Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Media and Telecom Sectors Growing in Pakistan

Pakistan's media and telecom revolution that began during the Musharaf years is continuing unabated.

In addition to financial services, the two key service sectors with explosive growth in last decade (1999-2009) in Pakistan include media and telecom, both of which have helped create jobs and empowered women.

Pakistan is among the five most dynamic economies of developing Asia in terms of increased penetration of mobile phones, internet and broadband, according to the Information Economy Report, 2009 published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad). Among the five countries in terms of mobile penetration in South Asia, Pakistan is placed at number three followed by Sri Lanka and Bhutan. Iran and Maldives are ranked above Pakistan.

In the area of internet penetration, Pakistan is placed third and for broadband penetration the country is ranked fourth.



The report sees the mobile industry as a ‘cash cow’ in some countries noting that Pakistan was experiencing significant macroeconomic problems, yet the mobile market steams ahead as the effects of the global economic recession on the global mobile network are so far limited.

With an increase of 38% over 2008, the television advertising revenue for 2009 in Pakistan was Rs 16.4 billion ((US $200m), accounting for about half of the total ad market during the year. The TV ad revenue is continuing to rise as a percentage of total ad revenue, mostly at the expense of the print media ads. The biggest spenders in 2009 were the telecom companies with Rs 8 billion, followed closely by fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector with Rs. 7 billion, as reported by Pakistan's GeoTV channel. FMCG products, as opposed to consumer durables such as home appliances, are generally low cost and replaced or fully used up over a short period of days, weeks, or months, and within one year. Other important sectors contributing to ad revenue are financial services and real estate, but these sectors have experienced significant slowdown with the current economic slump.

According to Daily Times, Chairman Mushtaq Malik of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has said that the cable television sector “is the fast growing segment among the electronic media ventures”. In the first 100 days of the current government, he has claimed that new licenses for 16 satellite TV channels, 10 FM radio stations, and 232 cable TV channels have been granted. It is anticipated that this would lead to additional investment worth Rs. 2.5 billion, generating 4000 additional jobs in this sector. The cable television sector alone is employing some 30,000 people in the country.

APP reported that overall size of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in Pakistan has crossed more than $ 12 billion, of which $ 1 billion is foreign direct investment (FDI). This was asserted by the Adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister on Information Technology Sardar Latif Khan Khosa while speaking at the inauguration of 5th Information & Communications Technology Exhibition and Conference - CONNECT 2010 at Karachi Expo Center.

He said Pakistan has one of the fastest growing the tele-density in the world, currently at 63.5 percent, while neighboring India is just 37 percent.

Khosa said there are more than 95 million mobile connections in the country and are still growing in numbers. This is exponential growth as mobile telephone market has seen a 14-fold increase since the year 2000, he added.

A pilot program in Pakistan has demonstrated the effectiveness of pushing mass literacy through the use of cell phone text messaging capability. The five-month experiment, initiated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), targeted 250 females aged 15 to 24 years old in three districts of Pakistan's Punjab province. In this pilot project which successfully concluded last month, the participant who have just completed the basic literacy course, were given a mobile phone each. They received three text messages a day in the local language. They were required to practice reading and writing the messages in their work book and reply to their teachers by text.

Here's a recent IEMR research report forecasting 135 million mobile phone subscribers in Pakistan by 2014:

"The wireless penetration rate is still low in Pakistan at approximately 60% in 2009, and we expect that the country's wireless market will continue to show strong growth. Our model forecasts that total mobile subscribers in Pakistan will increase from 96 million in 2009 to 134.8 million in 2014," said Nizar Assanie, Vice President (Research) at IEMR. "Mobilink will continue to be the largest player in Pakistan's mobile operator space over the next five years. We expect that Mobilink will have 36 million mobile subscribers in 2014. Also, given the latest quarter numbers, our model predicts that Ufone will have 25.8 million, Telenor will have 29 million, and Warid will have 25.3 million mobile subscribers by the end of 2014." "ARPU levels remain low in Pakistan's mobile operator space. We expect that the industry average ARPU will remain in the range of US$ 2 - US$ 3 over the next five years. Our model predicts that, in 2014, Mobilink's monthly ARPU will be at highest among operators at US$ 2.64. The operator with the lowest monthly ARPU will be Warid Telecom with US$ 1.67 in 2014," said Mr. Assanie.

IEMR's Pakistan Mobile Operator Forecast covers up to 50 financial and operational metrics on wireless operators in Pakistan - Mobilink (Pakistan Mobile Communications Limited), Ufone GSM, China Mobile Ltd. (Zong, formerly Paktel), Instaphone, Telenor ASA, and Warid Telecom International. Notable highlights of the 1Q10 Pakistan Mobile Operator Forecast include: * In terms of shares of total subscribers, we expect that Mobilink's market share will decline over the next five years, from 30% in 2009 to 26.7% in 2014. On the other hand, we expect China Mobile Pakistan's market share to increase from 8% in 2009 to 13.7% in 2014. We also forecast that market shares at Ufone, Telenor, and Warid will be approximately 19.2%, 21.6% and 18.8% respectively in 2014.

* Given the excellent performance by Norway's Telenor in Pakistan's wireless market in the recent past, our model forecasts that its EBITDA margin (calculated as EBITDA / reported revenue) will be increasing from about 23% in 2009 to 35% in 2014. On the other hand, we think that Mobilink will maintain its EBITDA margin of approximately 35% over the forecast period, 2010 - 2014.


Here's a video titled "I Am Pakistan":



Related Links:

Poverty Reduction Through Telecom Access

Pakistan's Telecom Boom

Pakistan Tops Text Message Growth

WiMax Rollout in Pakistan

Mobile Internet in Pakistan

Low Literacy Threatens Pakistan's Future

Gender Gap in South Asia

Mobile Financial Services in Pakistan

ITU Internet Access Data by Countries

Financial Services in Pakistan

Distance Learning in Pakistan

Top 5 ICT4D Trends in 2010

ICT4D in Pakistani Hospital

ITCN Asia 2010 Conference in Karachi

State of Telecom Industry in Pakistan

92 comments:

Anonymous said...

'He said Pakistan has one of the fastest growing the tele-density in the world, currently at 63.5 percent, while neighboring India is just 37 percent.'

I am afraid he is mistaken India's current tele density is 54.10%

Please refer:

http://trak.in/tags/business/2010/06/02/india-mobile-subscriber-growth/

Anonymous said...

interestingly the Pakistani government doesn't seem to be getting too much money from telecom.
I mean India recently netted a very tidy INR 67000 crore auctioning 3G licenses an amount that will go someway to tide over the current fiscal defecit.

The point being could the higher tele density in Pakistan be explained by the very low cost of bandwidth which leads to a lower end user cost compared to India.Just wondering..

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "I mean India recently netted a very tidy INR 67000 crore auctioning 3G licenses an amount that will go someway to tide over the current fiscal defecit."

Pakistan has not yet done 3G spectrum auction. It is expected to bring in billions when it goes forward this year.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Business Recorder story about the launch of a new broadband company in Pakistan:

KARACHI (May 28 2010): Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Qubee, Mubashir Naqvi on Thursday announced the formal launch of Qubee broadband internet service in Pakistan. The Qubee service has begun in Karachi through its stores besides a network of local distributors, he said at press conference held at a local hotel. "The internet broadband growth has been forecast to reach about 4.3 million users by the end of 2013 in Pakistan at an unprecedented rate," he added.

Keeping in view the whole scenario, he said, there was a vast opportunity for wireless broadband providers to capitalise on the unexploited market in the country. Naqvi was of the view that the economic and social uplift of a country was altogether linked to the broadband access. Pakistan is amongst the most dynamic telecom economies in terms of internet growth, he cited the observation of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development 2010.

With an initial investment of 70 million dollar in Pakistan, he said, Qubee was planning to seize the opportunity of huge untapped market, adding, "Qubee is responsible for the direct employment of over 120 people in Karachi, which is set to grow to 250 people by the end of the year."

Naqvi said that Qubee would also be available in Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi by the end of the current year to expand its network base across Pakistan over the next few years. CEO Qubee observed that the demand for internet connectivity had never been high in the country, saying that the new broadband service would go fully to satisfy its customers with reliable and undistorted download within a range of affordable packages.

With the brand name Qubee is a wireless broadband internet service provider of Augere Holdings Plc, in Pakistan. It offers connectivity through a technology called WiMax [World-wide Inter-operability for Microwave Access]. The minimum package is Rs 750 a month with 512 Kbps speed and six GB downloading capacity, while the internet gadget is offered to costumers free of cost. The other packages range between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 with different speed slabs and download capacity a month, he told Business Recorder earlier.

Anonymous said...

that isn't a very smart move WiMax uses the exact same frequency band as GSM-LTE(4G) and is a broadband only standard i.e no telephony capability.

That is the reason its been denied spectrum in Europe,China and Japan.

Even in India its only running on a demo basis in some parts with most of the telecom players rooting for GSM-LTE,so...

The rates also look very expensive:
In India good old fashioned DSL is used to give u bandwidth upto 50MBPs for home users.

A standard 4 MBPS unlimited monthly plan costs about Rs 899(so approx PKR 1500)

WiMax 4G on the other hand is something like 150-300MBPS(theoretical max of 1GBPS) so there is something seriously wrong with a plan to offer a 512 kbps connection on WiMax.

Riaz Haq said...

On a national level, television is the dominant communication medium in Pakistan. But radio radio listenership in Pakistan remains strong in certain areas of the country. This is particularly the case in rural areas and less economically developed provinces, according to audiencescapes.org.

Specifically, in the rural areas of the Baluchistan province, 46 percent of respondents said they listen to the radio at least weekly, rivaling rural television viewership at 47 percent. While in rural areas of the other three provinces surveyed (the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), Punjab, and Sind), radio listenership is strong but is still lower than TV viewership.

In regions such as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA, not surveyed), where the Taliban has held control over certain areas for a significant period of time, radio transmissions are often people’s main source of entertainment and news, mainly because religious extremists disrupt television broadcasts through frequent sabotage. Mainstream newspapers are also not available; many villages are difficult to access and selling publications can be risky for the seller. In addition, within the FATA region and much of the NWFP, television sets are simply too expensive and access to electricity is spotty.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg report on PTCL's broadband expansion plans in Pakistn:

May 6 (Bloomberg) -- Pakistan Telecommunication Co., the biggest phone service provider, plans to expand its network of Internet broadband users to over three million in five years, as it seeks to take back revenue from rivals, the chief executive officer said.

“Broadband has huge potential in Pakistan,” Walid Irshaid said in a call for investors from Islamabad today. “We plan to have a 70 percent share of the market in five years.”

Pakistan Telecom has lost business to competitors including Telenor Asa., and China Mobile Communications Ltd. since 2004 when the government gave licenses to non-state telephone companies to start business, ending its monopoly. Pakistan Telecom’s revenue fell to 13.7 billion rupees ($162.6 million) in the three months ended March 31, from 13.9 billion rupees a year ago, according to an April 29 filing.

Emirates Telecommunications Corp. plans to purchase another 25 percent in Pakistan Telecom, Irshaid said, without saying when the transaction would take place. Emirates Telecommunications, the state-owned telephone provider in the United Arab Emirates, won management control of Pakistan Telecom in April 2006 after it bought a 26 percent stake in the company for $2.6 billion.

Pakistan Telecom shares, which have risen 22 percent this year, fell 0.1 percent to 21.61 rupees on the Karachi Stock Exchange today.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's how Pakistani middle class is helping the flood victims in Pakistan, according to Christian Science Monitor:

Ain-ul-Ghazala, a local Pakistani doctor, says what motivated her to take matters into her own hands came down to what she saw on television. Images of immense misery and destruction brought about by the worst floods in Pakistan in recent memory unfolded before her eyes, and she says she couldn't sit still.

She had noticed hundreds of tents setup on the streets of her hometown, where various groups sought funds and materials. But despite hearing repeated calls for more aid, tales of corruption deterred her from donating to the government or aid organizations, and she didn’t want to give her money to Islamist groups like Jamat-ud-Dawa.

“No one trusts the government anymore, so I wanted to see the situation for myself and do what I could to help,” she explains. As the effects of the disaster wound into a third week, the gynecologist, who works at a private hospital owned by her husband, decided to set off to the flood-afflicted southern Punjab region along with her three adult daughters and one of their friends, also a female medical doctor.

Over the course of two days, they distributed, tents and food, while the two doctors checked in on some 200 patients in Kot Addu, near Muzaffargarh. “There were a lot of people suffering," she says. On top of the health problems, "some didn’t have anything to wear - they were without any clothes,” she says. “We gave iron and calcium supplements to the pregnant women, and ended up seeing a few male patients, too.”
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According to Rasul Baksh Raees, head of social sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, the reach and influence of civil society has grown as Pakistan’s middle classes have become more affluent, organized (thanks in no small part to the Internet age), and confident.

In recent years, Pakistan’s civil society has made headlines for its activism. Indeed, students and middle-class professionals joined lawyers in a movement to restore the country’s popular Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was removed from office twice in recent years by former military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Ms. Ali says she used Facebook to solicit contributions from relatives, friends, and friends of friends both at home and abroad. She raised some $2,300, transmitted either to her mother’s bank account or via Western Union transfers, to spend on "family packs" (food items, flour, cooking oils, sugar, lentils, and candles) for the victims of the flooding in Swat. Mr. Khurram and half-a-dozen friends, meanwhile, organized a couple of truckloads of meals and traveled to Swat to hand over supplies to the Army for distribution.

The group was stranded for three days by landslides but then traveled to the village of Solgarah in Pakistan’s northwest to setup a Tandoor kitchen that would feed 50 families for 10 days.

“Naturally we don’t have enough donations for everyone,” says Khurram. “So we tried to make sure the same families aren’t getting the same stuff again and again.”
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The open-source platform was originally created in Kenya and called Ushahidi, Swahili for "testimony." It maps user reports of events sent via text message, e-mail, the Web and Twitter. Explains Mr. Chohan: “We believe the mobile [phone] is the best way to communicate with people in normal conditions as well as disasters. This was tried and tested in Kenya and Haiti. Why not put all this first line of reporting on mobiles in Pakistan?” With more than 90 million mobile phone users, he says, it has the potential to become the largest deployment of Ushahidi anywhere in the world.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story in Express Tribune about the launch of Newsweek Pakistan edition:

KARACHI: Media insiders expect cut-throat competition in the English print media market as two new publications enter the once stagnant market that has already witnessed one launch this year (The Express Tribune). The first is the Pakistan edition of US based Newsweek Pakistan which is set to launch today despite facing ongoing losses in the international market.

It, along with many other media entities including the New York Times (a partner paper of The Express Tribune in Pakistan) faces a difficult future as the rise of the internet coupled with the decline of a newspaper reading population in Western nations has battered their profit margins.

The second newspaper set to launch later this year is Pakistan Today, a daily newspaper to be published from Lahore by former publisher of The Nation, Arif Nizami.

Editor of Newsweek Pakistan, Fasih Ahmed says the localised version of the international current affairs magazine will have double the print run as compared to that of the international edition. “Newsweek has been around in Pakistan for years,” he says “we are not taking a risk.”

This is the eighth international edition of the magazine as Newsweek has been spreading its wings in the face of massive losses.

The English-language weekly had been on the block for over three months ever since the Washington Post Company announced $30 million in losses last year alone, until 91-year-old audio equipment magnate Sidney Harman agreed to buy the flailing publication earlier this month.

Alongside the sale, there has been a departure of key editors, the most notable being Fareed Zakaria, who has left Newsweek to join its competitor Time magazine as a contributing editor and columnist.

However, Ahmed says the change in ownership will have no impact on the new magazine’s fortunes in Pakistan. “Unlike Newsweek Asia which is currently available in the market, the magazine is to offer readers thirty percent global news with seventy percent homegrown, local coverage.” Ahmed says it is the same ratio that is followed by all of Newsweek’s 11 international editions distributed in more than 190 countries.

Owais Aslam Ali, chairman of Pakistan Press International expects other international publications to follow suit. “Eastern markets are more viable,” he says. “International newspapers and magazines have brand value which they can use to their advantage. They can go much further with lesser investment.”

Riaz Haq said...

Foreign investment in Pakistan declined 34% in 2 months, says a report in Daily Times:

KARACHI: Net foreign investment in the country fell 34.1 percent to $267 million in the first two months of the fiscal year 2010-11 (FY11) as compared with $405.4 million in the same period last year, the State Bank of Pakistan said on Friday. Out of the total foreign investment, foreign direct investment (FDI) fell 50.2 percent in July and August to $171.4 million from $344.5 million in the same period last year, the central bank said. A worsening security situation, with a Taliban insurgency in the country’s northwest, coupled with chronic power shortages has put off investors, analysts say. There was a net inflow of $95.6 million in the first two months of the FY11, as compared with a net inflow of $60.9 million in the same period last year. On monthly basis, FDI to the country witnessed a decline of 31 percent in the month of August 2010 to stand at $69.5 million as compared to $101.9 million in the previous month. According to the latest data, the foreign private investment recorded a decline of 18.49 percent as it dropped by $26.6 million to stand at $117.2 million as compared to $143.8 million last month. However, portfolio investment reached $47.7 million in the second month of the current fiscal year as compared to $41.8 million in the first month, showing an increase of 14.11 percent. An International Monetary Fund (IMF) emergency loan package agreed in November 2008 helped Pakistan avert a balance of payments crisis and shore up reserves. It received the fifth tranche of $1.13 billion of the IMF loan of $11 billion in May and Pakistan and IMF authorities are going to meet in November to discuss the release of the sixth tranche. The IMF on Wednesday approved as expected $451 million in emergency funding for Pakistan to help the country rebuild from devastating floods. This was separate from the $11 billion IMF program

Riaz Haq said...

“Media Subdues The Public. It’s So In India, Certainly”, says Noam Chomsky, Prof Emeritus of Linguistics and Media a MIT.

Here are a few quotes from an Outlook India interview with Noam Chomsky:

"I spent three weeks in India and a week in Pakistan. A friend of mine here, Iqbal Ahmed, told me that I would be surprised to find that the media in Pakistan is more open, free and vibrant than that in India.

In Pakistan, I read the English language media which go to a tiny part of the population. Apparently, the government, no matter how repressive it is, is willing to say to them that you have your fun, we are not going to bother you. So they don’t interfere with it.

The media in India is free, the government doesn’t have the power to control it. But what I saw was that it was pretty restricted, very narrow and provincial and not very informative, leaving out lots of things. What I saw was a small sample. There are very good things in the Indian media, specially the Hindu and a couple of others. But this picture (in India) doesn’t surprise me. In fact, the media situation is not very different in many other countries. The Mexican situation is unusual. La Jornada is the only independent newspaper in the whole hemisphere."

"As soon as the plan to invade Iraq was announced, the media began serving as a propaganda agency for the government. The same was true for Vietnam, for state violence generally. The media is called liberal because it is liberal in the sense that Obama is. For example, he’s considered as the principled critic of the Iraq war. Why? Because, right at the beginning, he said it was a strategic blunder. That’s the extent of his liberalism. You could read such comments in Pravda in 1985. The people said that the invasion of Afghanistan was a strategic blunder. Even the German general staff said that Stalingrad was a strategic blunder. But we don’t call that principled criticism."

"Perhaps the period of greatest real press freedom was in the more free societies of Britain and the US in the late 19th century. There was a great variety of newspapers, most often run by the factory workers, ethnic communities and others. There was a lot of popular involvement. These papers reflected a wide variety of opinions, were widely read too. It was the period of greatest vibrancy in the US. There were efforts, especially in England, to control and censor it. These didn’t work. But two things pretty much eliminated them. One, it was possible for the corporate sector to simply put so much capital into their own newspapers that others couldn’t compete. The other factor was advertising; advertiser-reliance. Advertisers are businesses. When newspapers become dependent on advertisers for their income, they are naturally going to bend to the interest of advertisers.

If you look at the New York Times, maybe the world’s greatest newspaper, they have the concept of news hole. What that means is that in the afternoon when they plan for the following day’s newspaper, the first thing they do is to layout where the advertising is going to be, because that’s an important part of a newspaper. You then put the news in the gaps between advertisements. In television there is a concept called content and fill. The content is the advertising, the fill is car chase, the sexy or whatever you put in to try to keep the viewer watching in between the ads. That’s a natural outcome when you have advertiser-reliance."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on the launch of web-based Maati TV in Pakistan:

LAHORE: Music Art and Technology Informatrix (Maati Tv) will mainly serve as a platform for the youth to share their stories of social and development sectors.

The web television will work on the principle of non-corporate parallel media. A project of Interactive Resource Centre (IRC) in collaboration with the South Asian Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK) and the Church World Service Pakistan/Afghanistan (CWS), Maati TV will initially have its correspondents in 20 districts and different educational institutions across the country.

In Punjab, Maati Tv will have its correspondents in Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur and Faisalabad. In Sindh the correspondents will be located in Karachi, Hyderabad, Dadu and Juhi. Balochistan will have its representatives in Quetta and Jaffarabad while in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa it will have correspondents in Mardan, Peshawar and Kohat. The web television will also have representation in Gilgit and Hunza.

The correspondents from these districts will make documentaries on social and developmental issues which will be uploaded on the website. The head office of the web television will be in Karachi.

Executive Director of the IRC Muhammad Waseem told The Express Tribune that the organisation has trained the correspondents in documentary making, “We have worked in different educational institutions on peace building and students will also make documentaries on different social and developmental subjects. We have provided cameras and editing units to our correspondents and their documentaries will mainly only be three-minute long.” The youth does not have a platform to speak about social problems and this television will provide them with a platform to get involved in the social building process, he added.

Programme Manager IRC Nasir Sohail said, “Maati TV will be like Democracy Now, a non-corporate media in the US, we have also added the option of blogging in it. People can write their blogs or articles and we will generate debates on our documentaries or our blogs”.

When asked about data management of the site, he said, “We will have multi servers. We have this thing in mind and have sorted this out. Honorarium would be given to the correspondents for making each documentary”.

The television will also incorporate cell phone videos. “There will be a section in which we will have mobile phone videos. People can make documentaries on any social issue and we will upload them,” said Waseem.

Flood relief activities

Maati TV will focus on the rehabilitation work in flood-hit areas through a special segment. “The locals in the flood hit areas will serve as watchdogs. They will make documentaries on the relief activities and we will upload them on our website,” said Waseem. By 2012, 70 percent population of Pakistan is going to be under 30 and that is our target audience. When asked about the financial feasibility of the project he said, “We intend to have google ads and meet our expenses from there. Another option is that we will focus on corporate social responsibility and generate funds for it. If things go as per plan this project should become self sustaining in a year.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Maplecroft risk warning for investing in India, according to Times of India:

LONDON: The United Kingdom-based Global Risks Atlas 2011 on Friday described India as the 16th riskiest country to invest in for the security hazards it poses and rather embarrassingly clubs it with Niger, Bangladesh and Mali. The Atlas is published by Maplecroft, a consultancy founded by Alyson Warhurst, chair of strategy and international development at Warwick Business School.

The evaluation is structured on seven key global risks including macroeconomic risk and threats around security, governance, resource security, climate change, social resilience and illicit economies.

Maplecroft assessed India faces simultaneous threats of terrorist attacks from Islamists and Maoists. It also points at India's lack of social resilience despite a robust economic growth and cites its poor human rights record. It says large sections of the population lack access to basic services such as education, healthcare and sanitation, and highlights its less productive workforce, greater susceptibility to pandemics and susceptible to social unrest.


A press release by Maplecroft lumps Pakistan with Russia on investment risk:

Dynamic political risks constitute immediate threats to business and Maplecroft rates 11 countries as ‘extreme risk.’ Most significantly, the emerging economy of Russia has moved up five places from 15th to enter the top ten for the first time, whilst Pakistan has also moved two places up the ranking to 9th.

The ‘extreme risk’ countries now include: Somalia (1), DR Congo (2), Sudan (3), Myanmar (4), Afghanistan (5), Iraq (6), Zimbabwe (7), North Korea (8), Pakistan (9), Russia (10) and Central African Republic (11).

Russia’s increased risk profile reflects both the heightened activity of militant Islamist separatists in the Northern Caucasus and their ambition to strike targets elsewhere in the country. Russia has suffered a number of devastating terrorist attacks during 2010, including the March 2010 Moscow Metro bombing, which killed 40 people. Such attacks have raised Russia’s risk profile in the Terrorism Risk Index and Conflict and Political Violence Index. The country’s poor performance is compounded by its ‘extreme risk’ ratings for its business environment, corporate governance and the endemic nature of corruption, which is prevalent throughout all tiers of government.
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Jim O’Neil, Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, states: "Growth is happening where political risk is most challenging. So, meticulous monitoring and mitigation now will enable business to flourish and benefit from the opportunities presented by the future growth economies of the BRICs and Next 11".

Looking to the longer term, the BRICs countries are witnessing increasingly worse structural political risk trends for 2011. China (25), India (32) and Russia (51), rated ‘high risk’ and Brazil (97) medium risk, have all seen risks increase compared to scores from last year’s Atlas.

Riaz Haq said...

Sesame Street is launching an adaptation of its children's tv show produced in Urdu for Pakistani audience, according to the Guardian newspaper.

There's no Cookie Monster, no Big Bird and no Count von Count.

But Pakistani children will soon start experiencing what millions in the west have done for more than four decades – the joys of Sesame Street.

In a $20m (£12m) remake of the classic American children's programme, the setting for the show has moved from the streets of New York to a lively village in Pakistan with a roadside tea and snacks stall, known as a dhaba, some fancy houses with overhanging balconies along with simple dwellings, and residents hanging out on their verandas.

The Pakistani version, in which characters will speak mostly in Urdu, will feature Rani, a cute six-year-old Muppet, the child of a peasant farmer, with pigtails, flowers in her hair and a smart blue-and-white school uniform. Her curiosity and questions about the world will, it is hoped, make her a role model for Pakistani children.


Sesame Street International already co-produces 18 localized version, including those in Bangladesh and India, and reaches millions of children in 120 nations around the world.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd. (PTCL) is to implement VDSL2 bonding technology to deliver speeds of up to 50 Mbps to its existing DSL subscriber base, using solutions from Alcatel-Lucent, according to Broadband World Forum:

Alcatel-Lucent is to provide PTCL with its Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM) IP access platform, as well as its bonding-ready customer premises equipment (CPE).

Alcatel-Lucent will also serve as the project's master network integrator, and will provide a range of professional services, including project management, installation and commissioning, integration and technical support.

VDSL2 bonding works by taking two copper-based VDSL2 lines per subscriber and aggregating them, thereby almost doubling the bandwidth available to existing customers.

Riaz Haq said...

PTCL and Alcatel-Lucent are launching 50Mbs service in Pakistan, according to Daily Times:

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) and Alcatel-Lucent in a joint press conference held on Friday announced the launch of VDSL2 Bonding technology for the first time in Pakistan pioneering the commercial use of this technology in the telecom industry globally.

PTCL will be the first service provider to deploy a commercial VDSL2 Bonding solution, showing “our commitment to take the broadband service experience in Pakistan to the next level.”

PTCL will be using VDSL2 Bonding technology to provide existing digital subscriber line (DSL) customers with speeds up to 50 Mbps. The project leverages Alcatel-Lucent’s (Euro next Paris and NYSE: ALU) VDSL2 Bonding expertise and will be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2011.

VDSL2 Bonding takes two copper-based VDSL2 lines per subscriber and aggregates them—almost doubling the bandwidths available to existing customers, or expanding high-speed broadband access to areas that are underserved today. Using VDSL2 Bonding, service providers can extend the life of their existing copper infrastructure - supporting the delivery of bandwidth-intensive services such as triple-play voice, data and HDTV.

According to a recent study from market research firm IHS iSuppli, simultaneous access to applications such as peer-to-peer file sharing, online gaming, streaming audio, VoIP and IPTV will soon require bandwidths between 50 and 100Mbps. This fits exactly with VDSL2’s capabilities—especially when combined with innovations such as Bonding and Vectoring.

Commenting on this achievement, Walid Irshaid, President and CEO of PTCL stated “PTCL is the first service provider worldwide to deploy a commercial VDSL2 Bonding solution that aims at doubling the bandwidths provided to its existing customers. We are thus setting the trend in international telecom, and are taking the broadband experience in Pakistan to the next level. Alcatel-Lucent’s VDSL2 Bonding technology and comprehensive services and network integration expertise is helping us to keep pace with the increasing bandwidth requirements of our customers, while capitalizing on the existing copper infrastructure. This will enable us to quickly deliver high-quality, high-speed and high-availability business and residential services – even in areas where it was not possible before.”

Alcatel-Lucent is providing PTCL with its Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM) IP access platform – which is the first platform to commercially support VDSL2 Bonding. Alcatel-Lucent will also supply Bonding-ready customer premises equipment (CPE). Alcatel-Lucent serves as the project’s master network integrator, and is providing a range of professional services – including project management, installation and commissioning, integration and technical support.

“We understand that service providers need the right tools to bridge the gap until fiber deployments become ubiquitous. VDSL2 Bonding is an ideal approach: service providers like PTCL can almost double the speeds supported by their DSL infrastructure or expand their network’s reach. This makes it a fast and cost-effective approach to bridging the digital divide,” said Aadil Rauf CEO Alcatel-Lucent.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Business Monitor Inc (BMI) forecast for Pakistan's telecom services:

The number of mobile subscribers in Pakistan reached the 100mn mark in September 2010 and is expected to continue its growth momentum due to the relatively low penetration rate. In this quarter, BMI has adjusted our mobile forecasts and we forecast 136.078mn subscribers in Pakistan by end-2015, representing a penetration rate of 70.3%.
We could see the launch of commercial 3G services in 2011 after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority announced plans to submit its proposal to the government. We will revisit our forecasts for the number of 3G and mobile subscribers in the country when the plan is successfully implemented and details of the licence are revealed.
Pakistan’s broadband subscriber base reached 1.053mn in October 2010, an increase of 63.5% from the 643,892 in December 2009. While DSL remained the main technology used to access broadband services in the country, alternative wireless solutions WiMAX and EV-DO are catching up fast. The number of DSL users grew by 96.5% from 262,661 in June 2009. By contrast, subscriber figures of WiMAX and EV-DO increased by 246.6% and 708.5% over the same period to reach 306,665 and 181,947 respectively. The popularity of mobile broadband services is likely due to more affordable pricing plans bundled with low-cost mobile devices. Moreover, two-thirds of the population reside in rural areas where fixed-line infrastructure remains poor and wireless broadband service therefore becomes an attractive and relatively cheaper method to bring connectivity to the underserved regions.
Pakistan continued its decline on BMI’s Business Environment Ratings for the Asia-Pacific region. Although the country scored relatively well on the Industry Rewards and Risks segment, we note the country faces significant downside pressure on the macroeconomic front. While we upgraded the country’s headline growth forecast figure to 1.5% for FY2010/11 (July-June), we remain cautious as industrial activity continues to contract and rising lending rates hold back activity. Over the medium term, the country' s economic prospects remain bleak as the lack of domestic resources hampers recovery and reconstruction. Moreover, the country is at risk of experiencing years of instability and militant activity. Pakistan fell to 11th position from 10th position in BMI’s latest Business Environment Ratings in Q111 due to a decrease in the country’s Industry Rewards score, which dropped to 55.0 from 60.0 in the previous quarter. BMI’s own damage assessment suggests that the country will struggle to generate any meaningful real GDP growth in FY10/11 (July-June). Even after the clean-up operations are complete, we are unlikely to witness a return to the days of plus-5% economic growth (last seen between 2002 and 2007), as the government' s poor fiscal health and a protracted internal struggle against extremist elements weigh heavily on private sector demand. We believe that Pakistan' s business environment will remain highly challenging, with the shaky security situation and a dire energy shortage continuing to weigh on economic activity, particularly much-needed investment.

Riaz Haq said...

Considering all the massive negative propaganda in the Indian and western media about Pakistan, it is interesting to see that some Americans are noticing the 50 Mbps broadband access build-out in the "failed state" of Pakistan by a state-owned telephone company.

In a provocatively titled post "Osama bin Laden Getting Faster Internet Than You Have: Pakistan’s 50Mbps Future", an American blogger Philip Dampier complains as follows: "While America’s heartland is being wired for 3Mbps DSL service, residents in Pakistan are getting ready for speeds up to 50Mbps thanks to a major broadband expansion in the country".

Riaz Haq said...

Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered the govt to restore Geo Super's satellite license immediately.

Having lost the court battle, the PPP govt and PEMRA are now likely to respond by encouraging significant competition in sports coverage by giving terrestrial transmission licenses to Geo's competitors to hurt Geo's profits.

It'll be a good outcome for consumers and advertisers alike. It will give them more choices in sports media space. It'll improve and increase sports coverage overall...and encourage more youths to participate in athletics and sports.

Riaz Haq said...

It's not unusual for militaries in various nations to make films, nor is this is Pak Army's first foray in film-making.

Life of a Siachen Soldier, a documentary produced by Pakistan Army, won the top prize at the International Film Festival "Eserciti-e-popoli" (armies and people) held in Rome, Italy in 2009. Armed Forces representatives from 21 countries, including Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States, participated in the contest where 150 documentaries were screened in different categories. Pakistan Army’s documentary won the first prize in the category of training and was awarded Chief of Army Staff trophy

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/11/pakistani-army-documentary-wins-top.html

But Wall Street Journal does not seem to know this fact as obvious from the following story:

Pakistan's powerful army is involved in domestic politics, foreign affairs and defending the nation's soil from attack. Now it can add a new stripe to its uniform: television production house.

The military is funding a TV action series aimed at showcasing its role in fighting Taliban militants. To keep costs down, the army employs soldiers as actors, with no extra pay for their services, and uses real military equipment. The army says the stories are based on real-life encounters on the battlefield.

The series, "Faseel-e-Jaan Se Aagay," or "Beyond the Call of Duty," is low-budget. The soldiers' acting is wooden. Each episode costs only $12,000, and the special effects look dated. Yet the Urdu-language series, which started in January and began a second season earlier this month on state-owned Pakistan Television Corp., has been a hit, especially among rural viewers.

In the recent season opener, two helicopter pilots who stormed a Taliban mountain redoubt in 2009 played themselves. In the show, as in real life, the pilots had lost a colleague during an operation earlier that year to clear militants from South Waziristan, a mountainous tribal region near the Afghan border. Against orders, they flew a retaliatory mission against the Taliban and captured an anti-aircraft gun that militants had used to shoot down their friend's helicopter. They are reprimanded but become heroes nevertheless.

The pilots are portrayed as sensitive family men and cool sunglass-wearing aviators. When they are about to fire their weapons, they break into English, saying things like "Going in. Going hot," and "The miscreants are engaged." The battle scenes are set to Western rock music.

"I am a soldier by my heart and mind. I only agreed [to] acting to pay homage to my fellow aviators and soldiers," said Maj. Zahid Bari, one of the two pilots.

The director, Kashif Nisar, said he finds it easier to teach soldiers to act than actors to look like soldiers. Officers only need to be guided on acting skills, while professional actors need to be taught "action tactics, carrying of uniform, carrying of weapons, mannerisms and body language of a soldier," he said.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304319804576389500987371470.html?mod=googlenews_wsj#articleTabs%3Darticle

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an Op Ed by Bilal Baloch published in The Guardian:

China's trade presence in Pakistan has been growing for decades. The steady, indirect approach is something either to marvel at for the emerging superpower's foresight, or to note down for its good fortune. In 2010, trade between the two countries reached a whopping $8.7bn: not bad for a nation wrestling with militancy. Above all else, the Chinese have come to represent reliability in Pakistan in a way that the Americans simply have not – despite the fact that the US, too, pumps billions of dollars into Pakistan every year.

The Americans, clearly, are not getting the right kind of bang for their buck. China has truly won the hearts of the populace, if not minds; this, in turn, has cultivated trust between the two countries. Yet, for the Chinese to nurture and build connections in Pakistani civil society may be a long way away, as the hyper-politicised people of Pakistan are far removed from the political leanings of the Chinese. Enter, America.

For both legal and security reasons, the US does not carry out extensive trade in Pakistan. After all, without the necessary security for Americans, Pakistan represents a high-risk destination; and of this Pakistanis themselves are perhaps most disadvantaged. But this does not mean that trade relationships in the future should be discounted. Looking at the success of the Chinese approach, a long-term strategy to create jobs and business opportunities for Pakistanis and Americans is plausible. Currently, however, Pakistanis are disenchanted by American foreign policy.

Pakisatani anti-Americanism has always been interpreted as ideological abhorrence of the US. This may be the case for the militant minority that causes the biggest headache, but, in fact, that anti-Americanism may be driven more generally by an asymmetry of information – and what Pakistanis perceive as US support for a government that does not cater well to the needs of its own people. But the current most significant American exports to Pakistan – Facebook and Twitter – have changed the face of communication opportunities available to regular Pakistanis. Some 20 million Pakistanis are frequently online: that's 10-15% of the population. This incidental creation of a virtual civil society has not gone unnoticed: last week, the American consulate organised an international social media summit in Karachi, where internet-savvy journalists and bloggers came together from neighbouring countries and throughout Pakistan to discuss ventures such as "Harass Map" in Pakistan. It's these citizen connections, enabling Pakistanis themselves to build civil society in Pakistan, that can overcome security concerns both locally and internationally.

China may have discovered trade as a key to Pakistan's strategic value; but the US is better-placed to make the relationships that will count.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jun/19/pakistan-china-us-social-media

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report about social media summit in Karachi:

KARACHI: Over 200 bloggers from across Pakistan interacted with their fellows from Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, USA and Netherlands at Network Pakistan’s first-ever international social media summit.

The event began with a panel discussion on ‘Education and Good Governance, Women and Social Activism in New Era of Media’, and ‘Monetizing Your Social Media Space’.

These discussions were followed by 20 different breakout sessions with five sessions underway simultaneously on different aspects of social media. The bloggers also interacted via Skype with WordPress and Twitter representatives. “I am thrilled to be here today and see so many people here who actively blog and use social media for bringing about a positive change. Pakistan has a lively and active blogging community, where over three million citizen journalists can freely report on and discuss any topic,” stated US Consul General William Martin in his keynote address. Express Tribune Editor Kamal Siddiqi and Intel Pakistan Country Manager Naveed Siraj welcomed the participants and expressed the hope that the summit would become an annual event. The daylong interactive summit was sponsored jointly by PC World, Google, Intel, Raffles (Pakistan’s Authorized Apple Distributor) and media partners, including Newsweek Pakistan, Express Media Group, City 89 FM and the US Consulate General in Karachi.

International participants included Mohamed El Dahshan (Egypt), Hanny Kusumawati and Anandita Puspitasari (Indonesia), Rebecca Chiao (Egypt), Ong Hock Chuan (Malaysia), Claire Diaz Ortiz (US) and Karim Osman (Netherlands). Prominent bloggers from Pakistan included Raza Rumi, Awab Alvi, Sana Saleem, Naveen Naqvi, AJ Shirazi, Imtiaz Muhammad, Ali Abbas Zaidi, Shehrbano Taseer and Yasser Latif Hamdani. Showcasing Pakistan’s active social media community, bloggers traveled from Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Hala, Gujranwala, Wah Cantt and Quetta for the summit.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of an Op Ed by William Martin, US Consul General, published in The Express Tribune:


Perhaps showing the generation gap, I did not know that Pakistan has such a lively and active blogging community, with over three million citizen-journalists freely reporting on virtually every topic under the sun. Pakistan has one of the fastest-growing Facebook and Twitter-using populations in the world, with over four million Facebook users. Remarkably, the per capita internet access in Pakistan is between 10-15 per cent of the total population — more than double that of neighbouring India. Using even the most conservative estimates, 20 million Pakistanis are regularly online, or the equivalent of the population of four Singapores.

Pakistan enjoys tremendous freedom of information and online expression. As a representative of the United States, I am keenly aware of the vibrancy of that free speech every time I log in to my computer or pick up a newspaper. Although a bit bruised sometimes, I welcome it! By amplifying the diversity of voices, social media is making life a richer experience for us all. And this is possible because Pakistanis are using their freedom of expression every day, online. Blogging is reinforcing the backbone of democracy – freedom of speech – a freedom that is enshrined in the US Constitution.

In Pakistan, the freedom of the press was earned over time, through the sacrifices of its people, especially the sacrifices of those in the media community. Journalists and bloggers now play a central role in the effort to institutionalise these hard won freedoms.

We must never forget, the many journalists who have been killed or injured as they sought to report on the challenges facing us today. They take extraordinary risks to enlighten us with the truth. Nobody embodied this commitment more than Syed Saleem Shahzad, who was senselessly murdered trying to pursue this truth. All of us are diminished by his passing. But, there is no doubt that his work will continue and others will pick up the baton and carry on. It is up to each of us to honour his legacy and do all we can to support press freedom as a fundamental right to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. Blog on.

Riaz Haq said...

According the LIRNEasia’s 2011 Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) survey, stakeholders in India, Pakistan and Indonesia have identified the telecom regulatory environments in their countries as improved since 2008, the last time the survey was carried out. In contrast, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines have seen the regulatory environments decline in effectiveness, while Thailandremains more-or-less the same.

The TRE Survey asks senior level stakeholders to evaluate the effectiveness of the telecom regulatory environment in the fixed, mobile and broadband subsectors along a Lickert scale of 1 to 5 (1 being highly ineffective and 5 being highly effective, with the mid-point of 3 being considered average performance). Seven different dimensions of regulation (market entry, tariff regulation, interconnection, universal service, anti-competitive-practices, quality of service) are evaluated by the stakeholders. This year, 349 responded participated in the 7 countries.

Within a country, scores for each of the dimensions reflect specific issues: for example, in India, the lowest score (of 2.3 out of 5) was received by the Access to Scarce Resources dimension in the mobile-sub-sector. This is perhaps not surprising given the 2G scandals in India. However, India did finally get around to allocating 3G spectrum in 2010, and did so by having its first ever spectrum auctions. Perhaps because of this, or because stakeholders believe that that the 2G scandal has finally paved way for transparency in allocation, the score of 2.3 this year is still an improvement, though marginal, over the 2008 score of 2.2. India’s USD 4 billion+ undisbursed Universal Service Fund and related policies are responsible for its biggest TRE score decline: the TRE for USO drops from 3.1 in 2008 to 2.4 this year. In contrast, tariff regulation in the mobile sub-sector continues to be the top performer with a score of 3.9 out of 5.0, indicating stakeholder satisfaction at TRAI’s policy of forbearance which has enabled Indian consumers to enjoy extremely low prices thanks to competitive forces.

Pakistan saw an increased in almost all dimensions, with the exception of 3 (fixed market entry, mobile access to scarce resources and mobile interconnection) which showed minor declines. In contrast, Bangladesh saw scores in all seven fixed-subsector dimensions decline, in some cases by as much as 1 point. The scores are perhaps reflective of the issues related to the cancellation of several fixed licenses. Overall only seven dimensions showed improvements in Bangladesh, and even these were marginal. Thailand, whose overall performance is unchanged, has however seen significant declines in its Market Entry scores due the uncertainties caused by the concession contracts granted to the mobile operators and what their status would be when they expire starting next year.

http://lirneasia.net/2011/07/india-pakistan-and-indonesia-have-improved-telecom-regulatory-environments-since-2008-according-to-stakeholders/

Riaz Haq said...

Mobile handset sales reach a million a month in Pakistan, according a report in The Nation:

ISLAMABAD (APP)– Development of Telecom sector has also surged the sale of mobile handsets in Pakistan, which reaches around 1 million per month.
There is flood of different mobile handsets in the market, especially Chinese sets are the most favourite as they are available in latest features and designs and the price is also within the range of everyone.
This figure clearly shows how much our nation has the craze for new mobile sets. Hiba, a student of third year in COMSATS, said “ Usually I spend my pocket money on buying mobile sets, as soon as a new model comes in the market”.
The second copy of branded cellphones has made its way in the domestic market along with unique features of dual SIM system. According to a dealer at Gulzar-e-Quaid Market Rawalpindi, the Chinese cellphones of different brands are available from Rs. 1500 to Rs. 12,000, depending on variety and quality.
He said the number of Chinese brands s more than 50, which are usually imported but there are some 15 brands that have captured the local markets.
No doubt, Chinese made handsets are cheap and have numerous features which attract customers posthastly, he maintained.
Another dealer at Blue Area said, normally people are attracted by the handsets, which cost between Rs 2,000 and Rs 10,000 and have features of branded mobile sets costing Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 40,000.
He said people ask for the sets which have better quality camera along with sharp memory. The mobile sets appeal to the masses who cannot buy Rs 30,000 original brand of iPhone but they can afford Chinese made Iphone in just Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 only with one year warranty.
Sale of mobile sets remains the same, no matter the economy is in shambles. The ratio of mobile subscribers have reached around 100 million in Pakistan, which is a clear manifestation of telecom development in the country.


http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Business/03-Oct-2011/Mobile-sets-sale-reaches--1m-per-month

Riaz Haq said...

Radio Pakistan has archived a treasure trove of 3.5 million minutes of its broadcast, including historic speeches and interviews of national leaders, that are now available on the internet, according to Pakistan Today:

Broadcast transmissions of Radio Pakistan could be accessed via the internet and mobile streaming throughout the world and all past archives would be available on Youtube. The websites are available both in Urdu and English languages but they also give access to different programmes in 22 regional languages. The director general of the PBC said the new web portal, mobile streaming, video streaming and the Youtube project were aimed at connect the country’s youth to Radio Pakistan, which had been the most reliable medium of information. The new website www.radio.gov.pk is a dynamic site and all data is linked to Twitter and Facebook, Solangi said.
The new website was developed by the staff of the Radio Pakistan without any external funding and technical help. The website has a separate page for the programme side that contains online access to different programmes. The website covers sports, business, showbiz, and daily weather reports. The website also provides links to FM 101, FM 93, PLANET 94, FM 93 and some of the regional stations. The site could be accessed via cell-phone as well.
The archives include speeches of the foreign heads of state, speeches of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Quaid-i-Millat Liaqat Ali Khan, Mather-i-Millat Fatima Jinnah, Zulifkar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhuttoo, dramas and documentaries.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/07/radio-pakistan-goes-online/

http://www.radio.gov.pk/newsdetail-1386

Riaz Haq said...

Media report says cell phone service company Zong in a deal with Manchester United to train Pakistan's young footballers:

KARACHI: Some 32 young footballers between the ages of 10 and 18 from all over Pakistan can look forward to training by Manchester United players and coaches, including Sir Alex Ferguson, thanks to an arrangement between the world-famous professional football club and a mobile telecom company here.

“Seeing the popularity of football among youngsters in Pakistan, Zong has entered into a three-year contract with Manchester United. It is hoped that this one of a kind partnership will lead to prosperity, growth and triumph for the sport here,” said the company’s Director Advertising and Promotions Rizwan Akhter at a press conference called to announce the union at a local hotel here on Tuesday.

Unveiling the benefits of the contract, Rizwan Akhter said: “From next year, we will hold country-wide trials to pick 32 best footballers in the 10 to 18 age group for training by the club’s players and coaches.”

The partnership gives Pakistan rights to exclusive news and footage of the English clubs activities in order to bring the 150,000 Manchester United fans here closer to the club and their favourite players.

“The move will go a long way in promoting football in Pakistan and inspiring more young players to take up the sport here,” explained the company’s representative.

“It will also allow us here to look more closely at the club’s way of working and their formats in order to take out and follow the positive things from there to help improve the infrastructure here,” he added.

“Though we are focusing on the grassroots level for now, it is hoped that along with the inspiration gained from learning more about the famous English club with such an interesting history will come improvement in football grounds and academies here,” pointed out the gentleman.

Meanwhile, to a question about the possibility of Manchester United players or coaches visiting Pakistan, the organisers said that the present security situation prevents that from happening until things improved here.


http://www.dawn.com/2011/10/26/manchester-uniteds-best-to-aid-pakistani-footballers.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India story on "Aalu Anday", a satirical music video gone viral on Youtube:

NEW DELHI: When the music video of "Aalu Anday", an unsparing song that lampoons Pakistan's top politicians and generals from Ashfaq Kayani to Zia-ul-Haq, from Nawaz Sharif to Imran Khan, was released last month, it immediately became an internet sensation.

But the bitingly satirical number was merely the latest in a long chain of similar popular anti-establishment tracks by other well-known Pakistan singers and groups such as Shehzad Roy, Junoon and Laal who have laughed at and lambasted the high and mighty across the border.

"We are the silent majority of Pakistan who are speaking up now. We are not trying to give solutions, but only trying to create an environment where things can be discussed openly," says 27-year-old Ali Aftab Saeed, a band member of Beygairat Brigade, the Lahore-based 'political rock' band who created Aalu Anday. Incidentally, the three band members (Daniyal Malik and 15-year-old guitarist Hamza Malik being the other two) are self-confessedly 'hardcore' RD Burman fans and Anurag Kashyap admirers.

A little courage in the heart and a guitar in hand go a long way in expressing notes of dissent across the border. The Beygairat Brigade's act is the latest in a tradition where singers and satirists have routinely ridiculed and castigated politicians in their music and lyrics. In 2008, singer Shehzad Roy courted controversy with Laga Reh, a hard-hitting track attacking the establishment.

Earlier Sufi-rock band Junoon faced censorship for songs like Ehtesaab, which hit out at political corruption and was banned by the Pakistani state TV. Now, bands such as Laal have joined the party providing music to the fiery protest poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib, known for producing art out of defiance. TV channels refused to play their song, Jhooth ka uncha sar, said to be "too anti-army" in sentiment.

"In the beginning Pakistani bands used music to express dissent because other avenues of communication were closed to them. When you are in a repressive environment you naturally find other ways to communicate and music became that outlet. Nowadays things are much more open, but I think the association between music and free speech remains," says satirist and stand-up comic Saad Haroon.

In a country racked by terrorist violence and extreme disillusionment with the state, humour not only works as a form of subversion but also as relief and release.

The identity of Beygairat Brigade is constructed as an antithesis to what they call the "ghairat brigade" (honor brigade): political analysts and TV show hosts who have taken it upon themselves to uphold the honor of the Pakistani state as they understand it.


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/In-Pakistan-protest-music-is-a-tradition/articleshow/10562389.cms

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a GSM study on how mobile phones are helping boost rural health in Pakistan:

Mobilink partnered up with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),
Ministry of Health (MoH) and GSMA Development Fund to deliver an
innovative pilot project which aims to bring low cost mobile handsets and
shared access to voice (PCOs) to LHWs in remote parts of the country.
Mobilink hopes to bridge the communication gap between the LHW and their
ability to access emergency health care.

Mobilink and its stakeholders are eager to
demonstrate how mobile phones play a
critical role in maternal care resulting in
better healthcare of patients. In order to
address the lack of connectivity to basic
health services and reduce maternal and
infant mortality; LHWs are being provided
with a communication tool for timely
referral of patients to seven (7) points of
connectivity i.e. Assistant District Coordinator
(ADC), Lady Health Supervisor (LHS),
District Health Quarter (DHQ), Tehsil Head
Quarter (THQ), Rural Health Center (RHC),
Ambulance Driver and 24/7 Private Hospital.
The project is being piloted in the districts of
Chakwal and Muzaffargarh in the Province
of Punjab. These districts were identified by
the Ministry of Health (MoH) with technical
assistance from UNFPA.
The pilot project for the LHWs includes a
low-cost phone bundled with a prepaid
SIM card and a Mobilink PCO. The solution
is to roll-out the Mobilink PCO (Option
1) in Chakwal and low cost Nokia handset
(Option 2) in Muzaffargarh to 242 LHWs.
In addition, desktop phones with prepaid
SIM cards are provided to each DHQ, THQ
and RHC. This intervention is improving
communication for timely referral of patients
and allowing the Lady Health Supervisors
to monitor the activities of LHWs more
efficiently. Additionally, the Mobilink PCO is
providing an extra source of income for the
LHW, empowering women and improving
their status amongst communities.

The Potential Impacts…
Improving LHWs communication ability so
delays in accessing emergency healthcare are
reduced:
100,000 LHWs can • cover a population
of 15 million households potentially
impacting the lives of 90 million people
all across Pakistan and achieving
universal health coverage in rural areas
across the country.
• For the pilot project, approx. 250,000
LHW catchment population in more than
45 villages benefit from this solution for
general healthcare.
• For the pilot project, approx. 40,000
married women of child bearing age
and 10,000 pregnant ladies for maternal
and neonatal health care get immediate
attention through the LHW.
• The solution provides a timely
deduction/referral of cases via the
effective use of mobile technology to
reduce maternal and neonatal mortality
• LHWs have a positive impact upon the
economic stability and well-being of the
community that she serves.
• Mobile communications improve the
status, mobility and equality of women
– as a Lady Health Worker and as a
Village Phone operator.
• LHW, through the Mobilink PCO earn
an additional source of income resulting
in women empowerment, and increase
in social status.
• LHW act as a role model for other women
in their community.


http://www.gsm.org/documents/lady_health_worker_pakistan.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Rising per capita income and a growing, young population spending more time online and at Western movies are helping build a mass market in Pakistan, according to Businessweek:

One way to take a city’s economic pulse is to check out where locals shop. In Karachi, Pakistan, shoppers are flocking to Port Grand, which opened in May. Built as a promenade by the historic harbor for almost $23 million, the center caters to Pakistanis eager to indulge themselves. This city of 20 million has seen more than 1,500 deaths from political and sectarian violence from January to August. At Port Grand the only hint of the turmoil is the presence of security details and surveillance cameras. “The whole world is going through a new security environment,” says Shahid Firoz, 61, Port Grand’s developer. “We have to be very conscious of security just as any other significant facility anywhere in the world needs to be.”

Young people stroll the promenade eating burgers and fries and browsing through 60 stores and stalls that sell everything from high fashion to silver bracelets to ice cream. Ornate benches dot a landscaped area around a 150-year-old banyan tree. “Port Grand is something fresh for the city, very aesthetically pleasing and unique,” says Yasmine Ibrahim, a 25-year-old Lebanese American who is helping set up a student affairs office at a new university in Karachi.

One-third of Pakistan’s 170 million people are under the age of 15, which means the leisure business will continue to grow, says Naveed Vakil, head of research at AKD Securities. Per capita income has grown to $1,254 a year in June from $1,073 three years ago.

The appetite for things American is strong despite the rise in tensions between the two allies. Hardee’s opened its first Karachi outlet in September: In the first few days customers waited for hours. It plans to open 10 more restaurants in Pakistan in the next two and a half years, says franchisee Imran Ahmed Khan. U.S. movies are attracting crowds to the recently opened Atrium Cinemas, which would not be out of place in suburban Chicago. Current features include The Adventures of Tintin and the latest Twilight Saga installment. Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol is coming soon. Operator Nadeem Mandviwalla says the cinema industry in Pakistan is growing 30 percent a year.

Exposure to Western lifestyles through cable television and the Internet is raising demand for these goods and services. Pakistan has 20 million Internet users, compared with 133,900 a decade ago, while 25 foreign channels, such as CNN (TWX) and BBC World News, are now available. And for many Pakistanis, reruns of the U.S. sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond are a regular treat.

The bottom line: With per capita income rising quickly, Pakistan is developing a mass market eager for Western goods.


http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/pakistans-consumers-flex-their-newfound-muscle-12012011.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on the airing of the first episode of Sim Sim Humara in Pakistan:

The first episode of the Pakistan Children Television’s programme “Sim Sim Hamara”, an educational and capacity-building TV series for children, will be aired on Dec 10 at national TV.

The TV series will be a high-quality early education resource for a large number of children who lack access to formal education opportunities.

“Sim Sim Hamara” is the Pakistani adaptation of the engaging programme “Sesame Street”, created by Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop in collaboration with Sesame Workshop, New York, and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The theatre group will create a total of 130 episodes of the “Sim Sim Hamra” broadcast on PTV Home.

Seventy-eight of these episodes will be produced in Urdu and 52 in national languages. The first episode will be aired at 5:30pm on Dec 10 and the repeat telecast will be at 9:30am next day. The moving spirit behind the project, Faizan Pirzada told Dawn that “along with language and numeracy skills, this new educational show will promote basic life skills, healthy habits, mutual respect and love for learning. The show’s locally-developed puppet stars include Rani, a six-year old school girl with a keen interest in natural sciences and a love of reading, Munna, a five-year old boy with big dreams and a flair for mathematics and numbers, Baily, a fluffy, hardworking donkey who aspires to be a pop star, Baji, a colourful, spirited woman with a passion for food, family, fun and tradition, and Haseen-o-Jameel, a crocodile who has a wonderful way with words, rhymes and songs.”

Throwing light on the background of the project, one of the heads of the PC TV, Faizan Pirzada said Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, in collaboration with Sesame Workshop, held a national content seminar and four provincial workshops to gather educational advisers from various fields to provide direction for the educational framework for the Pakistan Children’s Television project.

He said the participants included representatives from both regional and federal government entities, academicians, performing artists, civil society members working with children, representatives from Sesame Workshop, USAID and the federal education secretary.

He said there’s a need to impress upon children and families the fact that learning happens in both formal and non-formal environments. PC television is using authentic examples from the real world, such as observing a family member count change at the grocery store, weighing produce on scales at the vegetable market, reading prayers from the Holy Quran and other holy texts, and measuring ingredients for ‘roti’ as a basis for storylines and materials that promote a lifelong love of learning.


http://www.dawn.com/2011/12/02/educational-tv-serial-for-children-from-dec-10.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report tiled "Nokia Sees Pakistan Becoming a High-Growth Market":

KARACHI: Foreign delegates and local entrepreneurs discussed challenges facing businesses, sought greater industry-academia collaboration and highlighted business models to succeed in an emerging market at the 12th Management Association of Pakistan (MAP) Convention on Leadership Challenges for Business Success here on Wednesday.

Emerging markets will account for 80% of the world’s growth the next decade and Pakistan will be an important emerging market in future, Senior Vice President of Nokia India, Middle East and Africa Shivakumar said in a speech titled “Winning in emerging markets”.

Speaking to a conference packed with businessmen, Shivakumar – who is also the senior vice president of All India Management Association (AIMA) – said growth in developed economies has slowed down dramatically and the world is now looking at emerging markets, which account for 42% of population and 13% of income.

Pakistan is listed in four categories of emerging markets including Dow Jones 35 and emerging and growth level economies (EAGLES), he said. “Pakistan will be an important high-growth emerging market.”

In order to succeed in an emerging economy, he said, it is important to understand its segments and consumers. The emerging market consumers – most of whom live under $2 a day – are value-sensitive and not price-sensitive, he said and added entrepreneurs have to work on their business models to accommodate that segment of consumers who believe in the doctrine of “pay more, get more” and “pay less, get less”.

Sharing his experiences, he said, there are three things that he applied and succeeded. “Always put the country’s interest first, keep fixed costs very low and turn as many cost variables as possible,” he said.

“Never cut the features and offer your product at half the price. Consumers don’t want an incomplete product.”

Speaking to the participants earlier on, event’s chief guest and State Bank of Pakistan Governor Yaseen Anwar said it is time for all business leaders and managers to take the lead. Leaders must be more aware of the challenges facing the country – inflation, unemployment and power crisis.

There are no shortcuts to sustained economic development, Anwar said. “We need to develop the right strategies and then translate these strategies into action.”

AIMA President Rajiv Vastupal also addressed the event, saying IMF has lowered growth projection for both 2011 and 2012. “Today’s corporate leaders must focus on innovation to counter the global economic challenges,” he said. He elaborated the successful example of Apple’s iPad, which was launched during recession and earned a great success.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/306766/nokia-sees-pakistan-becoming-a-high-growth-market/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story about Emmy award winning Pakistani documentary producer Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy:

“We’re all storytellers,” says documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy who knows how to make the most of people's storytelling abilities. A recent film about children groomed by the Taliban to become suicide bombers won her an Emmy award, making her the first Pakistani woman to get television's highest accolade. And her most recent film, Saving Face, about Pakistani women who've survived acid attacks is on the Oscar nomination shortlist.
----------
She's the brains behind the Citizens Archive of Pakistan, a database that collects stories from people across the country. “Our goal is to create a repository. We want to make a space to record how the nation has changed over the past years. And currently CAP is the only organization that is recording the personal stories of people,” she says.

Obaid-Chinoy feels that history is in danger of being wiped from her country's collective memory because politics is re-writing the national narrative. "Many children today are barely aware of what happened during the 1971 war," she says. "The defeat of the Pakistani army which led to the creation of Bangladesh is something the government is eager to forget. But CAP found enough people willing to talk about their personal experiences of the war."

The organisation's website offers a chance to browse - for no charge - through an extraordinary collection of videos. Each one is one person's story; their memories of a specific time in history.

It's a simple idea, but a powerful one. Obaid-Chinoy says it’s critical to record the stories because



“Pakistan has been extremely bad at recording its own history properly. Every new government has tried to erase the previous rulers from history. What is left in museums and school textbooks is propaganda from the latest government.”

Bringing the stories to the people
The spirit of the project however is not just to make a preserved video archive for historians.

“We’re also bringing our archive to the people. In Pakistan, information is a privilege of the wealthy, unfortunately. If you have money you can afford education and become more aware of the world around you. The CAP wants to change this,” explains Obaid-Chinoy.

And one of the ways its doing this is through their School Outreach Tour, a program sends a mobile archive of videos, photographs, and newspapers to schools around the country. The aim is to teach children more about Pakistan’s rich history and make them feel proud of it again.

“Part of the reason why Pakistan is in the shape it is in today is because it’s hard for young people to believe in the possibilities of their country. They don’t understand what the idea was behind the creation of this nation. They know so little about Pakistan’s good years,” Says Sharmeen.
----------
“They like telling people about the dreams they had back then. But Partition came with traumas as well. Many people left their homes to follow that dream. It was the turning point in their lives, but the moment itself was filled with hope.”

And hope is something that has been in short supply in Pakistan in recent years. The country has paid a high price for the US-led war on terror. As the forces of extremism, violence and western manipulation pull the nation in different directions, it could well be Obaid-Chinoy's story bank that may end up being definitive repository of Pakistan's soul.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Brookings Inst paper on mobile phones are helping increase female literacy in Pakistan:

In the small village of Hafizibad in Pakistan’s Punjab province, a young girl is using her mobile phone to send an SMS message in Urdu to her teacher. After sending, she receives messages from her teacher in response, which she diligently copies by hand in her notebook to practice her writing skills. She does this from the safety of her home, and with her parents’ permission, during the school break, which is significant due to the insecurity of the rural region in which she lives. The girl is part of a Mobilink-UNESCO program to increase literacy skills among girls in Pakistan. Initial outcomes look positive; after four months, the percentage of girls who achieved an A level on literacy examinations increased from 27 percent to 54 percent. Likewise, the percentage of girls who achieved a C level on examinations decreased from 52 percent to 15 percent. The power of mobile phone technology, which is fairly widespread in Pakistan, appears in this case to help hurdle several education barriers by finding new ways to support learning for rural girls in insecure areas—girls who usually have limited opportunities to attend school and who frequently do not receive individual attention when they do. Often they live in households with very few books or other materials to help them retain over summer vacation what they learned during the school year.

http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2012/01_education_technology_winthrop.aspx

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report about Pakistan's telecom sector figures in 2010-11:

Telecom sector has a potential to attract billions dollars of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as total revenues of telecom operators in the country has been swelled to an all time high Rs 362 billion in 2011 at the end of financial year.

The telecom sector has expanded its services rapidly in many parts of the country over the period of past one decade. It is still in the evolving stage to deploy its services in many un-served small cities and villages and companies are plan to increase their operation areas in maximum locations to get handsome number of customers of their different services.

According to a report of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) the telecom sector contributed more than Rs 116.9 billion to the national exchequer in the outgoing financial year during 2010-11.

Accordingly, the GST/FED collections from the sector spike by 20% to reach Rs 52.6 billion in the same year whereas Rs 7.2 billion activation tax collected.

According to this report PTA deposits reached to Rs12 billion whereas other taxes reached to Rs 45.2 billion.

Cellular income which constitutes major chunk of the telecom revenues was boosted by 11% to Rs. 262 billion from Rs. 236 billion. A modest increase in cellular industry’s ARPU was witnessed from US$ 2.41 in the previous fiscal year to US$ 2.45.

The revenues of local loop operators recorded Rs58.32 billion. The wireless operators earned Rs4.84 billion and LDI sector revenues reached to Rs 29.95 billion. The value added sector made Rs 7.02 billion revenues during fiscal year 2011..

The number of mobile subscribers at the end of fiscal year 2011 stood at 108.9 million, showing growth rate of 10%, double than that of the last year. Mobile penetration rose to 65.4% from 60.4% in the previous year.

In this report it has been said that during the past three years, PTA has collected around Rs. 40 billion against APC for USF. In its drive to curb grey traffic, the Authority saved revenue of US$ 26 million.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority in its report “Vision 2020” estimated that telecom investments in Pakistan would be landed more than US$ 2.4 billion by 2020. The mobile subscribers’ base is expected to be widened to 161 million, hence approximately 89% of the total population by 2020.


http://www.onlinenews.com.pk/details.php?id=188473

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 NY Times story about unruly Pak media:

One morning last week, television viewers in Pakistan were treated to a darkly comic sight: a posse of middle-class women roaming through a public park in Karachi, on the hunt for dating couples engaged in “immoral” behavior.

Panting breathlessly and trailed by a cameraman, the group of about 15 women chased after — sometimes at jogging pace — girls and boys sitting quietly on benches overlooking the Arabian Sea or strolling under the trees. The women peppered them with questions: What were they doing? Did their parents know? Were they engaged?

Some couples reacted with alarm, and tried to scuttle away. A few gave awkward answers. One couple claimed to be married. The show’s host, Maya Khan, 31, demanded to see proof. “So where is your marriage certificate?” she asked sternly.

This hourlong spectacle, broadcast live on Samaa TV on Jan. 17, set off a furious reaction in parts of Pakistan. Outrage sprang from the Internet and percolated into the national newspapers, where writers slammed Ms. Khan’s tactics as a “witch hunt.”

“Vigil-aunties,” read one headline, referring to the South Asian term “aunty” for older, bossy and often judgmental women.

Now, the protests are headed to court. On Friday, four local nongovernment organizations will file a civil suit against Samaa TV in Pakistan’s Supreme Court, hoping to galvanize the country’s top judges into action.

“Journalists don’t have the right to become moral police,” said Adnan Rehmat of Intermedia, a media development organization that is among the petitioners. “We need to draw a line.”
------------
The media revolution has transformed social and political boundaries: in 2007, feisty coverage played a central role in pushing Pervez Musharraf toward the exit; in recent weeks it helped guard against a possible military coup.

But television is also a lucrative business controlled by powerful, largely unaccountable tycoons. Last year Pakistan’s television stations had advertising revenues of more than $200 million, according to Aurora, an industry journal — 28 percent more than the previous year.

Amid stiff competition for viewers, channels have relied on populist measures — rowdy political talks shows and, in recent times, vigilante-style “investigative” shows modeled on programs in neighboring India.

Some have a noble objective: holding to account crooked public servants, police officers and even fellow journalists. But others have veered into territory that could be described as Pakistan’s answer to Jerry Springer — voyeuristic, mawkish and intrusive.

In recent months, one reporter screamed at a man accused of child rape as he awaited trial outside a courthouse; another hectored a man said to be a self-confessed necrophile inside a jail cell; and a TV reporter “raided” a gathering of whisky drinkers, even though alcohol flows freely at many media parties.
------------
But on Wednesday, Samaa TV issued a formal apology for her show, followed by a short clip of Ms. Khan, sitting on a bed, offering an apology of sorts. “I never intended to make you teary-eyed or hurt you,” she said.

The furor has renewed long-standing demands for media regulation. With the state-run Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority seen as ineffective, the organizations approaching the Supreme Court on Friday hope the judiciary can help. “We need to hold the media to account,” Mr. Rehmat said.
--------------
“My real worry is that Pakistan is moving rightwards, and this time the face won’t have a beard,” said Mr. Nasir, the former head of Dawn News television. “And before people know it, they won’t know what’s hit them.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/world/asia/for-many-in-pakistan-a-television-show-goes-too-far.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP story on the firing of "vigil-auntie" TV host Maya Khan:

In a rare victory for Pakistani liberals, a private TV station decided to fire a popular morning show host after she sparked outrage by running around a public park trying to expose young, unmarried couples hanging out, a taboo in this conservative Muslim country.

Pakistani liberals derided host Maya Khan's behavior on Twitter and Facebook, comparing it to the kind of moral policing practiced by the Taliban, and started an online petition asking Samaa TV to end this "irresponsible programming" and apologize.

The company responded Saturday in a letter sent to reporters saying it had decided to fire Khan and her team and cancel her show because she refused to issue an unconditional apology for the Jan. 17 program.

Samaa TV's decision marked an unusual victory for Pakistan's beleaguered liberal minority, which has become more marginalized as the country has shifted to the right and whose members have been killed by Islamist extremists for standing up for what they believe.

Critics of the program also praised the company's decision as a positive example of self-regulation by Pakistan's freewheeling TV industry, which was liberalized in 2000 and has mushroomed from one state-run channel to more than 80 independent ones.

Some shows have been praised for serving the public good by holding powerful officials to account, but many others have been criticized for doing anything that will get ratings, including pandering to populist sentiments at the expense of privacy and sometimes truth.

"Samaa management has set a good example that some others need to follow," said prominent human rights activist and journalist Hussain Naqi.

During the program in question, Khan and around a dozen other men and women chased down young couples in a seaside park in the southern city of Karachi. Several couples raced away from the group. One young man put on a motorcycle helmet to hide his identity, while his female friend covered her face with a veil.

Khan finally accosted one couple sitting on a bench and pestered them with questions about whether they were married and whether their parents knew they were there. The man said the couple was engaged and asked Khan to shut off her cameras and microphone. She lied and said they were off.

"What is the difference between this kind of media vigilantism and that demonstrated by the Taliban?" said Mahnaz Rahman, a director at the Aurat Foundation, an organization that fights for women's rights in Pakistan.

Islamist extremists have been ruthless in targeting liberal Pakistanis who disagree with their hardline views. One of the most prominent examples was in last January, when a bodyguard shot to death the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, because of his criticism of Pakistani laws that mandate the death penalty for criticizing the Prophet Muhammad.

Following Khan's program, one headline in a local paper called the host and the other women who appeared on the show "Vigil-aunties," referring to the South Asian term "aunty" for a bossy older woman.


http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hUVp3jnFyNVXxf5DGze-A4-d43GA?docId=c62b2b28e3914bb8899bfa6eaf1b31b0

Riaz Haq said...

In a Tehelka Op Ed, Kiran Nazish writes: "One way to regulate the media or politics in Pakistan is to have civil society watchdogs and that seems to be working. The civil society in Pakistan seems to be quietly — and perhaps, inadvertently — regaining strength. We don’t know if this could this be a threat to the establishment’s control over the state."

More excerpts:

"In recent years, Pakistani media has been on a wild ride of television ratings. To catch up, Maya Khan, a popular TV host took her show to public parks, where she – with her battalion of likeminded women, ran from ‘couple’ to ‘couple’, with microphones and cameras, exposing them as a social disgrace. "

"If the stars were on their usual path, Maya Khan would not have encountered the kind of public outrage she did. While some jocular humour embellished public anger, and jokes like ‘when in parks, beware of dogs and Maya Khan’, were winning popularity; a group of civil society members took shape. The Citizen for Free and Responsible Media (CFRM) emerged as a group of activists, academics, lawyers and journalists, including unadorned citizens that collectively forfeited against Maya’s actions and ran a campaign to ensure that she identifies such behaviour as unethical and apologises. Which, when she didn’t, aggravated the situation and caused her to get fired by the channel along with rest of the team on her show. The following days CFRM continued pointing out and campaigning against other programmes with questionable content or anchoring style and caused two resignations from the anchor and producer of popular prime time shows.

Maya Khan is not just a person, but also a phenomenon, and the growth of such phenomenon is now being impeded by efforts of groups like the CFRM. This development is significant in Pakistan, especially when, to rephrase a CNN report, ‘Media is becoming more powerful than the military.’"

"Take the NRO issue or the Memogate scandal, a massive outrage from the public has constantly been visible. Pakistan now seems ready to hold the state to account, forcing it to live up to its own commitments. Then the lawyers’ movement, with 10 million signatories, was crucial to restore the chief justice. Not just lawyers, but people from all walks of life took to the streets till the goal was accomplished. A lot happened in between but the resistance could not overcome collective civilian participation. It was the civil society in Pakistan that brought about the change from authoritarianism to democracy. We need to explore how quietly and steadfastly their efforts are having a transformative impact. And whether civil society can help dismantle the power, political and monetary concentration by the military. Pakistan may not have free and independent media yet but behind the barricades and across the checkposts, the civil society is learning how to self-liberate."

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main51.asp?filename=Ws110212Lessons.asp

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Business Recorder story on PTCL's wireless broadband network coverage in Pakistan:

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited's (PTCL) EVO wireless broadband has become Pakistan's widest broadband Internet network covering 90 percent of the nation's population in more than 180 cities and towns.

PTCL has also recently expanded coverage of its fastest Nitro Rev B network to 70 cities.

Customers can now cruise with matchless speeds of up to 9.3Mbps with EVO Nitro's Rev B in more than 70 cities.

PTCL's EVO wireless broadband is the only wireless broadband network providing Rev A and Rev B connectivity in Pakistan, giving unlimited data volume downloads in unlimited usage packages.

Its superior 3G experience comes in a variety of pre-paid and post-paid device and connectivity package options that give customers multiple bill payment and pre-paid recharge options to suit their needs.

"PTCL is leading the mobile Internet revolution in Pakistan by continuing to expand and enhance our wireless broadband services to provide seamless coverage," said PTCL Senior Executive Vice-President, Naveed Saeed


http://www.brecorder.com/it-a-computers/206/1165130/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a <a href="http://www.thenewstribe.com/2012/03/13/ptcl-claims-to-hold-95-share-of-dsl-broadband-sector>report</a> on growth of broadband in Pakistan:

<i>Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) claimed that it acquired 95 percent of the DSL market share with increase of 17 percent subscribers’ base in the first half of the current financial year 2011-12, the company financial report said.

According to an estimate, the company has nearly been subscribed by 1.5 million users. PTCL’s efforts in DSL business expansion were instrumental in making Pakistan one of the fastest growing countries in the world in terms of broadband growth.

The product portfolio was suitably diversified providing unparallel range from 256Kbps to 50 Mbps at competitive pricing to meet individual requirements of a wide range of customer base encompassing urban and rural communities alike.

Besides the company special promotions and bundled deals were encourages subscribers to upgrade their connections in terms of speed without any price increase.

Moreover, the introduction of Videophone with plug and play feature linking the service through regular DSL connection improved the subscriber experience.

The company also introduced FTTH (fibre to the home) in major urban areas to meet the ever-increasing demand of higher bandwidth and superior quality of services.

EVO Witnesses 30% Growth in H1FY12

In the half-year 2011-12, ‘EVO’ the wireless broadband service based on 3G technology witnessed a 30% growth in its customer base. This was made possible by introducing various products and packages encompassing latest technology.

The 3G EVO Tablet, launched on the Independence Day of 14th August 2011, is Pakistan’s first 3G enabled Android Tablet with built-in EVO wireless broadband for high speed on-the-go internet connectivity.

Similarly, economical packages were also offered on the EVO Cloud – the product enabling simultaneous 3G wireless broadband connectivity through Wi-Fi multiple devices.

Ufone Revenue up by 6%

The revenues of PTML (Ufone), the wholly owned subsidiary of PTCL also rose by 6 percent in the half year under review. The revenues of PTCL were Rs. 29 billion registering 6 percent increase.

PTCL Group earned revenues of Rs. 55 billion which were 6 percent higher compared to same period last year. The Group’s net profit after tax remained at Rs. 4.6 billion during the period under review depicting a decrease of 21 percent over corresponding period last year. PTCL’s net profit after tax was Rs. 2.9 billion which is 29 percent lower than the profit in same period last year mainly on account of decrease in Other Operating Income.</i>

http://www.thenewstribe.com/2012/03/13/ptcl-claims-to-hold-95-share-of-dsl-broadband-sector

Riaz Haq said...

China Mobile to bid in Pakistan's 3G auction, reports China Daily:

China Mobile Communications Corp, the parent company of the world's biggest mobile operator by user numbers, has confirmed its participation in an auction of Pakistan's third-generation wireless spectrum.

With Pakistan as an example, the company intends to expand its operations to a greater number of emerging markets, according to Wang Jianzhou, chairman of China Mobile, in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

The company is also seeking opportunities to become a minority shareholder in telecom carriers in the European or North American markets, said Wang.

"We would like to be strategic investors (in them), which will help us achieve synergies," said Wang.

The company's decision to join the auction may help it strengthen its foothold in the fast-growing telecom market in South Asia.

Pakistan has been the only overseas market for China Mobile since it bought Paktel Ltd, a loss-making Pakistani carrier, for $284 million from Millicom International Cellular SA in 2007. The company was renamed China Mobile Pakistan, or CMPak, and its services were rebranded as "Zong" in 2008.

"If we succeed (in the auction), we will provide the Pakistani people with 3G services on a Wideband Code Division Multiple Access network, as the spectrums being auctioned are suitable for WCDMA technology," Wang said.

China Mobile's business in Pakistan is performing well, although CMPak is still only the fifth-largest telecom operator among the six players in the market, according to the company.

"More than four years ago, when we bought Paktel, it was on the brink of bankruptcy, but now the company can generate enough cash flow to maintain its operations," Wang said.

The Zong brand has seen the largest net growth in mobile users in Pakistan in the past three years, according to the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority. Zong had a user base of 13.2 million by October, rising from less than 1.5 million in 2007.

Earlier this month, Fan Yunjun, chief executive officer of CMPak Ltd, told the website of China Radio International that China Mobile has invested $1.5 billion in Pakistan to date.

Wang said one of the advantages for China Mobile in overseas business is that its subsidiaries will be able to leverage the parent company's economies of scale to reduce costs and maintain competitiveness. For example, China Mobile's procurement plan means that CMPak can buy cheaper equipment than its domestic rivals.

"We have the intention to expand overseas," Wang emphasized. The experience gained from its operations in China and Pakistan will boost the company's confidence in stepping into other overseas markets, especially in the emerging markets. ....


http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2012-03/14/content_14827869.htm

Riaz Haq said...

IPTV grows by 30% in Pakistan, according to RapidTV:

Pakistan Telecommunications Company (PTCL) has registered a growth rate of 30% in customers of its internet protocol television (IPTV) service called Smart TV.

Its content acquisition strategy is reported to be behind the swift development of the IPTV service's customer care, quality of service and enriched content.

PTV dramas, including Fifty Fifty, Aangan Teraah, Aahat, and Dhoop Kinary, have now been added to PTCL Smart TV's video on demand service, as have a range of Hollywood and Bollywood films and children's entertainment.

The company says the service's greater digital picture quality, video on demand flexibility, parental lock feature, and the ability to use advanced attributes such as rewind live TV have proved popular with consumers.

PTCL says it is now striving to achieve a 9% penetration rate for its IPTV service in Pakistan, in line with the global figure for IPTV distribution in broadband homes.


http://www.rapidtvnews.com/index.php/2012031820672/pakistan-iptv-sees-30-rise-in-subscribers.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP report on launch of local version of an international glossy magazine in Pakistan:

Pakistan is better known for bombs than bombshells, militant compounds than opulent estates. A few enterprising Pakistanis hope to alter that perception with the launch of a local version of the well-known celebrity magazine Hello!.

They plan to profile Pakistan’s rich and famous: the dashing cricket players, voluptuous Bollywood stars and powerful politicians who dominate conversation in the country’s ritziest private clubs and lowliest tea stalls. They also hope to discover musicians, fashion designers and other new talents who have yet to become household names.

“The side of Pakistan that is projected time and time again is negative,” said Zahraa Saifullah, the CEO of Hello! Pakistan. “There is a glamorous side of Pakistan, and we want to tap into that.”
--------------
Pakistan already has a series of local publications that chronicle the lives of the wellheeled in major cities like Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, especially as they hop between lavish parties. But the producers of Hello! Pakistan hope the magazine’s international brand and greater depth will attract followers.

Hello! was launched in 1988 by the publisher of Spain’s Hola! magazine and is now published in 150 countries. It’s well-known for its extensive coverage of Britain’s royal family and once paid $14 million in a joint deal with People magazine for exclusive pictures of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s newborn twins.

The market for English-language publications in Pakistan is fairly small. Most monthly and weekly magazines sell no more than 3,000 copies, said Khan, the consulting editor. But they hope to tap into the large Pakistani expatriate markets in the United Kingdom and the Middle East as well.

Hello! Pakistan will be published once a month and will cost about $5.50, twice as much as what many poor Pakistanis earn in a day. The first issue will be published in mid-April and will focus on the Pakistani fashion scene.

Saifullah, who grew up watching her mother and grandmother read Hello! as she hopped between London and Karachi, said it took her two years to convince the magazine to publish a local version in Pakistan....


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/say-hello-to-pakistans-glamorous-side-as-famous-celebrity-magazine-launches-in-the-country/2012/03/24/gIQAtkbIYS_story.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story of a Pakistani female journalist visiting Minnesota to work with an American TV station:

Having grown up in one of the oldest cities on the Indian subcontinent, you might not expect English words to come so easily to Gharidah Farooqi. But they do. Especially when describing her experience at a recent Wild hockey game.

(PHOTO: Gharidah Farooqi is second from the left. Also pictured left to right are 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS producers Tim Burns, Molly Andersen, and Amanda Theisen)

When talking about a last-minute Erik Christensen goal that tied the game, or about the Miko Koivu goal that won the game in overtime, Farooqi uses words like "amazing" and "really exciting."

Strong words given what she's seen in her career as a journalist.

Her first field assignment was in 2005, covering an earthquake that killed 79,000 in Pakistan's Kashmir region. More recently, she reported on the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs .

Farooqi is spending time at 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.COM as part of the U.S./Pakistan Professional Partnership Program. Created in 2009, the U.S. State Department describes it as part of a "U.S. strategy to bring peace and stability in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region."

Farooqi is part of the fourth group of Pakistani journalists to visit the United States since the program began, and the second to visit 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.COM. One group of American journalists has also traveled to Pakistan. The goal, says the State Department, is "to develop cross cultural relationships and develop professional skills that will postively impact people's lives and will result in stronger ties between the two nations."

Farooqi hopes Minnesotans will ask her about her country, rather than rely on the images they see on TV.

"Pakistan is so much more than O.B.L. (Osama bin Laden)," said Farooqi.

She's also learning the United States is more than what she's seen on CNN and the Fox News Channel.

"Americans are great people to work with," she said, describing the people she's met during her time here as "friendly" and "professional." After a week here, she found many similarities with the newsrooms where she's worked. But, she did find one difference that really struck a chord with her.

"I see a lot of women working in the newsroom," she said. "We don't have that in my country."

Farooqi said very few women had reported major stories in Pakistan when she was sent to cover the 2005 earthquake. At the time, she was working for Pakistan TV, a state-run organization she says held a virtual monopoly on the news business up until a decade ago.

She says the rise of private television stations, first broadcasting from outside of Pakistan, and now from within, is slowly changing the landscape for women in journalism. She sees it happening at Geo News, where she now works as an anchor and reporter.

But looking at the diversity of the staff in the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.COM newsroom, led by News Director Lindsay Radford, she sees more room for improvement back home.

"We need to learn this in my country," she said.

Farooqi's work on Geo News is broadcast all over Pakistan. It can also be seen via cable and satellite in the United Arab Emirates, parts of Europe, Canada, and here in the United States.

And, if you wondered why English words come so easily to her, (as I did), credit her early schooling. In her hometown of Multan, she attended a mission school where she was taught by British nuns.


http://kaaltv.com/article/stories/S2565822.shtml?cat=10151

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PRI report on journalism in Pakistan:

Lawrence Pintak, dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, is advising journalism students at four universities in Pakistan’s tribal regions, where the Taliban is strongest.

A professor at one of the universities told him, “we need to include conflict safety training in our curriculum,” because students face roadside bombs and Taliban threats while on class assignments, and professors are killed and kidnapped. Campus radio stations are visited regularly by military intelligence and numerous journalists have been threatened, beaten or killed for their work.

Even with the dangers, Pintak said journalism is flourishing in the region, with many men and women signing up for the programs.

Pintak said young Pakistanis are pursuing journalism, “because they want to have a voice. Journalism is another way for them to impact their communities and their country.”

Students have been given radio stations, in part, through USAID, which trains student journalists and act as a force to counter Mullah Radio, extremist pro-Taliban and Sharia law broadcasts.

In both urban and rural tribal areas, Pintak said access to news is thriving. There's also increased opportunities for women.

"The one difference is that the male students may go off to do an internship at a major news organizaton, and, in many cases, the familes don't want the women to leave," he said.

Female students are encouraged to do their internships in the campus radio stations if their families do not want them traveling to the cities.

Their families have reason to fear large cities, as many journalists who have been killed in Pakistan were killed in Karachi and Islamabad. A senior journalist told Pintak a number of journalists in Karachi have been receiving threats.

“Some choose to stay quiet over the matter, but I know of at least four other journalists, some of them who work for the local media, who have also received similar threats from the Taliban,” he said.

Journalists in Pakistan face a number of obstacles and great opposition from the military, extremists and the Taliban.
-------
Pintak said meeting journalism professors from the region put his problems as the head of a journalism school in perspective.

“While we worry about budget cuts, they are literally putting their lives on the line for journalism education, and that’s a very inspiring thing,” he said. "They have students who are cutting up old newspapers and magazines to paste together a newspaper. They're teaching online journalism without computers. When they saw what else we could do, they couldn't suck up enough information."

Pakistan is set to have its first ever journalism awards March 28, in collaboration with the leading press clubs across the country.

The Agahi Awards will hand out accolades in 15 different categories, including business, economy, conflict, corruption, crime, education, infotainment, the connection between water, energy and food security, gender and governance.

In addition, to creating more awareness of social issues, the categories of human rights, interfaith, judiciary, media ethics, terrorism and extremism have also been included. The goal of the awards is to imporove the state of journalism in Pakistan.

http://www.pri.org/stories/business/global-development/journalism-flourishes-in-pakistan-despite-obvious-dangers-9138.html

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s teledensity crosses 70pc mark, reports Daily Times:

KARACHI: Teledensity in Pakistan crossed the 70 percent mark by end of February 2012 mainly on the growing subscriptions of cellular mobile phone companies in urban and rural areas of the country, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) data said on Saturday.

The teledensity of cellular phone stood at 67.2 percent; wireless sector teledensity reached at 1.8 percent and landline teledensity settled at 1.6 percent, making overall teledensity at 70.6 percent.

Pakistan’s teledensity is the second highest in South Asia after India that reached 78.10 percent. It remained on top among the region till January 2011 with modest annual growth, however corrective measures and saturated markets slowed down its growth.

The teledensity is defined as the number of customers per 100 people. Hence it is roughly said that 70 percent of the population own and avail telephony services through different technologies.

The mobile phone connection has risen to 116 million on different networks, constituting the lion’s share in the field of telecom sector in terms of subscribers and their technology selection.

Similarly, the wireless phone companies have increased their number of connections to 2.7 million by February whereas the landline connections decreased to stand at 2.9 million in the country.

In the cellular sector, Mobilink grabbed the largest subscribers’ base with 35.2 million. It was followed by Telenor and Ufone with 28.8 million and 22.4 million connections, respectively. The subscribers’ number of Zong and Warid stood at 14.9 million and 14.6 million users, respectively.

Analysts in the telecom sector said that the growth in cellular subscribers’ base showed the penetration of the mobile phone operators in the rural and small areas besides the metropolis.

They said that mobile phone users of multiple SIMs have been on the rise for availing on-net calls and SMS packages of different networks for affordability and increasing services utility.

Besides, there are millions of connections inactive for months but the cellular operators try to reactivate them by offering free balance to subscribers. In this regard, the cellular operators have introduced several prize schemes to attract new and retaining customers to maintain their growing base.

In the wireless sector, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL) and TeleCard are market leaders with 1.43 million and 0.743 million, respectively. In the landline sector, PTCL and NTC are market leaders with 2.7 million and 104 million connections, respectively.

The wireless operators’ competitive packages in the limited cities witnessed gradual growth particularly on daily consumption against fixed charges. On the contrary, the landline sector witnessed constant decline in connections on the services issues, high tariff and line rent.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\04\15\story_15-4-2012_pg5_8

http://www.pta.gov.pk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=269&Itemid=658

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on Pak Army setting up its own radio & tv network:

In order to expand media outreach throughout Pakistan, the army is planning to set-up a countrywide radio network parallel to Radio Pakistan and PTV to create what it calls ‘social harmonisation’ and to propagate ‘state vision’ in a ‘vibrant manner.’

After the successful execution of FM radio projects in militancy-hit areas of Swat, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Balochistan, a nationwide network of FM radios with a proposed name ‘Apna Pakistan’ is on the cards.

The network will run under the banner of 96 International Radio Network, with the military pulling the strings from behind the scene. Though most of the employees working with the network are civilians, a serving army officer will be the chief executive officer (CEO).

Taliban militants had set up their own network after having destroyed the state media network in Malakand. When the army moved in, it uprooted the militant network and established FM96 Radio Swat which has now been renamed FM96 Radio Pakhtoonkhwa.

Headed by a serving colonel of Pakistan Army, the network has continued to extend its outreach further and another station with coverage in Waziristan and Fata was later established which is now working as FM96 Pakhtoonzar. Yet another one was established for Balochistan named FM96 Vash Noori.

Equipped with state-of-the-art digital technology, the first of its kind in Pakistan, these radio networks are running ‘infotainment’ programmes – mainly local and Indian music – to counter ‘anti-state’ propaganda, officials said.

When the first army sponsored FM radio was set up in Swat, the responsibility of broadcasting was shared by three state organisations. A studio facility was provided by the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), satellite uplink was made available by Pakistan Television (PTV), installation of transmitting stations with recurring expenditures were borne by the army, whereas the ministry of information and broadcasting remained a linchpin.

Set up on February 24, 2009, the network initially used the studios of PBC/Radio Pakistan and the satellite facilities of PTV, but it now has a separate set-up in Islamabad and goes under the name of ‘Nine Six Media House’ where the latest studio facilities are available. Programmes, mostly of an interactive nature, in different dialects of Pashto and Balochi are being broadcast from the newly established office.
-----------
The PBC refusal to accommodate did not deter sponsors and now a draft agreement is ready to be signed between Shalimar Recording and Broadcasting Company Limited (SRBC), itself a subsidiary of PTV. The 96 International Radio Network aims to register itself as SRBC’s subsidiary.

However, both organisations will continue to be governed by their own rules and regulations.

ISPR, the media wing of the Pakistan Army, when approached for details of the proposed project, declined to comment. However, the CEO of 96 International Radio Network, during a candid interaction with The Express Tribune, said the network is being planned with the concept of ’socio-cultural broadcast’ to bring social harmony to a society that has been radicalised. He said it is yet to be decided if the network will be a subsidiary of the PBC, SRBC or PTV.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/364901/apna-pakistan-military-set-to-expand-media-outreach-across-the-country/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's journalist-blogger Tayyib Afridi of FATA on radio broadcasting in tribal areas:

A media development organization has engaged five partner radio stations from FATA and KP to train them on professional broadcasting. The partner radio stations have been provided with professional equipment in order to improve working capacity and trainings to strengthen their production skills for the benefit of the local population. These radios are the only government voice in the tribal areas to inform listeners about government development activities. That is why Asadullah and his other colleagues from the same partner radio stations have also been trained in PSA (public service announcement) production.

Mr. Fazal Rahman, station manager of the radio Miranshah and who also attended that training, regarded this training very fruitful. He has also produced PSAs about local government and has solicited applications from students to attend a free skill development program. Fazal, who remained my colleague during our four years broadcasting in FATA, told me that as soon as he broadcast that announcement, he received many calls from listeners inquiring about this opportunity. He was surprised to see how fruitful this activity was. He never experienced this kind of broadcasting which is very short and concise, and he was happy to see that he has engaged destitute local people in constructive activity.

The impoverished tribal regions have no other option to learn about any opportunity provided by the government or non-government organizations except these radios. Twice, I missed cadet college tests during my school period because the only source of news was newspapers and the admission news failed to reach me in real time. Cadet Colleges are special colleges established by government with subsidized fee and high standard and they admit those students who cleared their tests. They every year announced admission with limited seats for general students who can make their way into college. But even today, students and people of the FATA don’t get news in real time.

So, the broadcasting of these five radio stations working in Northwestern Pakistan Tribal areas has attracted large audiences, especially students and women who are more interested in education and health programs. This practice has converted lot of opportunities either from government or non-government into public announcements to reach to larger audiences of FATA. These radios also requested local government to give them permission to start commercial broadcasting in tribal region.

Though, the government has started number of projects to provide basic facilities to public such as health, education, but those were going unnoticed because, there was no mechanism in place to disseminate information to large audiences. The local government of FATA usually issued information to newspapers and televisions and both the mediums lack access to large audiences in FATA, mainly because of illiteracy and power shortage. Therefore, the information failed to reach concerned people, most of the time, which have been living far away in the mountains. For instance, I have heard commercials given by local government to Peshawar FM channels despite knowing that it is not being heard fully in the FATA. Today, most of the scholarships are advertised in the newspapers meant for fata students while knowing that newspaper circulation is few hundred in the whole of FATA...


http://tayyebafridi.blogspot.com/2012/03/radio-miranshah-connects-gop-with.html

Riaz Haq said...

Telenor to offer agri info to farers via its wireless telephone network, reports newstribe:

Telenor Pakistan, in partnership with the Government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, will provide agriculture and livestock information to farmers in the province.

In addition, farmers will be offered the Easypaisa platform to trade in agricultural commodities. Information will be provided via push SMS, voice recordings and small community gatherings.

The aim is to benefit farmers — especially small farmers — by providing them relevant and timely information, and the ability to carry out related mobile transactions on their handsets. All information will be provided by the Government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa while Telenor Pakistan will act as the distribution channel of the information. A pilot project will initially be run in Mardan district.

To mark the occasion an MoU signing ceremony was arranged at a local hotel. Arbab Muhammad Ayub Jan, Minister for Agriculture, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the chief guest. The MoU was signed by Roar Bjaerum, Vice President Financial Services, Telenor Pakistan and Arbab Muhammad Ayub Jan, Minister for Agriculture, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Roar Bjaerum, in his comments, highlighted the benefits the project will bring to the farmers of the province. “We will provide farmers the information they need to grow better crops and to raise hardy livestock. By doing so, we want to help them make more informed decisions when it comes to agriculture and livestock planning and trading. This way we hope to contribute toward alleviating poverty and empowering farmers economically. We will also offer mobile branchless banking solutions to enable farmers to carry out transactions right on their mobile phones through Easypaisa.”

Ayub Jan in his remarks spoke about the partnership between Telenor Pakistan and the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Agriculture, Livestock and Cooperative Department (ALCD). He said: “The Department has the mandate of promoting the interests of agriculture and livestock farmers in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It has undertaken various initiatives to modernize the sector, and to augment the dissemination of relevant information to farmers to help increase production. Our partnership with Telenor Pakistan is another step in this direction. We are ready to offer all the support it needs to achieve its goals for this project.”

Small farmers, living in far-flung areas, are usually isolated from market information which may help them in dealing with commodity whole sellers (‘beopari’ and ‘arthis). They also do not have immediate access to information about best practices in agriculture and livestock rearing.

Telenor Pakistan’s project will help farmers in getting the information they need to increase yield through access to best quality commodities, latest agri trends, information on judicious use of pesticides and fertilizers, best breed of livestock, new methods of disease control, and quality feed and fodder.


http://www.thenewstribe.com/2012/04/18/telenor-to-partner-with-kp-to-provide-agri-information-to-farmers/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on Blackberry presence in Pakistan:

RIM has opened the doors of App World to the sixth largest mobile market, three years after its launch in US, Canada and UK – indicating a shift of focus to the emerging economies. With the inclusion of Pakistan, App World is now available in over 130 countries.

Pakistani BlackBerry users can access apps that include the newly introduced BBM connected apps, which make it easier for users to stay in touch with their contacts, share content and play multiplayer games, and discover new things from their BBM community; Saihgal said.

There are already several applications available in App World that were developed with Pakistani users in mind, the MD said, including the Pakistan Cricket News app for sports fans; the Abida Parveen Collection for music aficionados; the Karachi Love application for tourists visiting the port city and even a Pakistan Animated Theme to liven up the smartphone.

Limited access to apps

BB users welcomed the much-awaited launch of App World, however, they still don’t have access to all the apps available on the store. RIM may have to put in more to win over rivals iPhone and Android whose users enjoy unlimited access to the App Store and Android Marketplace, respectively, according to experts.

Pakistani users, according to Saihgal, will have access to the Middle East catalogue that provides access to only 40,000 apps.

Though appreciated, RIM’s recent move was not a surprise for industry analysts who believe it was always on the cards – especially due to increasing popularity of iPhone and Android-powered phones.

“BlackBerry certainly dominated Pakistani market until 2010. However, its market share fell recently after iPhone gained more popularity among masses,” said a telecom official who requested not to be named. Introduction of android-powered phones to the market was another blow to the Canadian smartphone maker, official added.

Responding to a question, the official said companies usually give BlackBerry to their executives and managers as part of their job package, which is why it dominates the corporate sector. He, however, added iPhones and Android-powered phones have recently gained much popularity among masses in the country, it is, therefore, hard to say whether BlackBerry still dominates the country’s smartphone market or not.

The exact figures for BlackBerry’s market share in Pakistan could not be obtained – mainly due to the information being confidential – however, three telecom sources estimated that there are about 1 million BB users in Pakistan.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/374851/smartphone-wars-pakistan-part-of-blackberrys-shift-to-emerging-markets/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Huffington Post piece on dangers faced by journalists in Pakistan:

In the context of defense and security cooperation, Britain could offer Pakistan assistance in reversing impunity in the killings of journalists. These murders have been attributed to government officials, criminal gangs, wealthy business owners, and militant groups. Assistance to local police investigators working on these unsolved cases--coupled with a commitment to increase the forensic capabilities of local and national police--would go far in protecting journalists. Increased law enforcement capacity is also in the interest of the broader public.

As for those journalists covering dangerous assignments, Britain could offer two forms of assistance that would have immediate impact:

Getting helmets, body armor, and other protective gear into the hands of at-risk journalists would be an immediate and cost-effective way of protecting lives. In the past, there have been problems getting this gear through Pakistani customs, an issue that could be resolved by the talks in London.
By helping bear the cost of security training to individual journalists--and preparing Pakistani trainers to pass on that knowledge to the larger press corps--British aid could go far in saving lives. Journalist organizations and media companies have taken steps to improve training, but more assistance is needed.

And here is one other proposal: In cooperation with international aid donors and partnering with a Pakistani academic institution of appropriate stature, Britain could help launch a graduate school of journalism in Pakistan. Many newsroom managers say they are hiring journalism students who are eager but not fully prepared. The problem is partly caused by the explosion of demand; Pakistani media has been going through a protracted period of growth for quite a while. But many of Pakistan's media and communications schools don't seem to have the budgets or the programs, in English, Urdu, or Pashto, to meet the industry's demand for newsroom-ready reporters. And if that graduate school of journalism should also host a journalists' safety training program, who would find fault with that?


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/committee-to-protect-journalists/uk-should-help-pakistan-t_b_1501244.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on the growth of mass media in Pakistan:

..We now have 90 TV channels besides 28 foreign channels vying for Pakistani audience. Similarly, there are at least 106 licensed FM radio station and a countless illegal FM stations mostly operated by various madrassas.

Traditionally, Pakistani media was effusively owned or dictated by establishment mechanism or party in power until 2001. There was only one state-owned TV channel, PTV with some semi-government and privately owned entertainment content like STN and NTM. Radio market was fully monopolized by Radio Pakistan. Pervez Musharaf’s military regime, under immense internal and international pressure opened up electronic media market for local and foreign investors in 2001.

In 2002, government established an electronic media regulatory body called PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media regulatory Authority) with a mandate of issuing licenses to private firms for operating in Pakistani media market. Furthermore, authority is also responsible for regulating electronic media content distribution and monitoring; hence it can ban or put fine on any channel or company for not following terms and criteria given by the government [1]. According to PEMRA’s 2009 report, it has issued licenses to 83 channels in the private sector. In the same year, about 60 channels were fully functional in private sector including 22 news channels, 35 in general entertainment category and 3 of the religious genre. Now in 2010, total number of channels has reached 90. While foreign channels providing entertainment and news are 28 in number, there are four educational channels run by Virtual University and five by state-owned Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV). PEMRA’s report also reveals that the electronic media industry is providing bread and butter to 150000 people directly and seven million people indirectly in Pakistan [2] though at some extent these figures are quite dubious. It is estimated that total investment in electronic media has exceeded $2.5 billion and 17 percent of population relies on electronic media for first hand information [3]. The investment in media industry is growing at the rate of 07 percent per annum [4].
------------
Meanwhile, the TV viewership has reached to 86 million in 2009 which was only 63 million in 2004[8]. Interestingly, in the last 5 years, viewership in villages, small and medium size cities, increased tremendously and has reached to 68 million while metropolitan and large cities have a viewership of total 18 million. According to some other sources, total viewership of television has reached to 115 million [9]. Pakistani media has grown at the rate of 132 percent per year in last one decade with 150 advertising agencies and 74 production companies [10].
-----------
According to these figures total exposure of print media including newspapers and magazines (72%) is still less than 89% exposure of the television which has become a dominant medium in last one decade. All three most circulated newspapers and top two most circulated magazines are owned by the same media moguls who are influential in the TV market. Print media is the oldest media and historically most influential media which has publications in 11 languages and daily circulation of around 4 million, despite a tremendous diversity in cultures and ethnicity in the society of Pakistan [12]...


http://www.viewpointonline.net/media-boom-90-channels-106-fm-stations-in-10-years.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on revival of Pakistani cinema:

There’s been a lot of hue and cry about the decline of Pakistani cinema, but with a number of feature films under production and a lot of TV directors switching to films, the situation is expected to drastically change and the industry may get its much-needed overhaul. Here is a list of all those projects which are currently under production.

Faisal Aman Khan

Faisal Aman Khan, an independent film-maker who is based in the UK, is directing Kaptaan, a biographical film about the life of Pakistani politician, social worker and former cricketer Imran Khan. Although TOI reported that the film was in post-production stage in 2011, its release date has been moved from February to fall.

Jaami

Music director Jamshed Mahmood Ansari, better known as Jaami, has impressed us lately with his work. From “Mein Tou Dekhoonga” to “Bum Phatta”, Jaami has come at par with the likes of Saqib Malik, who is one of the most established directors of Pakistan but hasn’t been contributing to the music video scenario lately.

Jaami, who has slowly and gradually come to the fore by directing music videos, is all set to make his own film. Unlike most film-makers, who are known to keep their films consistently in the “pre-production phase”, Jaami has already completed one spell of his shoot and the director, along with his crew members, was seen last winter shooting in Muslim Bagh, a place near Quetta. Rumour has it that the second spell of the shoot is about to begin and filming locations are spread out all over Pakistan. We have very high expectations from Jaami.

Yasir Nawaz and Ismail Jilani

Chameli is the brainchild of Ismail Jillani, who has worked for a leading private channel earlier and produced famous documentaries and shows like “George Ka Pakistan” and Yasir Nawaz, who recently made Bhaag Amina Bhaag. For now, we don’t exactly know what to expect from the duo but one thing is for sure, the film will be a commercial venture.

Nadeem Mandviwalla

Nadeem Mandviwalla, who is the owner of Mandviwalla Entertainment, which is responsible for some of the key cinemas in the country and distributes films throughout Pakistan, is now producing a film which is being funded by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR). It revolves around the life of one of Pakistan Army’s martyrs. Although the name of the director is not confirmed yet, one expects hordes of people walking into cinemas when a name like Mandviwalla is involved.

Humayun Saeed

With a CV that boasts walking the ramps for top designers, acting in several dramas, featuring in various commercials, and owning one of the most noticeable drama production companies in Pakistan, the last thing left for Humayun Saeed to do is to make a film. And he’s doing just that with Main Hun Shahid Afridi that revolves around a boy’s struggles in his journey to become a cricketer. The script has been written by well-known TV writer Vasay Chaudhry and will be directed by Osama Ali Raza.

Iram Parveen Bilal

Iram Parveen Bilal, who shares her name with that of Bollywood actor Kareena Kapoor’s character in Agent Vinod, has wrapped up the shoot of her film Josh. The film stars model Aaminah Sheikh and RJ and actor Khalid Malik amongst many others and should release. In the past, Bilal took her last short film Poshak to different exhibitions and festivals around the world and brought Pakistan a lot of fame.

Bilal Lashari and Bodhicitta Film Works
...


http://tribune.com.pk/story/379141/pakistani-cinema-promising-projects-in-the-pipeline/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of an Op Ed by Ejaz Haider in Express Tribune:

The Express-Freely Tribune (EFT)? The new kid on the block making waves, printing everyone from that obnoxious ISPR-ISI-CIA-RAW-Mossad-DPC agent EH to the respectable, politically correct libs, Pak-style. They are a free for all maila, the EFT-wallahs, even getting the injuns to comment freely. But most of all they are the Twitteratis’ heartthrobs, trending there constantly. Just the kinda paper for the impending blogger-to-become-op-ed-disaster.

Next step, crucial for product positioning, is to select the right topics, issues that get 400 tweets and 2k likes on Facebook and establish you as the best thing that has happened this side of the Gospels. Here’s a guide.

Write about the Deep State. What? You don’t know what Deep State is? What a loser. Deep State is a state within a state. It lies deep, buried under layers of deception. Only a few of the insightful can see it and are privy to its shenanigans. But do not despair. You don’t have to know what it is. The EFT readers get it when they see the phrase Deep State. Just use your conclusion about Deep State as your unstated premise and screw the rest. The phrase has its own 100-tweets-and-500-FB-Likes rating even if you don’t say much else. Simply put, in Pakistan, if you haven’t had a good crap for days, blame it on the Deep State. No, it’s not the Orwellian Big Brother. It’s very Pakistani and there’s nothing literary about it.

Next, but most important and allied with the Deep-State positioning, is your approach to the Pakistan-damned-need-to-be-defenestrated-army. This is an army, just in case you didn’t know this, which Voltaire predicted about. You don’t have to know who the sucker was and when and where he lived. Just remember the name for devil’s sake. You also don’t need to know his contributions to history, philosophy, prose, poetry etcetera (the Twitterati are not interested). You just need to know what he said about an army with a state rather than the other way round. No, he didn’t say it for Prussia. He said it about the Pakistani military. Now stick to this 101 if you don’t want to spoil your chances with the EFT readership.


tribune.com.pk/story/385779/make-it-big-on-express-freely-tribune/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on the rise of televangelists in Pakistan:

Islamic groups in Pakistan were initially hostile to cable TV because of concerns about "obscene" foreign imports, but religion now dominates the airwaves. A new breed of Islamic TV evangelist has emerged, leading to a confrontation with liberals.

On any day of the week, television in Pakistan is a potent cocktail of soap operas, fiery political debate and, increasingly, pop-Islam.
---------
Farhat Hashmi has been accused of embezzling funds from her television show and fleeing to Canada to avoid prosecution, although she denies any wrongdoing. And Mehar Bukhari, known for her political interviews, sparked outrage by declaring the politician she was speaking to was a heretic.

Another mullah clashed with a Bollywood actress on live television after condemning her behaviour - that clip subsequently became a viral hit.

But the best-known of all the TV evangelists is Dr Amir Liaqat. From a glossy television studio above a parade of run-down shops in Karachi, he had an audience of millions for Alim aur Alam, a live one-hour show that went out five days a week across Pakistan.

The programme allowed Dr Liaqat to play the role of a religious "Agony Uncle", remedying the religious dilemmas of his audience.

In September 2008, Liaqat dedicated an entire episode to exploring the beliefs of the Ahmedis, a Muslim sect which has been declared as "un-Islamic" by much of the orthodoxy. In it, two scholars said that anyone who associated with false prophets was "worthy of murder".

Dr Khalid Yusaf, an Ahmedi Muslim, watched the programme with his family, and says he was shocked that a mainstream channel would broadcast this kind of material.

"They talked about murder as a religious duty. A duty for 'good' Muslims."

Within 24 hours of the broadcast, a prominent member of the Ahmedi community was shot dead in the small town of Mirpur Kass. Twenty-four hours later Khalid Yusaf's father, another Ahmedi community leader, was killed by two masked gunmen.

Liaqat has distanced himself from the shootings. "I have no regrets because it has nothing to do with me," he says. "I'm hurt by what happened and I'm sorry for the families but it has nothing to do with me or anything that was said on my programme."
------
The "Veena vs the Mullah" incident turned Malik into a symbol of struggle for Pakistani liberals. Mansoor Raza from Citizens for Democracy, a campaign group that has openly supported religious minorities, says Malik's new-found status as a darling of the left is a sign of the times.

"More and more women wearing the niqab, the full face covering now. Many of these are middle-class housewives that watch these religious shows”

"I know housewives who wear the hijab," he says. "They call Veena Malik a hero. She said what we all wanted to say. Our politicians are failing us and so it's left to film stars like Veena Malik to speak out."
----
Liaqat says these programmes have appeal because they educate. "I want to spread a message of love. Despite all the controversy I am still here and audiences love me because people want to learn about religion. That's why people watch these programmes. People want to learn."

Badar Alam, editor of the Karachi Herald, believes that television could be changing the way Islam is practised in Pakistan - for instance, more women wearing the niqab.

He believes that middle-class housewives who tune into the religious shows are learning cultural practices that are quite alien to Pakistan.

The flux between mainstream Pakistani Islam and a more hardline version of the faith is being fought out on Pakistani TV screens each day.
....


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18729683

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg story on Pakistan seeking US investments:

The American Business Council, that includes the Pakistan units of Coca-Cola Co. and Cisco Systems Inc., plans to invite 10 U.S. companies a year to invest in the South Asian nation and take advantage of rising consumer demand.

“Branded product penetration in Pakistan is so low that the potential for growth is immense,” Saad Amanullah Khan, president of the council, said in an interview in Karachi today. Up to 80 percent of American companies operating in Pakistan, especially technology and consumer goods companies, had a “good year” in 2011.

Pakistan needs to increase overseas investment to help meet an economic growth target of 4.3 percent in the year that began July 1. Foreign direct investment declined 50 percent to $813 million in the year ended June 30, according to the central bank.

The council plans to double its membership of U.S. companies from 63 in the next five years and increase the total investment to $1 billion from $663 million, said Khan, 51, who is also chief executive officer of Gillette Pakistan Ltd.

Pakistan agreed this month to end a seven-month ban on North Atlantic Treaty Organization trucks crossing its territory on the way to Afghanistan, easing tensions with the U.S., its biggest trading partner. The routes were reopened after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized for the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a November border strike by American helicopters.

Pakistan’s credit rating was lowered deeper into junk status by Moody’s Investors Service on July 13, which cited dwindling currency reserves and political instability. The $200 billion economy faces the fastest inflation in Asia, lingering power blackouts, an insurgency on the Afghan border and reduced aid flows.


http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-07-16/american-business-council-of-pakistan-to-target-fresh-investment

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation report on Telenor's growing business:

Telenor Pakistan posted record quarterly revenue of Rs 23 billion according to the latest figures released by the Telenor Group, says a press release. It added 615,000 subscriptions during April-June, ending with 29.9 million subscribers, a growth of 12pc over the same quarter last year. The company’s EBITDA margin observed an impressive YoY growth of 26pc, while market share remained stable at 24pc.Chief Executive Officer Lars Christian Iuel, speaking about the solid quarter figures, said: “I am pleased with the performance of Telenor Pakistan in the second quarter of 2012. Despite operating in a challenging business environment, we have posted strong results, which are a testament of our employees’ hard work and unrelenting dedication.” During the second quarter of the year, Telenor Pakistan launched the second phase of its mobile phone application development project Djuice Opportunity. The company also joined hands with the Government of Punjab and AJK for provision of information service via SMS to farmers.Also in the reporting period, Telenor Talkshawk Internet Champion– a knowledge-based initiative to help empower digital generation in Pakistan– was concluded in AJK, whereas it is currently underway in Punjab. Overall, Telenor Group reported revenues of NOK 25.4 billion, representing an organic revenue growth of 5%. EBITDA before other items was NOK eight billion, EBITDA margin was 31.7% and operating cash flow was NOK 5.1billion. With five million new customers added in the period, Telenor’s total subscription base has now passed 150 million.

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/26-Jul-2012/telenor-pakistan-continues-to-perform-well-in-q2-2012

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on telecom growth forecast in Pakistan:

The mobile phone subscriber base is expected to cross 160 million mark and broadband subscribers to cross 19.5 million by 2020, according to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s ‘Telecom Vision 2020‘ report.

The number of fixed line subscribers is expected to remain in the range of five million, the report added.

The broadband connections have increased from 1.49 million in June last year to 1.92 million and this increase is mainly attributed to continuous aggressive launching of products like EvDO, WiMax, FTTP in the broadband arena by telecom companies at affordable price.

It said broadband will be the main medium of personalised communication from which users will be able to effectively and affordably access any service from any device or network. In the next ten years, 4G technology will usher the usage of new applications such as IPTV and Web-TV.

In the future, PTA will be concentrating on re-farming of spectrum to cater the increased demand of broadband and wireless technologies, envisioning telecom to become the communication highway for sharing of knowledge as well as reaching out to a large segment of population in education and health services delivery.

The report further said that the telecom roadmap for 2020 is likely to witness 100 per cent infrastructure development wherein a wide range of services will be available on converged infrastructure platform.

Talking to APP, an official said on Wednesday that Rs 1.13 billion have been earmarked for SUPARCO, SCO and Ministry of IT to execute 16 approved projects worth Rs 11.1 billion.

The important projects that will be executed this year include construction of Cross-Border Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) for alternate international connectivity and laying of OFC to connect remote areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK.

He added that SUPARCO would develop various laboratories for National Satellite Development Programme in Lahore. The other projects are development of Compact Antenna Test Range (CATR), Satellite bus development facility (Phase-I), development of a Satellite Assembly Integration and Test (SAINT) and Altitude & Orbital Control System (AOCS) Center.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/413152/cell-phone-users-to-cross-160-million-broadband-to-19-5-million-by-2020-pta/

http://www.pta.gov.pk/media/final_vision_2020_booklet.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Express Tribune on rapid growth of broadband Internet access in Pakistan:

The current global economic recession has had a spiral effect worldwide and only a few segments have been able to resist its impact. However, the amazing growth of broadband in the last decade is an outstanding national success story. High-speed internet streaming is revolutionising the way people learn, communicate, work and do business. Broadband internet is now the backbone of corporate services and even small businesses.

Owing to their own limitations, some telecommunications operators are making misleading claims about the state of broadband penetration in Pakistan by incorrectly linking it with the country’s economic situation. Contrary to such ill-informed claims made in haste, the country has witnessed a 70 times increase in broadband proliferation in the last six years. The numbers speak for themselves.

According to the Pakistan Telecommu-nication Authority (PTA) data, the number of broadband internet subscribers in Pakistan increased from less than 27,000 in 2005-2006 to more than 1.9 million in 2012. One website, Internetworldstats.com, puts Pakistan’s total internet users at more than 29 million with a population penetration of 15.5 per cent. The total number of fixed phones and mobile phone subscribers stand at 3.1 million and 118.3 million, respectively. The PTA data further reveals that broadband internet put up an impressive growth rate of 28 per cent from June 2011 to March 2012, surpassing a mobile growth rate which stood at nine per cent for the same period. Given these facts, conveniently blaming the economy to cover operators’ own institutional limitations and lack of infrastructural capacity are tantamount to a disservice to the nation.

Broadband services were first introduced in Pakistan in 2001, by installing equipment on existing copper lines used for provision of telephony services. Initially, DSL broadband services were only provided to a small consumer base of high-end users in the big cities. But progress was slow and penetration was negligible. In response, the Government of Pakistan introduced the Broadband Policy of 2004, revising backhaul bandwidth charges downwards to propel broader penetration.

Broadband growth has been achieved during recession years, where the average GDP growth rate has remained less than four per cent per year. Today, broadband internet is a household product and one connection serves an entire family.

Pakistan is ranked among the top few countries to have registered high growth in broadband internet penetration in recent years. According to global broadband tracker Point Topic’s 2011 report, Pakistan stood in fourth place in Asia with 46.2 per cent growth in subscriber base whereas Sri Lanka and India were placed at number 11 and number 14, respectively. The tremendous potential of broadband internet in Pakistan can be gauged by analysing the last four years’ progress through the PTA’s data. Broadband internet penetration was less than one percent per household in 2008. In 2012, it has reached seven per cent. This mammoth growth has fuelled a broadband revolution, resulting in an increase in customer base and also helping wireless broadband technologies to expand setting the economic wheel in motion.

Despite hollow claims, the truth is that the growth trajectory of broadband is not the same for all operators. A sluggish economy and power crisis is not the reason for this stark dichotomy. Rather, it depends on an operator’s network, infrastructure capabilities, investment size, business model and growth strategy. Technology takes time to grow but once the wheel is set in motion, the effect is viral.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/416535/broadband-growth-dont-blame-the-economy/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR report on telecom equipment imports in Pakistan:

The imports of various telecom products witnessed increase of 23.89 percent during the fiscal year 2011-12 as against the same period of the previous year.

The over all imports of telecom sector reached to US$1.268 billion during July-June (2011-12) against the imports of US$ 1.023 billion recorded during July-June (2010-11), according to data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

Among the telecom sector, the highest increase of 31.63 was witnessed in mobile phones, imports of which increased from US$ 522.825 million to US$688.170 million, the PBS data revealed.

The imports of other telecom apparatus increased from US$500.712 million to US$579.899 million, showing increase of 15.81 percent.

Meanwhile, during the month of June 2012, the telecom imports increased by 13.04 percent as compared to the imports of June 2011 while decreased by 20.43 percent when compared to the imports of May 2011.

The telecom imports in June 2012 stood at US$ 96.680 million against the imports of US$ 85.527 million in June 2011 and US$ 121.499 in May 2012, the data revealed.

During the month under review, the mobile phone imports surged 25.63 percent when compared to the imports of June 2011 and decreased by 11.17 percent when compared to the imports of May 2012.

In June, the mobile phone imports were recorded at US$ 56.176 million against the imports of US$ 44.714 in June 2011 and US$ 63.237 in May 2011.

However, in June 2012, the imports of other telecom apparatus decreased by 0.76 percent and 30.48 percent as compared to the imports of June 2011 and May 2012.

The imports of telecom apparatus in June 2012 stood at US$ 40.504 million against the imports of US$ 40.813 million in June 2011 and US$ 58.262 million in May 2011, the data revealed.

It is pertinent to mention here that the overall impost from the country during the fiscal year 2011-12 increased by 11.13 percent.

The imports during the year under review were recorded at US$ 44.912 billion against the imports of US$40.414 billion, according to the PBS data.


http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/108-pakistan-top-news/72599-telecom-mobile-imports-up-2389pc-3163pc.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece on Pak televangelists as published in The Platform:

A plethora of delusional televangelists can be found across Pakistan’s media landscape. A cursory flick through the nation’s channels during the holy month of Ramadan reveals all manner of self-styled religious scholars giving the feeble minded advice on issues ranging from preferential trouser length to whether it’s alright to work alongside women. Foremost amongst these for quite some years now has remained mini-fatwa specialist, Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain.

In Pakistan last summer, an aunty of mine would practically perform wudhu, ablutions, and don a headscarf prior to tuning in to his show – Alim Online – every night, where Dr Sahib could be found adorned in sparkly sherwanis, imparting knowledge to the masses. It wouldn’t take long for the eminent scholar to be wailing, shaking, with hands pointed towards the heavens, making supplications for the population. Millions nationwide, transfixed by his seeming piety would wipe tears from their eyes in unison. Laughing at the spectacle, I was regularly tutted at for failing to show respect – for close to God this man assuredly was. ---
In 2006, Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission declared his degree, master’s, and doctorate unrecognised. It materialised that his certificates were purchased from a degree-mill in Spain. Not a big problem, you might suggest, considering the Chief Minister of Baluchistan and close ally of the President once remarked, ‘A degree is a degree, whether real or fake’. Indeed the incumbent president Asif Ali Zardari isn’t in possession of one either, after being caught with his pants down on the issue several times – his naming of an imaginary London college was a particular highlight.

Returning to our esteemed scholar, the more sensible among us saw right through his facade from day one. On billboards everywhere could be found his airbrushed face, often starward gazing; the sight would make you want to hurl something at him. Or simply hurl.

Formerly part of the Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and once enjoying the position of Religious Affairs Minister in the cabinet of Shaukat Aziz, he was booted in 2010 out of his party for fanning religious hatred. Intolerance and fantastical conspiracy theories happen to be some of Liaquat’s specialties, aided by nifty oration, pretentious Urdu, and a melodious voice. Famously, in late 2008, he and two guests on his popular show declared members of the smaller Ahmadi sect of Islam, Wajib-ul-Qatl, deserving of death. Within two days of its airing, two prominent Ahmadi community leaders were shot dead and many more were forced to flee their homes. When later grilled about the incident, Liaquat point blank refused to accept any responsibility. Is it any wonder minority groups are doing all they can today to flee the country?

---

With Pakistanis nationwide continuing to lap up his sermons and melodrama, it wasn’t until a video leak on 14 August 2010 that many thought his career might finally be over. The nine-minute video gave viewers an insight into his holiness’ off-air antics during commercial breaks. Sitting comfortably in his studio with his trademark hair, a side partition with enough tarka, oil, for you to fry Ramadan samosas in, Dr Sahib receives a phone call from a desperate sounding woman asking about the permissibility of committing suicide. Such is his concern for this woman that seconds into a commercial break he bursts out laughing. Next, he expresses his appreciation for a certain ‘marvelous’ Bollywood rape scene, asking two bemused guests repeatedly whether or not they’d seen the film Ghalib. Effing and blinding throughout, he also sporadically breaks in to Bollywood number..


http://www.the-platform.org.uk/2012/08/15/pakistan%E2%80%99s-undying-love-for-televangelists/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times on Pak televangelist Aamer Liaquat Husain "the sinner-repenter":

Mr. Hussain, 41, is a broadcasting sensation in Pakistan. His marathon transmissions during the recent holy month of Ramadan — 11 hours a day, for 30 days straight — offered viewers a kaleidoscopic mix of prayer, preaching, game shows and cookery, and won record ratings for his channel, Geo Entertainment.

“This is not just a religious show; we want to entertain people through Islam,” Mr. Hussain said during a backstage interview, serving up a chicken dish he had prepared on the show. “And the people love it.”

Yet Mr. Hussain is also a deeply contentious figure, accused of using his television pulpit to promote hate speech and crackpot conspiracy theories. He once derided a video showing Taliban fighters flogging a young woman as an “international conspiracy.” He supported calls to kill the author Salman Rushdie.

Most controversially, in 2008 he hosted a show in which Muslim clerics declared that members of the Ahmadi community, a vulnerable religious minority, were “deserving of death.” Forty-eight hours later, two Ahmadi leaders, one of them an American citizen, had been shot dead in Punjab and Sindh Provinces.

Many media critics held Mr. Hussain partly responsible, and the show so appalled American diplomats that they urged the State Department to sever a lucrative contract with Geo, which they accused of “specifically targeting” Ahmadis, according to a November 2008 cable published by WikiLeaks.

Now, Mr. Hussain casts himself as a repentant sinner. In his first Ramadan broadcast, he declared that Ahmadis had an “equal right to freedom” and issued a broad apology for “anything I had said or done.” In interviews, prompted by his own management, he portrays himself as a torchbearer for progressive values.

“Islam is a religion of harmony, love and peace,” he said, as he waited to have his makeup refreshed. “But tolerance is the main thing.”

IN some ways, Mr. Hussain is emblematic of the cable television revolution that has shaped public discourse in Pakistan over the past decade. He was the face of Geo when the upstart, Urdu-language station began broadcasting from a five-star hotel in Karachi in 2002. Then he went political, winning a parliamentary seat in elections late that year. The station gave him a religious chat show, Aalim Online, which brought together Sunni and Shiite clerics. The show received a broad welcome in a society troubled by sectarian tensions; it also brought Mr. Hussain to the attention of the military leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who was reportedly touched by its content. In 2005, General Musharraf appointed him junior minister for religious affairs, a post he held for two years.

Mr. Hussain’s success, with his manic energy and quick-fire smile, is rooted in his folksy broadcasting style, described as charming by fans and oily by critics. By his own admission, he has little formal religious training, apart from a mail-order doctorate in Islamic studies he obtained from an online Spanish university in order to qualify for election in 2002.

“I have the experience of thousands of clerics; in my mind there are thousands of answers,” he said.

That pious image was dented in 2011 when embarrassing outtakes from his show, leaked on YouTube, showed him swearing like a sailor during the breaks and making crude jokes with chuckling clerics. “It was my lighter side,” Mr. Hussain said. (Previously, he had claimed the tapes were doctored.)

But that episode did little to hurt his appeal to the middle-class Pakistanis who form his core audience. “Aamir Liaquat is a warm, honest and soft-natured person,” said Shahida Rao, a veiled Karachi resident, as she entered a recent broadcast, accompanied by her 6-year-old grandson. “We like him a lot.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/01/world/asia/a-star-televangelist-in-pakistan-divides-then-repents.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times on Pak televangelist Aamer Liaquat Husain "the sinner-repenter":

Mr. Hussain, 41, is a broadcasting sensation in Pakistan. His marathon transmissions during the recent holy month of Ramadan — 11 hours a day, for 30 days straight — offered viewers a kaleidoscopic mix of prayer, preaching, game shows and cookery, and won record ratings for his channel, Geo Entertainment.

“This is not just a religious show; we want to entertain people through Islam,” Mr. Hussain said during a backstage interview, serving up a chicken dish he had prepared on the show. “And the people love it.”

Yet Mr. Hussain is also a deeply contentious figure, accused of using his television pulpit to promote hate speech and crackpot conspiracy theories. He once derided a video showing Taliban fighters flogging a young woman as an “international conspiracy.” He supported calls to kill the author Salman Rushdie.

Most controversially, in 2008 he hosted a show in which Muslim clerics declared that members of the Ahmadi community, a vulnerable religious minority, were “deserving of death.” Forty-eight hours later, two Ahmadi leaders, one of them an American citizen, had been shot dead in Punjab and Sindh Provinces.

Many media critics held Mr. Hussain partly responsible, and the show so appalled American diplomats that they urged the State Department to sever a lucrative contract with Geo, which they accused of “specifically targeting” Ahmadis, according to a November 2008 cable published by WikiLeaks.

Now, Mr. Hussain casts himself as a repentant sinner. In his first Ramadan broadcast, he declared that Ahmadis had an “equal right to freedom” and issued a broad apology for “anything I had said or done.” In interviews, prompted by his own management, he portrays himself as a torchbearer for progressive values.

“Islam is a religion of harmony, love and peace,” he said, as he waited to have his makeup refreshed. “But tolerance is the main thing.”

IN some ways, Mr. Hussain is emblematic of the cable television revolution that has shaped public discourse in Pakistan over the past decade. He was the face of Geo when the upstart, Urdu-language station began broadcasting from a five-star hotel in Karachi in 2002. Then he went political, winning a parliamentary seat in elections late that year. The station gave him a religious chat show, Aalim Online, which brought together Sunni and Shiite clerics. The show received a broad welcome in a society troubled by sectarian tensions; it also brought Mr. Hussain to the attention of the military leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who was reportedly touched by its content. In 2005, General Musharraf appointed him junior minister for religious affairs, a post he held for two years.

Mr. Hussain’s success, with his manic energy and quick-fire smile, is rooted in his folksy broadcasting style, described as charming by fans and oily by critics. By his own admission, he has little formal religious training, apart from a mail-order doctorate in Islamic studies he obtained from an online Spanish university in order to qualify for election in 2002.

“I have the experience of thousands of clerics; in my mind there are thousands of answers,” he said.

That pious image was dented in 2011 when embarrassing outtakes from his show, leaked on YouTube, showed him swearing like a sailor during the breaks and making crude jokes with chuckling clerics. “It was my lighter side,” Mr. Hussain said. (Previously, he had claimed the tapes were doctored.)

But that episode did little to hurt his appeal to the middle-class Pakistanis who form his core audience. “Aamir Liaquat is a warm, honest and soft-natured person,” said Shahida Rao, a veiled Karachi resident, as she entered a recent broadcast, accompanied by her 6-year-old grandson. “We like him a lot.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/01/world/asia/a-star-televangelist-in-pakistan-divides-then-repents.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR piece on Colgate Palmolive Pakistan:

Colgate Palmolive Pakistan, one of the leading manufacturers of personal care and consumer products in the country, began its operations back in 1985 when the US granted the firm license to manufacture and market Colgate Palmolive products in Pakistan.

Currently, the firm is engaged in the production and marketing of some of the leading international brands of oral and personal care products, bringing a few of the world's most trusted household names such as Colgate Toothpaste and Palmolive Naturals to the Pakistani market.

Working under the umbrella of the Lakson Group, the company boasts of 450 distributors across the country and has been a KSE top performer, being listed amongst the Top 25 best performing companies for seven years straight as of 2012.

Financial highlights The company's accounts ended 30th June saw its Net Profits go through the roof, managing a 38.7 percent increase to top off Rs 1.6 billion versus Rs 1.17 billion recorded last year on account of a hefty top-line growth that saw sales climb by 28.6 percent year on year.

The steady growth in revenue, which amounted to Rs 18.71 billion- up from Rs 14.15 billion in the last year-came mainly off the back of the firm's well spent money devoted to advertisement and distribution as well as through effective in-store promotions which allowed the relevant brands to achieve steady volume growth thorough out the year.

The company managed to retain profitability as a result of their ongoing cost-saving initiatives which enabled to offset the exorbitant input prices hindering most other manufacturers. Consequently, the firm also made small price adjustments across various products to pass on the rising costs of packaging and raw material to the consumers, thereby ensuring that the Gross profit margin only saw a small decline, going down to 28.92 percent as compared to 29.40 percent.

However, despite the fact that the rising input prices dampened the firm's stellar top line growth somewhat, Colgate continued to steadily increase its overall spending on sales promotion which has been mainly responsible for the propagation of the company's sales volumes. Overall, the media and promotional spending increased by 43 percent, going up to Rs 1.6 billion as compared to Rs 1.1 billion spent during the same period last year.

The year-end also saw Colgate's financial position improve as the firm's cash and cash equivalents increased by 35.3 percent, signing off at Rs 840 million, up from Rs 620 million recorded during last year.

Key operational highlights In the previous quarter, Colgate Palmolive Pakistan had launched "Brite Anti Bacterial Detergent" powder, which was the first such product in the Pakistani market. Marketed as a detergent with a unique germ-busting formula, this latest innovation was hailed positively by the consumers. The product continued to strengthen Colgate's equity during the last leg of FY12, and was a major driver of sales volume growth.

In the dishwashing category, Colgate saw increasing competition from a number of local and imported brands, however, the firm arranged a brand re-launch for the entire Lemon Max range. This make-over saw one of the pioneer dishwashing products on the market undergo an overhaul and acquiring a new look. Formulated with real lemon juice, the re-launched Lemon Max boasted greater grease cutting powers in heavily circulating adverts, which allowed increased brand equity and sales growth......


http://www.brecorder.com/brief-recordings/0/1238003/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times story of a Pakistan FM station fighting the Taliban:

PESHAWAR: Slowly, Ziarat Bibi recalled the last words she spoke to her son, her pain seeming to fill the dimly lit radio studio.

“He was preparing for his exam. I told him to pick up his books,” she said, as transmitters beamed her grief to listeners across northwest Pakistan. A Taliban bomb killed her son before he took his exam. She has not been able to touch his books since. Bibi is one of many bereaved mothers sharing their stories on a Pashto-language radio show aimed at undercutting support for Taliban in their heartlands along the rugged frontier between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan’s weak civilian government, a US ally often derided as inept and corrupt, is struggling to defeat the insurgency and largely failing to win hearts and minds.

State-run radio spent years issuing dry updates on the prime minister’s schedule while Taliban broadcast hit lists and fiery recruitment calls from dozens of FM stations, some hidden in the back of a donkey cart. Alarmed at the success of hardline propaganda, veteran Pakistani journalist Imtiaz Gul decided to try something different – a mix of reports and live debates designed to get people thinking critically about militancy.

One of his shows is called The Dawn and the other The Voice of Peace. They are an hour long and run back to back. New transmitters funded by the United States and Japan are about to start beaming them out across the mountains. Recent topics have covered how to respond if al Qaeda members show up on your doorstep, whether polio vaccination campaigns are run by the CIA and if suicide bombs killing Muslims are justified.

Pashtun tribal elders, mullahs, activists, and officials hold debates and listeners are invited to call in. A recent show on whether religious leaders were doing enough to promote peace got more than 80 calls. It wasn’t always like that. When Gul first started the shows in 2009, people were too scared to talk.

The army had just pushed back Taliban leader Fazlullah, nicknamed Mullah Radio for his broadcasts, from the Swat Valley, after he had advanced to within 100km of the capital. Fazlullah used his FM radio to issue calls for holy war, to denounce polio vaccination as a Western plot and to threaten those who dared stand up to him. “Everyone would want to listen to the militants’ broadcasts to make sure his or her name was not on the hit list,” the United Nations noted in a report. But Gul thought the radio could provide a unique opportunity for people living in the shadow of daily violence to tackle subjects ordinarily taboo. He started off providing information about flood relief and gradually expanded the shows to include stories like Bibi’s.

Gul wants more than sympathy. He wants his Pashtun listeners to start thinking critically about their beliefs and traditions after years of being bombarded with pro-Taliban propaganda. “The wave of terrorism forced people into silence,” said Gul. “In this society you are not encouraged to ask questions.” When he recently ran a programme about the ancient Pashtun tradition of giving refuge, the studio’s ancient, beige telephone lit up...


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\09\25\story_25-9-2012_pg7_19

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of Al-Arabiya story on Turkish soap airing in Pakistan:

Coincidentally, the talk of the town in Pakistan these days is a flamboyant Turkish soap opera having a theme that revolves around a taboo subject like incest, besides over exposure, and other moral problems associated with the super rich class.

The soap opera 'Ishq e Memn' [meaning forbidden love in local language], dubbed in national language Urdu, was recently-concluded on a private TV channel after spanning over several months. It created much of a stir in a society having a vast majority that upholds Islamic culture and traditions, as it indulged in over exposure of actresses, showing cleavages, thighs and boasting mini-skirts etc. and the editors had to blur these parts to avoid wrath of the fundamentalists.

Such was the dimension of the ripples it created in the whole society that Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had to intervene and issue a statement saying that such soap operas were representing neither the Turkish culture nor Islam. This was perhaps for the first time that Mr. Erdogan had taken notice of something about his country on the media of a brother Islamic country, and of course the highest level of condemnation for a play.

Turkish soap opera was also aired, dubbed in Arabic, by MBC - parent group of Al Arabiya news channel, a couple of years back and it attracted quite a big audience that still savors its glamour. MBC is considered pioneer of dubbed Turkish soap operas and has aired many others for Arabic language viewers.

Erdogan’s comments set in motion the authorities in Pakistan. The standing committee of the upper house of parliament [Senate] that deals with information and broadcasting expressed its concerns over the kind of vulgar foreign content being aired offending the feelings of majority of people. The senate committee issued instructions to concerned authorities to take cognizance of the matter and take necessary steps, but the soap opera reached conclusion before any step could be taken.

The condemnation of conservative quarters in Pakistan to this soap opera was understandable, but what amazed people was the protest by the private TV production houses, TV artistes etc. who are accused of promoting vulgarity in the garb of liberalism in society. The private drama producers and artistes primarily demand banning foreign dubbed soap operas during the prime time when the rate of advertisements is the highest, fearing such a practice would destroy the private TV production industry which took birth in the country courtesy the liberal media policy of former military dictator General [retired] Pervez Musharraf over a decade ago.

They feared a doomed future for private TV production industry at the hands of unrestrained foreign soap operas, like the open import of Indian movies devastated Pakistani film industry a decade ago. Their least stressed concern was that foreign soap operas would prove disastrous for Pakistani cultural values.


http://english.alarabiya.net/views/2012/12/21/256353.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on China Mobile's plans in Pakistan:



“We are eying the number two position by 2014 at the most,” China Mobile Pakistan CEO Fan Yun Jun, sporting a Pakistan-China friendship badge on the lapel of his coat, tells The Express Tribune at the company’s headquarters in Islamabad.

In Pakistan since 2007, China Mobile’s Zong was the last player to join cellular mobile operators (CMOs) in the country. It is currently ranked fourth based on the size of its customer base with more than 17 million subscribers.

Zong recorded 50% growth in its subscriber base in 2011, and it is likely to achieve similar growth this year, according to the company. Owing to its strategy, which focuses on expanding the company’s subscriber base and cheaper calling rates, Zong has gained close to a million subscribers in the July-September quarter alone.

And while naysayers claim the company cannot survive for long based on its average revenue per user (ARPU) – currently the lowest in the industry – its optimistic CEO does not yet consider it a problem. “We in no hurry to increase our calling rates,” Jun says. “We are enjoying this position – offering the lowest calling rates in the industry.”
-------
The company may not be willing to increase calling rates just yet, but it is venturing into other areas to increase its revenues. In November 2012, Zong launched Timepey (on time), its own brand of mobile banking services, joining other operators already in the industry

Timepey looks set to get a significant initial boost from a contract for the disbursement of Army salaries. The contract is one of the major benefits it stands to gain because of its partnership with Askari Bank, which is owned by the Army Welfare Trust.

A greener company

Meanwhile, Zong is also using a combination of alternate energy sources to adjust its rising fuel costs – one of the major headaches cellular operators are currently grappling with.

“We want to increase revenue, but reduce costs at the same time,” Jun explains. “All CMOs are making efforts to use alternative energy sources [in this regard].”

Zong has provided more than 400 solar panel sets at its sites countrywide, according to Jun. Zong has also launched a pilot project on one of their sites that will run on biogas. Additionally, Jun reveals, the company is using intelligent controllers to reduce energy consumption.

Another technology introduced by the company is the multicarrier power amplifier, which has helped the company increase its energy efficiency by a great deal. “We have introduced this solution here and transferred about 70 to 80 sites on this technology. It saves us between 42-51% in energy consumption,” Jun says.

Possible merger plans?

Zong is currently working on several joint ventures with Warid Telecom. The latter is said to be in talks with all telecom operators for a possible merger. If the two operators go for it, Zong might not have to wait until 2014 to become the industry’s second largest player.

Jun, however, smartly evades the question, “Warid is an important partner and we are doing lots of joint projects. If a merger can benefit both companies, we can think about it.” At the moment, he says the company is more inclined towards infrastructure sharing – which accounts for 50% of their expansion plan.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/485610/china-mobile-pakistan-making-quick-inroads-into-pakistans-cellular-market/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET blog post on India-Pakistan cricket series coverage in Pakistan:

Most of the population in Pakistan has access to a television (of any shape or size) and the advantages that it comes with. One of these being, cable TV. In fact, channels that come from across the globe dominate our ‘viewing time.’

Amidst numerous entertainment channels, mainstream channels that are solely dedicated to sports are Star Sports, Star Cricket, Ten Sports, Geo Super, ESPN and PTV Sports.

While it may be argued that the best cricket coverage and analysis is provided by Super Sports and Sky Sports, we have to admit that they have become less accessible to the mainstream cable providers over the years, and are only available after additional payment for these channels, or alternate cable TV packages.

So watching cricket matches with top class coverage, especially with the current Indo-Pak series underway is a national concern, with cricket being a rare unifying factor in our society today.

A cricket starved fan will tune in an hour before the game starts, to listen to what the experts think, what factors they think will drive the game, and what decisions will be crucial for the captain.

It’s a fascinating hour before the game starts. Veins pumping with adrenaline, you’re excited and all geared up and you struggle to watch as many people as you can on various sports channels broadcasting the game.

Different channels employ different methods to present sports shows.

Retired cricketers, cricketers who are still in action, and senior sports journalists and analysts are employed to conduct match analyses. Although, sports analysts tend to change with every new series, sports channels have managed to associate themselves with specific analysts.

For example the Channel 9 team that covers all Test Matches in Australia: Tony Grieg, Bill Lawry, Ian Chappel and Richie Benaud; lovable and exciting, crazed enthusiast, opinionated and controversial, and a statesman, in the same order respectively.

The Geo Super team for the Indo-Pak series is Sikandar Bakht, Yahya Hussaini and Hamid Mir; they are producing a combined Pak-India Takra with an Indian channel where Kambli, Inzimam, Prabharkar and Sharma are present....


http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/15476/leading-cricket-analysts-in-pakistan-aamir-sohail-ali-sanwal-and-dr-nauman/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Telecom report on increasing mobile subscriber base i Pakistan:

The number of mobile customers in Pakistan grew to 123.60 million in November last year, up from 121.60 million in October 2012, while mobile teledensity inched up to 69.8 percent fro 68.8 percent, according to figures from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). Mobilink led the market with 36.60 million subscribers, up from 36.39 million a month earlier, followed by Telenor which had 30.81 million subscribers, compared with 30.43 million in October. Ufone's subscriber base grew to 24.31 million from 24.07 million, and Zong ended the month with 18.93 million customers, up from 17.95 million in October. Warid had 12.94 million subscribers in November compared with 12.76 million in the prior month.

http://www.telecompaper.com/news/pakistans-mobile-base-reaches-12360-mln-in-november--920582

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET Op Ed on IT developments anticipated in 2012:

2013 will see the adoption of Cloud services continue to grow in Pakistan. Increasingly, customers – both individuals and companies – will seek to store their data ‘in the Cloud’ as opposed to physical data servers, as well as avail of software services on a ‘rental’ basis. Large MNCs, banks and other financial services companies have already moved into this domain some time ago. Looking forward, educational institutions are likely to take the next step, as digitisation of educational content takes place. Some progressive institutions have already adopted softwares such as Moodle and Learning Management Systems and incorporated their curriculum on them, thereby preparing their scholars for a digital future.
-------------
Pakistan has over 100 million cellular subscribers; reportedly, around 10% of these use smart phones. Data usage has grown substantially, and there are an estimated 10 million mobile data users in Pakistan. However, it is important to note that 3G has been overhyped and may actually fall short of expectations, as it has in India.

Almost a year into its launch in India, only 2% of subscribers have opted for 3G services. 3G will require ubiquitous coverage for consumers to be satisfied with the services. WiMAX can play an important role here by offering a solution for data backhauling for telecom operators. Wateen has already deployed around 250 WiFi hotspots in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, and is ideally positioned to fulfill the data needs for mobile operators.
---------------
Branchless banking and m-commerce services will be the biggest innovations for the year. New entrants (Zong and Askari Bank, and Mobilink and Waseela) have recently launched their offerings and promise to improve the take-up of this service. New payment solutions will also be a first in the country, as smart phones enable swipe magnetic card readers and pioneering companies such as Inov8 Ltd begin to deliver on their potential for the consumer market. Smart phone apps will also be big.
-----------
In Pakistan, some companies have already started bringing Android-based devices for as low as Rs5,000. Indians have recently announced that they will be developing the world’s cheapest tablet for $35. These devices will play an exceptional role in transforming societies. The consumerisation of IT has already started taking place in Pakistan. Companies like QMobile will play an important role in the proliferation of low-cost handheld devices. This, in turn, will impact the use of mobile internet and broadband, open WiFi and WiMAX, as well as Cloud services, as consumers look to access data and media on their handheld devices.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/499410/notes-from-the-world-of-it-2013--looking-ahead-into-the-year/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on TV matchmaking in Pakistan:



Matchmaking shows have been staples of Pakistani TV for several years now, with many couples choosing to seek romance and future partners under the full gaze of television cameras.

In a society where choosing partners has traditionally been the responsibility of family elders, many believe more modern paths to romance such as this, could slowly be changing attitudes.

However, televised weddings are still a controversial subject, as BBC Urdu's Iram Abbasi reports.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21451436

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times on Telenor offering online SIM service:

ISLAMABAD: Telenor Pakistan introduced ‘SIM Delivery Service’-an online new SIM booking and Mobile Number Portability (MNP) with home delivery facility. The customers would now be able to book, purchase and join Telenor Pakistan’s network from the comfort of their homes. Customers can now conveniently book their Telenor Pakistan prepaid numbers online through SIM Delivery Service website and get the SIM delivered to their doorstep without any additional cost or hassle. The new service offers the option of selecting numbers of their choice including the 0345 Prime Code. Director Sales and Distribution Telenor Pakistan Malik Faisal Qayyum said in current regulatory environment, it was going to be a significant sales channel and we were confident that it would offer convenience to customer’s doorstep. All confirmed orders would be delivered to customers within 24 hours with cash on delivery facility. No additional delivery charges are applicable on these sales whereas the delivery service is available in 17 metro cities.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\02\21\story_21-2-2013_pg5_11

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Silicon Republic report on the future expansion of mobile telecom:

Emerging markets will be the key source of future mobile communications growth with 1.6bn new connections coming from around the world, out of which 61pc of these will come from Asia.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said that bringing the next 1bn users online will be a major disruptive force for the industry. He unveiled the new Nokia 105 device, the first full colour device with internet and email connectivity that will cost less than US$15.

Elop said: “We believe that the next 1bn people are very young and very ambitious. For the very first time they are able to afford their own mobile phone, it is not a device they have to share with their family or the village. It’s their own.”

Manoj Kohli, the CEO of India-headquartered Bharti Airtel, the third largest mobile operator in the world with 261m subscribers in 20 countries, said that for every 10pc increase in broadband penetration in a developing country there is a 1pc increase in GDP.

He said there is a need for mobile devices that cost less than US$30 and mobile broadband dongles that cost less than US$10.

At the Mobile World Congress browser creator Mozilla revealed its Firefox OS that will be included on devices from LG, Huawei, Alcatel and ZTE to bring affordable smartphones into the hands of consumers in developing markets. Operators from America Movil, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etilisat, Hutchison Three, KDDI, KT, MegaFon, Qtel, SingTel, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telenor, TMN and VimpelCom have undertaken to carry smartphone devices from the various mobile manufacturers who have committed to the new Firefox OS.

According to the GSMA, there are 3.4bn people on the planet today connected by mobile devices and this will grow to 3.9bn by 2017.

4G LTE will account for one in five connections in the world versus one out of every 25 in 2012.

The GSMA estimates that the industry is expected to spend US$1.1trn on capex in the next five years and will add 1.3m jobs around the world. The mobile industry’s contribution to global GDP between 2013 and 2017 as a result of its investment is expected to add up to US$10.5trn
----------
“Ovum forecasts that emerging markets will be the key source of future mobile connections growth, particularly in Africa and Asia-Pacific. Between 2012 and 2017, Ovum expects that there will be 1.6bn new mobile connections across the world, with 61pc of these coming from Asia-Pacific.

“While connections growth in Asia-Pacific will begin to slow towards the end of our forecast period, the region’s 4.4bn connections in 2017 will make it the greatest contributor to global connections. Growth in the Asia-Pacific region will largely be driven by the big three emerging markets of China, India, and Indonesia, which will have 3bn connections between them in 2017.

“While Asia-Pacific will generate the most new connections, Africa will be the fastest-growing region. African mobile connections will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.5pc between 2012 and 2017, increasing from 683m in 2012 to 935m in 2017.

“While connections growth is important, the biggest issue for emerging market operators will continue to be around revenue growth and how to remain profitable with a customer base of low-ARPU users.

“Both Nokia and Airtel’s CEOs talked about the need for cheaper devices. The strategies of operators in Vietnam, India, Pakistan, and Tanzania demonstrate how telcos can operate in markets where ARPU is below US$3 per month.

“While the correlation between high ARPU and profitability is not absolute, operators still need to take action to improve the amount of revenue that they make from each connection. This is of paramount importance to operators in markets where ARPU will be less than US$5 per month in 2017,” Pawsey said.


http://www.siliconrepublic.com/comms/item/31667-next-1bn-users-central-to/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on the growing popularity of Android phones in Pakistan:

... QMobile – the first Pakistani mobile phone company – has introduced phones packed with high-end features at very competitive prices to the Pakistani market, and it seems to be doing great business.

This Karachi-based company was set up by Mian Pervez Akhtar of Allied Electronics Industries – an importer, assembler and distributor of LG products in Pakistan – around five years ago. According to our sources, QMobile’s revenues have witnessed a phenomenal boost since then: for the year ended June 30, 2012, its revenues stood at Rs761 million – up by a staggering 85.8% over the previous year.

However, the company operates with a different business model as compared to companies like Samsung and Nokia: although it calls itself a mobile phone company, QMobile does not manufacture its own devices; instead, it imports them from vendors in China, and sells them under its own brand. The same phones are sold in India for example under the Micromax label.

QMobile’s growth has taken measured steps. The company started with selling basic mobile phones: “Their low-end devices still account for most of their revenues,” an industry source says. QMobile has a large customer base in rural Pakistan, which accounts for more than 65% of the population. It entered the smartphone segment relatively recently.

Its product range now includes phones with touchscreen features, QWERTY input and WiFi-accessibility. It has also launched a series of smartphones powered by the Android operating system, which is the most commonly used smartphone platform today.

QMobile has built itself a strong image in the market, because it provides fairly high-end features at prices affordable for most Pakistanis: you can now buy a branded Android smartphone for as low as Rs6,500, complete with a warranty, thanks to QMobile. This may well be the primary driver behind QMobile’s growth.

“Basic phones constituted about 90% of Pakistan’s mobile phone market five years ago, but this equation is changing now,” an industry source said. “Consumers are shifting from basic mobile phones to feature phones and smartphones, and today they account for more than 20% of the market. Out of that, smartphones alone account for more than 10% of the market,” he said.

QMobile claims to be the number two brand in the country: and industry sources say that in the absence of any accurately verifiable numbers, this may be so in terms of the volumes of units it sells.

A heavy marketing campaign has also helped the company build a strong brand name. “QMobile is a success story, especially in terms of branding,” a telecom consultant said. Its advertising budget is higher than even that of market leader Nokia, an official revealed.

This is one of the main reasons behind the brand’s success. The company has even used product placement as an advertising technique to promote its products. Take, for example, Bulbulay: a primetime sitcom, which often promotes QMobile products, one source pointed out. “This kind of advertising does not cost much, and earns the company valuable marketing: that too in prime time hours,” he said. Moreover, QMobile has always used Pakistan’s hottest celebrities in advertising its products. Pop singers Atif Aslam and Abrarul Haq have promoted QMobile phones in the past. Iman Ali has modeled for them. Hugely popular television celebrity Fawwad Khan is now promoting their top-tier Noir smartphones. All these factors have helped QMobile make a name for itself as being in a league apart from the cheap Chinese copies of popular handsets currently circulating in the market.....


http://tribune.com.pk/story/532133/qmobile-conquering-the-pakistani-market-one-phone-at-a-time/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report about free Wikipedia access for Mobilink's pre-paid customers:

Mobilink has launched Wikipedia Zero with the aim of providing its customers with free access to the world’s largest general reference database. The source will be available for Mobilink’s prepaid customers who will have free access round the clock to the full mobile version of Wikipedia. Mobilink customers will also be able to view these articles in Urdu on supported handsets.
Farid Ahmad, Vice President Marketing Mobilink commenting on the launch of Wikipedia Zero said, “As Pakistan’s leading mobile internet provider we are proud to partner with the world’s sixth largest website to offer our customers free access to Wikipedia.
We hope that our customers will enjoy browsing through Wikipedia on Pakistan’s fastest mobile data network.’’
The service is available for all new and existing prepaid customers free of cost by accessing Wikipedia at m.wikipedia.org OR zero.wikipedia.org from either their native mobile browser or through Opera Mini.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/05-Jun-2013/mobilink-brings-wikipedia-zero-to-pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Techinasia report on Telenor's planned investment in Pakistan:

Norwegian telecom group Telenor will invest $1.7 billion in Pakistan after acquiring a 3G spectrum, reports Propakistani. The massive investment, announced by Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas at a recent meeting with members of the Pakistan media, should have a large impact on the country; Baksass predicts that it will increase internet penetration and, by extension, the country’s GDP.

This new investment should be a boon especially for rural people who may not have internet access, as $700 million of it is apparently earmarked for spreading 3G networks across the country. Baksaas reportedly said that he expects this rollout to have a greater impact on rural residents than urban residents.

This is not Telenor’s first foray into Pakistan, the company has already invested more than $2 billion there. That shouldn’t come as a large surprise given that the company is one of Pakistan’s largest telecom operators, with more than 30 million subscribers in the country


http://www.techinasia.com/telenor-invest-1-billion-pakistan-3g/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on Norway's Telenor's 3G plans in Pakistan:

If the government is able to strike the right balance between upfront 3G licence fees and the industry’s capacity to invest in infrastructure, Pakistan is looking at potential investment of $5-10 billion over the next five to eight years from the five players already operating in the country.
These are the words of Jon Fredrik Baksaas, CEO of the Telenor Group. He also added that his company was looking at a potential investment of anywhere up to $1 billion over the next two to three years in Pakistan, including the upfront 3G licence fees. “Telenor is already in the process of a network swap in Pakistan. We are upgrading our base stations, which will then be ready to receive 3G equipment. We are about 50% done and should be finished by the end of this calendar year,” he said.
Baksaas was speaking to a group of telecom journalists from Pakistan at the headquarters of the Telenor Group in Oslo. Contrary to common belief, he insisted that Pakistan was not really late in upgrading to 3G. “Pakistan is not necessarily late on 3G, but it is about time to get it done.”
He believes that the Pakistani market is now mature enough, with enough mobile penetration, for the demand for 3G to be building up to a healthy level. “On paper, there is about 70% mobile penetration in Pakistan, but probably a bit less in reality, since many people have more than one SIM,” he observed.
This indicates that there is a lot of pent-up demand, which means better-than-average growth rates in the initial years of 3G, as was the case in Thailand when it finally jumped on the 3G bandwagon.
He also hoped that now that Pakistan was finally gearing up, it would be smarter than India in launching 3G. “When India had their 3G auctions, the government was too concerned with how much money they could pocket upfront and did not focus on how much financial resources to leave behind in the industry for the infrastructure to be built up. My advice to the Government of Pakistan would be to think of the balance of upfront auction fees against the ability of the companies to build quality networks in the country.”
Baksaas said this would be great for the country. “Through investment, you create profitable companies which create employment and can then be taxed. I believe that if you can raise internet penetration in a country by 10%, you can raise the GDP by about 1.5 basis points.”
He also felt that a countrywide rollout of 3G, and subsequently 4G, was very important, instead of just in major cities. “The benefits of 3G to the countryside of Pakistan will be relatively higher than 3G in the city, when you think of the daily lives of individuals and services like health, education, financial services, etc.”
He, however, did not feel that new players would be able to capitalise on the opportunity for 3G. “It has been proven difficult for newcomers to get into 3G or 4G if they don’t already have an existing network. We believe telecom is an evolution that starts with voice and sms.” When asked about Telenor’s readiness, he had just this to say: “We are ready and we are willing and we have the capacities and the competencies to build 3G in Pakistan.”
Baksaas was, however, concerned with regular cellular shutdowns in the country, as he felt that this was not a practical or efficient solution and perhaps needed to be better thought out...



http://tribune.com.pk/story/567313/high-growth-market-telenor-upbeat-on-pakistan-as-focus-shifts-from-voice-to-data/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on growing ICT use in Pakistan:

Pakistan has crossed a historical milestone. Elections were held on time, and for the first time in its 66-year history, a democratically elected government completed its term and handed over power to a new one. At the same time, the elections recorded a voter turnout unprecedented in recent years.
Much of this renewed political interest has been driven by Pakistan’s telecommunications revolution. Over 50 million voters verified their polling stations through their mobile phones and the elections were tweeted, blogged, and plastered across Facebook. In fact, the way I see it, the elections presented a major victory not only for Pakistan, but also placed a massive feather in the collective caps of telecom companies.

The Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry in Pakistan has registered a prolific boom in the last few years. With affordable pricing and 122 million connections showing mobile penetration at an all-time high, Pakistanis are amongst the highest SMS users in the world – the average Pakistani sends up to 178 text messages in a month.
And recent months have seen the launch of mobile financial services by various players, with transactions worth Rs3.76 billion via online banking already taken place.
Internet and broadband penetration is at a similar peak. According to World Bank statistics, by July 2012, Pakistan internet users showed a double-digit growth in the past five years and the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (Ispak) estimates that internet users have reached 25 million thanks to broadband and mobile phone operators.
Moreover, thanks to large organisations such as PTCL and Wateen Telecom, over 250 towns and cities across the country are now connected through an extensive fibre optic network.
Universal Services Fund
The government also intends to use approximately $700 million available with the Universal Services Fund (USF) to further develop the infrastructure and network that has already been put in place. The USF’s aim to “improve the working of the Universal Services Fund (USF) and utilise its resources to bridge the rural-urban digital divide and establish WiFi hotspots” is certainly a welcome one.
---------
Smart grids
The auction of licences itself will give an impetus to the economy and provide the government with FDI. However, the regulatory body will need to rely on more than just consumer uptake in order to achieve the scale necessary for sustaining growth. This means formulating policies that encourage the uptake of data services by vertical industries, for example solutions for smart grids.
Indeed, smart grids should be a top priority for the new government – not only will they enable growth and scalability within the ICT sector, they will also provide significant value for the power and energy sectors.
Currently, there are several pilot projects under way using cellular technology, however, according to industry leaders, cellular solutions for smart grids are not scalable.
Moreover, utility companies require constant data streams on their networks for telemetry, oscillography, usage and meta-data. Data usage is rapidly increasing and demand is likely to increase once 3G services are introduced.
Telecom operators, on whom electricity distribution companies currently rely, will likely be in a challenging position in the next few years as demand on their networks grows for ambient video and other data-heavy services.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/570485/the-future-of-ict-in-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Pakistan Tribune story on smartphones in Pakistan:

Currently, around 119 million people in Pakistan own a cell phone which is about 68.6% of the entire population. Furthermore, out of all the cellphones sold 6% are specifically smartphones. Similarly, from all the smartphone brands available in Pakistan, Samsung has the highest market share (39%) followed by HTC (22%) and Sony (8%).
HTC is a Taiwanese manufacturer of smartphones and tablets which have managed to capture the attention of the entire world. Recently, to further improve their position in the smartphone market, HTC has signed Robert Downey Jr. for its marketing campaign “Here’s to change” which is expected to help increase HTC’s sales, after their recent loss in stock value. This Taiwanese phone-maker is going all out with the introduction of this $1 billion marketing campaign. Other than implementing these stringent marketing strategies, the smartphones which have recently been introduced by HTC have also upped the game. Some of the best smartphones which have been introduced by HTC are:

HTC ONE
HTC has recently launched HTC One, which has taken the mobile phone market by storm. It boosts an amazing camera which has a remarkable low-light performance, a new interface which helps combine all your social media and news feeds into a single place, great sound and a brilliant 4.7 inch screen which helps provide the best immersive experience. Also, its user-friendly features and its impressive aluminum body construction may help HTC in capturing the mobile phone market.

HTC One mobile price in Pakistan:- Rs.65000/-

---
HTC Desire C
Not everyone can afford the latest android technology but that doesn’t mean that everyone should have to live without it. HTC desire specifically caters to the needs of these people; it’s one of the best budget phones which is equipped with the latest android technology. The main selling point of HTC Desire C is that it has a 3.5 inch screen with a 600MHZ processor and that too at such a low price. Also from its high end look it is almost impossible to guess that it’s a budget phone. One major advantage that Desire C has over its competition is the addition of HTC sense which supercharges this device.
---
HTC Desire C price in Pakistan: – Rs.11,000/- to 15,000/-

HTC Wildfire
A smartphone for those on a tight budget, the HTC Wildfire doesn’t hold back on the specs; the touchscreen handset runs on Android 2.1 which is equipped with user-friendly HTC Sense UI but one issue is that it has the same processing power as 2009′s HTC cellphone, the HTC Hero.

HTC Wildfire Price in Pakistan: – Rs. 12,000/-

HTC 8X
The HTC 8X is the epitome of elegance, not only is it beautifully designed, it is equipped with all the necessary features required in a smartphone. It is definitely one of the best smartphones which gives other windows 8 (operating system) based smartphones a run for their money. It’ll certainly raise eyebrows when you hold this cellphone in your hand – not just because it’s colorful, but also because it’s so beautifully made with unibody, polycarbonate design.
Another attractive feature of HTC 8 X is its high resolution screen – which measures about 4.3 inches coming in at 1280 x 720 pixels. It’s considered to be as good as Apple’s Retina (which is the current best) or maybe even better.

HTC 8X price in Pakistan: – Rs. 46000/- to Rs. 50,000/-
...


http://www.pakistantribune.com.pk/4170/a-review-of-best-htc-mobiles-in-pakistan.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a case for 3G in Pakistan:

Sceptics usually ask, why 3G? Is it to enable us to watch movies on the go?

Unfortunately, a lot of people only think of it in terms of smart phones. Although a large amount of productive things could be done with 3G smart phones, it is the 3G mobile broadband on PCs, laptops and tablets that is of real value for developing countries. To connect these devices to broadband, USB dongles are used. People in developed countries usually use mobile broadband in addition to the fixed broadband, but in developing countries mobile-broadband is often the only broadband access available. That does not mean we use it only for cell phones and not for offices and homes.

In Pakistan, broadband is available in less than 300 towns and cities. All of these 2.5 million odd broadband connections belong to the fixed broadband category. The problem is that we never had an extensive fixed broadband network, therefore the number of fixed connections that we can have is limited. In addition to this, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) is the only dominant fixed-line provider in Pakistan and it has become a kind of monopoly broadband provider, which is causing a downfall in its services.

On the other hand, 2G cellular GSM networks are present all over the country and 3G will be accommodated with these cellular network providers. Thus 3G networks will reach 90% of the population with relatively less effort. I deliberately use the word “effort” and not “investment” because investment will come from private sector operators. The government does not need to bother about development budget and resource constraints. What else could one ask for!

Just like 2G was such an effective engine of growth in the last decade, 3G can also contribute significantly. Broadband deployment will unleash tremendous opportunities related to jobs, foreign investment, trade, and economic growth. For example, as the users grow in numbers, a completely new sector will emerge – that of local content, software and applications! And indeed, Government services like Education, Healthcare and Governance will immediately become possible for rural areas. Admittedly the private sector operators would deploy 3G mainly in cities, but for the rest the Universal Services Fund (USF) can work as initial investment.

Therefore allocating broadband frequency spectrum to operators is extremely urgent and essential. It should have been done five years ago. And as for the debate whether the licenses should be for 3G or 4G, there is one answer. The licenses should be “technology-neutral” – let the operators decide. They certainly know the market better.

Last but not least, it appears that the whole purpose of auctioning frequency spectrum is to get the short-term benefit at a big price and fill the budget gap. In my humble opinion, that is completely misplaced. We should be more concerned with maximum coverage in shortest possible time. That’s what the national interest demands.


http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/18750/why-does-pakistan-need-3g/

Riaz Haq said...

India has 4G wireless service in a handful of cities, Afghanistan has 3G nationwide, Bangladesh is rolling out a nationwide 3G network, and even Nepal has 3G in major cities. That leaves Pakistan as the only country in South Asia without a high-speed mobile network. The country’s notoriously activist supreme court is trying to force the government into holding the spectrum auction needed to launch 3G services in early 2014—but the country’s equally notorious bureaucracy looks likely to delay things.
+
Pakistan, with a population of 180 million and 125 million mobile subscriptions, has come close to holding the spectrum auction several times over the last five years. Each time proceedings have been delayed on a technicality.
+
Warn-torn Afghanistan managed to avoid such a quagmire by simply not holding an auction—it simply distributed spectrum licenses to the providers. The government argued that the economic boost from acquiring 3G was more valuable than the one-off windfall from an auction that could become marred in controversy.
+
Bangladesh gave a 3G license to the state-owned mobile provider, Teletalk, in 2012, and held an auction for the other mobile operators in September 2013. BTRC, Bangladesh’s telecom regulator, has been applauded for not allowing the government’s fiscal concerns to hijack the agenda and set the reserve price for the auction too high—the mistake made in India.
+
But the Pakistan Telecoms Authority (PTA), the regulator, has been without a chief since the last time a spectrum auction was scheduled, in 2012. Plans came to a halt when the PTA said the telecoms operators and other interested bidders had failed to submit an expression of interest in time. The mobile operators, who have been long dogged by fickle government policies and strong competition, said they were never invited to bid.
+
The then-chairman of the PTA lost his job over the incident. His nominated successor was challenged by the opposition parties last October, and the two other members of PTA’s committee retired at the start of this year, effectively leaving the telecoms industry in a state of anarchy. Now a public-interest case currently in the supreme court has pushed the government into some semblance of action. It finally appointed an acting chairman and new PTA members early last month to oversee the auction, and set a February 2014 deadline for holding it.
+
However, more delays are possible. The government has now put out an advertisement for an international consultant to help with the auction. Case lawyer Ali Raza says that’s an unnecessary delaying tactic; he argues that everything is ready to go, and that the auction needs to happen quickly to avoid special interests marring the process. The next likely stumbling block is where the money from the auction will actually go. The finance ministry wants it to flow directly into the exchequer—a windfall that was somewhat prematurely written into the 2013-14 budget, announced in June. However, by law the money is meant to go to a universal service fund, set up as part of the 1996 telecoms policy (pdf) to make sure remote areas of Pakistan get telecoms service. The wrangle over that could occupy the courts for a good while.

http://qz.com/142923/pakistan-might-remain-the-only-country-in-south-asia-without-3g-for-a-while-longer/

Riaz Haq said...

From Express Tribune:

Pakistani internet users are rapidly moving towards a new era of mobile internet dominance over access from desktop computer, a new survey sponsored by Google has found.
According to a press release, this trend follows a decline in the prices of smartphones and tablets, and anticipated launch of 3G services.
Internet-capable feature phones are expected to continue to play an important role, too. An additional factor is the unreliability of the electricity supply which is also helping to promote the usage of tablets and smartphones in Pakistan.
The findings come from a survey of over 1,000 Pakistanis by research firm IDC on behalf of Google. The “Pakistan Digital Consumer Study” conducted earlier this quarter took a look at the life of the connected Pakistani consumer.
The survey found that digital consumers are engaging more with the internet than ever before. The study revealed that home is the preferred location for Internet access — even for mobile-only users, who prefer to use their home wi-fi connection.
The top three activities in Pakistan both on desktop and mobile Internet are: social media, email and general search.
The main challenge of Internet proliferation in Pakistan are the quality and reliability of connectivity — including poor speed or bandwidth availability, perceived value-for-money, customer service quality, limited choice of plans and frequency of service interruptions. The unreliability of the power supply is also a factor, the press release stated.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/64

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story on a Pakistani journalist in small town America:

The workday was done, and I gave Malik a ride to his hotel. Before he disappeared through the doors of the Embassy Suites, he smiled and asked me to wait. He had something for me.

He returned from his room and presented me with a sleeveless jacket and wool cap -- the kind commonly worn by men in Pakistan, his homeland, where he would soon be returning after three weeks in Charleston and the Gazette newsroom.

Yaqoob Malik is a reporter -- an investigative reporter, as he will proudly tell you -- at an English-language paper called Dawn in the Attock area of Pakistan.

Earlier this year, he and several hundred other Pakistani reporters applied to the International Center for Journalists, which was arranging a State Department-funded trip to the U.S. and a chance to work with and observe an American newspaper.

Only 20 of the applicants made the cut. It was literally the opportunity of a lifetime for Malik (as he prefers to be called).

But while the other journalists drew assignments at big newspapers in New York, Miami and so on, he was being sent to Charleston, a place none of them had heard of, and the smallest town on the list.

This drew some good-natured ribbing from a few of the others and left Malik a bit crestfallen.

But, as Malik describes it, when he landed among the hilltops at Yeager Airport, each sporting its showy autumnal best, he knew that he would have the last laugh.

And while many of the larger newspapers brought their visitors along slowly, in true Gazette fashion, we threw Malik right into the fray. He published a story in the first few days of his visit, before any of the others, and from there, he was off to the races.

"I only have (fill in the blank) days left here," he would tell me the minute he finished each story and asked for another. "I want to do as much as I can."

Malik covered local Muslim issues, focused on people in our area of Pakistani descent and wrote columns about the political situation in his homeland.

His command of English and the written word were certainly better than my Urdu, but his stories, as you might guess, needed a good deal of editing and explanation in order to bring the West Virginia audience up to speed on his topics.

As I worked with him on the stories, so began my Pakistani education.

Malik was supposed to be here learning from me and the others at the Gazette, but it soon became clear that my schooling on Pakistan, its people and the obstacles facing its reporters was just as thorough, if not greater, than what he took away.

On a recent weekend morning, as I stood in my kitchen drinking a cup of coffee, I heard my phone chirp. It was an email from Malik. He had sent me the story he had filed for Dawn that day.

It was full of protests and beatings, anger and death. Reading it from the serene safety of West Virginia, I quickly realized that my new friend was in a spot neither serene, nor safe.

Pakistani journalists risk their lives to tell the truth. Government and police protections are nearly non-existent. Kidnappings and assaults of journalists are rampant.

Malik shrugs off the fact that his home was ransacked a few years ago.

"Sometimes, my children will ask, 'Why, Papa, do you have write that?'" he said, but he soldiers on, performing a service absolutely crucial to the advancement of his country.

While he was here, Malik would often marvel at how beautiful Charleston is, how friendly its people are, how calm life is here. For him, it was the perfect place to carry out his American assignment, and it likely won't be the last time he sees the West Virginia hills, if he has his way.

He plans to bring his wife and children for a visit to Charleston next summer.

So, until then, stay safe, my friend.


http://www.wvgazette.com/Opinion/201312290031

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PakistanToday report on mobile telecom growth in Pakistan:

The voice and SMS ratio per subscriber per month has also notably improved as average cellular mobile subscriber in Pakistan,is making voice calls of 203 minutes per month whereas, generating 214 SMS.

An incredible growth of 43.97% in voice traffic average per user has been witnessed while growth of 7% in SMS use per subscriber was noted during the period.
-------------
The attractive tariff packages with unlimited call offers and discounted minutes have helped generate a record national cellular mobile outgoing traffic of 294.2 billion minutes during year 2012-13. The cellular mobile national outgoing traffic to cellular network has shown a tremendous growth of 52.51% as compared to the same period of previous year 2011-12 in which 192.9 billion minutes were generated. Each passing year has been showing a reasonable growth as the total national cellular mobile outgoing traffic was only 76 billion minutes in 2009-10 and 137.7 billion minutes in 2010-11.

As per new figures issued by regulator Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the massive growth in national cellular mobile outgoing traffic was also contributed by new subscribers in the cellular network during the year and very attractive packages offered by cellular operators to win the subscribers from each other.

Lucrative cellular tariff packages with unlimited call offers and discounted minutes have become a major attraction for the cellular subscribers as the cellular mobile operators adopted aggressive promotional strategies offering attractive packages for Voice, Data and SMS, including free calls and unlimited SMS.

These marketing tactics resulted in more business for companies mainly from voice calls and SMS. Both the voice and SMS traffic has risen during the 2012-13 owing to bundled packages and SMS offers.

During 2012-13, a record 315.7 billion SMSs were exchanged by the mobile consumers, showing an increase of 13.68% from previous year, though the growth rate is lower than corresponding period of previous year but the total figure of SMS exchanged is impressive.

The figures further showed that the national outgoing traffic from mobile to fixed networks remained very low as compared to traffic from mobile to mobile networks. This was mainly due to low tariffs being offered on the same network by operators as well as the huge difference in cellular and fixed line subscriber numbers.

The international outgoing traffic from cellular network has also witnessed a gradual increase and shown a healthy growth of 17.92% by June 2013 contrary to sharp decline of 28.69% for the same period of 2011-12.

The international incoming traffic on cellular networks somewhat declined and showed a negative trend of 10.02% for the year 2012-13 as compared to the year 2010-11. The decrease in international incoming traffic could be due to increase in Access Promotion Contribution (APC) change during 2012-13 from 1.25 US cents to 2.90 US cents, which discouraged Long Distance International (LDI) operators to offer lower settlement rates to attract additional incoming traffic in the country.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/01/pakistanis-made-294b-minutes-mobile-calls-in-2012-13/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story on multi-screen theaters construction boom in Pakistan:

KARACHI, Pakistan—At the brand-new Nue Multiplex here, chauffeured cars drop families at the door. Excited squeals of children reverberate from the games arcade. Hollywood and Bollywood movies play on five screens.

"We wanted to have something of international standard," said Tariq Baig, executive director of the $100 million multiplex that opened in August, replete with a Canadian sound system, Danish carpeting, and chairs and screens imported from the U.K. "We didn't go for anything local."

Nue is part of a wave of Western-style cinemas that are opening across Pakistan, aiming to serve the entertainment-starved middle classes in a country where movie houses were traditionally dilapidated, seedy, and shunned by families.

The blossoming of Western cinema in Pakistan is something of a phenomenon, taking place even as Islamist militants—who view all cinema as sinful— increasingly target the country's moviegoers.

There are just 104 movie screens in all of Pakistan, a country of 180 million people. Still, that is a jump from 20 screens in 2005, according to various distributors and cinema owners. There are another 100 screens under construction, they say.

Pakistan's cinema renaissance began in 2006, when the then military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, loosened a law dating back to the 1965 war between India and Pakistan that banned the import of Bollywood films. Though imports of Indian movies are still restricted, Mr. Musharraf's ruling allowed them to be granted a "No Objection Certificate" by the government in special cases. The ordinance also created a loophole in the law that allowed Indian films to be imported via another country.

"Everyone wants to go to the cinema," says Nadia Jamil, a popular TV and film actress based in Lahore. "It's the Indian films that have created the market that everyone wants to rush to."
----------
Cinema construction has been on a tear over the past few years in a number of developing countries where growing middle classes are flocking to theaters. China last year added 5,077 new film screens, boosting its total to 18,200, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
---------
Peshawar's cinemas are a far cry from the multiplexes of Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi. The only defense against the intense summer heat are ancient fans. In the winter patrons come with their own blankets. The audiences are exclusively male, and many of the theaters show porn, crudely dubbed into Pashto, the local language. Audiences are small and profits are slim. Tickets cost around 50 rupees (50 cents), depending on how popular the film is.

Habib ur Rehman, the manager of the Picture House cinema, the first theater to be attacked by the Taliban, said in conservative Peshawar being in the cinema business isn't something you boast about. He said the modern multiplexes springing up in other parts of the country would never come to the city. "They will not succeed here. The people don't like Hindi and English films. They want Musarrat Shaheen, " he said, referring to a famous Pashto actress.

Despite the Taliban threats, Rehan Shah, who works at the Shama Cinema, the second Peshawar theater attacked, said people are eager for these cinemas to reopen.

"People are already asking, 'Why are you not open? We want entertainment,' " he said.



http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303546204579439371307729670

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story about the heyday of Lollywood:

Sadar Iqbal once worked 18 hours a day producing hand drawn posters for Pakistan’s booming film industry.

“At that time I would not have been able to talk to you,” he said sitting as his artist’s desk in his small studio in Lahore, “I was too busy.

Now Mr. Iqbal, 68, who is Pakistan’s last remaining hand-drawn film poster artist, has plenty of time to chat.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore had a booming film industry. Nicknamed “Lollywood”, the city produced hundreds of films a year and the road where Mr. Iqbal’s small studio sits was lined with more than 400 artist studios all churning out hand drawn posters for Pakistani-made films, says Mr. Iqbal.

The area is known as Royal Park and buttresses onto Abbott Road, a short stretch that used be home to 20 cinemas. Today, there are six.

After nearly 30 years of neglect thanks to repressive government policies and creeping Islamic fundamentalism in parts of the country, the art form has all but died. Mr. Iqbal now makes a living doing commissioned paintings from his studio, surrounded by the film posters of a nearly-forgotten era.

The neighboring studios in Royal Park have been replaced by rows of small printing shops.

Mr. Iqbal started working aged 17, in what was then his father’s studio. He says he would to come there every day after school, and learn the art form from his father. Mr. Iqbal uses pencil and watercolors, and when Lollywood was booming, he’d produce at least four posters a film.

It’s a subtle technique, he explains, “I am the crowd puller of the film. When someone sees the poster of the film, they want to come and see the film.”

Most of his posters are laden with visual metaphors: the film’s villain appears in monochrome next to the colored image of the beautiful heroine. A rose tangled around the film’s title weeps blood, symbolizing the pain of love.

Last year, Mr. Iqbal’s talents were called on once again. The directors of the Pakistani-made film, “Zinda Bhaag”, asked him to draw the poster for the movie.

The film is set in Lahore and co-director Meenu Gaur describes it as a stylistic tribute to the Lollywood films of the 1970s. It premiered in September and was Pakistan’s first entry for best foreign language film at the Oscars for 50 years.

“Zinda Bhaag” is part of a nascent revival in the domestic film industry, which has been partly supported by a recent boom of Western-style multiplex cinemas across the country. In the past seven years the number of screens has surged from just 20 to 104, according to distributors and cinema owners.

“People started talking about a revival in Pakistani cinema with the release of ‘Khuda Kay Liye’ (In the name of God),” said Ms. Gaur the co-director, referring to the 2007 film by Pakistani director Shoaib Mansoor. The film received rave reviews in Pakistan and went on to gross $10 million worldwide. “But then it was a hope,” Ms. Gaur said.

Now, she says, the revival is actually happening. In 2013, seven Pakistani-made films were released, and there are currently 25 in production. But most film projects are funded through generous donations from altruistic backers and grants, rather than being driven by market forces. “Zinda Bhaag” received funding from Let’s Talk Men, a film initiative supported by various United Nations agencies.

The artist Mr. Iqbal isn’t very hopefully that a renaissance in Pakistani cinema will rekindle his art form though. He says the new multiplexes are just about money and have no appreciation of art.

“There is no aesthetic investor,” he said, referring to modern movie theaters. “The tragedy is that the investors have just brought property and built cinemas..


http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2014/03/24/pakistans-poster-boy/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story about Pakistan teledensity near 76%:

The country’s total mobile phone subscriptions reached an all-time high of 137.68 million at the end of April 2014, corresponding to a cellular mobile teledensity of 75.6% for the first time, according to the latest data released by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
The PTA statistics revealed that each of the given cellular mobile operators (CMOs) were able to increase their subscriber base – collectively selling 1.2 million new connections in April 2014.
Telenor Pakistan and China Mobile (Zong) were once again the highest contributors to the growth of country’s mobile phone subscribers.
Telenor Pakistan sold 665,591 new connections during the month under review, taking its overall subscriber base to 35.87 million. The Pakistani arm of the Oslo-based cellular giant holds 26% share in the country’s cellular subscriber base, only two percentage points behind market leader Mobilink.
Mobilink maintained the top place, growing its subscriptions to 38.3 million after adding 145,941 new subscriptions to its network. Its share in the cellular segment is 28% as of April, 2014, the data revealed.
Zong, the Pakistani subsidiary of China Mobile, also continued its positive growth by selling 387,527 new connections in April and finished at number three with 25.98 million subscriptions. It now accounts for 19% of the country’s telecom subscriptions – just one percentage point above Ufone that slipped to number four with a market share of 18% or 24.6 million subscribers at the end of April, 2014. It sold only 2,435 new connections during the review period.
Warid Telecom, the smallest player in terms of subscriber base, sold 11,831 new connections and finished with a market share of 9% or 12.95 million subscriptions, according to the latest statistics.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/715949/breaking-records-cell-phone-subscriptions-soar-to-all-time-high/

Riaz Haq said...

From Middle East North Africa Financial Network:

The number of 3G subscribers has touched around 4 million mark, apparently surpassing all other broadband technologies in the country.

There are around 3.7 million broadband users in Pakistan as per official data for all technologies combined including WiMAX, DSL, EvDO, FTTH, Satellite, HFC and others till May this year.

Three mobile phone operators have already announced that each of them has crossed 1 million mark of 3G subscribers while Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is yet to formally release the stats about 3G and 4G subscribers.

According to Mobilink, it has 1 million 3G users on October 22, Telenor has 1.3 million 3G users on October 28 while Zong has also announced that it has 1 million 3G users. Ufone has not said a word so far about its subscribers.

Based on operators' announcements, there are at least around 4 million 3G users as of today.

With these figures, one can ascertain that 3G subscribers have crossed the numbers for all other broadband technologies, that too within just six months of auction of 3G and 4G licenses.

http://www.menafn.com/1094001560/Around-4m-3G-users-in-Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

From Telenor Pakistan CEO in Newsweek Pakistan:


Pakistan is a vibrant, rich society full of potential and the means to realize it. It is much more than what the headlines in the Western media often convey. Despite its challenges, and all investments are challenging, it is a haven for foreign investment. The success of our company, Telenor Pakistan, testifies to this reality.

Telenor is Norwegian and operates across Europe and Asia as one of the world’s leading telecom and digital service providers. And Telenor Pakistan is very much a Pakistani success story. In March, we will mark a decade since our launch in the market here. When we started, we were the sixth entrant in the telecom sector. Today, with 36 million GSM customers alone, we now vie for leadership in a highly competitive sector.

We are bullish about Pakistan and our commitment to it is profound. We are in the process of building our new head office here with an investment of $70 million. We have, so far, invested $2.2 billion in Pakistan, and we expect our investment in the coming years to be of the same order of magnitude. We have just invested in a new 3G license and are deploying 3G sites around the country in both urban and rural areas every month. The spectrum auction conducted this year was executed with the highest level of professionalism and transparency, conditions that allowed participants to make bids with the greatest confidence in the process. Pakistan’s progressive approach to telecom is publicly recognized: on Oct. 27, Pakistan was elected to the ITU Council, the telecom industry’s global governing body.

The country has a deep pool of talent in all disciplines. The universities deliver great people to our doorstep year after year. Of the 2,800 or so direct employees of Telenor Pakistan, 2,798 are Pakistani nationals. We export more of our talent to the Telenor Group than any other business unit in our worldwide family of companies. This place is a goldmine of winners with an overwhelming desire for personal achievement and, in our company, a desire to build an empowered Pakistan.

Pakistan’s telecom sector is taking the lead in ensuring financial inclusion, an essential driver of economic growth and international competiveness, can be attained. We are contributing to the formalization of the economy through EasyPaisa, an award-winning suite of services in partnership with Tameer Microfinance Bank Limited. We transit close to Rs. 500 billion every year through EasyPaisa, which has a customer base of over 6 million. EasyPaisa is growing every day, thanks in no small part to the State Bank of Pakistan, a visionary financial services regulator and growth catalyst.

The data business is still essentially nascent. Our growth has been enabled by the dynamic regulatory environment that Pakistan offers foreign investors. We have been able to actively pursue our vision of empowering societies through our GSM and financial services with the assistance of the progressive, business-friendly policies of successive governments.

Our journey in Pakistan has been rewarding but not without its difficulties. The telecom sector’s success has been made possible because our voice, and the voice of the industry, is heard by the government, the regulators and state agencies when we discuss ways to evolve economic, industrial, fiscal, and taxation policies. We have always found open doors to address grievances and to find ways and means to increase our impact on society and the economy.

We have found in Pakistan not just a thriving market but a home that rewards our industry and recognizes and embraces foreign investment as critical to fulfilling the country’s economic aspirations. As an investor, you couldn’t ask for more.

Foley is president and CEO of Telenor Pakistan. From our Nov. 1-15, 2014, issue.

http://newsweekpakistan.com/made-in-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Telecom revenue up by 24.6% to Rs90b in 2014, cellular sector grows 47.4% to Rs47b in Pakistan



KARACHI: The country’s telecommunication revenue increased to Rs90 billion during fiscal year 2014, reflecting growth of 24.6 per cent, which is more than double of 11.66 per cent of FY2013.
According to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the cellular sector covered more than half of the telecom sector’s overall revenues and reached Rs47 billion during the year under review, translating to a year-on-year growth of 47.4%.
As of June 30, 2014 data revenues account for 19.3% of the telecom sector’s overall revenue, up from 16.4% at the end of FY13 – the number for cellular segment, too, increased from 7.3% to 10.1%.
According to PTA, the data revenue trend is likely to continue in the coming years with increased use of smart phones, tablets and laptops in the consumer market and an uptake of OTT services, such as WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook messenger, which will eventually replace traditional voice communication.
Import of mobile phones showed record growth in FY14 as handsets worth $544 million were imported during the period, a 21% year-on-year increase.
Although voice traffic continued to show impressive growth (40%) in FY2014, conventional text messages – one of the main revenue streams for cellular mobile segment – struggled against the more popular social media applications.
The total number of SMS exchanged over the cellular mobile networks dropped to 301.7 billion during FY2014, down 4% compared to 315.7 billion last year, statistics showed. The average SMS per cellular subscriber per month also reduced to 180 in FY14 compared to 214 of FY13.
The telecom regulator attributed the decline in conventional text based messages to the rising influx of smart phones and use of mobile internet, OTT and social media applications that have reduced the subscribers’ dependence on traditional mode of SMS.
Though these OTT services have triggered the growth of CMOs’ data revenues, free messaging and calling services also dented the sector’s average revenue per user (ARPU), a key economic indicator to measure the average revenue that service providers generate from a singlesubscriber.
In FY14, the cellular segment’s monthly ARPU decreased to Rs199 compared to Rs211 of the last fiscal year, according to statistics compiled by PTA. The regulator, however, clarified that the ARPU was calculated based on the number of SIMs sold till that time and the actual ARPU was higher.
Quoting a GSMA’s market analysis on Pakistan, the regulator said the cellular subscribers in the country possess 2.17 SIMs on average, which translates to an actual monthly ARPU of approximately Rs432.


http://customstoday.com.pk/telecom-revenue-up-by-24-6-to-rs90b-in-2014-cellular-sector-grows-47-4-to-rs47b/

Riaz Haq said...

Until 2002, Pakistan’s broadcast media was a narrow field; it had one radio station, Radio Pakistan, started in 1947 and one state-owned television channel, Pakistan Television, started in 1964; both were mouthpieces for officially slanted information, alongside privately held print media dominated by three major consortiums: the liberal Jang Group, owned by the media magnate Shakeel ur-Rahman (this group now owns the broadcast and web outlet GEO); the Nawai Waqt Group, which treads a right-wing line, and the English-language Dawn Group, the most moderate of the three (the newspaper Dawn was founded in 1941 in Delhi, India, by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of Pakistan’s independence movement, to promote the moderate ideals of his Muslim League).
---

Then, in 2002, Gen. Pervez Musharraf decided to open Pakistan to the global flow of information in order to reverse decades of isolation. He allowed private television channels and FM radio stations to obtain licenses, setting off a media boom. Their reporting during the conflicts that followed 9/11 and spilled over into Pakistan allowed these television channels to flourish, taking viewers away from state media in favor of more independent reporting.

Ironically, General Musharraf himself forced GEO off the air temporarily in 2007 when the channel criticized his suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. But today, out of office, the general once again flirts with the media as he tries to return to politics.

The media have grown to 40 news channels, 143 radio stations, and hundreds of national and regional newspapers. For that they are often called “vibrant.”

Another descriptor is “vulgar.” On prime-time television, news is sensationalized, with ratings the first consideration; alongside hysterical reporting are thrilling or tragic music and crude, insensitive graphics; virtually everything is “breaking news” in no hierarchy of importance. Meanwhile, large corporations like ARY and the Lakson Group have acquired media companies after discovering that controlling media can protect their corporate interests.

Advertisers get huge influence over what’s published or aired. Advertising breaks are frequent, and banners for commercial products run incessantly. Advertising also dominates front pages: one major newspaper group recently gave front-page ads prominence over headlines on all of its papers.

Meanwhile, the government still seeks to control the media; Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority wants an existing law amended to permit “de-linking” of television channels from their satellites if they broadcast “objectionable” or “unwanted” material.

While many in the media retain editorial integrity in the face of these pressures, Pakistani media houses have yet to come up with an industrywide code of conduct or self-regulatory body. Nor have they been able to stay unbiased. Often they blatantly take sides in political conflicts, even while describing themselves as protectors only of the public good.

So, what is the way forward? Ensuring the safety and security of Pakistani journalists is the best starting point; the industry’s foot soldiers need more training, as well as job tenure and pensions. Forming unions is another necessity, as well as creating a framework of regulation that offers protection against state and corporate pressure.

But what Pakistan’s media needs most is a unified sense of its own professional conscience, so that it can continue to thrive as it fulfills its ultimate duty to Pakistanis: to report the news free from bias and influence, while telling a good story that will catch citizens’ attention.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/26/opinion/bina-shah-journalism-in-pakistan-fear-and-favor.html?_r=0