Dec 30, 2008

Disintegration of Pakistan visible on the Horizon

Things are clearly getting from bad to worse. Ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif calls it a failed state. It won't be long before we see Information Minister Sherry Rehman in BURQA and President Zardari in Turban and long Beard. Number of bombings across Pakistan is on the increase. The beautiful valley of Swat, a major tourist location just a few years ago is now fully under Taliban control. See Dec 29th, 2008 news (

The capitol of Pakistan Islamabad is only 100 miles away. Before takeover, Peshawar is being softened by increased bombings inside the city to create fear. The government in Islamabad is routinely condemning the blasts and loss of life and goes back to hand shaking and photo opps.

Why would anyone invest in a failed state? Why would anyone set up factories in Pakistan when there is hourly load shedding?

Dec 22, 2008

South Asia: Both Good News and Bad News

We all know that terrorism is a growing global curse that is plaguing the entire world. Most talk about the problem, which is getting worse by the day. I am here to talk about solutions to start winning the war against terror.

In the new world order, strength and power of countries will not be defined by military power or by how many bombs or missiles or nuclear warheads you have. It will be defined by the short and long-term economic health of the country, and by how many of its citizens go to sleep hungry.

We here in California are privileged to live in the most pioneering and innovative state in America! All recent technology-driven revolutions affecting the economic health of America and the world started here. But guess where most of the hard-working, intelligent, innovative, and pioneering brains and bodies come from? South Asia.

The new economic growth cycle will start from South Asia. South Asia is home to about one-third of the world’s population. South Asia will also produce hundreds of millions of new consumers as they move from below the poverty line to above the poverty line. This economic cycle from South Asia will affect the economy, wealth, and create jobs in the rest of the world. But this new cycle cannot start unless all of the South Asian countries work together in harmony and address common problems like terrorism, education, and health with collective intelligence and information sharing.

Unfortunately, South Asia is also home to hundreds of millions that live below the poverty line, and millions go to sleep hungry every night. It is where millions of women and children die due to absence of basic preventive health for the poor. South Asia may have world-class universities for the children of the rich, but hundreds of millions of poor children can’t even get basic education.

This hopelessness, hunger, and lack of education and health provides an ideal climate from which terrorist masterminds can recruit their soldiers of terrorism.

War on terror cannot be won by using excessive and indiscriminate “Hard Power” and very little “Soft Power”. Too much “Hard Power”, in the form of missiles from drones, is killing, injuring, and displacing hundreds of innocent people for every one terrorist killed. The use of Hard Power results in Collateral Damage, which is “unintentional” civilian causalities. The illiterate poor do not understand the term.
Soft Power, in the form of economic aid for the poor, never reaches the poor. Most of it is either used up in paying for bureaucracy or ends up in the pockets of the corrupt.

Let’s start winning the hearts and minds of the poor!

All South Asians live the same kind of life! All South Asians eat the same kind of food! All South Asians enjoy the same kinds of Indian movies. All South Asians arrive two hours late! And all South Asians suffer from the same kind of corruption!

Let’s make this South Asian Solidarity Forum the start of a pioneering effort from California! Let’s take the message of this South Asian Solidarity Forum to the United States Senate and Congress! Let’s take this message of the South Asian Solidarity Forum to the lawmakers in both Pakistan and India!

Pakistan and India have made great progress in coming closer to each other in recent years. The terrorists hate this. Let the Indian hit movies play in Pakistani cinemas! Let the cricket matches between India and Pakistan go on and show the terrorists that they cannot win!

We only have three choices: Keep pointing fingers at each other, let tensions rise to the point of nuclear war, or we can come together and bring peace and prosperity to our part of the world.

Our choice is clear. Let us help unite the South Asians!

Dec 1, 2008

Very little “Soft Power” - Too much "Hard Power"

Very little “Soft Power” from United States is reaching the Poor Villagers in Pakistan but lots of “Hard Power” is reaching innocent Tribals and destroying them.

United States Continues to send 100’s of Millions of Dollars as Economic Assistance to Pakistan. Then why all this US Taxpayer money creating 1000’s more enemies instead of winning the Hearts and Minds of the Pakistanis?

Couple of simple reasons. Most US money for economic aid to Pakistan is being channeled into Pakistan through USAID. There is likelihood that no serious qualification; accountability or verification before and after the contract is awarded. USAID solicits bids for implementing poverty alleviation and education programs on the ground all over Pakistan. This has spawned a major new industry called the NGOs. I now hear that we now may have close to 60,000 NGOs and Companies operating in Pakistan that mainly rely on getting USAID contracts. Most are only on paper and fly by night operations. Possibly 90% of the USAID money with these NGOs goes into overhead, expenses, salaries. Maybe less than 10% goes to the project making no difference in the poor villager’s life in any way. The cycle of few becoming richer at the expense of village masses becoming poorer gets worse.

At the same time US bombings are killing very high percentage of tribal civilians and very small number of foreigners linked with terrorism. To US it is collateral damage but to the tribals it is plain murder. Tribals are not highly educated and don’t understand the word “Collateral Damage” . All they see is a foreign enemy in the sky preparing to take over their 1000’s year old land, destroy their livelihood and kill their friends and families. This has created more enemies and hatred against the West along the entire tribal belt. Pakistan is paying a heavy penalty for this US action.

The best way forward is for US to connect with the select and qualified Pakistani American Diaspora specially the Diaspora from the Tribal area in US to understand the tribal cultures and start winning hearts and minds of the people with the help of the diaspora.