Thoughts by Bahadar Ali

September 30, 2008

Global Financial Meltdown

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 3:28 am

Wall Street, as we knew it, is history now. Those blooming banks and fat-chubby executives of the once thriving banks are already licking the dust. The big names like Merrill Lynch , Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mai are there no more! These institutions are the all time worst example of naked greed and mismanagement.

The failure of the policy makers and lax control on the institutional operations have deprived Americans mostly and rest of the world partially, so far, trillions of dollars. And this vicious cycle has no end in sight and it is feared that more has yet to come.

All those so-called visionaries, who made easy money from the happy financial markets are now on the run with their tails between the legs. These idiots were so nasty, that for instance, Goldman Sachs would sell their risky mortgage products and at the same time bet against the same. When that risk would translate into reality and their products would tank, they were still making money on their reverse bet, called shorting. And not only this, Goldman was hailed as being the most smart investment bank.

Now this entire non-sense is spiraling down, few chairs are left in the this huge musical chair of bankruptcies started a year ago, their is wide spread panic in the financial markets. The Dow Jones Industrial recorded a drop of 400 points in only 30 minutes of trading today. Their is a wide spread fear that things are going to get worse then even Great Depression of 1930s.

The Great Depression, was caused by almost similar malpractices and little financial discipline. The stock market saw an unprecedented boom from 1926-1929 and people were becoming millionaires on every week basis. The greed was so big that the government backed commercial banks instead of focusing on their primary goal of helping and crediting their customers, started inverting in the stock market. When famous October 1929, also called “Black Tuesday” equity market crashed, the panicked investors liquidated their whatever remaining stock values and ran to the banks to get their money. But banks their self had lost their account holders money into the stock market. No money! 55 banks failed in one day. This ensued a a economical crises that engulfed the entire world in the 1930s. Dollar became a worthless piece of paper and the old barter trade system re-emerged. People would, at some places, use cigarettes as the currency to buy their daily needs. A wide spread poverty and joblessness hit layman very hard. This compelled authorities to legislate the check and balanced system, only to be ignored in future.

Now similar even worse situation is at hand. In 1930s the Feds, a company that supervises US financial cycles, didn’t intervene but Bernake Fed is proactive and has done it whatever they could but it is not helping. And scenario has become even gloomier when today US Congress rejected the bill to grant $700 Billion to buy the so-called ‘toxic assets’ from the failed and not so failed investment and other banks.

How it concerns us: The freezing liquidity in the capital markets would make it hard for businesses to run their day-to-day affairs, no small credit would be available for cars, home mortgages and because of the business squeeze limitless businesses would fail resulting in a huge number of un-employment. This nasty business for the last half of 2007 was considered to be confined to US but now it is impacting Europe and emerging economical nations like China and India. Already four banks have failed in Europe in last week. The thriving businesses like FedEx, IBM, Gneral Motors and others are showing unprecedented losses. The technology wheel is slowing to the extent of a halt.

This whole cycle has many dimensions and it emanated from a freaky mess called sub-prime mortgage debacle. I would get back to it next time and will examine what caused this whole mess to begin with in the first place. A word of caution, check your spending in the days to come as when I see picture of 1930s depressions affectees, they are heart-wrenching. The once millionaire of their time begging to get a loaf of bread and no one had it to give it to them.

(to be continued ..)

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September 22, 2008

9/11, The Pakistan Chapter

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 9:54 pm

On September 20, Terrorist blew away the land mark of Islamabad, the Marriott Hotel. According to preliminary information a terrorist struck his truck laden with around 800 kilograms of explosives. So far, unofficially 74 people died along with hundreds other injured.

This has proved to be the largest single act of terrorism that Pakistan faced, in terms of the volume of the explosives used. Suicide bombing, the so-called weapon of the weak, has struck yet again, against the weak. Among the dead 60 percent were blue collar workers of the hotel, including security guards, waiters, drivers and gardeners.

I have seen a very non-sense coverage of the incident where some media channels were trying to glorify the terrorists by planting stupid news items like “Suicide bomber and his accomplice warned security staff to flee and gave them three minutes to do so”. Now news item like this suggests that bombers had a heart for poor people and they were only against the powerful and influential people sitting inside the hotel. Rubbish!

Like anybody else, I am very sad over this incident and in some later article I will try to analyze this tragedy along with the poor rescue efforts, sluggish government response and Zardari’s unhindered trip to US. We as a nation should have some self respect, Zardari could have delayed his trip for one day, Nawaz Sharif could have postponed his Umra visit along with other high ranking official who proceeded on their trips abroad as per plan, like nothing has happened. At the time of crises to leadership should stay in the country, if they think they have an iota of leadeship qualities in them!

September 11, 2008

September 11, A Tragedy of Our Times

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 9:05 am

It has been seven years since the sad day that dawned upon the skies of the New York City. It was one of the worst single incidents of terrorism that shook the entire world in general and America in particular. It was a day when fear gripped everyone in the world and also it was a day that changed America, as we knew it then, for ever.

I wish the events of 9/11 would not have happened. Three thousand in New York and one million people around the world would still have lived.

But it happened! I don’t know what was achieved through these attacks but the lives of one billion Muslims around the world have been made miserable in the aftermath of this brutality. I also wish that the president of the world’s only super power would have been a statesman and knew the impact of revenge. Revenge by the powerful sparks atrocities, atrocities cause grievances, grievances usher vengeance and vengeance produces extremism. By this I am not suggesting to follow the Bible and offer the other cheek. But find out the real culprits behind those attacks and bring them to justice.

Instead of punishing the real culprits, a mass hysteria was launched against a particular ideology and profiling of specific backgrounds. Muslims living in the West who might hate Osama, Taliban or any other derivatives thereof, began to live under a constant fear. Every day they would pray for the safety of the world, not that suddenly all of them joined Human Rights Watch, but because they knew that behind any sort of terrorist activity anywhere in the world somehow a Muslim name would pop up. This would make them even more apologetic in front of their neighbors, their co-workers and society in general, for a crime non of theirs.

On the other front, over this period of time, extremism has developed like a cult and generated its sympathizers too. People who started justifying the suicide attacks as weapon of the weak. But this weapon of the weak is always used against the weak. It always killed innocent people. Not acknowledging the fact that bomb attacks doesn’t do any profiling and kills equally. Seeds of hatred sowed by the politicians of the world have now morphed into a crop of hate, ignorance and brutality. Every person is now dejected and perplexed as what kind of world we are going to hand over to our next generations.

Another perspective of current day events dates back to late 1970s, when Soviets invaded Afghanistan. I wish Brezhnev have not done this. That invasion proved to be the root cause of all current times evils. Also I wish Jimmy Carter then, should not have endorsed Zia-ul-Haq regime which subsequently planted the nursery to generate fanatics, called Mujahideen. These so-called Mujahideens were the darlings of the entire ‘free world’ at that time. They served as the human fuel for the war machinery against Soviets. In 80s a whole generation was raised with only one purpose. To fight. Killing human was the only teaching they were imparted. And they mastered their subject very well. But wars have to finish and so did that bloody war in Afghanistan. Arab petro dollars and US green backs flow stopped to those ‘Mujahideen’ of Afghanistan. They were rendered job less but nonetheless, they attached a baseless euphoria of being triumphant against ‘infidel’ Soviets. As I said earlier, they knew only one art and that was fighting, so they started fighting each other for the booty of the war in Afghanistan.

This whole scuffle in Afghanistan caused a huge damage to the social fabric of Pakistani society. A very tolerant society was pushed into wrongly interpreted religious ambit. Criminal and thugs started disguising themselves as religious leaders. The clamour of ‘Jihad’ always sounded high in every sermon they would deliver. The entire government machinery was at their back. Thus you get what you yearn for. Now Pakistan is the target of all sorts of accusations. Can we dig Zia out and let him see what he had done to this beautiful country? No. What can be done? This is an open ended question with a lots of confusing answers. Please think.

September 4, 2008

The Most Candid Candidates

Filed under: Political — bkhan @ 2:34 am

Pakistan presidential election is due to take place on September 5th. We got three candidates contesting for the top office of Pakistan. Lets review their profile.

Mushahid Hussain Syed

He is the sugar coated candy among our three candid candidates. Sweet as honey, ambitious as Alexander, perfidious as Brutus and flexible as paraffin. This gentleman knows the art of getting to power without going through the hassle of contesting election. Why bother driving around the dusty streets and talking to illiterate masses when there is a huge back door is always open into the power corridors. He started his career as president of Imamia Student Organisation ( ISO ), joined The Muslim Newspaper ( Islamabad) of Agha Murtaza Poya using his Iranian connections. Came close to Deobandi president Zia-ul-Haq by playing part in the Cricket Diplomacy in 1987 and arranging interview of Dr A Q Khan for the Indian journalist Kuldip Nayyer. Later he joined Nawaz League and was termed as de facto prime minister of Nawaz Sharif after latter became PM in 1996. Played his immense part in convincing Nawaz Sharif to depose the then COAS Parvez Musharraf. Which Musharraf turned tables through his ‘counter-coup’. He quietly slipped back and started his back door diplomacy channels with Musharraf. His efforts bore fruit when Ch Shujaat required an English translator for his unique dialect. Mushahid became vocal supporter of Musharraf and enjoyed the ‘calm and tranquillity’ of Mushrraf era. These days, on top of his lungs, he supports democracy. PML ( Q ) filed him as their candidate for the presidential election.

Justice Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui

Brother of respected Pakistani scientist Saleem-uz-Zaman Siddiqui. Saeed, is a hard nut candy. Traces his taste from Lucknow, migrated to Pakistan, a true Urdu speaker, should have been ideal candidate from MQM as they are against Jagirdars and two percent ruling elite, but unfortunately, for the head of state MQM thought ‘who cares about slogans’ and decided to support Zardari, a jagirdar and wadera. Anyhow, let us focus on Siddiqui. He practised law, the elevated to the seat of Chief Justice, Sind High Court. Boring…right ? Lets talk the interesting part. In 1997, he back stabbed his fellow judges and the then Chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah during latter’s scuffle with then then PM Nawaz Sharif. Closely related to handing down big bribes to the Supreme Court Quetta Bench, through another benefciary Rafiq Tarar, who was rewarded with presidency. Saeed clinched top post of CJ. This guy became hero again,when he refused to take oath under PCO promulgated by Musharraf in 1999 military coup. These days he is the vanguard of lawyers’ movement in Pakistan. For his services rendered to Nawaz Sharif regime, Nawaz league has termed him as their candidate.

Asif Ali Zardari

Before the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, his only identity was Mr Ten percent. Later he acquired the ‘Pakistan Khappay’ fame and guised himeslf as ‘Father of the Nation’. Son of a Karachi’s cinema owner, a medium sized landlord of Sind and National Awami Party’s Sind leader, Hakim Ali Zardari. Asif rose to prominence when he was betrothed with Benazir Bhutto in 1987. Following year, he stepped into PM house when PPP won election after the demise of Zia-ul-Haq. Soon, newspapers started their clamour against the alleged corruption of Asif which coined the famous ‘Ten Percent’ theme. In 1990 he was packed to Jail from PM house after Ghulam Muhammed II a.k.a, Ghulam Ishaq Khan dissolved the PPP government. He spent following three years in Jail until Ishaq dismissed yet another governemnt. This time it was Nawaz Sharif. Zaradari was summoned from Jail directly to take oath as a caretaker Minister under the auspices of the same Ghulam Ishaq who sent him jail three years ago Few months later he again entered the PM house when Benzir was sworn in as PM again. This time he was more productive, he fathered two childern in the PM house. In 1996 PPP govt was again sacked by an old PPP stalwart Farooq Leghari, whom Zardari used to call FL, for short. Zaradri was again sent to jail and was only taken out when establishment thought he might become Neslon Mandela, in 2005. It was long time. He was supposed to be PM but because of his prior sore expereince of being in PM house, he thought to try presidency this time. Of course he is supported by his entire party and wielded the spiritual spell of one of its kind, Mulana Fazal-u-Rehman along with Pakhtun nationalists of ANP and their diametrically opposed MQM, the ethnic group that controls Karachi and Hyderabad politics. He is considered to clinch the presidency.

Hope the above brief biographies, might help you to understand whom we are dealing with 🙂

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