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Pakistani-American Scholar Dr. Moeed Yusuf in Silicon Valley

Pakistani-American scholar Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Associate Vice President of the Asia Center at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington D.C., visited Silicon Valley on September 29, 2018.  Dr. Yusuf  spoke at an event organized by Talk4Pak ( team to launch his recently published book "Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia".

Dr. Moeed Yusuf (L) with Faraz Darvesh

The event was moderated by Faraz Darvesh. It started with a brief intro by Riaz Haq to Talk4Pak followed an introduction to  the main speaker by Dr. Misbah Azam.

Riaz Haq (L) with Faraz Darvesh

Riaz Haq introduced Talk4Pak as a media platform intended to connect Pakistani-Americans with Pakistan to stimulate discussion on issues of interest to the diaspora.  Talk4Pak principals include Faraz Darvesh, Misbah Azam, Sabahat Ashraf, Ali Hasan Cemendtaur, and Riaz Haq. Talk4Pak engages with its target audience via social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Talk4Pak produces two regular shows: Viewpoint From Overseas in English and Azad Labon Kay Sath in Urdu.

Dr. Moeed Yusuf Signing Books

Talk4Pak shows feature discussions with analysts, activists, journalists, intellectuals, writers and thinkers. Guests include a range: Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Dr. Adil Najam, Dr. Ishrat Husain, Brigadier Feroz Khan,  Shuja Nawaz, Raoof Hasan, Munir Malik, Jibran Nasir, Ayesha Siddiqa, Asma Jahangir,  Munizae Jahangir, Monis Rahman, Husain Haqqani, Tarek Fatah, Dr. Nyla Ali Khan (grand-daughter of Shaikh Abdullah), Raza Rumi, Zahid Husain, Mazhar Abbas,  Amir Abbas, Farrukh Pitafi, Zarar Khuro, Jared Taylor and others.

Dr. Misbah Azam (L) Introducing Dr. Moeed Yusf

Misbah introduced Dr. Moeed W. Yusuf as Associate Vice president of the Asia Center at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). Yusuf has been engaged in expanding USIP’s work on Pakistan/South Asia since 2010. His current research focuses on youth and democratic institutions in Pakistan, policy options to mitigate militancy in Pakistan and the South Asian region in general, and U.S. role in South Asian crisis management. His latest book, Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia, was released by Stanford University Press in May 2018. The book offers an innovative theory of brokered bargaining to better understand and solve regional nuclear crises.

Dr. Moeed Yusuf Signing Books

In "Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments U.S. Crisis Management in S..." by Dr. Moeed Yusuf published by Stanford University Press, the author analyzes American diplomacy in three critical periods: Kargil conflict in 1999; the stand-off after the Indian Parliament attack in 2001 and the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008.

Dr. Moeed Yusuf with Dinner Attendees

Yusuf argues that the US-Soviet Cold War deterrence model does not apply to the India-Pakistan conflict and offers his theory of "brokered bargaining". In chapters that detail the US role during three India-Pakistan crises, it is clear that the US rejected India's insistence on bilateralism in resolving India-Pakistan disputes.  The author says that "in each episode, the concern about the escalation forced the United States to engage, largely unsolicited, and use a mix of rewards (or promises of) and punishments (or threats of) with the regional rivals to achieve de-escalation--ahead of its broader regional or policy interests."

Dt. Moeed Yusuf Speaking at Talk4Pak Silicon Valley Event 

At the talk4pak Silicon Valley event, Dr. Yusuf addressed three areas of focus: 

1. US-Pakistan relations: Yusuf says Washington now sees India, not Pakistan, as its strategic partner in South Asia. Washington's entire relationship with Islamabad today revolves almost exclusively around Afghanistan where American and Pakistani interests do not converge. The only time the United States gets involved in India-Pakistan conflict is when there is a serious crisis that the world fears could escalate into a nuclear confrontation between them. 

2. India-Pakistan Ties: There is no sustained dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad to resolve issues such as Kashmir between the two neighbors. Yusuf speculates that India wants to wait it out for the time when its economic and military differential with Pakistan becomes so large that Delhi can dictate terms to Islamabad as the unchallenged regional hegemon. 

3. Afghanistan War: Pakistan does not believe that the Afghan Taliban can be militarily defeated and insists that the United States must talk directly with them to reach a political settlement.  Yusuf now believes that the recent start of direct dialogue between the United States and the Taliban may bring an eventual end to America's longest war.

Audience at Talk4Pak Silicon Valley

Dr. Moeed Yusuf's "Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia" is a thought provoking book as is his presentation at the talk4pak Silicon Valley event. Both should stimulate serious discussion of how regional nuclear powers like India and Pakistan can engage with each other more deeply to maintain peace and stability in their neighborhood. This will require both parties, India and Pakistan, to have sustained dialogue to resolve core issues like Kashmir that underly recurring crises.

Here's a video of the presentation at talk4pak event of September 29, 2018:

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Comment by Riaz Haq on October 3, 2018 at 8:08am

#India's currency sinks to record lows. #Indian central bank isn't expected to save it. Decline of more than 14% since the start of this year has earned it the status of the worst-performing in the region. #Asia #Modi #BJP #economy

The rupee's plunge into record-low territory this year is unlikely to slow — even if India's central bank hikes its rate this week, according to experts carefully watching the Reserve Bank of India.

Analysts largely expect India, Asia's third-largest economy, to raise its benchmark rate by 25 basis points at its meeting this week, with more increases to come this and next year. But while an interest rate hike would normally be expected to support a currency, the rupee "is in for continued losses ahead," according to Prakash Sakpal, vice president of research at Dutch bank ING.

"Even if it hikes by 25 (basis points) as expected that's unlikely to help the currency ... The RBI will have to do more, though that looks unlikely on the grounds of on-target inflation and stress in the financial sector," he said.

Sakpal predicted the central bank will merely match the three U.S. Federal Reserve rate hikes this year without giving the rupee any leeway to gain against the dollar.

The rupee hit a series of record lows against the dollar in the past two months, weakening to about 73 rupees against the greenback. That marked a decline of more than 14 percent since the start of this year, earning it the status of the worst-performing in the region — alongside the Indonesian rupiah and Philippine peso.

India's currency depreciation has been attributed to rising oil prices — it's a major crude importer — and a widening current account deficit. Experts say that broader global concerns, which rose to the forefront in the emerging currencies sell-off following economic troubles in Turkey and Argentina, have also weighed on investor sentiment.

Shashank Mendiratta, an economist covering South Asia and India at ANZ, added: "While higher interest rates may help, a single rate hike is unlikely to suffice. It will require a series of rate hikes as has been the case in Indonesia."

Inflation and the rupee
Experts cautioned that a balance in monetary policy has to be struck, to prevent slowing growth and rising inflation.

Inflation, a key concern for India's central bank, slipped below the 4 percent target in August. It's affected by currency movements because if the rupee weakens, then foreign goods would cost more in rupee terms — resulting in an increase in prices.

With oil prices weighing on India, if interest rates are hiked and the rupee strengthens, then the cost of imported oil will be less.

Currently, a 10 percent rise in global crude oil prices will lift headline inflation figures by between 20 and 30 basis points according to the RBI, DBS Economist Radhika Rao noted. A rupee that has depreciated by around 5 percent could also prop up inflation, by 20 basis points, she said.

"These reasons will provide sufficient justification to the central bank to tighten policy levers in October," Rao concluded.

But ANZ's Mendiratta said that the current inflation level will not be sufficiently compelling for the RBI to raise rates.

"Though the combination of higher oil prices and a weak Rupee have raised concerns on the inflation path, the recent soft readings suggest that the RBI can afford to wait and watch. Stabilising the Rupee by raising interest rates does not seem to be high on the agenda," he told CNBC.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 3, 2018 at 4:19pm

#Pakistan urges restraint by new US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad for #Afghan peace. He "has made statements in the past which have not been, to be put it mildly, very friendly to Pakistan." #Trump #Afghanistan #Taliban #India #Modi

The recent appointment of veteran U.S. diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad has raised hackles in Pakistan. Khalilzad, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, has previously called on the U.S. to declare Pakistan a terrorist state unless it stops harboring insurgents.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that there's been a negative reaction in the Pakistani press to the appointment because Khalilzad "has made statements in the past which have not been, to be put it mildly, very friendly to Pakistan."

"He's been given a new role, and I hope, I would urge him to be more sensitive to opinion in Pakistan," Qureshi told the U.S. Institute of Peace, a Washington think tank. "Obviously as individuals we can say what we want, but once you have an official position you have to be more restrained and you have to be more sensitive, because only (then) can you be an honest broker."

While Qureshi was responding to direct question on the issue, it's unusual for a foreign diplomat to comment directly on how a particular U.S. official should conduct himself. Qureshi stressed the need for the U.S. and Pakistan to arrest the slide in their troubled relationship, and said that Khalilzad will be visiting Pakistan soon.

The Trump administration has taken a tougher stance toward Pakistan. It has suspended military assistance to the country, saying it isn't doing enough to eliminate Taliban safe havens in its territory. It also wants Pakistan to use its influence to get the Taliban leadership to enter negotiations with the government in Kabul on ending the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

Qureshi criticized U.S. suspension of military aid but was upbeat about his talks on Tuesday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"I was expecting a very hawkish approach, a dressing-down approach. That, pleasantly, did not take place," he said. "I felt that Secretary Pompeo was ready to listen, which I thought was very positive."

Qureshi said there was a "convergence" between the governments in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States to seek a peace settlement to end the Afghan war. But the Taliban have so far refused to negotiate directly with Kabul, saying they want to talk with the U.S., which has about 14,000 troops in the country.

Qureshi said Pakistan will "use all its influence" to persuade the Taliban to join a peace process, but its influence has diminished. The Taliban, he said, would have to feel that it's in its interest to negotiate.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 3, 2018 at 7:31pm

#ADB: #Agriculture, #Industry, #Service Sectors Drive Robust Growth in #Pakistan Amid Looming Challenges. #Pakistan’s #economy accelerated to 5.8%, the highest in 13 years, in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 ending on 30 June 2018.

Pakistan’s economy accelerated to 5.8%, the highest in 13 years, in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 ending on 30 June 2018.

The robust growth is credited to an uptick in industry, better agricultural crops, and an expanding services sector. Inflation remained moderate. However, with the new government considering policy options to implement its economic and social agenda, twin deficits widened by a rising import bill and higher spending continue to pose a challenge, according to the Asian Development Outlook (ADO) Update 2018.

The update of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) flagship annual economic publication noted that agriculture grew to 3.8%, nearly double that of a year earlier, boosted by favorable weather and a marked increase in food crops, cotton, and livestock. Industry growth climbed to 5.8% from 5.4%, underpinned by improvements in wholesale and retail businesses, faster expansion in manufacturing and mining, and sharp growth of over 9% in construction.

On the demand side, private consumption in FY2018 slowed slightly from a year earlier to 6.3% but, with an 81.1% share of gross domestic product (GDP), remained the largest contributor to growth. Public sector fixed investment grew by 17.1% on top of 27.5% expansion in FY2017, reflecting higher spending on energy and infrastructure in connection with the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This growth was, however, from a low base as public investment still provides only 5.4% of GDP. Growth in private investment fell markedly to only 1.1% in FY2018 despite improved security and energy supply. The drop reflected a cautious business environment in light of the deteriorating balance of payments position and in anticipation of the national elections in July 2018.

In FY2018, responding to continued strong import demand and a large decline in net foreign assets, the State Bank of Pakistan allowed greater market determination of Pakistan rupee–US dollar exchange from December 2017 and raised the policy rate by a cumulative 75 basis points (bps) to 6.5% in two steps by the end of FY2018, first in January and then in May. The rupee depreciated by 15.3% against the US dollar in the 8 months to July 2018, and the average rate on new lending to the private sector increased by only 41 basis points to 7.83% by June.

The current account deficit in FY2018 swelled to $18 billion, or 5.8% of GDP, significantly up from 4.1% in FY2017. Exports revived to grow by 12.6% to $25 billion with increases in such traditional standbys as textiles, chemicals, leather, and food, but imports increased by 14.7% to $56 billion, partly spurred by purchases of machinery and transport equipment for the CPEC and other investments but also of intermediate goods for agriculture and the textile and metal industries, and of petroleum, which has accounted for just over a third of the increase in imports as current account deficit escalated over the past 2 years. The deficit in services and primary income also increased substantially by 19.0% to $11.2 billion. Workers remittances grew only by 1.4% but remained large at $19.6 billion.

Moving forward, the report says the newly elected government should address the large budget and current account deficits, rising debt obligations, and falling foreign exchange reserves. This requires mobilizing substantial external financing to buy time for orderly reform to reduce the large external and domestic imbalances. Such resources can be acquired from bilateral and multilateral sources, the diaspora, or international capital markets. The key challenges are to adopt the right reforms and achieve good outcomes to sustain public support, the report noted.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 6, 2018 at 7:44am

#India's #Hindu Nationalist Leader Subramanian Swamy: Break #Pakistan into 4 pieces, prepare for war. #Modi #BJP

After NC, Congress candidate targeted. Subramanian Swamy gets furious on Pakistan as they do a vicious attack on democracy in Jammu & Kashmir.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 6, 2018 at 8:00am

Why it's not a good time to be an #Indian #student in #America? #India Rupee, Down 17% This Year, is the Worst Performing Currency in #Asia #Pacific Region. via @timesofindia

It’s a predicament thousands of Indians studying in America, .. 

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 10, 2018 at 3:34pm

Does Modi Have a Pakistan Policy?


Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, India’s approach to relations with Pakistan has been inconsistent and episodic, typified in the tensions at the recent UN General Assembly. In fact, Modi's government has no cohesive policy framework for dealing with Pakistan, much less a compelling vision for lasting peace.

EW DELHI – Judging by the unsavory exchanges between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers at the recent United Nations General Assembly, the already deeply troubled bilateral relationship has reached a new low.

What immediately preceded the UN session was bad enough. Less than 24 hours after agreeing to a bilateral meeting of foreign ministers on the margins of the General Assembly, India canceled, citing the killing of three Indian police officers on their shared border and Pakistan’s issuance of a postage stamp honoring a slain Kashmiri terrorist.

But such border incidents – including both killings and retaliation – are not new; several have already occurred this year. And while the stamps were certainly an unpleasant manifestation of Pakistan’s chronic glorification of anti-Indian violence, they were issued in July, a month before Prime Minister Imran Khan – whose new government proposed the bilateral meeting – was even sworn in.

The Indian foreign ministry’s allegation that these incidents exposed Khan’s “true face” was a mere fig leaf – and a churlish one at that. In fact, with a general election six months away and five state elections set to take place before the end of this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government simply did not want a meeting with Pakistan at a politically sensitive moment.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears to have decided to contest the upcoming elections on a hardline Hindutva platform. Hindutva, the ideology of Hindu chauvinism, prides itself on hostility toward Muslims in India, as well as toward Pakistan. Smiles and handshakes in New York would not have served that strategy.

This reading is reinforced by Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s use of the UN podium to deliver a political campaign speech in Hindi to BJP voters back home. In it, she lambasted Pakistan and mentioned Modi twice as many times as she referred to India, on whose behalf she was supposed to be speaking.

This is not to say that Khan’s government has been a paragon of diplomacy. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has taken a bizarre and damaging approach, alleging, for example, that Pakistan is under siege from Indian “terrorism,” a phenomenon that no objective international analyst has yet recognized.

Qureshi also blames India for a 2014 attack on an army school in Peshawar that has been credibly attributed to the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, a home-grown terrorist group waging war on the Pakistani government. Given that the one government the Pakistani Taliban hate more than Pakistan’s is India’s, the idea that they were doing India’s bidding on Pakistani soil is both grotesque and fatuous.

Can the supposedly responsible governments of two nuclear-armed countries sink any lower? Unfortunately, it seems entirely likely. In Pakistan, Khan’s government, anointed by the Pakistani military, will progressively consolidate power. In India, election fever is heating up under a government that has not hesitated to politicize the military and often substitutes marketing for tangible achievements.

For example, the BJP constantly boasts of cross-border raids on terrorist camps in Myanmar and Pakistan. Last month, it celebrated the anniversary of one such raid across the Line of Control in Kashmir, despite the fact that the raid had no lasting geostrategic impact. Cross-border terrorist incursions, aided and abetted by the Pakistani military, have continued in the two years since.


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