Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Pakistan's Total Education Spending Surpasses its Defense Budget

Pakistan's public spending on education has more than doubled since 2010 to reach $8.6 billion a year in 2017, rivaling defense spending of $8.7 billion. Private spending on education by parents is even higher than the public spending with the total adding up to nearly 6% of GDP. Pakistan has 1.7 million teachers, nearly three times the number of soldiers currently serving in the country's armed forces. Unfortunately, the education outcomes do not yet reflect the big increases in spending. Why is it? Let's examine this in some detail.

Pakistan Education Budget:

The total money budgeted for education by the governments at the federal and provincial levels has increased from Rs. 304 billion in 2010-11 to Rs. 790 billion in 2016-17,  representing an average of 17.5% increase per year since 2010.

Source: Dawn Newspaper

Private Education Spending in Pakistan:

2012 Data from UNESCO and the World Bank shows that the private spending on education is about twice as much as the monies budgeted by federal and provincial governments in Pakistan.

Private/Public Spending on Education in Selected Countries. Source: Economist

Education Outcomes:

UNESCO and World Bank data from 2013 shows that only 52% of Pakistani kids and 48% of Indian kids reached expected standard of reading after 4 years of school, according to the Economist Magazine. It also shows that 46% of Pakistani children dropped out of school before completing 4 years of education.
Reading Performance in Selected Countries. Source: Economist

Education and Literacy Rates:

Pakistan's net primary enrollment rose from 42% in 2001-2002 to 57% in 2008-9 during Musharraf years. It has been essentially flat at 57% since 2009 under PPP and PML(N) governments.

Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16

Similarly, the literacy rate for Pakistan 10 years or older rose from 45% in 2001-2002 to 56% in 2007-2008 during Musharraf years. It has increased just 4% to 60% since 2009-2010 under PPP and PML(N) governments.

Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16

Pakistan's Human Development: 

Human development index reports on Pakistan released by UNDP confirm the ESP 2015 human development trends.Pakistan’s HDI value for 2013 is 0.537— which is in the low human development category—positioning the country at 146 out of 187 countries and territories. Between 1980 and 2013, Pakistan’s HDI value increased from 0.356 to 0.537, an increase of 50.7 percent or an average annual increase of about 1.25.

Pakistan HDI Components Trend 1980-2013 Source: Human Development Report 2014


Overall, Pakistan's human development score rose by 18.9% during Musharraf years and increased just 3.4% under elected leadership since 2008. The news on the human development front got even worse in the last three years, with HDI growth slowing down as low as 0.59% — a paltry average annual increase of under 0.20 per cent.

Going further back to the  decade of 1990s when the civilian leadership of the country alternated between PML (N) and PPP,  the increase in Pakistan's HDI was 9.3% from 1990 to 2000, less than half of the HDI gain of 18.9% on Musharraf's watch from 2000 to 2007.

Bogus Teachers in Sindh:

In 2014, Sindh's provincial education minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said that "a large number of fake appointments were made in the education department during the previous tenure of the PPP government" when the ministry was headed by Khuhru's predecessor PPP's Peer Mazhar ul Haq. Khuhro was quoted by Dawn newspaper as saying that "a large number of bogus appointments of teaching and non-teaching staff had been made beyond the sanctioned strength" and without completing legal formalities as laid down in the recruitment rules by former directors of school education Karachi in connivance with district officers during 2012–13.

Ghost Schools in Balochistan:

In 2016, Balochistan province's education minister Abdur Rahim Ziaratwal was quoted by Express Tribune newspaper as telling his provincial legislature that  “about 900 ghost schools have been detected with 300,000 fake registrations of students, and out of 60,000, 15,000 teachers’ records are unknown.”

Absentee Teachers in Punjab:

A 2013 study conducted in public schools in Bhawalnagar district of Punjab found that 27.5% of the teachers are absent from classrooms from 1 to 5 days a month while 3.75% are absent more than 10 days a month. The absentee rate in the district's private schools was significantly lower. Another study by an NGO Alif Ailan conducted in Gujaranwala and Narowal reported that "teacher absenteeism has been one of the key impediments to an effective and working education apparatus."

Political Patronage:

Pakistani civilian rule has been characterized by a system of political patronage that doles out money and jobs to political party supporters at the expense of the rest of the population. Public sector jobs, including those in education and health care sectors, are part of this patronage system that was described by Pakistani economist Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, the man credited with the development of United Nation's Human Development Index (HDI) as follows:

"...every time a new political government comes in they have to distribute huge amounts of state money and jobs as rewards to politicians who have supported them, and short term populist measures to try to convince the people that their election promises meant something, which leaves nothing for long-term development. As far as development is concerned, our system has all the worst features of oligarchy and democracy put together." 

Summary:

Education spending in Pakistan has increased at an annual average rate of 17.5% since 2010. It has more than doubled since 2010 to reach $8.6 billion a year in 2017, rivaling defense spending of $8.7 billion. Private spending by parents is even higher than the public spending with the total adding up to nearly 6% of GDP. Pakistan has 1.7 million teachers, nearly three times the number of soldiers currently serving in the country's armed forces. However, the school enrollment and literacy rates have remained flat and the human development indices are stuck in neutral.  This is in sharp contrast to the significant improvements in outcomes from increased education spending seen during Musharraf years in 2001-2008. An examination of the causes shows that the corrupt system of political patronage tops the list. This system jeopardizes the future of the country by producing ghost teacher, ghost schools and absentee staff to siphon off the money allocated for children's education. Pakistani leaders need to reflect on this fact and try and protect education from the corrosive system of political patronage networks.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

History of Literacy in Pakistan

Reading and Math Performance in Pakistan vs India

Myths and Facts on Out-of-School Children

Who's Better For Pakistan's Human Development? Musharraf or Politicians? 

Corrosive Effects of Pakistan's System of Political Patronage

Development of Pakistan's Human Capital

Asian Tigers Brought Prosperity; Democracy Followed

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pakistan Per Capita Cement Consumption Hit New High of 170 Kg in 2016

Pakistan's domestic cement consumption reached 35 million tons in 2016, up from 30 million tons in 2015, according to a report published by Global Cement.  Using the latest census population of 207 million, it works out to about 170 Kg per person consumption. The increase is driven by a combination of CPEC-related infrastructure projects as well as commercial and housing construction.


Pakistan Cement Sales. Source: Global Cement

While domestic demand for cement is continuing its upward trend, the exports have suffered a major decline. In 2009, the exports hit a high of over 11 million tons, constituting 34% of all cement dispatches at the time. Since then, they have fallen to below 6 million tons or 14% of all sales.

Pakistan cement industry is booming. There is some disagreement about where the biggest demand is coming from.  The CEO of Thatta Cement says it is 60% infrastructure and 40% housing but others say it is 70% housing and 30% infrastructure.

Pakistan's 11 cement manufacturers are investing a combined $2.25 billion to add new production capacity of 30 million tons a year by 2019, according to a media report attributed to the State Bank of Pakistan.

The year 2017 is also proving to be yet another boom year for cement industry. Cement sales have soared by 15% year-on-year to 10.3 million tons in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017-18 that ended in September 2017, up from 9 million tons in the same period in 2016.

Pakistan is among the world’s fastest-growing construction markets. A BMI report published earlier in 2017 forecasts an average 12 percent growth annually for the next five years.  Cement capacity utilization increased to 88 percent in the 10 months through April, the highest in 11 years, according to Bloomberg.

Beyond the construction industry boom, Pakistan's large scale manufacturing (LSM) sector is also soaring by double digits. Both of these sectors are important drivers for job growth in the country.

Although production was driven mostly by strong domestic demand, the exports in July-Sept 2018 also increased nearly 11% over the same period last year.

Among the notable sub-sectors driving strong LSM growth in July-August 2017 are: Tractors 115%,  motorcycles 28.3%, deep freezers 16.2%, air-conditioners 26.8%, electric-fans 22.4%, electric motors 17.3% and electric meters 18.3%, and switchgear 20.8%.

Significant improvement in the country's security situation is helping restore confidence of investors, businesses and consumers who are pushing economic growth in Pakistan to new highs. The fast pace of execution of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related projects is at least partly responsible for it.

Related Links:








Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pakistani Students Win Silver in International Genetic Engineering Competition

A team of undergraduate students representing Peshawar has won a silver medal in a genetic engineering competition organized recently by the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation in Boston, Massachusetts.

Source: iGEM Peshawar Facebook Page


iGEM Team:

The team was made up of students from several cities and towns across Pakistan including Lahore, Attock, Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad, Khyber Agency, Nowshera, Charsadda, Peshawar, Swabi and Mardan.

The team was hosted by Institute of Integrative Biosciences of CECOS University of IT and Emerging Sciences Peshawar. It was sponsored by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP)’s Directorate of Science and Technology, according to media reports.

The team's silver-medal-winning 2017 entry is a genetically engineered fish called "Reporter Fish" that can detect five different heavy metals and change color to indicate the presence of metal contamination in the water. It used an Arduino electronic circuit board with bacterial-human interface device that enables bacteria to detect and report contamination.

The Peshawar team also participated in iGEM 2016 competition and won a Bronze medal. The 12-member team last year was made of 5 female and 7 male students.

Stanford Challenge:

Earlier this year, a 3-person team of Pakistani students, including a female student from Islamabad's National University of Science and Technology (NUST), won first place in a contest organized by Stanford Center of Longevity. The team's entry is a device they designed and prototyped that enables tremor patients to perform daily routine tasks.

Higher Education in Pakistan:

Wins such as the iGEM silver medal and the first place in Stanford Challenge are the result of improvements in higher education in Pakistan since the year 2000.

There are over 3 million students enrolled in grades 13 through 16 in Pakistan's 1,086 degree colleges and 161 universities, according to Pakistan Higher Education Commission report for 2013-14.  The 3 million enrollment is 15% of the 20 million Pakistanis in the eligible age group of 18-24 years.  In addition, there are over 255,000 Pakistanis enrolled in vocational training schools, according to Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA).

Graduation Day at NED Engineering University For 1300 Graduates in 2013
Pakistani universities have been producing over half a million graduates, including over 10,000 IT graduates, every year since 2010, according to HEC data. The number of university graduates in Pakistan increased from 380,773 in 2005-6 to 493,993 in 2008-09. This figure is growing with rising enrollment and contributing to Pakistan's growing human capital.

Source: UNESCO's Global Education Digest 2009






Higher education in Pakistan has come a long way since its independence in 1947 when there was only one university, the University of Punjab. By 1997, the number of universities had risen to 35, of which 3 were federally administered and 22 were under the provincial governments, with a combined enrollment of 71,819 students. A big spending boost by President Pervez Musharraf helped establish 51 new universities and awarding institutions during 2002-2008. This helped triple university enrollment from 135,000 in 2003 to about 400,000 in 2008, according to Dr. Ata ur Rehman who led the charge for expanding higher education during Musharraf years. There are 161 universities with 1.5 million students enrolled in Pakistan as of 2014.

R&D Investment: 

Rise of research and publications at Pakistani universities began during Musharraf years when the annual budget for higher education increased from only Rs 500 million in 2000 to Rs 28 billion in 2008, to lay the foundations of the development of a strong knowledge economy, according to former education minister Dr. Ata ur Rehman. Student enrollment in universities increased from 270,000 to 900,000 and the number of universities and degree awarding institutions increased from 57 in 2000 to 137 by 2008. Government R&D spending jumped seven-fold as percentage of GDP from 0.1% of GDP in 1999 to 0.7% of GDP in 2007. It has since declined as percentage of GDP.

Summary:

Pakistani students, scientists and researchers are continuing to produce highly recognized and cited research in spite of serious economic and security challenges. Enrollment in higher education is rising and giving a boost to innovation. With better policy focus and more investment in higher education, Pakistan  can make an even greater impact with its young demographics.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Beats BRICS in Highly Cited Research

Pakistan Becomes CERN Member

Pakistani Scientists at CERN

Rising College Enrollment in Pakistan

10 Pakistani Universities Among Asia's Top 300

Genomics and Biotech Research in Pakistan

Human Capital Growth in Pakistan

Educational Attainment in Pakistan

Pakistan Human Development in Musharraf Years

Robotics Growth in Pakistan 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Is US Playing the "India Card" Against China With "Indo-Pacific Quad"?

Has Asia-Pacific become Indo-Pacific? Is George W. Bush's Quad back again? Is this Trump's version of Obama's Pivot to Asia? Let's examine what happened during President Donald Trump's recent Asia Trip.

Obama's Pivot to Asia:

President Barack Obama's Pivot to Asia initiative and his efforts to create Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) seemed to have been all but abandoned by President Donald Trump after his inauguration in January 2017. This is part of a pattern of Mr. Trump's campaign to erase the Obama legacy and put his own stamp on all things American. However, it now appears that the Obama legacy is being repackaged by the Trump administration under new names such as "Quad" in "Indo-Pacific" region. Its aim remains the same: To check China's rise.

Trump's Quad in Indo-Pacific:

In a speech to business leaders during his visit to Vietnam, President Trump repeatedly called for a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” describing a region where independent nations could “thrive in freedom and peace” and all states “play by the rules.” Without naming China as the target, Trump also used the phrase repeatedly at the start of a meeting Monday in the Philippines with President Rodrigo Duterte, according to Bloomberg.    Trump also met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Manila and called him a friend and a “great gentleman.”

Trump's Asia trip also saw the revival of a decade-old but short-lived partnership of four maritime nations (Australia, India, Japan and the United States) worried about China’s rising influence in the region now being described as "Indo-Pacific" rather than its usual moniker of Asia-Pacific.  Senior officials from the four countries met in Manila for the first such meeting since the George W. Bush administration, focused on regional issues including North Korea but topped with China-related concerns.

US-India Anti-China Military Alliance?

To some observers, the "Quad" appears to be a throwback to the Cold War era in which the United States wants to use Narendra Modi as a willing ally to check China's rise. They cite lack of confidence in the current American leadership under Trump to follow through on any international or bilateral commitments.

While the US seeks to use India against China, the Indians remain obsessed with Pakistan. They talk about the lack of American concern for India's interests in South Asia and the Middle East. Writing for The Wire, Indian analyst Manoj Joshi complains that "there is no reciprocal US commitment to issues of Indian concern relating to Pakistan and the dangers arising out of the highly volatile environment in the Persian Gulf area which the US has helped create".

India's Pakistan Obsession:

It seems to me that the US policymakers don't fully appreciate the Kautilya doctrine that says "your neighbor is your enemy and your neighbor's neighbor is your friend".

The foreign policy doctrine enunciated by Kautilya, the ancient Indian Machiavelli, continues to guide India's foreign policy vis-a-vis its neighbors, particularly Pakistan. Kautilya's Rajamdala (Circle of States) theory can be seen in action today in India's use of Afghanistan against Pakistan. Unfortunately, the Pakistan phobia in India is so deeply ingrained that the Indian policy vis-a-vis Pakistan is not likely to change in the foreseeable future.

Summary:

President Donald Trump has repeatedly talked about the "Indo-Pacific" region in an obvious attempt to sign up Delhi to counter Beijing in Asia.  However, the Indians remain obsessed with enlisting the Americans to hurt Pakistan. The Trump administration is willing to engage in anti-Pakistan rhetoric but it is not going to act against Pakistan as long as Afghanistan remains important to the US interests. This is where their interest diverge now and likely to remain so at least in the foreseeable future.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Why is India Sponsoring Terrorism in Pakistan?

Ex-Indian Spy Documents RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Post Cold War Line-up: Pakistan-Russia-China vs India-Japan-US

Ex RAW Chief AS Dulat Blames Advani For Agra Summit Failure

Pakistan ISI: Afghanistan's Bogeyman

Trump's Anti-Pakistan Rhetoric

Counter-insurgencyOperation ZarbeAzb

India's Abiding Hostility Toward Pakistan 

India's Israel Envy: Will Modi Attack Pakistan?

India's Pakistan Phobia

Saturday, November 11, 2017

India-Pakistan Smog; Saudi Purge; MQM-PSP Tie

Why is there such thick smog enveloping Delhi and Lahore? What is the source of such high levels of particulate matter hitting PM2.5 of 500-800 micrograms per cubic meter? Is it the crop burning by the farmers in Indian Punjab? Are there other round-the-year sources that keep the PM2.5 concentration at around 100 micrograms per cubic meter, about 10X the safe levels? What can be done to bring it down? Do India and Pakistan need to act together to protect their citizens' health and well-being?

Satellite Image of Fires in South Asia. Source: NASA


What prompted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to carry out a major purge of top princes in Saudi Arabia? And why did Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri announce his resignation from the Saudi soil? What are its domestic and international implications? Will it lead to a serious internal instability? Will the young Crown Prince intensify the regional proxy war against Iran?

Saudi Royal Purge. Source: Al Jazeera

What is going on with the on-again off-again alliance between MQM and PSP in Karachi? Is this a shot-gun marriage arranged by the GHQ in Rawalpindi? Is there an anti-PPP alliance with MQM, PSP and Functional League being cobbled together to oust Zardari and his cronies from power in Sindh? Is this an attempt to end crime, corruption and violence in Karachi?

Why did Pakistan Army Chief Gen Bajwa visit Iran to meet its top leadership? Is there an Iran-Pakistan alliance in the offing? How will it affect the situation in the region vis-a-vis Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/0icxVnqKQ6E




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Smog in India and Pakistan

Will Saudi Arabia Change Peacefully?

Iran-Saudi Proxy War

Gangs of Karachi

MQM-RAW Link

Iran and Pakistan: Friends or Foes?

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Thick Smog in Delhi and Lahore: Is India Crop Burning to Blame?

Thick smog enveloping Pakistan's Punjab province has seriously disrupted road and air traffic and created significant health emergency for the people, according to Pakistani media reports. Indian cities, including the nation's capital New Delhi, are also suffering from it.

Is India Responsible?

Pakistani officials have blamed "the incursion of smoke and particle matter from the burning of crop stubble in the Indian Punjab." Particulate matter of 2.5 microns or larger as measured in micrograms per cubic meter is up to 80 times higher than the upper limit of 10 micrograms per cubic meter considered safe by the World Health Organization.

Is the Pakistani claim supported by data? Let's try and answer this question with satellite images of the area released by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Crop Burning Incidents Seen from space. Source: NASA Earth Observatory

NASA Satellite Images:

Here's how NASA's Earth Observatory described the situation last year:

"In early October 2016, Earth-observing satellites began to detect small fires in Punjab, and the number of fires increased rapidly in the following weeks. By November, thousands of fires burned across the state, and a thick pall of smoke hovered over India. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured a natural color image on November 2, 2016. The map (second image) shows the locations of the fires VIIRS also detected."

This year, 2,620 incidents of crop fire were spotted via satellite in Indian Punjab. In Pakistan, the number was limited to just 27, according to Indian media reports.  Indian reports confirm that Pakistan has done a good job of cracking down on incidents of crop burning to dramatically reduce them.

Low wind speeds of less than 2 meters per second and reversal of wind direction from east to west are causing crop burning smoke to drift from Indian Punjab toward Pakistan, according to an Indian Meteorological Department official as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

Satellite Images of Smoke Over India and Pakistan. Source: NASA

South Asia's Vulnerability:

South Asia is particularly susceptible to pollutants that hang in the air for extended periods of time. The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite images show dull gray haze hovering over northern India and Pakistan, and parts of Bangladesh. It is believed that emissions from solid fuel burning, industrial pollutants and farm clearing fires get trapped along the southern edge of the Himalayas. NASA Earth Observatory explains this phenomenon as follows:

"The haze visible in this image likely results from a combination of agricultural fires, urban and industrial pollution, and a regional temperature inversion. Most of the time, air higher in the atmosphere is cooler than air near the planet’s surface, and this configuration allows warm air to rise from the ground and disperse pollutants. In the wintertime, however, cold air frequently settles over northern India, trapping warmer air underneath. The temperature inversion traps pollutants along with warm air at the surface, contributing to the buildup of haze."

Trapped Smog. Source: Al Jazeera 

Urgent Actions Needed: 

South Asian governments need to act to deal with rapidly rising particulate pollution jointly. Some of the steps they need to take are as follows:

1. Crack down on crop burning to clear fields.

2. Reduce the use of solid fuels such as cow dungwood and coal to limit particulate matter released into the atmosphere.

3. Impose higher emission standards on industries and vehicles through regulations.

4. Increase forest cover by planting more trees.

5. Encourage the use of more renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, etc.

The cost of acting now may seem high but it will turn out out to be a lot more expensive to deal with extraordinary disease burdens resulting from rising air pollution.

Summary:

Movement of pollutants does not recognize national borders. It has severe consequences for both India and Pakistan.  The only way to deal with it is for the two nations to cooperate to minimize this problem.

South Asia accounts for more than a third of all PM2.5 pollution related deaths in the world. The sources of particulate pollution range from solid fuel burning to crop clearing fires and use of dirty fuels in vehicles and industries. Recognition of the growing problem is urgent. Failure to act could be very costly in terms of human health.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Response to Climate Change

Diwali Pollution Warnings in India

Cow Dung Sales in India

India's Air Most Toxic

State of Air 2017

Environmental Pollution in India

Diwali in Silicon Valley

India Leads the World in Open Defecation

Heavy Disease Burdens in South Asia

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Pakistan's Large Scale Manufacturing Soars By Double Digits

Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) in Pakistan shot up 11.3% in the first two months of fiscal year 2017-18, according to the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS). It represents a big surge from 5.7% LSM growth seen in Fiscal 2016-17.

Courtesy: Dawn Newspaper

The broad-based LSM growth was led by 50% jump in iron and steel production and 31% in auto manufacturing sector. Cement production grew nearly 20%, engineering products 19% and Pharmaceuticals 11% in the July-August 2017.

Although production was driven mostly by strong domestic demand, the exports in July-Sept 2018 also increased nearly 11% over the same period last year.

Among the notable sub-sectors driving strong LSM growth in July-August 2017 are: Tractors 115%,  motorcycles 28.3%, deep freezers 16.2%, air-conditioners 26.8%, electric-fans 22.4%, electric motors 17.3% and electric meters 18.3%, and switchgear 20.8%.

Significant improvement in the country's security situation is helping restore confidence of investors, businesses and consumers who are pushing economic growth in Pakistan to new highs. The fast pace of execution of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related projects is at least partly responsible for it. 

Related Links:









Saturday, November 4, 2017

Social Media: Blessing or Curse for Pakistan?

Is the rapid growth of social media helping or hurting Pakistani state and society?

What are the consequences of the proliferation and abuse of the new media?

What about terrorist groups like ISIS using viral images and videos to radicalize young people?  Or the state-run intelligence agencies and their agents and bots using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread disinformation to manipulate and divide people in countries and societies seen as hostile to their interests?

Is Pakistan being targeted by India's RAW and other hostile foreign intelligence agencies using social media to divide and manipulate Pakistanis by spreading fake news and doctored videos and images? Are they following the blueprint of the Russian intelligence troll farms that were used against America before, during and after the 2016 US presidential elections?

Should there be any codes of conduct or rules and regulations for social media users? Or should it be free-for-all?

ALKS host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)


https://youtu.be/zuPMy65O6-s




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Indian BJP's Social Media Troll Farms

Social Media in Pakistan

CIA and ISIS

Is India Sponsoring Terror in Pakistan?

Tarek Fatah vs Riaz Haq

Husain Haqqani vs Riaz Haq

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

Friday, November 3, 2017

Terror in New York; Bin Laden Files; Trump-Russia Probe; Cricket in Pakistan

How is ISIS-inspired terror spreading in the West? What can be done to stop self-radicalization of lone wolves through social media? Was Trump's reaction to the NY terror report appropriate? Why is there such a difference in media coverage and leaders' reaction between terrorism incidents and frequent and more numerous shooting deaths in America? How does the domestic politics affect it?

What do the Bin Laden's Abbottabad files released by the CIA say about Al Qaeda leaders' ties with Iran and Pakistan? Is Iran really assisting Al Qaeda with arms, money and training of Al Qaeda operatives? Is there any evidence of Pakistan's help in hiding Bin Laden in Abbottabad? Why are the Afghan commanders in Loghar province talking about moving to Iran?

What are the charges filed by Independent Counsel Robert Mueller against Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos? Who's next to be charged in Trump Russia collusion probe? Jerrod Kushner? Is the special prosecutor working his way to the Trump inner circle? Will there be a repeat of the 1974 Saturday Night Massacre if Trump decides to fire Mueller?

How did Pakistan attract Sri Lanka team to play an international T20 match in Lahore? And at the same rise in rankings to the number 1 spot for T20 cricket? Is it a vote of increasing confidence in Pakistan?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)


https://drive.google.com/file/d/1l_lXAgFW6z9-9He-fFbqYntt6lRPQXVX/view?usp=sharing

https://youtu.be/R7BP2sxPkTY





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

ISIS Terrorism: Did CIA Enable ISIS?

Are Russia and Iran Supporting Afghan Taliban?

Islamophobia, Mass Shootings and Terrorism

Seeing Bin Laden Killing in Broader Perspective

Independent Counsel For Trump Campaign's Russia Collusion

Cricket in Pakistan

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Pakistan's Fintech Revolution to Promote Financial Inclusion

Pakistan is ranked 16th among 26 nations ranked by Brookings Institution with an overall score of 69% in "The State of Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report" for 2017.  As the world observes the "World Financial Inclusion Week" this week (October 30-November 3, 2017), the Internet revolution is enabling rapid growth of financial technology (fintech) for increasing financial inclusion in Pakistan. The purpose of the observance of the week is to "hold conversations focused on how new products and partnerships are advancing financial inclusion, not just access", according to the Center for Financial Inclusion. It is important for Pakistan where about 100 million adults lack access to formal and regulated financial services.

Source: Brookings' Digital and Financial Inclusion Report 2017

Importance of Financial Inclusion:

Access to regulated financial services for all is essential in today's economy. It allows people to save, borrow and invest. Those who lack access to regulated banking services are often forced to resort to work with unscrupulous lenders who trap them in debt at unaffordable rates. Such loans in extreme cases leads to debt bondage in developing countries. Financial inclusion is good for the individuals as well as the national economies. It spurs economic growth and helps document more of the economy.

Easypaisa:

Fintech (financial technology) is bringing financial services to the unbanked population through non-bank institutions licensed by the State Bank of Pakistan, the top bank regulator in the country. One example of a non-bank is Telenor Pakistan, a leading mobile phone service operator, offering financial services via a large network of agents, currently over 70,000, far exceeding the total number of branches of all the banks in the country.

Easypaisa, a service operated by Telenor Pakistan, offers basic financial services like open a bank account, deposit or withdraw money, transfer funds, make mobile payments and pay utility bills. 

Karandaaz:

Another important player promoting financial inclusion is Karandaaz Pakistan , a non-profit organization, set up by UK’s Department for International Development and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  It is providing grants to a number of local initiatives to develop and promote financial technology solutions in Pakistan.


Karandaaz Pakistan is promoting Fintech startups in  5 areas of focus:

1) Access to Financial services

Credit Scoring Models, Formalize savings through need based products, Digital lending services, and Insurance

2) Payments

Retail payments solutions through QR code,  Supply / Value Chain Digitization,  Ideas around digitization of online payments and merchant payments

3) E-Commerce

Smoothening of on-boarding process, Enabling Escrow Accounts for a retail merchant, Alternate payment modes other than COD

4) Interoperability

Innovative ideas to address the lack of interoperability among m-wallets

5) Early stage ideas related to:

 M-Wallet Use cases, Education of Financial Services through technology, Customer Engagement / Experience, Micro Credit, Digital Savings

Finja's SimSim Mobile Payment:

Finja is a Pakistani fintech startup that recently introduced SimSim app for mobile payments. It's the first such application that has received approval of the State Bank of Pakistan. Finja has raised $1.5 million in venture funds so far. SimSim uses NADRA, a biometric citizen identity card that the Pakistan government has issued to almost its entire adult population, comprising around 60 percent of the total population of 207 million.

Private Credit Bureaus:

Credit data and scoring are essential to facilitate risk assessment and lending by financial institutions.
Under the Credit Bureaus Act, 2015, privately-run credit bureaus can collect and disseminate the credit data from both financial and non-financial institutions including retailers, insurance companies, utility providers and landlords, as notified by the federal government, according to Muhammad Akmal, Director of Banking Conduct and Consumer Protection Department at the State Bank of Pakistan. The bureaus can do credit scoring, consolidate credit data for analysis and research purposes.

Progress To Date:

According to the latest State Bank statistics on branchless banking (BB) sector, m-wallets grew by 87% , reaching 27.3 million by the end of June 2017. It has a lot of room for growth in a county where about 100 million adults lack access to regulated financial services.

Pakistan is ranked 16th among 26 nations ranked by Brookings Institution with an overall score of 69% in "The State of Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report" for 2017.

Summary:

Pakistan is ranked 16th among 26 nations ranked by Brookings Institution with an overall score of 69% in "The State of Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report" for 2017.  Access to regulated financial services for all is essential in today's economy. It allows people to save, borrow and invest. Those who lack access to regulated banking services are often forced to resort to work with unscrupulous lenders who trap them in debt at unaffordable rates. Such debt in extreme cases leads to bondage in developing countries. Financial inclusion is good for the individuals as well as the national economies.  It spurs economic growth and helps document more of the economy.  The rapid growth of mobile phones and Internet access in Pakistan offers a unique opportunity to increase financial inclusion in the country. A number of players are working on financial technology to make its application a reality in Pakistan. Among these players are non-bank banks like Telenor and non-profits like Karandaaz.

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