Friday, August 18, 2017

Pakistani Mobile Game Company Opens Shop in San Francisco

Caramel Tech Studios, a Lahore-based mobile games company founded by three Pakistani brothers, is starting a new San Francisco startup, Fizz, that promises to do real-time translation for text chat in mobile games, according to a report by Dean Takahashi in VentureBeat.  Mobile games market represents a huge and rapidly growing lucrative opportunity for Pakistani game developers and publishers.

Caramel Tech Studio's Blades of Battle
The Zaeem brothers, Saad, Ammar and Shayan, got their lucky break when Halfbrick Studios, the Australian game company that makes Fruit Ninja, hired them to build a version of Fruit Ninja for the Nokia Symbian phone platform, according to VentureBeat.

The Halfbrick contract helped the brothers get more work with Kabam, a mobile game company that made hits such as Kingdoms of Camelot. Andrew Sheppard, then head of studios for Kabam, put Caramel Tech Studios to work on a mobile card strategy game, Order of Elements. The studio then worked for Animoca, a Hong Kong company, to build an Astro Boy mobile game.

Caramel Tech Studio attracted Apple's attention when the company decided to build its own title "Blades of Battle" that has been featured by the iPhone giant in 137 countries.

The idea of building real-time translation software company emerged when the brothers saw how important chat could be when they added it to one of their existing games. It cost them about $40,000 in development costs, but it enabled the players to be far more social. That snowballed into bigger download numbers and revenues, Ammar said. And once they built chat, they realized they could do it as a platform, according to VentureBeat.

The rapid growth of smartphones has helped Pakistani game companies to focus and find success in the mobile segment of the game market. One such Pakistani company is Mindstorm Studios, which was initially focused on the PC gaming sector, soon saw a bigger opportunity in mobile space. This new market holds tremendous potential as quality games can be built on smaller budgets.

In 2010, Mindstorm Studios released Whacksy Taxi, jumped to the top position in Apple’s App Store in over 25 countries, and was also featured in a review by CNET. Other popular titles include Mafia Farm and Kingdom of Heroes. These successes have helped Mindstorm Studios to increase cash flow, hire more developers, and focus on strengthening their position, according to Tech in Asia.

Following the success of Mindstorm, several other Pakistani companies, including Tintash, Caramel Tech, Gamestorm, and Gen ITeam have been quick to jump in and focus on building mobile games with global appeal.

Newzoo's Global Games Market Report estimates that 2.2 billion gamers across the globe will generate $108.9 billion in game revenues in 2017. This represents an increase of $7.8 billion, or 7.8%, from the year before. Digital game revenues will account for $94.4 billion or 87% of the global market.

Mobile is the most lucrative segment, with smartphone and tablet gaming growing 19% year on year to $46.1 billion, claiming 42% of the market. In 2020, mobile gaming will grow to more than half of the total games market, according to Newzoo.

Mobile games market represents a huge and rapidly growing lucrative opportunity for Pakistani game developers and publishers like Caramel, Mindstorm, Tintash, Gamestorm and Gen ITeam.

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Haq's Musings

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

India and Pakistan at 70; Nawaz Sharif Rallies; Korea Crisis

How are India and Pakistan doing 70 years after independence? What are their successes and failures? What challenges do they face? What does future hold for them? Can Pakistani democracy evolve and grow to serve all of its people? How will Hindu Nationalist Modi's rise impact South Asia? Is India's secular democracy under threat? Could it lead to war? Is there a way to manage tensions between the two rivals? Will there ever be durable peace in South Asia?

Has deposed PM Nawaz Sharif really accepted the Supreme Court verdict disqualifying him? Should he really accept the verdict as Al Gore accepted Bush v Gore verdict after 2000 US presidential elections and go home quietly? What does Nawaz Sharif hope to achieve by his daily political rallies as he makes his way from Islamabad to Lahore in a long convoy of vehicles? Will his continuing public attacks on the judiciary undermine democracy in Pakistan?

What is at the root of the Korea crisis? Is it Kim Jong Un's fear of regime change if he agrees to denuclearize? What lessons have Kim and others learned from the way US first denuclearized Saddam and Gaddafi and then removed them that led to their deaths? Is President Donald Trump's fiery rhetoric making the crisis worse? Should Trump listen to the advice of US allies to cool it?

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

https://youtu.be/ffADNF3hgck





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Haq's Musings

Pakistan Day: Freeing the Colonized Minds of the Elite

Pankaj Mishra's NY Times Op Ed on India at 70

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Nawaz Sharif Disqualified by Pakistan Supreme Court

North Korea Nukes and ICBM

Trump's White House

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Iran-Pakistan Ties: Friends or Foes?

It is commonly accepted that Iran and Pakistan remained the best of friends until the fall of the Shah. Beginning in 1979, the relations between the two neighbors worsened with Imam Khomeni's Islamic Revolution in Iran and General Zia ul Haq's Islamization in Pakistan.


Opposition to Pakistan's Nuclear Program: 

In a book titled "Iran and Pakistan: Security, Diplomacy and American Influence", the Iranian-born American author Alex Vatanka challenges the notion that the rise of sectarianism strained Iran-Pakistan ties.  He argues that the relations began to deteriorate earlier in the decade of 1970s when Shah Mohammad Reza Shah Pehlavi, acting on behalf of the United States, tried to pressure Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to abandon Pakistan's nascent nuclear program.

History of Iran-Pakistan Ties:

Iran was the first country to recognized Pakistan right after the country's independence in 1947. Unlike Afghanistan that opposed Pakistan's admission to the United Nations, Iran enthusiastically supported it.  Iran also helped mediate running disputes between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The relations between the two neighbors grew even closer as both joined the 1955 Baghdad Pact for common defense that was signed by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and the United Kingdom. It was renamed CENTO (Central Asia Treaty Organization) after the 1958 coup in Iraq that deposed the pro-West King Faisal of Iraq. Later, a regional cooperation for development (RCD) agreement was signed that included Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, all US allies at the time in 1970s.


1971 Loss of East Pakistan:

Pakistan's loss to India in 1971 East Pakistan war caused both the Shah and Bhutto to reassess bilateral ties.  The Shah felt Pakistan had been permanently weakened by the 1971 war with India. It encouraged the Shah's ambition of becoming the regional hegemon in West Asia and the Gulf region.

While the Shah saw an opportunity to assert Iranian leadership after the events of 1971,  Zulfikar Ali Bhutto sought to rebuild Pakistan's strength and to reclaim its status as a powerful nation in the region. Part of Bhutto's plan included building an atom bomb, an effort that was vehemently opposed by the United States. The Shah echoed the American demands in private meetings with Pakistani leadership.

Pakistan's Ties with Gulf Arabs:

Faced with the American and Iranian opposition to Pakistan's nuclear program after 1971, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a secular leader married to a Shia woman of Iranian ancestry, sought closer ties with Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Sunni Gulf nations of the GCC. Here's an excerpt of Alex Vatanka's response in an interview with Lawfare journal:

"The fact that he (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) was Shia had nothing to do with it. Bhutto is focused about India: Who can come to my aid, who can foot the bill for my nuclear program that I need to build up because I know that India is just about to get their hands on a nuclear weapon and I cannot lose that military competition on that front? There is no mention from the Saudis, the Emiratis, the Qataris—all of these famously Sunni nations—oh, we don't like Bhutto because he's Shia, you know? There's no sign of that. This sectarianism is something that unfortunately becomes much bigger of a player in the foreign relations of everybody in the last 15, 20 years because of a lot of other factors."

Complicated Iran-Pakistan Ties:

The relations between Iran and Pakistan oscillate between claims of "brotherly" ties and border skirmishes along Balochistan-Sistan border.

As recently as this week, Iranian President Rouhani said in a meeting with Pakistan Senate President Raza Rabbani that "the Islamic Republic regards Pakistan’s security as extension of its own".

In the last decade, Pakistan’s ties with Gulf Arabs have been uneasy while its relationship with Iran hit an all-time low with regular border skirmishes.

Regular diplomatic exchanges and friendly statements between Iran and Pakistan continue to attempt to reduce tensions while glossing over real difficulties between the military and intelligence services of the two countries.

Summary:

All's not well between Iran and Pakistan. The bilateral relations began to deteriorate in early 1970s when the Shah and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto were still in charge, well before the Iranian Islamic Revolution and Zia ul Haq's Islamization in Pakistan. Iranian-American scholar Alex Vatanka says the key issue at the time was the US-Iran joint opposition to Pakistan's nuclear program that forced Bhutto to turn to Gulf Arabs for help. The difficulties are not rooted in sectarian Shia-Sunni difference. There is a genuine desire and continuing efforts by diplomats on both sides to maintain a good working relationship.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Iran-Saudi Conflict

Pakistan's Nuclear Program

Iran Nuclear Deal

1971 India-Pakistan War

Chabahar vs Gwadar Ports

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Pakistan Day: Freeing the Colonized Minds of the Elites

Pakistan achieved independence from the British colonial rule 70 years ago. However, the minds of most of Pakistan's elites remain colonized to this day.  This seems to be particularly true of the nation's western-educated "liberals" who dominate much of the intellectual discourse in the country. They continue to look at their fellow countrymen through the eyes of the Orientalists who served as tools for western colonization of Asia, Middle East and Africa. The work of these "native" Orientalists available in their books, op ed columns and other publications reflects their utter contempt for Pakistan and Pakistanis. Their colonized minds uncritically accept all things western. They often seem to think that the Pakistanis can do nothing right while the West can do no wrong. Far from being constructive, these colonized minds promote lack of confidence in the ability of their fellow "natives" to solve their own problems and contribute to hopelessness. The way out of it is to encourage more inquiry based learning and critical thinking.

Orientalism As Tool of Colonialism:

Dr. Edward Said (1935-2003), Palestine-born Columbia University professor and the author of "Orientalism",  described it as the ethnocentric study of non-Europeans by Europeans.  Dr. Said wrote that the Orientalists see the people of Asia, Africa and the Middle East as “gullible” and “devoid of energy and initiative.” European colonization led to the decline and destruction of the prosperity of every nation they ruled. India is a prime example of it. India was the world's largest economy producing over a quarter of the world's GDP when the British arrived. At the end of the British Raj, India's contribution was reduced to less than 2% of the world GDP.

Education to Colonize Minds:

In his "Prison Notebooks", Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist theorist and politician, says that a class can exercise its power not merely by the use of force but by an institutionalized system of moral and intellectual leadership that promotes certain ideas and beliefs favorable to it.  For Gramsci "cultural hegemony" is maintained through the consent of the dominated class which assures the intellectual and material supremacy of the dominant class.

In "Masks of Conquest", author Gauri Viswanathan says that the British curriculum was introduced in India to "mask" the economic exploitation of the colonized. Its main purpose was to colonize the minds of the natives to sustain colonial rule.

Cambridge Curriculum in Pakistan:

The colonial discourse of the superiority of English language and western education continues with a system of elite schools that uses Cambridge curriculum in Pakistan.

Over 270,000 Pakistani students from elite schools participated in Cambridge O-level and A-level International (CIE) exams in 2016, an increase of seven per cent over the prior year.

Cambridge IGCSE exams is also growing in popularity in Pakistan, with enrollment increasing by 16% from 10,364 in 2014-15 to 12,019 in 2015-16. Globally there has been 10% growth in entries across all Cambridge qualifications in 2016, including 11% growth in entries for Cambridge International A Levels and 8 per cent for Cambridge IGCSE, according to Express Tribune newspaper.

The United Kingdom remains the top source of international education for Pakistanis.  46,640 students, the largest number of Pakistani students receiving international education anywhere, are doing so at Pakistani universities in joint degree programs established with British universities, according to UK Council for International Student Affairs.

At the higher education level, the number of students enrolled in British-Pakistani joint degree programs in Pakistan (46,640) makes it the fourth largest effort behind Malaysia (78,850), China (64,560) and Singapore (49,970).

Teach Critical Thinking:

Pakistani educators need to see the western colonial influences and their detrimental effects on the minds of youngsters. They need to improve learning by helping students learn to think for themselves critically. Such reforms will require students to ask more questions and to find answers for themselves through their own research rather than taking the words of their textbook authors and teachers as the ultimate truth.

Summary: 

The minds of most of Pakistan's elite remain colonized 70 years after the British rule of Pakistan ended in 1947. They uncritically accept all things western. A quick scan of Pakistan's English media shows the disdain the nation's western educated elites have for their fellow countryman.  Far from being constructive, they promote lack of confidence in their fellow "natives" ability to solve their own problems and contribute to hopelessness.   Their colonized minds uncritically accept all things western. They often seem to think that the Pakistanis can do nothing right while the West can do no wrong. Unless these colonized minds are freed, it will be difficult for the people of Pakistan to believe in themselves, have the confidence in their capabilities and develop the national pride to lay the foundation of a bright future. The best way to help free these colonized minds is through curriculum reform that helps build real critical thinking.

Related Links:

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Alam vs Hoodbhoy

Inquiry Based Learning

Dr. Ata ur Rehman Defends Higher Education Reform

Pakistan's Rising College Enrollment Rates

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Launch of "Eating Grass: Pakistan's Nuclear Program"

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Impact of Industrial Revolution

Hindutva: Legacy of British Raj


Sunday, August 6, 2017

New Pakistan PM; Trump's Immigration Proposals; Gulalai's Allegations

Who's Pakistan's New PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi elected after Nawaz Sharif's disqualification? What's his background? Is he just a temporary seat-warmer until another Sharif becomes PM? Will he able to make a difference? Will he be able to act independently of the Sharif family's power and influence? What is the future of Nawaz Sharif and his immediate family? Will NAB pursue charges against them? Will PMLN survive?


Politicians Dominate Off-shore Company Owners in Panama Leaks 

What is the proposed Cotton-Perdue RAISE (Reform American Immigration for Strong Economy) Act backed by President Donald J. Trump? Will it reverse the diversity of immigrants put in place by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (also known as Hart-Celler Act) that was pushed by Sen Edward Kennedy and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson? Is it a racist act insisting on immigrants being able to speak English when they first enter the United States? Will it significantly reduce immigration?

What are PTI MNA Ayesha Gulalai's sexual harassment and sexting allegations against party leader Imran Khan? How serious are they? Why did these allegations surface in the immediate aftermath of Panama Verdict that disqualified PM Sharif? Are these payback from PMLN for PTI Chief Imran Khan's anti-corruption campaign against its leaders? Will the courts interpret articles 62 and 63 to disqualify Imran Khan for not being truthful and trustworthy? Where will this stop? Are these articles equally applicable for all manner of lying and personal character flaws unrelated to the affairs of the state?

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

https://youtu.be/Rjmum4J8QkM





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Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Project Azm: Pakistan to Develop 5th Generation Fighter Plane

Pakistan has announced plans to develop and produce 5th generation fighter plane, according to media reports. It's part of Pakistan Air Force's highly ambitious Project Azm that includes building Kamra Aviation City dedicated to education, research and development and manufacturing of advanced fighter jets, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and weapon systems.

Pakistan's JF-17 Jet Fighter
Human Capital:

Development of a new advanced fighter is a wide-ranging effort that will encompass building human capital in a variety of fields including material science, physics, electronics, computer science, computer software, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, avionics, weapons design, etc etc.

Air University:

Pakistan Air Force's Air University, established in 2002 in Islamabad, will add a new campus in Kamra Aviation City. The university already offers bachelor's master's and doctoral degrees in several subjects. Pakistan Air Force Chief Sohail Aman told Quwa Defense News that the campus will “provide the desired impetus for cutting-edge indigenization programs, strengthen the local industry and harness the demands of foreign aviation industry by reducing … imports and promoting joint research and production ventures.”

Defense Exports:

Air forces of about a dozen developing nations are buying and deploying Pakistani made aircrafts. The reasons for their choice of Pakistan manufactured airplanes range from lower cost to ease of acquisition, maintenance and training.

Pakistan started developing defense hardware for imports substitution to reduce external dependence and to save hard currency. Now the country's defense industry is coming of age to lead the way to high value-added manufactured exports.

Pakistan Super Mushshak Trainer Aircraft
Nigerian Air Force is the latest to announce purchase of Pakistan made Super Mushshak aircraft after the United States' refusal to sell to Nigeria, according to American periodical Newsweek.  Nigerian Air Force chief Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar was quoted by the Nigerian media as saying that "Pakistan has accepted to sell ten trainer airplanes. And that is why the Pakistan Chief of Air Staff is coming for the induction ceremony which is going to take place in Kaduna".

Several other countries are in the process of making decisions to purchase aircraft from Pakistan. A report in Pakistan's Express Tribune newspaper says that Turkey has decided to buy 52 Super Mushshak trainer aircraft.  The Tribune also reported that Azerbaijan may buy a couple of dozen JF-17 Thunder fighter jets jointly developed by Pakistan and China.

Along with exporting existing hardware, Pakistan is continuing its efforts to enhance the capabilities with new versions. For example, fighter-jet JF-17’s Block III is expected to open up new opportunities for Pakistani defense exports.

The new JF-17 Block III will be a twin-seat trainer version with advanced Active Electronically-Scanned Array radar and mid-air-refueliling probe. It will use new composite materials to increase its performance, besides addition of other updates in cockpit and weapons’ pods, according to Pakistani media reports.

Pakistan's Defense Industry Collaboration With China, Turkey:

Growing defense collaboration between China and Pakistan irks the West, according to a report in the UK's Financial Times newspaper.  The paper specifically cites joint JF-17 Thunder fighter jet, armed drone Burraq and custom AIP-equipped submarines as examples of close cooperation between the two nations.

More recently, Pakistan has also begun to collaborate with Turkey in developing arms. In particular, Pakistan has been mentioned as a prospective partner in the TFX, Turkey’s next-generation fighter effort.

Pakistan's bitter experience with the unreliability of its cold war allies as weapons suppliers has proved to be a blessing in disguise. It has forced Pakistan to move toward self-reliance in production of the weapons it needs to defend itself from foreign and domestic enemies.

It all started back in 1965 when the US and its western allies placed an arms embargo on Pakistan during war with India. The bitterness grew stronger when the US forced France to cancel its contract to supply a breeder reactor to Pakistan in 1974 soon after India conducted its first nuclear test.

Khushab Nuclear Reactor:

Fortunately for Pakistan, the French had already given Pakistanis scientists drawings and specifications before canceling the breeder reactor contract. Work on Khushab reprocessing plant stated in 1974 when Pakistan signed a contract with the French company Saint-Gobain Techniques Nouvelles (SGN). In 1978, under U.S. pressure, France canceled the contract. Pakistan then proceeded to indigenously produce its own nuclear breeder reactors at Khushab. Four such reactors are now operating to produce plutonium for Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Having done its first nuclear test in 1998, Pakistan now has a large and growing nuclear arsenal it needs to deter any enemy adventurism against it.

Babar Cruise Missile:

Since MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) prevented Pakistan from acquiring delivery vehicles from other countries, the country had to develop its own ballistic and cruise missiles to carry nuclear weapons.

The story of Babar Cruise Missile development is particularly interesting. It is believed that Pakistani engineers learned the technology by dismantling and studying a US Tomahawk cruise missile that fell in Pakistani territory when President Bill Clinton fired these missiles to target Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

JF-17 Thunder Fighter:

The development of JF-17, a modern highly capable and relatively inexpensive fighter jet, is the crowning achievement to-date of the Pakistan-China defense production cooperation. It's being deployed by Pakistan Air Force with Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) on recently rolling out the 16th Block 2 JF-17 aircraft for PAF's 4th squadron. The latest version is capable of launching a variety of nuclear and conventional weapons ranging from smart bombs and air-launched cruise missile Raad to anti-ship missiles.

Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) got its start decades ago by setting up maintenance facilities for advanced fighters like French Mirage and US F-16s and by manufacturing Mushshak and Super Mushshak trainer aircraft. It is now also building JF-17s as well as a variety of drones, including combat UAV Burraq being used in Pakistan's war against militants in Waziristan.

Nuclear-Capable AIP Submarines:

Pakistan is expanding and modernizing its underwater fleet with 8 additional AIP-equipped submarines. Four of these subs will be manufactured in Pakistan.  These will reportedly be custom versions of Yuan class diesel-electric subs with additional wider tubes from which cruise missiles can be launched. A key requirement for  these submarines is to be stealthy—and the AIP-equipped Yuan class is indeed very quiet. The trick is in the submarine’s air-independent propulsion fuel cells, which provide power under the surface as the diesel engines—used for running on the surface—rest and recharge. Though relatively limited in range, this system is quieter than the nuclear-powered engines on American and Russian submarines, which must constantly circulate engine coolant.

Arms as Pakistan's Cottage Industry

Pakistan has a long history of arms manufacturing as a cottage industry. The dusty little town of Darra Adam Khel, only a half-hour drive from Peshawar, reminds visitors of America's Wild West. The craftsmen of this town are manufacturers and suppliers of small arms to the tribal residents of the nation's Federally Administered Tribal Areas who carry weapons as part of their ancient culture. The skilled craftsmen of FATA make revolvers, automatic pistols, shotguns and AK-47 rifles. Until five years ago, the list also had items such as anti-personnel mines, sub-machine guns, small cannons and even rocket launchers. Pakistani government has forced the tribesmen to stop making heavy assault weapons to try and prevent the Taliban and Al Qaeda from getting access to such weapons.

Pakistan's arms industry has come a long way from making small arms as a cottage industry in the last few decades. The US and Western arms embargoes imposed on Pakistan at critical moments in its history have proved to be a blessing in disguise. In particular, the problems Pakistan faced in the aftermath of Pressler Amendment in 1992 became an opportunity for the country to rely on indigenous development and production of defense equipment.

Pakistan's Military Industrial Complex

The country now boasts a powerful industrial, technological and research base developing and manufacturing for its armed forces a wide variety of small and large weapons ranging from modern fighter jets, battle tanks, armored vehicles, frigates and submarines to armed and unarmed aerial vehicles and high tech firearms and personal grenade launchers for urban combat. Some of these items were on display at IDEAS 2014, the 5-day biennial arms show held November 2014 in Karachi, Pakistan.

Praise by Vice Chief of Indian Army:

General Sarath Chand, the Vice Chief of Indian Army, has been quoted by the Indian media as saying:  “I would even go to the extent of saying that Pakistan probably has a better industrial base, as far as defense production is concerned, than our country. In fact they export defense equipment abroad, definitely more than what we are doing.”

Summary: 

Pakistan has announced plans to develop and produce 5th generation fighter plane as part of the country's Air Force's highly ambitious Project Azm that includes building Kamra Aviation City dedicated to education, research and development and manufacturing of advanced fighter jets, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and weapon systems. It's a recognition that the country can not be truly independent and have real national security unless it can develop and manufacture the arms it needs to defend itself. Pakistan is just starting to do it but it has a very long way to go. Pakistan is also beginning to export defense hardware to developing nations.  Pakistan is recognizing the need to develop significant human capital and build a vibrant economy to make progress on this front.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan-China Defense Industry Collaboration Irks West

Pakistan's Aircraft Exports

Pakistan Navy Modernization

IDEAS 2014 Arms Show

Pakistan Defense Industry

Silicon Valley Book Launch of "Eating Grass"

Pakistan's Human Capital

Pakistan Economy Nears Trillion Dollars

Pakistan's Sea-Based Second Strike Capability

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Nawaz Sharif's Disqualification; Indian Defense Industry; White House Chaos

Why did Pakistan Supreme Court's 5 judge panel unanimously vote to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding elected office after Panama Leaks JIT? What was the basis for it? Can it be compared with the conviction of Chicago gangster Al Capone who was convicted for lesser charges of tax evasion, not multiple murders? Are those crying "conspiracy" right? Was the apex court influenced by the military? What is next for Pakistan? Will this decision help reduce corruption in high places? Will democracy be weakened or strengthened by continuing accountability of politicians, generals and bureaucrats?
Politicians Dominate Names of Offshore Company Owners in Panama Papers 


Why did the Indian Army's vice chief say "Pakistan probably has better defense industrial base"? Is it out of frustration with the performance of India's defense industry? How's Prime Minister Modi's "Make In India" initiative doing since 2014 when it was launched with a lot of fanfare? Has India's dependence grown or shrink since then? Why is the White House in such chaos? Who's responsible for it?

President Donald Trump? His top aides? His outgoing chief of staff Reince Priebus? or his newly hired communications director Anthony Scaramucci? Will General Kelly as the new chief of staff bring an end to the infighting and restore order in the White House?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Ali Hasan Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/ITFGYgjMPuY





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Panama JIT in Pakistan

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Modi's "Make in India" Hype

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Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

Thursday, July 27, 2017

5 Pakistani Companies Among Forbes 200 Best Under $1 Billion in Asia

Five Pakistani companies are featured in the Forbes magazine’s latest annual ranking of the 200 best companies with under $1 billion in revenue in the Asia-Pacific  region. Pakistan's representation of 5 on the list is down from 7 last year. The number of Indian companies on the list is down to 3, less than half of the seven companies that made it in 2016.

Among Pakistan's five companies on the list is Ferozsons Laboratories which is making its debut this year. The company's revenue jumped 93% last year.

The list highlights 200 Asia-Pacific public companies with less than $1 billion in revenue and consistent top- and bottom-line growth. This year’s candidates come from 13 countries and averaged 55% growth in sales, a 24% profit margin, and 113% growth in earnings per share.

China tops the Forbes 200 list with 71 companies followed by Japan 41, Taiwan 30, South Korea 22,  Vietnam 10, Singapore 7, Australia 6, Pakistan and Malaysia 5 each, Thailand 4, and Hong Kong and India 3 each.

The Pakistani companies on the list are Agriauto Industries, Cherat Packaging, Ferozsons Labs, Gandhara Industries and Searle Companies. There are 3 Indian companies on this list: 8k Mile Software Services, Kellton Tech Solutions and Manpasand Beverages.

Of the 5 Pakistani companies on the list, two are in auto industry, two in pharmaceuticals and one in package manufacturing. Here are brief descriptions of the companies as published by Forbes:

Agriauto Industries Ltd. manufactures and sells components for automotive vehicles, motorcycles, and agricultural tractors. Its products includes shock absorbers and struts; motorcycle shock absorber and parts; sheet metal press parts; and other parts such as manual type window regulator and door/door hinges. The company was founded on June 25, 1981 and is headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan.

Cherat Packaging Ltd. is engaged in manufacturing, marketing and selling of paper sacks and polypropylene bags to the cement industry in Pakistan. It provides cement bags made from kraft paper and polypropylene granules. The company was founded in 1991 and is headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan.

Ferozsons Laboratories Ltd. engages in the manufacturing and trading of pharmaceutical products. It produces tablets, capsules, syrups, suspension, creams, and ointments. The company was founded on January 28, 1954 and is headquartered in Lahore, Pakistan.

Ghandhara Industries Ltd. engages in the manufacture and market of vehicles. Its products include pickup, trucks, and buses. The company was founded by M. Habibullah Khan Khattak on February 23, 1963 and is headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan.

Searle Co. Ltd. engages in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products and a low calorie sweetener. It also engages in selling of food and consumer items and manufacturing of pharmaceutical items for other companies. The company operates through the following segments: Pharma, Consumer and Investment Property. Searle was founded on October 5, 1965 and is headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan.

Pakistani companies are riding the rising tide of the nations's middle class consumption. They are benefiting from increasing consumer confidence and growing demand for cement, branded food products, pharmaceuticals and vehicles. Overall consumer products and services companies have been on the rise on Forbes Asia list, an indication of Asia’s success in moving towards a consumer economy.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Credit Suisse Wealth Report 2016

Pakistan: A Majority Middle Class Country

Karachi School of Business and Leadership

State Bank: Pakistan's Actual GDP Higher Than Officially Reported

College Enrollment in Pakistan

Musharraf Accelerated Development of Pakistan's Human and Financial Capital

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Big Sick Movie: A Self-Portrait of Pakistani-American Kumail Nanjiani

The Big Sick, a cross-culture romantic comedy based on actual events,  breaks new ground by casting a brown-skinned Pakistani-American in a lead role in a movie produced and widely screened in the United States. Acquired by Amazon Studios for $12 million after a bidding war at Sundance film festival, the film has already grossed over $25 million so far.


“The Big Sick” is based on the life of  HBO's "Silicon Valley" star Kumail Nanjiani, 39, who plays himself.  A Pakistani American man, a part-time Uber driver struggling to succeed as a stand-up comic in Chicago, Kumail notices a heckler named Emily (Zoe Kazan), during one of his performances. Thus begins a relationship characterized by a series of emotional highs and lows with a lot of laughter in between.

Co-written with his wife, Emily V. Gordon, the romantic comedy (romcom) is a somewhat fictionalized account of the first year of their relationship, when a sudden medical crisis forces her to be put in a medically-induced coma for several days.

Kumail meets Emily's parents when they come to Chicago to care for their daughter in hospital. After some initial hesitation, Emily's parents (played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter) hit it off with Kumail. When Emily's father asks Nanjiani what he thought of the 911, the comedian responds: "It was tragic. We lost 19 of our best men" and then smiles, thus breaking the ice between the two.

Nanjiani says that "I feel more Pakistani than I have in the last 10 years". "I feel way more defined by my ethnicity now," Nanjiani says. "If there's an ethnicity that is maligned and attacked and demonized ... I'm with you. I stand with you. Because it's unavoidable that people are seeing me a certain way, I kind of want to own it. I feel more Pakistani than I have in the last 10 years", he told USA Today.

Kumail has interspersed the movie with a running presentation on his country of birth that shows him singing the first few lines of Pakistan's national anthem out loud. Nanjiani also brings out his love of cricket and the fact that Pakistan has the world's largest contiguous farm irrigation system.

While Nanjiani repeatedly acknowledges his Pakistani-American identity, he's less certain about his religious identity. Brought up as a Shia Muslim, he even makes fun of the fact that his people still mourn the killings in the battle of Karbala that occurred 1400 years ago. Kumail tells his father (played by Anupam Kher) that he doesn't know what he believes.

The story line of The Big Sick is partly about Nanjiani’s refusal to accept an arranged marriage that his parents wished for him. It is a reasonable position but the way he does so demeans the Pakistani-American women who are introduced to him by his parents.

Kumail lacks the courage to tell his parents upfront that he wants no part of an arranged marriage, allowing the Pakistani-American women suitors to suffer the indignity of being paraded in front of him.  The movie stereotypes these Pakistani-American women who are forced to speak in fake foreign accents even though they have lived in the US longer than Pakistan-born Kumail has.

Overall, it's fun to watch The Big Sick as a ground-breaking cross-culture romantic comedy with a Pakistani-American male lead.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

HBO Comedy "Silicon Valley" Stars Pakistani-American

Pakistanis Make Up Largest Foreign-Born Muslim Group in Silicon Valley

Karachi to Hollywood: Triple Oscar Winning Pakistani-American

Burka Avenger: Pakistani Female Superhero 

Burka Avenger  Videos on Vimeo Channel

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

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Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

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Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Saturday, July 22, 2017

China-India Standoff; Panama JIT; Indian Asylum Seekers

What is India-China standoff in Bhutan's Doklam about? What are the risks of either side miscalculating? Can this border conflict spiral out of control and escalate into a full-scale war like the the 1962 war? Can it lead to a wider regional conflict? How would such a war conclude?

What are the political implications of the ongoing Panama case hearings in Pakistan Supreme Court? How are the media and political parties lining up on this? Will the Supreme Court disqualify and remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding office for corruption? Will it be seen as normal democratic process of accountability or a conspiracy to subvert an elected government?

Why are Indians among the top 5 asylum seekers in the world along with Syria? What's driving Indians to seek refuge in OECD nations? Is it lack of economic opportunity or increasing religious violence? Or something else?

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-l5fGmnO6c




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Hindu Nationalist Delusions; Modi's Blunders

New Post Cold War World Alignment

Pakistan JIT in Panama Case

Indians Among World's Top Asylum Seekers

Lynchistan: India is the Lynching Capital of the World

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel