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Food Crisis in West Africa

Sahel in West Africa is a long belt north of Africa, between Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean. It comprises of many countries, including Mali, some part of Mauritania, southern part of Algeria, Senegal, southern part of Sudan, etc. It has suffered from hunger and food crisis for many decades in which thousands of people have died due to malnutrition, due to droughts, conflicts, erratic rains, and pest infections damaging crops. UNICEF estimates that 1.5 million children in Niger alone are near to starvation. 

International complacency is the final nail in the coffin. It was hoped that intervention of rich countries with surplus food would save Sahel from upcoming crisis, which now seem very imminent. Millions of lives are at stake. "The damage control mechanism of WFP needs $789m and still in short of #361m to reach all crying destitutes," writes Zafar Haider Jappa in today's Business Recorder.

Energy Crisis in Pakistan: Brief Essay

(This essay owes its skeleton and information, almost 90%, to this essay by Mr. T. S. Awan. Please share information, critique and more articles on it.)

Energy Crisis in Pakistan

“What does ‘LOL’ stand for in Pakistan?

“Why isn’t anyone intervening in Africa (as in Middle East)? It’s the layer of oil on Middle East … otherwise it’d have been no different than Africa.”
- Former NATO chief, Gen. Wesley Clark, 2007

General (rtd.) Wesley Clark, one time Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, admits that US and Europe's intervention in Middle East – initiative of multiple regime changes in around seven countries through direct and indirect wars – is primarily to gain control over oil resources by Western powers. Control over energy has become a cause of wars among nations, only indicating how critically important this resource; although power of collaboration is being underestimated. One cannot imagine a tomorrow devoid of energy in modern world. Energy is its cornerstone. It is critical to be self-sufficient in its generation to preserve independence of a nation. Developed world differentiates itself from the rest because it has been able to harmonize its supply and demand, managing both at the same time. Self-sufficiency and control over energy gives the North its edge over the South.
    Pakistan is energy-deficient. How can one imagine an active and prosperous human being short on blood? Life is hard without sufficient blood running up and down the veins, pumped by the heart round the clock. Pakistan has failed to contain its energy crisis; failing to increase supply proportionately and conserving demand. In 1980s, it met 86% of its demand; come 2000s, situation is getting worse. Explosion in the supply of natural gas gave the nation a breather, sharing burden of electricity and oil, only to make future insecure as gas reserves deplete at fast rate. Fire-fighting on the part of government becomes national strategy, instead of proactive, long-term planning. This has contributed to circular debt problem because of short-sightedness political government.
    Let alone increase the supply of energy, situation has worsened due to poor management, operational inefficiencies, power theft, and line losses. This largely sums up the problems country faces in its battle to restore sanity in energy sector, which is now nudging the economy towards disaster, warns latest report of Asian Development Bank.

 [Energy sector in Pakistan]
Energy sector of Pakistan is considered to be under-developed, thanks to poor management and planning, with untapped potential for humungous growth. The root problem is energy generation which never took place proportionately with the rising demand and positive economic growth, with rapid boost taking place in Musharaf’s era. Nobody could tell him about the shortfall in the supply that would engender an energy crisis for coming government(s). The songs of ‘all is well’ were sung by the planners, and now we are in a quagmire where no short-term solution can work. Apart from this energy generation failure, government did little to contain the demand which seems to have exploded out of proportion in past two decades; operational inefficiencies and line losses are costing government billions; power theft; and on the top of that, the cheapest source of electricity, namely, hydropower, suffers from seasonal oscillations between 2,414 and 6,761 megawatts, depending on river flow. To offset the gap between supply and demand, populace suffers from load management or load-shedding. This crisis has pervasive and far-reaching consequences on economy, society and overall functioning of the country.

[Energy sector & consumption]
Pakistan’s energy sector consists of following consumers: household, industry, services, transport, government, etc.  The largest consumer is industry, accounting for around 58% of total consumption; it is followed by transport sector at 22% usage; and 15% is consumed by household, and rest with other sectors. This shows that the power crisis is affecting the industrial setup most, and cause for pain for ordinary citizens. The consumption is met by the mix of petroleum oil, gas, electricity, coal and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sources. Gas contributes most with share of 43.7%, followed by oil at 29% and so on.

[Energy supply]
In 2010, energy supply per capita decreased by 3.09%. The country is in need of 15,000 to 20,000 megawatts (MW) per day. Its current supply is, however, around 11,500 MW per day. Hence, it faces a shortfall of around 3,500 to 8,500 MW. This is the root of cause of all troubles for the struggling economy and industry.

[Sources of energy]
[Non-renewable: fossil fuels: unsustainable / the main sources]
Non-renewable resource is the main energy source of Pakistan, which basically is fossil fuel, formed by the remains or decomposition of animals and plants deposited in earth’s crust and with a long process are converted into oil and gas. There is no replenishment for these sources. There are four main types of fossil fuels: oil, natural gas, coal and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
    First, petroleum contributes 29% to the total supply of energy, as of 2009-10. The majority of crude oil is imported from Gulf States. It is also used in the production of electricity, generating 64 percent (34 from hydropower). Highest consumers of this source are power, transport and industry sectors followed by agriculture and households. Currently, 24 million crude oil is being extracted annually, which will be exhausted in 12-13 years at current rate if new wells are not discovered and utilized, as total estimated reserves are around 303 million barrels.
    Second, natural gas became the fast growing energy source in various sectors of the economy. In 2010, average production exceeded slightly 4,000 million cubic feet per day. In industry is used to make consumer products; its derivative, compressed natural gas (CNG), is used in transport sector; and households use it for various purposes, including cooking, heating, and using it to run generators. Pakistan is currently largest CNG consumer in the world, thanks to price differential between CNG and petrol that is driving its consumption crazily. We might suffer from the fate of New Zealand, who had converted almost everything to CNG only to reverse it back to other forms of energy as they ran out of their gas reservoirs, unless we can miraculously complete pipeline project with Iran.
    Third, coal reservoirs are deemed to be the last hope of energy-deficient Pakistan, although controversially. With over 180 billion tonnes of coal reserves identified at Thar coal field, it is a prospect worth pursuing. The coal currently being extracted is of not good quality, used primarily in brick kiln and cement industries.

Another major energy source consists of renewable resources. These resources are naturally replenished and can be utilized again and again to produce energy, coming from sources such as water, sunlight, wind, tide and geothermal heat. It is sustainable and clean.   
    Hydropower is produced using electricity generators to extract energy from moving water. Pakistan is a goldmine of hydel power, which is under-utilized contributing only 34% to total electricity generation. The potential generation ranges between 41,000 to 45,000 MW, whereas only 6555 MW is being tapped. Currently, there are five hydropower stations, fully functional, namely, Tarbela Dam, Ghazi Brotha, Chashma, Warsak and Mangla Dam, with combined production of 6555 MW. There are five potential hydropower stations waiting to come to life including, Diamer-Bhasha, Munda, Kalabagh, Bunji and Dasu Dam with combined capacity of around 17,000 MW, which can meet the shortfall of supply by more than 90%.
    There are alternative sources of energy, apart from the two categories – namely, renewable and non-renewable resource – which are promising and future of sustainable energy production. However, these are contested and yet not as feasible and economical as current sources of energy. The potential of all these alternative sources are huge, beyond our wildest imagination. Future is here.
    Wind potential of Pakistan is 10,000 MW to 50,000 MW. It works on the principle on using wind’s power to drive the blades of wind turbines, ending up in generating power. A Turkish company is going to install a 50 MW turbine in Jhampir. More plants are to be installed in Jhampir, Bin Qasim Karachi, Keti Bandar, etc.
    Similarly, solar power also has huge potential of generating 100,000 MW, although it seems like a distant dream, but with revolutionary innovation, its tipping point may not be that far. The key to this treasure is developing solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity. In Gilgit-Baltistan, government is building 20,000 solar water heaters. Mobile companies have been asked to shift fuel of their transmission towers from petroleum oil to solar cells.

Ranging from utter incompetency to foreign pressures and lack of political will, the Pandora box of Pakistan’s current energy crisis traces its roots to multifaceted and distinct causes.
Firstly, over the decades, the demand for energy has grown due to following main reasons: increasing population; electrification of rural areas, in 1990s more than 60,000 areas had connections, whereas in 2000s it has passed the mark of one lakh; industrial and agricultural growth; and increasing transportation needs.
    Secondly, with increasing demand that outpaced the supply, there has been a lack of integrated and proactive planning for growth of energy generation. Although the country did not lack natural resources and sites for the exploitation of non-renewable and renewable energy, it failed to tap its potential. Few plants have been installed by the government to meet future needs. It did invite Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to share its burden; the IPPs have become an object of controversy, and clearly have not been able to meet the shortfall. Against the demand of 20,000 MW, we’re producing only 11,500 MW.
    Thirdly, the cost of production of electricity is so high that it can termed as the main reason of current load-shedding. The main cause of high cost is faulty fuel mix. Furnace oil is being used as the main fuel to produce thermal electricity. It is government’s responsibility to provide power generating companies with furnace oil. The cost producing with latter is Rs16 per kwh, which costs the end-consumer Rs22-25/kwh. Government is unable to pay fuel cost to generating companies, forcing plants to be either shut down or run on low capacity. Generating companies in turn are unable to pay to oil companies resulting in a high circular debt of around Rs400 billion. Without clearing this burden of debt, load-shedding situation cannot improve an iota.

 [Consequences / effects on various parts of the economy]
Energy crisis is pervasive in all major sectors of economy and affect quality and standard of life of population at large.
    Economic sector is being hit hard because energy is pivotal for the smooth functioning of its various parts. Economic losses are incurred due to low productivity and cessation of activity in agriculture, industrial and transport sector. Modern economy of a country is integrated, and if one element is displaced or gets weakened it troubles other elements. Lower gross domestic profit (GDP) and high inflation can be attributed to this on-going crisis.
    Agriculture sector is also affected, largely because productivity heavily depends on the functioning of tube wells in many areas. Not only that, production of support agricultural inputs like pesticides and fertilizers is also hampered. Therefore, higher energy generation will boost agricultural productivity.
    Industrial sector represents as one of the most grievous victims of the crisis. It is bloody picture of units being shut down or run at low capacity, layoffs taking place, and overall loss of competitiveness of the country, all of which is also hurting the economy and comparative advantage. Another consequence for this sector is flight of capital; not only foreign but local investors are investing, for instance, in Bangladesh, moving textile units there. If this crisis is not solved immediately, the industrial growth may be reversed completely, allowing foreigners to decimate local industry and innovation forever.
    Unemployment is a natural consequence of the preceding consequences of energy crisis. Shutting down of units and layoffs create unemployment. Interesting inflation is also going up along with layoffs. Moreover, new employment opportunities are not being created due to decreasing investment in new ventures, partially due to weak economy, corruption and terrible law and order situation.
    Social and psychological problems are also emanating from this crisis. Load shedding has led poor junta to take their frustration to road, unleashing it on public and private property, creating some of the most horrendous scenes of incivility. Since domestic supply of energy is erratic and as rare as gold, it stresses people out decreasing their productivity as workers and citizens.

Above all, energy crisis is creating the worse outcome for many: poverty. Instead of decreasing poverty figures after six decades, the country is on the path of adding misery to more and more people. However, economic growth is the messiah, as demonstrated by the experiment of Harvard Advisory Group in Pakistan in 1960s.
    In short, energy crisis is a plague that is poisoning many a sectors’ productivity and growth, increasing circular debt on government, and creating unrest in the populace. The problem is two-fold: supply shortage and demand explosion. It is not just the government that is to be blamed, but the people as well. Nonetheless, its options have not been exhausted. Instead, there is wide range of policy options available, although time taking, which can end this crisis for many generations, if not for eternity.

Solutions to energy crisis are not going to be ordinary, because the crisis is not. Recommendations and especially its implementation can be very painful for the people and for the government. These are hard times; hard decisions need to be made, or else this generation will end up compromising its own, and of future, generation. The reforms vary, firstly, due to the time factor involved in the completion of projects; secondly, according to the nature of energy resource; and, finally, depends on supply and demand sides of the problem.
    Reducing unnecessary consumption – or, reducing demand – can benefit populace and industry a lot. While American nation learnt the art of preservation thanks to twin oil shocks, we refused to do so despite widespread knowledge and omens of eternal low supply of energy. Government needs more robust educational campaign that covers as many ears and eyes as possible. Household consumers waste lot of electrons with their electrical devices, including TV, computers and lightings. In transportation, many reforms can be made: increasing usage of public transport, strengthening of railways, etc. in industry, energy efficient machinery and tools must replace tools of antiquity. Billions can be saved by reducing line losses. This will shrink government’s pockets but the future payoffs are worth it. Moreover, reliance on rental power projects should be decreased to drive down prices, which will boost production, although increase consumption which can be harmonization with education in conservation.
    Along with managing demand of energy hungry populace and industry, government should waste no time investing or arranging investment in new energy sources. There are two main untapped resources with awesome capacity to meet our energy demands: Thar Coal and dams.
    Thar Coal has estimated 175 billion tonnes of coal, the energy potential of which exceeds oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. Government claims to have begun construction of infrastructure; however little or no significant progress has been made. There are two scientific approaches that are being pitted against each other: gasification of coal, led by Dr. Samarkand Mubarak, and open pit testing and conversion of coal into gas. Former approach is being critiqued for a lack of open pit testing which is a norm in the world, and that it is a novel and risky approach. Currently, an audit of the progress done by Dr. Samarkand is being carried out to decide on further investment in the project. However, there is no doubt in the minds of experts that Thar Coals resources can be materialized; it is only a matter of few years.
    Somewhere else in the essay, we identified five potential dams with combined capacity of 17,000 MW. Using renewable resources (water) by constructing new dams and hydro power plants, much of our energy problems can be solved. However, the projects such as Kalabagh Dam are politicized beyond one’s wildest imagination, but according to many experts, including former chairman of WAPDA from Khyber Pashtunkhawa, we have no other option than to build most of the dams, if not all.
    Instead of importing furnace oil, government should import of natural gas by IPI (Iran Pakistan India) and TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) pipelines to replace furnace oil and to meet demand of natural gas in industry and households.
    Import of electricity from Tajikistan - through Pak Afghan Tajikistan transmission - and Iran (approximately 1000 MW from each of them) pipelines can also serve as short-term solution.
    Utilizing alternative energy resources should also be part of the energy mix. This includes wind power, biodiesel or biomass, solar and tidal. These sources may not be able to meet energy requirements of large cities, but surely will make small-scale businesses, villages, household and institutions self-sufficient.
    Enhancing civilian nuclear capacity is way to the future. This should be part of long-term planning, because the costs are heavy and development time long.

[Solution to circular debt]
An alternative to furnace oil for production of electricity is coal. It can be imported. However, even if coal is imported now it will take three years to fully operate majority of plants on it. Moreover, only those plants will be feasible to be run on coal, which are near to the coast; transportation of coal to far off area may not be feasible at all.
    Another short term solution to circular debt is replacement partially furnace oil with natural gas. We know that natural gas can be extracted by applying heavy pressure in fields. Availability of gas will take time. Moreover, exploiting gas from Thar Coal can be a great payoff, although it will take three or more years. The sooner the change takes place, the better it is in order to restore industrial and economic growth. Circular debt is expected to come down with recent increases in tariff. Citizens cannot be burdened any more. The multiple initiatives to reduce cost of electricity are the last resort to improve the situation.

It has always been the worse of times. There has been no energy bonanza in Pakistan. Economic growth did speed up in last decades, so did population growth rate and demand for energy; only supply of it failed to match the demand. This ‘feat’ has been accomplished with the help of poor planning, fire-fighting as a mental attitude of short-sighted governments, lack of political will, untapped resources, faulty fuel mix for electricity generation, and whole lot of other causes and its effects. Energy is a key requirement many sectors of Pakistan’s economy and society, hence its crisis has severe consequences for all these sectors. The main sources of energy need overhaul, change of heart, and replacement with new resources such as indigenous coal, gas, and more reliance on futuristic alternative, sustainable energy resources which will take at least decade or two before becoming true rivals to fossil fuels.
    The causes of the crisis are multifaceted and accumulated over time. Reconstructing the energy sector means dismantling decades of poor planning and decision-making, which speaks of the complexity of the situation. However, the severity of the crisis can be a blessing in disguise; it can compel authorities take hard decisions. Their biggest enemy is their own short-sightedness.
    Solutions have not been exhausted; in fact the opposite is true. Need of the hour is to launch multiple strategic moves, instead of pinning success in one ‘big push’. There are at least four kinds of energy sources identified in the essay that are vast open spaces for development, including building new dams, exploiting Thar Coal, alternative energy, and importing cheaper energy sources to replace costly one.

Game Theory with my Cousin: Battle over Tea & Biscuits

My cousin is preparing his exam. He needs tea. He wants me to go down and make it in the middle of the night. He gains control over my biscuits in my absence and black mails me, nudging me towards a "win-win" situation whereby i make tea  for him to get my biscuits back. For me, this is pure black mailing. I don't want to make tea for him. I'd love him to do so instead since I walked a lot to buy the biscuits. I'd like tea for myself though. Here are the strategies for both of us. I've little to decide which strategy would make me better off. My motive is not to allow him maximizing his utility while trying to maximize my own.

The Contract
My cousin made an offer which I accepted: "within 20 mins leave the room to make tea and I will give your biscuits back to you."

Choosing Best Strategy (or Strategies) for Me & Cousin
(Click to enlarge)
I chose strategy en-rectangled by the green one. Given the information (my guess actually), my cousin is desperate for tea. Missing tea or getting a really bad one would decrease his utility, in turn giving me the pleasure of victory over him, which i'd see as a compensation for the loss I incurred in making tea (time, effort, etc.). It really happened that he didn't take tea because it lacked sugar; i must be overjoyed! (Actually, i didn't like him not taking the tea on moral grounds.)

Discussion with Cousin: Flaw in the Preceding Diagram & the Winner is...?
When I discussed this game with my cousin after the game was complete. He revealed that he wasn't desperate for tea at all; in fact he didn't want it. He loves tea that lack sugar and is strong; just the kind of thing i tried to make. He didn't take tea, the kind of tea he claims he like most, because he didn't want it. His sole goal was to force me into taking trouble of making tea at an odd time. He wanted to see me disrupt my studies.

Removing the wall of information asymmetry, we come to know that the game matrix shown above was flawed because it failed to anticipate all possible moves with all intentions of all players. It failed to take into account what my cousin was really wanting to do, i.e., he never wanted tea, he wanted me to take the pain of making tea in the middle of night!

Finding the Equilibrium Strategy
Was the move that I execute lead all players towards equilibrium - an action that no one regrets? This depends on what our perceived benefits or costs were associated with each action, as I will show.

Situation 1: Equilibrium not reached with original strategy: Cousin wins
Dominant strategy for my cousin. I worse off. Hence, i'd been better off by not making tea, because it would've saved my time.

Situation 2: Equilibrium reached with my original strategy
On the other hand, if at the moment i associated greater utility to a cup of tea with biscuits, i did the right thing. Hence, my original strategy resulted in equilibrium.

Javed Ch (Columnist) on Mirza Qadyani

It's rare to read a rational or sentimental piece against the falsehood of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadyani. Even the most open minded people blind themselves in the name of human rights to the wrong doings of Mirza and that of Jamat e Ahmediyya, which has held people hostage in the state of Rabwah, as per those who converted to Islam from Qadyaniyat, persecuted and have their children abducted by the peace-loving and enlightened leadership of Ahmadis/Qadyanis.

Here's the piece. (Source.)

Letter to economist Prof M Shahid Alam: Message for Youth

I do not seek any kind of self-gratification by publishing this email conversation with a scholar (as you'd testify it doesn't exist in the post). I am reading these days articles of an economist and social scientist, Dr Shahid Alam, a Pakistani teaching at Northeastern University these days. He writes on politics, neo-liberalism economics, euro-centrism, Israel-Palestine conflict - he's a spokesperson for the oppressed, depressed and stressed who have no voice in the mainstream media outlets. He sees the world with eyes of his own Tradition and civilization, Islam. His outspoken critique of Israel has led open and liberal government of US, the greatest nation on earth to ever exist, to harass him by spying on him. You can read some of his articles here: PakPatriot, SSRN Author Page: Shahid Alam, and his website Q-Reason to which you can submit articles and/or share links to other scholarly articles.

I seek these voice with such a perspective grounded not in mere sentimentality but scholarship. I want to him but can't do it in a year or two, as he's in US... So want to thank him; here's the conversation which I'm only sharing because it has a simple, harmless message for Pakistani students:



Sir, I'm writing this email from Pakistan, and pray that you may remain safe from spying on you or any other form of harassment. I wish I could meet you in person and thank you for intellectual courage and discernment with which are destroying "the idols of modern ideologies" and oppressors. You are a rare voice traditional Muslims (with all of our shortcoming) yearn to hear. I can only thank you and Allah for being that voice for Islam. And I only wish to request you to expand topics you write on in greater multitude.

HH Prof Shahid Alam:

Dear Umer Mian, WA

Thanks for getting in touch. I am glad that you have benefited from some of my writings. Encourage your friends to read books. We have many people with college degrees, but very few of them own or read books.



M. Shahid Alam
Professor of Economics
Northeastern University
Boston, MA 02115

When Lowly Intellects Respresent Islam

As Ahmed Javed Sahib (may Allah preserve him and add barakah to his life) explains his feeling of dreadfulness* when he hears news of some so-called religious leader of ABC faction, with lowly, degraded intellectual marching off to engage an athiest or "an educated" person to "pursue" him (or her, in extreme rare cases) about Islam, so did i always have this feeling, which i'd brush aside on grounds of being too flimsy and characteristic of my cowardice. Actually, if i look back at those moments of dread and prayer to Allah that he save Islam from destruction at the hands of such self-proclaimed, uncivilized and "sang-dil" (stone hearted) leaders of Prophet Muhammad's religion, i was sure of my feeling. Its only that i find relief in its attestation from Javed sahib...

Ahmed javed, "Paistan me Nifaz-e-Shariyat Kese" (How to Enforce Shariyet in Pakitan?): (video)

Noam Chomski on Globalization

514 years ago a tragedy befell humanity, when human discovered an unpolluted, uninhabited, continent, a vast "virgin" land awaiting to become the greatest nation on earth with a mission to civilize the rest. As you'd have probably guessed, it was America. First it was Europe that had the baton of world's leadership, and now new Europeans claim a virgin territory, although it required little nation-cleansing of Red Indians "for their own good" and to achieve unity of ideas, color and race of their new breeding ground of "humanity last best hope"*. Truly, the mission of white America has been global, ever so more when foreign affair experts realized that local happenings in a far off land of Mozlems can cause catastrophe's at the heart of America (we're no less expected to call the carnage unholy in Islamic terms).

I am surprised by the shocking lack of creativity and unpredictability of US Imperial Mind when it comes to enslaving people - it's just too much predictable. They're very consistent in their policies because only tested methods attract investment and approvals. Be it Haiti, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Indonesia, Iraq, etc., US imperialism works on a given pattern. This is also true, as Chomsky shows in detail, of the method and treatment of America's spiritual and actual fathers, namely, Britishers; how they destroyed the wealth of Dacca and unlimited other "good works" that it's pointless and useless for me to discuss (who's on the receiving end) because it serves no good purpose than one important utility: Knowing this history is crucial to protect oneself from mind control by Western and westernized intellectuals who do not get tired reminding us of the infinite blessings white man has conferred on whole humanity and how much we need to learn from them formulas of eternal success. This is like seeking a Messiah in a Dajjal (or Anti-Christ); perhaps this is why he is called so, "One who deceives."

Chomsky does well to expose the true nature, objective and mechanism of "good work" carried out world's "last best hope". He focuses on Haiti as a case study in the first chapter of his book, Hopes and Prospects. (I couldn't see hope with Americans or for its people, as one of their presidents feared great reprimand from God for the "good works" of his people.) Neoliberal policies become the new enslaving system with lots of appeal and good publicity prospects in home and abroad. Today the main problem is that of illusions which victims are fed with. We are lured with prospects of heavens on earth by our own politicians and every other public intellectual or else, so much so that sovereignty is seen worthy of being traded for it, at least in Pakistan (not true for Latin Americans who're always ablaze with spirits of liberation). The essay can be seen as testifying the perspective presented by John Perkins in his Confessions of an Economic Hitman, which exposed imperialist, expansionist policies of America and how it enslaves countries around the world with debt burdens, regime changes, murders, and what not.

In the end of the essay or speech, Chomsky presents two categories of definition for the term globalization: literal and technical. Literal meaning of the term is that of global integration, peace, harmony and cooperation. The technical meaning, albeit how America sees it, is implementation of neoliberal economic policies with use of all kind of violence to preserve and advance all kinds of interests of US global empire.

* A must read: Shahid Alam, "World's Greatest Country: Do the facts lie?"

Spiritual Self-Combat & Edge of Chaos

A life of a believer can be more of a roller coaster; an epic war of ups and downs. The bottom line is to have hopes alive while constantly hitting back enemy posts with reinforcements and counter-attacks. And to die in this frenzy and chaos, perhaps is the main objective... I can easily recall the lessons of edge of chaos theory [see, Competing on Edge, by K. Eisenhardt, et al]. You can't have a well-thought plan or strategy to cope with unpredictable change that can give you pace and stability, helping to stay ahead of the competition, 1-to-1 or 1-to-many. It won't work; because things are out of your control. All you have to have is a semi-coherent vision/strategy with multiple lines of attacks or moves, with a loose underlying structure (of processes and systems, boundaries, rules, regulations, constraints, etc.) - to help you cope with change or an enemy who can usher chaos on you 24/365*n [where n = your life years].
Similarly (more or less), we face an infinitely experience enemy: Shaitan, or satan, which has spread today beyond our wildest imagination. He is the best chess player in the world; has the ability to calculate thousands of moves. We are, however, not powerless. Our biggest weapons are hope and repentance. These two weapons remain the same; the add-ons can vary. We have a large array of weapons at our disposal which can be used randomly to counter-attacks. One exception: one big move can work to please Allah. However, due to low information availability, rapidly changing skies, and veils of creation that make reality confusing should caution us not to fall prey to over confidence. We cannot know the outcome of this epic war until we die. Hence, the basic axiom or golden principle is to keep worshiping (maneuvering and bombing enemies ground and air targets) till we die and achieve certainty. "Hope, I've confused you" (and myself), in words of Sal.

Game Theory: A Prisoners' Dilemma Situation in Pakistani Schools

Prisoner dilemma is a game (serious one) where two prisoners are separately given two choices: confess or remain silent. If A confesses, while the other remains silent, A goes free. However, if A remains silent, trusting that his partner won't betray him by confessing, and his partner confesses, he'd 4 years sentence. On the top of that, if both confess, both are sentenced for 8 years! But, if they trust each other, without ever communicating, they get 1 year sentence.

Game Theory assumes that humans are selfish, hence the dominant incentive for both prisoners, who're locked in separate cells with informational asymmetry, is to confess, because none of them would risk trusting a betrayer. The dilemma is: executing the incentive or dominant strategy leads to worse pay offs!

This game is well-known and has various versions. I happened to know a similar game my friend used to play unconsciously.

On a rainy or unusual day, school teachers expect a very low turnout. My friend sees this as an opportunity to stand out from the rest by coming to class to impress his teachers. When he turns up in class, he's always doomed to see more than enough students turning up with the same intention (at least a considerable size of the students). Had he communicated with all and assured them that he won't come, lest others don't come, what would have been the outcome? I presume others would come too, unless the group bonding is very strong. In fact, when i was in 11th class, my seniors were united as a wall. And every other Saturday, literally none would come: girls and boys - without co-education and least outward interaction. Only 2 or 3 students out of 500+ would attend the class. After all, cooperation may be a dominant strategy (perhaps weakly) which requires development and cohesion.

Of Weak-willed

There is no refuge for weak-willed in this world of extroverts, "mighty likable," creatures...

Detailed Definition of Shari'ah Needed

I am looking for an authentic definition of Shari'ah (based on books by traditional scholars, ancient and contemporary). I've searched half a dozen books, but no author deems it fit to explain it in more than few sentences. Authors assume that this is a self-explanatory term = Islamic Law; however, i believe a clear understanding of scope and original meaning of this term, technically, is very important in this age of confusion.