THE NEWS: “Bangladesh luring back its migrant workers”

Just Published today about how the economic environment has changed between these two countries. The News in Pakistan`s highest circulated Daily in English along with The Dawn – Faysal.

By Ammar Shahbzi, Monday, June 27, 2011. Karachi.

For Original Post in The News Please Click Here.

 

Kamal Hossain came to Karachi in 1991 at the age of six. “Back then, coming to Pakistan was a dream,” he says. His father sold a small piece of land to pay for his airfare and pleaded with his uncle to take him along. Kamal began his life’s work as a domestic help at a bungalow in Defence. Today, he owns a Paan shop at a busy intersection in Gulistan-e-Johar, making Rs500-600 a day.

“In the early 90s, when I used to send money back to my village in Bangladesh, Rs1 was equal to 2 taka. I remember, after working for a few months at the bungalow, I sent Rs2,500 and my parents received 5,000 taka. It was worth it.”

In recent years, Pakistan’s economic slump and Bangladesh’s relatively stable growth have put the labour-class Bengali immigrants here into a dilemma.

“Bangladesh is no more what it used to be,” says Mohammad Jahid, a sugarcane-juice vendor. Jahid recently came back from Bangladesh and plans to wrap up his business and return for good.

Two of his cousins living with him since 2001 have recently moved back, leaving him alone in the city. “I am not sending money to my mother as regularly as I used to, because in every rupee I lose 25 paisa. Now it’s the opposite.”

According to the National Alien Registration Authority, there are more than two million Bengalis living in Karachi alone. Most of them are employed as micro-entrepreneurs, such as running a Paan shop. A majority of them are staying illegally.

Although, there is no official record to substantiate the recent flight of Bengalis back to their homeland, Mustafa*, a Karachi-based Hundi trader, agrees that Pakistan’s depreciating currency has dealt a blow to his once-thriving Hundi business.

“The volume of business has declined drastically in the last few years. Now I have cases when people are actually asking for money from their families in Bangladesh,” he said.

Jahid, the sugarcane vendor, had come here with high hopes. “Now people in rural areas are also thriving. They have money to spend. They are buying motorcycles and refrigerators. A lot has changed. Things look good.”

But there is a section of comparatively affluent Bengalis like Jahangir Mia, a garment-contractor, who doesn’t think going back is an option. Jahangir has been living in Karachi since mid-80s and speaks spotless Urdu. He calls Karachi his home and believes that the current economic dip is a bad patch, and the country will soon come out of it.

For most micro-entrepreneurs like Kamal and Jahid, who work on the roads of Karachi, the recent spate of violence in the city along with the rising cost of living is mainly influencing their decisions to wrap up their businesses.

In Musharraf’s era, things were still reasonable, they say. They used to keep their shops open till Fajr back then, and now they close after midnight. “We don’t even get enough time to do business.”

Despite being trapped in seemingly not-so-profitable ventures, there are those who believe that no matter what the circumstances are, Karachi still holds promises that the capital of Bangladesh — Dhaka — does not offer.

“I’ve been selling Paan, Chalia and goodies-for-kids for the last 14 years and I like the simplicity of this business,” says Mohammed Sharif, who is settled here since 1997.

He said that people in Dhaka were clueless about these products. “Here kids as young as 14 are addicted to Chalia, Gutkha and Naswar. And in Bangladesh, it is only the old people — Nannis and Daddis — who take these stuff. In Bangladesh, Paan too, is very unfashionable amongst middle-aged men. But here, this is what they chomp all day.”

Although there are no data to claim that hundreds, if not thousands, of Bengalis are wrapping up their businesses that took them decades to built, and are either going back to Bangladesh or making tireless efforts to move to Middle East, given the state of the economy and the security situation of the city and the personal accounts of many Bengalis, it is pretty obvious that for many Bengalis, Pakistan has lost its former greenness.

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Bangladesh Pakistan Disparity

Here are some more links on the debate how sharply and fast Bangladesh proving the contrast between the two countries once based on an idiotic ideology lived together for 24years!!! HOW???

Just read the Comments posted on main articles:

defence.pk

From Cricket Fans

Rober M. Hathaway: Read the main Article

pkpolitics.com

One would appreciate my effort.. I am compiling all these sitting in the heart of Karachi, Pakistan 🙂

“it is Bangladesh which has become Jinnah`s Pakistan”

Success and failure

By S. Akbar Zaidi | From the Newspaper The Dawn.

For main Article please Click here.

THE country which was considered to be a basket case in 1971, is today offering a mirror to others on how developing countries can become a development state and is being referred to as the `development surprise` of the 21st century.

At the same time, it has also ensured that democracy is developing as a strong and permanent alternative to military rule, under which it has had many years of painful repression.

That this overwhelmingly Muslim country is also constitutionally and increasingly in practice politically secular is also a lesson for other Muslim majoritarian countries to emulate. The Supreme Court struck down a 31-year-old constitutional amendment and restored the country to its founding status as a secular republic, banning the writings of some radical Islamic ideologues.

The country which in the mid-1960s was heralded as a role model for other developing countries, where the international press had praised its military-led development model no end, stating that it might just reach the levels of development achieved only by the United States, has just appeared as the world`s 10th most failed, or failing, state. On the course towards reaching this rather ignominious distinction, this country has also been called “the most dangerous place in the world”, and a “rogue state with a nuclear arsenal”.

In the world of development achievements and democratic and secular credentials, it is Bangladesh today which offers a rather sad comment on Pakistan`s numerous failed promises. Bangladesh is one of the six countries in Asia and Africa which has been feted for its progress towards achieving its Millennium Development Goals, a set of targets that seek to eradicate extreme poverty and boost health, education and the status of women worldwide by 2015.

It has also halved its birth rate over the last few decades, happily giving up its title of the sixth most populous country to Pakistan. And despite the fanfare of having a larger number of women parliamentarians, it is Bangladesh which has far greater gender parity than does Pakistan, and women`s rights are better ensured in the former than in the latter.

Moreover, Bangladesh`s economy has grown at nearly six per cent a year over the past three years, despite the global downturn and high fuel and food prices which Pakistani finance officials cite as reasons for Pakistan`s failure. Furthermore, Bangladesh`s exports of garments worth $12.3bn last year, make it the fourth in the world behind China, the European Union and Turkey, leaving behind cotton-producing and exporting Pakistan.

Bangladesh gave the model of microfinance to the rest of the world and the man behind this received the Nobel Prize based on work undertaken at home for alleviating poverty. The fact that he was celebrated as a national hero differs sharply from the public and official treatment meted out to Pakistan`s Nobel laureate who was forced to do all his work abroad, in exile-like conditions, and never acknowledged as a son of Pakistan`s soil. Even in terms of diverse identities and religious tolerance, Pakistan can learn from the traditions of its former province. Economist

In a list of 167 countries listed by the magazine in its `Index of Democracy`, Bangladesh moved up the table from being 91st in 2008 to 83rd in 2010, while Pakistan also moved up, but from 108th to 104th. And despite being a democracy in 2010 and one of the two democracies on this list, Pakistan is 10th in the `Failed States Index`, and is part of a group that includes Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Zimbabwe and, of course, Afghanistan. One can dispute such a caricature for being politically motivated, however, this does require far greater and honest reflection.

Bangladesh as East Pakistan was probably a greater disaster created by the British than the one left behind and still unresolved in Kashmir. This was a union which the West Pakistani elite eventually forced and exploited. It should not have been, and it took 25 years for the Bangladeshi people to free themselves from the worst forms of West Pakistani repression — cultural, linguistic, economic, political and, of course, military.

Clearly, Bangladesh is not the only country which offers possible lessons for Pakistan, and the former is not devoid of a whole host of afflictions typical of developing countries. The argument being emphasised here is one of relative progress and possibilities. Clearly, at the moment Bangladesh seems to offer more of either than does Pakistan. And rather than fantasise about becoming another Turkey or Malaysia, as Pakistan`s elite is so fond of doing, perhaps it would be instructive to look closer home, and at small initial steps rather than grand, unachievable schemes.

In many ironic ways, it is Bangladesh which has become Jinnah`s Pakistan — democratic, developmental, liberal, secular — while Pakistan has become his worst nightmare — intolerant, authoritarian, illiberal and fundamentalist.

The West Pakistani elite which lived off the resources of East Pakistan for 25 years and was happy to see the basket case East Pakistan become Bangladesh, needs to seriously come to terms with its continuing hubris and past. The least that the civilian and military Pakistani elite can do is to seek forgiveness for the crimes committed four decades ago, and to begin to learn how basket cases and failed states can become successful democratic, developmental and secular states.

The writer is a political economist.