Lessons from Africa (Part Two)

Lessons from Africa (Part Two)

China’s investment in Africa has useful lessons for Pakistan. In the second part of Lessons from Africa, Asad Abbasi takes a closer look at how Chinese investment has affected Africa and who has benefited from this investment. 

Africa is a continent with more than 50 countries, each with different legal and political institutions, so comparison with Chinese investment in Pakistan— at first sight— does not seem appropriate. Yet, the impact of Chinese investment in Africa holds potentially important lessons for the South Asian nation.

In 2003, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences warned that China is facing resource shortages. The report recommended that in order to meet current and future demand, China need to import additional three billion tons of iron, half-billion ton of copper and hundred million tons of aluminium in next twenty years.

It was around this time that China’s interest in Africa re-emerged. In 2002, trade between China and Africa was £10bn, by 2013, it was more than £170bn. China has become ‘Africa’s largest trading Partner’.

Though trade represents large proportion of China-Africa relations, it is Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that acts as a guide for shifts in global investment.  It is therefore interesting to study China’s investment in Africa. According to Premier Li Keqiang, China will raise its Foreign FDI in Africa to $100 billion by 2020. China has diversified its investment in Africa since 2003, but significant portion has always been channeled into fulfilling the demand for resources. Furthermore, the recent slowdown in Chinese economy has brought a reduction in overall investment from $3.54bn to $568m— declines of 84 percent compared to last year. However, investment in the extractive industry, during the same period, has doubled. After all these years, who in Africa has benefited from China’s investment?

Antonio R. Villaraigosa / Creative Commons License.
Antonio R. Villaraigosa / Creative Commons License.

 

Growth and inequality

China’s need for resources, according to Ha Joon Chang, is the biggest factor of high growth rates in Africa since 2000. During this time, there has been a hundred percent increase in number of millionaires living in Africa.  However, the number of people living under poverty line (less than $1.25) have also increased from 411.3 million in 2010 to 415.8 million in 2011- a difference of 4.5 million people (equivalent of the entire population of New Zealand)
According to Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, African ‘development’ has made the rich richer, while the poor have remained poor. He points out that African development has raised growth and poverty together, because the benefits of increasing wealth are ‘gobbled up by super rich’.  A World Bank report has also acknowledged that inequality in ‘unacceptably high’ and warned that inequality is unlikely to subside anytime soon. One of the main problems is the lack of proper distributive institutions.  According to Joseph Stiglitz, countries like Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, Mozambique, need to build ‘institutions, policies and laws needed to ensure that resources benefit all of their citizens’.

Due to the high levels of Chinese FDI, African markets are now pegged to China’s internal demand. Any fluctuation therefore causes job losses and uncertainty in many African countries. Take Zambia, for example. Copper accounts for 70% of Zambian exports, so the recent decline in Chinese demand means that price of copper has halved since 2011.  As a response, Glencore plc, Swiss mining company, announced to halt the production of copper for 18 months at Mopani mine, resulting in a 26 percent reduction of copper production and around 4000 job losses.

Furthermore, due to the decrease in copper exports, the Zambian Kwacha dropped 4.6 percent against the US dollar. Commodities are priced in US dollars and therefore decrease in Zambian Kwacha against the dollar has increased the prices of commodities across Zambia.

So what does the story of Chinese investment in Africa tell us? Yes, there has been rapid growth and rise in employment. But it is accompanied by rise in high inequality, fluctuations in employment and only a small increase in actual wages. Can this be classified as ‘economic revolution’?

Jubilee Debt Campaign / Creative Commons License. Picture of Nick Dearden.
Jubilee Debt Campaign / Creative Commons License. Picture of Nick Dearden.

 

Conclusion

China’s investment in Africa raises questions around whether the euphoria for CPEC is justified at this point in time. It highlights that for economic stability, government cannot be reliant on one industry; it shows that growth does not necessarily mean development. It also indicates that when economic opportunity arises, particularly in the form of substantial FDI, the government has to take steps to ensure that the benefits are distributed as equally as possible.

There are policies that Pakistani government can implement that would increase the likelihood of equitable distribution. For example, Pakistani government could impose a windfall-profit tax on Chinese corporations extracting minerals in Pakistan and channel the income into developmental projects. Windfall profits are ‘sudden and massive profits’ that can happen due to changes in price. The profits depend on the fluctuation in prices and therefore cannot be ‘foreseen’ by concerned parties.

But the argument against imposing such a tax is that windfall tax policy is counter-productive. At present, Pakistani government should do everything to ‘attract’ Chinese investment. By imposing a tax on profit, Pakistani government will scare the incoming investment. This objection, though, a good political tactic, has, a bad rational basis. With windfall profit tax, additional tax will be result only of sudden and massive profit. If there is no additional, massive and unforeseen profit, then there will be no additional tax. How will this scare Chinese investment?

This is just one policy. If Chinese FDI injection is to support Pakistan’s development, it is essential to get the policies right, no matter how cumbersome they may seem in the face of the current euphoria.

This article was originally published on the London School of Economics South Asia Blog and is reproduced with the writers permission.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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Lessons from Africa (Part One)

Lessons from Africa (Part One)

China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is generating euphoria in Pakistan. In the first part of the two part series ‘Lessons from Africa’, Asad Abbasi briefly looks at the global context of CPEC. 

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is set to be the biggest investment of any kind on infrastructure in Pakistan. By 2030, China will invest a total of $46 billion in energy, transport, fibre optics and Gwadar port. It forms part of the 3,000 km corridor that China is building with the aim of reducing the transportation time of oil and goods from the Middle East from 12 days to 36 hours.

CPEC has brought euphoria in Pakistan. A recent survey shows that the ‘majority of people (in Pakistan) believe that China-Pakistan Economic corridor (CPEC) will have a good impact’. The Prime Minister of Pakistan has called CPEC the ‘future’; the President has called it a ‘benefit to the region’, while the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Sindh have hailed it as a ‘gift’ and ‘life line’.

IAEA Imagebank / Creative Commons License. Picture of Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (Right).
IAEA Imagebank / Creative Commons License. Picture of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (Right).

Above all, Chief of Army Staff, most powerful man in the country, has vowed to protect CPEC and is making ‘all the efforts’ to ensure its success. It is likely that no less than ten thousand special security troops will be placed to protect ‘CPEC projects’.

Is it the titillation of $46 billion that excites everyone? Is development for all automatically guaranteed with this investment? The first question is perhaps rhetorical, but the second is important. I address it by looking at China’s investment in Africa, which shows that if proper institutions are not built and workers are not protected then economic growth will foster severe inequality.

China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

In Pakistan, CPEC is advertised as a prelude to growth and development.There are reservations from political parties, who fear that Punjab, province of ruling party, will get superfluous share of the wealth and insist a ‘rightful’ share of CPEC investment should be divided among all provinces However, as all parties are keen to take advantage of CPEC, it is likely that a resolution will be found in the near future.

nznationalparty / Creative Commons License
nznationalparty / Creative Commons License

 

For Pakistan, CPEC might represent ‘prosperity’, ‘unity’, etc., but for China it is just one small part of Yi Dai Yai Lu. This is usually translated into English as “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) but according to Tim Summers, senior consulting fellow at Chatham House, the English translation fails to convey the dynamic meaning that the phrase encapsulates. Yi Dai Yai Lu conjures up two different epochs of Chinese history: Silk Road of Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD) and modern silk maritime trade routes from coastal China. The aim of the project is to connect China with 65 countries in Asia and Europe. China estimates that OBOR will add $2.5 trillion to its trade over the next decade.

The recent fall in local demand means that Chinese factories are producing more than they sell at home. This ‘overcapacity’ of Chinese firms means that China needs to look elsewhere to make efficient use of its capital.  One Belt One Road provides opportunities for Chinese firms to invest abroad. PwC estimates that since 2013 ‘projects worth $250 billion have already been contracted’ to Chinese companies. In future, OBOR will bring even ‘more investment opportunity for Chinese enterprises’.

There is one problem—trust. There are many reservations about Chinese investment. The Heritage Foundation estimates loss of deals worth $200 billion due to ‘nasty surprise of some sort’. Some say it is because stakeholders in many countries do not trust state-funded Chinese investment. China will have no such complication in Pakistan, particularly as the two countries have been developing an increasingly cosy relationship for some time. Investment risk will be minimal since it is closer to home and Pakistani Army has vowed to protect it, so CPEC is a win-win for Chinese corporations. Is it also win-win for Pakistan?

 
This article was originally published on the London School of Economics South Asia Blog and is reproduced with the writers permission.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Free Trade or Protectionist Policies?

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Free Trade or Protectionist Policies?

China is seeking to invest $46 billion in Pakistan. Intuitively this may seem like a good idea, however, by applying Ha Joon Chang’s ideas, Asad Abbasi believes we should re-consider the supposed virtues that this foreign investment will bring to Pakistan.

In Pakistan, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is seen as the next big thing.  It is seen as a developmental messiah that will take Pakistan towards a modernized and developed state. A reading of Ha Joon Chang’s Kicking Away the Ladder suggests that Pakistan should concentrate on building its industries if it wants to develop. Without industries, no country can develop.

CPEC has generated much enthusiasm in Pakistan. China is investing around $46 billion dollars in Pakistan. The energy sector will get approximately seventy five percent of the investment. Approximately twenty   five   percent will be allocated to the transport sector. The remainder will be invested into fiber optic and improvement of the Gwadar Port.

The exact details of the plan are not available but political opinion is seething with optimism: From the Prime Minister’s perpetual support for CPEC to the Army Chief’s vow to protect this project ‘at all costs’. It is no doubt that CPEC has political connotations but does it make economic and, more specifically, developmental sense?

A consortium of 35 Chinese companies were formed that will be investing in Pakistan. If Chinese firms and corporations will be investing in Pakistan then, theoretically speaking, it should pose no developmental problem. Open borders should benefit everyone. Ha Joon Chang would argue the contrary.

Chang’s Argument

In Kicking Away the Ladder, Ha Joon Chang looks at historical evidence and finds that countries develop by protecting their industries. Chang prescribes similar policies to developing countries. Protect industries now, free trade later. Free trade policies were successful, Chang argues, when countries were already developed.

Chang, I felt, is giving parenting advice: care for them at first, give them all the help you possibly can and when you feel confident and when they feel confident, let them compete with the world.

Jose Camoes Silva/Creative Common License
Jose Camoes Silva/Creative Common License

 

Only by protecting industries can a developing country prosper. Letting
developing countries grow, according to Chang, is beneficial to all. In the long run this ‘will bring greater benefits to the developed countries as well.’ The policy recommendation for development is simple— to protect the infant industries and focus on growth.

A Game of Ladder

The name of this book comes from Friedrich List’s observation. Writing in the 19th century, List observed that old economies achieved success in ways different from what they preached to the new economies.  List writes, “someone who attains greatness kicks away the ladder so others cannot pursuit them easily”. With new historical evidence, Chang shows that List’s observation is even truer for our contemporary time.  All the developed countries achieved growth by protecting their industries and now they have become fervent preachers of free trade.

Key Concept

The policies that helped now developed countries (NDC) to grow in 18th and 19th   centuries were strongly protectionist. The protectionist policies were unique, suited to the characteristics of each country. The policies included: “export subsidies, tariff rebates on inputs used for exports, conferring of monopoly rights, cartel arrangements, directed credits, investment planning, manpower planning, and research and development and promotion of institutions that allow public–private cooperation”.  When an industry matures, only then should countries opt to remove trade barriers and follow a free trade policy.

In the 18th and 19th centuries all the now developed economies (NDC) adopted infant industry promotion except Switzerland and the Netherlands (the Swiss and Dutch were already advanced economies in the 18th century and therefore could afford to have open trade policies). The economic corridor will not allow Pakistani industries the luxury of protectionism.

Growth and Development

The idea of protecting industries is just one part of Chang’s overall argument. In this book, you can discern between Chang’s view on development and Sen’s Development as Freedom. Whereas Sen argued for  freedom  to  be  soul  of  development  policy,  Chang  believes  that economic growth is the key ingredient for development. The developmental process is multi-dimensional, argues Chang, but without growth it is difficult to imagine any type of development.

Growth will be achieved only through protectionist policies— just like developed countries did in the past. Except, this time policies of developing countries have to be even more intensive to achieve any result. This is because gap between rich and poor countries is too large and only a very intense protectionist policy will have any effect.

Institutions and development

In Pakistan’s case, just protecting industries will not suffice. Corruption, tax evasion by individuals and corporations are few of the several economic issues that require robust regulations.

With development, Chang argues, governance and institutional issues will be resolved. According to Chang, institutions are not the engine of growth. Institutions as they are now defined were present, in a vague form, but took “decades if not centuries” to develop into useful parts of the economy. Improvement in democracy, bureaucracy, judiciary, property rights, corporate governance, financial institutions and welfare are few of the effects, and not causes, of developmental process. According to him, for generations, these institutions were ineffective and inefficient. These institutions became effective once a certain threshold of growth and industrialization was achieved.

This is still a big debate and counterpoint is provided by new institutionalist writers such as Douglass North, Acemoglu and Robinson and Timur Kuran.

Conclusion

CPEC is small part of ‘One Belt, One Road’ spanning across many geographical borders. Each country has to look at its developmental needs before evaluating the project. In Pakistan, CPEC, is only generating praise and euphoria but no critical discussion. When more details become public, a more comprehensive evaluation will also emerge. Chang’s Kicking Away the Ladder is a start of this critical evaluation.

Asad Abbasi has a Master’s degree in Political Economy of Late Development from the London School of Economics.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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An uninvited guest: Karachi’s Heatwave

An uninvited guest: Karachi’s Heatwave

KARACHI, Pakistan -The devastating heatwave has taken a toll of over 1200 and has overwhelmed the city with panic which is persisting through it. With the temperatures soaring to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) Imaan Faruqui discusses the impact on the health care system ;  stunned by this tragedy as they were underprepared for it.

This was not only a record breaking temperature but took place on the second day of Ramadan. During this period, eating and drinking in public is prohibited from dawn until dusk. As one can imagine, fasting in itself puts a strain on one’s body but this sweltering weather increased the pressure on Pakistanis foregoing food and water.

©U.S. Embassy Pakistan/Creative Commons License
©U.S. Embassy Pakistan/Creative Commons License

With multiple failures in the power gird being observed all across Karachi tackling the heat was done with no electricity and water- although there was a clear distinction between rich and poor: with affluent areas not impacted by the power grid failures unlike the low-income areas who are facing prolonged and unannounced power outages.

The Majority of the public and politicians were quick to place the blame on electricity outages as the main cause for the heatwave. But the truth is that Climate Change has arrived, and it’s here to stay, but people are reluctant to believe so, since they do not believe that it is the core factor contributing to the cause of the heatwave.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, With the Sindh government focusing on electricity as the main cause behind the deaths, and not enough on measures that more directly deal with the cause of the deaths. The majority of the 65,000 heatwave victms have ended up in Karachi’s poorly run, neglected and under-financed government hospitals, and majority of these victims do not receive immediate medical attention in these over-crowded hospitals.

Due to the lack of immediate government intervention Karachi is at a state of chaos where the citizens are now standing in and volunteering and lending a helping hand in places where the administration has been too slow to act. Regardless, with the pre-existing problems with electricity there is not enough attention to the elephant in the room. That elephant being Climate Change.

Each year there are records being broken for the hottest month or the warmest year globally and there are so many factors which contribute towards this.  Asif Shuja, the former director of the Pakistan environmental protection agency stated that “there has been a rise in the Earth’s average temperature from 15.5°C to 16.2°C over the last 100 years due to which we are experiencing such extreme weather conditions both in summers and winters.

The rapid expansion in urbanisation, deforestation, and the multiplication of private vehicles are helping to fuel this fire. But if the problems have been identified why are the government and individuals acting so slowly in taking measures to halt this?

©Farhan Chawla/Creative Commons License
©Farhan Chawla/Creative Commons License

The dilemma is that, these initiatives such as installing new air conditioners and bulk distribution of bottled water may be causing temporary relief for the heatwave victims but is also harming the environment in the long run. In order to make this sustainable there is a need for funds to educate the public on these issues, and developing countries such as Pakistan do not possess these lucrative funds. Which leave them to be the most vulnerable to Climate Change.

Scientists in the region say “climate change has certainly intensified heatwaves in the same way it has accelerated other extreme weather events including floods, droughts, and wildfires, among others”. It is very difficult for developing countries to take urgent action when they do not have the material capacities to do so.

The Edhi foundation which runs a private and largest ambulance network in Pakistan is left overburdened. The morgue, which has a capacity of 200, is working extensively since the heatwave and have been pushed towards quick burials due to the conditions of the body and the morgue losing all of its cooling functions as it was being over burdened with the current capacity. This is the sad reality which we are facing that there are not enough cold storage areas, and funeral vans that bodies need to be transported in food trucks.

Nobody is immune to climate change, especially the poor as they will be suffering the most, unless governments start acting now. By creating an urgency on the issue, adopting measures and implementing afforestation schemes will help in sustaining a cooler future rather than an unpleasant one, and, for obvious environmental reasons, turning towards air conditioners would not be the solution to this impending problem.

Dr Pervaiz Amir, a well-known environmentalist has argued that “it was high time that we urgently focus on extensive tree plantation with provision for adaptation centres for both citizens and the animals in Karachi and other parts of the country”. This is a great opportunity to get everyone involved by promoting awareness on the concerns of climate change, and by creating more job prospects available to those in the low-income neighbourhoods.

 


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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Lotus Potus – Is the United States of America, India’s new fair-weather friend?

Lotus Potus – Is the United States of America, India’s new fair-weather friend?

An unprecedented trip to the airport to pick up the guests of honour, an evening stroll and tea in the gardens, a bear hug or two and the stage is set. President Obama and Prime Minister Modi met only 4 months back in Washington DC with another meeting in Myanmar soil thereafter. With President Obama being back on Indian soil as guest of honour for India’s 66th republic day – Mridulya Narasimhan examines what this visit signifies for India and its neighbours.

Why the fuss?

123 Agreement: Both, India and USA are finally on the same page with regard to the Indo-USA nuclear deal. It is a step forward for American suppliers to be able to invest in Indian civil nuclear energy without the fear of being held liable in case of an unforeseen accident. The deal, signed in 2008, was put on hold pending negotiations on two fronts – the liability and the traceability issue. The two governments have now agreed upon establishing an insurance pool to address the issue of liability. The USA has also rescinded the demand to be able to trace all nuclear materials. The very same Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India’s ruling political party that vehemently opposed the bill from 2006 to 2010 has now made it the ‘centrepiece’ of bilateral relations with the United States.

© Darrel Ronald/Creative Commons License
© Darrel Ronald/Creative Commons License

Indo-US defence cooperation: India remains uncontested as the world’s largest arms buyer. And now with the US as its largest supplier, both countries see the possibility of co-development and co-production as the way forward. This move is suggestive of stronger military ties in the future between the two nations as India weans away from its reliance on Russia for military equipment. As per the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), both countries shall jointly work on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), military kits, electric hybrid power sources and Uniform Integrated Protective Ensembles.

Going green: PM Modi was expected to announce a limit on carbon emissions during President Obama’s visit including a peak year for a new climate treaty to be signed in Paris later in the year. Instead, the talks steered in the direction of a $1 billion investment in solar-energy plants in India owing to India’s fears of being perceived in the same bracket as China on carbon emissions.

Harnessing soft power: Countering terrorism has been on the agenda of both nations. And while both nations refrained from name-calling in their individual statements, the joint statement was more direct in referring to Pakistan. Both countries agreed to ‘enter discussions to deepen collaboration on UN terrorist designations, and reiterated their call for Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai to justice’

Good fences make good neighbours

Two visits to New Delhi, and on both occasions, Obama managed to bypass Pakistan. Just as surprising is the fact that the White House occupants have dropped by only when Pakistan has been at the beck and call of generals. With the bullets and hostility flying across borders between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, and President Obama expressing his intent to  form ties with India, it comes as no surprise that Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, chose this as a time to make an official trip to China.

Pakistan’s message is simple – to have the support of the west would’ve been nice, but if not the west, then Pakistan will not hesitate to forge ties of friendship with the perceived super power of the east; China. And with that in mind Pakistan has invited China’s president Xi Jinping for Pakistan’s military day to be hosted on the 23rd of March.

China has not only agreed to this effort but has also gone on record to call Pakistan its ‘irreplaceable all-weather friend’. After Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit in February, President Xi Jinping’s visit shall reiterate the importance of China and Pakistan’s coordinated efforts to provide Afghanistan stability.

The Aftermath

© Oxfam International/Creative Commons License
© Oxfam International/Creative Commons License

Now weeks after President Obama’s visit, India still seems to be making a buzz. President Obama has reiterated his support for India making it as a permanent UNSC member, a move that has clearly not gone unnoticed. During his speech at the Indian Parliament, President Obama expressed his intent to see “a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member”.

While this endorsement has been seconded by China and Russia, Pakistan is clearly not in favour. In a conversation with President Obama, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his disapproval of USA’s support to India as a permanent member stating that India has not complied with UN resolutions on Kashmir.

The 66th Republic day for India was yet another exhibition of PM Modi’s mastery over symbolism. Clearly, yet again, Modi does what he is best at – showmanship. Some see it as him being the unequivocal face of ‘Brand India’ and others see it as his way of establishing and gaining legitimacy amongst Indians – either way, things seem to be working. And while India may accept to be USA’s liaison of the East, it needs to be careful not to let its new-found ‘friends’ view it  as strategically positioned to act out on geopolitical games.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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5 Reasons to be excited by this year’s Nobel Peace Prize Winners

5 Reasons to be excited by this year’s Nobel Peace Prize Winners

1) The Young shall Inherit the Earth

At just 17 years old, Malala Yousafzai is the youngest ever winner.

©Anoop Kumar / Creative Commons license
©Anoop Kumar / Creative Commons license

2) The Recognition of the Role of Children in Peace and Development    

Cycles of violence and poverty often repeat over generations, and both Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi are fierce advocates of children’s rights, who often hold the key to ensure peace in the coming years.

 

© UNICEF Ethiopia/ Creative Commons license
© UNICEF Ethiopia/ Creative Commons license

 

4) Cultural and Religious Harmony                                                                                                              

The sharing of the Nobel Peace Prize by Yousafzai and Satyarthi has been seen as a symbolic victory for a number of reasons. Ever since the 1947 Partition of the subcontinent into the countries of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), West Pakistan and India, there has been a history of political unease and even wars between the countries of India and Pakistan, where our Nobel Peace Prize Winners hail from. Moreover, the entire basis of the separation of Pakistan from India was the idea of a religious dichotomy. So the fact that a Muslim Pakistani and a Hindu Indian currently share the world’s highest accolade represents a multicultural and pluralistic victory for both nations and carries a powerful message: regardless of national identity or religious affiliation, children’s rights to education and the right to be free of oppression and slavery are universal ones that transcend difference.

©Koshy Koshy/Creative Commons license
©Koshy Koshy/Creative Commons license

3) School getting in the way of a prompt acceptance statement

Malala

5) Lessons to Learn in Humility

Kailash Satyarthi is famously quoted as saying that he did not think he was famous enough to invite the Prime Minister of India to the Prize Ceremony: “I am nobody to invite the PMs of India and Pakistan… I know my limits“.

 

©Senado Federal/Creative Commons license
©Senado Federal/Creative Commons license

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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IWD 2014 | Women’s parliamentary quotas in Pakistan: an insider’s view

IWD 2014 | Women’s parliamentary quotas in Pakistan: an insider’s view

One aim of International Women’s Day is to encourage and facilitate more women to take up senior leadership positions in politics and commerce. However, there is much debate over how best to achieve this, especially when it comes to positive discrimination. In our 2014 IWD special, Sidra Khalid examines the pros and cons of women’s parliamentary quotas in her native Pakistan.

 

U.S. Congressmen Conduct Legislative Exchange with Pakistani Parliamentarians
Politicians attend a seminar at the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Studies in 2008. © US Embassy Pakistan/Creative Commons

As a Pakistani, I had long been interested in women’s rights issues when I undertook an internship at the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus office in the Pakistani parliament. I also went on to conduct ethnographic fieldwork focussing on the experiences of women parliamentarians as my undergraduate thesis. The internship itself was a unique and strangely humbling experience. If rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous decision-makers of my country was not enough, I was also made highly aware of the layered complexity of Pakistani politics, in particular the marked difference between genders. Keep reading →


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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“I have never seen so much enthusiasm and happiness in people’s eyes when they cast their vote”: reports from the historical Pakistan elections

This weekend Pakistan went to the polls to hand over power, for the first time in the country’s history, from one civilian government to another. Mohammed Ahmed considers the change that Pakistan needs and explores how the nation has dealt with such a historic event

Voters queue up outside a polling station in Karachi, Pakistan. Photo by Naj Sakib
Voters queue up outside a polling station in Karachi, Pakistan. Photo by Naj Sakib

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan went to the polls on 11 May in what has been called one of the most historic elections in the country’s 65 years of independence.

A nation that has an entangled history of military rule has served its first full term civilian government headed by the husband of the late Benazir Bhutto, President Asif Ali Zardari.

Keep reading →


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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