Pakistani Journalist Sohail Warraich in Silicon Valley

I had a chance to meet well-known Pakistani journalist Sohail Warraich recently during his visit to Silicon Valley. He was here to record an interview with successful Pakistani-American entrepreneur Osman Rashid, founder of Chegg and Kno.

Sohail Warraich is a senior journalist and political analyst as well as a popular host of "Ek Din Geo K Sath" aired on Geo TV. Warraich's show features interviews with top politicians, businessmen, entrepreneurs, entertainers, sportsmen and other personalities and celebrities. He often points out contradictions and hypocrisies in the lives of his guests on his show by asking them: "Kia yeh khula tazad naheen" (Is it not an obvious contradiction)?  Warraich is known to be close to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is currently in jail for owning overseas assets beyond means. He wrote Nawaz Sharif's hagiography  "Ghaddar Kaun". Warraich believes the rise of Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) party have been enabled by the strong support of the military andImran Khan's popularity with Pakistan's rising middle class.

L to R: Sohail Warraich, Misbah Azam, Riaz Haq

Osman Rashid is the son of  a Pakistani diplomat. He was born in London and raised in Islamabad. He came to the United States from Pakistan in 1990s to study electrical engineering at University of Minnesota and earned a BSEE there. He is a successful serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley.

Osman Rashid invited me and a few other Pakistani-American friends to meet Warraich over dinner at his Los Altos home.  In response to my question about about the current state of affairs in Pakistan, Warraich shared his insights below:

1. Pakistan's middle class is rising and increasingly asserting itself in politics.

2. Pakistani military is the most dominant force in the country. It enjoys broad support among the middle class Pakistanis.

3. The rise of Imran Khan and Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) have been enabled by the support of the military and the middle class.

4. Middle class support for the military will eventually fade and there will eventually be conflict between the two. It could lead to significant political changes in the country.

5. The situation of the people of Thar is improving with the development of coal mining and construction of power plants.  There are better roads and growing employment opportunities for the locals. Warraich has visited Thar multiple times recently and found that the media reports of hunger and poverty and lack of health care are highly exaggerated. Such reports could be politically motivated to defame Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

Here's a video clip of dinner at Osman Rashid Silicon Valley house that I attended:

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Views: 684

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 21, 2019 at 8:15am

#IMF says #China (28.3%) will be the biggest contributor followed by #India (15.5%) and #UnitedStates till 2024. New #growth engines in top 20 in 5 years will be #Turkey, #Mexico, #Pakistan and #SaudiArabia, while Spain, Poland, Canada and Vietnam drop out

The global economy, weighed down by tensions that have stalled international trade and elevated uncertainty, is expected to see slower growth in the next half decade across a wide swath of economies.

China’s growth rate is expected to continue to slow, and will be a smaller driver to global GDP growth in the near term. China’s share of global GDP growth is expected to fall from 32.7% in 2018-2019 to 28.3% by 2024 -- a relatively steep 4.4 percentage point reduction.

The U.S., while still expected to contribute a sizable portion to world growth, is projected to fall to third place, after India. America’s share of global growth is expected to slip from 13.8% to 9.2% by 2024, while India’s share is projected to rise to 15.5% and eclipse the U.S. over this five-year period.

Indonesia will remain in the fourth spot as its economy is expected to have a 3.7% growth share in 2024, a slight downward adjustment from 3.9% in 2019.

The U.K. will see its importance wane amid Brexit as its economy drops from ninth as a share of world growth in 2019, to 13th.

Although world GDP growth attributable to Russia is at 2% now and expected to stay there in five years, the country is likely to displace Japan as the number five growth contributor. Japan will fall to ..

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 21, 2019 at 4:36pm

#Pakistan #Economy Stats: 800,00 new tax filers. #Exports up 12%. New circular debt down 68%. #Trade deficit down to 41-month low. #KSE100 up 5,000 points in 50 days. Remittances and tax revenue up by 10% and 25%, respectively. CAD down 55% in Jul-Aug FY20

Eight hundred thousand new tax filers. Exports up 12%. New circular debt down by 68%. These are three positive headlines on Pakistan’s economy no one wants to put in a headline. But they’re only the tip of the iceberg as there’s a dramatic upswing in our macroeconomic indicators. Trade deficit down to 41-month low. KSE gaining almost 5,000 points in 50 days. Remittances and inland revenue up by 10% and 25%, respectively. Foreign portfolio investments at record levels in the last quarter. Current account deficit down by 55% in the first two months of the fiscal.

The juxtaposition of this good news with the punishing state of the real economy — measured by inflation and unemployment — means we’re standing in the darkest hour of Imran Khan’s resurrection of the economy. I call it a resurrection because the exciting part isn’t that we’re passing through the worst and things will get better in the real economy within a year, but because the sources of growth and fundamentals of the economy are transforming. In this column, I’ll unpack the method behind the madness of PTI’s perplexing economic transformation project.

Recall, Ishaq Dar and Miftah Ismail delivered a sick Pakistani economy on a stretcher in the emergency room to Asad Umar who had the unenviable task of giving chemotherapy to a metastasising cancer of fiscal and current account deficits ripping through the economy. Now, chemotherapy is an extremely debilitating medicine. You get sicker, start vomiting and lose your hair. Some patients are so sick of the medicine they prefer to not be treated. But if the patient has a healthy prognosis, the doctor’s priority is to save the patient’s life, no matter how painful the treatment.

This is exactly what Umar sought to do, with a homegrown reform process (versus one done by IMF). Being the impatient patient, we mistook the debilitating medicine as the enemy versus the actual disease (a sick economy). Things got so bad that we changed doctors mid-treatment but not the treatment journey itself. And now the results of that chemotherapy are beginning to show in the dramatic upswing of macroeconomic indicators. Does this mean the patient is healthy again? Not yet. We’re still in treatment but it’s working.

And now, for the exciting part. Say the reason we got lung cancer was that we loved smoking. Once recovered from the chemotherapy, will we return to smoking or will we kick the habit and become a fundamentally different person? In Pakistan’s case, we were smoking dollars we didn’t have by keeping the rupee artificially overvalued so elite consumption could be subsidised. This led us to keep borrowing money and fall into debt traps with the IMF. What’s exciting is this government’s commitment to keeping the rupee at its real value. This is creating a collapse in import-dependent businesses — painful, but in the long term will force businessmen to get into productive sectors of the economy versus staying on as traders. This is how market incentives work.

Another area of transformation: taxes. Pakistan’s economy is unhealthy because we don’t raise enough revenue to meet our expenses, causing us to borrow money and getting trapped in escalating debt. The core issue here is we never had the political will to go after anyone except the salaried middle class. Now, FBR is going after retailers, wholesalers and real estate transactions, which is great for raising the tax base and will also force people to invest in productive businesses versus parking their money speculatively in real estate.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 24, 2019 at 8:28am

4 billion to be invested in #Pakistan #economy. The #Chinese utility company Shanghai Electric will invest $4 billion in #Thar #Coal block one and will establish two more #power plants of 1320 megawatts, as per the reports. #electricity via @dailytimespak

According to the details, a seven-member delegation of Shanghai Electric called on Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah at the Chief Minister’s House in Karachi today to discuss the project.

Speaking on the occasion, Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the financial close of the project will be by the end of this year. He said that the project will also generate employment opportunities for locals. Back in April, Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had inaugurated the Thar coal power project.

Thar coal power project has the capacity to generate 660 megawatts and consists of two power generation units of 330MW each.
The project was completed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) flagship public-private partnership with the Government of Sindh. For this project, the Sindh government had given a sovereign guarantee of $700 million

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 30, 2019 at 6:50pm

Book Review: The New Pakistani Middle Class by Ammara Maqsood

The book unveils multiple facets of the country’s middle class, its trajectory since Pakistan’s creation and its understanding of and experience with the concept of a modern progressive nation and religion. Hina Shaikh reviews Dr Ammara Maqsood‘s ethnographic debut.

Pakistan has a rising middle class, now a critical segment of the country’s population, exhibiting great variation in its political, social and even economic positioning. There is, however, lack of sound socio-scientific research and literature on the evolution of this segment of the population. There are, of course, certain generalisations such as the middle class is mostly urban and a big consumer group belonging to a certain income threshold. However, the middle class is mostly dealt with in the economic or political context i.e. how this growing segment of the population impacts the economic or political landscape.

Dr Ammara Maqsood’s ethnographic debut The Pakistan’s New Middle Class unveils multiple facets of the country’s middle class, its trajectory since Pakistan’s creation and its understanding of and experience with the concept of a modern progressive nation. Her work focuses on how Pakistan’s rising urban middle class engage with religion (Islam) and its image as a progressive nation.

While providing a fresh way of understanding the middle class, the book examines the Muslim middle class in the postcolonial South Asian context and traces the evolution of this class from the late 18th century India. While the ethnography is specific to Lahore, Dr Maqsood discloses several emerging trends common across South Asia. For example, her comparison of the shift towards personal piety amongst Pakistan’s new middle class to reformism in Kerala, where middle class Muslims associate religious reformism with a modern outlook through promotion of education. Dr Maqsood feels such trends should be understood as a global impulse to cleanse rather than conform to a certain school of thought. Hence, there is a persistent shift in the new middle class to certain kinds of practices, across various sects of Islam – Deobandi, Wahabi and Barelvi — lacking a clear direction but up for constant negotiation.

The account is highly contextualised and relevant (especially to a those in the Indian sub-continent) to the current narrative around the search for a collective Muslim identity in modern progressive times. Though set in Lahore, her findings are frequently extended, and convincingly so, to the rest of urban Pakistan. The author also consistently provides references to relevant experiences from several other parts of the Muslim world. For example, Dr Maqsood gives examples from West Asia, Iran and India, about growth in Islamic consumerism — especially during Ramzan — and the increasing popularity of religious study circles. The book can thus appeal to most readers trying to understand how the Muslim middle class belonging to any part of the globe struggles to situate itself in today’s world.

The author’s central inquiry is around the question of how the country’s new middle class perceives itself both as a Pakistani and as a member of the larger global community. In that process, Dr Maqsood closely studies the connection and contrast between the old (established) and the new (upwardly mobile) middle class. While both groups are similar in their yearning for modernity and a progressive Pakistan, they differ in the perception the same. This contrast is an important contribution of this book as it provides a diligent understanding of the evolution of post-colonial Muslim societies, addressing the issue of class within the urban milieu.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 30, 2019 at 8:02pm
Intergenerational Mobility 
Source: World Bank 
Comment by Riaz Haq on November 2, 2019 at 11:01am

BBC News - #Pakistan #AzadiMarch: #Women absent from anti-#ImranKhan protest by bearded protesters, waving black and white flags and dressed in mustard yellow descending on #Islamabad

The convoy of bearded protesters, waving black and white flags and dressed in mustard yellow, descended on Pakistan's capital Islamabad hoping to force Prime Minister Imran Khan from office less than 18 months into the job.

The vast majority were members of Jamiat Ulema-e Islam Fazal-ur-Rehman (JUI-F), one of Pakistan's largest Islamist parties, travelling from all over the country to try to oust the cricketer-turned-politician.

But as eye-catching as they were, there was something else more noticeable: the lack of any women.

Their absence, however, was not a mistake: pamphlets released before the Azadi (freedom) march set off last Sunday told women to stay at home to "fast and pray".

It worked. BBC Urdu reporters say not a single woman was part of the JUI-F convoy as it wound its way around Pakistan over the course of the next five days.

Then, as it reached the capital for a mass rally alongside other opposition parties on Friday, another command was rumoured to have been sent out: female reporters were reportedly banned from covering the event.

"A man came and started saying women aren't allowed, women CANNOT be here. Leave! Slowly but in a minute's time a crowd of men encircled us and started chanting the slogans, we had to leave," tweeted journalist Shiffa Z Yousafzai..

JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman was quick to say they had a "lot of respect for our women" and that female journalists could attend the rally in "full dress code", APP news agency reported.

Meanwhile, Naeema Kishwar Khan, who represents JUI-F in the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, denied women had been formally banned and defended the lack of female representation.

"If you look in the army, there are men in the front, and women provide medical help behind," she told BBC Urdu. "Our movement is like a war, the situation is deteriorating. If not, women would not be behind."

According to BBC Urdu reporters, the women who did attend - some of whom were linked to the other opposition parties taking part - kept a low profile.

On social media, the outcry began to grow. But journalist Benazir Shah shrugged it off. "I see this is for the better," she told BBC Urdu.

"The women of this country do not need to be part of a battle between two men and their egos, which is what this march is, a power play between two men.

"This march is not a movement for social change, as the one the world is witnessing in Lebanon, which has the equal participation of women and men. JUI-F aims to remove a democratically elected government and it uses whatever foul play it can to do so, such as religion.

"The women of this country should not be on the wrong side of history."

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 11, 2019 at 7:22am

After observing that most civil-military theory assumes that the civilian and military worlds must necessarily be separate, both physically and ideologically, Rebecca L. Schiff offered a new theory—Concordance—as an alternative. One of the key questions in Civil-Military Relations (CMR) theory has always been to determine under what conditions the military will intervene in the domestic politics of the nation. Most scholars agree with the theory of objective civilian control of the military (Huntington), which focuses on the separation of civil and military institutions. Such a view concentrates and relies heavily on the U.S. case, from an institutional perspective, and especially during the Cold War period. Schiff provides an alternative theory, from both institutional and cultural perspectives, that explains the U.S. case as well as several non-U.S. civil-military relations case studies.

While concordance theory does not preclude a separation between the civilian and military worlds, it does not require such a state to exist. She argues that three societal institutions—(1) the military, (2) political elites, and (3) the citizenry must aim for a cooperative arrangement and some agreement on four primary indicators.

1. Social composition of the officer corps.
2. The political decision-making process.
3. The method of recruiting military personnel.
4. The style of the military.

If agreement occurs among the three partners with respect to the four indicators, domestic military intervention is less likely to occur. In her book, The Military and Domestic Politics, she applied her theory to six international historical cases studies: U.S., post–Second World War period; American Post-Revolutionary Period (1790–1800); Israel (1980–90); Argentina (1945–55); India post-Independence and 1980s; Pakistan (1958–69).

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 11, 2019 at 7:23am

CMR (Civil-Military Relations) theories separation or concordance (Rebecca Schiff) Pakistan

One of the key questions in CivilMilitary Relations (CMR) theory has always been to ... While concordance theory does not preclude a separation between the civilian and ... (1945–55); India postIndependence and 1980s; Pakistan (1958–69).

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 16, 2020 at 12:39pm

Suhail Warraich talks to Naya Daur Media about the confiscation of his book in Pakistan.


Suhail Warraich's latest book 'Yeh Company Nahin Chale Gi' was published yesterday but reportedly thousands of the book's copies mysteriously went missing from the bookshelves across the country. According to some reports, copies were confiscated by authorities from the publisher as well.

Talking to Naya Daur Media, Suhail Warraich said that he wasn't sure if the copies had been confiscated but 'certain circles' were unhappy with the cover of the book. When asked what circles had expressed their dislike of the cover, he said they were both from the government and the state institutions.

Talking about censorship in the country, Warraich said that he did not consider himself among the journalists who criticised the state institutions. He added that he'd prefer changing the cover of the book so that it can be marketed again and read by the people of Pakistan.

Suhail Warraich said his book covered all the major issues that the government faced during the last two years.

Note: The book cover shows the following:

1. Prime Minister Imran Khan is sitting on the floor dressed as a child and blowing into an inflatable beachball at the feet of Army Chief General Bajwa

2. A common man is lying helplessly on the floor under Bajwa's boots.

3. Nawaz Sharif, Asif Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto and Maryam Nawaz are watching it all from outside through a window as silent spectators .

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 11, 2022 at 1:44pm

How will PM Khan’s removal affect Pakistan’s fragile democracy?
Now, out of power, Imran Khan actually has a better chance of striking a blow for democracy and civilian supremacy – if he chooses to do so.

The PTI’s social base, primarily composed of the urban middle class and elite, is almost exactly that which has historically strongly supported the military’s interventions in politics. If Imran Khan explicitly targets Bajwa, the polarisation of this class into pro-Imran and pro-army factions may, unwittingly, sow the seeds of democratic reform. Already, there are some signs that the PTI base is expressing more scepticism about the army’s role in politics. As long as such divisiveness does not spill over into violence, it may, with luck, end up serving Pakistan’s interests in the long run.

But this is grasping at straws. It ignores that Khan does not have a problem with the military, just one military man. It ignores that in politics, memories can be short. Most of all, it ignores that we have been here before, with the military apparently having taken one misstep too far, only for its influence to proceed unimpeded.


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