Friday, December 18, 2009

Pakistan's Infrastructure and M2 Motorway

As Pakistan struggles to bring a sense of stability and security amidst daily carnage, it is important to recognize that there is more to Pakistan than meets the eyes of a casual consumer of the images and reports by the world's media. For example, Pakistan is a developing country with functional bureaucracy, well-organized police force, democratic institutions and a powerful army. And Pakistan has more advanced infrastructure than its neighbors, including India. Among the modern infrastructure pieces in place in Pakistan are its motorway system, extensive road network, mobile telecommunications systems, airports, high-speed Internet system, extensive railroad network, gas pipeline etc. A British writer William Dalrymple who visited and compared India and Pakistan on their 60th anniversary described Pakistan as follows:

"On the ground, of course, the reality is different and first-time visitors to Pakistan are almost always surprised by the country's visible prosperity. There is far less poverty on show in Pakistan than in India, fewer beggars, and much less desperation. In many ways the infrastructure of Pakistan is much more advanced: there are better roads and airports, and more reliable electricity. Middle-class Pakistani houses are often bigger and better appointed than their equivalents in India. Moreover, the Pakistani economy is undergoing a construction and consumer boom similar to India's, with growth rates of 7%, and what is currently the fastest-rising stock market in Asia. You can see the effects everywhere: in new shopping centers and restaurant complexes, in the hoardings for the latest laptops and iPods, in the cranes and building sites, in the endless stores selling mobile phones: in 2003 the country had fewer than three million cellphone users; today there are almost 50 million."

More recently, Alistair Scrutton filed a Reuters report about Pakistan's infrastructure, particularly its 367 Km long M2 motorway that connects Lahore with Islamabad:

"Indeed, for sheer spotlessness, efficiency and emptiness there is nothing like the M2 in the rest of South Asia.

It puts paid to what's on offer in Pakistan's traditional foe and emerging economic giant India, where village culture stubbornly refuses to cede to even the most modern motorways, making them battlegrounds of rickshaws, lorries and cows.

There are many things in Pakistan that don't get into the news. Daily life, for one. Pakistani hospitality to strangers, foreigners like myself included, is another. The M2 is another sign that all is not what it appears in Pakistan, that much lies hidden behind the bad news.

On a recent M2 trip, my driver whizzed along but kept his speedometer firmly placed on the speed limit. Here in this South Asian Alice's Wonderland, the special highway police are considered incorruptible. The motorway is so empty one wonders if it really cuts through one of the region's most populated regions.

"130, OK, but 131 is a fine," said the driver, Noshad Khan. "The police have cameras," he added, almost proudly. His hand waved around in the car, clenched in the form of a gun.

On one of my first trips to Pakistan. I arrived at the border having just negotiated a one-lane country road in India with cows, rickshaws and donkey-driven carts.

I toted my luggage over to the Pakistan side, and within a short time my Pakistani taxi purred along the tarmac. The driver proudly showed off his English and played U.S. rock on FM radio. The announcer even had an American accent. Pakistan, for a moment, receded, and my M2 trip began."


Here are another western tourist's impressions of M2 from nomadic-one.com:

A strange relief to get to drive 3 lane asphalt in such serene quietness! It was unreal, we had to pinch our arm if this was really happening. Is this Pakistan? We decided to spend the night at the 3rd big service area with restaurant, gas station, police and clean toilets. It was strange to see there was no trace of locals selling stuff on the curbs – something which is really normal in Pakistan. Probably these place are off limits to the small business men.

Going to India – something we have long looked out for. We’ve heard a lot about India from other travellers – good and bad experiences. One thing’s for sure – India must have a LOT of people, each and every traveller from India has mentioned this explicitly. With Pakistan and Nepal (1998) as context we’re curious and somewhat anxious how we will experience India. We’re not crowd maniacs and both appreciate a ‘bit of air’ between people. Anyhow India happened quicker than we expected – we left Islamabad on the 25th, the next day we already sat in the garden of Ms Bandari’s Guesthouse. The superb M2 motorway with overnight parking and the road to the Indian border was uneventful. We drove the canal bank road through Lahore a long drive on a straight road. But look carefully to find this road separated by a canal – it’s sign posted rather miniscule by “Wagah border”.

"The road to Amritsar was like wading upstream in extreme suicidal traffic – the independence day ceremony must be something special. It must be totally worth risking your life for this. Naturally we had our usual ‘end of the day – near dark – took the wrong turn in mega dense traffic’ exercise. Just to make our arrival in Amritsar a little bit more special. We arrived in the dark - asking directions many times. This way we came a few 100 meters closer to Ms Bandari’s guesthouse each time we asked. We nearly seen the golden temple by truck. Ain’t that a relaxed truck ride in the dark! Cool!
And yes, even with GPS coordinates of the place it’s still a nice puzzle to solve after a border crossing day like this."




According to BMI research, Pakistan has experienced a high level of activity in its infrastructure sector in 2008. This has mostly been focused on the power sector and the road network. In addition, construction of housing has been a top priority. However, the global downturn is hitting Pakistan hard, and the BMI's 2009 Annual Infrastructure Report for Pakistan is forecasting the construction industry to contract by 6.31% y-o-y in 2009. The power sector has been the major focus in Pakistan's infrastructure sector in 2008. Years of underinvestment in electricity generating and distributing infrastructure came to a head in 2008, when there was not enough supply to meet demand, further exacerbated by lack of rainfall almost knocking out Pakistan's large hydropower sector. It is currently estimated that there is a 3,300MW shortfall in capacity at peak hours; as a result, load shedding has been a common practice. In an attempt to combat the shortages, a US$30bn investment plan has been announced, which has seen the development of a number of projects. Construction started in 2008 on the 969MW Neelum-Jhelum power plant, which is being built by a consortium comprising Chinese Gezhouba Group Company and China Machinery Export Corporation. Construction of the Diamer Basha Dam, which will have a capacity of 4,500MW once completed, is expected to start in 2009. Within the transport sector, the roads have benefited from the majority of attention in 2008. This has been the result of the National Highways Authority's plans to invest US$5.36bn into the sector. The plans benefited from a US$900mn multi-tranche loan from the Asian Development Bank. The main project being pursued is the National Trade Corridor, envisaged as a main thoroughfare connecting the north of the country to the ports in the south; it is estimated to cost US$6.58bn. Construction of housing has been a major feature in 2008. Residential construction is being carried out under the prime minister's 'mega housing scheme' which involves the construction of one million low cost houses per year. Pakistan's economy has been hit hard by the global economic downturn and BMI's is forecasting real GDP growth of 2.5% y-o-y in 2009, down from 6.8% in 2007. In November 2008, the country received a US$7.6bn 23-month standby loan from the International Monetary Fund to "support the country's economic stabilization program". The move might help boost investor confidence in the short term; however, it may put off investors looking at long-term infrastructure investments.

Pakistan Energy Infrastructure (Source: PPECA)

The 2008 World Bank assessment says that Pakistan is one of the most water stressed countries in the world, and water resources are depleting rapidly. With its water infrastructure in poor condition, the report argues that Pakistan has to invest around Rs60 billion (US$1 billion) per year in reservoirs and related infrastructure over the next five years. In the energy sector, the country will face severe power shortages of around 6,000 megawatts by 2010. Similarly, inefficiencies in the transport sector cost the economy between 4-5 percent of GDP each year.

To overcome these constraints, the Government of Pakistan is tripling its annual infrastructure investment from an average of Rs150 billion (US$2.5 billion) to Rs440 billion (US$7.3 billion). However, the bank report points out that mega projects in the past have experienced frequent delays and cost overruns, illustrating a lack of capacity in the industry to plan, program, and execute large projects.

Many infrastructure projects in Pakistan, including power plants and motorways, are being built and financed on build-operate-transfer or BOT basis. Built on the BOT basis, the M2 motorway has already paid for itself and now generates revenue for Pakistan government.

Here's a video clip of British Writer William Dalrymple comparing India and Pakistan:



Here is a slide show of some of the infrastructure development projects underway in Pakistan:



Here is a video with pictures of Pakistan's extensive roads network:



Related Links:

Foreign Visitors to Pakistan Pleasantly Surprised

Digital Maps of Pakistan
Pakistan's daily carnage

Pakistan's Road Network
Life Goes On in Pakistan

Water Scarcity in Pakistan

Food, Clothing and Shelter in India, Pakistan

Urbanization in Pakistan Highest in South Asia

A Review of Global Road Accident Fatalities

Pakistan Leads South Asia in Clean Energy

Karachi Fashion Week

Is Pakistan Too Big to Fail?

Karachi Fashion Week Goes Bolder

More Pictures From Karachi Fashion Week 2009

Pakistan's Foreign Visitors Pleasantly Surprised
Start-ups Drive a Boom in Pakistan

Pakistan Conducting Research in Antarctica
Pakistan's Multi-billion Dollar IT Industry

Pakistan's Telecom Boom
Pakistan's Infrastructure Assessment by World Bank
ITU Internet Data

Eleven Days in Karachi

Pakistani Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley

Musharraf's Economic Legacy

Infrastructure and Real Estate Development in Pakistan

Pakistan's International Rankings

Assessing Pakistan Army Capabilities

Pakistan is not Falling

Jinnah's Pakistan Booms Amidst Doom and Gloom

72 comments:

Shams said...

Alistair and other Brishiters have limited clue.

Pakistan's infrastructure is a joke.
What your article totally misses is that there is just enough electricity for less than 20% of the population and that for 75% of the day.
Natural gas is now rationed.
Drinkig water quality is such that you could die washing your rear end with it.

Other than Karachi and Lahore, all other airports' terminals are only as good as servant quarters. The Piss ant John Wayne Orange County airport is bigger and better than Karachi and Lahore.
Not a single mile of new railway track has been added since the Brits left the area.

Riaz Haq said...

In absolute terms, Pakistan's infrastructure is not sufficiently well developed yet to serve its people well. However, I know from personal experience that the infrastructure in Pakistan is much better than what its neighbors have to offer. That's the point made by Alistair Scrutton, William Dalrymple, Yoginder Sikand, and many others who have done direct comparisons and reported on them in their writings.

As to the electricity, gas, drinking water and public sanitation, Pakistan is still significantly ahead of its neighbors, as reported by many international agencies and reaseach groups.

According to BMI research, Pakistan has experienced a high level of activity in its infrastructure sector in 2008. This has mostly been focused on the power sector and the road network. In addition, construction of housing has been a top priority. However, the global downturn is hitting Pakistan hard, and the BMI's 2009 Annual Infrastructure Report for Pakistan is forecasting the construction industry to contract by 6.31% y-o-y in 2009. The power sector has been the major focus in Pakistan's infrastructure sector in 2008. Years of underinvestment in electricity generating and distributing infrastructure came to a head in 2008, when there was not enough supply to meet demand, further exacerbated by lack of rainfall almost knocking out Pakistan's large hydropower sector. It is currently estimated that there is a 3,300MW shortfall in capacity at peak hours; as a result, load shedding has been a common practice. In an attempt to combat the shortages, a US$30bn investment plan has been announced, which has seen the development of a number of projects. Construction started in 2008 on the 969MW Neelum-Jhelum power plant, which is being built by a consortium comprising Chinese Gezhouba Group Company and China Machinery Export Corporation. Construction of the Diamer Basha Dam, which will have a capacity of 4,500MW once completed, is expected to start in 2009. Within the transport sector, the roads have benefited from the majority of attention in 2008. This has been the result of the National Highways Authority's plans to invest US$5.36bn into the sector. The plans benefited from a US$900mn multi-tranche loan from the Asian Development Bank. The main project being pursued is the National Trade Corridor, envisaged as a main thoroughfare connecting the north of the country to the ports in the south; it is estimated to cost US$6.58bn. Construction of housing has been a major feature in 2008. Residential construction is being carried out under the prime minister's 'mega housing scheme' which involves the construction of one million low cost houses per year. Pakistan's economy has been hit hard by the global economic downturn and BMI's is forecasting real GDP growth of 2.5% y-o-y in 2009, down from 6.8% in 2007. In November 2008, the country received a US$7.6bn 23-month standby loan from the International Monetary Fund to "support the country's economic stabilization program". The move might help boost investor confidence in the short term; however, it may put off investors looking at long-term infrastructure investments.

Mayraj said...

Just wanted to let you know. The Karachi mayor is now learning something he didn't know before: the type of system Karachi has. A lot of time has been wasted;as now Pakistan is teetering on the precipice of losing the most modern integrated local system in South Asia thanks to PPP and PML-N ignorance.

Although I do remember that in the 1990s when Mr. Sharif learned of the muni bond vehicle, They also announced some bond vehicle with help of WB for sewer financing in the Punjab. Wasn't well designed;but, hey they did see advice of muni bond specialists, so little wonder. His brother suddenly announced there would be a Lord Mayor of Lahore. Of course, no mayor for any other city in Pakistan. So perhaps PML-N is maybe a little bit more enlightened than PPP!

By the way, I shared this with a local official in Karachi:
I am going to update the long version of my updated article on federated systems already on the website. It has been requested by an urban policy think tank in Jordan. It is the article which discusses different systems and their operational pros and cons. I mention both Karachi in it and the panchayat system in West Bengal (which CPM in India resurrected when they came to power and inspired Indian revival of the same). Essentially they are where France was at the start.

The panchayat system is the British adoption of the original French rural model with the British difference. The weighting of the system is hierarchical;which wasn't the French case. In France, the lowest level has same power at its level as top tier, which is why by 1890 France moved for greater integration given the high fragmentation of the French local system and also because there were not enough counties in French system to coordinate the local bodies. There were 80 counties and over 40,000 local bodies. The counties are what are termed Districts in Pakistan. This need for coordination was realized in US and West during the suburbanization era in the Post WW II period. President Obama has announced a new plan to encourage regionalization in America. Unfortunately, not much different from that which put in place the regional councils et al that have been ineffectual. So maybe this time they will be slightly less ineffectual and maybe not! This is because local system is where it is today with that explosion of special districts that now need to be accounted for. As BC has revealed states need to consistently support local regionalization;otherwise, ineffectual regional bodies will remain the order of the day as few regions are enlightened enough to see the benefits of regionalization.

You in Pakistan are fortunately not having to suffer this situation as what you have if you can stick with it is the more structured model. That model needs to be worked on to increase productivity level and to be amplified beyond district level to regional level. I think with proximity of Hyderabad, there needs to be a regional body to coordinate planning for that area. Something like what is in place in Montreal in Canada (the only Canadian regional example so far) or in France all over the country would help also.
The Indian panchayat system is ineffectual when compared to other integrated federated systems because they have paucity of finances and there is lack of capacity building. The Indian states generally like the provinces in Pakistan see local government as their rival rather than their complement. They lack the intelligence of the Chinese who have realized and proven in spades like no other country in just a few decades what an economic boon they can be.

Mayraj said...

If you visit the Ash Institute award website, you can a small glimpse of the innovative spirit unleashed by the local system in China: This Illustrates how the different parts of the system are innovation engines. This aspect needs to be realized in karachi more. A decentralized system can unleash the productive capacity of all of a system's parts. Othwerwise as NYC and other US cities illustrate most parts of cities languish except those that are best off economically. So there is a ghettozed system that develops. Little surprise then that recent UN Habit report said inequality in major US cities rivals that of Africa.

See:
http://www.innovations.harvard.edu/award_landing.html

Here is what is pertinent parts of cities that are innovation engines. These are amongst the award winners and finalists for 2008 and thus just a tiny reflection of what is going on in China.
Construction of Sub-district Public Service Halls
Xicheng District Government, Beijing

Purchasing Services for Senior Citizens at Home
Haishu District, Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province

Reform of the Community-based Non-governmental Organization Management System
Changshoulu Subdistrict Office, Putuo District, Shanghai City

Public Budgeting System Reform
Huinan Town, Nanhui District, Shanghai

The panchayat system has failed to deliver anything like this even though China is new to this systemic approach and South Asian has had panchayat system prototype since late 1800s! Is that not a a reason to hang your head in shame. South Asia should have been by now much more advanced than China, not the other way around!

dcruncher4 said...

amazing that a country with such significant infrastructure is so pathetic in human capital. While its neighbor has shown remarkable improvement in intellectual capability, be it R&D for MNC, designing chips for Intel, or designing software, Pak is in the dust doing nothing. May be one day priorities of Pakistanis will change.

Anonymous said...

Why are metro trains not considered as infrastructure. In India Calcutta has for about 20+ yrs. Delhi has for 5 yrs and Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai to have it soon.

Many India cities have local commuting trains infrastructure. Why is that not counted as infrastructure.

You know when Europeans visit USA they laugh at the infrastructure of USA, lacking public transportation system. They never are impressed by freeways.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an excerpt from blogger Sean-Paul Kelly's piece "Reflections on India" published earlier this year:

If you are Indian, or of Indian descent, I must preface this post with a clear warning: you are not going to like what I have to say. My criticisms may be very hard to stomach. But consider them as the hard words and loving advice of a good friend. Someone who's being honest with you and wants nothing from you. These criticisms apply to all of India except Kerala and the places I didn't visit, except that I have a feeling it applies to all of India, except as I mentioned before, Kerala. Lastly, before anyone accuses me of Western Cultural Imperialism, let me say this: if this is what India and Indians want, then hey, who am I to tell them differently. Take what you like and leave the rest. In the end it doesn't really matter, as I get the sense that Indians, at least many upper class Indians, don't seem to care and the lower classes just don't know any better, what with Indian culture being so intense and pervasive on the sub-continent. But here goes, nonetheless.

India is a mess. It's that simple, but it's also quite complicated. I'll start with what I think are India's four major problems--the four most preventing India from becoming a developing nation--and then move to some of the ancillary ones.


Then Kelly goes on to mention pollution, lack of infrastructure, big bureaucracy and rampant corruption as India's biggest problems.

Riaz Haq said...

"It puts paid to what's on offer in Pakistan's traditional foe and emerging economic giant India, where village culture stubbornly refuses to cede to even the most modern motorways, making them battlegrounds of rickshaws, lorries and cows."

To me, "puts paid" always means "case closed" to the argument comparing the village-like environment of India to the much more modern and urbanized Pakistan with much more advanced infrastructure to serve its population.

Riaz Haq said...

For some of the posters here, let me share with you what Sean-Paul Kelly, a traveler-blogger, thinks of India, based on the recent NY Times story on "India's Innovation Envy":

Indians, it seems, aren’t lacking in the hyper-patriotic, and India certainly doesn’t lack its boosters in the West. Alas, some folks are beginning to see the light:

"BANGALORE, India — In the United States and Europe, people worry that their well-paying, high-skill jobs will be, in a word, “Bangalored” — shipped off to India.

People here are also worried about the future. They fret that Bangalore, and India more broadly, will remain a low-cost satellite office of the West for the foreseeable future — more Scranton, Pa., in the American television series “The Office,” than Silicon Valley."

Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley-Asia has called this wage arbitrage (Roach happens to be one of the few American economists that gets it right on India). And Americans are right to worry about this. It’s put downward pressure on services as varied as call-centers and tech support, to financial news reporting, X-ray and MRI interpretation and accounting. I would be especially worried if I were an accountant. But then again, many of the big firm accountants need not be worried, as their shilling game for Wall Street will protect them. For a time.

"Even as the rest of the world has come to admire, envy and fear India’s outsourcing business and its technological prowess, many Indians are disappointed that the country has not quickly moved up to more ambitious and lucrative work from answering phones or writing software. Why, they worry, hasn’t India produced a Google or an Apple?"

Wait a second. India does not have any technological prowess in the true sense of the word. After all, if they did, why would the Ambassador, a car model over fifty years old, made of the heaviest steel imaginable, and horribly inefficient be the best selling domestically produced car in India, still. The Nano notwithstanding.

"Innovation is hard to measure, but academics who study it say India has the potential to create trend-setting products but is not yet doing so. Indians are granted about half as many American patents for inventions as people and firms in Israel and China. The country’s corporate and government spending on research and development significantly lags behind that of other nations. And venture capitalists finance far fewer companies here than they do elsewhere."

Re-read that graph closely and you’ll begin to get an idea of the hurdles India faces. And hurdles it is doing nothing, absolutely nothing to overcome. Instead of using its domestic capital for something like infrastructure building, local elites continue to siphon it all off and live behind huge fenced in compounds paying dalits pitiful, barely life-sustaining wages.

Shams said...

I cannot believe that in this day and age, we still have to read what others have to say about Pakistan.

As for the "well-travelled" label, I have been to 74, read that "SEVENTY FOUR" countries of the world, ONE HUNDRED FORTY SEVEN" cities. I can bet fifty thousand dollars that Alistair and others are far less travelled than I am. I always stayed in five star hotels, but did travel on foot, by rental cars, cabs, and yes tongas too.

That said, I ask Riaz to stop citing references from the Brishit a---- who take a cab ride on one motorway and claim to have the world knowledge to write useless articles.

Trust your own first hand experience or calculations - that is my mantra. I am fiftyeight years old. I shoud know.

Riaz Haq said...

Shams,

I have also extensively traveled the world, probably been to places that you or some of the commentators I cite have never been to, including places in India and Pakistan. But that doesn't mean that others' opinions don't count. And it's not just the Brits I quote, if you follow the links in my post you'll see quotes from many Indians, Europeans, Americans etc. that have a similar theme. And I think some of these people can be more objective than you or I because they have no particular attachment to either India or Pakistan.

Mayraj said...

Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis-St Paul in the Twin Cities Region of Minnesota are cities that a developing country city should have sister relations with. They are all leading American cities for performance. San Francisco has a had an innovative culture which has usually then been adopted in other cities also.

For instance the San Francisco mayor has been term limited to two terms since the 1950s. Now that is the California norm across the state and applies to state positions as well. Term limits have spread nationwide.

I should also say that non-partisan elections have also spread nationwide and also have shown positive results in Latin America where they also have term limits. Under the new system in Pakistan along with integrated local system you have council-manager system, non-partisan elections and term limits. This is really the most evolved system any South Asian nation has ever had. It is something I never expected to see in Pakistan, let alone in my lifetime.

Austin is a green capital of US along with Portland. San Francisco is also green oriented.

Phoenix and Charlotte are council-manager cities; which is also the formula that Karachi has. The council manager form is the dominated local government local formula in US now, generally. Amongst the largest cities mayor-council formula is dominant;but, that doesn't mean some of the largest cities do not have council-manager systems.

I did an article in 2005 about this:
http://www.citymayors.com/government/council_managers.html

Here is some info about Phoenix:

http://www.businessofgovernment.org/pdfs/denhardtreport.pdf

Creating a Culture of Innovation:

10 Lessons from America’s Best Run City

http://www.evliving.com/2009/06/25/frank-fairbanks-to-retire/

Phoenix City Manager to Retire

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has been rated a ‘Rising Star’ in research multiple times over the last couple of years by ScienceWatch.com, a Thompson Reuters website which tracks trends and performance in research by analyzing its database of scientific papers and citations. The ‘Rising Star’ rankings are published every two months to acknowledge new entrants, by identifying the scientists, institutions, countries, and journals which have shown the largest percentage increase in total citations. In the May issue of the ratings, Pakistan was named a ‘rising star’ in two areas, ‘Materials Science’ and ‘Plant & Animal Science’. Amongst other countries of the region, Bangladesh was also listed as a rising star in ‘Computer Science’ and ‘Pharmacology & Toxicology’. Iran was named in four categories, and Qatar and UAE in one category each.

This is not the first time that Pakistan has been named in these ratings recently. In fact, Pakistan’s record has been very consistent since March 2008, the earliest ratings that are available on the website. Here’s a listing of Pakistan’s mention in the ‘rising star’ ratings:

* March 2008: Engineering, Mathematics
* May 2008: Materials Science
* July 2008: Engineering
* September 2008: Computer Science, Engineering, Materials Science, Mathematics, Plant and Animal Sciences (5 areas!)
* November 2008: Engineering
* January 2009: Computer Science
* March 2009: Computer Science
* May 2009: Materials Science, Plants and Animal Sciences
* July 2009: None

Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, the country’s top university in terms of the number of publications per year, has also been recognized as a ‘rising star’ institution, in Jan 2009 and July 2008 issues, both times in the area of ‘Engineering’.

The ratings are based on the largest percentage increase and not the absolute numbers, and therefore, cannot be used to quantify research productivity in absolute terms. However, they definitely demonstrate the trend of a substantial increase in international publications from Pakistan compared to previous years. It is very healthy that a number of different areas are covered in these past two years, showing an across the board enhancement of research productivity.

While there has been a lot of debate on the effectiveness of HEC’s reforms in higher education, at least one thing is clear: the increased emphasis on research, largely due to HEC’s programs, has started to bear fruit. These are hard numbers here, based on data by the company that maintains the largest scientific citation index in the world, and cannot be easily refuted by the nay-sayers.

Anonymous said...

rising star pakistan should also produce rising star pakistanis who will give Pak a better name by doing intellectual things. Until then rising star has no meaning.

Anonymous said...

Irfan Hussein shits on your Shining Pakistan myth

"During the lawyers’ movement for the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, Nawaz Sharif declared at a televised rally: ‘Once the chief justice is restored, I swear upon God that all of Pakistan’s problems will be solved!’ (‘Jub chief justice sahib wapis apne odhay pay lag jayengai, to mein Khuda ki qasam katha hoon kay Pakistan kay saray maslay hal ho jain gay!’

Well, the chief justice was restored some months ago, and as I was away for some of this time, I can be excused for not noticing that all our problems had been solved. But as far as I can tell, we are still struggling with loadshedding; prices have not suddenly come down; and above all, the jihadis seem to have missed Nawaz Sharif’s speech altogether because their terrorist activities have increased, if anything."

Riaz Haq said...

Here are "Reflections on India" published by an American traveler-blogger:

First, pollution. In my opinion the filth, squalor and all around pollution indicates a marked lack of respect for India by Indians. I don't know how cultural the filth is, but it's really beyond anything I have ever encountered. At times the smells, trash, refuse and excrement are like a garbage dump. Right next door to the Taj Mahal was a pile of trash that smelled so bad, was so foul as to almost ruin the entire Taj experience. Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai to a lesser degree were so very polluted as to make me physically ill. Sinus infections, ear infection, bowels churning was an all to common experience in India. Dung, be it goat, cow or human fecal matter was common on the streets. In major tourist areas filth was everywhere, littering the sidewalks, the roadways, you name it. Toilets in the middle of the road, men urinating and defecating anywhere, in broad daylight. Whole villages are plastic bag wastelands. Roadsides are choked by it. Air quality that can hardly be called quality. Far too much coal and far to few unleaded vehicles on the road. The measure should be how dangerous the air is for one's health, not how good it is. People casually throw trash in the streets, on the roads. The only two cities that could be considered sanitary in my journey were Trivandrum--the capital of Kerala--and Calicut. I don't know why this is. But I can assure you that at some point this pollution will cut into India's productivity, if it already hasn't. The pollution will hobble India's growth path, if that indeed is what the country wants. (Which I personally doubt, as India is far too conservative a country, in the small 'c' sense.)

The second issue, infrastructure, can be divided into four subcategories: roads, rails and ports and the electrical grid. The electrical grid is a joke. Load shedding is all too common, everywhere in India. Wide swaths of the country spend much of the day without the electricity they actually pay for. With out regular electricity, productivity, again, falls. The ports are a joke. Antiquated, out of date, hardly even appropriate for the mechanized world of container ports, more in line with the days of longshoremen and the like. Roads are an equal disaster. I only saw one elevated highway that would be considered decent in Thailand, much less Western Europe or America. And I covered fully two thirds of the country during my visit. There are so few dual carriage way roads as to be laughable. There are no traffic laws to speak of, and if there are, they are rarely obeyed, much less enforced. A drive that should take an hour takes three. A drive that should take three takes nine. The buses are at least thirty years old, if not older. Everyone in India, or who travels in India raves about the railway system. Rubbish. It's awful. Now, when I was there in 2003 and then late 2004 it was decent. But in the last five years the traffic on the rails has grown so quickly that once again, it is threatening productivity. Waiting in line just to ask a question now takes thirty minutes. Routes are routinely sold out three and four days in advance now, leaving travelers stranded with little option except to take the decrepit and dangerous buses. At least fifty million people use the trains a day in India. 50 million people! Not surprising that waitlists of 500 or more people are common now. The rails are affordable and comprehensive but they are overcrowded and what with budget airlines popping up in India like Sadhus in an ashram the middle and lowers classes are left to deal with the overutilized rails and quality suffers. No one seems to give a shit. Seriously, I just never have the impression that the Indian government really cares. Too interested in buying weapons from Russia, Israel and the US I guess.

Anonymous said...

Business start-ups in India in 2007 numbered 20,000 and the evidence for India's economic optimism is vast:

India's automobile industry is one of the fastest growing in the world, boasting exports greater in number than China.
India is one of the world's leading outsourcing destinations for many of the world's top businesses, with annual revenues of nearly $60 billion.
It is home to a $52-billion textile manufacturing sector.
Mumbai is a recognized global financial centre.
India is also a world leader in innovation from ultra-inexpensive cars to pioneering computer software.

More than half of the respondents (53 per cent) of a survey commissioned by London-based independent think-tank Legatum Institute said India is likely to be the world's most important economic power by 2030.

Anonymous said...

not in a position to compare indian infra with pakistan's since never been to pakistan. few thoughts though

1. Comparing M2 motorway (looking impressive in pics) to Amritsar roads is like comparing newyork skyline with sky line of indianapolis (where i live). your credential tells me you should be a reasonable man but your selective comparison of india and pakistan is laughable.

2. india is also witnessing a lot of expendiure in infra including power sector. the percentage figures (6.31% or something you mentioned) almost mean nothing. 8 years back when i joined my present software company, we had a strength of 450. Infosys was 20000 head count strong at that time. once our MD told the whole company - in past year we grew by 21% in comparison Infosys grew only 7% (something like this). i laughed at his statement. obviously he was trying to motivate us. my point is % almost count for nothing depending on situation.

both countries have some glaring problems. As a whole - atleast going by western media - pakistan is lacking far behind india. you can call it western media frenzy but there must be some truths in the reports.

Suhail said...

I think you've missed Alistair Scrutton point. His writing is more in a satirical tone intended to ridicule rather than praise a poor country where an expensive motorway has been built and is being maintained despite the fact that it has very little utility for the populace. It is kept off limits to the general public so as to maintain it well.

Riaz Haq said...

Suhail,

This motorway was built and financed by Daewoo on build-operate-operate or BOT basis. It's already paid for itself and now generates revenue for Pak govt.

The motorway is a toll road and it is open to everybody ...most trucks and public buses ply on it unhindered...patrolled by top class motorway police...

Modern infrastructure is extremely important for any nation, particularly a developing nation like Pakistan.

It is widely acknowledged by most independent observers that Pakistan's infrastructure in better than India's or any other nation in South Asia, and that is a point acknowledged by Scrutton. As to the slow-moving traffic, it is kept out of modern freeways to maintain the usefulness of such roads. From personal experience, I can tell you that no roadway is immune from stray animals which slow traffic and cause accidents. I even saw a dangerously overloaded contraption called "jugad" plying on an intercity highway between Delhi and Agra.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "It is home to a $52-billion textile manufacturing sector."

Then why is it that per capita cloth consumption in India is one of the lowest in the world?

According to Werner International, Pakistan's per capita consumption of textile fibers is about 4 Kg versus 2.8 Kg for India. Global average is 6.8 Kg and the industrialized countries' average consumption is 17 Kg per person per per year.

Riaz Haq said...

There is a six-lane controlled access motorway in India between Mumbai and Pune. Mumbai-Pune Expwy is impressive. At 58 miles in length, it's relatively modest in length but a good start toward building modern infrastructure in India.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mumbai%E2%80%93Pune_Expressway

Another major infrastructure project in India is the Delhi metro. It's been very well done.

http://www.delhimetrorail.com/index.htm

Riaz Haq said...

India has more deaths in road accidents than any other country. During one of my visits to India I nearly got killed when my driver almost ran into an nondescript vehicle on the road between Delhi and Agra. It was a makeshift diesel engine mounted on a wooden cart with no lights or safety devices of any kind being used in near darkness to transport people. After the near-miss, it was described to me as Jugaad, with the warning to stay away from it, and other contraptions like it.

Here is a BBC report about road accidents in India:

It's an all-too-depressing sight on India's chaotic roads. An accident - the crushed remains of a car or a van - and more anonymous victims.

There are now more road deaths in India than anywhere else in the world - a man-made epidemic according to a government committee.

In 2006 - the latest year for which figures are available - more than 100,000 people died, and an estimated 2,000,000 were seriously injured.

The economic and social costs of these shocking figures are enormous.

India loses 3% of its GDP to road crashes every year. Many of the deaths happen in rural areas, and one study found that 70% of families who lose their main wage earner in a traffic accident subsequently fall below the poverty line.

It is a scourge which claims far more victims than communicable diseases like Aids, TB and malaria combined. And yet far less money is spent on trying to do something about it.

"It's a national crisis," said Rohit Baluja, a leading road safety activist. "Not only casualties, but violations are increasing. We need strong political will to bring down the number of accidents."

Riaz Haq said...

A couple years ago, a Dutch diplomat in New Delhi couldn't take it any more. He came under fire from the Indian foreign ministry after he reportedly labeled the capital as "miserable" and a "garbage dump", according to a newspaper report.

Arnold Parzer, agriculture counsellor at the Royal Netherlands Embassy, also reportedly told the Dutch daily Het Financieele Dagblad that New Delhi residents were a "darn nuisance”, the Hindustan Times reported.

“Anything that can go wrong, does go wrong; everyone interferes with everyone else; the people are a darn nuisance; the climate is hell; the city is a garbage dump,” Parzer reportedly told the daily.

“New Delhi is the most miserable place I have ever lived in,” the diplomat was quoted as saying.

The Hindustan Times said India’s foreign ministry had summoned Dutch ambassador Eric Neihe, who in turn had “taken the officer to task”.

More recently, a Mercer survey ranked New Delhi, along with Mumbai and Dhaka in South Asia, among the dirtiest cities in the world.

Riaz Haq said...

According to global road accident report, there are 4 fatalities in Pakistan versus 7 in India per 100,000 people. And there are 18 fatalities in Pakistan versus 20 in India per 10,000 vehicles.

And I can understand why based on my own personal experience.


http://www.transport-links.org/transport_links/filearea/publications/1_771_Pa3568.pdf

Anonymous said...

Riaz,

Seems like the trolls have succeeded in making you mad. I mean the cut and paste of random blog posts and links in your own comments section.

Do get back to writing relevant articles like you used to. Proving whether Pakistan or India is a bigger loser using random statistics is a waste of your time. Time will tell and anyway this is a topic of endless and pointless comparison.

To me your posts based on your own ideas, those sparked off from happenings in the subcontinent or those based on writings of subcontinental writers and intellectuals are much more interesting and relevant than those based on some random article in NY times etc. (which are generally written by reporters who may be curious and passionate about their subject but unfortunately they are outsiders and by-standers whose articles are based on short experiences and written to amuse their audience in between real articles).

More thoughtful and insightful posts like these: http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/11/introspection-of-pakistans-history.html please.

And you may want to stop feeding the trolls - that is what they want.

Best of luck from an Indian reader.

Anonymous said...

y SANTANU CHOUDHURY

NEW DELHI -- The Indian unit of Honda Motor Co. Monday said it will globally premiere a new concept small car at the week-long New Delhi Auto Expo starting Jan. 5.

"Honda New Small Concept is a concept model of a new small-sized vehicle, which Honda is currently developing especially for India and other emerging nations," Honda Siel Cars India Ltd. said.

In addition, Honda will also exhibit the CR-Z Concept 2009, a concept model for a new hybrid, at the show. The concept model was unveiled for the first time at the Tokyo Motor show in October 2009.

Write to Santanu Choudhury at santanu.choudhury@dowjones.com

Anonymous said...

why is railways not considered part of infrastructure. Indian Railways covers 64000 km as opposed to paltry 8K of Pakistan. In other words India Railways covers 8 times more than Pak for a land size 4 times as big.
All major trunk routes are now electrified. Indian railways use concrete sleepers with pandol clips to fasten rail to sleepers. Pak still uses wooden sleepers (some of it is concrete) with nails to fasten it to sleepers.

Pakistan still imports majority of its rolling stock, be it Diesel Locos or Passenger railcars. India not only manufactures it, but also exports it to Africa and even Malaysia. In fact Malaysia Rail has indian diesel engines leased to them.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report on FDI:

KARACHI: The Overseas Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) has launched Investment Survey Report (ISR) 2009 according to which the business margins have come under pressure, leading to declining profitability and hence declining investments in Pakistan.

The results of the OICCI ISR show a limited increase in FDI by 0.97 percent, Rs 148 billion in FY08 as compared to Rs 146 billion in FY07. Behind this nominal increase law and order, power deficit and implementation of policy remain significant concerns impacting both new FDI and re-investment by existing companies.

However, this cautious but continued increase in investments comes as a positive surprise, forecasts for the following year i.e. FY09 indicate that members plan to withhold investments by approximately Rs 55 billion – a substantial decline of approximately 37 percent.

“This clearly indicates that foreign investors who had over the years continued to show confidence in the country are now cautious of bringing additional capital for the time being – Rs 93 billion planned for FY09.”

It is worth mentioning that despite declining profitability, tax paid to the government has increased by 8.41 percent.

Basically, the ISR 2009 report is based on the responses of 124 member companies (71 percent of OICCI members) and gives a snapshot of foreign investors and companies present in Pakistan.

Farrukh H. Khan, President, OICCI, while launching of ISR 2009 said that the key conclusions to be drawn from the Survey are that although OICCI member companies have continued to grow in terms of revenue, margins have come under pressure, leading to declining profitability and hence declining investments in Pakistan.

Pointing out the main issues he said that important issue impacting profitability, highlighted by OICCI members repeatedly, is the high incidence of direct and indirect taxes in Pakistan – which remains the highest in the region. He further added that as important stakeholders and partners in Pakistan’s progress, OICCI would urge the government to implement its recommendations and continue to include OICCI in policy-making forums. However, “most of the OICCI budget proposals were also neglected in the previous budget,” he claimed.

The ISR 2009 highlights that new and concrete measures are needed to enhance tax revenue by expanding the tax base rather than imposing further taxes on existing taxpayers, which has started to yield negative results. Despite the challenging global climate, exports from OICCI member companies increased by 33 percent to RS 34.8 billion during FY07 and FY08.

While recorded figures in Corporate Social Expenditure indicate a decline, it must be noted that these are not completely reflective of the full degree of contributions. Whether it is contribution towards national tragedies like that of the recent Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the aftermath of the military operations in the North or investing in society for overall development, member companies continue to make generous contributions in cash and kind as well as in the form of sharing of skilled personnel.

It should be noted that the 124 members (survey respondents) of OICCI have invested paid-up capital worth $9.6 billion in Pakistan with the majority of investment in sectors such as Financial Services (27 percent), Oil/Gas & Energy (21 percent) and Food & Consumer Products (18 percent). The total equity (capital plus reserves) would be significantly higher.

While Pakistan’s intrinsic comparative advantages have succeeded in attracting significant amounts of foreign investment into the country, it is important to realize that unless the potential for development and growth is carefully utilized in the near term, OICCI members or other potential investors may reconsider their priorities with regards to existing and planned investments in Pakistan.

Vikram said...

Pakistan's infrastructure might well be 'better' than its neighhbours in some aspects, but one has to question what benefit if any this infrastructure is bringing its people any real benefits.

We can consider the examples of Karachi and Mumbai. The per-capita incomes of the two cities (2008 projections using 2002 data) were $ 6430 (Karachi) and $ 10960 (Mumbai) [Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_by_GDP#Asia.2C_Central_.26_South]. Obviously both cities have huge inequities in income distribution, Mumbai probably has more squalor and slums.

But the point I want to make is that Mumbai invested early in expanding its British initiated suburban railway, railways that have been similarly derided by people from abroad and elite Indians. One can conjecture that this investment has lead to expanded opportunities in terms of livelihoods for most residents and also very low costs of transport. This is atleast part of the reason for the large difference in per capita incomes of Karachi and Mumbai. Make no mistake though, Mumbai's urban problems, from water supply to pollution are huge and formidable.

What I want to emphasize is that all of us elites have our heads infused with images of modernity that correspond to fancy highways and airports, but it is the lowly, slow chugging rails and other such infrastructure that might bring real benefits to the population.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a piece by Bloomberg's Hindol Sengupta:

Add this bookstore to the list of India-Pakistan rivalry. A bookstore so big that it is actually called a bank. The book store to beat all bookstores in the subcontinent, I have found books I have never seen anywhere in India at the three-storeyed Saeed Book Bank in leafy Islamabad. The collection is diverse, unique and with a special focus on foreign policy and subcontinental politics (I wonder why?), this bookstore is far more satisfying than any of the magazine-laden monstrosities I seem to keep trotting into in India. ...

Yes, that's right. The meat. There always, always seems to be meat in every meal, everywhere in Pakistan. Every where you go, everyone you know is eating meat. From India, with its profusion of vegetarian food, it seems like a glimpse of the other world. The bazaars of Lahore are full of meat of every type and form and shape and size and in Karachi, I have eaten some of the tastiest rolls ever. For a Bengali committed to his non-vegetarianism, this is paradise regained. Also, the quality of meat always seems better, fresher, fatter, more succulent, more seductive, and somehow more tantalizingly carnal in Pakistan. ....

Let me tell you that there is no better leather footwear than in Pakistan. I bought a pair of blue calf leather belt-ons from Karachi two years ago and I wear them almost everyday and not a dent or scratch! Not even the slightest tear. They are by far the best footwear I have ever bought and certainly the most comfortable. Indian leather is absolutely no match for the sheer quality and handcraftsmanship of Pakistani leather wear.

Yes. Yes, you read right. The roads. I used to live in Mumbai and now I live in Delhi and, yes, I think good roads are a great, mammoth, gargantuan luxury! Face it, when did you last see a good road in India? Like a really smooth road. Drivable, wide, nicely built and long, yawning, stretching so far that you want zip on till eternity and loosen the gears and let the car fly. A road without squeeze or bump or gaping holes that pop up like blood-dripping kitchen knives in Ramsay Brothers films. When did you last see such roads? Pakistan is full of such roads. Driving on the motorway between Islamabad and Lahore, I thought of the Indian politician who ruled a notorious —, one could almost say viciously — potholed state and spoke of turning the roads so smooth that they would resemble the cheeks of Hema Malini. They remained as dented as the face of Frankenstein's monster. And here, in Pakistan, I was travelling on roads that — well, how can one now avoid this? — were as smooth as Hema Malini's cheeks! Pakistani roads are broad and smooth and almost entirely, magically, pot hole free. How do they do it; this country that is ostensibly so far behind in economic growth compared to India? But they do and one of my most delightful experiences in Pakistan has been travelling on its fabulous roads. No wonder the country is littered with SUVs — Pakistan has the roads for such cars! Even in tiny Bajaur in the North West frontier province, hard hit by the Taliban, and a little more than a frontier post, the roads were smoother than many I know in India. Even Bajaur has a higher road density than India! If there is one thing we should learn from the Pakistanis, it is how to build roads. And oh, another thing, no one throws beer bottles or trash on the highways and motorways.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times story about India's decrepit rail system slowing freight movement:

MUMBAI, India — S. K. Sahai’s firm ships containers 2,400 nautical miles from Singapore to a port here in four or five days. But it typically takes more than two weeks to make the next leg of the journey, 870 miles by rail to New Delhi.

For most of that time the containers idle at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port near Mumbai because railway terminals, trains and tracks are severely backlogged all along the route. Counting storage and rail freight fees, Mr. Sahai estimates the cost of moving goods from Mumbai to Delhi at up to $840 per container — or about three times as much as getting the containers to India from Singapore.

“They don’t have any physical space,” Mr. Sahai, who is chairman of SKS Logistics of Mumbai, said about the government-owned Indian Railways. “And all their trains are booked.”

As the world looks to India to compete with China as a major source of new global economic growth, this country’s weak transportation network is stalling progress.

Economists say India must invest heavily in transportation to achieve a long-term annual growth rate of 10 percent — the goal recently set by the prime minister, Manmohan Singh. But whether measured by highways, airways or — particularly — far-reaching railways, India’s transportation is falling short.

Critics say the growth and modernization of Indian Railways has been hampered by government leaders more interested in winning elections and appeasing select constituents, rather than investing in the country’s long-term needs. It is one of the many ways that the political realities of India’s clamorous democracy stand in contrast to the forced march that China’s authoritarian system can dictate for economic development.

A 40,000-mile, 150-year-old network, Indian Railways is often described as the backbone of this nation’s economy. And in fact it is moving more people and goods than ever: seven billion passengers and 830 million tons of cargo a year. But its expansion and modernization is not keeping pace with India’s needs.

“If it has to serve as the backbone of the Indian economy, the leaders of the Indian Railways have to think big, and they need to have a larger vision,” said S. Ramnarayan, a professor at the Indian School of Business and co-author of a book about the railways. “Thinking in terms of incrementalism — a little extra here, a little extra there — doesn’t solve anybody’s problem.”

The crash on an eastern rail link late last month that killed 151 people and injured hundreds of others underscored the vital nature of the railroads, as well as their vulnerability. The crash, which authorities have attributed to Maoist rebels, was particularly disruptive because it disabled a busy east-west line that, along with many others, was already stretched thin.

Traffic between big cities like Mumbai and Delhi, for instance, often runs at more than 120 percent of planned capacity, which means trains travel more slowly and tracks wear out faster than intended.

And because the railways’ tracks are too lightweight and the locomotives underpowered, Indian trains can haul no more than 5,000 tons of cargo, compared with 20,000-ton capacities in the United States, China and Russia.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story comparing roads in India and Pakistan:

A major conundrum to those who visit both India and Pakistan is why the roads are so much better in the latter.
For all its problems, Pakistan’s 367-kilometer-long M2 motorway between Lahore and Islamabad strikes a visitor as being streets ahead of India’s decrepit inter-state roads even if roads minister Kamal Nath is on a binge of fund-raising to try to improve India’s highways.
For one, there’s a disciplined motorway police that patrol Pakistan’s highways and don’t take bribes. If you go above 120 kilometers an hour, and are caught on camera, a fine awaits you at the toll gate. Nonpayment means you can’t get out. The M2 motorway passes through the densely populated Punjab countryside but there are no cows, rickshaws or motorbikes coming at traffic on the wrong side of the road which is a common experience in India.
The M2 road was built in the late 1990s by South Korean firm Daewoo, whose name is still emblazoned on the modern service stations that line the route.
Sunita Kohli, a New Delhi-based interior designer who recently did work on a boutique hotel in Lahore, says she was impressed with the road compared to similar developments in India.
“We really lag behind on infrastructure,” she said. “Now we’re trying to make up for lost time.”
That’s not to say Pakistan doesn’t face its own infrastructure challenges. Its most pressing need is to build more power plants and stop people from stealing electricity to avoid hours of blackouts across the country.
And Pakistan’s motorways — at just over 600 kilometers in combine length — are only a small fraction of the total road network, much of which is old. Ms. Kohli says she sees the M2 as a “showcase.”
India still slightly edges out Pakistan in the United Nations’ Human Development Index, which measures per capita GDP, literacy, life expectancy and other development criteria.
Until a couple of years ago, Pakistan’s economy was booming and there was plenty of public and private money for infrastructure spending. Now, foreign direct investment has dried up and the government, running a large deficit, has had to turn to the IMF for more than $11 billion in loans.
But first-time visitors to Pakistan, many expecting a failed state, are surprised by some of the modern infrastructure.
Apart from the roads, Pakistan’s broadband and wireless roaming speeds also compare favorably with India. Doing business in Pakistan is easier than in India and China, according to the World Bank.
With regular Taliban suicide bombings, though, Pakistan is unable to capitalize on these positives and continues to generate only negative headlines.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan plans to add ten new nuclear power plants by 2030, according to a Dawn report:

KARACHI: Ten nuclear power plants will be established in the country by 2030 to help resolve the worsening electricity crisis, said Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Chairman Dr Ansar Parvez on Tuesday.

He added that the government had assigned to the PAEC a target of generating around 8,800 megawatts by 2030. “We are optimistic about achieving this target within the stipulated period as all the requisite projects and plans are in place for this purpose,” he said.

Dr Parvez expressed these view while speaking as a chief guest at the 11th annual convocation-2011 of the Karachi Institute of Power Engineering in the vicinity of the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant.

He said that the PAEC was striving hard to enhance its role in power generation, while in the area of defence, “we are following a well-defined path that ensures that the country has a strategic capacity which is strong enough to deter and frustrate the evil designs of anyone”. He added that an immense contribution had been made by the graduates of Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS) and Karachi Institute of Power Engineering (KINPOE) to the country’s strategic programme.

In addition to the defence and power sectors, the PAEC had also been contributing to the socio-economic sector, he said. It had 14 medical centres in different cities and four more were being built. “Similarly, our agricultural centres and bio-technology institutes are also making a contribution towards the agriculture sector,” he added.

Dr Parvez, who is also the chairman of the board of governors of the PIEAS, later conferred MSc degrees in nuclear power engineering on 49 graduates along with medal and merit certificates to the position holders. He congratulated all graduating students and hoped that they would play their due role in the country’s development.

Earlier, PIEAS Rector Dr Mohammad Aslam said that the degree-awarding institute being run by the PAEC offered masters and PhD programmes in nuclear power engineering, material engineering, health physics and information technology. He said around 10 students were completing their PhD every year from the institute.

KINPOE Director Najmus Saqib traced the genesis of the institute which started as the Karachi Nuclear Power Training Centre in the early 80s and was upgraded to the masters level in 1993. He said this was KINPOE’s first convocation after its affiliation with the PIEAS.—APP/PPI

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times report on the inauguration of Port Grand Food Street in Karachi:

KARACHI: Governor Sindh Dr Ishrat Ul Ebad has said that mega economic hub like Karachi that houses millions of people, needs lots of recreational and entertainment places where entertainment-starved citizens could find some peace, comfort and entertainment which provides much-needed breather to continue with our hectic schedules.
Governor Sindh expressed these views while inaugurating the much-awaited Port Grand Food and Entertainment Complex on Saturday. Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Babur Khan Ghauri and Shahid Firoz, Managing Director Grand leisure Corporation was also present.
----
Dr Ishrat ul Ebad said that Port Grand Complex is an effort to revive the culture and traditions of old Karachi as well as to celebrate it as the City of Lights. “It would surely revive the harbor culture in a port city like Karachi,” Ebad said.
He appreciated Grand Leisure Corporation for resurrection of history and heritage as it has not only preserved the 19th century’s Napier Mole Bridge but has also converted it into a world-class tourist spot that would ultimately attract millions of people from all over the world.
---
Babar Ghauri said that Port Grand is a bold initiative by a private sector company despite the economic, law and order and political uncertainties in the country. He applauded the relentless efforts of Shahid Firoz, Managing Director Grand Leisure Corporation for making it a reality.
Babar Ghauri said that Port Grand project is country’s only-sea-side food and entertainment enclave, which would offer matchless attractions for the whole family to enjoy together. “Port Grand is expected to attract around 4 to 5 thousand people daily from across the country,” he hoped.
The Port Grand Complex, which has been built at 19th century’s Napier Mole Bridge (old native jetty bridge) was conceived and built by Grand Leisure Corporation with an investment of over Rs 1 billion. GLC’s scope of work includes financing, construction, maintenance and operation of all aspects pertaining to the Port Grand.
About 40 outlets have been made operational at this stage while more outlets would be opened soon. The entry fee for the Port Grand would be Rs 300 per person out of which Rs 200 would be redeemable at different food outlets and shops inside the project. The project would be open for public from Sunday evening.
Shahid Firoz, Managing Director Grand leisure Corporation informed that Port Grand project, that stretches along the 1000 feet. Karachi’s ancient 19th century native jetty bridge, spreads over an area of 200,000 square feet. The one kilometer bridge has been transformed into an entertainment and food enclave housing numerous eateries totaling 40,000 sq ft of climate-controlled area and space for kiosks of exotic Pakistani and foreign food and a variety of beverages.
He informed that the work on the project commenced in 2005 and it was expected to be completed by 2009 but the old native jetty bridge was in very bad shape after being abandoned for any transportation usage and it was also set to be demolished when Port Grand project was conceived and ancient 19th centaury monument was preserved for generations to come. GLC had to almost rebuild the whole 1 mile Old Napier Mole Bridge that includes removal of old deck slab, cleaning of rust and scaling of existing structure, strengthening of sub-structure and laying of new deck slab. This all work took around 2 year to completely revamped the bridge thus delayed the project for around 2 years.

Anonymous said...

Mr Riaz,

I congratulate you for such a wonderful blog on the achievements and progress of Pakistan.

You have backed your blog with strong evidences. Whatever, you have said about the progress of Pakistan has been the analysis of "outsiders" and Experts on Pakistan.

It is unfortunate that some Pakistanis and mostly Indians counter your arguments by discrediting any progress of Pakistan and holding very negative views about this great land.

Their arguments show their inferior intellect, ignorance and bias. No one is saying that Pakistan is free from flaws but to not acknowledge the good that Pakistan has done, is nothing more than a pessimistic mind infecting the world with pessimism.

I, for one, appreciate that you have brought forward the aspects of Pakistan that are hidden to the masses. I am glad that Pakistan has invested considerably in infrastructure compared to before (obviously still under what it is supposed to be). I am also surprised to know Pakistan taking education so seriously and was quite pleased to see research being conducted in Pakistan.

Although many improvements need to be made, the fact that Pakistan has come thus far in spite of all the terrorism it faces (in spite of all the enemies who are bent in stopping this progress and balkanizing Pakistan)

The critics of your assessments are PESSIMISTIC fools who live their lives with a very negative attitude.

Keep up the good Work.

Wellwisher

Anonymous said...

To all Indians who are jealous of Pakistan's progress (as is evident from their unnecessary criticism)
my advice is to swallow your pride and acknowledge the good Pakistan has done.

Pakistan and India both are far behind (in general terms) if we compare the rest of the world. Even Taiwan and Korea have made their marks.

Pakistan has started on a new journey of progress. It is only a matter of time that Pakistan will solve all her problems.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story on dysfunction in Gurgaon, India:

Gurgaon, located about 15 miles south of the national capital, New Delhi, would seem to have everything, except consider what it does not have: a functioning citywide sewer or drainage system; reliable electricity or water; and public sidewalks, adequate parking, decent roads or any citywide system of public transportation. Garbage is still regularly tossed in empty lots by the side of the road.

With its shiny buildings and galloping economy, Gurgaon is often portrayed as a symbol of a rising “new” India, yet it also represents a riddle at the heart of India’s rapid growth: how can a new city become an international economic engine without basic public services? How can a huge country flirt with double-digit growth despite widespread corruption, inefficiency and governmental dysfunction?

In Gurgaon and elsewhere in India, the answer is that growth usually occurs despite the government rather than because of it. India and China are often considered to be the world’s rising economic powers, yet if China’s growth has been led by the state, India’s growth is often impeded by the state. China’s authoritarian leaders have built world-class infrastructure; India’s infrastructure and bureaucracy are both considered woefully outdated.

Yet over the past decade, India has emerged as one of the world’s most important new engines of growth, despite itself. Even now, with its economy feeling the pressure from global inflation and higher interest rates, some economists predict that India will become the world’s third largest economy within 15 years and could much sooner supplant China as the fastest-growing major economy.

Moreover, India’s unorthodox path illustrates, on a grand scale, the struggles of many smaller developing countries to deliver growth despite weak, ineffective governments. Many have tried to emulate China’s top-down economic model, but most are stuck with the Indian reality. In India, Gurgaon epitomizes that reality, managing to be both a complete mess and an economic powerhouse, a microcosm of Indian dynamism and dysfunction.

In Gurgaon, economic growth is often the product of a private sector improvising to overcome the inadequacies of the government.

To compensate for electricity blackouts, Gurgaon’s companies and real estate developers operate massive diesel generators capable of powering small towns. No water? Drill private borewells. No public transportation? Companies employ hundreds of private buses and taxis. Worried about crime? Gurgaon has almost four times as many private security guards as police officers.

“You could call it the United States of Gurgaon,” said Sanjay Kaul, an activist critical of the city’s lack of planning who argues that Gurgaon is a patchwork of private islands more than an interconnected city. “You are on your own.”

Gurgaon is an extreme example, but it is not an exception. In Bangalore, outsourcing companies like Infosys and Wipro transport workers with fleets of buses and use their own power generators to compensate for the weak local infrastructure. Many apartment buildings in Mumbai, the nation’s financial hub, rely on private water tankers. And more than half of urban Indian families pay to send their children to private schools rather than the free government schools, where teachers often do not show up for work.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/09/world/asia/09gurgaon.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=gurgaon&st=cse

Riaz Haq said...

India's transport system is the most dangerous in the world costing hundreds of thousands of innocent lives each year, but it's hunger that takes the biggest toll with over 7000 dying of hunger every day.

Here's a story from the Guardian titled "Indian roads officially the most dangerous in the world":

It is an unenviable statistic but India's chaotic roads are now officially the most dangerous place to drive in the world.

Last year road accidents claimed more than 130,000 lives – overtaking China, which has seen fatalities drop to fewer than 90,000, and prompting a government review into traffic safety that until now has been best summed up by local drivers as "good horns, good brakes, good luck".

Ministers are considering a range of new measures, such as making airbags and anti-braking system mandatory in all cars. Trucks may also be fitted with speed breakers in a bid to bring down fatalities.

However, many experts say that new laws will have little effect in India, where seat belts are rarely worn and where no one can anticipate with any certainty the behaviour of the average road user.

Nor can most road users guess what type of vehicle they will face – Delhi alone has 48 different "modes of transport" including cows, elephants and camels as well as cycle-rickshaws and SUVs.

Rohit Baluja of Delhi's Institute of Road Traffic Education says "the real issue is not car design but road design. About 85% of all deaths on the roads are pedestrians and cyclists not drivers. We do not design traffic management systems to separate different streams of traffic. In America this began in 1932".


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/10/india

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on US investment to build a modern 28-story building in Karachi:

WASHINGTON: A U.S. finance institution, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, announced on Monday to extend a $20 million loan towards completion of a 28-story office building in Karachi.

Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, who presided over the signing ceremony of the arrangement, hailed the transaction, saying it represents the tremendous opportunities existing between the two countries for stronger economic cooperation.

“I hope this is the beginning of a long-term association,” Dr Shaikh said. The presence of the modern building will help the country attract multinational investors by meeting an urgent need for top-quality office space.

The property will feature several green building characteristics, including a natural-gas fired cogeneration power plant which will increase its energy efficiency and mitigate negative environmental impacts.

Project sponsor TPL Properties expects to complete construction of the Centrepoint office building in central Karachi in 2012, and will then begin leasing space to large local and multinational organizations.

“This is a sign of close cooperation between Pakistan and the United States — the private sectors of the two countries have huge potential to further expand bilateral relationship,” Ali Jameel, Chief Executive Officer of TPL Holdings, said.

In the process, the project will provide new management and professional employment opportunities with benefits, including those specific to female employees. The building will be fully automated, with world-class IT and security systems.

This office building will help Karachi meet a growing need for high- quality office space, creating professional jobs in the process and becoming only the second property in the city to offer services such as world-class IT and security systems, OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield said.

“We expect that its many green building features will encourage similarly environmentally-conscious construction in Pakistan.”

In addition to the cogeneration plant, the office space will feature an exhaust heat recovery system, air dehumidification using heating pipes, condensation collection for water usage, efficient lighting fixtures, and clean eco-friendly refrigerants used for air conditioning.


http://www.dawn.com/2011/09/27/us-corp-provides-20-mn-loan-for-building-project.html

Deepak said...

Mr Riaz Haq,
I am not here to laugh at Pakistan but it is very disappointing that you are dragging India into it. First of there are so many Infrastructure projects Going on in India which Pakistan could not really match.
1) 18 Indian cities have got planning commission approval for starting Metro Train in India. 7 Cities are getting Monorail. Metro rail is under construction in Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad Chennai, Ahmedabad, Kochi etc.
2)You just talking of 300 km M2 highway, we have build massive Golden Quadrilateral and East-West North-South Highway of 13,000 KM.
3)All big cities of India are getting massive airports by expansion or by creating new Airport. Mumbai is getting its second International airport.
4) In this winter session, Indian government is passing a bill to form a body to look after construction of Bullet train in India on six routes viz. Delhi-Amritsar, Delhi-Patna, Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Pune, Hyderabad-Chennai, Chennai-Bangalore-Pune, Howrah-Haldia.
5)Indian railway is going to add 25,000KM routes in its map and adding extra fleet of 9,000 engines in coming 10-15 years. There are also many mountain rail projects going on.
6) Mumbai India financial capital is getting so many sky scrapers, slum rehabilitation, metro rail and particularly 22km Mumbai TransHarbour Sea Link which will have 6 lane road and double lines of Metro rail in mid of the sea.

Riaz Haq said...

Deepak,

Glad to hear about the work in progress in India.

But clearly, your opinion is not as objective and honest as the opinions of those independent observers I have quoted in my post who compare India and Pakistan.

Besides, what infrastructure could be more basic than the toilets? And you know how India is doing in this dept?

UNICEF says India tops the world in open defecation, according to the Times of India:

NEW DELHI: With India facing the slur of topping the global list in open defecation, the Centre is keen to put the sanitation programme back on the centrestage by sensitizing the population about public hygiene.

The Union rural development ministry along with states will organize a month-long campaign from October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, to create awareness for its flagship scheme of Total Sanitation Campaign.

According to a UNICEF survey, 58% of the world's population practicing open defecation lives in India while China and Indonesia come a distant second by accounting for just 5% of the world numbers. Pakistan is down to third with 4.5%, tied with Ethiopia.

The numbers are astounding as the prosperity of liberalized India does not seem to translate into better sanitation.

RD minister Jairam Ramesh said, "I consider these numbers a matter of great anguish and shame. We must make sanitation a political campaign like Gandhiji did. Kerala, Sikkim, Maharashtra, Haryana and Himachal are doing well but other states have to pick up significantly."

There is little denying the anguish given that the numbers do not tie up with the sanitation standards expected of improving financial economy as well as urbanizing India.

As per national population figures, 54% of India's population practices open defecation against China's 4%.

The national figures do push up numbers in smaller and poor countries. Like Indonesia has 26% of its population practicing open defecation as against its contribution of only 5% to the world population. The national figure stands at 60% for Ethiopia, 28% for Pakistan and 50% for Nepal.

Neighbouring Sri Lanka, in contrast, has only 1% of its citizens going to toilet in the open.

Ramesh said, "We are going to focus now on `nirmal gram abhiyan' -- today 25,000 nirmal grams are a tiny fraction of 6 lakh villages. These nirmal grams are in Maharashtra and Haryana. Maharashtra is a success of social movements while Haryana an example of determined state government action."

As part of the awareness drive, the states have been asked to take active interest with chief secretaries issuing directions for the awareness drive up to the panchayat level. It may include household contact programme and gram sabha meetings to highlight the benefits of an environment free of open defecation. The panchayats would also train masons to construct toilets.


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/With-58-figures-India-tops-in-open-defecation/articleshow/10200781.cms

Deepak said...

Dr. Mr. Riaz,
I will say M2 motorway is very nice but Pakistan is facing huge crisis due to mounting debt and economic chaos. In present Five year Plans Indian government is investing $500 Billion only on infrastructure projects.

I read somewhere in Pakistani news Channel that Pakistan allot only 17% of budget on development purpose.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKsQljNWOwA

I came to know that Pakistan present budget of $32 Billion every year. Out of which Pakistan Army take away 26% or $9 billion. In total 83% of budget wastes in defense, Repaying international debt, aiyashi or luxury of Islamabad. In the last only 17% money remains for development purpose like infrastructure, education, health etc. Mounting international debt is forcing Pakistan to reduce its development budget so that they can repay the debt but at the same time putting no effect on running Islamabad or defense.

Out of 18,000MW requirement of electricity, there is a deficit of 9,000MW. 454 engines out of 500 engines of Pakistan railways is useless. I saw Mubashir Lucman's show where he was telling that total route length of Pakistan railways has decreased from 12,000 km to 5,000Km in 2011. India has growth rate of 8% vs Pakistan 2.2%, the figure tells everything who is better.

Like other Pakistanis if you will say Pakistan uses its resources judiciously and India has corruption then I will tell you, transparency International put Pakistan much more corrupt than India.

Deepak said...

Dear Mr. Haq,
India do have sanitation problem and I won't claim India as a Utopian State and we do criticize our government for this.

But in this article we are talking about infrastructure project and comparison. How come a country which is spending just 17% of its budget on development(& also decreasing it every year) could manage a better infrastructure. 454 engines out of 500 engines of Pakistan railways are obsolete. Power sector is the back bone of economy as industries run on it, but Pakistan has crisis of 50% shortage. I read a wikileaks report which says Pakistan don't have money to build Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and buy gas from Iran.

I read a news in Pakistani newspaper that Pakistanis are moving business out of Pakistan. If they will invest $1 million in US/Canada, they will get citizenship there.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/244238/a-bankruptcy-is-a-terrible-thing-to-waste/

Also read this article about current economic and political chaos in Pakistan.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-15109629

If you want to show your economic progress show it but why you compare everything with India.I know you are among many hurt Pakistanis who could not digest your arch enemy India's economic boom. Pakistanis are flooding internet try to prove India's economic boom as a hoax. It is a big joke that a country with economic growth of just 2.2% and branded as 12th most failed state and 2nd most dangerous country on earth will have a better economic boom than India.

Riaz Haq said...

Minister says India’s rank as No. 1 country for open defecation a source of national shame, according to Washington Post and AP:

NEW DELHI — India’s rural development minister is pushing a campaign on public hygiene, after a recent survey revealed that India accounts for 58 percent of the world’s population practicing open defecation.

Jairam Ramesh says the revelation is a source of national shame and a “sad commentary” on society’s failure to address the issue through education and better sanitation.

The government says it spends $350 million a year to build rural toilets, but some 638 million still rely on fields or quiet corners.

The UNICEF report puts China and Indonesia in second place, with each representing 5 percent of the world’s 1.1 billion open defecators.

Ramesh said Sunday that filth was polluting the environment as well as public spaces, and Indian rivers had become sewers.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/minister-says-indias-rank-as-no-1-country-for-open-defecation-a-source-of-national-shame/2011/10/02/gIQAdWTqGL_story.html

Riaz Haq said...

As per Economic Survey of Pakistan, roads have become the most important segment of transport sector in Pakistan. In 1947, reliance on roads was only 8%, however, currently, it accounts for 92% of national passenger traffic and 96% of freight. However, neglect of other modes of transportation (particularly Railways) in favor of improvement of the road infrastructure has been a prevalent problem in the country s transportation sector.

In the year 1996-97, Pakistan Railway had 10.45% share of passenger traffic and 5.17% of freight traffic, which has dropped to 9. 95% and 4. 72% respectively by the year 2006-07, according to Economic Survey of Pakistan.

Primarily on account of increasing preference for road transport by passengers as well as goods forwarders over rail transport and owing to a diversion of already scarce resources towards the expansion of the road network, the performance and condition of Pakistan Railways has declined and its share of inland traffic (if compared with the early 70s) has reduced from 41% to 10% for passenger and 73% to 4% for freight traffic.

The above qualitative and quantitative analysis reveals that Pakistan Railways has lost its significance and it is no more an attractive mode of transport. The railwaymen have to realise this fact and forget Railways has absolute benefits over road transport and that the Railways is the biggest mode of transport. It is a requirement today that rail transport is restricted to and enhanced on the corridors where long haul and mass scale traffic both for passengers and freights is available, and where there is sufficient revenue generation to bear the O&M (Operation & Maintenance) cost.

http://finance.kalpoint.com/economic-updates/exclusive-articles/railways-still-in-a-quagmire.html
----------
The government, in close collaboration with the World Bank, is preparing a detailed road map for revitalizing the cash starved Pakistan Railways that requires a multi-billion dollar injection over the medium to long term to ensure a complete turnaround, official documents available with The News disclosed on Sunday.

The government had constituted a Core Team, as specified by the Planning Commission, which was assigned to formulate a Pakistan Railways Issue Note (PRIN) based on a rapid governance analysis. According to the PRIN executive summary Pakistan Railways (PR) has been facing serious crisis since 2007-08 as its passenger traffic reduced by 16 percent and freight traffic (on a tonne-kilometer basis) by 70 percent. Revenues of PR has fallen by 6 percent while working expense increased by 80 percent with labor related costs and pensions being 120 percent of revenue in 2010-11.

Under the current organization structure and financial arrangement, the executive summary states, it would be very difficult for PR to even return to break-even on working expenses without radical surgery. In the absence of substantial reforms, PR will almost certainly suffer a continuing decline, slowly but steadily becoming almost irrelevant to the general economy of the country.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=10601&Cat=13

Riaz Haq said...

Daily Times report on Pakistan joining international railway org:

As part of its endeavor to expand rail network to Europe, Central Asian Republics (CARs) and Middle East, Pakistan is set to become member of Intergovernmental Organization for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) soon, said Minister for Railways Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour on Sunday.

Talking to media, the minister said the federal cabinet had already given its consent for the membership.

Set up in 1985, OTIF was principally aimed to develop uniform law applicable to the international carriage of passengers and freight through traffic by rail.

Currently, 46 states are OTIF members. The European Union acceded to this uniform law, COTIF in July 2011.

The OTIF membership would help Pakistan to have contracts of carriage for the international carriage of passengers and goods, dangerous goods, use of vehicles, use of railway infrastructure and validation of technical standards and adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for railway material.

In this connection, a capacity building and awareness workshop was held here in which the top management of OTIF and ECO briefed the representatives of Ministries of Railways, Communication, Commerce, Finance and other stakeholders about the potentials of the membership and how to deal with the future matters.

Bilour said there was no bottleneck in getting the OTIF membership. He said now the Railways Ministry would move a summary to the Prime Minister for final approval and once the process is finalised, Pakistan would be in the position to expand its international rail operations to other regions.

The railways minister said the things were moving ahead smoothly and the membership process would be completed within two to three months.

He said as India was not yet a member of OTIF, Pakistan would also have a competitive edge to spread its trade route to the region that has vast potential for international trade.

The ECO countries route to Istanbul-Islamabad via Tehran is operating successfully, however some issues were identified while heading forward to other regions those would be resolved once the country becomes part of OTIF family, Bilour added.

He said currently eight trains were plying between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey having transit time of 11 days, but the service faced issues including lack of central monitoring mechanism to watch the running of trains, error in the preparation of railway receipts and mechanism to address the dispute between consignee, consignor and carrier. Bilour told media that the government was also working on new tracks including Peshawar–Jalalabad (140 km) and Chaman–Kandhar (107 km).

Bilour said the Railways Ministry was in touch with Islamic Development Bank involving the ECO Secretariat to rehabilitate Quetta-Taftan link to curtail transit time.

He said Pakistan having its border links with Afghanistan, Iran, China and India has the shortest link to Arabian Sea, as besides Karachi, Bin Qasim and Gawadar sea ports help increase maritime activity and bulk transportation to landlocked countries.The minister said the WTO regime, reconstruction of Afghanistan and rising trade links with CAR are compelling the needs to develop international corridors.

He said the government was now encouraging the private sector to invest in railways under public-private partnership mode in conformity with the assets especially shortage of locomotives, though efforts are also underway to restructure and corporatise the railways.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\12\12\story_12-12-2011_pg7_17

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Economist magazine on the travails of Indian infrastructure development:

ONE recent evening in Mumbai a tangerine Lamborghini could be seen taxiing past a sign prohibiting bullock carts, wheeling left and then letting rip on the Sea Link toll-bridge, one of the city’s few bits of decent infrastructure. For three miles all the driver’s Michael Schumacher fantasies must have came true. But by the fourth he drove off the bridge back into reality: roads whose surfaces often wash away during the monsoon and whose repair is said to be in the hands of mafias. The supercar returned to rickshaw speed.

For the past half decade India’s infrastructure industry has enjoyed a Sea Link moment; a blast of growth when one could imagine that the private sector could deliver all the new roads, bridges, power stations and airports that the country needs so badly. The government says the boom will continue. Over the next five years it predicts that infrastructure investment will reach a new high relative to GDP, with some $1 trillion spent, half of it by the private sector. The trouble with this rosy prediction is that the balance-sheets of many Indian infrastructure firms are as potholed as the roads they resurface.
-----------------
Exclude state-owned and telecoms firms and leverage is worse (see table). From public disclosures it is impossible to work out the liquidity position of these firms, but it is likely that most will have to refinance existing credit lines in today’s far less forgiving world, a process not helped by high local rates and a weak rupee.

It looks like a mess. Shareholders have taken a beating, with the market value of those 70-odd stocks having fallen by some two-fifths since March 2011. India’s banks may be next in line for a thrashing. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the regulator, reckons they have 13% of their loan book in infrastructure (vaguely reassuringly, the RBI’s implied absolute debt figure roughly matches the $130 billion of gross debt of the 70 listed firms). Thus far non-performing loans are low—so low it suggests banks are fibbing. But the RBI is probably right that a rickety infrastructure sector does not endanger the banking system.
--------------
What it does endanger is India’s growth prospects. Those new airports, roads and bridges are essential. And the country does not need financial zombies, slashing their investment in order to shore up dodgy balance-sheets.

Some reckon the solution is to develop a bond market, so that more debt can be raised. But while a more sophisticated capital market might mean more funds available and might even reduce the amount of financial engineering going on, it is not the solution to today’s predicament.

Instead, two things need to happen. The government needs to unsnarl stalled projects. And infrastructure firms need to raise lots more equity—not debt. That might dilute the stakes which are held by some of the magnates who control these businesses, but would be a fair price to pay to resuscitate the balance-sheet of a vital industry. Even on selfish grounds it makes sense, hastening the day when an honest Indian oligarch can at last put the pedal to metal in his supercar for more than three miles in a row.


http://www.economist.com/node/21542184

Riaz Haq said...

Express Tribune on the impact of competition for state-owned Pakistan International Airline:

The country’s aviation regulator has allowed two airline companies to operate passenger flights, prompting reservations from the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), which said the approval will only enhance losses of the national flag carrier that is mired in deep financial crisis.

Indus Airlines is a new carrier that is among the two companies granted approval by the Civil Aviation Authority. PIA has demanded that Indus Airlines’ licence be cancelled.

Sources say Indus Airlines’ application for provision of space for an office and a hanger is also in the final stages of approval. After the new licences, the total number of airlines authorised to operate on commercial basis is six, including PIA, Air Blue, Shaheen Air, Indus Air, Bhoja Air and Pearl Air.

Bhoja Air’s licence expired last year, sources say, but has now been renewed. It is mandatory now for the airline to start its operations, sources add.

In a letter to the CAA, PIA has requested the regulator to cancel Indus Airlines’ licence, granted a year ago, citing financial and technical problems for the national carrier.

At present, two airlines are operating successfully in the private sector including Air Blue and Shaheen Air.

According to sources, however, Indus Airlines has already acquired an office at the Jinnah International Airport, which is not operational yet. The company has hinted that it plans to start its operations by mid-March. Sources add that the company has hired executive officers from PIA as well as other airlines, but has not yet decided about the types of aircraft it will induct in its fleet.

The name of the new airline’s chief has not been announced yet.

A spokesperson for Indus said the airline is a consortium of various companies, has acquired offices and is hiring staff in different departments.

The airline will host an inauguration ceremony soon where further details will be provided to the media, the spokesperson added.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/315313/new-airlines-pia-protests-as-skies-get-crowded/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from "Back to Pakistan" by Leslie Noyes Mass talking about the extensive telecom coverage in remote Northern areas of Pakistan:

"The Eagles Nest is aptly named: it perches on top of a ridge amid rocky scree and jagged peaks. Behind us are 24000-feet snowcapped summits, soaring into the sky. Below, the valley where we have spent the past few days is recognizable by its row of cell phone towers and the Hunza River. I have been astonished that, remote as we are in Hunza, first-class cell phone and Internet connections are available 24/7. We are as close to civilization as the briefest click and as far away the loosest stone on that crumbling highway north or south."

http://books.google.com/books?id=_BtWtuLlDXoC&pg=PA44&lpg=PA44&dq=inquiry+based+learning+pakistan&source=bl&ots=6DRcWG5-r7&sig=7_vsfOS2Xet_zFFmqRmduY-hR24&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6rEHT93tEeqFiAKO_aWyCQ&sqi=2&ved=0CFEQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=cell%20towers&f=false

The highway Mass is referring to is the world's highest called Karakoram Highway at an altitude of over 15000 feet. It's currently being repaired and expanded with Chinese help. Talking about it, she writes:

"I wonder what a wide, asphalt highway would do to this area--bring more tourists and trade and change forever the lives of the people in the distant villages hidden among the rocks, I imagine."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a 2011 Dawn Op Ed on cement industry by Pakistan Cement Industry Association leader Tariq Saigol:

While the private sector performed magnificently whenever provided with an enabling environment, the response of the present government remains mired in confusion and inertia. Installed capacity was a paltry nine million tons in 1990, much of it being grossly inefficient as it was based on the outmoded wet process technology. As demand rose, the industry responded by launching a massive expansion programme. Over time, the installed capacity rose to nearly 44 million tons, a magnificent feat by any standards and a credit to the entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector.

However a number of adverse developments from 2007 onwards have brought the GDP growth to some two per cent. It is being reported by the media that the revised allocation after the latest cut, is a measly Rs180 billion. High inflation combined with slump in real estate and increase in the cost of production due to weakness of the dollar, resulting in a spike in coal prices, electricity and freight rates and accounting for 70 per cent of the cost, has adversely affected consumption while production cost soars, retarding construction activity in the private sector.

The current economic environment including low public spending has had disastrous consequences for the cement sector.

Local sales during the first half of the current fiscal year have witnessed an eight per cent year on year drop to around 10.1 million tons. Simultaneously, exports fell from 5.6 million tons to 4.6 million tons. The bad news does not end here. On top of low volumes, the average cement FOB prices fell to $48 per ton during the corresponding period— a level low enough to hardly break even.

Consequently cement sales through the sea route alone declined by about one third. Cement sales to India were also hard hit on account of non renewal of BIS certification (a quality control licence). Burdened with high energy and freight costs as well, the manufactures are desperate for some government support.

But no support is forthcoming. One would expect the government’s economic planners to appreciate the tremendous odds against which the industry is battling. If care of the cement industry is in short supply, then some thought may be given to the enormous exposure of the banks which have provided financing to the tune of $1.5 billion to the sector during 2003-2008.


http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/14/opportunities-missed.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a blogger' view Pakistan's cement industry:

Cement is one of the most important industries of Pakistan. Limestone and gypsum are the main raw materials for manufacturing of cement and they are present in abundance in Pakistan along with good supply of Natural gas. This great potential makes the country capable of producing cement not only for local use but also for export as well. Pakistan cement industry has exporting cement to the neighbouring countries like U.A.E, Afghanistan, India, Iraq and Russia.

At present there are 22 cement plants are operating in Pakistan with the production of approximately 9.403 million tonnes. Out of these 22 cement plants, 17 are private and 5 are publicr. 11 new plants are also in planning stage and the capacity of these plants is estimated around 12.988 million tonnes. The industry has achieved a growth of 32% with the domestic demand increasing by around 24.95% and the exports by nearly 111.86% according to the financial year end June 30, 2007 ratings. Recently the country has been able to export to some of the African countries as well.

Cement industry is divided into two main regions; the northern and the southern region. Northern region is producing 35.18 million tonnes and southern region is producing 8.89 million tonnes of cement per year.

Per capita consumption of cement is an indicator of rate with which any country is developing. Unfortunately per capita consumption of cement in Pakistan is less if we compare it with other developing countries. It is about 131 kg per person annually; whereas world average is about 270 kg. This less consumption is due to the negligence given to the construction sector. However in last few years consumption of cement showed some rise due to increased commercial activities, infrastructural development and increasing demand of constructing houses.

Local demand for the year 2007-2008 was 20 million tonnes. Pakistan has started exporting cement few years back and has earned repute as a premium quality cement producer in the global market in this short period. Pakistan exported around 7.716 million tonnes of cement in 2007-2008 and earned a foreign exchange of 459 million dollars. There is surely a great potential of growth in this industry in Pakistan.


http://pakistan360degrees.contentcreatorz.com/cement-industry-of-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are highlights of a presentation on Pakistan's cement manufacturing sector:

Beginning with just 500,000 tons in 1947, Pakistan's cement production almost tripled from 16 million tons in 2000 to 44 million tons in 2010.

At 145 Kg per person, Pakistan's cement consumption is up from 75 Kg in 2003, but still about half of the world per capita consumption average of 270 Kg.

http://www.slideshare.net/msaadafridi/cement-industry-of-pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan launches luxury train for business travelers, reports Telegraph newspaper:

The luxury service – complete with flatscreen TVs, wifi and lavatories that would put some British trains to shame – was launched today in an effort to turn around the dire fortunes of Pakistan's railways, and restore it to its former colonial glory.

More than that, the story of the railway's decline mirrors that of the country itself, and the Business Express, with its mix of public and private enterprise, is being championed as a new model that could revive Pakistan's moribund state sector.

Waiters in waistcoats and bow ties served afternoon tea as passengers boarded for the 800-mile, 18-hour journey.
-----------
Pakistan inherited a rail network stretching more than 5000 miles at independence in 1947.

But years of corruption and mismanagement has seen the state-owned business taken to the brink of collapse.

Executives say its fleet of 146 locomotives is 500 short of what it needs.

The resulting delays and cancellations have seen a once popular railway marginalised; used by only those that cannot afford travelling by air or road.

This year, the business is expected to lose more than £200m.

Arif Azim, chairman of Pakistan Railways, said he wanted to turn back the clock to a time when the railways were both reliable and elegant.

"Our aim right now is to offer a service in the best traditions of the line – whether it was in the British time or after independence," he said.

Construction on the line began in 1858 when Sir Henry Edward Frere, the commissioner of Sind, realised Karachi would form an ideal port.

The first stretch opened in 1861, running 100 miles inland before connecting with steamers on the Indus.

John Brunton, the chief engineer, described in his memoir the challenges of buying off hostile princes and the day a rabid wolf ran through his camp outside Karachi.

"In India a record is kept of all fatalities arising from attacks of wild beasts, snakes etc – and on this occasion the return gave 12 men bitten, of whom 10 died, and a large number of cattle," he wrote.

"The brute was hunted down and killed by the natives, the day after our interview with him."

Pakistan has different troubles today.

A bomb blast closed the railway last year not far from the spot where those rabid wolves once roamed and the Business Express carries armed guards.

It may not be quite the Orient Express, but the daily sleeper with running water, a dinner service, and pillows for the bunks are a vast improvement on the squalid, broken-down carriages that usually make the stop-start journey.

The service is provided by a private company in a deal that gives it 14% of the £35 single ticket price.

Javed Salim Qureshi, chairman of Four Brothers, the private partner: "Pakistan has had a disaster on the railways. This is a new departure.

"I just hope it gets there on time."

A trial run a week earlier fell eight hours behind schedule even before leaving Lahore after a carriage derailed.

Some of the two hundred or so passengers aboard the maiden trip said they were impressed by the facilities but would reserve judgment until their arrival in Karachi.

Khurram Ali, a financial analyst, said he was surprised by the first-world standards.

"It's cheaper than flying and this new service seems really good," he said, as the lush farmland of Punjab flashed past the window at 70mph.

"But then again we all know how bad the delays have been so ask me again what I think tomorrow morning."


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9059475/All-aboard-Pakistan-turns-back-the-clock-with-luxury-train-travel.html

Riaz Haq said...

PIA, Pakistan's national airline, is a victim of corruption and incompetence from political patronage. Here's a Reuters' report on it:

PIA (PIAa.KA), like Pakistan, always seems to be on the brink of disaster. But now that seems closer than ever for the national flag carrier, once a source of pride for the country.

The airline is haemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars a year while being pummelled by competition from sleek Gulf giants like Emirates EMIRA.UL, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

A quarter of its 40 aircraft are grounded because the airline can't find enough money to buy spare parts. Flights are regularly cancelled and engineers say they are having to cannibalise some planes to keep others flying.

"The situation has worsened to the extent of rendering this airline almost financially unviable," said the State Bank of Pakistan in a report on the state of the economy.

In many ways the airline mirrors the way Pakistan -- a strategic U.S. ally often described as a failing state -- is run.

The same inefficiency, nepotism and corruption that critics say have prevented the government from tackling a Taliban insurgency, crippling power cuts, ethnic violence and widespread poverty also threaten to bring down the airline.

PIA lost 19.29 billion rupees in the first nine months of 2011, almost double the losses in the same period in 2010.

The airline, like the Pakistani economy, has relied on bailouts to stay in the air, and is negotiating with the state for another rescue package.

"Just like PIA has the potential to do well, Pakistan's economy does too. But both haven't because of mismanagement. In the end that is the story -- mismanagement," Salman Shah, a former Pakistani finance minister, told Reuters.

PIA officials were not available for comment on the challenges facing the airline despite repeated requests.

HUGE WORKFORCE WEIGHS DOWN AIRLINE

Over the years, critics say, governments have manipulated state corporations like PIA for political and financial gain, giving jobs to so many supporters that the size of the workforce has become unsustainable in the face of mounting losses.

"We don't have people in the right places in typical Pakistani fashion. It's about who you know not what you can do," said a PIA pilot, who like other employees asked not to be identified for fear of being fired.

Today, PIA has a staggering employee to aircraft ratio of more than 450, more than twice as much as some competitors. In the first nine months of 2011, employee expenses drained 16 percent of turnover.

"Politically motivated inductions have been the major cause of the significant increase in human resource burden in this organisation," said the central bank.

"It cannot be corrected without taking drastic steps for rightsizing and increasing operational efficiency."

That is unlikely in a country where political expediency and interests often undermine efforts to make everything from governments to corporations successful.

Frustrations with those realities are palpable at PIA.


http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/14/uk-pakistan-airline-idUSLNE81D02820120214

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a report by Daily Mail on Indian trade delegation's Pakistan visit:

....When Indian journalists and members of a business delegation flying from Lahore to Karachi on board a PIA flight asked the flight attendant for a vegetarian meal, they were told that there was only non-vegetarian fare in the packet.
-----------
However, a smart attendant pointed out that while one of the sandwiches in the food packet was 'chicken', the other was 'cheese'. 'So you can have the cheese sandwich,' was his solution.

Of course, he overlooked the fact that two were part of the same dish and their proximity far too disturbing for the vegetarian mindset. Similarly, on the early morning PIA flight from Karachi to Islamabad the air hostesses were quite apologetic about not having any vegetarian breakfast on board.

While the world over, commercial airlines factor in dietary preferences, it appears PIA still has to move up the learning curve.
-------------
Pakistan deserves credit for building an excellent 8-lane expressway from Islamabad to its cultural capital Lahore.

With a permissible speed limit of 120 km an hour, cars cruise through the 370 km distance in four hours.

There is a 15 km stretch through the salt range where vehicles have to slow down as there is danger of disturbing the rocks due to vibrations.

Speed cameras placed along the expressway ensure that motorists do no exceed the maximum speed limit.

Interestingly, there are prominently displayed signs on the highway which warn drivers that there is a 'speed camera ahead' which tends to maintain discipline.

This is in sharp contrast to the approach of Delhi police, who believe in hiding behind bushes with their speed cameras to catch motorists unaware as though the main objective of the exercise is to make money instead of ensuring the safety of motorists.

The signage on the highway is up to the best global standards and boards at overbridges carry intelligent advice for motorists ranging from 'check your gauges frequently'; 'Retire the worn out tyres'; 'Drive slow in fog and rain.' A Lahore-based industrialist told Mail Today that he prefers to go to Islamabad by the motor way instead of catching the flight.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2102861/Splendid-roadway-makes-sub-standard-airline-Pakistan.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' report on Singapore company buying stake in Karachi's container terminal operator:

Singapore's International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTS) said on Tuesday its subsidiary plans to acquire up to 55 percent of a Pakistan container cargo terminal operator.

ICTS's unit ICTSI Mauritius Ltd is intending to buy 35-55 percent of Pakistan International Container Terminal Ltd , whose terminal is located at the Karachi port, it said in a statement.

The company did not say how much it will pay for the acquisition, but noted that the Pakistan firm handled a total of 669,806 twenty-foot equivalent container units for the year ended June 30, 11 percent higher than the year before.


http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/06/icts-idUSL4E8E63HR20120306

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a news story about construction expo in Pakistan:

The first ever international construction materials, property, furniture, stone and technology exhibition titled, ‘Build Pakistan 2012’, commenced yesterday at Lahore Expo Centre, Pakistan. The event is open for trade/corporate visitors only till tomorrow i.e. March 12, 2012.
Federal Minister for Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan inaugurated the event. Fakt Exhibitions CEO Saleem Khan Tanoli and others were also present at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Dr Firdous said such events are helpful to revive the construction industry in Pakistan, which is mother of allied industry and plays a vital role in economic revival.
--------------
Pakistan’s soft image and avenues of investment in the country.
Earlier, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Dr Nadeem Ul Haque also visited the exhibition. He went to different stalls and met domestic and international exhibitors. He said construction industry played vital role in the economic revival of any economy, so the Planning Commission had laid focus on this in its growth strategy.
Talking to the reporters, he said Planning Commission also recommended revitalisation of the construction in its growth strategy which was adopted by the government as well.
Dr Nadeem suggested changing in living style of Pakistanis for the promotion of residential flats. He said there was a need of policy change to run the construction industry and kick start construction activities in every town and cities. To a question about the growth rate, Dr Nadeem said at present the growth rate is 4.5 per cent, but Pakistan needs to grow at 9 to 10 per cent annually, just like its neighboring countries, like India and China.
The first Build Pakistan 2012 exhibition is featuring over 100 exhibitors, ranging from major global suppliers to regional agents and distributors of building and construction sector. As the largest event of its kind in Pakistan, Build Pakistan provides an unrivalled platform for architects, consultants, interior designers, builders, landscapers, developers, contractors, machinery and equipment manufacturers and suppliers from the public and private sectors to network, source and specify the latest building and construction products and services. The event provides the most comprehensive product offering for the building and construction industry.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/03/build-pakistan-2012-expo/

Riaz Haq said...

NHA to implement 82 highway schemes at Rs 569bn, reports Daily Times:

National Highway Authority (NHA) is implementing 82 highway schemes at the cost of Rs 569 billion, while 14 new projects are in pipeline costing Rs 95 billion.

The participants of 11th Senior National Management Course visited NHA head office here on Wednesday where

NHA’s member (planning) Sabir Hasan while briefing about the functioning of the NHA to visiting faculty members of the 11th Senior National Management Course said 98 Toll Plazas have been approved on NHA, out of which 84 were operational.

NHA is striving hard for availability of National Trade Corridor (NTC), in the country. Practical advancement is being made for achieving North South economic corridor, providing linkages with Gwadar and up gradation of Karakoram Highway in particulars.

Under NTC programme highways, Motorways, Expressways are being constructed from ports to borders with the view to provide linkages for the Transit Trade. NTC will reduce 50 percent travelling time, decrease 10 percent transportation cost and reduce 70 percent road fatalities.

Rs 300 billion will be spent during the next 5 to 7 years for this gigantic programme. Toll Collection System is being established on modern lines, he added.

He said pragmatic steps have been taken to save asset of highways from bad effects of overloading. To this effect weigh stations have been set up at specific locations to check the overloaded vehicles. In order to ensure construction of durable roads state of the art and advanced technologies are being employed. NHA is attaching great importance to make journey safe and sound on its network, he added.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\05\08\story_8-5-2012_pg5_5

Riaz Haq said...

Here's World Bank economist's assessment of Pak competitiveness, according to The News:

Pakistan needs to improve its competitiveness for rapid industrialisation, which offers it a range of potential benefits, including more jobs creation, tax revenues and economic growth, said Dan Biller, World Bank’s lead economist on South Asia Region for Sustainable Development.



Addressing businessmen in Lahore, he said that the GDP growth of Pakistan in 2011 was only 24 percent, while China grew at 9.2 percent, India 7.8 percent, Sri Lanka at eight percent, Indonesia 6.4 percent and Malaysia 5.2 percent.



Among all these countries, Pakistan has the largest agricultural share of GDP and smallest industrial share, he said.



Biller said that lower industrialisation in Pakistan against other regional countries is due to its lower competitiveness, adding that Pakistan ranks poorly on the Global Competitive Index of the World Economic Forum. Pakistan’s institutions are weak, scoring 3.4 points out of 10, he said, adding that Malaysia score 5.2 points, China 4.3 points, India 3.8 points, Indonesia 3.8 points and Sri Lanka scored 4.2 points on quality of institutions.



Biller said that Pakistan’s score in infrastructure was dismal 2.8 points, while Malaysia scored 5.5, China 4.3, India 3.6, Indonesia 3.8 and Sri Lanka scored 4.1 points.



Similarly, he said, Pakistan’s score was the lowest among these countries in macroeconomic stability, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency and labour market efficiency. Only in the market size, Pakistan had a better score than Sri Lanka, he added.



He also said that Pakistan has the most expensive and least-efficient port systems in the region, adding that the handling charges at the Karachi Port Trust are $110 per ton. India charges $80 per ton, Sri Lanka $150 per ton and Hong Kong charged $140 per ton. Ship charges of 2,800 tons are $30,000 at KPT, $5,500 in Sri Lanka, $6,000 in Hong Kong and $25,000 in the Indian port.



He said Pakistan handles 55 containers per hour, Sri Lanka 70 per hour, Hong Kong 100 per hour and India 65 per hour. The Customs authorities in Pakistan examine 10 percent containers physically; Sri Lanka and Hong Kong less than five percent, while physical examination of containers in India is also high, but less than 100 percent, he said, adding that Pakistani ports lack water depth, which is 10.5 feet at KPT, 13 feet in Sri Lanka, 14 feet in Hong Kong and 12 feet in Indian ports.



The World Bank economist said that Pakistan provides relatively low access to services that impeded foreign investment. Pakistan has two fixed telephone lines per 100 people against 22 in China, 2.9 in India, 17.2 in Sri Lanka, 15.8 in Indonesia and 16.1 in Malaysia.



Around 99.4 percent of the population in China has access to electricity; it is 66.3 percent in India, 76.6 percent in Sri Lanka, 62.4 percent in Pakistan, 64.5 percent in Indonesia and 99.4 percent in Malaysia, he added.



The roads and power generation are number one infrastructure concern for the businesses worldwide, Biller said, and advised Pakistan to reduce the transport cost that is critical to competitiveness.



In addition, the state should ensure safe mobility and enhance regional connectivity. Pakistan’s foreign market access potential is at least 4.5 times higher than the United States, he said, adding that its current market access is only 4-9 percent of the United States.



Pakistan’s market share in total global exports is less than half percent and remained stagnant since 2000. India, on the other hand, increased its global export share from 0.6 percent in 2000 to 1.5 percent in 2010, he added.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-3-114426-Pakistan-needs-to-improve-competitiveness-for-rapid-industrialisation

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on Pak and US efforts to develop FATA:

Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani inaugurated a US-funded road project in South Waziristan Agency on Monday — a move that may indicate easing of tensions between the estranged allies.

The development is being seen as a significant one as the army chief has recently distanced himself from being associated with the Americans. Furthermore, Kayani inaugurated the Tank-Gomal-Wana Road amid reports that Washington had shown willingness to accept some of Islamabad’s demands, including an apology for last year’s Salala air strikes.

A Pakistani official described the development as ‘positive’ saying despite recent hiccups in relations between the two countries, the US continued to fund important projects in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

“The US is proud to partner with the government of Pakistan in rebuilding key roads and infrastructure in Fata,” said Karen Freeman, acting director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Pakistan.

“We believe our joint efforts will bring commerce, jobs, trade and long-term security to this important region of Pakistan,” Freeman added.

The road connects to the US-funded 110 kilometre Tank-Makin Road, which was completed earlier this year at Kaur. The road will provide the people of Murtaza Kot, Nilikatch, Gomal Zam, Tanai, Tiarza and Wana in the South Waziristan Agency access to Tank, DI Khan and other parts of Pakistan, a statement issued by the US Embassy said.

USAID has contributed over $260 million for roads and other key infrastructure projects in Fata.

Meanwhile, the army chief attempted to strike a delicate balance when he suggested the military was compelled to launch an operation against militants in Waziristan.

However, after flushing out terrorists in the area, the army’s focus has now become centered on maintaining peace in the area by concentrating on rehabilitation and reconstruction activities, the army chief pointed out.

In a meeting with tribal elders, Kayani insisted that no army wanted to fight within its own borders.

“The army is concentrating on health and education facilities,” he added.

He also inaugurated Spinkai Ragzai Cadet College and reviewed the security situation besides ongoing developmental work in South Waziristan.

According to APP, Kayani said the army was deployed in the area on the demand of locals and would stay till the completion of development projects.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/395817/kayani-initiates-usaid-project-in-s-waziristan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on US AID projects in FATA:

The United States Agency for International Development will construct 200-kilometre roads in South and North Waziristan agencies in addition to undertaking longer term interventions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s education and health sectors.

Andrew Sisson, the agency’s mission director in Pakistan, told Dawn that the USAID had already constructed over 200km roads in South Waziristan and it was planning construction of additional 200km roads primarily in North Waziristan Agency and some in South Waziristan Agency.

“It (road construction) is an excellent investment in opening the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in terms of economy and business to the rest of the country,” he said.

The US agency, he said, had provided $201 million for roads linking North Waziristan and South Waziristan to the rest of Pakistan. He said that USAID was also planning to provide more resources for roads directly to the Fata Civil Secretariat later this year.

Similarly, the USAID signed an agreement in October last year for disbursing funds for the construction of irrigation network downstream Gomal Zam dam that, he said, would irrigate 120,000 cultivable acres, benefiting thousands of farm families. Some $9 million for construction irrigation network, he said, had been released to the Water and Power Development Authority in December last.

Mr Sisson said that investment in this part of Pakistan (KP and Fata), especially for education, health, infrastructure, community level activities, irrigation and business development, remained ‘a very high priority’ of the US government.

“We are budgeting for the future..we are hopeful that the funds would come after approval by our Congress,” said Mr Sisson, adding that the Obama administration was committed to maintaining high level of aid to Pakistan even during this rocky period (of relationship).

“Despite our relations, our aid levels are high,” he said, adding that his organisation would continue building schools in Fata and KP, which was a very important part of the bilateral relationship.

He said that their assistance to Pakistan was in the interest of the people of both the countries and that it had been achieving great results. The USAID-funded projects, according to him, put 400MW to the grid last year, some 500MW would be added to the system next year, and one million children went to schools constructed by the agency over the past few years.

“We want Pakistan to succeed, to be more stable and have a more prosperous economy,” he said, adding that their interest in Pakistan would continue no matter who was in power in the US.

He said that apart from funding five major interventions in the energy sector the US was looking into making other investments to help Pakistan overcome its energy sector. “We are in discussion with the government for carrying out feasibility studies for Diamer-Bhasha dam,” said the USAID director.

He said that the USAID was also assisting the Fata secretariat and the KP to help build their capabilities. Justifying delays in the execution of infrastructure projects in the KP and Fata, Mr Sisson said “Even in the United States complicated infrastructure projects don’t go on schedule and that’s very true in Pakistan (as well).”

He said that some of the infrastructure projects were being carried out in tough regions where security formed a major impediment to the on time completion of projects.

About corruption-free use of USAID funds, he said that except for two cases in which the USAID Office of Inspector General had collaborated with National Accountability Bureau, a majority of the projects had seen apt and honest use of funds.


http://dawn.com/2012/01/26/focus-on-rebuilding-roads-in-waziristan-2/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation report on Karakoram Highway progress:

HUNZA - Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Friday launched two landmark multi-million dollar strategic projects at the Karakorum Highway (KKH), aimed at restoring the historic road linkage with China that was severed due to the artificial Attabad Lake created as a result of landslides.The Prime Minister performed the ground-breaking of realignment of a 17-km long section of the Karakoram Highway (KKH). He also inaugurated the 510.42 million dollars upgradation of a 335 km long section of the road from Raikot to Khunjerab that has now been widened and meets international standards of construction.Prime Minister, who earlier had an aerial view of the Attabad lake, the upgraded road and the proposed road alignment site, said that the new roads were part of an effort of the government to provide the people of remote areas a fast and easy linkage with the rest of the country. He said that the road would not only ease travel, but also help provide all facilities of life. He said it would further deepen the strong ties between Pakistan and China. Raja said that road links were known to bring progress and prosperity to the areas they touch and hoped that a new era of development would usher in.He said that road links were a priority of the government and recalled his meeting with Chinese leaders during his recent visit to China where the KKH's upgradation and re-alignment were discussed. He appreciated and thanked the Chinese government for keeping its promise of despatching the required heavy machinery for completion of the project....

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/29-Sep-2012/raja-launches-projects-to-restore-karakorum-highway

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR report on WB and ADB financing infrastructure projects in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has signed eight new projects worth $2.24 billion with the World Bank while six projects of $69 million have been signed with Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) during the last fiscal year.



Documents obtained by this correspondent showed that the Project of Tertiary Education worth $300 million, Social Safety Net TA Additional Financing of $150 million, Tarbela (Fourth Extension) worth $840 million, Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Project $250 million, Natural Gas Efficiency Project $200 million, Punjab Education Sector program worth $350 million, Sindh Skill Development of $21 million and Highway Rehabilitation Additional Financing project worth $130 million were signed between Pakistan and the World Bank during 2011-12.



The projects of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Emergency Road Recovery Project worth $8 million, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Fata Economic Revitalisation Project $20 million, KP Fata Governance Support Project of $6 million, Fata Rural Livelihood and Community Infrastructure worth $12 million, Fata Urban Centre Project of $7 million and the project of Revitalizing Health Services in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa worth $16 million are the projects signed by Pakistan with MDTF.



Documents also showed that the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) active portfolio in Pakistan comprised $3.3 billion in loans for 23 ongoing projects: $143 million in grants and $9.37 million in technical assistance as of June 30 this year. In terms of lending modality, the Multi tranche financing Facility accounted for 49 percent of the portfolio and project leans at 41 percent while disbursement achieved during FY 2011-2012 amounted to $429.4 million.



One of the key pillars of reform in the power sector of Pakistan is to enhance power generation, replacement of inefficient plants and improve the transmission and distribution system. In this regard, ADB has committed a financing facility of $2.9 billion over medium-term.



Documents also showed that the ADB organised 55 capacity-building initiatives for 2011-12 for Pakistan in areas of irrigation, energy, transport, environmental safeguards, gender statistics, poverty reduction, regulatory practices, financial inclusion approaches, sustainable and millennium development goals, taxation, public sector management, planning, budgeting and evaluation, foreign direct investment, procurement, project processing and regional integration.


http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/1-front-top-news/84391-pakistan-wb-sign-eight-new-projects-worth-224bn-.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's KMC's release regarding 4 planned flyovers on Shahrah-e-Pakistan:

Karachi: Sept02: KMC Administrator Muhammad Hussain Syed has said that the construction work of flyovers at Shahrah-e-Pakistan and S.M Taufeeq Road will be started this week and will be completed within the estimated time which is 6 months. He said this during an inspection visit at the construction place of four flyovers at Shahrah-e-Pakistan where he was accompanied by Director General Technical Services Altaf G. Memon, Sr. Director Mass Transit Rasheed Mughal, Sr. Director Transport & Communication Muhammad Ather, Project Directors Syed Muhammad Taha, Abdul Rehman Shaikh, Noor-ul-Haq Shaikh and other high officials. He said that planning for construction of four flyovers at Shahrah-e-Pakistan was already made and offices of concerned contractors have been setup whereas traffic diversion plan was also made final. He said that construction work of four flyovers will be started at the same time with least effect on traffic and no inconvenience for people whereas service road will be widened after removing encroachments. Administrator Karachi Muhammad Hussain Syed was informed by Project Director Syed Muhammad Taha that construction of flyover at Water pump will cost 383.37 million rupees and flyover at Aisha Manzil will cost 378.20 million rupees and the length of flyover at Water pump will be 140 meter long with 3 lanes for each side of traffic which will consist of 11.80 meter width whereas the length of flyover at Aisha Manzil will be 590 meter long for both sides. Project Director of S.M Taufeeq Road Dakhana, Abdul Rehman Shaikh informed that the construction of flyovers at this road will cost 385.5 million rupees and the length of the flyover will be 497 meter long whereas two tracks with 11.80 meter length will be made whereas 5 spans, 78 piles and girders will be made. Administrator Karachi on this occasion directed engineers and contractors to take special care of quality and time during construction of flyovers. He said that the construction of these flyovers will maintain traffic flow on this road and provide transportation facilities to the citizens.

http://kmc.gov.pk.sv2.premiumwebserver.com/News/NewsDetail.aspx?id=898

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a BR story on Zardari's visit to South Korea:

A major breakthrough came in the area of modernization of Railways. Pakistan, under the agreement, will seek high speed railways, communication systems, signaling, rail stock, modernization of operation and management, development of logistics parks and freight terminals, exchange of construction and maintenance technologies for infrastructure including tracks, bridges, overhead electrification and power supply systems.



The agreement was signed by Muhammad Arif Azim Secretary Railways and Minister of Railways of South Korea Kwon Do-youp. President Zardari in his meeting with President KORAIL Chung Chang-Young said Pakistan desired modern and efficient railways to help meet its growing industrial, agricultural and freight needs.



He said the current fleet of Pakistan Railways was unable to meet the needs of a growing nation and there was an urgent need to upgrade it.



The President who had a number of meetings with the heads of top Korean business houses said Pakistan was a heaven for foreign investors as the country's large consumer population promised good profits and lucrative business.



He said a large number of Korean companies were already operating in Pakistan and doing good business.



He said other companies can invest in many new areas while the existing ones can expand and diversify their operations. President KORAIL assured President Zardari that his company was willing to share its experiences and expertise with Pakistan Railways and help it develop on modern lines.



The President later witnessed the inking of a MoU under which Pakistan will be able to acquire used diesel locomotives and work for modernization, maintenance, operation and training of existing ones.



President Zardari during his meeting with the President and Chief Executive Officer of Samsung C&T said Pakistan needs to augment its energy resources to meet the growing demand of its industrial and domestic requirements...


http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/108-pakistan-top-news/93897-pakistan-korea-ink-six-accords-for-modernization-of-railways-lng-terminal-banking-cooperation-.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on PIA scrutiny by Pak Supreme Court:

Another notorious entity landed into court this week, probably because of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry himself. According to a report, “Already in the headlines for all wrong reasons, PIA again came under the flak on Monday when counsel Khalid Anwar requested the court to take a suo motu notice of the pathetic state of affairs in the airline. The request was made against the backdrop of Sunday’s incident when an Islamabad-bound PIA aircraft developed fault in one of its engines and was stuck at the Karachi airport for hours. The chief justice and some federal ministers were among the passengers.”

The report says, “The Pakistan International Airlines bemoaned in the Supreme Court on Monday that the unilateral grant of liberal traffic rights to foreign airlines was one of the reasons for the national flag carrier’s decline. It said Pakistan had become a lifeline for foreign carriers, mainly from the Gulf region, which were sucking away the resources of Pakistan (Pakistani passengers). The report regretted that foreign airlines had been increasing their capacity on Pakistan routes because of the facility of liberal traffic rights. Successive governments have allowed foreign airlines to fly to and out of the country without offering any reciprocal rights to PIA to fly to their countries.” Is PIA justified in blaming its substandard performance on foreign competition which it can’t seem to come to terms with? What about the unrelenting decline of customer services, which is a major part of the business that is being questioned by the court?

Another recent analysis states, “Pakistan recently allowed five international airlines to begin direct passenger and cargo flights from Sialkot International Airport. Qatar Airways, Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Etihad Airways and Emirates would start their operations from Sialkot soon. The number of international flights to various foreign destinations from the industrial city will reportedly rise to 45 from the existing 21 in a month.

The business community was thrilled. “The transport costs and the ability to respond to demand swiftly in a fast changing, competitive international market makes or breaks a business. Better connectivity will save local businesses time and money. Siakot will return favour by investing in modernisation of the airport and jacking up efforts to outperform their competitors in the international trade”, Mohammad Azam, a businessman from Sialkot commented.

“Sialkot is a big commercial centre with a motivated business community. The decision is a step in the right direction”, Zubair Motiwala, a known business leader said when reached over telephone.

The ministry that authenticated the government’s decision, however, did not share the euphoria. The ministry of defence, responsible for the aviation industry, detested the move that, it said, was forced on it. It believed the decision compromised national interests.

“People will still be happier if you allow them to travel free but would you do that?” a senior officer in the ministry asked when contacted in Islamabad for comments. “The sound economic decisions are not necessarily popular”, he answered without waiting for a reply. Why is the ministry not inclined to favour ‘sound economic decisions’? Why is fair and productive competition being regarded as detrimental? Could the fact that a self-absorbed ministry (that has too much on its plate in the first place) been given control of the aviation industry is proving out to be a disastrous decision?

With only three Pakistani airlines in the market, that seem are ever ready to be in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, what possible options are left for improvements in Pakistan’s aviation industry


http://dawn.com/2012/12/04/pakistans-aviation-industry-failing-to-fly/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Korean news agency Yonhap on Zardari's visit:

SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari agreed Tuesday to bolster all-round economic cooperation between the two countries, especially in the areas of railways and hydropower, the presidential office said.

Zardari arrived in Seoul on Monday for a three-day official visit, and held summit talks with Lee with a focus on strengthening cooperation in trade and investment, infrastructure construction, energy and development assistance, the office said.

The two sides signed two memorandums of understanding, one calling for Pakistan to provide supportive measures for South Korean aid projects to the country and the other calling for cooperation in railway modernization and related projects in Pakistan.

Lee and Zardari noted that trade between the two countries climbed to US$1.56 billion last year following a fall in the wake of the 2008 global economic crisis, and that South Korean firms are getting actively involved in infrastructure, chemical and other projects in Pakistan, the office said.

Zardari expressed gratitude for South Korea's official development aid to the country, and South Korea agreed to help Pakistan draw up a national development plan, known as the "Country Partnership Strategy," by the first half of next year, the office said.

Zardari also offered congratulations to South Korea on its election as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and the two countries agreed to strengthen cooperation at the global body. Pakistan also holds membership on the council.


http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2012/12/04/57/0301000000AEN20121204008900315F.HTML

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on World Bank report on infrastructure deficiency in South Asia:

ISLAMABAD: South Asia should spend as much as $2.5 trillion on infrastructure by 2020 to bring its power grids, roads and water supplies up to the standard required to serve its growing population, said a World Bank report on Wednesday.

“If South Asia hopes to meet its development goals and not risk slowing down — or even halting — growth, poverty alleviation and shared prosperity… it is essential to make closing its huge infrastructure gap a priority,” the report said in probably the first analysis of the region’s infrastructure needs.

The report, entitled “Reducing poverty by closing South Asia’s infrastructure gap”, says that “infrastructure deficiencies in South Asia are enormous, and a mix of investment in infrastructure stock and implementing supportive reforms will enable the region to close its infrastructure gap”.

Pakistan should invest $165 billion over ten years in improving infrastructure in transport, electricity, water and sanitation, solid waste, telecom and irrigation sectors, according to the report.

For the required investment in electricity sector of up to $96bn, Pakistan should generate funds through government-private sector partnership, the report said.

The average share of Pakistan in the total infrastructural investment in South Asia is only 12 per cent compared to 79 per cent by India, the report says.


http://www.dawn.com/news/1097656/s-asia-should-spend-more-to-serve-its-growing-population-report

Riaz Haq said...

The Executive Committee of National Economic Council on Thursday approved a dozen development schemes worth Rs428 billion including projects related to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and raising of Balochistan Constibulary.
Under the chair of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the ECNEC also approved the construction of Karachi-Multan-Lahore Motorway (KLM) Project’s Sukkur-Multan leg. The approval came just days before a Pakistani delegation is set to leave for China to discuss financing issues of infrastructure and energy sector projects that will be completed under the economic corridor project.
The 387 kilometer long Sukkur-Multan project will be completed at a cost of Rs259.4 billion. 90% of the project cost will be funded by China, according to a handout issued by Ministry of Finance after the ECNEC meeting. The remaining cost of the project will come from PSDP.
The project is expected to be completed by October 2017 and will be executed by National Highway Authority. The project envisages construction of 387 km long, six lanes, Sukkur-Multan section and is part of 1,148 km Karachi-Lahore Motorway.
The body also approved land acquisition, affected properties compensation and relocation of utilities for construction of the Motorway. This will cost Rs51 billion.
With the approval of the land acquisition and construction of a section of the Karachi-Lahore motorway, the issue of Pak-China corridor route has been settled. In order to address security concerns on the old western route through Balochistan, the government has opted for the new Eastern route despite protestations from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Balochistan parliamentarians.
The old route was along the western lines of the country but passes through some restive areas. Pakistan and China have agreed to construct the economic corridor that will give access to western parts of China to Gwadar port for international trade and secure energy supplies for the future.
Balochistan projects
The ECNEC approved a project for raising the Balochistan Constabulary at a cost of Rs5.2 billion. The project is aimed at assisting police and district administration in maintaining law and order in the crisis hit province.
The project will see a 10,000 strong Balochistan Constabulary for which 6,000 personnel will be recruited. 4,000 reserve police personnel will be merged into this force to raise it to 10,000 members.
The constabulary will also be responsible for ensuring security along the economic corridor.
Gwadar free trade zone
The body also approved acquisition of land for establishment of Free Trade Zone in Gwadar at a cost of Rs6.5 billion.
The project aims to acquire 2,281 acres of land for establishing a free trade zone at Gwadar Port. 1,627 acres of the required land would be acquired from private land owners.
The meeting also approved the widening and improvement of the 250 km long Kalat-Quetta-Chaman Road section of National Highway N-25 with a revised cost of Rs 19.2 billion.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/730784/ecnec-approves-construction-of-387-km-leg-of-karachi-lahore-motorway/

Riaz Haq said...

From Hindu: Comparison of Azad Kashmir and Indian Occupied Kashmir:

As a resident of Baramulla, I should have been able to make it to Muzaffarabad, the capital on the other side, within five hours by road, had the governments of India and Pakistan allowed our three-member delegation to travel on the much-vaunted cross LoC bus.

However, the walls between the two sides built over 60 years forced me to travel via Delhi-Lahore-Islamabad — the journey thus took me almost three days.

Nevertheless, this longer route was interesting in itself. The 180-km Islamabad-Muzaffarabad road reminded me of the winding Srinagar-Jammu highway, while the mountainscape and the gushing waters of the Jhelum resembled Patnitop and the waters of the Chenab.
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Muzaffarabad, with a population of just over 6,00,000, looks cleaner than Srinagar (PoK has 10 districts with an estimated population over three million in 2009). Even during my previous visit in 2004, I found that the stories of “under development in PoK,” fed to us on this side, are off the mark. This time, I noticed road connectivity and power supply to houses even on the upper reaches of a hill. In contrast, many villages in Jammu and Kashmir even today are without basic facilities. Neither does Muzaffarabad seem to be lagging behind in education and health compared to the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir though progress is more in tune with Pakistani literacy rates. In the past few years the development in these two sectors has been rapid. The literacy rate in PoK has touched 65 per cent which is higher than for any other area in Pakistan. In conversations, both the young and old in Muzaffarabad say that Pakistan has “never discriminated” against the region.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-other-kashmir/article2101764.ece

Riaz Haq said...

Indian airline SpiceJet hits buffalo during take-off

Correspondents say animals straying into Indian airports over the years have led to serious safety concerns. In June 2008, close to 100 flights were disrupted on a single day after a family of monitor lizards crawled out onto the Delhi airport runway, forcing its closure for an hour.

On other occasions, reports said jackals, antelopes, peacocks, porcupines, snakes, monkeys, foxes and dogs have strayed onto runways.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-29947409