Post #8: Guest Lecturers and Reflection on Pakistan

Soren Larsen

I can definitely say that the guest lecturer that stood out the most to me was Soren Larsen. His presentation was able to take me on a story about the Cheslatta people and how they were affected by the government of Canada. It was extremely sad to hear about how the dam negatively effected the native people there, in which many were forced to move and many of their dead rose from the ground because of the water. It was interesting to learn about how he was able to go there and become a part of the culture 8975013there. He was able to bring technology to let the children and students there recreate many of their historic folk tales and exposed students to technology that they may not have been able to use without him. It was also interesting to learn about the fight between the Cheslatta nation and the Kenny Dam, and how eventually the Cheslatta people wanted to create their own smaller dam in order to bring some economic activity to themselves as well. The way he crafted his presentation made me pay attention the entire time, through many of the photos and maps of Cheslatta Nation.

Bill Allen

I thought Professor Allen’s presentation was very interesting as well, especially since the topic he covered was about drones, which was what my first paper in the class was about. I found that many of the points that I brought up in my own paper were similar to the points that Prof. Allen talked about well. Specifically, he talked about how drones could be used to reach natural disasters and survey damage better and quicker than humans could, which is one of the points that I brought up in my own paper. Something I did not know as much about was the certain FAA regulations that were imposed on drones, such that there were differences between hobbyists using drones versus being

police3
Drone being shot at during Standing Rock

used for commercial purposes. Some of the points that I did not talk about as much in my own paper were privacy concerns, which is something that Prof. Allen brought up. Some people might be a bit worried to see a drone in their backyard recording them, which is a reason some people are against drones. It was especially interesting to hear about how drones had began to be used for journalistic purposes, which Allen specifically talked about the Standing Rock event and how drones were used there. It was a bit scary to learn that the police there had been using guns to shoot down the drones, even though it was technically above public property, which the FAA states it is fine to fly over. I think that drones are an interesting development, and will be debated about much more in the future.

Pakistan Reflection

Over the course of the semester, I learned much more about Pakistan as a country, and as the place where my parents were born. Overall, it seemed that Pakistan did not perform well under most of the topics we researched about our countries. Socially, economically, and politically, Pakistan did not seem to be doing well to improve overall. I did learn about some changes that the country was pushing, but the country still seemed to be lacking something over each topic we researched. I personally believe that the most important issue Pakistan has is its extreme elite and corrupt leadership. I think that after researching about Pakistan, it has a promising future and has what it needs to become a successful and thriving country, such as: a growing population, growing foreign investment, changing social beliefs, increased pressure on counter-terrorism, and a general national spirit in the country. However with all of these qualities, the promise of Pakistan is still hindered under its corrupt elitist leadership. The President seems to be more focused on benefitting himself and the rest of the elites than progressing Pakistan as a whole forward. It is not surprising to know that the President, Nawaz Shariff, has a whopping net worth of $1.4 billion, which wasn’t the case before he was President.

1283827-nawazjinpingg-1483506349
Nawaz Shariff (Pakistan Presdient) and Xi Jinping (China President)

The country also has an ever increasing younger population, which I think will begin to recognize the squeeze that the current politicians have, and will elect a new younger politician focused on bettering Pakistan and not their own pockets. China has made a great investment in Pakistan as well, and companies from all around the world are beginning to pour in their money as well, and if such investment can make it to all levels of Pakistanis, then the country can truly grow.

My mother left the country to pursue opportunity in the West, and has always told me there was no hope for her back in Pakistan. She would always mention that I should be so grateful to be born in America, whereas I could have been born to become a beggar or servant in Pakistan. While my mother still seems to have the same attitude of Pakistan, I think that the country is growing to become a major player on the global scale, and with the right leadership it will not longer be the country that the hopeful leave for opportunity, whereas they will be able to stay in their home country and still be as successful.

 

Post #7: Pakistan Sex Exploitation

In a report created by the State Department of the United States, Pakistan is one of many countries subjected to sex trafficking and sex slavery. One main issue is that Pakistan has a high poverty level with many poor children roaming the streets without a home. In many cases young boys without homes are forced to sell themselves for sex in order to pay for food or places to sleep. There are some NGOs that try to house such homeless children, but often they are underfunded and can only provide some food and shelter during the day, leaving such children to roam the streets at night.

Some NGOs in Pakistan report that young boys are sex trafficked around bus stations, truck stations, and hotels. There are labor agents which go to poor families and offer money to use their children to sell sex, and often times many families end up giving their children away to participate in such acts to receive money. There is a structured system in Pakistan that finds women and girls and sell them for their bodies. As for the police that witness such trafficking, most of them are bribed to remain quiet and not stop people from forcing people into the sex trafficking industry. In many villages, young girls human-traffic-genderand women are sold to be the wives of older men, and are often used to provide sex for other men by the new husbands. Also, many people from Pakistan end up willingly leaving the country for economic opportunity with Gulf State recruiters, in which they are promised low skill employment. However once they are recruited, they are forced to give up their identity documents and are charged high recruitment fees, in which many are forced to sell themselves for sex to pay off such fees.

The United States State Department lists Pakistan as a Tier 2 Watch List for human trafficking, which is not a good score for Pakistan. In fact, the Department was close to recommending Pakistan to be a Tier 3 country, which is even worse for trafficking, however the government of Pakistan put out a written objective of fighting trafficking, which slightly eased the worries of the State Department. However, enforcement of sex trafficking laws have not been done, and prosecution of men that use such sex slaves are often not prosecuted. There is a cultural mind set that the men obtaining the services of young boys and girls are not doing anything wrong, as the children offered the services to them. However, Islam forbids acts of sex between men and boys, yet the cultural mindset does not point the blame towards the men that use such sex slaves.

I also found a documentary called the Pakistan’s Hidden Shame, which depicted strong instances of such sex slaves and trafficking. The documentary followed the life of a young boy named Naeem who lost his parents when he was 8 years old. His brother then

article-2739799-20f7cc3400000578-600_634x447
Naeem

began to beat him, which prompted him to runaway, and then left him homeless. He was then forced to sell himself for sex to survive, which created a great emotional toll on himself, causing him to use drugs such as heroine. Using such drugs caused him to sell himself for sex even more in order to obtain enough drugs for his needs. Later on in the documentary I learn that Naeem then becomes the abuser of other young boys, using them for sex. The documentary shows the cycle of how young boys are drawn into the sex industry, and end up being the perpetrators as well.

What needs to be done

As for efforts by Pakistan to achieve goals set by the Sustainable Development Goals, through my research there has been little to no progress towards most of the main goals. According to a United Nations study, human trafficking has in fact increased in Pakistan. Religious persecution and no economic opportunity for men has led to increased efforts to traffic people to different areas of the country or out of the country to European countries and Australia. As for fixing this, the government of Pakistan must take action and stop ignoring the problem. The massive amounts of persecution against minority sects of Islam and those of other religions needs to stop, in which the government needs to make a massive stand to show people that Pakistan will protect them from such acts. Increased amounts of competent military and policemen in areas that have significant persecution is needed. Also, the government needs to fund more organized efforts to get young boys off of the street, who are often the most susceptible to sex trafficking and slavery. Through education programs that can help everyday Pakistanis recognize people who may be forced into sex trafficking is needed so that average citizens can try to put an end to it. The government of Pakistan will most likely not be able to fund programs to stop such trafficking, because of rampant corruption and lack of tax revenues, so an education outreach program that can help the people of Pakistan to recognize when people are forced into the sex industry will help if the citizens can take their own initiative to stop it and help those in need.

Post #6: Linda Polman & Humanitarian Aid

The Crisis Caravan

In Linda Polman’s book, The Crisis Caravan, she raised many deep issues about humanitarian aid organizations that are typically not talked about as much. I, for one, had no idea about some of the problems of humanitarian aid organizations, such as the idea that such aid organizations may actually do more harm than good in the areas that they help. Some of the main issues she raises in her book are about how much of humanitarian aid end up enabling warlords to prolong their wars, how almost anyone can set up a MONGO and try helping with no experience leading them to cause more harm than good, and how aid ends up being used as a weapon of war.

Government soldiers during training, Rutshuru, Democratic Republic of Congo
Hutu Army

Starting off with how aid can be used to enable warlords and continue conflict in areas, she uses the example of how humanitarian aid helped to enable the Hutu extremists to carry on their extermination of the Tutsis in Rwanda. The many different aid organizations that tried to help the situation seemed more concerned with winning as many contracts and donors as possible, leading many of the organizations to compete with one another by offering the most help to people in the areas. This led to many of them giving many handouts to the Hutus to try to get closer with their leadership to ease their relations with them, allowing them to work easier in the area, but leading to more resources being given to the Hutus. When some aid organizations refused to hire Hutus so that they couldn’t use their salaries to fund the conflict, other NGOs jumped in to hire them so that they could again ease their relations with the leadership, leading to the employed Hutus being able to use their salaries to fund the extermination of the Tutsis. The Hutus were vary aware of the contract fever which was going on with the aid organizations, and were able to take advantage of them to prolong the conflict.

Another issue was the problem of MONGOs, “My Own NGO,” and how some Westerners created their own organizations that they thought could be more effective than the 80022809_indonesia_fire_donations_gettybureaucracy of real organizations. Many of these MONGOs believed that many of the NGOs arrived too late to help and often brought along too few supplies. However, according to Polman, many of the MONGOs end up sending wrong, oversupplied, and not needed donations. Clothes sent by such organizations would end up not being used because of how oversupplied they were with clothes, some Tsunami victims would be sent winter coats and polar tents, and even some MONGOs have sent frostbite medication for victims of tropical disasters. Also, in some cases, many individuals that had a skill in the West believed they could use it to help those in need in other places in the world. A few doctors from America believed they could use their medical expertise to help those that were sick and hurt, and while they might have helped them temporarily with their issues, in most times the proper aftercare was not provided as such doctors would eventually leave and cause those sick and hurt to be worse off than before.

One of the worst problems of humanitarian aid was how it was being used as a weapon of war. When NGOs and other aid organizations would want to enter a conflict area, many times they would have to contribute a percentage of their aid to the warlords running the area, causing the aid organizations to help fund further persecution and conflicts. In many of the situations, the conflicts may have ended sooner without the help of aid, because those causing the conflict would have eventually run out of supplies and funding to continue such conflicts, whereas when the aid would come in, factions and warlords could skim off the aid and use it to prolong conflict.

ngosLinda Polman states that many of these “aid organizations are businesses dressed up like Mother Teresa” to give a perspective of how many of the times the sole goal of these organizations is to receive more funding, not on focusing on how they can help conflicts and situations, but how they can take advantage of such conflict to gain more donors. In fact, when many of these organizations will travel to areas to help those in need, they will often pay for a journalist to accompany them as well to report back to the West on how they are helping. This leads to more coverage of the aid organization, leading to more donors and government funding. When Polman says they are “dressed” like Mother Teresa, I believes she means that they try to portray an outside image of an organization that’s sole purpose is to help those in need, however under the dress they are actually a business wanting more money to grow their organization and the benefits of those that work within it.

How to make humanitarian aid successful

First, as Polman states, journalists barely look into how aid organizations are spending their money and how they are making a real impact. However, such journalists should look into the integrity of the aid organization and find out the long term impacts of their initiatives, rather than just reporting them helping starving children in Africa. The public also has a major impact in how well these aid organizations help those in need, for they are many of the donors backing such organizations. The public needs to realize that just gado_ngo_cashcow-300x210looking at an aid organization’s website and seeing pictures and articles of them helping those in need is not enough evidence to donate to them, they should use their wallets to force aid organizations to show true effects of their work in the situations they work in and how their impact has bettered the situation. Governments also play a major impact as well, in which they fund a major portion of such aid organizations budgets. Although NGOs are separate from the government, I believe that if governments were to audit such organizations to see how well they use their donations, and make that information public, then people would be able to contribute to better NGOs. The governments across the world should also be more selective of which organizations receive such funding, and not allowing just any NGO that looks good on the outside to receive funding, but rather looking at their long term effects on troubled areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post #5: Pakistan Dealing with Human Rights and Environmental Issues

Dealing with Environmental Issues

As discussed in the previous blog, Pakistan has begun to have trouble with the increase in the changing environment on a social and economic level. In response, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif created the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency to remedy some of these issues. However, the Agency’s funds account for 0.04 percent of the governments development budget, and the country relies mostly on foreign lenders for environmental funds.

Pakistan has created Perspective plans for five year goals every so often, which focus on strategic issues and resolving them, however in most cases the plan never mentions sustainable development strategies. Pakistan has instead focused more on achieving self sustainability for food production, containing the high population growth and meeting increasing energy demands. However, it never mentions anything about curtailing pollution or environmental issues.

bc-wcs-pk-005
Pakistan National Conservation Strategy Report front cover

When leaders across the country began to notice that the environment was taking its toll, many of them got together to create the Pakistan National Conservation Strategy Report to address the country inattention to the country’s environmental problem. The report consisted of the expertise of over 3,000 global leaders in their respective fields to create an outline on how to create a viable program for the future of the country. It consisted of three main objectives: conservation of national resources, promotion of sustainable development, and improvement in management of resources. The Strategy realized the importance of religion in Pakistan, so it began to use Islam to its favor by restoring an Islamic value called Qantas, which is a conservation ethical idea within the religion, and by restoring Aquila-Ul-bad, a revival of community spirit and responsibility. The report also included fourteen main objective specifically addressing the environmental issue, which included: “maintaining soils in croplands, increasing irrigation efficiency, protected watersheds, supporting forestry and plantations, restoring rangelands and improving livestock, protecting water bodies and sustaining fisheries, conserving biodiversity, increasing energy efficiency, developing and deploying renewables, preventing and abating pollution, managing urban waste, supporting institutions for common resources, integrating population and environment programs, and preserving the cultural heritage.” (National Conservation Strategy Report)

The report was and is instrumental in creating a guideline to solving the climate change and environmental problem in Pakistan, and will serve as a document to assess the progress that the country has made.

Human Rights

4796826_orig
Pakistani Protest against Hindu Torture

In the case of human rights, Pakistan would be considered among the worst of countries for human rights violations. According to Amnesty International, arbitrary detention, torture, deaths in custody, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial execution are rampant in Pakistan. Also they believe that “the government of Pakistan has failed to protect individuals – particularly women, religious minorities and children – from violence and other human rights abuses committed in the home, in the community, and while in legal custody.” Since 9-11, Pakistan has prosecuted citizens with alleged terrorist ties mercilessly, while not following the correct justice system to ensure that terrorist allegations were substantial.

people_protesting_killing_of_rashid_rehma_450
Pakistani Christian Human Right Activists

The Human Rights Watch World 2017 Report also had much to say on the current state of human rights violation in Pakistan. Although there were fewer cases of military violence, local law enforcement in the country still participated in numerous human rights violations and exercised a disproportionate amount of political influence on matters of counterterrorism and national security. Also, religious minorities within the country have been particularly attacked for their different beliefs and the government refused to protect these individuals and actively promote legislation against them. As for freedom of expression, the government continues to violate peoples free speech, in which the Pakistani Rangers broke into a New York Times journalist’s home without cause or warning.

As for action by the government in regards to human rights violations, there actually seems to be none. The interests of leaders in high government in Pakistan refuse to admit there is a problem and have secured power by catering to the elite’s wants, which does not consist of minority interests.

Climate Change & Human Rights

In recent times, this has become more of an issue than before. Climate change is currently a substantial problem in the world, and affects human rights all over the world, something which was not particularly known about before. There are islands losing ground and land because of increasing sea levels due to global warming, and those people’s rights are being taken away, since they cannot provide for themselves and may no longer have a country in the near future. Currently people are being displaced, however many countries do not see these people as refugees, and these people don’t have many other options than to flee their homes, causing an issue regarding fundamental human rights to come into question.

In regards to Pakistan, the increasing deforestation has led to flooding of villages and the increases of climate change have caused the yields of farming to be less. Don’t those people displaced by climate change or those that go hungry because of the effects of global warming deserve to be helped? Of course this is a question that the government of Pakistan does not want to address, because if the government were to help those people, it would be less money in the corrupt elite’s pockets.

c623d424fdd0413b777954f6697f47adBy going beyond eurocentrism, according to Farish Noor, people can become more aware of the different problems that other people go through in other countries, since the world standard would move away from the European model of life, and towards sensing a global way of life in which people live drastically different lives. People living in the West believe that their lives are the standard and way of life that all should strive for across Earth, however that is not the case. The idea of human rights should be looked at within a context of different cultures, for the idea of human rights in Denmark are drastically different than those in Pakistan, and while Pakistan has many deep issues within it, they cannot be looked at with the same lens.

Post #4: Sustainability on a Global Scale & in Pakistan

Environmental Response on a Global Scale

It is hard to dismiss the issue of climate change and the burden humans are putting on the environment. Even though there are still politicians around the world that refuse to believe such an act is occurring, it is reassuring to note that 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is occurring and has to do with human’s impact on Earth. The issue is of how to solve this problem on a global scale, yet there hasn’t been any truly significant consensus on the issue. When global leaders get together to combat the issue, often the United States and China leave themselves out of binding regulations on emissions, and when they are involved in legislative environmental change, they are sure that the legislation has not actual power to truly enforce the law.

un-2
The United Nations Conference on Climate Change

I believe that if the world is able to recognize the economic benefit from improving the Earth’s environment, then the world is more likely to change. Currently, many countries are worried that creating action on climate change may impact their GDP and lessen the economic activity. They are worried some will lose jobs, that some will have to consume less, if they are to create a more environmentally friendly world. However, this seems to not be the case. According to a UN study, a “$6 billion USD investment in disaster risk reduction over the next 15 years would avoid losses of $360 billion USD.” Countries need to begin thinking longterm instead of looking shortsighted, and it does look like some countries are starting to take notice. China, a country long known for ridiculous pollution emissions, has created a plan outlining how to mitigate its pollution. The plan acknowledges climate change as a real issue, and outlines how to create low-carbon emitting industry and how to get the entire Chinese society to participate in this initiative.

 

scott_pruitt_gi
Scott Pruitt (Head of EPA)

The United States however looks to be taking a different turn for the worst. The new head of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is Scott Pruitt, who was chosen by new President Donald Trump. Pruitt’s leaderships of the EPA is very controversial, mostly in part because as Attorney General of Oklahoma, he had sued the EPA 13 times attacking clean water provisions. Many in the science community are worried about Pruitt’s confirmation, and believe that the EPA is heading in a bad direction of lessening regulations of the environment, something that cannot be tolerated at this point.

 

Pakistan Sustainability

In regards to the environment in Pakistan, the outlook isn’t that great so far for the country. In recent times, the country has seen explosive population growth, in which its biggest city Karachi has doubled in population to around 20 million people. The extreme increase in population has seen emissions grow exponentially, ultimately contributing to Pakistan’s climate change problem. It has gotten to the extent that Pakistan is now ranked eighth among countries hit by climate change. Statistics show that climate change in Pakistan could reduce wheat production by 14 percent and rice by 15.2 percent. Simple math concludes that this will not work with Pakistan’s exponential growth, in which

water-crisis-in-pakistan-sarfraz-ali
Villagers in Pakistan searching for clean water

farmers will need to find new ways to yield high amounts of crops. Water is another major issue in the country, in which Pakistan has only one month of water supply on hand, whereas the recommended amount is 1,000 days of water. Nearby countries such as India and Bangladesh have an organization called Water.org which helps people with clean safe water, however is not involved within Pakistan.

 

Such climate change is also causing an increase of migration out of the country for reasons because of climate change. Pakistan has begun to see increases in the heat, to the extent of 3 degrees Celsius within 50 years, which has negative effects for an already burdensome agriculture industry. Since farmers are making so little money off of agriculture, and since the increase in heat has been lessening their yield, many men have begun to migrate to new areas out of the country. Deforestation is another major issue in Pakistan, in which those that relied on the timber industry to make a living have started to lose out on income. The country now only retains about 2 to 5 percent of its tree cover, which has also lead to increases in flooding, because the tree coverings helped to stop water from flooding areas.

deforestation
Pakistan Deforestation

In response to the drastic changes in climate change, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif created the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency to try to help solve some of these problems. The Agency has helped in outlining national environment quality standards, policies & strategies, impact assessment procedures, and financial assistance to NGO’s. As for how much of an impact the Agency has had, it is difficult to determine as there is not much information about its success so far. It is although a major step in helping Pakistan manage its climate change crisis and provide advice to the Prime Minister on ways to combat the issue.

 

Post #3: Nationalism & Inequality

Pakistani Nationalism

In the novel “The Post-American World” by Fareed Zakaria, he speaks about the danger of the rise of nationalism that will effect global stability. He notes that countries are now becoming increasingly less reliant on the United States, which has held the status of being the international decision maker for much time now. This is especially true in regards to Pakistan, in which the country has began to move away from the United States for help and political allegiance. Pakistan has began to see new political ties with Russia, and has began to take initiative in new economic activities with China. Just like Zakaria mentions, such countries like Pakistan are beginning to become less reliant on the United States for assistance and help, meanwhile creating a possible problem of international legitimacy for a new world decision maker.

quaidportrait
Founder of Pakistan, Muhammed Ali Jinnah, was the leader of a nationalist movement which created Pakistan. 

Pakistan has a long history tied to nationalism, in which the country was founded based on a nationalist movement which led to the partition of India in 1947. Under British rule prior to the partition, Muslims were not treated well and regarded as second class citizens. This treatment led to a nationalist rise of the Muslims in the country to demand their own nation. The theory that led to the partition of India into two separate nations was called the Two-nation theory, in which the Muslims living in India wanted their own nation, as they believed they were fundamentally different from the Hindu Indians. Muhammed Iqbal, a prominent Muslim poet during the time, laid down the important groundwork and ideas of why a new Muslim country was needed, as a way to protect the interests of the minority 80 million Muslims living in the region. The nationalist movement was one that was out of religion, which often isn’t the case, but rather out of secular nationalism for most countries. Prior to the partition of India, most prominent Indians were against the creation of a new country, with Ghandi stating that he did not see why the religions could not coincide with one another. Muhammed Ali Jinnah was the leader of the movement, and one of the prominent leaders during the time that thought of Pakistan as an awakening for the Muslims.

In more recent times, there has been another large nationalist movement after the attack

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-8-31-20-pm
Children in Karachi hold posters against terrorism. (EPA/Rehan Khan)

in Peshawar, Pakistan which led to countless school children deaths. The attack caused almost all of Pakistan to come together to mourn the terrible loss and try to work to make Pakistan a safer place. Some journalists are even calling the attack Pakistan’s own “9/11” in which Americans came together and vowed to make sure another attack wouldn’t happen and to take action against those that did. In Pakistan, instead of going to war with another nation, they began to go to war within their own country. Military expansions and the set up of military courts were created to stop such attacks and bring terrorists to quick and certain ends. Previously, people in Pakistan were not the most vocal of supporters of their own military, however after the attack, many people vowed to stand with their military to fight against such extreme terrorism.

Inequality

Today, inequality remains a large issue in Pakistan for the amount of inequality that resides within the country. Such inequality issues relate to upward mobility, education, gender

55531d2061bb7
Oxfam study: Multiple inequalities and policies to mitigate. 

inequalities, and many more. Specifically for education, 82% of the wealthy attend school, however only 50% of the poorest attend school, and Pakistan has the second highest amount of children not in school. Inequality spans almost all facets of life in Pakistan in which the government hasn’t taken many initiatives to fix.

Even though Tony Judt’s book “Fares the Land” focuses on the US and Britain, his knowledge and ideas can be extended to countries such Pakistan. Tony believes that the economic growth and rise of middle class during the late 19th century was due in part to progressive taxation, government subsidies for the poor, expansion of social services and guarantees against misfortune. Such activities caused the expansion of new wealth for not just the elite but the lower and middle classes, which could help Pakistan with its own inequality problem. Pakistan is terrible in actually collecting taxes, spends little to no money on subsidies for the poor, and overall has done a terrible job at managing its inequality.

However, not all hope is lost for Pakistan, for if it were able to follow some of the recommendations of Judt, the country could very well improve.

 

 

 

Post #2: Language & International Organizations

Languages of Pakistan

Since I was born and raised in America, the language I first learned was English, although I was able to pick up a little bit of Urdu while growing up because my mother was from Pakistan. When I began to research about the different languages in Pakistan, I was surprised to learn that only 8% of Pakistanis spoke the language Urdu. I had always thought that Urdu was the national language of Pakistan, which it is and I will touch on native_languages_in_pakistanthat later, because it was the only Pakistani language I had ever heard spoken by my family and their friends.

Being surprised by this, I asked my mother why only 8% of Pakistanis spoke Urdu, and she looked at me in disbelief and said that was not possible. She told me almost everyone in Pakistan spoke Urdu, which then prompted me to do a bit more research. Although there is a statistic that only 8% of Pakistanis speak Urdu, the statistic is in regards to the percentage of people that speak it for their first language. Even though the majority of Pakistanis may speak another language for their first language, Urdu is still the most known language in the country and spoken by the vast majority as a second language, putting the 8% statistic into perspective.

In regards to the state language, previously English and Urdu had both been the national language until recently when the government decided to keep Urdu and drop English from its official language.  A court ruling passed in 1973 stated that the government had to change to official language to solely Urdu within 15 years and had not been enforced until now. English had been relatively limited to the elites in Pakistan because they are able to afford the expensive costs of English tutoring, meanwhile common children in Pakistan cannot afford the same education. Some believe that the move from English to Urdu is in response to the younger generations openness towards the West, in which many of the elder generation want to keep nationalism high by keeping their native tongue as the official language.

Pakistan is also facing loss of many cultures and heritages through the potential loss of many different regional languages. With English being taught to the wealthy and Urdu being taught in schools for the lower and middle class, many regional distinct native languages are beginning to fade away with the new generation.

PAKISTAN-LANGUAGES-SOCIAL
Men read Hindko language books at The Hindko Centre in Peshawar. -AFP

Within Pakistan there are 72 regional languages, with most people speaking a majority of three languages. One language called Hindko is beginning to fade away, which in response the native people have begun conducting regional meetings and conferences to converse in their dying language. The younger generation within these regional areas in Pakistan now have trouble communicating with their elders, simply because they do not speak the native tongue of their elders as well anymore.

 

There is some work being done to try to remedy these situations, in which really the only way the elders can preserve their native languages is by forcing their children and their spouses to study their language. Some activists say that these efforts are good, however the government needs to step in and try to fund education efforts to preserve the native languages and culture.

International Organizations

Because of Pakistan’s population size and geographical region, the country participates in numerous international organizations. In fact, Pakistan is involved in a number of similar organizations as the United States, such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. Pakistan has been a member of the WTO since 1995, a member of the UN since 1947, and has taken loans from the IMF since the 1980’s.

In regards to the United Nations, Pakistan has had an active participation since just after a month after its independence from the British Empire. It been involved in the UN Security Council seven times and in 2009 stood as the country with the largest contribution amount of troops sent to UN peacekeeping missions in the world. Pakistan had recently ratified a new treaty called the TFA created by the World Trade Organization which overall would help Pakistan in regards to trade deals by a reduction in costs. By ratifying the treaty, Pakistan became the first South Asian country to do so even before India, signaling its priority of international trade.

54b01a686ac6a
Protestors condemned conditions of the IMF on Pakistan and urged international financial institutions to write off Pakistan’s loans. (DAWN)

Pakistan’s involvement with the IMF has been a bit of a different story than the other two organizations. Pakistan had been involved in many loans from the IMF and had struggled to pay many of them, but finally the President has said goodbye to the IMF with Pakistan’s final payment on their loan being cleared. As talked about in the previous post, Pakistan has been doing well economically in recent times due to increase in international trade and China’s multi-billion dollar investment in Pakistan, all which have led to Pakistan not needing the IMF’s funding anymore. Pakistan has met all of the IMF’s conditions for increasing taxes, increasing growth, and reducing its deficit, which has also led to Pakistan being able to move on from relying on loans from the IMF.

Pakistan’s GINI coefficient from 2013 was 30.7, a very slight decrease from its coefficient in 1987 of 33.3. The lower the GINI coefficient number is, the more equal it is, and the higher the more unequal it is. Before finding out Pakistan’s number, I was pretty sure it would be very high, demonstrating the country to be very unequal, however that is not really true. Pakistan sits right around France and Austria on the equality measurement, showing it is closer to a European country than most of the Asian countries on the list. In fact, according to the list, Pakistan sits as more equal in its wealth distribution than United States and Japan, countries that I thought would be much more equal.

 

 

Post #1: The Current Affairs of Pakistan

 Recent Terror Attacks in Pakistan

screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-12-58-25-pm
The New York Times- Death Toll of Major Terrorist Attacks in Pakistan

In most recent times, it seems that Pakistan has been in the news often for the countless amount of terror attacks involving hundreds of deaths. The most publicized of attacks in recent times was the attack in December of 2014, which brought outcry across the world due to its saddening 132 schoolchildren deaths. Above shows some of the major attacks since the school attack, which might have you believe that terrorism seems to be on the rise in Pakistan. However, just the opposite is true.

According to countless sources, Pakistan seems to be acting quickly and effectively in resolving its terror problem through the military targeting tribal regions, their expansion of counter-intelligence, and denial of terror groups having social space in the country. A report by the US State Department stated that in 2015 Pakistan has had a 45% decrease in terror attacks, 39% decrease in total deaths, 53% decrease in total injuries, and 69% decrease in hostage and kidnapping attacks.  Such statistics show a drastically different view of Pakistan than before. No longer is Pakistan viewed as the country that turns a blind eye towards terror groups, for now they now have an effective military and leadership that can produce such drastic improvements in decreasing terrorism in the country.  Germany’s own ambassador to Pakistan recently sat down with one of the Pakistani Generals to acknowledge the great strides it has taken to reduce terrorism.

pakistan2
“Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured in the shootout at a school under attack by Taliban” (The Indian Express)

In early January of 2017, the law which allowed the controversial secretive military courts to charge civilians as terrorists expired. The government has already stated that they are in the process of reviving the law as early as a week after it had expired. This new power given to the military courts was enacted after the horrible attack in Peshawar which left countless schoolchildren dead. The goal of giving the power to the military courts was to expedite the process of charging terrorists behind closed doors and enacting quick and harsh punishments. Various human rights organizations have been questioning the legitimacy of whether such courts allowed citizens rights such as fair trials and punishments. Even though many politicians in Pakistan are wary of the secrecy behind the courts, the effects of the courts have brought hundreds of terrorists to death and hundreds sentenced to jail while drastically lowering the amount of terror attacks in the process.

In my opinion, it is hard to dispute the good that the new initiatives by Pakistan have brought in reducing terrorism. My own mother is from the country and hasn’t been back since she came to America 20 years ago. She has often repeated how dangerous the country is and that we would never visit, but perhaps this new age which has brought changes in the way the government and military deal with terrorism will one day allow me to visit Pakistan with my mother.

New Economic Development

A new investment called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) began in 2015, with the goal of China investing $46 billion in Pakistan while allowing China to expand its influence over Pakistan and the surrounding areas in order to counteract US influence.

china-pakistan-economic-corridor
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Illustration (PK ON WEB) 

The economic investment from China is posed to allow China access to the Middle East and Africa while furthering a strong bond with Pakistan. By China investing in Pakistan they are able to counteract India’s growth by allowing Pakistan, India’s fierce rival, to prosper economically to the point that Pakistan is now beating India in equity markets and geopolitics.

1283827-nawazjinpingg-1483506349
Presidents Nawaz Sharif and Xi Jinping (The Express Tribune)

The CPEC will help to create infrastructure in Pakistan such as updated highways, pipelines, and container traffic. This will help Pakistan to further its industrialized economy with the economic push from the CPEC, while also adding stability to the country through China’s influence.

With Pakistan traditionally having a difficult time with rampant corruption, it will be interesting to see how the investment plays out, and whether the investment yields prosperity for not only the elites but the common people as well.

After listening to my family talk about Pakistani politics for years, the one common saying I remember was that Pakistan has the potential to grow and become a dominant economic player at the world table, if only the political leaders weren’t so corrupt. It also had to do with why much of my family had left the country, for the opportunities to succeed simply were not there. I believe that after this multi-billion dollar investment pans out, so long as the political leaders can focus on growing Pakistan instead of their pockets, then Pakistan will be able to show its true potential to the world.