Readers’ Thoughts

August 2023

Keep Up the Good Work!

This is with reference to your incredible cover story on ‘Pakistan-U.S. Relations’ that appeared in SouthAsia in its July-2023 edition. First, the topic was relevant, current, and well-timed. I especially enjoyed the way you carried out the expert comments of many notable people throughout the cover story pages. Unfortunately, when it comes to Pakistan’s print media, we Americans find nothing but mere filth and garbage said and written about the United States. However, it was more than a shocking experience to see a Pakistani publication discuss American issues, policies, and its approach towards a Third World country, rationally and sanely. In fact, I am more than surprised about the quality of your write-ups and analysis. The section titled Comments was excellent in terms of showing the true Indian side. In fact, we better know how India plays its cards to put Pakistan down, but it is politics that always makes its way and decides the fate of bilateral relations between the two countries. No doubt, SouthAsia is a quality publication well beyond the expectations we tend to have here in the U.S. about a publication appearing from a country like Pakistan. The magazine is both attractive and informative.
Keep up the good work.

Adam Hutson,
Cincinnati, United States.

Climate Casualty?

This is with reference to the article titled ‘Climate Casualty’ by Muhammad Arslan Qadeer. The write-up was published in the July 2023 issue of SouthAsia.

Contrary to what ‘climate experts’ believe, the Maldives is one of the safest places on the surface of the Earth. Located on the equator, sea-level fluctuations here in the Maldives vary less than a meter compared to the west coast of Australia and the east coast of Africa - the two ends of the Indian Ocean, where sea-level fluctuations are 2 - 3 meters. Thus, even if the sea level rises by 1.5 - 2 cm, the rise will be felt more on these extreme ends of the ocean than in the Maldives. By the time the level reaches a threatening point, most lowlands - the river estuaries across the globe will be inundated, resulting in the loss of fertile lands. In terms of structural damage and lives lost, the 2004 tsunami in Asia did more to Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, and coastal cities of Africa, Somalia, for instance, which lost more lives than we lost—just a thought.

Farooq Mohamed Hassan

Children and Cartoon Programmes

Cartoon films have become a part of children’s entertainment, always enthralling them with imaginative characters and interesting stories. Cartoon programmes stimulate children’s imagination, creativity and critical thinking skills. They often present complex concepts in simple and engaging ways in the form of characters, scenes, and thereby promote cognitive development and problem-solving skills. As a result of watching various cartoon programmes, the intellectual development of children is enhanced. New ideas develop in the mind, following which they strive to do something. Although they offer valuable educational and recreational opportunities, it is important to keep in mind their potential negative effects. Parents and teachers can use cartoons to promote learning and foster positive values by encouraging communication in an open environment and guiding them.

Bilqees Sultana,
Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Overland Trade with Russia

After the creation of Central Asian states, Pakistan›s bilateral relations with them have progressed rapidly in other fields, including trade. Still, the trade partnership between Pakistan and Russia can add a new dimension to it. For a struggling country like Pakistan, its bilateral trade with Central Asian countries, including Russia, is a unique channel of its kind in terms of land that connects the region to eastern and western countries via Pakistan. Of late, two cargo containers, loaded with pulses and other goods from Russia, arrived at the Torkham border under the Transit International Route (TIR) Convention. This first-of-its-kind shipment is a part of the Pakistan-Russia agreement signed in March this year, after the arrival of which the two countries have officially become commercially integrated with each other. TIR is an international agreement under the supervision of the World Trade Organization. Pakistan also signed it, and the agreement has been in force since 2017, under which road trade between different countries is allowed unconditionally under the supervision of the International Road Transport Union. It does not require customs documents, and trucks are issued a specific permit. According to this agreement, citrus food was sent from Pakistan to Russia for the first time in 2021. According to the firm which has imported the mentioned goods from the cargo container, there have been imports and exports between the two countries before, but this is the first shipment that has reached Pakistan under the TIR agreement.

Asif Ahmed,
Karachi, Pakistan.

Road to IMF

Recently, the Pakistan government shared good news with the nation that a 3 billion dollar loan agreement was signed with the IMF. On this occasion, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif himself has said that the loan acquisition from the international money lender is not a positive thing per se, and he will try to get rid of it. The Pakistan PM also prayed that Pakistan might not go to the IMF in the future. As things happen, the IMF loan increases the burden on the country›s economy instead of reducing it. Although the burden is temporarily reduced now, and the economy appears stronger, the reality is quite the opposite. The IMF lends on interest, and the biggest disadvantage of usurious loans is that the borrower cannot get out of it easily, and he gets ensnared in the trap of interest on interest. Pakistan needs to work for economic strength to get rid of the IMF. An unconditional abolition of the usury system is also very important for prosperity. People think there will be prosperity if there is an agreement with the IMF, but the point to ponder is that the loan from the IMF is based on interest. How can prosperity come to it by resorting to loan acquisition, that too again and again?

Saima Abdul Aleem,
Lahore, Pakistan.

Bilawal as Foreign Minister

In the Bhutto family, from Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the person who takes the leadership of PPP is always blessed with countless qualities. In the given scenario, it will not be wrong to say that the PPP is a party of martyrs and genuine political leaders. In a similar vein, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has also been blessed with a charismatic personality. He entered politics in 2008, and from that day till today, he has been a victim of propaganda and false narrative. However, for the past year, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has been serving Pakistan as Foreign Minister, and his opponents are also praising him for his stellar record in the foreign ministry.

Interestingly, the young foreign minister›s visit to Japan occurred during rapid geographical and political changes in our region, and Japan is an important part of the American camp against China. Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari›s visit to Japan was criticized because he was accompanied by his sister Asifa Bhutto Zardari. But we should never forget the fact that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was also a political figure. He accompanied his sister Fatima Jinnah in meetings with local and foreign leaders. Even if Asifa Bhutto had not visited Japan with Bilawal Bhutto, PPP opponents would not have stopped criticizing him.

Asim Ali,
Bahawalpur, Pakistan.