Stories written by Daud Khan

Afghanistan – Another Viet Nam?

There are several points of similarity between the war in Afghanistan and the war in Viet Nam. The Taliban, like the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong, proved to be formidable tacticians and fighters. They managed to contain a far better equipped opponent and mount effective counteroffensives; access sufficient domestic and foreign funding to pay their fighters and support their families; build a formidable intelligence network; and acquire necessary technical capabilities in areas such as repair and maintenance of small arms.

Honour Killings – Religion or Culture?

There is nothing honourable about murder. And murdering someone of your own family, your own child - a daughter, someone you held in your arms and rocked to sleep when they were babies? This is such a horrifying crime that there are no words to describe it – certainly not the word Honour. And yet it happens! It happens in Pakistan and to the shame of all of us in the diaspora, it has been brought to Italy.

Pakistanis in Italy: 22 Yards to Cultural Integration

Following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s comments about the need to promote ‘Pakistaniyat,’ a debate has been underway on what constitutes this ideology and what unites Pakistanis around the world. While this may be a contentious and polarising debate, one thing is for certain: the game of cricket is something which brings us all together.

Letter from Rome – Italy at the Crossroads

Italy, as other countries, has been struggling to balance the health and economic challenges posed by COVID-19. Controlling the spread of the virus implied restrictions on economic activity, on school and college attendance, and on personal movement. It also had to deal with the economic and social implications of a fall of almost 10% in GDP. This has been hard for a country which, even before the pandemic, was one of the slowest growing economies in Europe, with unemployment, especially among young people in the South of the country, at alarming levels.

Pakistanis in Italy: Against All Odds

We met 22-year old Ali B. in a park in Rome’s city center on a rather cold and windy April evening. We could not share a meal, or even a coffee, as all restaurants were shut due to continuing COVID-19 restrictions. He had travelled down from Cerveteri (a small town about 50km north of Rome) where he works for an old couple. They provide boarding and lodging as well as a decent salary and social security benefits. In return, he has to cook for them and look after the kitchen.

Coping with the USA-China Conflict – Strategic Procrastination

For several years, a fast growing and assertive China has been challenging the USA’s global dominance.  China’s GDP, taking into account differences in purchasing power, is now greater than that of the USA; its military spending has been expanding rapidly and exceeds by wide margins that of other countries except the USA with which it is catching up; it is the manufacturing power house of the world; it is quickly moving up the technological ladder; and it is the key trading partner for an increasing number of countries.  All this is creating tensions with the USA and its key allies.

Clash of Cultures – Is it Real or a Smokescreen?

The notion of “Clash of Cultures” is most frequently used as a justification for anti-immigrant prejudice and, particularly in Europe and in the USA, for islamophobia. The reasoning goes as follows: immigrants, especially Muslims, have a deeply different culture from the hosting communities and these differences create unsurmountable tensions and conflicts.

Closing the Gap between Developed and Developing Countries: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Developing countries as a group have been growing faster than developed countries for several decades. As a result the ratio between average incomes between the two sets of countries – albeit still very large - has been shrinking.  This is good news. The other piece of good news is that over this period the number of people living in extreme poverty has also been dropping – from 1.9 billion in 1990 to about 650 million in recent years.  China has recently declared an end to extreme poverty. 

Does COVID-19 Imply an End to the Epoch of Science?

Around the 16th century there was a radical shift in the way humans perceived nature.  New thinking in physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics heralded a deeper understanding of the world around us.  Between the 17th and 18th century this new thinking had resulted in spate of technological inventions such as the steam engine, railways, electricity and the telephone.

Will COVID-19 Change the Global Balance of Power?

Lockdowns, social distancing, face-masks and other restrictions on personal and social behaviour have helped slow the progress of the COVID-19 virus. Enough to allow health systems to start catching their breath, for doctors to work out treatment protocols, and for work to start on a vaccine. There is now a need to take stock of the many other impacts the pandemic is likely to have, particularly at the economic and political level.

COVID 19 – Conspiracy or Apocalypse? – Part II

As the COVID-19 virus spread rapidly around the globe, so did various theories about what caused the pandemic. According to the standard scientific theory, the virus originated in bats; crossed over to humans, probably via another intermediate host; and then spread rapidly across the globe.

COVID 19 – Conspiracy or Apocalypse? – Part I

As the COVID-19 virus spread rapidly around the globe, so did various theories about what caused the pandemic. According to the standard scientific theory, the virus probably originated in bats and then crossed over to humans, probably via another intermediate host. It then spread rapidly across the globe, piggybacking on the international travel network.

COVID-19: Developing Countries Must Not be Left Behind

Globalization has been a driver for increased prosperity world-wide, but it has been in reverse in the last years due to the growth of populism in the USA and Europe. The COVID-19 pandemic may well provide further momentum to increasingly national-interest oriented policies in the west.

The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Developing Countries – Part 2

What is likely to be the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on developing economies? In the first of this two part article  we looked at possible short term disruptions and discussed actions by the private sector and Governments.

The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Developing Countries

What is likely to be the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on developing economies? It is difficult to make predictions, because much will depend on the spread of the disease, especially in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, and the measures various Governments will take in the coming weeks and months. 

Improving Development Impact

Most developing countries have good policies, programmes and projects in place. Many of these have been prepared with assistance from development partners or international financing institutions such as the World Bank, the regional development banks, the UN agencies or bilateral aid agencies. Most of these are of high quality and have gone through intensive review and quality control.  The major challenge is to effectively implement these policies, programmes and projects. Unfortunately this does not often happen and leads to huge lost opportunities. This is particularly the case in the poorest countries, many of which are conflict affected. 

What Should FAO’s New Director General Focus on?

On 23 June 2019 Mr Qu Dongyu of China was elected as the new Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization. FAO is one of the largest UN specialized agencies with a budget for 2018-19 of  US$2.5  billion,  offices in over 130 countries and more than 11,000 employees.  

Liberalism and Developing Countries

As China rapidly replaces Europe and the USA as the key player in developing countries, the Western press is full of articles about the dangers of dealing with the Chinese.

Lessons From China: Fostering Agricultural Growth and Poverty Reduction

As China has moved from a poor isolated country to a major player in the world economic and political sphere, developing countries need to learn how to engage.  

China and Developing Countries: Managing Chinese Investments

Fifty years ago China was a poor country with little influence in the international sphere and without even a seat at the United Nations. Since then rapid economic growth in China has made it an economic powerhouse that increasingly plays a leading role on the world stage as a trade partners as well as a source of investment.

The Rohingya – The Forgotten Genocide of Our Time

The Rohingya are a minority community living in Rakhine State in Myanmar. The Muslim Rohingya are considered intruders into Buddhist Myanmar - illegal immigrants from bordering Bangladesh. They have been always discriminated against, looked down upon, ostracized, and denied any civil and judicial rights.

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