Category Archives: India

The Giant in the East – II

By Adnan Syed

This three part series examines the rise of India as an economic giant, the threats that India faces in this remarkable rise, and implications for Pakistan.


The Rise of India

Indian economic growth is expected to be 8.50% this year. This is a remarkable rate of growth for any economy. But this rate is dwarfed by the double digit growth rates that China has been producing for the last 10 years. India’s growth rate is expected to accelerate in the coming years, and Morgan Stanley expects that within next three to five years, this growth rate will outpace the Chinese rate of growth. Many economists are now forecasting that India would have the best economic performance among all nations of the world for the next 25 years.

The biggest reason for this higher expected growth rate is the demography. Economic growth of any nation relies on increase in workers (or the working age population) and increase in productivity. In 2040, India would have 58% of population as workers. The same number for China is only around 40%. India’s working age population will increase by 136 million over the next 10 years. China’s will grow by mere 23 million. To give some idea, during the similar time frame, the European working population will decline by 15 million over the next 10 years.[i]

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Filed under Democracy, Economy, India, Islamabad, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, south asia, USA

The Giant in the East – I

By Adnan Syed

This three part series examines the rise of India as an economic giant, the threats that India faces in this remarkable rise, and implications for Pakistan.


Before the Twenty First Century

As the twentieth century dawned, the world had continued to consolidate the technological boom during prior two centuries. This technological progress started with the invention of the printing press in fifteenth century. This invention quickly enabled mass availability of knowledge. Man began exploring the world around him more intently, by compounding the knowledge already gained by the earlier pioneers. As the scientific renaissance kicked in, man began accumulating more wealth by producing, discovering and innovating further. With the arrival of the scientific renaissance, the human output growth rate that had remained close to zero for thousands of years before, started rising  at a good multiple of its population growth rate.

The arrival of scientific renaissance coincided with incremental social awareness that began permeating the human consciousness. The United States came into being right in the midst of the great human renaissance that was exploding across the western world. The renaissance had begun moving forward in fits and starts towards institutionalizing the ideals of human liberty and freedom. The United States, with its rich natural resources and eager migrant entrepreneurs, began taking a lead in the social and scientific revolution that had begun sweeping the western civilization.

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Filed under China, Democracy, Economy, Europe, India, Islamabad, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, poverty, south asia, state, USA

A ‘desi’ desire for Aman ki Asha

by Adnan Shahid (Courtesy: The News)

I am a proud Pakistani. I wear my national identity openly. But I am also a strong advocate of Indo-Pak peace. In 2004, I had the opportunity to work on a short term consulting assignment for a multinational oil and gas company in Delhi. Relations between the two countries were then lukewarm at best. But I still felt the warmth at the personal level, which reinforced my belief in the need for people-to-people contact. Continue reading


Filed under India, Pakistan, Pakistan-India Peace Process

Religious Right in Their Own Words; Apostasy Punishment, Jihad and the Role of Non Muslims in the Land of Infidels

 Part 3

By Adnan Syed

This series revisits one of the pivotal events of the early Pakistani history; the riots by the religious right wing parties to get Ahmadis declared as non-Muslims, and the subsequent Munir-Kiyani inquiry commission report into the causes behind the riots. The report went on to interview the religious leaders of the newly formed state of Pakistan regarding their motives and their ideas of Pakistan as a pure Islamic state. As the interviews revealed the incongruous replies of various leaders, they also showed vague but chilling ideas that the right wing parties harboured to turn the newly formed Muslim nation into a politically Islam dominated theocratic nation. The interviews reveal the role of democracy, non Muslims, Jihad and punishments like apostasy that would be practiced in an ideal Islamic state.




While no simple or unanimous definition for a Muslim was given by all the ulamas, they were clearly unanimous about the punishment for apostasy in an Islamic state. The punishment for apostasy was unequivocally, death.

With this doctrine, the religious leaders were clearly referring the then foreign minister Chaudhry Zafrullah Khan. If Chaudhry Zafrullah had not inherited his present (Ahmadi) beliefs, but had voluntarily elected to become an Ahmadi, he ought to be put to death.

However, while the punishment for apostasy was unanimous, the ulamas could not agree on who exactly is an apostate. Remember various criteria that was narrated by various leaders on who constitutes a Muslim? Now the same uneasy differences were making it hard for the leaders to decide who ought to be put to death.

Maulana Shafi Deobandi said that if he were the head of state of an Islamic Government, he would “exclude those who have pronounced Deobandis as kafirs from the pale of Islam and inflict on them the death penalty if they come within the definition of murtadd, namely, if they have changed and not inherited their religious views”.

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Filed under Constitution, Democracy, History, Identity, India, Islam, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, minorities, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Religion

Liberal Pakistani Websites and Indian Right Wingers

By Raza Habib Raja

 Liberalism as a philosophy is more inward looking and therefore does not try to blame others for the follies of one’s own nation. Thus it takes a stark divergence from the conservative and ultranationalist philosophies who assume that identity cultivated on the basis of religion, ethnicity, or geographical location is always under threat from outside forces. Therefore liberalism’s natural thrust is towards self introspection and on fostering cooperation with the different ethnicities and nations. This orientation  always bring it into conflict with the ultranationalists who often accuse liberals of being “unpatriotic”, soft and even traitor!

Pak Tea House is one of the liberal website in Pakistan and let me assure you such websites are rare. We are committed to cultivating a spirit of self introspection and are doing our bit to cultivate an atmosphere of tolerance and plurality. Another major objective of Pak Tea House is to promote goodwill towards the foreign countries and particularly those against whom the ultranationalists right-wingers have been whipping hatred and what we believe misunderstanding. India is our neighbour and is also an important stakeholder in this region. But more importantly India and Pakistan share a troublesome history (of course Pakistan is also partly guilty) starting from a violent partition and subsequent wars and proxy wars.

We at Pak Tea House firmly believe that the two neighbours should bury the hatchet and move forward. There are so many issues which are our common issues and we admit that our side has also been guilty of rumor mongering and a state sponsored cultivation of institutionalized hatred of India which was primarily done to ensure integrity of the state and to carve out justification of a large army. For these reasons we are constantly striving to cultivate a favourable image of India.

 However, I regret to say that the behaviour of few (not all) of the Indian commentators is proving to be completely detrimental to our aim. These commentators are just spewing hatred and coming up with various ways to humiliate Pakistanis, which  at least on this site as well as other liberal sites, are largely moderate. The liberal theme of self introspection actually becomes a counterproductive weapon as some of the Indian commentators use the self critical articles by liberal Pakistani authors as an opportunity to mock and ridicule.

 Constant derogatory references to religion are being made. Personally I am not a religious guy but I understand that mocking someone’s religion is not a prudent thing to do. Religion is a part of everyone’s identity. Even Einstein, an atheist, started to proclaim himself as a Jew, when his coreligionists were hounded and prosecuted by the Nazi regime. Mocking Islam will only reinforce conservatism and religious fervour particularly when it is being mocked by those who do not share it.

Apart from this, constant and needless references to “failures” of Pakistan are made and “successes” of India are being touted. Articles about peace are mocked by touting about strength of India’s GDP. I vividly remember some comments boasting of 1.3 trillion dollar economy and being dismissive of any “peace” as India does not need Pakistan for economic purposes.

 This kind of behaviour mirrors the Pakistani rightwing nonsense and in a twisted way strengthens it. After seeing the comments the Pakistani right wingers are often in a position to “justify” their nonsensical hate mongering against India.

Moreover just like Pakistani rightwing brigade which generally spins everything under the sun to levy the blame on RAW and CIA, these Indian right wingers also blame ISI for everything from Mao rebels to Mumbai attacks. Literally each one of them tries to project himself as a foreign policy expert and like a true arm chair theorist comes up with mind boggling spins.

 This behaviour, while being obviously bigoted, also seriously undermines the efforts of Pakistani liberals and successfully paints them as “unpatriotic” in the eyes of normal Pakistanis. Obviously when articles about peace are being mocked in a humiliating tone, the peace makers end up appearing as weak and unpatriotic. The mocking comments become a weapon in the hands of Pakistani right wingers who end up having a citable evidence of Indian hatred.

 Of course one can argue with the “freedom of speech” angle and say that since it is an open forum therefore anything should go. However, every privilege in this world comes with a responsibility. Freedom of speech is a privilege and comes up with a responsibility that it will be used with care and not for mocking as well as insulting others.

 Yes freedom of speech has to prevail and it will prevail. But I can only request that it should be used in a mature manner. Those Indians who are desperate to settle scores of Mumbai attack, frankly Pak Tea House and for that matter any liberal website is not the place or the forum to do so!! If you think that Pakistanis are bigoted and deserve rebuke frankly there are so many Pakistani rightwing sites and your responses will be well placed there.


Filed under India, journalism, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, liberal Pakistan, Pak Tea House

Manmohan Singh’s ignorance & Indian media’s blackout

Raza Rumi

I had posted a short version of this post on my personal website which quite unexpectedly drew the attention of several Indian internet warriors on their cyber-raths. It is a message that needs to be shared here. I have therefore decided to expand this and say what needs to be said. I have always supported India-Pakistan dialogue and the peace process and the purpose of this post is not to demean India or Indians but to express the shock that many of us – peaceniks – have experienced in the recent days. I have been accused of being ‘soft’ on India and constantly under attack by jingoists in Pakistan. Therefore it pains us to see such displays of insularity, indifference and isolates us with the remarks: “see we told you so….”

Manmohan Singh whom I have always held in high regard, disappointed millions in South Asia with his distastefully ill-timed hard talk during his Independence day address. As if Pakistan’s current misery was a time to blow India’s power-trumpet.

In fact the blackout in Indian media about Pakistan’s dire floods’ situation is amazing. Major newsmagazines such as India Today and Outlook are silent and the national newspapers have not covered much except the same old hackneyed stuff on terror, terrorism and what a major threat Pakistan is to shining India. In times of Pakistan’s crisis, the least Mr Singh could have done was not to indulge in jingoism. But he had to appease the arsenal of a nation-state (similar to what we have to do here at such occasions). Continue reading


Filed under India, Pakistan, Pakistan-India Peace Process, Politics, state, Terrorism

What Constitutes a Stable Society?

By Adnan Syed

Pakistan is passing through a vicious negative feedback loop that is beginning to gather momentum. The vicious circle is a result of country’s inability to provide for the basic individual rights of its citizens. Combine that with a burgeoning population, and the rampant nationalist tensions within the society that have been suppressed in the name of religious identity, Pakistan is staring at a nightmarish scenario in the coming decade. Pakistan needs to realize that the existential threat is coming from the failure of its society and not due to the external influences that consume majority of the resources of our nation. Unless we start spending on providing for the four basic rights to our citizens, the chaos will just feed on itself in the years to come.

This is the second part of the two part writeup that should be treated as a loud musing. I have stayed largely away from the religious vs. secularism debate as the immediate concern is to establish the rule of law and the secularism debate takes us away from the immediate objectives; provide for the protection of life, property and honour of each and every of the individuals. Needless to say that the demographic outlook for Pakistan, widening fault lines across the sub-nationalities and the vagueness about the role of religion in the affairs of the state is presenting a dire outlook for the state of Pakistan.


What Constitutes a Stable Society?

The ingredients of a stable society are not that complicated. Over the past century Europe, North America, East Asia, and Australia have managed to stabilize their societies by taking care of rather simple processes. Europe built its war shattered economy in a period of less than a decade, showing that good things beget good things, on a rather quick basis. The negative vicious circle can be replaced with a positive feedback loop. But the key is to avoid falling off the cliff. The key is to work with the present infrastructure and strengthen it to an extent that it becomes self sustaining. In that respect Pakistan is not starting from ground zero. It has a reasonably educated middle class that is finding it hard to channel its resources towards a prosperous society since it has to fend for its very survival on a daily basis. Pakistan has a semblance of democracy and the rule of law. Pakistan has the freedom of speech. The building blocks of a successful society are still there, though in a rapid state of neglect and decay.

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Filed under Democracy, human rights, Identity, India, Islamabad, Islamism, musings, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Religion, Rights, violence