Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pakistani Children Outperform Indian Children on Math and Reading Skills Tests

Recent World Bank report on student learning in South Asia is depressing. Sri Lanka is the sole exception to the overall low levels of achievement for primary and secondary school kids in the region.  The report documents with ample data from various assessments to conclude that "learning outcomes and the average level of skill acquisition in the region are low in both absolute and relative terms". The report covers education from primary through upper secondary schools.

Source: World Bank Report on Education in South Asia 2014

Buried inside the bad news is a glimmer of what could be considered hope for Pakistan's grade 5 and 8 students outperforming their counterparts in India. While 72% of Pakistan's 8th graders can do simple division, the comparable figure for Indian 8th graders is just 57%. Among 5th graders, 63% of Pakistanis and 73% of Indians CAN NOT divide a 3 digit number by a single digit number, according to the World Bank report titled "Student Learning in South Asia: Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy Priorities".  The performance edge of Pakistani kids  over their Indian counterparts is particularly noticeable in rural areas. The report also shows that Pakistani children do better than Indian children in reading ability.

Source: World Bank Report on Education in South Asia 2014


Here are some excepts from the World Bank report:

Unfortunately, although more children are in school, the region still has a major learning challenge in that the children are not acquiring basic skills. For example, only 50 percent of grade 3 students in Punjab, Pakistan, have a complete grasp of grade 1 mathematics (Andrabi et al. 2007). In India, on a test of reading comprehension administered to grade 5 students across the country, only 46 percent were able to correctly identify the cause of an event, and only a third of the students could compute the difference between two decimal numbers (NCERT 2011). Another recent study found that about 43 percent of grade 8 students could not solve a simple division problem. Even recognition of two-digit numbers, supposed to be taught in grade 2, is often not achieved until grade 4 or 5 (Pratham 2011). In Bangladesh, only 25 percent of fifth-grade students have mastered Bangla and 33 percent have mastered the mathematics competencies specified in the national curriculum (World Bank 2013). In the current environment, there is little evidence that learning outcomes will improve by simply increasing school inputs in a business-as-usual manner (Muralidharan and Zieleniak 2012).

In rural Pakistan, the Annual State of Education Report (ASER) 2011 assessment suggests, arithmetic competency is very low in absolute terms. For instance, only 37 percent of grade 5 students can divide three-digit numbers by a single-digit number (and only 27 percent in India); and 28 percent of grade 8 students cannot perform simple division. Unlike in rural India, however, in rural Pakistan recognition of two-digit numbers is widespread by grade 3 (SAFED 2012). The Learning and Educational Achievement in Punjab Schools (LEAPS) survey—a 2003 assessment of 12,000 children in grade 3 in the province—also found that children were performing significantly below curricular standards (Andrabi et al. 2007). Most could not answer simple math questions, and many children finished grade 3 unable to perform mathematical operations covered in the grade 1 curriculum. A 2009 assessment of 40,000 grade 4 students in the province of Sindh similarly found that while 74 percent of students could add two numbers, only 49 percent could subtract two numbers (PEACE 2010).


Source: World Bank Report on Education in South Asia 2014




The report relies upon numerous sources of data, among them key government data (such as Bangladesh’s Directorate of Primary Education; India’s National Sample Survey, District Information System of Education, and National Council of Education Research and Training Assessment; and Pakistan’s National Education Assessment System); data from nongovernmental entities (such as Pakistan’s Annual Status of Education Report, India’s Student Learning Study, and its Annual Status of Education Report); international agencies (such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] Programme for International Student Assessment [PISA] 2009+ for India; the World Bank Secondary Education Quality and Access Enhancement Project in Bangladesh); and qualitative studies undertaken for the report (such as examining decentralization reforms in Sri Lanka and Pakistan). The study also uses the World Bank Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) framework to examine issues related to ECD, education finance, assessment systems, and teacher policies.

I hope that this report serves as a wake-up call for political leaders and policymakers in Pakistan to redouble their efforts with significant additional resource allocations for nutrition, education and healthcare.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Who's Better for Pakistan Human Development?

History of Literacy in Pakistan

Myths and Facts About Out-of-School Children in Pakistan

PISA, TIMSS Results Confirm Low Quality of Indian Education

India Shining, Bharat Drowning

Learning Levels and Gaps in Pakistan by Jishnu Das and Priyanka Pandey

Pasi Sahlberg on why Finland leads the world in education

CNN's Fixing Education in America-Fareed Zakaria

PISA's Scores 2011

Poor Quality of Education in South Asia

Infections Cause Low IQs in South Asia, Africa?

Peepli Live Destroys Western Myths About India

PISA 2009Plus Results Report

Monday, August 18, 2014

Promoting Innovation Culture in Pakistan

Culture of innovation has enabled huge productivity increases and major improvements in peoples' living standards since the advent of the Industrial Revolution in Europe in the 18th century. It has resulted in a monumental power shift from the East to the West and led to the European colonization of the rest of the world.

Countries in the East have finally begun to understand the value of innovation since achieving independence which came after a couple of centuries of subjugation by European powers.


Efforts to promote innovation in Pakistan are being spearheaded by several different groups including DICE Foundation and Pakistan Innovation Foundation.  Both DICE and PIF focus almost entirely on higher education institutions.

Before assessing the situation and making recommendations on promoting innovation in Pakistan, it's important to understand the history of innovation by studying the examples of major innovations since the industrial revolution.

James Watt:

James Watt (1736-1819) is credited with the innovation of the steam engine which is believed to have enabled the Industrial Revolution in Scotland. Watt only had high school education. He never studied at a college or a university. His invention enabled a wide range of manufacturing machinery to be powered.  His steam engines could be sited anywhere that water and coal or wood fuel could be obtained and provided up to 10,000 horsepower to run large factories. It could also be applied to vehicles such as traction engines and the railway locomotives. The stationary steam engine was a key component of the Industrial Revolution, allowing factories to locate where water power was unavailable.

Thomas Edison:

Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931), the man who invented the light bulb, was probably the most prolific inventor since the Industrial Revolution. He had no formal education. He was a tinkerer who worked with his hands to come up with many devices and was awarded over 1000 patents by the U.S. Patent Office. His innovations were transformational in their impact: electric light and power utilities, sound recording, and motion pictures, all established major new industries world-wide. Edison's inventions contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications. These included a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music and motion pictures.

Steve Jobs:

Steve Jobs (1955-2011) invented Apple personal computer. Jobs revolutionized several industries from computing and personal electronics to publishing and entertainment. Jobs, a highly prolific innovator, attended college briefly but did not complete college education. Jobs, too, was a tinkerer who worked with his hands to create things.

These examples clearly establish that some of the most prolific innovators have been people who had little or no college education. It is therefore not wise to limit promotion of innovation to just the college level.

In fact, it is much more important to start promoting innovation during early years in primary and secondary schools. It can be done through inquiry-based learning and provision of tools and training at the K-12 school level. Some examples are as follows:

Inquiry-based Learning:

Inquiry-based learning is a method developed during the discovery learning movement of the 1960s. It came in response to a perceived failure of more traditional rote learning. Inquiry-based learning is a form of active learning, where progress is assessed by how well students develop experimental, analytical and critical thinking skills rather than how many facts they have memorized.  Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) and The Citizens Foundation (TCF) are beginning to promote inquiry-based methods to encourage more active learning and critical thinking at an early age in Pakistan. These skills are essential to prepare Pakistani youngsters to be capable of facing the challenges of living in a highly competitive world in which the wealth of nations is defined in terms of human capital and innovation.

Maker Movement:

The Maker Movement is a technological and creative learning revolution underway around the globe. It has exciting and vast implications for the world of education. New tools and technology, such as 3D printing, robotics, microprocessors, wearable computing, e-textiles, “smart” materials, and programming languages are being invented at an unprecedented pace. The Maker Movement creates affordable or even free versions of these inventions, while sharing tools and ideas online to create a vibrant, collaborative community of global problem-solvers.

Maker movement is helping spawn facilities in many different cities around the world. These places have a wide range of both hardware and software tools and classes available to help people to create and "make" things with their own hands.

The only possible example of "makerspace" that comes close in Pakistan is Robotics Lab that was launched in 2011 in Karachi. It was founded by two friends Afaque Ahmed and Yasin Altaf who had previously worked in Silicon Valley. They bought a 3D printer for the lab as a tool to help children learn science. The founding duo is now looking for ways to expand its audience.“Our goal is to push this science lab to TCF schools, a nationwide school network covering about 150,000 underprivileged students,” says Ahmed. The project, however, is currently pending because of funding constraints. “We have asked them to find some big donor for this purpose. Currently, we train these children only through field trips to our labs.”

Out-of-the-Box Thinking:

The key to innovation is not necessarily advanced education and training in a certain field. It is out-of-the-box thinking. Major innovations have often come from people working in unrelated fields. Recent examples of such innovations from people of South Asian origin include Zia Chisti's Invisalign and Salman Khan's Khan Academy. Both Zia and Salman came from investment banking background before they revolutionized the fields of orthodontics and education.

Summary: 

Encouragement of the culture of innovation should begin during children's formative years in primary and secondary schools. Innovation requires free out-of-the-box thinking. History tells us that some of the biggest innovators were tinkerers with little or no formal education in the fields of their biggest and most transformative innovations. Groups and foundations promoting innovation in Pakistan need to increase their outreach to the school kids. As a start, they can expand inquiry-based learning and build more makerspaces like Karachi's Robotics Lab in partnership with private industries and foundations in major cities.

Here's a video of my friend Ali H. Cemendtaur's visit to Karachi Robotics Lab:

http://vimeo.com/58856985


Visiting Robotics Labs, Private Limited in Karachi, Pakistan from Ali Cemendtaur on Vimeo.
Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Industrial Revolution Power Shift

Steve Jobs' Syrian Father

Inquiry-Based Learning in Pakistan

3D Printing in Pakistan

Zia Chishti's Innovation in Orthodontics

Human Capital Growth in Pakistan

Khan Academy Draws Pakistani Visitors


Friday, August 15, 2014

Pakistan Army's Contingency Plans in Response to Escalation in Political Crisis

As the protest marchers led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's PTI and powerful cleric Tahir ul Qadri's PAT enter Islamabad, the political crisis in Pakistan appears to be escalating amid serious attempts to defuse it. There has been some progress in averting street violence on the streets of the nation's capital but the outcome remains far from certain. 


Pakistan Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif
If Pakistan's history is any guide, the nation's military will most likely be the final arbiter in the event that the crisis continues for an extended period of time. The Atlantic Council's Shuja Nawaz is a younger brother of Pakistan's former Army Chief late General Asif Nawaz Janjua. He continues to have close ties with top military brass in Pakistan. He personally knows Pakistan's current Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and some of the corps commanders. Nawaz says the Pakistani military always has contingency plans to deal with all possible crises, including political unrest, that could threaten national security. Such plans are triggered into action by a series of events included in them. 

In the current crisis, there is a range of possible military responses. Military intervention could be soft as seen in Kakar model or the Kiyani model.  The Kakar model is named after General Abdul Waheed Kakar who forced the quarreling President and Prime Minister in 1990s to resign and hold fresh elections under a caretaker arrangement. The Kayani model refers to the phone call by Gen Kayani in 2009 to stop PMLN's march by assuring them the former Chief Justice Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry will be restored to his post by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. 

A soft intervention is much more likely given the military's current focus on Operation ZarbeArb in FATA to rid Pakistan of the Taliban and other terrorists who have claimed the lives of over 50,000 Pakistanis in recent years. 

In the unlikely event that soft intervention fails, the military could be forced into directly taking power for a period of time to bring back some semblance of order.   

Will escalating political crisis draw Pakistan Military into the fray? How will Gen Raheel Sharif and his corp commanders handle the situation if the politicians fail to resolve the crisis? Mr. Shuja Nawaz, Pakistan's top expert and author of books on civil-military ties, joins ViewPoint from Overseashost Faraz Darvesh and panelists Misbah Azam (politicsinpakistan.com) and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

Here's a video discussion on the subject of possible military intervention in Pakistan:

 https://vimeo.com/103522159 


Pakistan Army's Contingency Plans to Handle Escalating Political Crisis; Future of Democracy After PTI Azadi March from WBT TV on Vimeo.



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Iftikhar Chaudhry is No Angel

Nawaz Sharif's First 100 Days

Musharraf Trial

Democracy vs Dictatorship in Pakistan

Another Lost Decade in Pakistan

Terror Toll in Pakistan

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Misaq-e-Madina Inspired Quaid-e-Azam's Vision of Pluralistic Pakistan

An ongoing debate about the true vision of Pakistan's founder flares up every year around Pakistan's Independence Day. This year is no exception. It is centered on one key question: Did the Quaid want an Islamic state or a secular state or a pluralistic democratic one?

Islamic or Secular Pakistan?

Here are a couple of excerpts from Quaid-e-Azam's speeches given at different times which are often cited in this "Islamic vs Secular Pakistan" debate:

"You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State"

“Who am I to give you a constitution? The prophet of Islam had given us a constitution 1,300 years ago. We have to simply follow and implement it, and based on it we have to establish in our state Islam’s great system of governance.”

The secularists insist that the first excerpt from the Quaid's speech of August 11, 1947 to the constituent assembly should be accepted as his true vision for a secular Pakistan. The Islamists vehemently disagree and cite the second excerpt in which the Quaid talked about the fact that "prophet of Islam had given us a constitution 1,300 years ago" and we must implement it.

Misaq-e-Madina: 

The question is: Do the two speech excerpts conflict or support each other? On the surface, the Quaid's speeches appear to send conflicting messages. However, a deeper examination of Misaq-e-Madina (Charter of Medina), Islam's first constitution approved by Prophet Muhammad (SAW), suggests the Quaid's speeches are consistent with each other and conform to the original Islamic constitution.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Honored by US Supreme Court

Here's the opening line of Misaq-e-Madina:

"This is a document from Muhammad the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), governing relations between the Believers i.e. Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib and those who followed them and worked hard with them. They form one nation -- Ummah."

It clearly says that all citizens of "Yathrib" (ancient name of Madina), regardless of  their tribe or religion, are part of one nation--"Ummah". So the word "Ummah" here does not exclude non-Muslims.

Further into the "Misaq" document, it says: "No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew. The enemies of the Jews who follow us will not be helped. If anyone attacks anyone who is a party to this Pact the other must come to his help."

The Mesaq assures equal protection to all citizens of Madina, including non-Muslim tribes which agreed to it. The contents of Misaq-e-Madina, Islam's first constitution approved by Prophet Mohammad 1400 years ago, appear to have inspired Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's vision of  a pluralistic Pakistan where people of all religions and nationalities live in harmony with equal rights and protections under the law.

Two-Nation-Theory:

Some might now ask what was the need for the Two-Nation-Theory given the above vision of the Quaid? The Quaid's search for Pakistan as an independent state for Muslims was inspired to give India's minority Muslims better opportunities to grow and prosper. While it's true that Pakistan has not lived up to the Quaid's expectations, it is also true that, in spite of all their problems, Muslims in Pakistan are still much better off  than their counterparts in India.

An Indian government commission headed by former Indian Chief Justice Rajendar Sachar confirms that Muslims are the new untouchables in caste-ridden and communal India. Indian Muslims suffer heavy discrimination in almost every field from  education and housing to jobs.  Their incarceration rates are also much higher than their Hindu counterparts.

According to Sachar Commission report, Muslims are now worse off than the Dalit caste, or those called untouchables. Some 52% of Muslim men are unemployed, compared with 47% of Dalit men. Among Muslim women, 91% are unemployed, compared with 77% of Dalit women. Almost half of Muslims over the age of 46 ca not read or write. While making up 11% of the population, Muslims account for 40% of India’s prison population. Meanwhile, they hold less than 5% of government jobs.

Those who say that the Two-Nation-Theory died with the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 are wrong. They need to be reminded that the Lahore Resolution of March 23, 1940, in fact called for two "independent states", not "state", in Muslim majority areas of India in the north east and the north west. The other fact to remember is that Bangladesh did not choose to merge with India after separation from Pakistan.

Here are a couple of video discussions on this and other subjects:

http://vimeo.com/82796819

http://vimeo.com/103030587


Nawaz Sharif Govt Survival Questioned; ISIS Advances in Iraq from WBT TV on Vimeo.


Jinnah’s birthday, Bangladesh Independence, Abdul Qadir Molla hanging, Aam Aadmi Party success India from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Jaswant Lauds Jinnah

Are Muslims Better Off in Jinnah's Pakistan?

Comparing Pakistan and Bangladesh

Is This a 1971 moment in Pakistan's History?

Is Pakistan Too Big to Fail?

Global Firepower

Jinnah's Pakistan Booms Amidst Doom and Gloom

Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah's Vision of Pakistan

India Wins Freedom by Maulana Azad

Ayesha Jalal Taking On Pakistan's Hero

The Poor Neighbor by William Dalrymple

Iqbal and Jinnah



Monday, August 11, 2014

Silicon Valley Pakistanis Celebrate Eid with Fashion, Food and Music

It was food for the body and soul and feast for the eyes at a Silicon Valley Pakistani-American event called The Stage is All Yours. Dozens of Pakistanis took to the stage to show off their talents at this open mic function inspired by Waldo Emerson's quote: "Every artist was first an amateur". There were aspiring singers, musicians, poets, comedians, fashion designers and models, all brought together by the event organizer Dr. Yasmeen Haq on August 3, 2014.













Food:

There were traditional Eid deserts like firni, gulab jaman and other desi sweets to savor. The menu also included halwa puri, chaat, chicken tikka, biryani, nihari, paya and nan. It was a real feast reminding participants of the taste of Pakistan in Silicon Valley.




Fashion Show:

Dozens of beautiful Pakistani-American models took the runway to show off fashion designer Aateka Sultana's women dresses and accessories for about 40 minutes. It was accompanied by popular tunes from India and Pakistan adding to the experience. It was music to the ears and feast for the eyes of the attendees.





Music:

About a dozen karaoke singers, poets, comedians and speakers presented their favorite songs and other items to keep the attendees entertained throughout the event. Their choices varied from sufi music and poetry to popular Lollywood, Bollywood and Hollywood hits. Some of the popular Pakistani hits presented at the event were: Alif Allah, Allah hi Allah kia karo, Bina Mahi, Akele na jana, and Dama dam mast qalandar.






Poetry:

Riaz Haq talked about Urdu poets' fixation with alcohol as expressed in their work. He read out interesting lines from Akbar Ilahabadi, Mirza Ghalib, Allama Iqbal and Ahmad Faraz on alcohol, including both approving and disapproving expressions. Here are a few lines:

Akbar Ilahabadi: Hungama hai kiyon barpa thodi si jo pee lee hai/ Daka to nahin dala chori to nahi ki hai

Mirza Ghalib: Zahid sharab peene de masjid mein beth kar/Yah aisi jaga bata jahaan khuda nahin

Allama Iqbal: Masjid khuda ka ghar hai peene ki jaga nahin/ Kafir ke dil mein jahan wahan khuda nahin

Ahmad Faraz: Kafir ke dil se aya hoon yeh dekh kar/ Khuda majood hai wahan per use pata nahin

Video link for Riaz Haq's presentation: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x23bwad_riaz-haq-on-akbar-ghalib-iqbal-and-faraz_creation

Mobeen Khalil presented his poem on the current crises facing Pakistan. Here's a sample:

Ay meri qaum tujhay hua kia hai/ aakhir is behisi ki wajah kia hai

Tum to soyai aur zamir bhi soya/ Baqi ab sharm o haya kia hai

Kheltay kyon ho aghiar ke hathon mei/sonay chandi ka aisa bhi nasha kia hai

Mulk hai to hum hai aur pehchan bhi hai/ Phir yeh khoon kharabay ki wajah kia hai

Watan se door hum be watno sai poochho/ Yeh sabz hilali parcham ka saya kia hai

Poochhti hai yeh watan ki matti humsay/ Izzat e madar bhi koi bechta kia hai

Dha rahey kiyon apanay hi hathon apnay ghar ko/ Sochte reh jao gay paya kia tha khoya kia hay

Ay meri qaum tyjhay hua kia hai 

Video link for Mobeen Khalil's prsentation: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x23d6zl_mobeen-khalil-reciting-ay-meri-qaum-tujhe-hua-kia-hai_creation

Haq Family

Summary:

The Stage is All Yours is a unique platform helping Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans groom their talents and stay connected with their culture and heritage.  It served this purpose well with the Eid celebration organized on August 3, 2014 in Silicon Valley.

Here are a few video clips of the event:


Riaz Haq on Akbar Ghalib Iqbal and Faraz by riaz-haq


Fashion Show by Aateka at The Stage is All Yours by riaz-haq

Sara Shaikh Singing A Thousand Miles by riaz-haq


Dr. Naureen Khan Singing Allah Hi Allah at The... by riaz-haq



Amber Haq Dixon Singing Alif Allah at The Stage... by riaz-haq
Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Tweet and Pray for Gaza on Eid

Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans Enable 2nd Machine Age

Pakistani Diaspora World's 7th Largest

Pakistani-American Population Second Fastest Growing Among Asian-Americans

Organization of Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs

Karachi-born Triple Oscar Winning Graphics Artist

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fire-eye Goes Public

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

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 

US Promoting Venture Capital & Private Equity in Pakistan

Pakistani-American Population Growth Second Fastest Among Asian-Americans

Edible Arrangements: Pakistani-American's Success Story

Riaz Haq's Dailymotion Channel

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pakistani Woman Engineer Gets Grace Hopper Award

Dr. Durdana Habib, senior faculty member at the School of Electrical Engineering, National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, Islamabad, Pakistan is the recipient of the prestigious Grace Hopper ABIE Award for 2014 from Anita Borg Institute in the United States.

The award is named after Grace Murray Hopper (1906-1992) who was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and developed the first ever compiler for a computer programming language.

A press release by the Institute says that Dr. Habib has "motivated female engineering students to take up engineering careers". It adds: "She participated as an active volunteer in Women in Technology, a Task Force of the Technology Resource Mobilization unit under the Ministry of Science & Technology, Pakistan. She has involved female faculty as well as professionals across public and private sector through the Women's Forum, Interactive talks and WIE sessions at IEEE student Congresses. She is a mentor of the Pakistan Women's Forum (PWF) and is currently the Chair of the WIE Affinity Group, IEEE, Islamabad Section."

Dr. Habib has worked at Communications Enabling Technologies where she led software development on System-On-Chip (SOCs) designs, according to the press release. Her team of many motivated female engineers developed one of world’s highest density media processor SOC designs and filed several US patents.

There were very few women in engineering when I attended NED Engineering College in 1970s.  Dr. Habib and her fellow women engineers have since served as role models to encourage girls to study engineering in Pakistan. The result is that a third of all students at NED University of Engineering and Technology are now female, according to a report by Inam Khwaja published in Karachi's Business Recorder newspaper.

As of 2012, the ratio of female-to-male enrollment in tertiary education in Pakistan is 95%, according to the World Bank. About 22% of adult women in Pakistan now work, up from 14% a decade ago. Women make up 4.6% of board members of Pakistani companies, a tad lower than the 4.7% average in emerging Asia, but higher than 1% in South Korea, 4.1% in India and Indonesia, and 4.2% in Malaysia, according to a February 2011 report on women in the boardrooms.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Working Women Seeding Silent Revolution in Pakistan

Malala Inspires Surge in Girls School Enrollment

Status of Women in Pakistan

Microfinancing in Pakistan

Gender Gap Worst in South Asia

Status of Women in India

Female Literacy Lags in South Asia

Land For Landless Women

Are Women Better Off in Pakistan Today?

A Woman Speaker: Another Token or Real Change

A Tale of Tribal Terror

Burka Avenger

Out-of-School Children in Pakistan

Malala Moment


Friday, August 1, 2014

Strong Eid Sales Confirm Nielsen's Consumer Confidence Data on Pakistan

Eid and Ramzan sales, making up over 40% of annual revenue of retailers in Pakistan, are estimated to have jumped 10-15% this year, according to early data reported in the news media.

Nielsen, a global provider of data on consumers, reports that Pakistan consumer confidence has held steady at 99 for two consecutive quarters. This compares favorably with consumer confidence figures which declined over the previous quarter in the overall Middle East/Africa region. Among the region, UAE led the way for Middle East/Africa consumer confidence with an index of 109, a decline of five points from first-quarter 2014. Egypt (81) reported a drop of six points compared to the first quarter. South Africa posted the only regional confidence increase, climbing three points to 85, and confidence held steady in Saudi Arabia (102).

Global Consumer Confidence Index Report. Source: Nielsen 


More than half (56%) of Middle East/ Africa respondents in Nielsen consumer surveys viewed their personal finances in a positive light which held steady from the first quarter. In Pakistan, 59 percent of the respondents believed the state of their finances was good or excellent, up from 57 percent in the first quarter of this year.

“Pakistani consumers are generally optimistic as seen by mostly high consumer confidence scores over the last three years. However, a score of 99 in the first as well as the second quarter of this year, is the highest we’ve seen since the second quarter of 2011,” said Mustafa Moosajee, Managing Director, Nielsen Pakistan. “This reflects the overall mood in the country, especially relating to economic conditions. The economy is showing signs of recovery but macro challenges remain.”

Pakistan's Nielsen consumer confidence index of 99 is just below 100, a level that indicates optimism. Countries at or above 100 are: China (111), India (121), Indonesia (124), UAE (114), Philippines (111), Thailand (108), Brazil (106), Switzerland (104),  Saudi Arabia (102), Peru (101), United States (100), Denmark (100) and New Zealand (100).

Consumer spending in Pakistan has increased at a 26 percent average pace the past three years, compared with 7.7 percent for Asia, according to data compiled by Euromonitor International, a consumer research firm. Pakistan's rising middle class consumers  in major cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad are driving sales of international brand name products and services.  Real estate developers and retailers are responding to it by opening new mega shopping malls such as Dolmen in Karachi and Centaurus in Islamabad.

Dolmen City, Clifton, Karachi
Here's a recent video of a CNN report on "British Brand Invasion" from Dolmen Mall in Clifton district of Karachi:



 http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2013/04/01/mohsin-bristish-brands-in-pakistan.cnn

Pakistan has continued to offer much greater upward economic and social mobility to its citizens than neighboring India over the last two decades. Since 1990, Pakistan's middle class had expanded by 36.5% and India's by only 12.8%, according to an ADB report titled "Asia's Emerging Middle Class: Past, Present And Future.

.



Dolmen Mall Clifton Featured on CNN from DHAToday on Vimeo.

Rising consumer confidence is good but not sufficient to boost economic growth to meet the needs of growing population. What Pakistan requires badly now is significant new investments, both foreign and domestic, to overcome the ongoing energy crisis and rejuvenate the manufacturing sector.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Educational Attainment in Pakistan

Foreign Visitors to Pakistan Pleasantly Surprised

Pakistan's Infrastructure and M2 Motorway

India Pakistan Comparison 2011

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers


FMCG Consumption Boom in Rural Pakistan

Pakistan Visits Open  Indian Eyes

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

SEC Fines US Gunmaker For Bribing Pakistani Officials

US gun manufacturer Smith and Wessen has agreed to pay the U.S. government $2 million fine for bribing officials in Pakistan, Indonesia and other countries as it tried to sell firearms to military and law enforcement agencies, according to US media reports.

The company has also implemented new procedures for its overseas business practices. It will report back to the US SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) on its FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) compliance efforts for the next two years.

Here are some excerpts from SEC's press release on this settlement:

According to the SEC’s order instituting a settled administrative proceeding, the Springfield, Mass.-based firearms manufacturer sought to break into new markets overseas starting in 2007 and continuing into early 2010. During that period, Smith & Wesson’s international sales staff engaged in a pervasive effort to attract new business by offering, authorizing, or making illegal payments or providing gifts meant for government officials in Pakistan, Indonesia, and other foreign countries. 

 “This is a wake-up call for small and medium-size businesses that want to enter into high-risk markets and expand their international sales,” said Kara Brockmeyer, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s FCPA Unit. “When a company makes the strategic decision to sell its products overseas, it must ensure that the right internal controls are in place and operating.” 

 According to the SEC’s order, Smith & Wesson retained a third-party agent in Pakistan in 2008 to help the company obtain a deal to sell firearms to a Pakistani police department. Smith & Wesson officials authorized the agent to provide more than $11,000 worth of guns to Pakistani police officials as gifts, and then make additional cash payments. Smith & Wesson ultimately won a contract to sell 548 pistols to the Pakistani police for a profit of $107,852. The SEC’s order finds that Smith & Wesson employees made or authorized improper payments related to multiple other pending or contemplated international sales contracts.
The SEC’s order finds that Smith & Wesson also authorized improper payments to third-party agents who indicated that portions would be provided to foreign officials in Turkey, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The attempts to secure sales contracts in those countries were ultimately unsuccessful. 

The SEC’s order finds that Smith & Wesson violated the anti-bribery, internal controls and books and records provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The company agreed to pay $107,852 in disgorgement, $21,040 in prejudgment interest, and a $1.906 million penalty. Smith & Wesson consented to the order without admitting or denying the findings. The SEC considered Smith & Wesson’s cooperation with the investigation as well as the remedial acts taken after the conduct came to light. Smith & Wesson halted the impending international sales transactions before they went through, and implemented a series of significant measures to improve its internal controls and compliance process. The company also terminated its entire international sales staff.

Similar allegations have in the past surfaced in FCPA cases relating to MicrosoftSiemensPaxar and other foreign entities in Pakistan. Last year, US media reported that an unnamed provincial minister in Punjab government and his wife traveled to the United States in December 2009 to close a $9 million deal for Microsoft Office software. The trip was booked by a travel agent working for Microsoft. Microsoft paid the costs of business class fare and stay at a luxury hotel in the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal.  In another case, Paxar Corporation, a New York listed company acquired  by Avery, acknowledged paying $30,000 to bribe Pakistani customs officials in 2008 through its local customs broker. Avery, a California-based company, manufactures and markets various office products in several dozen countries around the world.

Raymond Baker, author of "Capitalism's Achilles Heel", has detailed billions of dollars worth of bribes received by government leaders in several developing countries including Pakistan.  Here's a brief except from Baker's book on Sharif family:

"At least $160 million pocketed from a contract to build a highway from Lahore, his home town, to Islamabad, the nation’s capital. At least $140 million in unsecured loans from Pakistan’s state banks. More than $60 million generated from government rebates on sugar exported by mills controlled by Mr. Sharif and his business associates. At least $58 million skimmed from inflated prices paid for imported wheat from the United States and Canada. In the wheat deal, Mr. Sharif ’s government paid prices far above market value to a private company owned by a close associate of his in Washington, the records show. Falsely inflated invoices for the wheat generated tens of millions of dollars in cash."

Baker mentions the use of several offshore entities in British Virgin Islands and Channel Islands controlled by the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to launder billions of dollars received in bribes.

Similar details are offered in the book that explain how Bhutto-Zardari family have siphoned off money from deals made by Pakistan government. Here's a more extensive excerpt from Baker's book:

Upon taking office in 1988, Bhutto reportedly appointed 26,000 party hacks to state jobs, including positions in state-owned banks. An orgy of lending without proper collateral followed. Allegedly, Bhutto and Zardari “gave instructions for billions of rupees of unsecured government loans to be given to 50 large projects. The loans were sanctioned in the names of ‘front men’ but went to the ‘Bhutto-Zardari combine.’ ” Zardari suggested that such loans are “normal in the Third World to encourage industrialisation.” He used 421 million rupees (about £10 million) to acquire a major interest in three new sugar mills, all done through nominees acting on his behalf. In another deal he allegedly received a 40 million rupee kickback on a contract involving the Pakistan Steel Mill, handled by two of his cronies. Along the way Zardari acquired a succession of nicknames: Mr. 5 Percent, Mr. 10 Percent, Mr. 20 Percent, Mr. 30 Percent, and finally, in Bhutto’s second term when he was appointed “minister of investments,” Mr. 100 Percent. The Pakistan government’s largest source of revenues is customs duties, and therefore evasion of duties is a national pastime. Isn’t there some way to tap into this major income stream, pretending to fight customs corruption and getting rich at the same time? Of course; we can hire a reputable (or disreputable, as the case may be) inspection company, have the government pay the company about a one percent fee to do price checking on imports, and get multimillion-dollar bribes paid to us upon award of the contracts. Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS), headquartered in Switzerland, and its then subsidiary Cotecna, the biggest group in the inspection business, readily agreed to this subterfuge. Letters in 1994 promised “consultancy fees,” meaning kickbacks, of 6 percent and 3 percent to two British Virgin Island (BVI) companies, Bomer Finances Inc. and Nassam Overseas Inc., controlled by Bhutto and Zardari. Payments of $12 million were made to Swiss bank accountsof the BVI companies. SGS allegedly has paid kickbacks on other inspection contracts around the world. Upon being accused in the inspection kickback scheme, Bhutto sniffed, “I ran the government to the best of my honest ability. And I did it for nothing but acknowledgment and love.” Then there was the 1994 deal to import $83 million worth of tractors from Poland. Ursus Tractors allegedly paid a 7 percent commission to another of Zardari’s Caribbean companies, Dargal Associated. Bhutto waived import duties on the tractors, costing the Pakistani government some 1.7 billion rupees in lost revenues. Upon discovery of this scheme the Poles hastened to turn over 500 pages of documentation confirming the kickback. The Polish tractor deal was just a warm-up for the French fighter jet deal. After the U.S. government cancelled a sale of two squadrons of F-16s, Bhutto dangled a $4 billion contract for Mirages in front of the French—Dassault Aviation; Snecma, the engine manufacturer; and Thomson-CSF, producer of aviation electronics. Without missing a beat they allegedly agreed to pay a “remuneration” of 5 percent to Marleton Business S.A., yet another of Zardari’s British Virgin Island companies. This would have generated a tidy $200 million for the Bhutto-Zardari couple, but unfortunately for them she was driven from office before they could collect. Ah, but the gold deal gave some comfort to these aspiring kleptocrats. Gold is culturally important in the Asian subcontinent, in particular as a way for women to accumulate wealth. Upwards of $100 billion is invested in this unproductive asset in Pakistan, India, and surrounding countries. Smuggling is big business. Ostensibly to regulate the trade, a Pakistani bullion dealer in Dubai, Abdul Razzak Yaqub, asked Bhutto for an exclusive import license. In 1994, yet another Zardari offshore company, M.S. Capricorn Trading, was created in the British Virgin Islands. Later in the year, Jens Schlegelmilch, “a Swiss lawyer who was the Bhutto family’s attorney in Europe and close personal friend for more than 20 years,” opened an account for Capricorn Trading at the Dubai branch of Citibank. According to a 1999 U.S. Senate report: “Mr. Schlegelmilch did not reveal to the Dubai banker that Mr. Zardari was the beneficial owner of the PIC [private investment company], and the account manager never asked him the identity of the beneficial owner of the account. . . . Shortly after opening the account in Dubai, Mr. Schlegelmilch signed a standard referral agreement with Citibank Switzerland private bank guaranteeing him 20 percent of the first three years of client net revenues earned by the bank from each client he referred to the private bank.” In other words, Citibank was contracting to pay a finder’s fee for millions brought in from dubious sources. Citibank went on to open three accounts in Switzerland for Zardari, with Schlegelmilch as the signatory. In October 1994, Citibank records show that $10 million was deposited into Capricorn’s Dubai account by Razzak Yaqub’s company, A.R.Y. International Exchange. In December, Razzak Yaqub received an exclusive import license and proceeded over the next three years to ship more than $500 million in gold to Pakistan. Additional deposits flowed into the Dubai and Swiss Citibank accounts, and funds also were shifted to Citibank Channel Island subsidiaries. The original ceiling on the accounts of $40 million was reached quickly.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Microsoft Accused of Bribing Pakistani Punjab Minister

Inaction Against Corruption in South Asia

FCPA Blog

Avery Acknowledges Bribing Pakistani Officials

FCPA Violations Involving Indian Entities

The Story of Graft

Anti-Corruption Day, Blagojevich and Zardari

Bhutto Convicted in Switzerland

Corruption in Pakistan

Transparency International Survey 2007

Is Siemens Guilty?

Zardari Corruption Probe


Monday, July 28, 2014

Don't Forget to Pray and Tweet for Gaza on Eid

"Gaza is Israel's Warsaw -- a vast concentration camp that confined and blockaded Palestinians. We are witness to a slow-motion process of genocide." Professor William I. Robinson, University of California at Santa Barbara.

The "slow-motion process of genocide" in Gaza that the Jewish-American professor refers to has just accelerated in the last few weeks with relentless Israeli bombing of the civilian population with most modern and extremely lethal weaponry supplied by the United States.  Over 80% of the 1000+ casualties in Gaza are civilians so far while the overwhelming majority of casualties (about 40) on the Israeli side are of Israeli soldiers.

It's not just US arms that are aiding and abetting this accelerating genocide targeting the Gaza children of Palestinians; the US mainstream media and the US politicians are active collaborators in this crime against humanity.



Fortunately, the western media, particularly the US media, now has serious competition from the rapidly growing social media. And Israel and its supporters are badly losing this war for the hearts and minds of the people of the world.

Source: Twitter


Even in the United States, in spite of the pro-Israel US mainstream media propaganda, a recent Gallup poll shows that the tech-savvy younger generation of Americans age 18-29 believes by 2:1 that "Israel's actions are unjustified".

Source: Gallup

The most popular hashtags in support of Gazans are #GazaUnderAttack and #PrayForGaza. Please do not underestimate the power of the social media. I urge you to join the social media battle to support Palestinians in their hour of need by tweeting with pro-Gaza hashtags #GazaUnderAttack and #PrayForGaza.
Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Gaza Compared With Nazi Concentration Camps

Zionist Power Grows in Washington

Pictorial Review of Young Gaza Victims

Israel's Gaza Attack is Criminal, Not Defensive

Is Obama True Friend of Israel?

Who Rules America?


Friday, July 25, 2014

BJP Makes "Akhand Bharat" Part of Indian School Textbooks

“Students, how would you go about drawing a map of India? Do you know that countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Burma are part of undivided India? These countries are part of Akhand Bharat.” Tejomay Bharat (Shining India)  by Dinanath Batra
Tejomay India (Shining India) is just one of six of Batra's books made "must read" by education ministry for students at all of 42,000 primary and secondary schools in the State of Gujarat, the home of India's Hindu Nationalist prime minister Mr. Narendra Modi.

Hindu Nationalists' "Akhand Bharat" includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Burma
Batra, the man who oversaw revisions in Indian history textbooks for the country's National Council of Education, Research and Training (NCERT), recently forced Penguin India to recall and destroy all copies of "The Hindus: An Alternative History"  by University of Chicago scholar Wendy Doniger published by Penguin Books about 5 years ago. Explaining his opposition to Doniger's book, Batra told Time magazine: "The entire book is objectionable, but yes, that is one of our main objections. She is insulting our gods and goddesses and religious leaders and texts and even our freedom fighters. I don’t have any objection to sex and neither does our religion, as long as it’s within the parameters of religion."



Batra shares something in common with Nigeria's Boko Haram for his vehement opposition to western education. He calls western-educated Indians “children of Marx and Macaulay” who are “defaming Hinduism”, according to India's First Post. He also feels that there is no need for English language education and instead advocates the teaching of Sanskrit to students along with a an emphasis on the mother tongue ("with 20 percent for Sanskrit") with Hindi as a second language.
India Arms Build-Up in Pursuit of "Akhand Bharat"? Data Source: SIPRI 

Hindu nationalists have been battling scholars over history for decades. They tried to do in California what their Indian counterparts have already done in India. They attempted to change California history textbooks in 2006, when they argued unsuccessfully to include their claims like the indigenous origins of Aryans and tried to deny the terrible impact on hundreds of millions of Indians of the caste system and misogyny prevalent in Hindu texts and Aryan culture. Hundreds of history scholars from US and South Asia helped defeat this attempt by Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and its allies in the United States.


































India's textbooks suffer from many problems ranging from deliberate distortions to outright incompetence. The errors range from misspelling "Suez" Canal as "Sewage" Canal and referring to Africans as N---ers" to false stories of India's Muslim rulers' atrocities on Hindus.

With regard to anti-Muslim propaganda in Indian textbooks, Dr. D.N. Pande, author of "History in the Service of Imperialism", summarized his conclusions in a lecture to members of the Rajya Sabha in 1977 when he said: “Thus under a definite policy the Indian history textbooks were so falsified and distorted as to give an impression that the medieval period of Indian history was full of atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on their Hindu subjects and the Hindus had to suffer terrible indignities under Islamic rule.”

Retired Justice Katju of the Indian Supreme Court has said that Dr. Pande came upon the truth about Tipu Sultan in 1928 while verifying a contention — made in a history textbook authored by Dr. Har Prashad Shastri, the then head of the Sanskrit Department in Calcutta University — that during Tipu's rule 3,000 Brahmins had committed suicide to escape conversion to Islam. The only authentication Dr. Shastri could provide was that the reference was contained in the Mysore Gazetteer. But the Gazetteer contained no such reference, according to a report in The Hindu newspaper.

Further research by Dr. Pande showed not only that Tipu paid annual grants to 156 temples, but that he enjoyed cordial relations with the Shankaracharya of Sringeri Math to whom he had addressed at least 30 letters. Dr. Shastri's book, which was in use at the time in high schools across India, was later de-prescribed. But the unsubstantiated allegation continued to masquerade as a fact in history books written later.

The Hindutva project to rewrite South Asian history appears to be gaining new momentum with the rise of Narendra Modi. If allowed to proceed unchecked, this revisionism could prove to be very destabilizing and dangerous for India, Pakistan and the entire region.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Rise of Narendra Modi

Hindu Academic Forces Destruction of Scholarly Book on Hinduism 

Hindutva Whitewash of History

Pro-Modi Candidate in Silicon Valley Congressional Race

Sonal Shah in the White House

Gujarat Muslims Ignored By Indian Politicians

Indian-American Lobby Emulates AIPAC

Pakistani-American Demographics

Minorities are Majority in Silicon Valley

Indian Kids Rank Bottom on PISA, TIMSS