(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan

“As long as we tell our urban ancestors’ stories, no city is ever lost. They live on, in our imaginations and on our public lands, as a promise that no matter how terrible things get, humans always try again.”*…

In the dusty plains of present-day Sindh in southern Pakistan lie the remains of one of the world’s most impressive ancient cities of which most people have never heard. Samantha Shea reports…

A slight breeze cut through the balmy heat as I surveyed the ancient city around me. Millions of red bricks formed walkways and wells, with entire neighbourhoods sprawled out in a grid-like fashion. An ancient Buddhist stupa towered over the time-worn streets, with a large communal pool complete with a wide staircase below. Somehow, only a handful of other people were here – I practically had the place all to myself.

I was about an hour outside of the dusty town of Larkana in southern Pakistan at the historical site of Mohenjo-daro. While today only ruins remain, 4,500 years ago this was not only one of the world’s earliest cities, but a thriving metropolis featuring highly advanced infrastructures.

Mohenjo-daro – which means “mound of the dead men” in Sindhi – was the largest city of the once-flourishing Indus Valley (also known as Harappan) Civilisation that ruled from north-east Afghanistan to north-west India during the Bronze Age. Believed to have been inhabited by at least 40,000 people, Mohenjo-daro prospered from 2500 to 1700 BCE.

“It was an urban centre that had social, cultural, economic and religious linkages with Mesopotamia and Egypt,” explained Irshad Ali Solangi, a local guide who is the third generation of his family to work at Mohenjo-daro.

But compared to the cities of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, which thrived around the same time, few have heard of Mohenjo-daro. By 1700 BCE, it was abandoned, and to this day, no-one is sure exactly why the inhabitants left or where they went…

The fascinating tale: “Pakistan’s lost city of 40,000 people,” from @IDtravelblog in @BBC_Travel.

* Annalee Newitz, Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age

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As we muse on mutability, we might send (semi-)adventurous birthday greetings to Thomas Cook; he was born on this date in 1808. An English businessman, he is best known for founding the travel agency Thomas Cook & Son— through which he pioneered the “package tour” and helped build tourism systems (vouchers, company agents/guides, purpose-built hotels, et al.) that fueled the growth of leisure travel first in Italy, then around the world.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 22, 2022 at 1:00 am

“A great sound is given forth from the empty vessel”*…

Pakistan’s economy appears to be in pretty bad shape. Riffing on a provocative thread from Atif Mian, the redoubtable Noah Smith compares the economic condition of Indian’s nuclear-armed antagonist with its island neighbor (and current basket case) Sri Lanka…

Many of the particular root causes of Pakistan’s situation are different than in Sri Lanka — they didn’t ban synthetic fertilizer or engage in sweeping tax cuts. The political situations of the two countries, though both dysfunctional, are also different (here is a primer on Pakistan’s troubles). But there are enough similarities at the macroeconomic level that I think it’s worth comparing and contrasting the two.

In my post about Sri Lanka, I made a checklist of eight features that made that country’s crisis so “textbook”:

• An import-dependent country

• A persistent trade deficit

• A pegged exchange rate

• Lots of foreign-currency borrowing

• Capital flight

• An exchange rate crash (balance-of-payments crisis)

• A sovereign default

• Accelerating inflation

[He then examines each as it pertains to Pakistan]

… Pakistan shares a lot in common with Sri Lanka. It doesn’t have a pegged exchange rate, it’s not as dependent on imported food, and it doesn’t have quite as much foreign-currency debt. But the basic ingredients for a slightly more drawn-out version of the classic emerging-markets crisis are there, and there are some indications that the crisis has already begun.

Because Pakistan didn’t peg its exchange rate and didn’t borrow quite as much in foreign currencies as Sri Lanka, it made fewer macroeconomic mistakes than its island counterpart. But in terms of long-term economic mismanagement, it has done much worse than Sri Lanka. No, it didn’t ban synthetic fertilizers — that was an especially bizarre and boneheaded move. But one glance at the income levels of Sri Lanka and Pakistan clearly shows how much the development of the latter has lagged:

Pakistan went from 3/4 as rich as Sri Lanka in 1990 to only about 1/3 as rich today. That’s an incredibly bad performance on Pakistan’s part…

Another emerging-market crisis looms: “Pakistan is in big trouble,” from @Noahpinion.

Oh, and the weather’s not helping either.

For a consideration of the interesting (that’s to say, challenging) questions that Pakistan’s predicament (and the travails of other debtor nations) pose for China, which is an increasingly large lender across the developing world, see the first set of items here.

* Pakistani proverb

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As we batten the hatches, we might spare a thought for Fazlur Rahman Malik; he died on this date in 1988. A scholar and philosopher, he was a prominent reformer in Pakistan, who devoted himself to educational reform and the revival of independent reasoning (ijtihad). While his work was widely-respected by other reformers, it drew strong criticism from conservative forces– who eventually forced him into exile. He left Pakistan in 1968 for the United States where he taught at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Chicago.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 26, 2022 at 1:00 am

Speak no evil…

In danger no longer! (source)

Gawker reports [from the Hindustan Times] that Pakistan’s Telecommunications Authority has issued a list of 1,700 words [and phrases] it considers “offensive and obscene,” and has demanded that mobile providers begin filtering them from text messages as of Monday. The list, which contains hundreds of familiar swear words as well as some truly puzzling choices, is meant to curb SMS spamming, according the PTA, which it defines as “the transmission of harmful, fraudulent, misleading, illegal or unsolicited messages in bulk to any person without express permission of the recipient.”

Some of the words:

Athlete’s foot
Deposit
Black out
Drunk
Flatulence
Glazed Donut
Harem
Jesus Christ
Hostage
Murder
Penthouse
Satan
Flogging the dolphin
Monkey crotch
Idiot
Damn
Deeper
Four twenty
Go to hell
Harder
Looser
No sex
Quickie
Fairy

The full list is on Google Docs, here… after a careful consideration of which, your correspondent will be choosing his words more carefully.

As we reconsider our morning glazed donut, we might recall that it was on this date in 1839 that the American Statistical Association was formed in a meeting at the Boston home of the American Education Society by William Cogswell, teacher, fund-raiser for the ministry, and genealogist; Richard Fletcher, lawyer and U.S. Congressman; John Dix Fisher, physician and pioneer in medical reform; Oliver Peabody, lawyer, clergyman, poet, and editor; and Lemuel Shattuck, statistician, genealogist, publisher, and author of perhaps the most significant single document in the history of public health to that date.

Over the next few decades, the membership grew to over 100, including Florence Nightingale, Alexander Graham Bell, Herman Hollerith, Andrew Carnegie, and President Martin Van Buren; by 1939, the roll had expanded to 3,000.  But it was after World War Two, and the explosion in the physical and social sciences, that the organization began to balloon.  Today the ASA has over 17,000 members, and 23 special interest section (like Business and Economics; Biometrics, and Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental).

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