Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Dan SolinPakistan is often in the news and usually in unflattering terms. The relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan is troubled, characterized by deep mutual distrust and conflicting goals. The economy of Pakistan is equally troubled. According to the Heritage Foundation, its economy has been plagued by "political instability and violence." Much needed economic reform has been stalled by bureaucratic delays and lack of political will. Property rights in Pakistan are "compromised." The rule of law is "fragile." Taxation is "poorly administered." Its public debt is over 50 percent of total domestic output. Foreign investment is declining. Its overall ranking on economic freedom is below the world and even regional averages, placing it in the category of "mostly unfree" economies. To put this in perspective, there is more economic freedom in Yemen, Senegal and Nigeria than in Pakistan. Its unemployment rate is a staggering 15 percent. Its inflation rate is 11.7 percent. Does this country seem like a good place to invest to you? Now for the shocker: Year-to-date returns for the stock market of Pakistan were 46.73 percent. That's not a typo. Year-to-date returns for the U.S. during the same period were 11.90 percent. Here are some other interesting facts. The stock markets in Nigeria and Kenya were 27.26 percent and 26.56 percent, respectively. What about the returns in fast-growing economies like Brazil and China? Brazil was an anemic 1.43 percent. China was a loss of 10.20 percent. If you are a typical investor, you believe paying attention to the financial news is important to your investing success. You read the financial media. You watch CNBC and pay special attention to the fund managers who "explain" the stock markets to you and encourage you to follow their advice (often by investing with their firms). Maybe you follow the stock picks served up by Jim Cramer, who appears to have an encyclopedic knowledge of all things financial. Let me ask you this question. Did any source of financial news advise you to invest in the stock markets of Pakistan, Nigeria or Kenya? Or Turkey, which topped the list with returns of 47.31 percent? How about your broker or financial adviser? They make it appear they have special insight into the financial markets. Did they advise you to invest in any of the countries reporting returns higher than the U.S.? The average returns of the 77 countries is a positive return of 8.47 percent. In 2011, the average was a negative 14.15 percent and the list of top performers was markedly different, with Venezuela, Jamaica and Botswana turning in stellar results, along with Pakistan which came in second. Trying to predict which country will perform best in 2013 is a crapshoot. So is trying to pick stocks that are mispriced, or betting on which asset class will outperform. Yet the securities industry continues to thrive by persuading you to pay its members fat fees for dispensing precisely this kind of "advice." The next time your broker peers into his crystal ball and makes a recommendation, ask this question: Did you predict stellar returns in Pakistan, Nigeria or Kenya for 2012? When you get the deer-in-the-headlights look in response, pull your account and buy a globally diversified portfolio of low management fee index funds in an asset allocation appropriate for your risk tolerance. I tell you exactly how to implement this strategy in The Smartest Investment Book You'll Ever Read and The Smartest Portfolio You'll Ever Own.
http://tribune.com.pkFormer Pakistan ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani on Tuesday said that while his country was a victim of terror, it was also to blame for not using full force of the state to crush militant groups. Speaking at the launch of the Asia Society’s report on the US and South Asia after Afghanistan, the former Pakistani ambassador emphasised that Pakistan has to cut all ties with the militant groups. The former diplomat added that Pakistan’s sovereignty was being violated, not just by the US drone strikes, but also by militant groups that use the country as a base to carry out attacks. The event’s speakers included former US ambassadors to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin and Cameron Munter, former US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Karl Inderfurth and the report’s author and Asia Society fellow Alexander Evans. Pakistan’s ties with US In the panel discussion, former US Ambassador Cameron Munter said that while he always disagreed with Haqqani’s remarks about a ‘divorce’ between US and Pakistan, he said there was a need to move away from the bilateralisation of US-Pakistan ties. “We can have a relationship based on agreed principles, not as defined by labels,” said Munter, adding that they should deal in areas which both countries had in common. Haqqani said that the US has made an error by having solely military to military and intelligence to intelligence relationship with Pakistan. Those close links, Haqqani said, have led to skewed decision making in Pakistan. “We need to continue military and intelligence relationship, but not make it the centrepiece of the relationship.” In response to a question, the former Pakistani Ambassador jokingly remarked that he has gotten in trouble in the past for making remarks about the Pakistani Army and the ISI. Asked about the unilateral drone strikes, Haqqani said that drones as an element of policy was understandable, and they have been effective. However, if they are to be the only policy, then they would not be successful. Education must take priority in Pakistan In response to a question, Haqqani said that Pakistan’s education crisis needs to become a priority. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin echoed Haqqani’s comments and said that Pakistan government’s investment in education was minuscule, adding that it was then interesting that Pakistan had pledged $10 million to a UNESCO fund for education. Adopting a fresh approach to South Asia The Asia Society report calls for the US to adopt a fresh approach to its South Asia policy. The reports recommendations include a structured US approach to the India-US bilateral relationship, development of a realistic, medium-term strategy for Pakistan and an “enhanced approach to regional strategy that incorporates South and East Asia.”
http://usnews.nbcnews.com/A shooting at a mall in Portland, Ore., on Tuesday afternoon left multiple people dead and wounded, a sheriff's spokesman said, but he said he could not confirm a number.The gunman was neutralized, said Lt. James Rhodes of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, but he said he could not say if the person was dead or arrested. He said police do not believe there was a second shooter, although they are investigating witness reports of more than one gunman. A woman who answered the phone at Chipotle in the mall told NBC News that someone ran in and yelled, “It’s a shooting, it’s a shooting.”She said employees shut the restaurant doors. She said the mall was crawling with police. Rhodes said some people had hidden in break rooms and bathrooms in the mall and that teams of police were working their way through the mall to bring them out. A spokeswoman at Legacy Emanuel Hospital, one of two level-one trauma centers in the Portland area, told NBC News that no patients had been admitted as of 5:15 p.m. local time (8:15 p.m. ET) but that the hospital had been alerted that one victim could arrive by Life Flight. The Oregonian newspaper said that one of its sports columnists was in the mall and reported that dozens of shots were fired in the food court near the Macy's at the Clackamas Town Center around 3:20 p.m. KGW.com reported that the shooter was wearing a hockey mask, but it did not cite a source for the information. Witness Amber Tate told KATU of Portland that she was standing in the parking lot when she spotted a gunman wearing a camouflage shirt and what looked like a bulletproof vest. Tate said he looked like a teenager. Pedro Garcia, 24, told the Oregonian that he was headed to Panera Bread Co. to buy sandwiches when he heard at least six shots. "I could smell the gunpowder," Garcia said. "That's what pretty much what made me run."
A gunman is actively firing at the Clackamas Town Center mall in Clackamas, Oregon, authorities said Tuesday. "Multiple victims" have been shot, says Public Safety Director Steve Campbell of the city of Happy Valley. The two-story mall is about 11 miles southeast of downtown Portland and is anchored with such stores as Sears, JC Penney and Macy's, according to its website.
The Express TribuneHospitals in Peshawar remain an attractive destination for Afghan patients because of their technological superiority and better-trained medical staff and doctors. Despite higher costs, accommodation problems and a language barrier, patients from across the border continue to trickle in. Most Afghan patients enter Pakistan through the porous Torkham border without any legal documentation or visa, since the process can be lengthy and nerve-wracking. They are limited to two hospitals, the Rehman Medical Institute (RMI) and the North West General Hospital (NWGH) – both minutes away from Khyber Agency. “Certain diseases require advanced technology and qualified doctors, which are not available in many hospitals of Afghanistan. That’s why I decided to come to Peshawar for leg surgery,” said Rohullah, a resident of Jalalabad currently receiving treatment at RMI. Foreign patients are allegedly charged more compared to Pakistanis. In addition to lack of proper accommodation, Afghans say that they are harassed by the police for not carrying legal documents. Rohullah said he borrowed Rs200,000 for treatment and doctors have already charged him Rs60,000 for the surgery. He does not know how much the medicines will cost. Data from the two hospitals shows that 77,000 Afghan patients visited RMI, while over 60,000 visited NWGH in the last ten months. Residents of Kabul, Herat, Balkh, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kunduz, among other areas in Afghanistan, come to general physicians, cardiology, gynecology and gastroenterology departments. A resident of Mazar-e-Sharif, Faqir Muhamad is accompanying a patient at NWGH. “While the quality of treatment is good, it is very expensive. We are sleeping on the floor and there are no sheds in the waiting area,” he said. “Charges for the guest houses are so high that we do not leave the hospital premises. Also, police in the surrounding areas recognise us because of our dress and bother us for legal documents,” added Muhammad. Saqib Agha from Kabul fears the police will arrest them for interrogation because he and his relative have no visa or travel documents either. “We have become a source of income for the police as well as for doctors in Peshawar, because we are neither familiar with the language nor the law. Doctors extract large sums of money through laboratory tests, surgery, accommodation and medicines,” complained Agha. He said even translators at NWGH ask for money when they come across patients who speak Persian. RMI’s Manager for Marketing and Panel Affairs, Tanveer Ahmand Sethi said the number of days spent by patients at the hospital depends on the treatment they are receiving. Cardiac procedures can take up to seven days, while some ailments take up to two weeks to treat. “Getting a visa for treatment in Pakistan is a tedious process and takes very long. India, on the other hand has a same-day-visa policy for patients and attendants who wish to visit the country for medical attention,” Sethi said. The hospital cannot provide decent accommodation to attendants of all Afghan patients, clarified Sethi. “Most of them are afraid of the police and so don’t go to guesthouses. In some cases, attendants are fleeced of all the money they have, leaving them penniless in a foreign country,” he added. A marketing official from NWGH said they receive more Afghan patients than Pakistanis. Upon arrival, we charge them fees for two days which can range from Rs30,000 to Rs50,000. When that amount is spent, we ask attendants to pay more for further treatment,” he added.
College in India's Haryana state to fine students Rs100 for breaking the dress code
http://www.shiitenews.comThe Turkish Sol Haber website stressed that the Syrian-Turkish border area has been transferred into a center for armed terrorist groups and foreign spies with the support of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government which ignore the infiltration of terrorist gunmen to Syria across the borders. The website stressed that there are evidence on that the AKP government is ignoring the terrorist infiltration attempts to Syria across the Turkish borders since the beginning of the events. It added that the AKP government turned the border with Syria into a center for those who call themselves armed Syrian opposition members, foreign spies and other various groups. The website supported its evidence with the interview made by the CNN Turk TV with gunmen from the mercenary terrorist groups which call themselves "the Free Army" in the bordering town of Akcakale, as one of the gunmen stressed that he was going to cross the border in the next ten minutes to participate in armed operations in Syria. It also cited another violation committed by the governor of Kilis city, Yusuf Odabas, and Head of Gaziantep municipality, Asim Guzelbey, who crossed the borders and met the armed terrorist groups. It highlighted the statements of members of the Republican People's Party about the presence of gunmen inside Apaydin Camp on the border with Syria. The website referred to an article published by journalist Fehim Tastekin in the Turkish Radikal newspaper on August 27th stressing that there is not any form of monitoring on the Syrian-Turkish borders and that arms smuggling operations are conducted through three villages in Yayladağı city and the cities of Rehanli and Altinozu. The journalist added that smuggling heavy weapons and terrorists to Syria is carried out via buses and ambulances through Kozan and Oncupinar crossings in Kilis. Turkish Yurt Newspaper: US-backed Foreign Jihadists Carry out Terrorist Bombings in Syria The Turkish Yurt Newspaper stressed that the US-backed foreign jihadists have been carrying out suicide and terrorist bombings in Syria after their failure in the war waged against the Syrian people and government. In a report about the events in Syria, the newspaper reporter in Damascus, Omer Odemis said that what is taking place in Syria stresses the existence of terrorist jihadists who launch a war against the Syrian people, government and the public and private properties, a fact that has been recognized by all foreigners who have seen the events and met the citizens, despite some western countries attempts to depict what is happening is Syria as a popular revolt. The reporter added that these armed terrorist groups attack the Syrian people and the law-enforcement forces in rural areas which make the living conditions there very difficult due to the terrorist practices forcing citizens to leave their houses and villages. Turkish Journalist: Those Who Think They Can Topple Syria Easily are Mistaken The Turkish Journalist Metin Munir said that the Turkish government is unable to implement its threat of waging a military aggression against Syria because of the economic situation in the country since any such probable war would lead to a great economic crisis in Turkey. In an article published by the Turkish Milliyet Newspaper, Munir said that whoever thinks that he is able to topple Syria easily is mistaken, scoffing at Turkish officials who talked about the ability of the Turkish army to launch attack against Damascus in few hours to convince the Turkish people that as if this war is just a picnic. "We have to ask those geniuses that if you entered in few hours, would you be able to return in few hours and would you find Turkey as you left it?" he asked mockingly. Munir said that any possible war might result in halting foreign funds to Turkey, especially that the Turkish economy's inability to ensure foreign currency has weakened the economy, adding that the economic growth in Turkey started to slow due to procedures adopted by the AKP government. He added that deploying military forces on the Syrian borders requires high expenses and additional funds to purchase military equipment, while the economic situation in Turkey is suffering in light of the price rise.
Producers Erin Lyall and Nick Turner went on a patrol with the Afghan Special Forces. They interviewed an American advisor and Afghan Sergeant Major who are tasked with building a Special Forces unit in a country where none existed.
The Washington PostA U.S. watchdog agency says Afghan customs officials are resisting U.S. efforts to help track billions of dollars being flown out of Kabul airport every year. The United States and other nations have long expressed concern about the amount of cash being sent out of the country — an estimated $4.5 billion last year, according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service. To help Afghanistan track cash moving through the airport, the U.S. purchased more than $100,000 worth of bulk currency counting equipment. In its report released on Tuesday, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said that its staff visited the airport in September and November but never saw the cash counters being used. Moreover, the report says VIPs — some carrying cash — continue to bypass controls.