% and 2% respectively. Thermal power is generated using oil, natural gas and coal. Oil, which accounts for 43.5% of total energy generated, has to be imported (almost two-thirds of it), while natural gas (39%) and coal (5%) is indigenous. There are vast reserves of natural gas in Pakistan, with 611 billion cu m in Baluchistan alone. Moreover, the government has noted that using crude oil for thermal power generation is not only expensive, but also pollutes the atmosphere; yet a major switch to natural gas power production has not been attempted yet.

Hydroelectricity is generated from the major dams, the Tarbela, Mangela, and the Warsakh dams. The Tarbela is the largest rock and earth dam in the world, and generates 2.1 million kW of electricity. The vast Indus basin has a potential to generate 25 GW of power, despite seasonal wanes, but most of that potential has not been built upon yet.
Pakistan has two nuclear power reactors, one each in Karachi and Chasma, which together produce 425 MW of power, which is about 2% of the country’s total. More nuclear reactors for power generation are under approval stages.

There is the need for a three pronged development goal for the future. In the first stages, a quick, stopgap measure of changing from crude oil based thermal power generation to natural gas needs to be undertaken. This measure will not require expensive creation of new power plants or natural gas extraction facilities. Existing thermal power plants could be switched to natural gas fuel, and natural gas production itself could be increased at existing facilities. In the second stage, the vast hydroelectric potential of the Indus river basin should be harnessed to full capacity, producing the 25 GW it is capable of. In the third stage, major cities and industrial hubs should be switched to nuclear power, given that nuclear power, while expensive, is the most dependable source of power.

Both the US and China have been long involved in Pakistan; but while China has historically been more involved in a constructive, peaceful capacity, the US has largely used Pakistan as a base for fighting land wars in Asia. If the US wants to invest more in the economic development of Pakistan, a few areas need its urgent attention.
The US has a very developed capacity in the natural gas industry. Given the progressive economic development of Pakistan, the US will find a major investment in Pakistan’s natural gas sector vastly profitable.

Also, as the Special Representative Richard Holbrooke, recently noted, the expulsion of militants from the country has given the US “breathing room” to focus on other aspects of development.

A major energy assessment has been done by the USAID, the US government’s international aid department, in this regard.

Another major area where Pakistan needs US help is to fight the seasonal fluctuations of the hydroelectric sector. The sector has an annual capacity of 25 GW, as discussed; however, the problem is that this capacity is mostly expended during a few months of the season, and throughout the rest of the year, the river basins remain dry. This problem can be solved in two ways, one, by building more dams to harness the water throughout the year, and two, to create energy storage capacity to generate energy during the monsoon months and use it during the winter.

Finally, there is the question of nuclear power. This is a thorny issue, and the US has not been forthcoming in developing even civilian nuclear power in Pakistan. However, with a stabilizing political situation in Pakistan, the US should rethink its nuclear strategy and help develop reactors for the major industrial hubs, as China has already begun to do.

Should India Buy Weapons from Pakistan?

India is spending $11 billion on buying arms from US, Russia and others. If they spend one billion on buying weapons from the Pakistani military-industrial complex, they could have a reasonable chance of making peace with a vowed enemy in their backyard.

The eternal enmity that ensued with the partition has caused enough death and destruction in the sub-continent already, and the looming threat of nuclear war makes the future insecure. Some visionary leadership is needed to steer the future clear of this imminent death threat hanging over 1.5 billion lives.

Terrorism being the stumbling block, all efforts at negotiations between India and Pakistan came to naught once again. The suffering of the people and environment were ignored over patriotic ambitions, conspiratorial war-mongering and supremacy. In a conflict between two in-equal entities, initiative rests on the one who is bigger. A proactive approach, that engages Pakistan’s war-machinery in trade, might have some merit in diffusing this hostility that has the potential to produce the deadliest-ever-witnessed disaster, in the history of mankind.

The Krupp of Germany used to sell armaments to many countries that fought wars against Germany. A British company ‘Vickers’ was given the license to make Krupp time-fuses before WW1. Vickers was supposed to pay Krupp a fixed sum for every shell fired. After the defeat of Germany, Krupp claimed that money and settled with the British for a lower amount. There are examples in history on trade of weapons between hostile countries.

Dominance of the army over Pakistan is not a secret. The democratic set-up had to comply when Kerry-Lugar aid bill was disputed by the powers. Political signals of peace with India changed into rhetoric of un-ending war over Kashmir, in plain public view. It is the army of Pakistan that survives and thrives with an anti-India manifesto. Jane Perlez reporting on the extension of service for the ISI chief wrote in New York Times, “The announcement extending the tenure of Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha as director of the spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, was formally made Wednesday by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. But it had been clear for weeks that General Kayani planned to keep General Pasha at his side, and that the weak civilian government would have little choice but to go along with it.”(Report dated March 10, 2010.)

Terrorism in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India is a proxy-war causing immense suffering and death. President Karzai of Afghanistan, on his recent visit to Pakistan said, “Afghanistan does not want any proxy wars on its territory. It does not want a proxy war between India and Pakistan on Afghanistan. It does not want a proxy war between Iran and the United States on Afghanistan. It does not want any country… to engage in any activity against another country in Afghanistan.” (Excerpt from the Dawn report, March 11, 2010.)

Afghanistan sent into oblivion after the defeat of Soviet Union, came back to haunt. No matter how deadly the enmity, no country could be dispatched to hell like that. Let alone a nuclear armed country like Pakistan. Those who patronize the indulgence in terrorism must be engaged in peaceful transaction. USA and China invest heavily in building Pakistan army. India, with the ambitions of becoming a super-power cannot afford to postpone involvement indefinitely. A policy of directly engaging Pakistan army in a lucrative deal could see the end of terrorists who commit carnage across the border.

Mitigating the influence of USA and China in Pakistan requires innovative thinking in terms of Indo-Pak relations. IK Gujral, former Prime Minister of India, explaining his 5 point doctrine at Bandaranaike Center for International Studies in 1997 said, “We need neighbors who are developing at least as fast as we are to avoid imbalances which feed dissatisfaction and political problems.”

Many years ago, a Bangladeshi pharmacist asked me, “Do you know the difference between stupid and crazy?” He went on to explain that stupid will never rip a dollar bill. Only crazy could do that. My humble recommendation is based on the assumption that Pakistan’s military leadership is not crazy and India’s democratic representatives could muster the courage and wisdom required for proactive measures to ensure peace in the region. I could be wrong. After all this is just another cry for peace.

Pakistan Recieves $5.7 Billion in Remittances

Noting a 17 percent increase in remittances, State Bank of Pakistan Wednesday said that Non-Resident Pakistanis have send home nearly $5.7 billion between July 2009 to February 2010. During the same period in previous fiscal year, Pakistanis living abroad had sent $4.9 billion.

For economies like Pakistan, funds repatriated by non-residents to family and friends back home, provide the most tangible link between migration and development. But September 11attacks, it has become increasingly difficult for Pakistanis to get work visas which had resulted in negative growth of remittances.

Analysts believe that latest increase is due to strict regulation of foreign exchange market. Majority of the informal money transfer and forex firms have changed their business practice or disappeared.

Analysts point out that since remittances are unilateral transfers they do not create liabilities. And they usually come with advice—from migrants who have seen better—on how to best use them. Thus, remittances are not simply money, but value-added money.

NRPs sent $588.78 million in February 2009 compared to $641.32 of February 2010, reports Dollars Magazine. The inflow of remittances in July-February, 2010 period from UAE, USA, Saudi Arabia, GCC countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman), UK and EU countries amounted to $1,317.17 million, $1,173.37 million, $1,148.86 million, $826.93 million, $596.26 million and $171.41 million respectively as compared to $1,035.55 million, $1,156.51 million, $962.30 million, $783.39 million, $344.08 million and $150.05 million respectively in the July-February, 2008-09 period.

Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during the first eight months of the current fiscal year amounted to $550.65 million as against $486.34 million in the same period last year. The monthly average remittances for the July-February 2010 period comes out to $723.36 million as compared to $614.83 million during the same period of last fiscal year, registering an increase of 17.65 percent.

During February 2010 remittances from Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA, GCC countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman), UK and EU countries amounted to $149.45 million, $136.88 million, $111.48 million, $89.21 million, $45.91 million and $13.48 million respectively as compared to $123.64 million, $166.62 million, $127.48 million, $93.09 million, $54.12 million and $18.31 million in February 2009. Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during February 2010 amounted to $41.13 million compared with $58.04 million in the same month of last year.

The true size, including unrecorded formal and informal flows, is believed to be significantly larger. Remittances total at least three times official development assistance and are the largest source of external financing.

Pakistan Government May Raise Gas Tariff

Government of Pakistan is considering an increase in the gas tariffs to compensate for the grave losses suffered by the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) recent months, reports from Islamabad confirmed Saturday.

For the first time in company’s history, Sui Gas has registered substantial losses. It is estimated that in past six months the government owned and operated firm has gone Rs244 million in red.
Recently gas tariff to the consumer was increased by 18 percent but SNGPL finds market conditions unfavorable even after the price hike.

Shareholders have been informed that they will receive no dividends at the end of this fiscal year and they may suffer a loss of Rs0.44 per share of Rs10.

When asked for guidance, Chairman of SNGPL board of governors, Mian Misbahur Rehman said, “I have taken over only three days ago and at the moment I cannot comment on it.”

Another official on the condition of anonymity said: “it is virtual bankruptcy. The situation, by all means, is precarious for the company.”

Consumers are not the only victims: besides increasing gas tariffs, SNGPL employees are also being paid on time. For the last few months the company is not appropriately disbursing travel and medical allowances.

There are rumors that the provident fund of the employees may also be invested in the company’s assets.

During the period of last six months gap between the company’s receivables and its payables have grown rapidly.

SNGPL has receivables of Rs15.06 billion from the federal government and Wapda and payables are about Rs40.44 billion to the Oil and Gas Development Corporation, Pakistan Petroleum and Government Holdings.

Unlike HABCO and KAPCO where inter-corporate debt adjustment was a way out of the crisis, for SNGPL that cannot be a solution because its net payables are Rs25.38 billion making a negative of Rs9.51 billion between the company’s assets and liabilities.

SNGPL’s long-term liabilities went up from Rs53.8 billion to Rs55.67 billion and its liabilities increased from Rs52.56 billion to Rs57.58 billion.

The situation will be further compounded if the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority decides to impose a fine for failing to meet the line losses standards.

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