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Biden, world and Pakistan
As Joe Biden settles into his new role after a tough election campaign, how will he address key international issues? Pakistan is among the countries awaiting a positive change to the conduct of US foreign policy. Would the Biden presidency prove different for us from Trump’s Administration? Will it mirror Obama’s two terms when Biden was Vice President?
Pakistan’s relationship with the US was largely transitional in nature, depending on when the US needed Pakistan and how we tried to capitalise on US needs to promote their agenda. The last thirty years have not been any different in this respect and no drastic changes are expected.
While Trump’s approach did not deviate much from conventional US policies on China, North Korea, Iran, the Middle East, Israel and Afghanistan, Biden may take a potentially less provocative and less aggressive stance. Initially, he will change direction on those issues where Trump diverged from the norm.
Compared to Trump, Biden is likely to ease up on Iran while keeping to the basic US premise which views Tehran as a troublemaker for the Middle East and as a threat to Israel. US-Pakistan relations would need to be dictated by a realistic assessment by both sides as the strategic interests of the two countries have deviated over time. Although Kashmir has been a sensitive issue, US Presidents have avoided isolating India in the UN. Any attempt to disrupt Pakistan-China relations is futile as is getting Islamabad to revise its regional strategy.
The US has rejoined the Paris Climate Control Agreement and the WHO, which Trump had left. Currently a key factor binding US foreign policy to that of Pakistan has been Afghanistan. Biden is reviewing last year’s US-Taliban peace accord. Military ties are resuming, with F-16 fighters on offer.
Role of microfinance
Pakistan has reportedly imported $1.5bn worth of cotton, food items during the last six months. This import bill is quite hefty for an agrarian-based economy in which the agriculture sector accounts for about 21% of the country’s GDP and employs about 44% of the labour force. Over the years, our economy has not only failed to move from agricultural to industrial economy but also is losing ground. Main reason is lack of financial resources for farmers. They are deprived of basic agricultural inputs and raw material needed to increase crop production both in terms of quantity and quality.
Micro-financing culture is quite new to rural communities that are still struggling to absorb its complete benefits and utilize its potential. Some leading microfinance banks are making immense social impact by uplifting the farmers’ community. They are offering a wide range of financial solutions supported by technical training to raise the bar of the farmer community through various periodic interventions.
The role of microfinance institutions is crucial in this regard to help farmers gain access to required finances on easy terms to well-equipped themselves with Modern tools. These programs have brought revolutionary results in reducing poverty and increasing agricultural productivity across developing countries of the world.
Third world countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh and India are living examples of reducing poverty by introducing agricultural reforms through microfinance initiatives. There is a dire need to support microfinance institutes at national level to increase their outreach and acceptability among the farmers’ community. This way we cannot only bring down our food import bill but will be able to increase our food export in order to earn valuable foreign exchange and ultimately contribute towards national food security cause.
ADNAN ALI MUGHAL
Date sheet dilemma
Unfortunately, the recently published date sheet for Second Semester Examination (2020) by the University of Sindh, Jamshoro has put many students, who were due to appear for CSS Examination (2021), in a fix due to the clash of the dates.
According to the varsity time table the examination shall commence from 15 February, 2021 and continue over a period of few weeks. Likewise, as per the FPSC notification published on 15 January, 2021 the CSS Competitive Examination (2021) shall be held as per original schedule i.e. from 18 to 26 February, 2021. Therefore, it is prayed that the varsity would find a timely solution to end this quandary and save many students from this double jeopardy!
TARIQUE AHMED ABRO