Economic Impact of Terrorism

The following article has been published in Daily Nation, dated 22nd December 2014

(E-Paper (Print Edition): http://nation.com.pk/E-Paper/lahore/2014-12-22/page-9)

(Online: http://nation.com.pk/business/22-Dec-2014/economic-impact-of-terrorism)

Economic Impact of Terrorism

Prof Dp

By: Omer Zaheer Meer

The menace of terrorism engulfing Pakistan culminated in the worst tragedy in recent history with the barbarian killing of children in the Army Public School Peshawar. While Pakistan was dragged in this quagmire by a dictator searching for the legitimacy of his rule, the complicated regional “grand game” has now reached the stage where the country is tearing itself from within, something the enemies always desired.

Leaving aside all other complicacies and debates, killing children can never be condoned no matter what the reason. Islam’s fundamental war principle baring one unique incident has been the strict instruction to not harm the children, women, elderly and even the non-combatant men of the non-believing enemy let alone the Muslims. The massacre in Peshawar was therefore anything but Islam. It was infact an effort to tarnish the image of Islam and a direct assault not just on Pakistan or Islam but entire humanity. Having said that, let’s focus on the lesser examined aspect of the terrorism faced by Pakistan, the economic impact.

The USA-started war on terror that General (R) Pervaiz Musharraf brought into Pakistan while claiming as his success, the meager assistance from USA had actually negatively hammered Pakistan’s economy to the tune of well over $ 103 Billion as per National Economic Survey and various other reputable studies. The loss in addition to the direct costs resulting from infrastructure damage and cross-border attacks involves loss of investor confidence, loss of productivity, wasted time, reduced exports due to increased security costs, business loss due to law and order situation, lack of developmental funding due to diversion to security-related expenses, e.t.c.

Although most of the above costs couldn’t be fully monetized and the biggest factor, the human cost has not been considered, still the conservative estimate of over $ 100 billion should be an eye-opener. To fully appreciate the significance of this, compare it to the total foreign debt of Pakistan currently standing at around $ 64 billion. This would mean an extra $ 39 billion to spend on development and betterment of the lives of the people of Pakistan even after paying off all the foreign borrowings to date. These borrowings as of now account for most of our national budget on account of debt servicing, even much higher than the total defense budget.

Meanwhile the total US aid to Pakistan during the above mentioned war has been under $ 20 billion. It touches the mark of $ 25.9 billion as per the most lavish US claims which still results in Pakistan ending up $ 77.1 billion in red. What’s ironic is that a lion’s share of this “aid” was actually the reimbursement of expenses directly incurred by Pakistan for the conduct of US-led coalition’s war operations. This means the actual truly no-strings attached aid was even less than $ 10 billion as per the most lenient studies, against a loss of over $ 100 billion. It is therefore no surprise that the US embassy in Pakistan vehemently opposed Pakistan’s decision to reveal the economic cost of terrorism in the economic survey of Pakistan released earlier this year, a fact revealed by reputable officials privy to the discussions.

However, with the Peshawar school massacre this American started war on terror has turned a new chapter. It is now closer to home and has turned into a war for the survival of Pakistan. It is an established fact that no country can thrive economically without peace. Therefore the deteriorating law and order situation in Pakistan has a huge economic cost and is burdening an already shaky economy guided by a policy based on failed measures from the past.

The fact of the matter is that there isn’t a sector left in Pakistan which has not been affected by terrorism, either directly or indirectly. Agriculture which is the backbone of the national economy has taken hits over the years with uncultivated lands captured by non-state actors besides law and order issues making people leave their lands for their lives. This is in addition to the water and energy crisis already pushing this sector to the brink. Manufacturing has also been crippled resulting in lower exports. No foreign business personnel are ready to visit Pakistan and such meetings now normally take place in UAE. But even worse than all this, culminating from the Peshawar school attack, is the wide-spread panic with resulting shockwaves across all segments of the society as well as the economy. If not checked the ramifications of this can be much more than what we’ve already faced.

While the economic impact briefly outlined above is important, the immeasurable cost of the lost lives and the related potential can never be monetized. Therefore, now that the American started war on terror has turned into the foreign-sponsored TTP menace engulfing Pakistan, we’re faced with a problem we’ve to resolve ourselves. The benefits of resolving this amicably will not just be economic but the social positives from such a strategy can be manifold. Though for such a drastic step to succeed we’d need to rid ourselves of the American interferences and subjugation too. It is high time that the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis take control of the national narrative to direct the course of action as the extremes of the society, both right and left, have harmed the country enough. The way of the Prophet PBUH followed by the majority of Pakistanis, one of maintaining balance and level-headedness, is the need of the hour.

The author is Director of the think-tank “Millat Thinkers’ Forum”. He is a leading economist, chartered financial analyst, qualified accountant and anti-money laundering expert with international exposure who can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer or omerzaheermeer@hotmail.co.uk

Defence Day, Floods and Kashmir

Defence Day, Floods and Kashmir

Prof Dp

By: Omer Zaheer Meer

An extremely important aspect of modern life, greatly neglected in Muslim societies more so in Pakistan is the independent research and development of practical solutions. Therefore any institution striving for this is a blessing in this age of brain-drain, more so when it not just pay lip-service but also act in line with its motto of “Deliberate, Decipher & Decode”. That’s what attracted me to the idea of founding Millat Thinkers’ Forum (MTF).

Following its tradition of celebrating the national days by focusing attention on issues of national importance unattended by others, MTF focused on the issue of Kashmir on this defence day. It’s a sad tragedy that our younger generation is not educated on vital issues. Even when they’re, mostly the narrative used is the one set by opposing contenders. What can be more tragic for a nation than to be robbed of its history, identity and awareness? Nothing can be.

Noam Chomsky once famously wrote how the masses are deceived without them realizing that they’re misled. This is best suited to people of Pakistan. How many Pakistanis know that the alleged accord Dogra Maharaja Hari Singh signed with India was illegal as he was not a hereditary ruler but a British appointee whose legitimacy was over with the end of the British rule in India? Moreover not many today know that the same Maharaja had already signed a stand-still agreement with Pakistan to hold till will of the Kashmiris can be determined.

Let’s ask that how many times have the Pakistani Foreign Office raised the issue of the hypocrisy that India has shown with regard to Hyderabad and Junagarh both of which were mirror images of Kashmir in that they had a majority of Hindu population but Muslim rulers. Unlike Hari Singh, these were hereditary rulers having their legitimacy intact. Nawab of Hyderabad, one of the biggest and the richest state in India announced its independence while the King of Junagarh signed accession to Pakistan. However the Imperialist India enslaved both with its military might claiming the aspirations of Hindu majority had to be taken into account. But when it comes to Kashmir the same India forgets about the aspirations of the Muslim majority but rather focuses on the so-called accord of a ruler who had no legitimacy.

What more ironic is the fact that India conveniently forgets that it was she who took the issue to the United Nations and pledged a plebiscite under UN’s command to determine the will of the people. Now India doesn’t want to talk about keeping its pledges to the international community as well as the Kashmiris. Such despicable behavior of treachery, broken pledges and hypocrisy would shame even the worst of tyrants.

Fair enough that Pakistan is facing several crises today but they’re all tied up with the Kashmir issue and an amicable and just resolution of the Kashmir quagmire will end most of the problems facing Pakistan today. Let’s be more elaborative about it. Be it the support to the TTP miscreants from Indian consulates in Afghanistan or the supplies and training provided to BLA type terrorists in Balochistan from the same source, the root cause lies in Kashmir issue. Similarly the pattern of water shortage in years of rain shortage due to Indian water reservoirs in Kashmir (many illegally built) closing down the water flow and the devastating floods in years of heavy rainfall due to India opening the floodgates from the same reservoirs are again a direct result of the outstanding Kashmir dispute. The reliance on expensive IPP’s using furnace oil to produce electricity and resulting shortages are also a consequence of Pakistan not getting its due share of water. All these problems particularly the water issues are a death-trap for Pakistan which is essentially an agricultural country.

Having said that, it is also true that successive governments in Pakistan have not only failed Kashmiris but also didn’t take corrective steps within their powers such as building water reservoirs on the available resources to address Pakistan’s ultimate survival issue. Unfortunately the focus seems to be on cosmetic and temporary measures for cheap publicity. Despite losses of billions of rupees in infrastructure destruction, crops devastation and loss of output besides irrecoverable human loss, those in power seems to be failing the nation on the front of water management too.

All this was discussed at the highly successful Defence Day event organized by Millat Thinkers’ Forum at Karachi Shouhada Hall, Lahore High Court on the topic of “Kashmir: The forgotten jugular vein. Past, Present and the way forward” A presentation of real-life atrocities on innocent Kashmiri women, children and elderly by occupying Indian forces sent from Indian Occupied Kashmir by Millat Facebook members was also presented. Amongst the prominent dignitaries at the event was the host, Mr. Zaheer Ahmad Meer Advocate (Patron Millat Thinkers’ Forum, Managing Partner Professionals’ Social Network and President Hum Kashmiri Lawyers) and other eminent guests included:

Justice (R) Allah Nawaz (ex Chief Justice Lahore High Court)

Justice (R) Sharif Hussain Bokhari (ex Judge Lahore High Court)

Admiral (R) Javaid Iqbal,

General (R) Rahat Latif,

Mrs. Ayesha Qazi (President Lahore Tax Bar Association),

Mr. Munim Sultan (G. Sec Lahore Tax Bar Association),

Mr. Absar Abdul Ali (Director, Hameed Nizami Press Institute),

Mian Khalid Habib Elahi (Advocate Supreme Court & ex D. Attorney General Punjab),

Mr. Mansoor Ur Rehman Afridi (Advocate Supreme Court, ex VC Punjab Bar Council & ex President Lahore Bar Association)

and

Mr. Sajjad Mehmood Butt (Advocate Supreme Court & Patron Hum Kashmiri Lawyers)

The closing proposals adopted unanimously as resolutions were that the Government of Pakistan should take concrete steps to build water reservoirs, build an effective narrative on the Kashmir issue and spread it globally, standby Kashmiris and provide them all possible support, internationally highlight the UN resolution and the lack of legitimacy of Hari Singh, a British appointee whose rule ended with the British rule and do not give up on its principled stand. There will come a time when Pakistan and Kashmiris will be able to get their right, just like the China-Taiwan case. Determination, resilience and steadfastness would be required as even a century is not much in the lives of nations. Otherwise the nations who start squandering their rights end up surrendering their independence too.

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The author is Director of the think-tank “Millat Thinkers’ Forum”. He is a leading economist, chartered accountant, qualified financial analyst and anti-money laundering expert with international exposure who can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer or omerzaheermeer@hotmail.co.uk

Gaza: Holocaust version 2014

The following article is published in the Sunday edition (DNA) of Pakistan Today, dated 20th July 2014

(For online version: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/07/19/comment/gaza-holocaust-version-2014/ )

(For published version: Page 6  at:  http://issuu.com/abidoon/docs/dna_issue_33/4?e=3820687/8669388    )

Gaza: Holocaust version 2014

Zionist occupiers’ atrocities against Palestinian women, children and elderly make Hitler seem like an angel.

By: Omer Zaheer Meer

The author is a Director of the think-tank “Millat Thinkers’ Forum”. He is a leading economist, qualified accountant and anti-money laundering expert with international exposure who can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer  or omerzaheermeer@hotmail.co.uk

A sad tragedy ensues when the oppressed becomes the oppressor. Even worse is when it bites the hand that fed it in its worst hour of need. That is precisely the tragedy unfolding in occupied Palestine under the so-called Israeli occupation forces.

The disproportionate use of power is of least concern in a conflict where all international laws are floundered. Banned and illegal weapons like phosphorus, in addition to other internationally banned chemical weapons, are routinely used on civilian populations. Innocent civilians are routinely targeted and killed as are innocent family members of “alleged” Palestinian resistance members. Entire families are wiped out in such Israeli attacks. Children as young as just a few months old are slaughtered while women of all ages are butchered along with the elderly in what is termed collateral damage by Israel. A policy of collective punishment is being pursued by blockading 17 million human beings for eight long years, effectively turning Gaza into the largest open-air prison on the planet.

This Palestinian occupation is truly an asymmetrical conflict with Israel’s sophisticated, top of the range, highly destructive and even internationally banned chemical arsenal largely met with rag-tag home-made crude Palestinian rockets. The comparatively slightly better Palestinian rockets are extremely limited and used rarely by the resistance. Compared to a bomb shelter in almost every new house built in Israel, there is none in Gaza. Only recently the first Israeli fatality of the conflict incurred in over a week compared to over 200 innocent Palestinian children, women and elderly slaughtered in addition to young men. The only Israeli fatality so far was a Zionist volunteer delivering food to Israeli occupation soldiers near the Gaza border. The billions of dollars of annual military aid to Israel by the USA can be compared to a naught for Palestine.

Holocaust, as described by various Jewish as well as Zionist authors, was the alleged systematic and state-sponsored persecution and annihilation of millions of Jews by Nazi Germany.

It is worth mentioning here that present day Imperialist Israel is a fruit of political Zionism whose brutalities against Palestinian civilians are opposed even by moderate Jews across the globe. The genocide of and war crimes against Palestinians perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces, particularly in Gaza, has made atrocities of Nazi Germany seem lighter in comparison.

Let’s visit recent history to draw comparisons. The Nazis believed in racial superiority of Germans, deemed “inferior” Jewish and other non-German races as an alien threat to their survival and supremacy. This is pretty much the same attitude as that showcased by present day Israel against non-Jewish Palestinian Arabs, effectively treating them as a threat to Zionist “supremacy”. It’s even worse since most Israeli Zionists, particularly the impressionable youth, call for the annihilation of even innocent Palestinian children (widely available on social media), unlike Nazi Germany where people even helped Jewish women and children.

Holocaust, as described by various Jewish as well as Zionist authors, was the alleged systematic and state-sponsored persecution and annihilation of millions of Jews by Nazi Germany. The “Holocaust version 2014” by Israel is even worse. Not only are Palestinian Arab Muslims massacred systematically by the occupying Zionist regime, the imperialist state of Israel also controls their life by applying a total blockade particularly on Gaza, where the local population cannot even have emergency medical journeys without a cumbersome process requiring Israeli permission.

What is ironic and perhaps lesser known today is the fact that it was under the Muslim Ottoman rule that Jews fleeing from across the globe were provided sanctuaries and opportunities to prosper. The Jews were heavily persecuted by Byzantines after Christianity was declared the official religion (408 – 450) by Theodosius 11. Forceful conversions of Jews to Christianity were the norm.

With the Ottoman Turkish conquest of Bursa in 1324, a golden era ensued for the previously oppressed Jewish community. The Jews treated the Ottomans as their saviours. The toleration was to the extent that not only were Jews given high public offices, but also allowed to build huge synagogues like the Etz Ha-Hayyim (Tree of Life). Jews from all over Europe came and settled in Muslim Ottoman lands; from Hungary in 1376, France in 1394, Sicily in the early 15th century, Salonika in 1420, Spain in 1492 after Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand expelled the Jews during brutal Spanish Inquisition, and from many more places.

Now let us fast forward to the present era. The memory of the Israeli attack on the Turkish Flotilla carrying civilian aid to Gaza is not too old. More more recent is the case when Israel started bombarding civilians yet again in Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on the planet. An ultimatum was given to people in northern and eastern Gaza to leave their homes, raising fear of the worst atrocities to come. However, the fleeing civilians were forced deep within the already congested and tiny Gaza strip by Israel and its ally Egypt, refusing to open border crossings thereby denying them safety. The blockade of Palestinians, resulting in deaths due to starvation and a crippling economy for eight years, has conveniently been forgotten by the world.

With the Ottoman Turkish conquest of Bursa in 1324, a golden era ensued for the previously oppressed Jewish community. The Jews treated the Ottomans as their saviours.

Perhaps it is time that moderate Jews across the globe rise up to confront the extremist Zionists of Israel for the Muslim rulers seem to be sleeping, barring the lip service of a few. These Muslim rulers are so busy in their sectarian fights and protection of their rule that this human tragedy fails to evoke a serious response from them. While people around the world including Europe and North America have shown their discontent over what is commonly referred to as a brutal massacre by Israel, Muslim governments have continued to show little material support for oppressed Palestinians in Gaza.

A lesser explored aspect of the recent turmoil in Gaza is the political maneuvering of Netanyahu with allegations that the Israeli government knew about the whereabouts of the kidnapped illegal Israeli settlers in occupied Palestinian territory but decided to use it for political mileage. The incident was used to incite hatred, culminating in the abduction and brutal burning to death of an innocent Palestinian teen legally living in Jerusalem, by Zionist right-wingers. This observation is supported by the gag-order regarding the incident barring even the Israelis from having access to information about it. Furthermore, there were reports of raids on the Palestinian suspects’ homes two weeks before the occupying Israeli Government announced the names. All these indicate manipulation. Truly right-wing extremist Israelis led by Netanyahu gained the most at the expense of everyone else.

This is not the first atrocity against the Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, nor can it be expected to be the last. What we should strive for is to create awareness and help the helpless, enslaved population of Gaza.

The big question is will moderate Jews recall the favours granted to them by Muslims, which ensued their golden era, and rise up with them to confront the Zionist monster which has unleashed its own version of Holocaust, only upon Muslims this time.