Can Pakistan really trust USA? Take a quick Poll to find out.

Can Pakistan really trust America? (Cast your vote)

(polls)

Secretary of State, Ms Hillary Clinton’s three day visit to Pakistan opened up more questions than it answered this week. Ms Clinton once again failed to alley the fears of the general public who still are sceptical of US designs in Pakistan. She also hinted at USA’s mistrust over handling of the War on Terror without once acknowledging Pakistan’s army brave men fighting in the trenches an American (foreign) war. While she was quick to blame Pakistan army for not being able to capture Al Qaeda members, yet she never fully explained why America, with all its might, has failed miserably in Afghanistan and Iraq to do the same. Surely, if they expect an economically and militarily weak Pakistan to curtail Al-Qaeda then US, being the super power of the world, be able to produce better results in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The mistrust, sadly as it seems, is at its highest and is only getting worse. The disillusionment is not just among the general public in Pakistan, but is slowly creeping into the political and military leadership of the country as well.

Despite Pakistan successfully capturing more Al-Qaeda high value targets than any nation (including USA) it is never acknowledged nor really commended upon. Instead a sleuth of allegations are placed by the world leaders. At the same time, Pakistan army has lost more troops than any other army (including the USA) in this war on Terror since September 11, 2001. Yet, no US senior diplomat or military general has acknowledged their sacrifice or even placed a wreath on their memorial.

Worst still, millions of innocent Pakistanis have been uprooted by the War on Terror in many districts of Pakistan, but little or no US humanitarian support has reached them. Pakistan has seen thousands of civilian deaths that are directly attributed to US drone attacks are also acknowledged by American leadership as “acceptable civilian losses”. It seem that Pakistanis lives have no value as compared to the American citizen.

The mistrust between Pakistan and USA is not a recent story. In fact, it dates back to the 1960s and here is why:

1960s:
Pakistan was member of the alliance (SEATO and CENTO) similar to NATO in Europe. That meant that if any member was attacked the alliance would support them. The U2 spy planes would also fly from Pakistan over Russia as part of the agreement between US and Pakistan. This was a major source of anger for Russia with Pakistan and had threatened a war on Pakistan. Yet, Pakistan, stood fast in support of USA throughout the time the U2s flew.

In 1965, a war broke out between India and Pakistan that lasted 17 days. At the end of the War, the Lyndon B Johnson’s US administration, rather than supporting Pakistan, put them on a sanctions list and ended the military and economic support of the country. Pakistan’s economy had been growing tremendously between 1960-1965 period primarily due to the US economic support. With that gone, the economy suffered and went south. At the same time, our military which was reeling from the war with India suffered a major setback when it was left to fend for itself without any support from America.

As a contrast, India’s main supporter Russia, not only increased its support for India but gave it the latest machinery (fighter jets, tanks etc) to better equip them against Pakistan. They, Russia, also played a vital role in end of war treaty between India and Pakistan while US stayed away.

The economic downturn that followed the sanctions turned into a political turmoil and eventually culminated in the breakup of the country and creation of Bangladesh 1971. Pakistan military was weakened considerably during the past six years and crumbled easily against a well equipped Indian army during the short 1971 war with India. Once again, US played lip service and did nothing to assist its ally, Pakistan throughout this conflict.

Dejected and left to its own, Pakistan unilaterally walked out of CENTO and SEATO treaties as the allies failed to help them.

1970s
Pakistan played a pivotal role in bringing China and America together. If it were not for the efforts and role played by Pakistan, Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon would not have had the opportunity to build a long term relationship with China. Yet, Pakistan’s role is never discussed or acknowledged by the US. It seems they did all the work while no one helped them.

1980s
To fight the Soviet Communist threat, Americans gave rebel Afghan forces not only sophisticated weapons, but trained them in the guerrilla warfare under direct supervision of trained CIA operatives. When the rebel Afghans were running short in number and did not have enough manpower to continue to take on the Soviet Union, CIA devised a clever plan to make it into a religious war, a jehad, and invited/recruited many young people from various parts of the Arab world as part of the mercenary army. Each one of them received complete weapons training and a healthy stipend among other perks. Money was no object. It was literally distributed in sacks to the recruits and their leaders by CIA.

Osama Bin Laden and his cronies were among the recruits during the mid 1980s who flew in from the Middle East to fight the war. The fighting force was renamed as Mujahideens (Army of God) and given full support from all Western powers. Today, these same fighters, some still have the same leadership, are all jumbled up by the US administration as Talibans and AlQaeda. Yesterday’s Mujahedeens and today’s Talibans have little difference and sometimes have the same leaders guiding them in their war with America.

The administration also fails to acknowledge that it created its own Frankenstein and continues to blame Pakistan for it. This strategy may work in USA, where an average Joe is not familiar with Afghan war, but in Pakistan in particular and in Middle East in general, where such recruitment and trainings were openly carried out, such American amnesia is not only baffling but considered an outright lie.

1990s
Pakistan was threatened in the 1980s by Soviets with a nuclear annihilation for its support of rebel Afghans. It was also told not to fight an american agenda in Afghanistan. Soviet jets would bombard various parts of Pakistan throughout that conflict yet, Pakistan stood steadfast with its ally, the US. By the time, 1990s began, US had won the war in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union had collapsed and Berlin War had come down. Once again, US had no use for Pakistan and instead of rewarding its old ally, it instead placed it on new economic and military sanctions under Pressler Amendment. This was not a just reward for a nation that stood by the US throughout the 1990s.

Once again the nation spiraled into economic depression. The military was left to fend for itself. And worse of all, Afghanistan was left to its own peril with no support from the US. Leaving it to Pakistan to sort out the matter.

In this chaos and gloom of 1990s, Mujahideens of the previous decade transformed themselves into autonomous bodies in the form of Al-Qaeda and Talibans. Trained and well equipped by the CIA, these operatives had not only working knowledge of how to take the fight to the enemy but had already played their role in bringing a super power down (Soviet Union).

In this chaos and vacuum, these organizations rose to take the fight back to the US culminating in the tragedy of 9/11.

This week, Hilary Clinton, was in Pakistan. Rather than acknowledging the mistakes of the past, she preferred that the Pakistan forgot the past and embraced the future. She also failed to thank the nation for its sacrifices and skirted the issue of the drone attacks that has killed thousands of innocent civilians in Pakistan. She never delved deep into the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) crisis, and also failed to explain the draconian clauses in Kerry-Lugar Bill similar to Pressler Amendment whereby America can pull its support at any instant if it deems necessary.

The question remains. Can Pakistan really trust America? I have created a simple poll asking this very question and see if our readers can answer this question in the light of the facts just mentioned.

So click on the link below to vote:

Can Pakistan really trust America?

(polls)

>How vital is work experience?

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So the burning question for many wanna be entrepreneurs is always:

How vital is work experience before starting my own enterprise?

We let the experts answer this one. And there were many but really good responses listed on this Career Advice forum run by Personforce.

So check out the cool responses and maybe ask one or two of your own questions to the experts.

>IPL Champions without the Champions

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Watching IPL Champions league is like watching a Knight’s duel without umm, the actual Knights. Pakistan, the unquestionable champions of T20 Cricket, are missing in action which is not only odd but shameful as they are currently the hottest property in town.
Pakistan is the only country to have made it to the World T20 World Cup final twice and are current Title holders. Boom boom Afridi has mesmerized many a batsmen with his cunning googlies and beautiful strokeplays is not only the best all-rounder in this format of the game, but also the best player by a long shot. The death over bowling has been totally redefined by Umar Gul, Pakistan’s most dangerous slog over bowler. Not only does he make it impossible for batsmen to score off him, but takes crucial wickets to falter any run chases by the opposition batsmen. This year, when Pakistan won the World T20 World Cup, it was truly special since none of their players were invited to play in the IPL and were therefore considered a team which did not have the requisite experience to win any matches. Not only did they win the World Cup in style, but on the way, they defeated the top teams in the tournament.
The first season of IPL (when Pakistani players actually featured), exploits of stars like Umar Gul, Sohail Tanveer made the tournament not only exciting but made it possible for Shane Warne’s team to lift the title. Did I mention that the best bowling figures are also held by Sohail Tanveer of 6 wickets for 18 runs in unplayable 4 overs. A feat not yet repeated by anyone in IPL thus far.
In the rebel ICL T20 league, Pakistani team was the most exciting and watched team in the tournament. Always making it to the final and playing some entertaining and exciting cricket. Players like Abdul Razzaq, Imran Nazir and Rana Naveed ul Hassan had become a household name.
With no Pakistanis featuring in the Champions league, it is no surprise that it is hardly being followed in Pakistan by the cricket fanatic fans. The newspapers hardly report its progress, and fans never discuss it. It is as if, there is no tournament being played and no cricket happening.
It would truly have been a challenging tournament if Sialkot Stallions (Pakistan’s reigning champion team in domestic tournaments) were invited and allowed to match their skills against the best of the World. It would have been a far more exciting tournament if Pakistani players were allowed to represent various IPL teams that they signed up for many years back.
Making cricket hostage to politics is not only shameful but also deprives the fans of some exciting cricket. Sports is always above politics and sportsmen are there to build bridges not burn them. India’s hegemony over cricket and the world’s governing body turning a blind eye to this “apartheid” is not only pathetic but shameful as well. It seems Australian, British and South African boards are more interested in earning revenues from the Champions league than making it a level playing field for all teams and players.
Maybe one day when ICC (International Cricket Council) can stand up to BCCI (Board for Control of Cricket in India) and make sure that such distorted tactics are not carried into the playing field would we truly enjoy the cricket. Till then, let the boring cricket continue to play in the world.

>Explain Business – Entrepreneurship Focused Forum

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Now here is a neat little forum for the budding entrepreneurs. It is run and managed by Stanford Alum entrepreneurs and offers advice on “starting a business or running a small business” especially in these trying times.

Even though the forum is less than a month old, already lots of folks have asked some interesting questions. And they have been duly answered by experts. Questions like,

  • One man ad agency – how much should I charge?
  • Do I need to incorporate if I am launching an iPhone App?
The forum is unlike the usual forums. All the questions follow a flat hierarchy and are characterized by tags rather than topics. The most recent questions automatically pop to the top thus making it easier for users to read/answer them. You can also instantly vote for any question that you like. And of course, you can even subscribe to get an alert if someone answers your pertinent question.

I enjoy this format much better over the typical boring mundane forums where everything is overly structured and answers are many levels deep. We love this forum so much that we have added a link to Explain Business on our blog. Yes, our readers can now ask questions directly on that forum and get an instant response back. So start asking your questions on Explain Business and let Stanford alum answer them for you.

>Impediments to Development of Entrepreneurship in Developing Economies

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Countries that have overcome some basic barriers to growth have succeeded dramatically on the world scene. Growth in economies is always directly proportional to the startups and entrepreneurs who make it big. The entrepreneurs, by definition, revitalize an economy. They are at the forefront in jobs creation, intellectual property ownership, industrial output and overall productivity gains for the country. They pay taxes and usually bring in lots of foreign direct investment as well.

In the past 50 years, countries like India, China, South Korea and Malaysia have leap frogged ahead of the fledging and often unstable neighbors to become one of the economic giants. Each one of these countries have many self made billionaires, who many decades ago were struggling entrepreneurs with big dreams. But what made them succeed while equally good entrepreneurs from other countries are still struggling to make their ends meet? Surely, these and other countries still have unemployment, very large rural population, rampant corruption and very high cost of doing business. But what is it that has made them break out of the pack and get ahead.

Here we list some major impediments to entrepreneurship development.

Lack of access to Finance:   
Without money and investment at critical times, any startup will fail. Entrepreneurs need money to grow just like any major enterprise in the world needs money to grow. Usually developing economies have very poor and archaic financial systems that do not work in favor of startups. And banks, they charge interest rate of almost 20% and above which to a startup is impossible to pay off. Thus they never succeed.

Human Capital:  
Having trained man power and a large knowledge workforce is essential for growth for any economy. Usually, developing economies have a very small and poor quality workforce. The education system, particularly, the higher education system is weak and produces very few high quality engineers, doctors and many other professionals. Hence, the startups that they work in never go beyond a startup as they are unable to expand beyond a certain size and complexity.
 
Access to Information and Markets: 
Many startups still lack access to markets to sell their goods and technical information to keep abreast with latest developments around the world. Usually, these fledging economies are closed to the outside world and with little direct access to buyers of their products not only locally but internationally. Therefore, living in isolation, they never really work to their full potential.
 
Political Instability: 
Malaysia, China, India never seem to have any political upheavels. They never seem to go to war with anyone either. Yes, there are border tensions, but nothing that would destabilize their country. On the other hand, many Latin American, African and Asian nations still have military coups, unstable political democratic structures and corrupt and inept leaders. Together, this is a recipe for disaster. These political think tanks with highly polarized and biased military junta are more concerned to make money for themselves than build a better nation. Hence, their policies are usually not beneficial towards fledging entrepreneurs.
 
Short Term Thinking over Long Term Objectives: 
Political instability causes many entrepreneurs to think short term and rarely do they make long term plans. They theory goes, that the country would be turned upside down within the next 5 years, so why make plans beyond two years? Hence, if you dont think long term, you cannot grow. And if you cannot grow, you cannot succeed. And so the startups never get out of this vicious circle and die out.
 
Unstable Currency and High Inflation: Most of these countries have currencies that depreciate in value in double digits annually. The inflation is above 20% annually. So unless the startup is growing faster than the rate of inflation, it will actually be a loss making enterprise. Since, these economies never stabilize, hence, the entrepreneurs are swept away during any major upheaval.

>Nokia Sports Tracker

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We all tend to go gaga over cool apps that are built for iPhone. But sometimes, in this all hoopla we forget that there is innovation and creativity going on beyond the Apple platform. And Nokia is no exception.
Quite recently, I downloaded and started using a really cool app built for Nokia Symbian phones called Sports Tracker. Yeah, I do own a Nokia E71 device that AT&T sells in the US as the thinnest smart phone on the planet. But thankfully, I do not use AT&T and therefore I am not subject to confused pricing and often patchy service. Enough about AT&T and E71 as that can be discussed at another time.
Nokia Sports Tracker, uses the built-in GPS to keep track of our outdoor activities (walking, hiking, running, cycling, ski etc) through the touch of a button. It not only tracks our speed, the distance and time but will also automatically upload this information to our training diary on line. And yes, you can share that information with friends and create a social network around it. It also rudimentary calculates your heart rate and calories burned.
Nokia Sports tracker is cool as one does  not need to install any special device (in your shoe for example) to use. It uses the built in GPS to track where you are what you are doing. Once you press “Start” a workout, it begins calculating information and tracking you on a map. The elevation above sea level (altitude), the speed of walking/cycling/running, the distance traveled, are all calculated in real time and stored in your phone. You can also share your workout live with friends as well (comes in handy if you are competing).
In the past I used to try to keep track of my workouts using pen and paper. Now I use Nokia Tracker. So far, I love this app and hope to see more of such gems coming from Nokia in near future.

>ICC Farce Awards 2009

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It is disappointing to say the least. And each year my passion for following them weakens and desire to write a review disappear. Next year, I may not even comment about the ICC Cricket Awards.
It seems you have to be an Australian or an Indian to have an impact at the award ceremony. All other players will be ignored even if they perform extraordinarily. Umar Gul, has been a master in the death overs for many years. His performance has twice taken Pakistan to the final of World 20/20 and winning many other crucial matches. Shahid Afridi’s leg spin, in all forms of the game, is now the most lethal among all currently playing spinners. Greme Smith has led his team to a Test #1 spot and many great victories during the preceding year. Yet, all these and more such great players do not find themselves ranked among the best. Or even worthy of any awards.
Dhoni being named captain of Test and One-day eleven is nothing but a farce! Chosen over Greme Smith, Ricky Ponting and even Yunus Khan! I mean, all three captains performed far better than Dhoni in the preceding year and yet they were left out. If it were Ricky Ponting or Greme Smith, I could have understood. But please, Dhoni! He is worthless when they play outside India and against great teams.
Gautham Gambhir as the best test cricketer! Really, he cant even be a regular in the team and keeps getting dropped and yet he is awarded with the Test Player of the Year! Whatever happened to all other great stars during this time? What happened to greats like Kevin Peterson, Kumar Sangakara, Jayawardene, Greme Smith, AB DeVillears, Yunus Khan, who are regulars and perform well in all conditions. What wrong did they do for not being chosen!
As regards, the Test team of the year. It does not feature anyone from Pakistan or South Africa. It’s a shame not to include anyone from there especially when Greme Smith, Yunus Khan and Muhammad Yusuf are currently ranked among the top 10 batsmen in the world. It seems, stats count for nothing and performance is secondary when it comes to ICC annual awards in cricket.
ICC seems to only reward Indians and Australians more so over the rest of the world. It not only belittles the world’s contribution to the game of cricket, it actually makes the award biased. If the award does not get balanced soon, it will loose its charm and will only be remembered as a ICC Farce award!