Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pakistani Cover Girls

Here are a few pictures of  sexy Pakistani cover girls:

Pakistani Playboy Girl Tehmeena Afzal:

Playboy Playmate Nadia Moore Ali:

Pakistani Super Model Yasmeen Ghauri:

Pakistani Actress Veena Malik:

Pakistani Model Nargis Fakhri:

Ms. Pakistan Mahleej Sarkari:

Model Shanna Bukhari:

Pakistani Singer Meesha Shafi:

Pakistani Model Amna Ilyas:

Here's a Pakistan Pictorial:

Find more photos like this on PakAlumni Worldwide: The Global Social Network

Here are video shoots of Tehmeena Afzal:


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Veena Malik Challenges Pakistan's Orthodoxy 

Beautiful Pakistani Models

PakAlumni-Pakistani Social Network 

Huma Abedin Weinergate

Pakistan Media Revolution

Protest Music in Pakistan

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers

Life Goes On in Pakistan

Pakistani Entrepreneurs Survive Economic Downturn

Silent Social Revolution in Pakistan

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Welcome Judicial Coup in Islamabad?

A coup is still a coup regardless of who removes a duly elected government by unconstitutional means. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's government  did not lose a vote of confidence in parliament, nor was he impeached. He has been overthrown by three unelected and unaccountable judges of Pakistan Supreme Court.

The action of the three-member bench of the Supreme Court is being seen as a power play to assert its view that it is better suited to represent the people of Pakistan than those they have chosen to elect themselves.

There is no question that, in their genuine zeal to tame widespread government corruption,  Pakistan's top judges have run amok by usurping powers for themselves that were never intended for them by the framers of the constitution. It's clearly a case of ends justifying the means. The timing of the judgment  also raises questions as it comes just days after billionaire businessman Malik Riaz  Husain accused the Chief Justice’s son of accepting millions in bribes to swing cases. There are also significant issues of precedent. The judgement cites, for instance, two Indian court cases. Both the Rajendra Singh Rana vs Swami Prasad Maurya case and the Jagjit Singh vs State of Haryana case deal with the disqualification of members of State Assemblies on charges of defection which cannot serve as precedent for removing a Prime Minister or even a Chief Minister.

So why is it that the majority of the people appear to be welcoming it? Is this situation any different than the welcome extended to military coup leaders who overthrew incompetent and corrupt civilian governments in the past?

The main difference between this judicial coup and the past military coups is that this coup will not result in any real progress in improving governance and solving serious problems of energy, economy and security. President Zardari will still be in change, and he will likely appoint another prime minister of his party and the business will continue as usual.

If it were a military coup led by an Army general, the history tells us that there would be serious and immediate attention paid to improving governance, resuscitating the economy and resolving the worst ever energy and internal security crises in Pakistan's history. The military governments have delivered better governance and higher economic growth by ending the corrupt system of political patronage that is central to civilian rule, and by putting non-political technocrats in charge of the most important ministries. Here's how eminent Pakistani economist late Dr. Mahbub ul Haq  described the difference between political and military governments in a 1988 interview:

"Growth in Pakistan has never translated into budgetary security because of the way our political system works. We could be collecting twice as much in revenue - even India collects 50% more than we do - and spending the money on infrastructure and education. But agriculture in Pakistan pays no tax because the landed gentry controls politics and therefore has a grip on every government. Businessman are given state loans and then allowed to default on them in return for favors to politicians and parties. Politicians protect corrupt officials so they can both share the proceeds.

And every time a new political government comes in they have to distribute huge amounts of state money and jobs as rewards to politicians who have supported them, and short term populist measures to try to convince the people that their election promises meant something, which leaves nothing for long-term development. As far as development is concerned, our system has all the worst features of oligarchy and democracy put together. 
That is why only technocratic, non-political governments in Pakistan have ever been able to increase revenues. But they can not stay in power for long because they have no political support...For the same reason we have not been able to deregulate the economy as much as I wanted, despite seven years of trying, because the politicians and officials both like the system Bhutto (Late Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) put in place. It suits them both very well, because it gave them lots of lucrative state-sponsored jobs in industry and banking to take for themselves or distribute to their relatives and supporters."

As a result of their different management style, the military governments have a history of  delivering significantly higher economic growth than the civilians who follow them.  The highest economic growth in Pakistan has occurred under former Presidents Ziaul Haq, Ayub Khan and Pervez Musharraf, in that order. The next two are somewhat surprising: Benazir Bhutto comes in at fourth place and her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is not far behind. Nawaz Sharif comes in at seventh place, while Zardari is in last place among ten rulers. 

During the most recent military government led by President Musharraf from 1999-2008, Pakistan made strides beyond higher GDP growth. There was significant social development as well.  Based on volumes of recently released reports and data on job creation, education, middle class size, public hygiene, poverty and hunger over the last decade, Pakistan created more jobs, graduated more people from schools and colleges, built a larger middle class and lifted more people out of poverty as percentage of its population than India in the last decade. And Pakistan did so in spite of the huge challenges posed by the war in Afghanistan and a very violent insurgency at home.

Is there a democracy discount for economic and social development that Pakistanis have to live with just to have more freedom and rights?  If so, how much of a discount are they willing to accept? Is it 20% or 50% of the average growth rates delivered by military rule? Or do they have to accept any discount at all? Is it possible for Pakistani politicians to learn any lessons from Turkey's leaders Erdogan and Gul who have demonstrated significant economic bonus relative to their predecessor military governments? Can Pakistani politicians deliver like their Turkish counterparts have to win the respect and support of the electorate? Only time will tell.

Here's a video of a TV discussion on the subject:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Educational Attainment in India & Pakistan

Brief History of Pakistan's Economy

Pakistan's Familygate and Mediagate Scandals

Pakistan Needs Energy Policy

Ishrat Husain: Structural Reforms in Pakistan's Economy 

Role of Politics in Pakistan Economy

Pakistan's Economic Performance 2008-2010

Incompetence Worse Than Corruption in Pakistan

Pakistan's Circular Debt and Load Shedding

US Fears Aid Will Feed Graft in Pakistan

Pakistan Swallows IMF's Bitter Medicine

Shaukat Aziz's Economic Legacy

Pakistan's Energy Crisis

Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performance

UNDP Reports Pakistan Poverty Declined to 17 Percent

Pakistan's Choice: Talibanization or Globalization

Pakistan's Financial Services Sector

Pakistan's Decade 1999-2009

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

Asia Gains in Top Asian Universities

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pakistani-American Population Growth Second Fastest Among Asian-Americans

There are now more Asians migrating to the United States than Hispanics,  reflecting a  decline in illegal immigration as American employers increase their demand for high-skilled workers. About 430,000 Asians, or 36 percent of all new immigrants, arrived in the U.S. in 2010, according to the latest census data. That's higher than 370,000, or 31 percent, who were Hispanic.

A study published by the Pew Research Center details what it describes as "the rise of Asian-Americans",  a highly diverse and fast-growing group making up roughly 5 percent of the U.S. population. Mostly foreign-born and naturalized citizens, their numbers have been boosted by increases in visas granted to specialized workers and to wealthy investors as the U.S. economy becomes driven less by manufacturing and more by technology.

 The Pew survey is based on an analysis of census data as well as interviews with 3,511 Asian adults living in the U.S., conducted by cell phone or landline from Jan. 3 to March 27. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points for all respondents, higher for subgroups.

Pakistani-Americans (pop: 409,163) are the seventh largest community among Asian-Americans, behind Chinese (3.8 million),  Filipinos (3.4 million), Indians (3.2 million), Vietnamese (1.74 million),  Koreans (1.7 million) and Japanese (1.3 million), according to Asian-American Center For Advancing Justice . They are still a miniscule fraction of the overall US population. However, their numbers have more than doubled in the last decade due to increased immigration, according to US Census 2010 data. With 100% increase since 2000, Pakistanis are the second fastest growing Asian immigrant group in the United States. With median household income of $63,000, Pakistani-Americans also earn more than an average American household. The most common jobs of Pakistani-Americans include doctors, engineers,  accountants, salespersons, administrators/managers and financial analysts, and 55 per cent hold at least a bachelor’s degree which is higher than 49% of all Asian-Americans and almost twice the 28% of overall American population with college degrees.

Here are some of the highlights of Pakistani-American data from US Census 2010 as gleaned from a report titled "A Community of Contrasts Asian Americans in the United States: 2011" published by Asian-American Center For Advancing Justice:

1. There are 409,163 Pakistani-Americans in 2010, the 7th largest Asian-American community in America.

2. Pakistani-American population doubled from 2000 (204,309) to 2010 (409,163), the second largest percentage increase after Bangladeshis' 157% increase in the same period.

3.  The median household income of Pakistani-American families is nearly $63,000 versus $51,369 average for all Americans.

4. 55% of Pakistanis have a bachelor's degree or higher.

5. 55% of Pakistanis own their own homes.

6. 6% of Pakistani-American population is mixed race.

7. 65% of Pakistanis in America are foreign-born. 57% of foreign-born Pakistani-American population is made up of naturalized citizens.

8. There are 120,000 Pakistani legal permanent residents of which 42% are eligible to naturalize.

9. There were 69,202 immigrant visas issued to Pakistanis from 2001 to 2010, the 5th highest among Asian nations.

10. 28% of Pakistanis have limited English proficiency.

11. 15% of Pakistanis are classified as poor; only 1% of them are on public assistance.

12. 8% of Pakistanis are unemployed, a figure lower than the general population of Americans.

13. Median age of Pakistanis in America is only 29 years, lower than most of the Asian groups and the national median age of 36.8 years.

Pakistani-American community is still relatively young when compared with other immigrant groups. More of the Pakistanis in America are college educated than the general population of whites and various immigrant groups. The youthful energy and higher education levels of Pakistani-Americans are opening doors for them to rise and shine in America, in spite of the current economic difficulties in their adopted land of opportunities.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani-American NFL Team Owner  

OPEN Forum 2012 

Pakistani-American Elected Mayor

Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs Catch the Wave

Khan Academy Draws Pakistani Visitors

Minorities are Majority in Silicon Valley

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 
Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

Pakistanis Study Abroad

Pakistan's Youth Bulge

Pakistani Diaspora World's 7th Largest

US "AfPak" Puppets & Corruption on Sesame Street

Commenting on corruption allegations against Rafi Peer Theater group in Pakistan, American Comic Stephen Colbert quipped that Sim Sim Hamara “was our most successful deployment of a puppet in the region since Hamid Karzai”. Colbert, in his inimitable satiric style, is lambasting "$20 million corruption on Sesame Street" and he is demanding that the US Congress hold hearings to find out "what Elmo know and when Elmo know it?"

The allegations and the subsequent cutoff of USAID funding all started with Pakistan Today's story attributed to “reliable sources” leveling sensational charges against Rafi Peer. It mentioned “rampant” and “severe irregularities” in Rafi Peer’s “$20 million” contract with USAID; alleged that the Pakistani company had used USAID money to pay off old debts and put family members on the payroll; took kickbacks from equipment suppliers; bribed USAID officials; and lavished funds on “expensive security systems.”

The allegations surfaced at a time when the Pakistani version of the acclaimed American TV show was gaining popularity among Pakistanis. It was averaging 18.7 million unique viewers—or about 10 percent of the total population—each month from its first broadcast last December through the end of April. Rafi Peer has since denied all charges and sued the English-language newspaper for some $10 million, according to a report in Newsweek.

Nexia International, the auditing firm hired by USAID for Sim Sim Hamara, told Newsweek that it found no irregularities in the accounts for the financial year that ended on June 30, 2011. “When we audit a USAID project, we do it on their terms of reference,” Sarfraz Mahmood, the company’s Pakistan representative. “We report directly to USAID.” The USAID spokesman in Islamabad, Robert Raines, affirmed his organization has “a strict monitoring system” and is “involved in all levels of auditing of our projects.” In its May 24 letter to Rafi Peer, the agency writes: “USAID would like to underscore our respect for [Rafi Peer’s] creative talent and commitment to furthering the objectives of Sim Sim Hamara.” It also says that it would “encourage the continuation of the program.”

Critics of the Sim Sim Hamara project have alleged from the very beginning that it was an American export intended to "brainwash" Pakistani children. Here's how Khalid Baig of Albalagh summed up his opposition to the arrival of Sesame Street adaptation in Pakistan:  

"So it is a war as Sesame Street’s invasion of all these countries has been on a war footing, using every imaginable means to reach every child in the target area. But it is not the war on illiteracy that its accompanying massive propaganda suggests. Rather it is war on literacy and on culture (and religion). The Muppets may look cute. But there is nothing cute about what they are up to."

The perception of  American cultural "invasion" of foreign lands is shared by some Americans as well. For example, American journalist Bart Mills talks about America's "Baywatch imperialism", a reference to the fact that the California beach show featuring Pamela Anderson and other scantily clad women became America's biggest and most successful export to much of the Muslim world in 1990s. Here are some excerpt from Bart Mills' recent column written after the USAID decision to terminate funding of Sim Sim Hamara:

"This sort of imperialism is hardly new. Alexander the Great was wise enough to use the cultural benefits of ancient Greece to placate the masses in his conquered worlds, as has every conqueror since. America has long understood the benefits of showing off its goods, and it works. As someone who spent some time in Eastern Europe in the late-'80s, I can tell you that the world, especially the part of it living at the time under communism, coveted the heck out of what we had, just as much of the Middle East does today.

Sadly, it seems as though we've forgotten all that. Instead of trying to win over our enemies by emphasizing our innate awesomeness, we feed their hatred with drone attacks. We send them bombs when we should be hooking them up with free cable."

The reason for cut-off of American funding just as the show was gaining traction remains a mystery. Was it really precipitated by unsubstantiated charges of corruption from groups that saw it as yet another American "conspiracy against Pakistan"? Or was it done to placate domestic US lobby angry with Pakistan's unwillingness to yield to US pressure?

In my opinion, the US decision to cut funding is short-sighted. It'll not only hurt the pre-school kids in Pakistan who were learning to read and count by watching the show, but it'll also hurt long-term US interests in the region. As to the Pakistani critics of the show, I'd remind them that Sesame Street is far more benign than other American exports like sugared drinks, fast food and Hollywood which have been corrupting the mind, body and spirit of many Pakistanis.

 Here's a video clip of Stephen Colbert on Sim Sim Hamara corruption scandal:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Adapts Sesame Street

Sim Sim Hamara

Sim Sim Hamara Youtube Channel

Pakistan's Media and Telecom Revolution

Impact of Cable TV on Indian Women

Early Childhood Education in Pakistan

Newsweek Joins Pakistan's Media Revolution

UNESCO Report on Pre-School Education in Pakistan

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Vision of Pakistan

Billion Dollar UK Aid For Pakistani Schools

Pakistan Must Fix Primary Education

Teach For Pakistan

Developing Pakistan's Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers

Student Performance By Country and Race

India Shining and Bharat Drowning

South Asian IQs

Low Literacy Rates Threaten Pakistan's Future

Light a Candle, Don't Curse Darkness

Mobile Phones For Mass Literacy in Pakistan

Poor Quality of Higher Education in South Asia

Teaching Facts vs Reasoning

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pakistan's Familygate & Mediagate Scandals Broke on Youtube

Social media revolution is well underway in Pakistan. The new media are coming of age, and trumping the traditional commercial media. Many of the top journalists in the mainstream media knew about Arsalan's Iftikhar's massive corruption but it was through Youtube that the world first learned about it. The same pattern repeated itself when Duniya TV's incriminating off-air video footage found its way on Youtube.

 Familygate or Arslangate:

It has now been established that Malik Riaz Husain of Bahria Town approached a number of top TV talk show hosts in Pakistan and shared detailed information, videos and documentation about $3.7 million in illegal payments made to Arsalan Iftikhar, the son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, over several years. Others, including Chaudhry Aitazaz Ahsan, knew about it and shared it with Justice Chaudhry a while ago. While rumors swirled among the Capital insiders, the public at large was kept in the dark until recently when a video of Shaheen Sehbai talking about it surfaced on Youtube and forced the mainstream media to finally discuss it on air.

Here's Shaheen Sehbai breaking the scandal on Youtube:



Several behind-the-scenes video clips of a Dunya TV talk show leaked on Youtube reveal the television hosts appearing to be helping Malik Riaz Husain prepare his answers, and in certain cases even spoon-feeding him the answers.
The leaked video also shows a son of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and a daughter of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) chief Nawaz Sharif calling in to try and influence the on-air contents. “Why don’t you start talking about it yourself, otherwise [if we ask] it will seem planted, which it is, but I don’t know if it should look planted,” says Ms Mehr Bukhari to Malik Riaz while Mr Lucman say that “I’ll say it on air that I’ve been "pressurised" by Mian Amir Mehmood (Dunya TV's owner) and Malik Riaz to do this program.”

Here's two-part Duniya TV's leaked video on Youtube:



The fact that mainstream media sat on these stories raises serious questions about whose interests are its journalists serving? Why are they afraid to expose the top judges? What kind of illegal payments and other favors are they accepting  from the rich and the powerful? How are the commercial interests of the media owners influencing the editorial opinions and news coverage? Are they trying to hide their own guilt? And to what end?

What's Next:

Free and independent media are often seen as an effective watchdog in a democracy. But the question being asked now is who's watching the watchdogs? One possible answer is that the new super watchdogs are  the ordinary citizen journalists and bloggers who are active in the new cybermedia and not beholden to any special interests.

High-speed broadband expansion led by PTCL has propelled Pakistan to become the fourth fastest growing broadband market in the world and the second fastest in Asia, according to a recent industry report. Serbia leads all countries surveyed with a 68% annual growth rate from Q1 2010 to Q1 2011. Thailand (67%), Belarus (50%), Pakistan (46%), and Jordan (44%) follow Serbia. India is in 14th place worldwide with a 35% annual growth rate.

 In spite of rapid growth, the level of Internet penetration is Pakistan is still low. In a population of 180 million, only 30  million ( about 16 percent) are connected to the Internet, according to Internet World Stats. It's enough to put Pakistan among the top 20 nations in terms of Internet subscribers. And Internet use in Pakistan is growing at a rapid rate, particularly in urban centers where 40% of the population lives, which are also home to the middle class which often forms the backbone of mass-scale uprisings. Mobile Internet use shot up 161 percent in 2010 alone.


I believe Pakistan is entering a new era of the Internet media. And I hope that the new social media will continue to enjoy sufficient freedom and growth to provide wide enough access in Pakistan for the citizen journalists to play their role as a watchdog where the mainstream commercial media fails. Sunlight is indeed the best disinfectant for the rot that characterizes Pakistan's power centers today.

Here's the video of a recent TV interview on this subject I participated in:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Imran Khan's Social Media Campaign

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

Pak Judges' Jihad Against Corruption

Pakistan Rolls Out 50Mbps Broadband Service

Mobile Internet in South Asia

Media and Telecom Sectors Growing in Pakistan

Internet Service Providers of Pakistan

Chaudhry is No Angel

Justice Chaudhry's Address to New York Bar

Incompetence and Corruption in Pakistan

Zardari Corruption Probe

NRO Amnesty Order Overturned

Transparency International Rankings 2011

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry Should Resign

For six long months, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry of Pakistan knew that his son was on the take from a notorious property baron Malik Riaz Husain, and yet he did nothing to stop his son's illegal activities. Earlier in 2007, President Musharraf's reference filed against Mr. Chaudhry was based on his abuse of power to help his son. Mr. Chaudhry was too busy waging a much-needed jihad against corruption by other powerful individuals through his suo moto actions.

 Mr. Chaudhry finally acted against his son after the allegations became public in Pakistani media. His action appears to be self-serving to try and salvage his own reputation. Malik Riaz Husain, CEO of Bahria Town, has now offered detailed evidence and documentation to back up his charges against Chaudhry's son Arsalan Iftikhar of accepting bribes worth $3.7 million (Pak Rs. 340 million).

Predictably, Mr. Chaudhry's fellow judges are trying to silence the accuser by initiating contempt proceedings against him, a favorite tool of the current serving judges of the highest court in Pakistan to chill dissent. Other Chaudhry supporters are in denial. They are crying "conspiracy" to try and absolve him of a very serious lapse.

Judge Chaudhry's failure to act when he first learned about his son's corruption charges has put a harsh spotlight on Pakistan's Supreme Court as an institution. It has put at risk the noble efforts of Mr. Chaudhry to rid Pakistan of corruption at the highest levels of government. What's most important now is to try and restore confidence in Pakistan's higher judiciary as an institution.

Mr. Chaudhry must resign as a first step toward rebuilding trust in the institution. Other senior judges must then step in to order a thorough investigation into the activities of Mr. Malik Riaz Husain, and they should let the evidence lead them wherever it goes, including many powerful individuals in government, legislatures, military, political parties, lawyers' community and mass media who are alleged to have accepted illegal payments from him in return for lucrative contracts and other favors to Bahria Town.

The culture of corruption must end for Pakistan to offer hope to its people for their future.

Here's the video of a recent TV interview on this subject I participated in:


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

Pak Judges' Jihad Against Corruption

Chaudhry is No Angel

Justice Chaudhry's Address to New York Bar

Incompetence and Corruption in Pakistan

Zardari Corruption Probe

NRO Amnesty Order Overturned

Transparency International Rankings 2011

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Comprehensive Energy Policy For Pakistan's Future

Since the middle of the 18th century, the Industrial Revolution has transformed the world. Energy-hungry machines are now doing more and more of the work at much higher levels of productivity than humans and animals who did it in pre-industrial era.  In recent years, the rapid growth in computers and mobile phones spawned by the Information  and Communications Technology (ICT) revolution has further increased demand for energy. Currently somewhere between 5-10% of  electrical consumption is for ICT and it's likely to continue to grow rapidly.

Energy Consumption:

Energy consumption in this day and age generally indicates a nation's level of industrialization, productivity and standards of living. Going by this yardstick, Pakistan's 14 million BTUs per capita consumption in 2009 indicates that the country has a long way to go to achieve levels comparable with the world average productivity signified by 71 million BTUs per capita as estimated by US Energy Information Administration for 2009.

Regional Comparison:

Although Pakistan's 14 million BTUs per capita energy use is ahead of Bangladesh's 6 million BTUs and Sri Lanka's 10 million BTUs, it is less than India's 18 million BTUs, and far behind China's 68 million BTUs and Malaysia's 97 million BTUs.

 Energy Costs:

Fossil fuels are currently the primary source of the bulk of energy used. Cost of producing energy from various fossil fuels ranges from $2-4 per million BTUs for coal to $19-20 per million BTUs from oil. Costs of energy from natural gas vary widely depending on the source. Cost of shale gas in the United States has plummeted to about $2 per million BTU recently, while Pakistan has signed agreements to purchase gas from Iran and Turkmenistan in the range of $10 to $12 per million BTUs. Cost of production of domestic natural gas is in the range of $2 to $4 per million BTU.

Impact on Economy:

Energy costs have had a huge impact on Pakistan's economy. Its heavy dependence on imported oil has been a big contributor to balance of payments crises in the past. In 2008, for example, the oil prices jumped from less than $50 a barrel to $150 a barrel and forced the country to seek IMF bailout. Pakistan oil import bill has increased from about $7 billion in 2007 to over $12 billion in 2011. Energy shortages have also put a significant dent in Pakistan's GDP growth.

Pakistan's Fuel Options:

If Pakistan could generate all of the 14 million BTUs of energy per capita from coal, the cost would be $28 to $56 for each person. Alternatively, the cost of using oil for the entire production would add up to about $280 per person, a significant chunk of Pakistan's per capita income of $1372 in 2011-12. The costs therefore range from a low of $28 to a high of $280 per Pakistani.

Energy Policy Suggestions:

As the nation develops and the energy demand increases, the policy makers have to try and produce as much of the needed energy at costs closer to the low-end of the range from $2 to $20 per million BTUs. Here are some policy suggestions for Pakistan's energy policy going forward:

1. Develop Pakistan's shale gas reserves estimated at 51 trillion cubic feet near Karachi in southern Sindh province. The US experience has shown that investment in shale gas can increase production quite rapidly and prices brought down from about $12 per mmBTU in 2008 to under $2 per mmBTU recently. Pursuing this option requires US technical expertise and significant foreign investment on an accelerated schedule.

2. Increase production of gas from nearly 30 trillion cubic feet of remaining conventional gas reserves. This, too, requires significant investment on an accelerated schedule.

3. Convert some of the idle power generation capacity  from oil and gas to imported coal to make electricity more available and affordable.

4. Utilize Pakistan's vast coal reserves in Sindh's Thar desert. The problem here is that the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other international financial institutions (IFIs) are not lending for coal development because of environmental concerns.And the Chinese who were showing interest in the project have since pulled out.

5. Invest in hydroelectric and other renewables including wind and solar. Several of these projects are funded and underway but it'll take a while to bring them online to make a difference.

6. Curb widespread power theft, improve collection of electricity dues from consumers, and resolve spiraling circular debt to make Pakistan's energy sector attractive to domestic and foreign investors. 

Energy Conservation:

In addition to significantly increasing energy production, Pakistan needs to take prudent steps to conserve by promoting the use of energy-saving electric bulbs and machines. Concerns about the environment have propelled many developed nations to cut energy consumption in recent years.  For example, serious conservation efforts have reduced  Japan's 172 million BTUs per capita in 2009 down from 178 in 2005, Germany is at 163 million BTUs in 2009 down from 175 in 2005, and the United States is down to 308 million BTUs in 2009 from 340 million BTUs per person per year in 2005.


Instead of addressing different pieces of the energy puzzle in an ad hoc fashion under multiple ministries and bureaucracies fighting turf battles,  Pakistani policy makers need to look at the big picture for the sake of the nation's future. Nothing short of a holistic approach with a comprehensive energy policy formulated and implemented under a competent and powerful energy czar will do.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

US EIA International Data on Per Capita Energy Consumption

Affordable Fuel for Pakistan's Electricity

Pakistan Needs Shale Gas Revolution

US Census Bureau's International Stats 

Pakistan's Vast Shale Gas Reserves

US AID Overview of Pakistan's Power Sector

US Can Help Pakistan Overcome Energy Crisis

Abundant and Cheap Coal Electricity

US Dept of Energy Report on Shale Gas

Pakistan's Twin Energy Crises

Pakistan's Electricity Crisis

Pakistan's Gas Pipeline and Distribution Network

Pakistan's Energy Statistics

US Department of Energy Data

Electrification Rates By Country

CO2 Emissions, Birth, Death Rates By Country

China Signs Power Plant Deals in Pakistan

Pakistan Pursues Hydroelectric Projects

Pakistan Energy Industry Overview

Energy from Thorium

Comparing US and Pakistani Tax Evasion

Pakistan's Oil and Gas Report 2010

Circular Electricity Debt Problem

International CNG Vehicles Association

Rare Earths at Reko Diq?

Lessons From IPP Experience in Pakistan

Correlation Between Human Development and Energy Consumption

Friday, June 8, 2012

OPEN Forum 2012: Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs' Conference in Silicon Valley

Hundreds of Pakistani-American entrepreneurs met on Saturday, June 2, 2012 at Silicon Valley's Computer History Museum for this year's annual conference called OPEN Forum held each summer. It's organized by the Organization of Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs (OPEN) in Silicon Valley.  The conference had a large number of sponsors, including dozens of Silicon Valley companies founded or managed by Pakistani-Americans.

Successful social entrepreneur Salman Khan of Khan Academy was the keynote speaker. There were also a number of parallel tracks on various topics of interest to the community. Panelists included venture capitalists, business executives, entrepreneurs, engineers, lawyers, scientists, editors and reporters. I am sharing with my readers some of the highlights of the key sessions that I personally found interesting.

Photo by Ali Hasan Cemendtaur

 It was moderated by Stephen West, Deputy Bureau Chief & Editor Bloomberg News, and included Sarfaraz Ahmed Rehman, CEO The Dawood Foundation, Junaid Qureshi, CEO, SSJD Group, Javed Hamid, Sr. MD, International Executive Service Corps, Former World Bank, Founder, LUMs and Naveed Sherwani, President & CEO at Open-Silicon as panelists. Sarfaraz Ahmed Rehman represented Dawood Group includes Pakistani conglomerate Engro with multiple businesses ranging from consumer products to fertilizer and energy. Rehman talked about annual growth of as much as 45% per year in some of the product categories in Dawood's consumer product sales and profits. He said other consumer giants like Unilever Pakistan, Colgate-Palmolive and Nestle Pakistan are experiencing similar rapid growth as well. All of these companies are investing heavily to expand their FMCG offerings in Pakistan.

Naveed Sherwani of Silicon Valley based OpenSilicon talked about his reasons for setting up his company's chip design centers in Lahore and Islamabad by hiring 67 Pakistani design engineers. Sherwani said OpenSilicon considered adding staff at their existing design center in Bangalore, India and also considered Shanghai, China for expansion before choosing Pakistan. The key reasons include availability of top talent, lower turn-over and lower costs in Lahore and Islamabad. Comparing turn-over, he said it's about 15% in Pakistan versus 30% in India. Answering a question on power outages and security concerns, he said both are manageable. Stand-by generators alleviate the problems caused by load shedding. And, being a frequent visitor to Pakistan, he feels quite safe there.


 The panel was moderated by Umair Khan, CEO, SecretBuilders; Chairman, Folio3; Venture Partner, Entrepreneurs’ Fund and included Joe Robinson: Product Lead, Square, Charles Huang: CEO Blue Goji; co-founder Red Octane (Guitar Hero), Zia Yusuf: CEO Streetline; former EVP SAP, Robert Martyn: Studio GM, Zynga; Executive Producer of SIMS, SimCity at EA, Omar Siddiqui: CEO Kiwi; former VP Playdom (Disney) as panelists.

The mobile apps market has exploded from almost zero to nearly $3 billion within just a few years as smartphones and tablets have become ubiquitous. Panelists represented a range of apps from gaming and social media to an application that allows people to find a parking spot while enabling the cities to raise their parking revenues. The key question was how can developers effectively market their apps in such a crowded space. Zia quipped "Get Ashton Kutcher", referring to the use of celebrities to get attention. Another panelist suggested turning to new niches such as fitness and cycling to get a slice of the action by offering a piece of specialized hardware along with the application. One suggestion was to sell a hard-shell case for the mobile device and offer free download of a useful application for cyclists.


 Defying tradition, Salman Khan chose an interview style format with Bay Area Journalist Thuy Vu who introduced Khan and played a CBS 60 Minutes segment on Khan Academy.

Thuy began by asking Khan if he was still recording his videos in his closet, and Khan said "No, I have come out of closet". Then he proceeded to offer to pay "market rate" for larger office; studio space in Palo Alto for Khan Academy.

In answer to a question about being "teacher to the world" in Bill Gates' words, Khan said he is aware that English language limits his ability to justify that title. He is working on broadening access to his tutorials in many parts of the world through translations in multiple languages ranging from Mongolian to Urdu. He showed a video clip of such translations.

Khan said the ubiquity and price declines of connected tablets make them ideal devices for watching and learning  from his videos. With twenty students sharing a $100 tablet, the cost is only $5 per student, he said. In developing nations where electricity and Intranet infrastructure is not available everywhere, he supports the use of Internet cafes or off-line learning through kiosks supporting DVDs. He is prepared to license his video contents at no-cost for non-profit organizations seeking to educate the poor and the disadvantaged.


The conference was put together well by OPEN President Moazzam Chaudhry and his team. It provided a great opportunity for Pakistani-Americans to meet each other and learn about start-up opportunities and current entrepreneurial endeavors of the community members in Silicon Valley and Pakistan. I believe the conference clearly succeeded in its immediate objective of bringing aspiring entrepreneurs of Pakistani origin together with many investors and mentors in Silicon Valley, informing the audience and stimulating discussion of new ideas and opportunities, and educating the speakers and the attendees. But its real impact won't be apparent until there is a significant critical mass with many more successful Pakistani entrepreneurs inspired by what they saw and heard at OPEN Forum 2012.

Acknowledgement: Asghar Aboobaker and Ali Hasan Cemendtaur contributed to this report. Photo taken by Ali Hasan Cemendtaur.

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