Pakistan: Politics, security, investments and other infos

This post is my ramblings about Pakistan’s investment potentials/political/ national security etc.  Again, I don’t even know why I do this when I travel. 

Investing in Pakistan

The country will be the 18th largest economy by 2050

Although challenges, bureaucracy and lingering corruption may hinder investment, there is no denial that there are great potentials in Pakistan for further investment across all sectors (Telecom, IT, Finance, Banking, Construction, Transportation, Automotive, Electronics etc) . With a fast growing population which equates to a large English speaking workforce and growing availability of manpower ( whether they are suited to their jobs or well trained is another story), Pakistan is also rich in natural resources. Pakistan’s geographic location as well as inclusion of the nation as part of China’s “One Belt , One Road” strategy reflects one vision: The country can be a linkage and a hub to connect Asia with the West and the Middle East.

Pakistan will be the Next 11 countries to watch out for.

-Goldman Sachs

According to local reports, the government has been putting in policies which favours and eases foreign investments. This was reaffirmed by 2014 World Bank figures which placed Pakistan slightly higher than some of her neighbours such as India and Bangladesh.

  • Natural resources makes an attractive form of investment. For the power generator sector, whether it is hydro, coal and wind, the possibilities are there. Pakistan is home to a large mineral reserves from coal to gold, copper, iron ore and other precious or semi-precious minerals. Mining and quarrying sectors saw positive growth of 4.4% during 2013-2014 and takes up almost 15% share of the overall industrial sector. RekoDiq in Baluchistan was revealed to be one of the top 7 copper reserves in the world.
  • Punjab has the second largest reserves of rock salt and with some 175 billion tonnes of reserves in the Thar Coal Field, that equates to the total oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and Iran. I was pretty surprised at this since I question whether this area has been thoroughly explored. I can’t see such wealth or profit benefiting the people though.

Security: US-Pakistan relations and Pakistan’s role in the region

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Believe it or not, Pakistan is actually ok..let me re-phrase it- “was” US’s most allied ally. However it also became the most sanctioned ally (Pakistan still receive US AID). So what binds US and Pakistan together? 1) containment of communist threat 2) Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and more recently 3) counter-terrorism.
As the second most populated Muslim country in the world, the country can no doubt, play an important role in anchoring the stability in the Muslim world. Pakistan in the past has proven themselves to be a bridge between countries that have yet to say hi to each other- think…US-CHINA relations. Yep- Pakistan played a role in helping the two countries to meet and greet and of course Nixon’s China visit. So no doubt, they can play a role for the West to link with the Muslim world.

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Terrorism and extremism

That conflict in Afghanistan and ongoing Kashmir adds much diplomatic tension for Pakistan with her neighbours. These subjects are way too complicating for one to fully understand and as an outsider, what we can do is to simply observe and learn from all sides. There is a perception that Pakistan is the ‘cradle for terrorism” and they support terrorism. These are not fair statements at all. Placed under sanctions, Pakistan has paid a rather heavy price for terrorism. The country has been fighting against terrorism, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Some would associate the Taliban with Pakistan- um- beg your pardon but I thought Taliban are Afghans? A secure Afghanistan/Pakistan border is not only beneficial for both countries but also for the world so such responsibilities must be jointly shared.

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India controls 45% of Kashmir while Pakistan claims 38%. Any territorial dispute is difficult for anyone especially an outsider to fully comprehend. While India claims on the basis of Instrument of Accession, Pakistan claims on geography and the Muslim majority. A Line of Control was established which divided Kashmir between the two nations and such lingering dispute has been proven hard to solve.  Before travelling to Pakistan, all that I know is that there have been three large-scale wars with the 1971 one leading to the birth of Bangladesh. Military engagements are not uncommon. In fact, we headed to Pakistan amidst the Kashmir crisis. This is not good news for travellers since Kashmir is a stunning place but with such unrest and the current ( Oct 2016) curfew….forget about tourism!

Random Facts and Information

  • 1USD = 105 P. Rupees (2016)
  • 16% tax in Pakistan (WHAT?!) That is high!
  • No caste system due to 96% of the population being Muslims
  • GDP growth around 4-5% (2015/2016)
  • It is an active member of the UN with some reports stating that it offers the largest contribution of UN troops for international missions.
  • Urdu is the national language understood by 75% of Pakistanis
  • Second most populous Muslim-majority country  (first is Indonesia) with the third largest Shia population
  • Solar panels and cow dung ( smacked against the walls)  that I saw at Faisal’s village are used as alternative forms of energy. In Bangladesh, cow dungs are laid out on a stick.
  • Just like Bangladesh, I saw many brick factories along the side of the road. This is no doubt a place of forced  and child labor…also a sign of development and the need for bricks/infrastructure.Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 10.58.38 AM
  • Great friendship with China. It was the first country to establish diplomatic relationship with China. Pakistan facilitated US President Nixon’s visit to China.
  • China’s import to Pakistan: telecommunication/automobile/electronics etc
  • Pakistan’s import to China: Cotton.leather/food
  • 2004-2005 saw the fastest growth in 20 years for the country
  • The country is prone to earthquakes
  • Pakistan maintains close relations with also Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and relations with Russia has greatly improved. It has an “on and off” relation with US who collaborate with Pakistan for the war on terrorism but also placed a sanction on Pakistan due to its nuclear program.
  • Pakistan is home to half of the world’s annual football suppliesMedia here enjoy full freedom- sometimes, they are not shy about reporting on terrorism and deaths. Picture this- a foreign tourist sitting in the hotel lobby reading about bomb blasts and killings ..hmmm
  • The only Muslim country that maintains a research station in Antarctica with an ongoing presence since 1991.
  • Qingqi is the name for tuk-tuk in Pakistan. Qingqi is a Chinese brand which means a “light/easy ride”
  • Truck Art is popular in Pakistan (Pimp my ride yo!)Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 10.58.00 AM