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From Basket Case to the Emerging Economy: The curious case of Bangladesh

Today marks the 50th republic day of a state, who once remained part of a country that was destined to exist till the end of the world. In the line of its founder “There is no power on earth that can undo Pakistan”.

Bangladesh came into being in 1971 after a brutal war that killed three million people approximately.

Written off as ‘Basket Case’ by then U.S National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and faced severe difficulties in the early stages; the country faced flash floods, torrential rains, famines, and frequent military coups in order that it had 80 percent people living below the line of poverty.

The point to ponder is Bangladesh’s journey from a basket case to one of the emerging economies of the current world. Bangladesh turns 50 this year and the voyage that begins as a ‘Basket Case’ now transforming itself to become a developed country by the year 2041.

As we speak, the economy of Bangladesh has grown more than 7 percent annually and per capita GDP has more than quadrupled since 2000. The country’s main staple which is the production of rice has also trebled and the extreme poverty rate deflated to a little over 10 percent.

All may not be going well in Bangladesh as this fact also remain strident as well, that the state is contracting several voices of democracy and curbing the freedom of expression of many state-critic journalists. Amidst all these factors, the exemplary journey of Bangladesh from ashes to the economic state sounds really exceptional.

Read More:

COUNT US IN CENSUS!

 

 

Data is the most valuable asset on Earth! Here’s why…

Well… what do you think is the most valuable asset on the earth? Oil?

Nah!

Because gone are those days when oil used to be the most valuable asset on the earth. And being Oil-rich was meant that you were guaranteed an important status in the world. No matter if you are a country or a company.

But now since the World has turned into a global village, connecting and bringing people closer to each other than ever before regardless of the boundaries or distance, with just a few clicks away, undoubtedly it has exposed us too than ever before in history. And with the wake of globalization, we entered a world that comprises social media, feeds, online platforms, dating sites, online payments, maps, video platforms, etc with needless to say all these technologies require our date to operate and make our lives easier.

Now when these technologies have become an essential need in our daily lives, which means we interact with them in the form of data on daily basis, do we ever thought for a second where did this all data go? Is this useful anymore? Or could anything be achieved further from it?

Every data we post on social media sites or interact with (like, share, comment), every time we swipe our credit card, the places we visit, the search terms we used to get our desired results is the data, the new big deal which is now worth to companies more than oil. That is why last year, the data surpassed oil in its value. But which companies? Discover later in this read.

Many times in our lives, we came across some news of “data breach” or some malware attacks carried on some certain social media site, looking at it, did we ever think what the attackers or hackers behind the data breach are trying to achieve? Hell yeah! It’s the data, that comprises of the activities you and I performed online.

Therefore, it’s not the oil companies that are wealthiest anymore, in fact, “the wealthiest companies are now technology companies“. And the reason why these companies are the most powerful in the world is that they’ve got the data of millions and billions of users all around the world.

And in case if you don’t know, what is the power of data in the current world and what can be achieved from this data? Here’s what you want to know; from the election results of the superpower U.S.A to a small company situated in any small corner of the world, they all can achieve the desired results and become the derive the behavior of the whole society.

Remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal and claims of the involvement of Russian agencies in U.S Elections 2016? That was all about data!

Importance of Data in the wake of U.S Elections 2016

Few months before the Presidential Elections, the Republican Party Candidate which is now the President of the U.S Donald Trump initiated a digital campaign for the upcoming elections named “Project Alamo“. This was considered as the digital arm for the Republicans in the Election Race.

Other than targeting people with sponsored campaigns, videos, blogs, stories, and promoting their election manifesto, there was another thing involved in all this project, which claimed to give Republicans an extra edge over their competitor, not only in elections but in targeting people with digital campaigns too.

And that was none other than the notorious Cambridge Analytica! A British political consulting firm by the intro, which was also known to be influencing hundreds of elections globally.

Through Project Alamo, on average, they spent approximately $1 million each day on Facebook ads.

But shocking situation arose at that time when two former employees of Cambridge Analytica, Christopher Wylie (Data Scientist) and Britanny Kaiser (Manager) whistle blows about the scandal that shook the world.

According to them, Cambridge Analytica was involved in a kind of data breach, in which they harvested the data of some 30 million individuals from Facebook.

Through the data, Cambridge Analytica fetched from Facebook, the truth is, they didn’t target every American voter equally. Because it is not fruitful to target those who are politically enlightened or polarized with fixed views. Hence, it is used to target that tiny sliver of people who didn’t have fixed views or say aren’t polarized, and they are called “Persuadables”.

 

persuadables
Source: The Great Hack – Netflix

The data giant companies target them with sponsored ads, blogs, articles, fake stories, and links, to persuade them to vote. Regardless to say, they even target those with personalized messages if needed. And in order to send people personalized messages, you need people’s data, which Cambridge Analytica claimed to have 5000 data points of every American Voter.

“We can use to predict the personality of every adult in the United States. Because it’s personality that drives behavior and behavior that obviously influences how you vote.”

C.E.O – Cambridge Analytica

Speaking on the issue of the importance of data, one of the whistle blower inside the Cambridge Analytica Chistoher Wylie said,

“if you want to fundamentally change society, you first have to break it. And it’s only when you break it is when you can remold the pieces into your vision of a new society.”

Among all this, the real controversy stirred up when Facebook, the social media giant too allegedly found to be involved in this. Due to which the Founder of it Mark Zuckerberg was called in Senate for the brief in a historical session.

Mark Zuckerberg in Senatte
Image credit: Mercurynews.com

While taking on the questions, one of the senators asked Zuckerberg, “Do you think that any employee from Facebook was involved in that scandal”? To which Zuckerberg replied,

Zuckerberg and Britanny kaiser
Source: The Great Hack – Netflix

It came as a shocking surprise to Britanny Kaiser who was the part of that Cambridge Analytica team involved in U.S Elections. Moreover, Kaiser directly rejected the claim of Zuckerberg and said, that the Republican Team in D.C was comprised of Facebook employees.

It didn’t last at this. The climax emerged when the Cambridge Analytica Team was contacted by Facebook concerning data breach. Cambridge Analytica agreed on terms according to which, the Analytica have to delete and erase all the data within weeks.

But when one of the whistleblowers within the company Britanny Kaiser looked back to retrieve some of her old stuff related to CA, she found out the famous presentation from her laptop, which she prepared and pitched to the Republican Party. In this presentation, which made weeks or years after the consensus reached with Facebook about the erasing of data in weeks, it was written that they had the database of 30 Million individual Facebook account users which makes them different from others as mentioned in the below picture.

Cambridge Analytica database
Source: The Great Hack – Netflix

To know about this scandal in detail, tune in to Netflix and watch “The Great Hack”. And remember, “Don’t underestimate the power of a common man and data”, as the data is powerful enough to influence the elections of a super power country. This wasn’t the first time data have been used to manipulate the society’s behavior to achieve a certain goal, before the U.S elections, the same strategy had been applied for Brexit to promote the Leave European Union Campaign, etc.

It’s about the time when considering human rights, animal rights, and others, we must make developments and legislation regarding the data rights to hold the data possessive companies accountable!

Because Data Rights are the new Human Rights!

 

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Story of an unfortunate Chinese Doctor who warned about the COVID-19 at first!

 

Col. Qaddafi’s Libya was more than just free Electricity & Healthcare

Few months ago, the death anniversary of Libya’s most revolutionary politician, political theorist and monarch Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had passed. Gaddafi, who being a Colonel, governed and ruled Libya for more than 42 years as the revolutionary chairman, but ended up his life being killed by its own country people, as a result of civil war, which led the rebel group of Libya to captured Gaddafi, causing him serious injuries which led him to the death.

Politics apart, the personality of Col. Gaddafi still ranks as an important and influential one in the Muslim Countries, specially in Pakistan too. The biggest proof of that is Gaddafi Stadium Lahore, named by the former Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in honor of the Libya’s colonel and dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Other than that, the least, what people of Pakistan knows about the Libya under the rule of Gaddafi is that, there were free healthcare, electricity and subsidized housing schemes for the people of Libya provided by Gaddafi. This is yet just peanuts. Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya was more than just free electricity, healthcare and subsidized housing schemes.

Gaddafi’s Authoritarian Regime…

Despite the fact that the Gaddafi’s govt provide free healthcare along with free electricity etc, the Gaddafi’s regime was based on absolute authoritarianism. Gaddafi banned all private enterprises, so that no one can stand against its govt as a challenge. No private organization was allowed extra space to grow its enterprise, as it would become a sign of threat for the country’s regime.

Freedom of speech that was supposed to be the basic right of people in prosperous countries was so squashed that even dealt with acts of violent repression numerous times. Even unsound books were burned under his regime. So no new idea can be generated in the people’s mind to question his regime. Also, he had dissidents based abroad murdered just because they disagree with the policies of dictator’s regime.

The Oil Rich Libya, But…

Libya under Gaddafi’s rule, with a population of just six million (60 Lac) and oil revenues of $32 billion in 2010, holds great potential. Yet most Libyans believed that this wealth and living conditions were reminiscent of far poorer countries. A lack of jobs outside government means that unemployment is estimated to be 30% or more.

However, Libya’s particular and typical from of socialism does provide free education, healthcare and subsidized housing schemes but under the carpet the wages were extremely low and the wealth of the state and profits from foreign investments have only benefited a narrow elite ( specially the ones that worked for him).

Security or a Social State?

Under the banner of upholding the security of the state, a set of draconian laws were enacted, further exposing the colonel’s claim to be the champion of freedom from oppression and dictatorship. Legal penalties included collective punishment and death for anyone who spread the idea and theories for seeking the change in the constitution and life imprisonment for disseminating information that portrays the country’s negative reputation. Tales abounded of torture, lengthy jail terms, executions and disappearances and that was all happening without a fair trial.

Mostly educated people and qualified citizens of Libya chose exile, rather than pay lip service to the lunacy.

Most of Libya’s most educated and qualified citizens chose exile, rather than making a compromise over their career and life. Nevertheless, Gaddafi still managed to target Libyan exiles, dozens of where killed by assassins linked to a global Libyan Intelligence Network.

The Diplomatic Blunder!

In the late 90’s, Libya went through under an International isolation, on the charges of allegedly involved in Lockerbie Bombing. Then in 1999, the Libyan Leader Gaddafi made a comeback from almost total isolation and that is when he accepted the blame for the bombing, which caused several embargo’s and restrictions directly affected the lives of the Libyan people.

In the beginning, Gaddafi refused to hand over the two Libyan suspects to Scottish Jurisdiction which later resulted in a protracted period of negotiations and UN sanctions, finally ending in 1999 (after the acceptance from Gaddafi) with their surrender and trial.

Unequal Sharing of Wealth & Fear of Transition

Libya Under Gaddafi produces 0.27 barrels oil per citizen per day; the United Arab Emirates produces 0.34 barrel per citizen per day. Yet the average citizen of Emirates was three times as wealthy as the average Libyan, records IMF GDP data at purchasing power parity per ca-pita.

Large sum of money was used to maintain his unlikely rule. The leader of revolution Gaddafi often used high-paying jobs and contracts to buy off the loyalty of enemies and to turn allies into bitter rivalries.

Colonel Gaddafi announced to develop enormous projects to give people hope for the bright future and then cancel them at the last moment — usually putting blame on some foreign enemy, or domestic circumstances.

As mentioned earlier, the leader of revolution never wanted any business organization to grow strong. Hence when middle class grew too strong, he [Gaddafi] abruptly changes the currency causing the collapse of personal saving for them. And when somehow business organizations became too powerful, he opened up more unnecessary subsidies to shut them down.

When government leaders earned enough influence to be able to potentially challenge his rule, he shifted their power to consuls. Such is the fear of Gaddafi to never leave his position. It was surely up to him, about how to behave with political opponents. One year he might free political prisoners, the next put them into mass graves.

Libya Under Sanctioned !?!

Libya under Gaddafi was sanctioned for more than 20 years by the European Union and the United States. These sanctions came through in the form of an arms embargo, which prohibited Libya to import, export and also transport of arms and related material of all kinds.

Moreover, sanctions in the form of travel restrictions and the freezing of assets and providing the access to persons and entities identifies by the UN or the EU.

More embargoes put into effect towards Libya such as in order to stop illicit export of petroleum, included crude oil and refined oil products.

Constitution Monarchy

The regime of monarchy by Gaddafi of several decades couldn’t be easily overthrown by the Libyan National Assembly. As being Gaddafi in the power, means, the Libyan Constitution was no longer in effect. In alternative to the constitution book, a book named as “Green Book” put forth by Gaddafi which became the foundation of the laws of Libya.

The Hidden Aspect of Gaddafi’s Life

Being the head of the country, Muammar Gaddafi paid visits to public places such as hospitals, schools etc. During his visits to a school or college, Gaddafi would often place his hand on the hand of a girl. To people, it shows a symbol of affection and blessings to that girl, but in actual, this was placed not to bless the girl. It was a signal to his minister or staff to make the girl available in his Harem.

This way a number of school and college girls ended up in his harem.

Furthermore, the girls that have been took up by the Gaddafi’s staff, ended up spending a large number of years of their life in Gaddafi’s Harem where they were given beauty treatments so as to fulfill the sexual desire of the dictator at best. Also, the girls were required to undergo various tests such as blood tests and others for diagnosing diseases.

These facts shooked the world when an author Annick Coejan, a special correspondent for Le Monde wrote a book “Gaddafi’s Harem: The Story of a Young Woman and the abuses of power in Libya“.

This book brings up the tale of a 15 year old girl Soraya who was chosen to present him with flowers during his visit to her school. She was told that it was an honor to be chosen for this occasion, and thereafter, the very next morning she would end up in Gaddafi’s Harem where she lived forcefully for the next 5 years!

Read More : Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan and the Pakistani’s!

 

[Special thanks to @te7telzeytouna (twitter) and @hiba76sh for making this information reachable.]

Times When Judiciary in Pakistan Could Set an Example but It Laid us Down

Often we jump into the debate, to determine who has delivered the more damage to Pakistan? Military dictatorship or Democratic government? Writing off the mysterious role of Judiciary in the history of Pakistan.

The strongest pillar in any country is supposed to be its judiciary. As it plays a role of a middle ware, no matter the country is being run by democracy or dictatorship.

There are countries without the military, but there is no country without its judicial system. As its an existential issue for them.

Since after the day of creation, a tussle of power had started in Pakistan. This power can be of Military Uniforms, Political Designation, or the Lawyer’s Black coat, these have marked some mysterious prints in the history of Pakistan.

But above all , a judiciary is a system that can over held any decision, either by military or political masses for the betterment of the state. Also it can only happen, when the judiciary is willing to do so.

Its been so unfortunate that, in a country like Pakistan, judiciary or the designation of the judge is somehow meant to enjoy the limitless power. Such power that can topple any govt, any narrative etc. And not being wrong here, the history of Pakistan proved me right. Every time when Pakistani nation looked up to the judiciary to see the example being set, the judiciary had laid us down.

Here are the times, when our judiciary could set an example but it didn’t:

Constitutional Coup 1954

Just after the 7 years of the creation, Pakistan had tasted the constitutional coup. Khwaja Nazimuddin’s (Second Prime Minister of Pakistan) government as well as the first constituent assembly of Pakistan was dismissed by then Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad with the support of Ayub Khan.

“Its no surprise to learn about this fact because Pakistan is still suffering from this epitome, yet even today, but in different form.”

The decision to dissolved the constituent assembly of Pakistan was challenged by Maulvi Tamizuddin, the speaker of the constituent assembly in the Sindh Court and later the Sindh Court overturn the decision in favor of the speaker Tamizuddin by restoring the power of the constituent assembly.

Yet this decision wasn’t acceptable to the powerful ones, those who enjoy remaining above the law and so on the decision of Sindh Court was further challenged in federal court.

And what else could happen? That was the perfect time when judiciary could set an example by upholding the rule of the common man so as the constituent assembly, otherwise known as civilian government. But unfortunately, as this blog title suggests, our judiciary/Federal Court at that time comprising of Justice Munir and others condoned the action of Gov General Malik Ghulam Muhammad and ruled in favor of him, declaring that the constituent assembly was not a sovereign body.

That was the time, when our judiciary could’ve saved the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, from being dissolved for the first time. But!

ZAB’s execution!

Today we are all aware of the famous slogan “Zinda hai Bhutto Zinda Hai!”. This slogan gained the momentum right after the execution of former Prime Minister of Pakistan and founder of Pakistan People’s Party Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was arrested by the army on the allegations of murdering his political opponent Ahmed Khan Kasuri (father of Ahmed Raza Kasuri) in 1974. Yet after 10 days of his arrest, he had been released from the court on the basis of incomplete evidence. Later on the Bhutto arrested again, but this time by Gen Zia under the Marshall Law.

The trial of Mr. Bhutto kept going for next 5 years and then suddenly, Bhutto was awarded with the death sentence in 1979. Those witnesses who testified against Mr. Bhutto weren’t even present at the moment when Bhutto was awarded the death sentence. One of the witnesses recanted his testimony, declaring that it been extracted from him under torture.

Moreover, the manipulation of judges had been done multiple times to not let Bhutto’s sentence to death from Lahore High court over ruled. Not only this, there were no concrete evidence that can led to the confirmation that Mr. Bhutto has killed his opponent.

After all the efforts by the state and no resentment from the judiciary, Mr. Bhutto finally hanged till death on 4th April 1979 over the death sentence by Justice Mushtaq Hussain of the Lahore High Court.

40 years after this controversial decision and execution, the decision to sentenced death to Mr . Bhutto found bias today. Even the relevant judges and personalities of that time, marked this decision as a biased from the court and Military ruler of that time Gen Zia ul Haq. In addition, the judges have also confessed on the live television in several talk shows that the decision to hang Bhutto was abrupt blunder.

Yet another time, our judiciary stands at the wrong side of the history!

The Ayan Ali’s fiasco

What is required to prove an accused of a crime? An evidence. Right. But what when the accused can still be more powerful than law, so that even an evidence of the CCTV Camera footage of money being laundered isn’t enough to stop her movement.

Well, yeah, I’m talking about the mighty Ayan Ali, who on march 25th 2015 was arrested by the Airport Security Forces under the charges of money laundering, allegedly carrying $5,00,000 in her luggage boarding the flight for United Arab Emirates from Benazir International Airport Islamabad.

Since then the musical chair between the courts and Ayan Ali went on, in which the model has been arrested multiple times.

Allegedly involved several politicians, this case was another test case for the entire judiciary of Pakistan, in which did the judiciary not only failed, but even failed to protect the life of their own man. Inspector Ejaz Mehmood who supposed to be the key prosecution witness in Ayan Ali’s case, had been shot by two unidentified man outside his house in Wazir Khan 2015.

Surprised? Not yet. The widow of Late Ejaz Mehmood, recorder her statement in court that the fashion model Ayan Ali is responsible for the murder of her husband.

My husband was in charge of the PIA Cargo air freight unit (AFU) state warehouse at Benazir International Airport in 2015. He was the first person that took official custody of the currency recovered from the fashion girl. Ejaz told the police that Mahmood told her that he was under a lot of pressure due to his association with the high-profile case. – Saima (Ejaz’s wife)

Its been 2019, and still Ayan Ali is out of the reach of Pakistani courts, so as the killers of Ejaz Mehmood.

Shehad v/s Alcohol

“Sharab ki bottle or us main Shehad…”

Its so unfortunate for Pakistan and its people, that those culprits who had been caught red handed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan along with a crystal clear evidence, find the easiest way to get acquittal from the court. Be it Shahrukh Jatoi or Sharjeel Memon، both have been succeed so far to throw dust in the eyes of Pak judiciary.

Recently, the holy Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Saqib Nisaar caught Sharjeel at the hospital bed, where he found the bottles of wine too along with Sharjeel. The same happened with the Shahrukh Jatoi who too caught red handed by the Chief Justice enjoying luxuries in his jail.

Sharjeel Memon is roaming freely, and the other one is about to release at least his tension regarding his death penalty.

Rao Anwar’s acquital

And when we are discussing the blunders of Judiciary in Pakistan, the story is incomplete without the discussion of the man who is a Senior Superintendent of Police in profile, but in actual holds more power many of the Member of National Assemblies and Senate.

Who can forget the Rao Anwar, an alleged murderer of Naqeebullah Mehsud and the blue-eyed boy of Pakistan’s powerful elite.

Rao Anwar’s case is rare, very rare, in its own way, that after being held responsible for Naqeebulah’s death consecutively for the two times, he’s still allow to roam freely. And just when (02/07/19) I’m writing this piece, I’ve just discovered from the news channel that Rao Anwar’s bail has been accepted and he may be free from all charges soon.

On the contrary, the vocal critic of PM Khan’s govt and among the top leaders of PMLN — Rana Sanullah has been arrested by the Anti Narcotics Force over the charges of carrying prohibited drugs. Probably Rao Anwar’s crime wasn’t just serious enough, and killing somebody is lesser crime than Rana’s one.

Nothing, but sympathies for the father of Naqebullah Mehsud, who after the assurance from COAS Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa still failed to find justice for his son. Oh! just remembered the same assurance had been given by the previous Army Chief Raheel Sharif after the brutal killing of Farooq Sattar’s coordinator Aftab Ahmed. What about that?

May We, the people of Pakistan gets the Dam of Justice instead of Damn Justice!

[Read More]

Who is Leading the Muslim World?

This article doesn’t mean to degrade the judges who with their countless efforts paved the way for democracy and impartial judicial system in Pakistan. However, this article means to highlight the flaws committed by out judiciary which could set primary examples if solved as per public expectations which clearly didn’t.

Also, let’s hope that the sane voices like Justice Qazi Faiz Issa gets enough space to emerge in the horizon of ill-fated democracy.