Monday, April 22, 2019

Asad Umar's Exit: Causes and Effects on Pakistan Economy

Who removed Pakistan Finance Minister Asad Umar and why? What was expected of him? Did he fail to deliver it? What are the qualifications of Dr. Hafeez Shaikh who has been picked to replace Asad Umar? Is he better suited to deliver a deal with IMF and other international financial institutions?

Pakistan's Current Account Deficit. Source: Trading Economics

What are Pakistan's biggest economic issues now? Budget deficits? Trade deficits? Current account imbalances? Lack of exports? Lack of domestic savings and investments? Low FDI? What must the new economic team do to address short term and long term problems with Pakistan's economy that are forcing the nation to seek 13th IMF bailout in last 40 years?

Pakistan's External Debt. Source: Wall Street Journal


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

https://youtu.be/Axo8V-HNuHA






Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan's Debt Crisis

Can Pakistan Avoid Recurring IMF Bailouts?

Pakistan is the 3rd Fastest Growing Trillion Dollar Economy

CPEC Financing: Is China Ripping Off Pakistan?

Information Tech Jobs Moving From India to Pakistan

Pakistan is 5th Largest Motorcycle Market

"Failed State" Pakistan Saw 22% Growth in Per Capita Income in Last 5 Years

CPEC Transforming Pakistan

Pakistan's $20 Billion Tourism Industry Boom

Home Appliance Ownership in Pakistani Households

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network


Sunday, April 21, 2019

OPEN Forum 2019: Pakistani Entrepreneurs Summit in Silicon Valley

OPEN Forum 2019 drew hundreds of Pakistanis and Pakistani-Americans to Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley on Saturday April 20, 2019.  This year's conference featured a keynote by Karachi-born Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder of Careem ride-hailing service. In addition, there were sessions on artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, financial technology and entrepreneurship.  Careem has recently been acquired by Uber for $3.1 billion.  The attendees included entrepreneurs, technologists, business executives, investors, lawyers, accountants and others who make up the tech startup ecosystem of Silicon Valley.

Careem Co-Founder's Keynote:

Mudassir Shiekha, born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, gave the morning keynote. He talked about his personal and entrepreneurial journey and the challenges he faced along the way. His first hand experience of riding roof-tops of buses in Karachi stayed with him and eventually led to the choice of starting up a ride-hailing service to ease public transit problems in the MENAP region that covers Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.

Mudassir Sheikha, Pakistani Co-Founder of Careem

The first challenge Mudassir Sheikha and his fellow co-founders Magnus Olsson and Abdulla Elyas faced was raising capital for their new venture. Although there is no dearth of capital in the Arabian Gulf, the risk capital in the region tends to flow to Silicon Valley and San Francisco startups like Uber rather than to local entrepreneurs in MEAP region. Initially the trio were turned down by all five Middle East investors they approached. Somehow, they were able to persuade one of them to relent and give them a term sheet that they accepted.

Audience at OPEN Forum 2019

The second challenge was lack of good maps that Careem drivers needed to provide efficient and reliable service to their customers. The approached Google but they were told the company is focused on markets in Europe and North America. MENAP region was not a priority for them. So Careem had to take it upon itself to develop more complete and reliable street level maps. "We not only had to build mapping infrastructure, we had to build our own places database because Google was not complete nor reliable," Sheikha told the audience.  As of February 2019, Careem has mapped 45,000 miles of roads in MENAP region.  In addition, Careem has also had build its payment system that accommodates cash payments.

Mudassir said that acquisition of Careem by Uber is not the end of his journey.  Instead, it's a new chapter in his and Careem's lives. He sees great potential for Careem to serve a region with 700 million people. Only 2% of them afford Careem's service today but he sees the rest of the 98% as hid target. He sees delivery business with the growth of e-commerce as another major opportunity for Careem.

Artificial Intelligence:

The panel discussion on the current state, the promise and the future impact of artificial intelligence (AI) featured 5 AI experts, including 3 Pakistani-Americans: Professor Ali Minai, Professor Irfan Essa and Batool Arhamna Haider. All three are from Karachi. Ali and Batool are both my fellow alumni of NED University of Engineering and Technology. Batool, the sole woman on the panel, works as a scientist at Amazon's AI group. Irfan Essa teaches Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia.  Abbas Rafii and Ahmad Abdelkader, both CTOs of the Silicon Valley companies they founded, were the remaining two panelists.

Panelists said the artificial intelligence (AI) software today serves as tools to aid people in getting basic things done.  Advances in sensor networks and availability vast amounts of data and neural networks will help advance machine learning as well as machine cognition and understanding.

The question going forward is whether AI will eventually be an entirely new autonomous species or serve to collaborate with humans in accomplishing higher level tasks in a variety of fields ranging from retail and manufacturing to education and health care. What eventually happens has huge implications for productivity and labor markets. Dr. Ali Minai used the example of Google translation of Urdu poet Ghalib's poetry to make the point that AI today lacks nuance.

Philz Coffee:

Philz (Faisal) Jaber sat for a fireside chat with Omar Siddiqui in the afternoon. Born in Ramallah in Palestine, Faisal has become a fixture in San Francisco over decades.  As an 8-year-old in Palestine he sold coffee beans door-to-door and spent afternoons at family gatherings where his grandma shared Turkish coffee.

Phil (Faisal) Jaber of Philz Coffee

Philz' is highly caffeinated coffee of choice in Silicon Valley. It is an expensive alternative to Starbucks and Pete's.  Philz fame shot up after he served coffee at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's surprise wedding with Priscilla Chan. Here's how Forbes reported it:

"Everyone who arrived that Saturday afternoon, including the couple's parents, was taken aback when they saw Chan in a lace gown and the Facebook chief in a navy-blue suit. Everyone, that is, except Phil and Jacob Jaber. As the purveyors of Philz Coffee, San Francisco's alternative answer to Starbucks, father and son were among the few entrusted with Silicon Valley's biggest secret. On the day of the event they served their signature drinks, which were such a hit that Zuckerberg invited them to the postnuptial brunch the next day."

Summary:

Hundreds of Pakistani entrepreneurs met for OPEN Forum 2019 held at Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley. The event featured a keynote by Karachi-born Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder of Careem ride-hailing service, which was recently acquired by Uber for $3.1 billion. In addition, there were session on artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, financial technology and entrepreneurship.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Afiniti and Careem: Tech Unicorns Made in Pakistan

AI Research Lab and Startup Incubator at NED University

NED University Ranked Among World's Top 200 For Impact

NED Alum Raghib Husain Sells Silicon Valley Company for $7.5 Billion

Pakistan's Research Output Growth Among World's Fastest

Pakistani Universities Ranked Among Asia's Top 500 Up from 16 to 23 in 2018

Pakistan's Tech Exports Surge Past $1 Billion in FY 2018

NED Alum Naveed Sherwani Raises $50 Million For SiFive Silicon Valley Startup

OPEN Silicon Valley Forum 2017: Pakistani Entrepreneurs Conference

Pakistani-American's Tech Unicorn Files For IPO at $1.6 Billion Valuation

Pakistani-American Cofounders Sell Startup to Cisco for $610 million

Pakistani Brothers Spawned $20 Billion Security Software Industry

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Pakistani-American Pioneered 3D Technology in Orthodontics

Pakistani-Americans Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

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

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Current Debt Crisis Threatens Pakistan's Future

Pakistan is battling massive twin deficits, deteriorating foreign currency reserves, low exports, diminishing tax revenues, a weak currency, unsustainable external debt payments, and soaring sovereign debt. This crisis has forced the country to seek IMF (International Monetary Fund) bailout, the 13th such request in Pakistan's 72 year history.

Pakistan Debt Service: Source SBP
Pakistan's debt repayment costs rose to $5.4 billion for first half of fiscal 2019 ( July 2018-Dec 2018), up from $7.5 billion for the entire fiscal 2018 (July 2017-June 2018), according to the State Bank of Pakistan. At this rate, the total debt service cost for current fiscal 2019 will exceed $11 billion, adding to the nation's debt crisis.

Pakistan's External Debt. Source: Wall Street Journal

This $11 billion debt service cost will add to the projected trade deficit of nearly $40 billion for the current fiscal year. How can Pakistan fund this balance of payments deficit of about $50 billion? Remittances of $21 billion in current FY2019 from Pakistani diaspora are expected to reduce it to $30 billion. PTI government has taken on billions of dollars in loans from Gulf Arabs and China. Given the low rates of foreign investments in the country, a big chunk of the remaining deficit will have to be met by borrowing even more funds which will further increase future debt service costs.

Pakistan's Current Account Deficit. Source: Trading Economics

As a result, Pakistan is now battling massive twin deficits, deteriorating foreign currency reserves, low exports, diminishing tax revenues, a weak currency, onerous external debt payments, and soaring sovereign debt. This crises has forced the country to seek IMF (International Monetary Fund) bailout, the 13th such request in Pakistan's 72 year history.

In the short term, PTI government's efforts are beginning to pay off. The current account deficit (CAD) in first 8 months of FY2019 (July-Feb 2018) declined to $8.844 billion, down 22.5%, from $11.421 billion in same period last year, according to SBP as reported by Dawn newspaper.

However, Pakistan's economic woes are far from over. The country's twin deficits are structural. Its exports and tax collections as percentage of its GDP are among the lowest in the world. British civil society organization Jubilee Debt Campaign conducted research in 2017 that showed that Pakistan has received IMF loans in 30 of the last 42 years, making this one of the most sustained periods of lending to any country.

History of Pakistan's IMF Bailouts

Pakistan needs to find a way to build up and manage significant dollar reserves to avoid recurring IMF bailouts. The best way to do it is to focus on increasing the country's exports that have remained essentially flat in absolute dollars and declined as percentage of GDP over the last 5 years. Pakistan's economic attaches posted at the nation's embassies need to focus on all export opportunities in international markets and help educate Pakistani businesses on the best way to take advantage of them. This needs to be concerted effort involving various government ministries and departments working closely with industry groups. At the same time, the new government needs to crack down on illicit outflow of dollars from the country.

Azad Labon Ke Sath host Faraz Darvesh discusses Imran Khan's challenges with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/CQ41Qt_2XQM




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan's Debt Crisis

Can Pakistan Avoid Recurring IMF Bailouts?

Pakistan is the 3rd Fastest Growing Trillion Dollar Economy

CPEC Financing: Is China Ripping Off Pakistan?

Information Tech Jobs Moving From India to Pakistan

Pakistan is 5th Largest Motorcycle Market

"Failed State" Pakistan Saw 22% Growth in Per Capita Income in Last 5 Years

CPEC Transforming Pakistan

Pakistan's $20 Billion Tourism Industry Boom

Home Appliance Ownership in Pakistani Households

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Karachi's NED University Ranked Among World's Top 200 For Impact

N.E.D. University of Engineering and Technology (NEDUET) has been ranked among the world's top 200 universities for "impact" by Times Higher Education. The institution located in Pakistan's largest city of Karachi is ranked among 101-200 in the world. NEDUET also tops the rankings for impact among Pakistani universities included in THE 2019 rankings. The Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to provide "comprehensive and balanced comparisons across three broad areas: research, outreach, and stewardship".

Among other institutions of higher learning, the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF), Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK) Institute of Technology and University of Veterinary Sciences Lahore are ranked among 200-300 while COMSATS and Government College University Lahore are among 301+.



Of the 17 UN SDGs, THE has evaluated university performance on 11 of them in its first edition of the ranking: SDG 3 – Good health and well-being SDG 4 – Quality education SDG 5 – Gender equality SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth SDG 9 – Industry, innovation, and infrastructure SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production SDG 13 – Climate action SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals.

University Impact Rankings. Source: Times Higher Education

A university’s final score in the overall table is calculated by combining its score in SDG 17 with its top three scores out of the remaining 10 SDGs. SDG 17 accounts for 22 per cent of the overall score, while the other SDGs each carry a weighting of 26 per cent. This means that different universities are scored based on a different set of SDGs, depending on their focus.

There are three categories of metrics within each SDG:

1. Research metrics are derived from data supplied by Elsevier. For each SDG, a specific query has been created that narrows the scope of the metric to papers relevant to that SDG. As with the World University Rankings, we are using a five-year window between 2013 and 2017. The only exception is the metric on patents that cite research under SDG 9, which relates to the timeframe in which the patents were published rather than the timeframe of the research itself. The metrics chosen for the bibliometrics differ by SDG and there are always at least two bibliometric measures used.

2. Continuous metrics measure contributions to impact that vary continually across a range – for example, the number of graduates with a health-related degree. These are usually normalized to the size of the institution. When we ask about policies and initiatives – for example, the existence of mentoring programs – our metrics require universities to provide the evidence to support their claims. In these cases we give credit for the evidence, and for the evidence being public. These metrics are not usually size normalized. Evidence is evaluated against a set of criteria and decisions are cross validated where there is uncertainty. Evidence is not required to be exhaustive – we are looking for examples that demonstrate best practice at the institutions concerned.

3. Timeframe Unless otherwise stated, the data used refer to the closest academic year to January to December 2017.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

AI Research Lab and Startup Incubator at NED University

NED Alum Raghib Husain Sells Silicon Valley Company for $7.5 Billion

Pakistan's Research Output Growth Among World's Fastest

Pakistani Universities Ranked Among Asia's Top 500 Up from 16 to 23 in 2018

Pakistan's Tech Exports Surge Past $1 Billion in FY 2018

NED Alum Naveed Sherwani Raises $50 Million For SiFive Silicon Valley Startup

OPEN Silicon Valley Forum 2017: Pakistani Entrepreneurs Conference

Pakistani-American's Tech Unicorn Files For IPO at $1.6 Billion Valuation

Pakistani-American Cofounders Sell Startup to Cisco for $610 million

Pakistani Brothers Spawned $20 Billion Security Software Industry

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Pakistani-American Pioneered 3D Technology in Orthodontics

Pakistani-Americans Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

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

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Pakistan State Bank Targets Digital Currency by 2025 and Fully Digital Economy by 2030

A top official of the State Bank of Pakistan, the nation's central bank, announced that the institution aims to issue a digital currency (Central Bank Digital Currency or CBDC) by 2025, according to media reports.   Speaking at the launch of regulations of Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs), central bank officials said that EMIs will be non-bank entities to be licensed by the central bank to issue e-money for the purpose of digital payments.  Pakistan's finance minister Asad Umar and the central bankers said they are targeting Pakistan's economy to go fully digital by 2030.

“As we move towards digital economy, it is absolutely important to ensure cybersecurity,” said the finance minister, according to Dawn newspaper.  Mr. Umar added that even a single high profile incident could cause irreparable loss of confidence to the economy and the banking system.

Deputy Governor Jameel Ahmad of the State Bank of Pakistan told the audience at the EMI launch that the central bank is working on a concept of issuing digital currency by year 2025 to promote financial inclusion and reduce inefficiency and corruption. Moreover, he said, the central bank would adopt evolving-realities of time and would be fully digitized and technology equipped by year 2030.

Cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology. Bitcoin is the name of the best-known cryptocurrency, the one for which blockchain technology was invented. A cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange, such as the US dollar, but is digital and uses encryption techniques to control the creation of monetary units and to verify the transfer of funds. The blockchain is a decentralized ledger of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network. Using this technology, participants can confirm transactions without a need for a central clearing authority. Potential applications can include fund transfers, settling trades, voting and many other issues.

Peer-to-peer cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin were often explicitly aiming to disrupt the existing monetary order – central banks will aim for an evolutionary approach. In many ways, central bank digital currencies (CBDC) would simply be the latest in a long line of technological upgrades that central banks have been through over the years, according to ING Bank.

There's a long history of the use of money as a medium of exchange in trade. It started with metal coins in Mesopotamia, then changed to paper currency in China and bank checks (sakks) in Arabia before becoming electronic in modern age.  Here's how International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde answers the question "should central banks issue a new digital form of money?"

"A state-backed token, or perhaps an account held directly at the central bank, available to people and firms for retail payments? True, your deposits in commercial banks are already digital. But a digital currency would be a liability of the state, like cash today, not of a private firm. This is not science fiction. Various central banks around the world are seriously considering these ideas, including Canada, China, Sweden, and Uruguay. They are embracing change and new thinking—as indeed is the IMF. ...... I believe we should consider the possibility to issue digital currency. There may be a role for the state to supply money to the digital economy. This currency could satisfy public policy goals, such as (i) financial inclusion, and (ii) security and consumer protection; and to provide what the private sector cannot: (iii) privacy in payments".


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Fintech Revolution in Pakistan

E-Commerce in Pakistan

The Other 99% of the Pakistan Story

FMCG Boom in Pakistan

Pakistan's Financial Services Sector

Bank Deposits Growth in Pakistan

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Viewpoint From Overseas Channel 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Samjhauta Acquittals: Modi's India is Protecting Hindutva Terrorists

An Indian court has recently acquitted all accused in Samjhauta Express terrorist attack of February 2007 that claimed 68 lives, including lives of 43 Pakistan citizens, 10 Indian citizens and 15 unidentified people. This latest verdict came after the acquittal of these and other accused who had confessed to a series of bomb attacks on Muslim targets including Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and Ajmer sufi shrine. These attacks claimed many innocent Muslim lives. The latest acquittals are a continuation of prior shameful judgements by Indian judges in Afzal Guru death sentence and Babri Masjid cases. These trends pose a serious existential threat to India's rule-of-law, democracy and economy.

Swami Aseemanand
Samjhauta Express Attack:

Immediately after the Samjhota Express attack in 2007, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as well as some Indian media organizations blamed Pakistan for the attack.  Later, an investigation by India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) concluded that the attack was carried out by four men - Swami Aseemanand, Kamal Chauhan, Rajinder Chaudhary and Lokesh Sharma - linked to the Hindu far-right group Abhinav Bharat which has close ties to Narendra Modi's Hindu Nationalist BJP party.

In 160 page verdict, Special NIA court judge Jagdeep Singh said that the “best evidence” was “withheld” by the prosecution and was not brought on record.  He said some of the cited independent witnesses were never examined or sought to be declared hostile for cross-examination when they chose not to support the prosecution case. With ‘anguish", the judge said that a ‘dastardly act’ has gone unpunished for lack of evidence.

In his order, the judge further said: “There are gaping holes in the prosecution evidence and an act of terrorism has remained unsolved. Terrorism has no religion because no religion in the world preaches violence. A Court of Law is not supposed to proceed on popular or predominant public perception or the political discourse of the day and ultimately it has to appreciate the evidence on record and arrive at final conclusion on the basis of relevant statutory provisions and settled law applicable thereto.”

Afzal Guru Execution:

Mohammad Afzal Guru was a Kashmiri who was convicted for his alleged role in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack. He was sentenced to death in a controversial judgment and executed on February 9, 2013.

In upholding the death sentence, the Indian supreme court acknowledged that the evidence against Guru was circumstantial: "As is the case with most conspiracies, there is and could be no evidence amounting to criminal conspiracy." But then, it went on to say: "The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation, and the collective conscience of society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender." This shameful Indian Supreme Court verdict to approve Guru's execution is a great miscarriage of justice with few precedents in legal annals.

Babri Masjid Case:

In a majority verdict in 2010, India's Allahabad High Court judges gave control of the main disputed section, where Babri mosque was torn down in 1992, to Hindus.

This verdict set a dangerous precedent, raising alarms about hundreds of other mosques in India which are claimed as ancient temple sites by the violent Sangh Parivar. L.K. Advani and other major Hindutva leaders, including then Gujarat Chief Minister and now India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, welcomed it and vowed to build "Ram Temple" on two-thirds of the disputed land awarded by an extremely unwise and politically motivated decision of the Allahabad Court.

In his Ayodhya opinion, Justice S.U. Khan, the only Muslim judge in the three-judge panel of the Allahabad High Court, made a reference to the Treaty of Hudaibiya as follows: "When prophet Mohammad entered into a treaty with the rival group at Hudayliyah(sic), it appeared to be abject surrender even to his staunch supporters."

This quote from Justice Khan shows how defeated and marginalized even the very few well-educated and well-placed Indian Muslims feel at this point....something reflected throughout his verdict. He basically threw in the towel and gave in to the likes of Justice DM Sharma, the most unabashed pro-Hindutva judge on the panel who "established that the property in suit is the site of Janm Bhumi of Ram Chandra Ji" in his opinion.

This is the evidence of absolute Hindutva fascist dominance of India's "secular democracy" on the streets and in the courts of India.  It has dramatically increased social hostilities against Indian minorities, according to a Pew Survey.  It does not augur well for either democracy or secularism in India.

Social Hostility Against Minorities in South Asia. Source: Bloomberg


India's Justice System:


The recent court judgements raise the following question posed by India's Economic Times editors:  "If a judge feels that the prosecution is waffling on purpose, why should he or she deliver a verdict? Why should the legal system not allow the judge to express dissatisfaction with the conduct of the prosecution and seek correctives before proceeding to conclude the hearing?"

Independent justice system is essential for Indian democracy which is facing an existential threat from Prime Minister Narendra's government pushing Hinduization of the country.  It is also bad for India's economy as top economists have been warning New Delhi against rising intolerance, bigotry and violence in the country.

Prime Minister Modi's Re-Election:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a second term as Prime Minister pf India in this year's general election. Some believe that his divisive policies and hateful rhetoric against Pakistan and Indian Muslims are designed to solidify the support of his Hindu Nationalist base. Will he succeed? And if he does, how will it impact India's future? Ashok Swain, professor of peace and conflict research at Uppsala University, Sweden has argued in a recent op ed that "India might not survive another five years of Modi". Here's an excerpt of what he wrote:

"India, a country of huge size and immense diversity, needs a functioning secular democratic structure to survive itself. The South Asian giant becoming a religious authoritarian state is not only a threat to its 172 million Muslims but also to the country’s unity and integrity. Indian polity can possibly be ripe enough to go through a peaceful secular democratic revolution in a period of five to ten years to overthrow an authoritarian leader, but the real risk is that a violent civil war might precede the popular revolution, and that India as a country most likely can’t afford".

Summary:

An Indian court has recently acquitted all accused in Samjhauta Express terrorist attack of February 2007 that claimed 68 lives, mainly Muslims including lives of 43 Pakistan citizens, 10 Indian citizens and 15 unidentified people. This latest verdict came after the acquittal of these and other accused who had confessed to a series of bomb attacks on Muslim targets including Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and Ajmer sufi shrine. These attacks claimed many innocent Muslim lives. These latest acquittals are a continuation of prior shameful judgements by Indian judges in Afzal Guru death sentence and Babri Masjid cases. These trends pose a serious existential threat to India's rule-of-law, democracy and economy.


Why have the world leaders warmly welcomed India's Modi back after shunning him for years for his role in Gujarat 2002 Massacre of Muslims? Celebrated Indian writer and rights activist Arundhati Roy explains to Mehdi Hasan of Aljazeera


https://youtu.be/16OUgKPl0BU





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Hindu Nationalists Love Nazis

Islamophobia Goes Mainstream in 2017

Ayodhya Verdict Belongs in Hall of Shame

Lynchistan: India is the Lynching Capital of the World

Modi and Trump

Anders Breivik: Islamophobia in Europe and India

Hindu Nationalism Goes Global

Hindutva: The Legacy of the British Raj

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Christchurch Massacre: Best and Worst of Humanity

Has the world seen the best and the worst of humanity since the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand? How did New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern handle the aftermath of the tragedy? Is her genuine compassion and decisiveness a shining example of leadership? How was the response to the tragedy from major world leaders like US President Donald Trump, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Imran Khan? What does it say about them?

Who came out to show support for Muslim communities around the world? How did New Zealanders show solidarity with Muslims? How did Muslims in Silicon Valley deal with the aftermath of the tragedy? Who joined them in mourning?

Who celebrated the massacre of innocent Muslims and why? What do White Nationalism and Hindu Nationalism have in common? Are these two sides of the same coin? Who was BS Moonje and why did he meet Mussolini? Who was Golwalkar and why did he admire Hitler? What is Modi's connection with Golwalkar's RSS movement? What did he say about Hitler's treatment of Jews as "a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by"?

What did Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik say about Hindu Nationalists in his manifesto? Are White Nationalists and Hindu Nationalists reinforcing each other on social media platforms? What role does social media play in promoting extremist ideologies? What can be done to manage this problem?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with Sabahat Ashraf (ifaqeer) and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)


https://youtu.be/BXGWZvTNOkk






Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Hindu Nationalists Love Nazis

Islamophobia Goes Mainstream in 2017

A Conversation With White Nationalist Jared Taylor on Race in America

Lynchistan: India is the Lynching Capital of the World

Modi and Trump

Anders Breivik: Islamophobia in Europe and India

Hindu Nationalism Goes Global

Hindutva: The Legacy of the British Raj

Thursday, March 21, 2019

India Among Biggest Losers and Pakistan Among Biggest Gainers in World Happiness Rankings

World Happiness Report 2019 says that India is among the world's biggest losers while Pakistan is among the biggest gainers on World Happiness Index. Under Prime Minister Narendra's Modi's leadership, India's ranking has worsened from 118 in 2016 to 140 in 2019. In the same period, Pakistan's ranking has improved from 92 in 2016 to 67 in 2019. World Happiness index is considered a better representation of people's well-being than other economic and social indicators individually.

World Happiness Trends in India and Pakistan. Source: United Nations
Contrary to the Indian and western media hype about Modi-nomics, it was recently reported that unemployment rate in India has reached its highest in 45 years. Indian GDP growth figures have been challenged as too optimistic by top Indian and western economists. Modi's demonetization has turned out to be a major disaster for India's largely cash-based economy. Farmers are continuing to take their own lives by the thousands each year as the agrarian crisis continues to take its toll. India's community fabric has been fraying with sharp spike in social hostilities against minorities.

Social Hostility Against Minorities in South Asia. Source: Bloomberg

This year's United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network's annual World Happiness Report ranked 156 countries based on 6 indicators: income per capita, life expectancy, social support, freedom, generosity and corruption.



Countries in Scandinavia continue to to top the list while Sub-Saharan African nations remain at the bottom. Pakistan ranks 67 among 156 countries, tops South Asia region. China ranks 93, Bhutan 95,  Nepal 100, Iran 117, Bangladesh 125, Iraq 126, India 140 and Afghanistan at 154.

Indian Prime Minister Modi has been accused by his critics of stoking tensions with Pakistan ahead of this year's general elections to divert attention from his government's poor performance.  Some analysts believe that recent Indian airstrikes in Pakistan have helped bolster Modi's domestic support among his among his right-wing Hindu Nationalists base.

India-Pakistan Military Spending: Infographic Courtesy The Economist
While Modi may have made domestic political gains, India's international perception as a "great power rising" has suffered a serious setback as a result of its recent military failures against Pakistan.  Pakistan spends only a sixth of India's military budget and ranks 17th in the world, far below India ranking 4th by globalfirepower.com.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistanis Happier Than Neighbors

Modi's GDP Growth Figures Challenged by Economists

Social Hostilities Spike in India Under Modi

Modi's Demonetization Disaster

Is India a "Paper Elephant"?

Farmers Suicides in India

India's Hindu Nazis

Pakistan Rising or Failing: Reality vs Perception

Pakistan's Trillion Dollar Economy Among top 25

CPEC Myths and Facts

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Pakistan Survey Reveals Positive Trends in Children's Health

The latest national health survey in Pakistan indicates rising immunization rates, growing access to skilled health care and declining child mortality rates. However, the improvements in education and health care indicators in Pakistan are real but slower than in other countries in South Asia region. Pakistan's human development ranking plunged to 150 in 2018, down from 149 in 2017. It is worse than Bangladesh at 136, India at 130 and Nepal at 149. The decade of democracy under Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has produced the slowest annual human development growth rate in the last 30 years. The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018. One of the biggest challenges facing the PTI government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan is to significantly accelerate human development rates in Pakistan.

Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey:

PDHS (Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey) is a nationally-representative household survey that provide data for a wide range of monitoring and impact evaluation indicators in the areas of population, health, and nutrition. It is conducted about every 5 years.

The 2017-18 Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (2017-18 PDHS) was carried out by the National Institute of Population Studies (NIPS), Islamabad, Pakistan.  It involved 16,240 households.  ICF provided technical assistance through The DHS Program, a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that provides support and technical assistance in the implementation of population and health surveys in countries worldwide.

Declining infant mortality rate:

The infant mortality rate (IMR), defined as the number of deaths in children under 1 year of age per 1000 live births in the same year, is universally regarded as a highly sensitive (proxy) measure of population health.  A declining rate is an indication of improving health. IMR in Pakistan has declined from 86 in 1990-91 to 74 in 2012-13 and 62 in the latest survey in 2017-18.

Pakistan Child Mortality Rates. Source: PDHS 2017-18

During the 5 years immediately preceding the survey, the infant mortality rate (IMR) was 62 deaths per 1,000 live births. The child mortality rate was 13 deaths per 1,000 children surviving to age 12 months, while the overall under-5 mortality rate was 74 deaths per 1,000 live births. Eighty-four percent of all deaths among children under age 5 in Pakistan take place before a child’s first birthday, with 57% occurring during the first month of life (42 deaths per 1,000 live births).

Rising Vaccination Rate:

Vaccines are proven to prevent infectious disease and spread of such disease among children and the larger populations. Polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, rotavirus and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) can now be prevented by vaccination.

Childhood Vaccination Rate in Pakistan. Source: PDHS

The latest PDHS survey indicates that 66% of the children in Pakistan have received all basic vaccinations, up from 35% in 1990-91 and 55% in 2012-13. Only 4% have had no vaccinations, down from 28% in 1990-91.

Pre-Natal and Delivery Care:

Access to proper medical care and hygiene during delivery can reduce the risk of complications and infections that may lead to death or serious illness for the mother, baby, or both (Van Lerberghe and De Brouwere 2001; WHO 2006). PDHS survey data show that in Pakistan, 69% of the births in the 5 years preceding the survey were delivered by a skilled provider, and 66% were delivered in a health facility.

Pre-Natal and Delivery Care in Pakistan. Source: PDHS

There has been steady improvement of the maternal health care indicator for women receiving ante-natal care (ANC) from a skilled provider, which increased from 26% in 1990-91 to 86% in 2017-18. Similar improvement in the percentage of deliveries at health facilities has been witnessed; these deliveries increased from 13% to 66%. Also, the percentage of births attended by skilled providers increased from 17% to 69% over the same period of time, according to PDHS 2017-18.

Birth Rates Declining:

Pakistan has seen a steady decline in fertility rates over time, from 5.4 births per woman as reported in the 1990-91 PDHS to 3.6 births per woman in the 2017-18 PDHS—a drop of about two births per woman in almost three decades. However, the decline is minimal in the recent period.


Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in Pakistan. Source: PDHS


There has been a consistent decrease in fertility among all age groups over the last four DHS surveys, though the decline is less pronounced recently.

Human Development Ranking:

It appears that improvements in education and health care indicators in Pakistan are slower than other countries in South Asia region. Pakistan's human development ranking plunged to 150 in 2018, down from 149 in 2017. It is worse than Bangladesh at 136, India at 130 and Nepal at 149. The decade of democracy under Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has produced the slowest annual human development growth rate in the last 30 years. The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018.

UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) represents human progress in one indicator that combines information on people’s health, education and income.

Pakistan's Human Development Growth Rate By Decades. Source: HDR 2018

Pakistan saw average annual HDI (Human Development Index) growth rate of 1.08% in 1990-2000, 1.57% in 2000-2010 and 0.95% in 2010-2017, according to Human Development Indices and Indicators 2018 Statistical Update.  The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018.

Child Nutrition in Pakistan. Source: PDHS
Child Nutrition:

PDHS survey shows that the nutritional status of children in Pakistan has improved over the last five years. The percentage of stunted children declined from 45% in 2012-13 to 38% in the 2017-18. A similar downward trend, from 30% to 23%, was observed for underweight children over the same period. Children who are wasted also declined from 11% to 7%. Children who are obese remained at 3% over this period.

Summary:

There are rising vaccination rates and growing access to skilled health care with declining child mortality in Pakistan, according to the latest national health survey in Pakistan. Neonatal mortality rate is down from 55 to 42 per 1,000 births in the last 5 years.  Vaccination rates are up with 66% of the children in Pakistan having received all basic vaccinations in 2017-18, up from 35% in 1990-91 and 55% in 2012-13. Only 4% have had no vaccinations in 2017-18, down from 28% in 1990-91.   Skilled health care professionals are delivering 69% of children now, up from 48% five years ago. 66% of children are now vaccinated, up from 54% five years earlier. Infant mortality rate (IMR) within first year of birth was recorded at 62 deaths per 1,000 live births, down from 74 in the last survey of 2012-13. Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has declined from 5.4 births per woman 990-91 to 3.6 births per woman in 2017-18.   It appears that improvements in education and health care indicators in Pakistan are slower than other countries in South Asia region. Pakistan's human development ranking plunged to 150 in 2018, down from 149 in 2017. It is worse than Bangladesh at 136, India at 130 and Nepal at 149. The decade of democracy under Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has produced the slowest annual human development growth rate in the last 30 years. The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018. One of the biggest challenges facing the PTI government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan is to significantly accelerate human development rates in Pakistan.

Related Links:

Sunday, March 17, 2019

IRI Pakistan Poll Shows Strong Public Approval For PTI Government

A combined 57% of respondents say that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is doing either a “very good job” (17%) or a “good job” (40%) so far, according to a nationwide poll conducted by International Republican Institute (IRI). It represents the first independent public opinion poll in Pakistan on PTI's popularity since the party won the 2018 general elections.  Overwhelming majority  (84%) say that the election results are either “very accurate” (46%) or “somewhat accurate” (38%). A combined 83% believe that the election was either “completely free and fair” (50%) or “mostly free and fair” (33%).

IRI Pakistan Poll Results. Source: IRI

Imran Khan's Strong Approval:

Majority of Pakistanis (57%) believe Prime Minister Imran Khan's government is doing either a “very good job” (17%) or a “good job” (40%) so far, according to an IRI survey conducted on behalf of the Center for Insights in Survey Research. Data was collected between November 1 and November 22, 2018 through in-home, in-person interviews. The sample consisted of 3,991 respondents aged 18 and older and is representative of voting-age adults nationally. The margin of error was 1.6%.

A combined 56% approve of the PTI government. A plurality of respondents (40%) said that they are willing to give the government time to deliver on campaign promises.

“The survey suggests that the government’s performance will be judged primarily on its ability to address pressing economic concerns,” said Johanna Kao. Inflation was singled out as the most important problem in Pakistan (39%), followed by poverty (18%) and unemployment (15%).  Nearly 77% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 35 see the lack of jobs as the biggest challenge facing young people in Pakistan.

IRI Pakistan Poll Results. Source: IRI
Confidence in 2018 Election Results:

The poll also indicates high levels of confidence in the results of the July 2018 national elections. A clear majority (84%) say that the election results are either “very accurate” (46%) or “somewhat accurate” (38%). A combined 83% believe that the election was either “completely free and fair” (50%) or “mostly free and fair” (33%).

Summary:

The first independent poll conducted by an international organization shows that the majority (84%) of Pakistanis have confidence in the 2018 elections that resulted in PTI's victory and put Prime Minister Imran Khan in the nation's top elected office. Majority (57%) say that the new government is doing either a “very good job” (17%) or a “good job” (40%) so far.

Related Links: