Monday, August 13, 2012

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan on 66th Independence Day

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

New York Times' Sabrina Tavernise described the rise of Pakistan's middle class in a story from Pakistani town of Muzaffargarh in the following words:

For years, feudal lords reigned supreme, serving as the police, the judge and the political leader. Plantations had jails, and political seats were practically owned by families.

Instead of midwifing democracy, these aristocrats obstructed it, ignoring the needs of rural Pakistanis, half of whom are still landless and desperately poor more than 60 years after Pakistan became a state.

But changes began to erode the aristocrats’ power.
Cities sprouted, with jobs in construction and industry. Large-scale farms eclipsed old-fashioned plantations. Vast hereditary lands splintered among generations of sons, and many aristocratic families left the country for cities, living beyond their means off sales of their remaining lands. Mobile labor has also reduced dependence on aristocratic families.

In Punjab, the country’s most populous province, and its most economically advanced, the number of national lawmakers from feudal families shrank to 25 percent in 2008 from 42 percent in 1970, according to a count conducted by Mubashir Hassan, a former finance minister, and The New York Times.

“Feudals are a dying breed,” said S. Akbar Zaidi, a Karachi-based fellow with the Carnegie Foundation. “They have no power outside the walls of their castles.”




GeoTV is illustrating  this welcome phenomenon of upward social mobility in Pakistan with a series of motivational "Zara  Sochiey" videos on young men and women who have risen from humble origins to achieve significant successes in recent years. Each individual portrayed in the series has overcome adversity and  focused on acquiring education as a ticket to improve his or her economic and social situation.

GeoTV videos feature a number of young men and women, including Saima Bilal, Kashif Faiq,  Qaisar Abbas and many others, to inspire and encourage other Pakistanis to pursue their dreams against all odds.

Contrary to the incessant talk of doom and gloom, the fact is that the level of educational attainment has been rising in recent decades.  In fact, Pakistan has been increasing enrollment of students in schools at a faster rate since 1990 than India, according to data compiled and reported by Harvard University researchers Robert Barro and Jhong-Wa Lee . In 1990, there were 66.2% of Pakistanis vs 51.6% of Indians in 15+ age group who had had no schooling. In 2000, there were 60.2% Pakistanis vs 43% Indians with no schooling. In 2010, Pakistan reduced it to 38% vs India's 32.7%.
 

As of 2010, there are 380 (vs 327 Indians) out of every 1000 Pakistanis age 15 and above who have never had any formal schooling. Of the remaining 620 (vs 673 Indians) who enrolled in school, 22 (vs 20 Indians) dropped out before finishing primary school, and the remaining 598 (vs 653 Indians) completed it. There are 401 (vs 465 Indians) out of every 1000 Pakistanis who made it to secondary school. 290 (vs 69 Indians) completed secondary school  while 111 (vs. 394 Indians) dropped out. Only 55 (vs 58 Indians)  made it to college out of which 39 (vs 31 Indians) graduated with a degree.



Education and development efforts  are beginning to bear fruit even in remote areas of Pakistan, including Federally Administered Tribal AreasThe Guardian newspaper recently reported that FATA's Bajaur agency alone has 616 school with over 60,000 boys and girls receiving take-home rations. Two new university campuses have been approved for FATA region and thousands of kilometers of new roads are being constructed. After a recent visit to FATA, Indian journalist Hindol Sengupta wrote in The Hindu newspaper that "even Bajaur has a higher road density than India"

 Prior to significant boost in public spending on education during Musharraf years, the number of private schools in Pakistan grew 10 fold from about 3000 in 1983 to over 30,000 in 2000. Primary school enrollment in 1983 has increased 937%, far greater than the 57% population increase in the last two decades.

Unfortunately, there has been a decline in public spending on education since 2008, even as not-for-profit private sector organizations, mostly NGOs, have stepped up  to try to fill the gap.  Last year, a Pakistani government commission on education found that public funding for education has been cut from 2.5% of GDP in 2007 to just 1.5% - less than the annual subsidy given to the various PSUs including PIA, the national airline that continues to sustain huge losses.


Clearly, this is not the time for Pakistan's political leadership to let up on the push for universal education. The momentum that developed in Musharraf years needs to be maintained, even accelerated to get to the goal of 100% literacy and 100% enrollment of all children in Pakistan. Nothing less will do if Pakistan is to achieve economic competitiveness on the global stage.

Here are some of  GeoTV's Zara Scohiye video clips:

 



 



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Educational Attainment in Pakistan

Foreign Visitors to Pakistan Pleasantly Surprised

Pakistan's Infrastructure and M2 Motorway

India Pakistan Comparison 2011

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers


FMCG Consumption Boom in Rural Pakistan

Pakistan Visits Open  Indian Eyes


66 comments:

Mayraj said...

Forget India, apparently Pakistan allows more upward mobility than US! Though doesn't say much for Pakistan or US (since minority majority era arrived last year)!
See:
"Most of Western Europe today is both more equal in incomes and more economically mobile than the United States. And it isn’t just Western Europe. Countries as varied as Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and Pakistan all have higher degrees of income mobility than we do. "
http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/magazine/100516/inequality-mobility-economy-america-recession-divergence

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj: "Forget India, apparently Pakistan allows more upward mobility than US!"

Pakistan is certainly more egalitarian than its neighbors, and much so than the United States. The CIA World Factbook reports Pakistan’s Gini Index has decreased from 41 in 1998-99 to 30.6 in 2007-8, lower than India’s 36.8 and Bangladesh’s 33.2, and much lower than US at 45. Gini Index is measured on a scale of 0-100 where 0 indicates perfect equality where everyone has the same income and 100 denotes perfect inequality where all the income goes to the top quintile.

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2172.html

Anonymous said...

ha ha ha ha

Feudal Pakistan more egalitarian than US!!

Gini coefficient cannot be compared across different classes of countires.

India is also MUCH bigger and diverse.The larger and more diverse the country the greater the disparity.

Adjusting for this I don't think Pakistan is less unequal than India.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of an article in Saudi Gazette on Pakistan's higher education:

...Salam is part of a Pakistani tradition of immense talent and educational excellence. On February 2, 1995, Arfa Karim a nine-year-old girl from a small village in Pakistan became a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), the youngest in the world, and was invited by Bill Gates to visit Microsoft Headquarters in the US. Today, Pakistan has the 7th largest pool of scientists in the world. It is the 9th largest English-speaking nation in the world. It is the world’s 9th leading nation in telecom usage and 15th in internet usage.

Lately, the Government of Pakistan has made concerted efforts to raise the quality of higher education infrastructure in the country to international standards. Today, we have the satisfaction of having several world class educational institutions. According to the Quality Standard World University Rankings 2010, there were two Pakistani universities among top 200 Technology Universities of the World. In addition, six Pakistani universities are among the top Asian universities according to the 2012 QS Rankings. These are National University of Science and Technology (108), Karachi University (191), Aga Khan University (201), Lahore University of Management Sciences (251) and Lahore University (251).

Over the past decade, two major revolutions have taken place in Pakistan - one in the Information and Communication Technology and the other in Higher Education. Tele-density in Pakistan has increased to 69 percent. The mobile phone market has grown 22-fold and internet users have grown 138-fold. These revolutions have transformed the knowledge landscape in Pakistan and made knowledge creation, assimilation and dissemination exponentially better. This has gone a long way in providing greater impetus to the progress being made in the higher education sector of the country. Today, Pakistan has 146 universities registered with the Higher Education Commission alone. Apart from these, there are many private universities developed by various bodies and societies. University enrollment in Pakistan tripled from 276,274 in the year 2002 to 803,507. Today, Pakistan produces more than 10,000 computer science graduates every year.

The government of Pakistan has invested heavily in higher education sector. This can be gauged from the fact that some 4,874 PhD scholarships have been awarded for studies domestically. In addition, about 5,000 PhD scholarships have been awarded for study in the best universities in the world. With joint funding from the Higher Education Commission and the USAID, the world’s largest Fulbright Scholarship program (worth $150 million) is also successfully functioning in Pakistan.

A substantial part of quality education pertains to easy access to sufficient quality and quantity of books, research papers and journals. To achieve this objective, the Higher Education Commission has established its own Digital Library in Pakistan which can compete with the best academic libraries in the world. The Digital Library enables every student in every public sector university across the length and breadth of Pakistan to access 45,000 textbooks research monographs from 220 international publishers as well as 25,000 international research journals free of cost. This has enabled the universities in Pakistan to function in a truly cutting edge fashion.

The provision of such state of the art facilities has resulted in the flowering of a research culture in the academic institutions in Pakistan. As a result, the publication of research papers has expanded manifold in the last few years in Pakistani universities. According to one survey, 4,300 research papers were published by Pakistani scholars in 2008 alone. Needless to say, the trend has grown since then....


http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20120814133121

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Feudal Pakistan more egalitarian than US!!"

Yes, Pakistanis are more equal than Americans in spite of feudalism.

Anon: "India is also MUCH bigger and diverse.The larger and more diverse the country the greater the disparity."

A recent World Bank report titled "Perspectives on poverty in India : stylized facts from survey data"
discusses various causes of high poverty and higher inequality in India, particularly discrimination against certain castes and tribes who make up most of the poor. It describes exclusion based on caste (SC or scheduled caste) and tribes (ST or scheduled tribes) and describes it as follows:

The Hindu hierarchy is said to have evolved from different parts of the body of Brahma—the creator of the universe. Thus, the Brahmans, who originated from the mouth, undertake the most prestigious priestly and teaching occupations. The Kshatriyas (from the arms) are the rulers and warriors; the Vaishyas (from the thighs) are traders and merchants. The Shudras, from the feet, are manual workers and servants of other castes. Below the Shudras and outside the caste system, lowest in the order, the untouchables engage in the most demeaning and stigmatized occupations (scavenging, for instance, and dealing with bodily waste).

Similarly, the scheduled tribes are also referred to as the Adivasis. .... we use the terms SC and ST, as these are standard administrative and survey categories. In the text we use the terms Dalits and Adivasis or tribals interchangeably with SCs and STs, respectively.


http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/05/world-bank-on-poverty-across-india-in.html

Anonymous said...

“Pakistan is certainly more egalitarian than its neighbors, and much so than the United States. The CIA World Factbook reports Pakistan’s Gini Index has decreased from 41 in 1998-99 to 30.6 in 2007-8, lower than India’s 36.8”

One tiny detail that needs to pointed out. The data that you have presented is not an apple to apple comparison for the simple reason that the reference points differ.

As per the source that you quoted, Pakistan had a gini coefficient of 30.6 in 2007-08. Whereas, India’s gini coefficient of 36.8 is for the year 2004!!

But anyways, Happy Birthday to Pakistan. May we see a Pakistan that can stand on its own two feet.

HopeWins Junior said...

Dr. Haq,

You certainly state the GINI-Index facts when you say:

"Pakistan is certainly more egalitarian than its neighbors, and much so than the United States. The CIA World Factbook reports Pakistan’s Gini Index has decreased from 41 in 1998-99 to 30.6 in 2007-8, lower than India’s 36.8 and Bangladesh’s 33.2, and much lower than US at 45. Gini Index is measured on a scale of 0-100 where 0 indicates perfect equality where everyone has the same income and 100 denotes perfect inequality where all the income goes to the top quintile".

This is good.

However, there is this other view:

http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=109521

"The Social divide: Having served in Iraq I have experienced the divide between the elites and the common citizen, which is quite typical of the Middle East and South Asian countries.

In Pakistan however it takes unparalleled heights.

My first private party at a key ministers residence, the opulent lifestyle was in full contrast to the plight of those serving us. White gloved waiters were standing with ashtrays so that the corpulent minister and guests could smoke their Cuban cigars at will, and with utmost disdain flicker the ash at random intervals to be caught by the gloved waiters with unsurpassed dexterity. Alcohol, which is, otherwise not publicly displayed in this Islamic country was flowing from an open bar. Our hosts were shocked that most American guests did not drink. I was taken aback at the presence of so many blond Pakistani women, on inquiring was told by our bemused social secretary about the miracle of peroxide and modern hair coloring which seems to be the fashion statement of the day for well-groomed modern Pakistani women. As we pulled out to leave, the sight of an army of drivers, was something to behold, huddled in the frigid night until the wee hours, for their masters to terminate their fracas.

Service is legitimate but this smacked of servitude, opprobrium reminiscent of attitudes of European aristocracy and our own experience with slavery."

Who collects the data for the calculation of the GINI index? Are they qualified & trustworthy? Are there data consistent and reliable?

Something to think about.

Thank you.

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "However, there is this other view...In Pakistan however it takes unparalleled heights"

You can always find anecdotes like these because GINI is never zero or even close to zero anywhere in the world. The least inequality reported is in Scandinavian nations where GINI is around 25 vs 30.6 in Pakistan.

Indian said...

There is no point in discussing or considering a data collected in 2005, because world is changing fast and in 7 years lot have been changed...

Also in the below link one can read an article about middle class projection from year 2005 to 2025...

http://www.psmag.com/business-economics/counting-on-the-middle-class-4138/

Riaz Haq said...

Indian: "Also in the below link one can read an article about middle class projection from year 2005 to 2025.."

From the link it looks like 2025 projects show, Pakistan will have 10% of its population as middle class India will have 12%.

Here are the problems with this data you have shared:

1. If you go by this table, it suggests that the middle class in India and Pakistan is a lot smaller than reported in the ADB report, and it's going to remain small in the future.

2. It's an individual's opinion published in a magazine, not comparable to an institution like ADB which has a large research dept.




Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Gallup survey on Balochistan independence as reported by Khaleej Times:

The support for an independent Balochistan is not popular even among a majority of the Baloch population, a Gallup survey for the UK international official body, DFID, has revealed.

The survey conducted on July 20 says that among the Baloch, 37 per cent favour independence, whereas among the Pashtun population only 12 per cent favour that option. The results of the survey were published by The News on Monday.

The vast majority, according to the survey, opposes the idea of an independent Balochistan. However, 67 per cent of the people of Balochistan, including Baloch and Pashtuns, support greater provincial autonomy.

The survey says that 79 per cent of the Baloch population and 53 per cent of Pashtuns support the idea that the people of Balochistan should have greater control over their political affairs. Balochistan, which is home to Baloch and Pashtun tribes, through this survey reflects Pashtuns’ tilt to national mainstream as against the increased tendency of Balochi separatism in recent years.


http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/international/2012/August/international_August432.xml&section=international&col=

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of Pak Army Chief Gen Kayani's Independence Day speech as reported by BBC:

"We realise that the most difficult task for any army is to fight against its own people. But this happens as a last resort. Our real objective is to restore peace in these areas so that people can lead normal lives," Gen Kayani said.

"No state can afford a parallel system or a militant force.

"The fight against extremism and terrorism is our own war and we are right in fighting it. Let there be no doubt about it, otherwise we'll be divided and taken towards civil war."
---------
He said that "the war against extremism and terrorism" was not one that should be fought by the army alone.

"It is imperative that the entire nation is united in this context because the army can only be successful with the co-operation of the people."


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19254070

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Gulf News on growth of upscale real estate developments in Pakistan:

Apart from ultra-modern residential and commercial projects undertaken on a massive scale, the concept of gated communities ensconced in the lap of extravagance isn’t just changing the dynamics of Pakistan’s luxury realty segment, but also the way residents of these projects are living in the country’s major cities like Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore. “The luxury property market in Pakistan has traditionally been unorganised and fragmented. However, the recent past has seen consolidation of a few developers who are stretching their capacities to the maximum to meet the growing market demand,” says Naveed Merchant, Managing Director, Merchant & Associates.

“REIT [real estate investment trust] regulations are in the process of formulation which will encourage large projects with sourced financing. While the Pakistan real estate market still lacks transparency and liquidity compared to more mature real estate markets, REITs would provide an opportunity to diversify the investor base in the sector through a regulated, tradable investment,” he says.

Nida Zahoor, Group Marketing Manager, Bahria Town, touted to be Asia’s largest private real estate developer, also vouches for this maturity in the market. “Generally the Pakistani luxury home buyer in this day and age, expects nothing but the best in quality. Most of them have travelled extensively to countries abroad, making them abreast with the latest trends in construction. Then there is also the growing middle class which is not as aware, but that too is changing over time” she says.

Zahoor says there is a shortage of one million homes in Pakistan with a 0.6 million (backlog) demand growing every year, which includes in it a large ratio of demand for luxury homes. In the next five years, predicts Zahoor, Pakistan will experience a tremendous growth in the luxury realty segment as awareness among the people, the trends, the policies by the government will give a fillip to this segment. So, what would Bahria Town’s benchmark project be? “It would be Bahria Golf City, Pakistan’s first ever branded luxury resort designed over a total area of 5.5 million square metres,” Zahoor says.

Bahria Golf City is expected to accommodate 18,000 people in about 7,500 housing units. “From architects such as BEAMS construction to Nayyar Ali Dada, interior designers such Wingchair, Cracknel landscape designers; and Kroll security consultants; we are working with the best in the world who have been involved in prestigious projects like the Burj Al Arab, KL towers, Atlantis Dubai and Jumeirah Beach Resort,” says Zahoor.

Bahria Town isn’t the only player in the market, there are several interesting offerings such as Lake City, a 2,104-acre development on the outskirts of Lahore, which has a plan to have almost 4,000 residences, hundreds of shops, malls and dozens of office buildings. “When the project was envisaged in 2004, it was obvious that future developments in real estate in Lahore could only take place towards the south and south west. The trend in Pakistan, outside Karachi, is not towards vertical expansion but horizontal expansion,” says Farouk Khan, ED Coordination, Lake City Holdings and Rida Sarfraz, GM Marketing and Events, Lake City Holdings.

Besides, there are other attractive projects such as Defence Raya, a 400-acre development and The Centaurus, a project featuring a five-level shopping mall, two residential complexes, the corporate complex and a luxurious five-star hotel in Islamabad...


http://gulfnews.com/gn-focus/pakistan/luxury-property-market-soars-to-new-heights-1.1061693

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Flightglobal story on Pakistan's AirBlue airline doubling its fleet:

Pakistani carrier Airblue has plans to double its fleet to 12 aircraft within the next two years.

The carrier wants to add four 70-seater turboprops to its fleet by early 2013, says Airblue's general manager for commercial, Raheel Ahmed.

It is considering the ATR 72 and the Bombardier Q400, though the airline has not decided whether the aircraft will be bought or leased.

Airblue is scheduled to take delivery of two Airbus A340-300s in early September. These aircraft are on a five-year lease from International Lease Finance Corporation.

Ahmed says that the A340s will have 342 seats in a single class configuration. The aircraft will be deployed on a direct Islamabad-Manchester service, replacing the existing Islamabad-Istanbul-Manchester route.

In August, the airline took delivery of one Airbus A320, which will be used to up frequencies on its domestic routes.

As part of its network expansion plans, Airblue may launch new destinations in Europe, Middle East and China. A timeline has not been specified for these plans. Ahmed adds that the carrier aims to be a major player on services to Europe.

According to the Flightglobal Ascend online database, Airblue operates four A319 and two A320 aircraft in its fleet.


http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/pakistans-airblue-to-double-fleet-within-two-years-375504/

HopeWins Junior said...

Dr. Haq,

W.r.t this table of yours:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dXI3GIkQx6g/UCprIQCc59I/AAAAAAAADHQ/mwCPk-HcsFA/s1600/Asian+Middle+Class+Income.jpg

I would point to the following:

1) According to the World Bank, India has 75% of population below 2$ a day in 2005, which checks out with the ~25% listed as above 2$ a day in your table.

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/india/poverty-headcount-ratio-at-dollar2-a-day-ppp-percent-of-population-wb-data.html

2) According to the World Bank, Bangladesh has 81% of population below 2$ a day in 2005, which checks out with the ~20% listed as above 2$ a day in your table.

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/india/poverty-headcount-ratio-at-dollar2-a-day-ppp-percent-of-population-wb-data.html

3) According to the World Bank, Pakistan has 61% of population below 2$ a day in 2005, which checks out with the ~40% listed as above 2$ a day in your table.

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/india/poverty-headcount-ratio-at-dollar2-a-day-ppp-percent-of-population-wb-data.html

However, as I commented once before, do you see something very strange with the data for Pakistan in the link above?

When the definitions were last changed in 1990, Pakistan had 88% below 2$ a day. Then, magically in 1993, it improved to 63% below 2$ a day!

So, the data are telling us that 37-40% of the population was already above 2$ a day in 1993! Does this mean that there has been no improvement from 1993 to 2005?

But then, in 1997, it again shoots up to 83% below 2$ a day. And yet again, it magically improves to 66% below 2$ a day and so on and so on...My head is spinning with all these twists & turns and ups & downs. What is going on here?

In addition, you are absolutely correct when you say, "…not comparable to an institution like ADB which has a large research dept". However, it must be kept in mind that the raw data with which any such research department might work comes from the National Governments of the countries that they are studying. As you well know, the principle "garbage in, garbage out" applies, and no amount of research sophistry can make up for corrupted or unreliable input data.

Something to think about.

Thank you.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a DW report on Pakistan introducing local self-government in FATA:

On Tuesday, the Pakistani government, in a bid to extend its control to insurgency-marred FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), announced that it was introducing a local self-government system to the region.

President Asif Ali Zardari announced this landmark decision on the 65th anniversary of Pakistan's day of independence (August 14) and said the new law was "in accordance with the wishes of the tribal people and (also) in accordance with their customs and traditions."

The new system would replace the centuries-old Frontier Crime Regulation Act (FCR), through which the former British colonial rulers governed these lawless areas.

The FATA includes seven tribal districts, or agencies, which Islamabad currently administers through a "political agent" - usually an influential tribal leader.

However, it is not the federal government but the Islamist militants - which include the Taliban and al Qaeda-linked terrorists - who control most parts of the FATA and use them to launch attacks on foreign troops and civilians in neighboring Afghanistan.

President Zardari lauded

Pakistani civil society, which for a long time had been demanding the introduction of a local self-government system in the FATA, has hailed President Zardari's announcement.

Mahnaz Rahman, a veteran civil society activist in Karachi, told DW that President Zardari was known to have made quite a few pro-democracy and people-friendly decisions.

"It is a good step and we should appreciate it. It is a pity that President Zardari's government is not being hailed for its progressive legislations and other such acts," Rahman said, adding that the Pakistani media tended to highlight the negative side of the Pakistan People's Party's civilian government.

"We believe that the local government system promotes good governance. It decentralizes power. We have long been demanding that the FATA be brought into the mainstream and not be treated as a colony," Rahman said....
-----------
"The decision looks good on paper," said Ayaz Amir, a columnist and member of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. "Because of the ongoing insurgency, the government is unable to exercise its authority in these areas. There are military operations going on in several FATA agencies. Now we hear that there might be a military operation in North Waziristan against the Haqqanis. In these circumstances, I don't think this can be implemented."

Amir said the old tribal structure, which once worked very well for the FATA, had "completely collapsed."

"There are 'political agents' in the seven agencies but they no longer have the power they used to have. The government should first focus on curbing the insurgency and then think of instituting civilian reforms in the FATA," Amir said.

But Rahman was hopeful that these reforms can be implemented in tribal areas.

"I think the government can implement this system if it really wants to. The tribal people want their problems to be solved and they will welcome a system which is run by their own people," she said.

"Not everyone is militant in these areas, and I am sure people want change," Rahman added.


http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,16167261,00.html

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "But then, in 1997, it again shoots up to 83% below 2$ a day. And yet again, it magically improves to 66% below 2$ a day and so on and so on...My head is spinning with all these twists & turns and ups & downs. What is going on here?"

To the contrary, I'd be more suspicious if such figures were too linear and smooth and did not track economic growth.

Poverty rates depend a great deal on ups and down in economy and employment situation, especially in countries like India and Pakistan where most middle-class people live close to the $2 a day mark.

Just look at the ADB income table. 35% of the people among 40% Pakistan's $2 and above population are in $2-$4 range. Similarly in India, 20% out of the 25% Indians $2 and above are in the $2-$4 range.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistanis believe in the value of hard work, reports Express Tribune:

No matter what the prophets of doom say in nightly news shows on TV day in day out, an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis still believes that hard work is duly rewarded in the country and leads to material success, according to a recent poll by Pew Research Center — a nonpartisan “fact tank” in Washington DC.

In fact, of all the 21 countries where the survey was conducted, Pakistan came on top with 81% of respondents saying people succeed if they work hard as opposed to 15% who believe hard work is no guarantee of success.

The United States followed Pakistan with 77% of respondents saying hard work assured success. India, China and Japan were more sceptical with only 67%, 45% and 40% of the respondents recognising a close link between hard work and success, respectively.

“Fundamentally, the survey reveals that Pakistanis haven’t lost faith in the country. The Pakistani youth believes that current problems are short-term and can be resolved,” said Asad Umar, who joined politics in April after resigning from Engro Corporation, Pakistan’s largest conglomerate, as its CEO. “That’s why Pakistanis believe in hard work — and its direct relationship with material success – more than the people of the United States, Germany or Japan.”

The survey was conducted between March 28 and April 13 in all provinces face-to-face with 1,206 people of the age of 18 years or more.

While a majority of Pakistanis tend to have faith in the existing economic system to reward them with success if they work hard, less than half of Pakistanis approve of the free-market economy, reveals the survey. About 48% of the respondents think people are better off in a free-market economy, down from 65% three years ago.

“I’m not surprised that the percentage of people having faith in the free-market economy has dropped significantly in recent years. We don’t have a free-market economy. The sham system that’s in place is actually reflective of a rent-seeking economy, where self-interest is pursued shamelessly at the highest level of the government,” Umar said.

Talking to The Express Tribune, first-generation entrepreneur Shakir Husain, who is involved in several national and international ventures, said most Pakistanis don’t even understand the basics of the free-market economy.

“I’ve found that even educated Pakistanis are least versed in economics and the working of the free market. TV channels have added to the problem, where they tend to politicise structural issues that confuses people further,” he said.

The Pew survey also revealed that about 76% Pakistanis think that the economy will either worsen or stay the same in the next 12 months. The corresponding figures for India and China are 49% and 11%, respectively.

When asked if their standard of living is better than the standard of living of their parents when they were of their age said they are worse off.

Among those who think the economy is doing poorly, roughly one-third of the respondents in Pakistan held the United States responsible for bad economic conditions. Another one-third said that people are themselves to be blamed for the bad economy. On the other hand, almost two-thirds of the respondents in India blamed themselves for the bad economy.

“It’s easier for the average Pakistani to simply blame the entire ‘system’ without understanding the root of the problem. Also, our politicians and bureaucrats are not honest about their own shortcomings. Hence, the blame is put on ridiculous things,” Husain said.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/415086/pakistanis-more-optimistic-than-us-india-about-hard-work-survey/

http://www.pewglobal.org/2012/07/12/chapter-4-the-casualties-faith-in-hard-work-and-capitalism/

Riaz Haq said...

Demand for Food Science graduates rising in Pakistan, reports Express Tribune:

As the food processing sector in Pakistan expands, the job opportunities – and starting salaries – for graduates in food science, nutrition and dietetics are increasing substantially.

The University of Agriculture Faisalabad reports that its graduates are finding jobs faster, with higher starting salaries and rapid career progression for many of its graduates. According to Tahir Zahoor, a professor in the food science department, the top graduates of the university’s food science programmes command salaries of Rs45,000 or higher, and get employed by such brand name employers as Nestle Pakistan, Engro Foods and Unilever Pakistan.

These starting salaries are comparable to those earned by graduates of the country’s leading business schools when they join the largest banks on Karachi’s McLeod Road. And it is not just the starting salaries that are high. Many graduates report earning more than Rs100,000 per month within five years of graduation, though admittedly these are some of the best performing students.

Not all graduates get these packages, of course. But according to the university’s professors, no graduate has gotten a job offer with a starting salary of less than Rs25,000 per month, with Rs30,000 per month being the median salary package. The middle-tier of students typically go to some of the smaller names in food production, such as Dawn Foods (a leading bread manufacturer), Shan Foods (a spice manufacturer), etc.

Revenues and profits at food production firms have been soaring. Between 2005 and 2010 (the latest year for which figures are available), revenues at food companies listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange have grown by an average of more than 18.2% per year. Profits have expanded even faster, by more than 21.2% per year.

This blowout growth has caused many to invest heavily into expanding production capacity. Both Engro Foods and Nestle Pakistan invest upwards of Rs8 billion every year in increasing their production facilities. Engro Foods – started only in 2006 – has been particularly aggressive in broadening its product line-up.

These two companies, however, are not alone. K&N Foods has become the nation’s largest supplier of processed chicken, tempting other food companies to enter into the fray. Dawn Foods, long a manufacturer of just bread and baked products, is now entering meat products. Quetta Textile Mills is setting up a processed chicken facility. And Shan Foods is trying to expand its presence overseas by acquiring a brand in the United Kingdom.

This expansion in the food sector is pushed by a change in the underlying consumer behaviour when it comes to buying food. Consumer spending on processed food appears to be expanding. The average Pakistani household spent almost Rs500 per month on processed food in 2011, over two and half times more than a decade ago, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, representing a rate of increase faster than inflation....


http://tribune.com.pk/story/424995/as-consumer-sector-booms-demand-for-food-science-graduates-soars/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters story of an entrepreneurs helping enhance cow milk yield in Pakistan:

Pakistani Shahzad Iqbal abandoned the jet-set lifestyle of a corporate executive because he wanted to do something worthwhile for his country. So he invested his life savings in world-class bull semen.

He imports the sperm from potent bulls in the West, with names like Socrates, Air Raid and Liberator, and sells it at affordable prices to farmers so they can breed cows that produce higher volumes of quality milk.

Iqbal is one of a band of trailblazers - from small-town entrepreneurs to managers in multi-national companies - who want to transform Pakistan's ramshackle dairy industry into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

"It's going to take a revolution to turn it around," said Iqbal, as his farm workers moved metal cylinders filled with liquefied nitrogen gas that store the semen at -196 Celsius (-321 Fahrenheit).

If Iqbal and his comrades can succeed in their mission to overturn centuries-old practices and introduce modern techniques, they could open the door to a revolution in the livelihoods of millions of impoverished farmers.

The dismal state of the dairy industry is a striking example of Pakistan's habit of missing opportunities throughout a 65-year history tainted by military coups, political infighting and a form of crony capitalism that has stifled entrepreneurship.

With 63 million cows and buffaloes, Pakistan has one of the world's biggest herds, but it cannot export milk because the animals' yields are so low.

Preoccupied by power struggles and tension with the army, successive governments have failed to realize the potential of the sector, which engages about 35 million people, or 20 percent of the population, in direct or related work
------------
DREAMS

After 15 years of making good money as an executive for Western beverage and tobacco companies overseas, Iqbal decided he wanted to do something for Pakistan.

To Iqbal, there was no more glaring example of the gap between Pakistan's potential and its performance than the dairy industry.

Rather than despair, he saw an opportunity, pouring his savings of $1 million into creating a breed improvement project called Jassar Farms.

He dreams of the day when the average Pakistani cow, which yields about 1,600 liters (420 U.S. gallons) of milk after it calves, can compete with the top of the line Israeli Holstein that churns out 12,500 liters (3,300 gallons).

Iqbal acknowledges the odds are stacked against entrepreneurs in Pakistan because of red tape, corruption, poor governance, chronic power cuts and a Taliban insurgency that keeps many investors away.

"I'm not saying I'm mad, but certainly I'm not absolutely normal either, because it takes a lot of persistence to undertake this kind of challenge," said Iqbal, wearing a pink polo shirt and jeans.

BIG MONEY

Iqbal can take comfort from the fact that he is not alone in his quest for reform. Some international companies are also working for change.

Nestle has installed 3,200 industrial-size milk refrigerators at collection points across the country to lay the foundations for the kind of cold storage chain essential for a modern dairy industry, and give farmers a steady market for their milk.

At a training centre with manicured lawns and spotless dormitories for farmers in Punjab, Nestle holds workshops to drive home a simple message - properly managed cows produce more milk.

Instructors show farmers how to treat their animals - the Nestle cattle lounge around on soft sand under powerful fans, chewing nutritious fodder. They have constant access to water - essential practices of which most farmers are ignorant....


http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/26/us-pakistan-milk-idUSBRE87P0D220120826

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn newspaper Op Ed by S. Akbar Zaidi, a Pakistani political economist, about economic myths in Pakistan:

...absence of scholarly engagement results in numerous myths about Pakistan’s economy which become part of the general conversation, and then of conventional wisdom. One can list any number of such misperceptions, but perhaps a handful will emphasise the point.

It is not the fast-moving consumer goods, the Engros and the Habib Banks, or Pepsi or Unilever or ICI, which drive Pakistan’s industry, as so many of the elite who work for them falsely believe. Instead, Pakistan’s industrial force and its economy are based on the dynamic and creative small-scale or informal sector.

Research at LUMS has shown that this sector constitutes as much as 90 per cent of economic establishments, 30 per cent of GDP and 25 per cent of export earnings, and employs 78 per cent of the non-agricultural labour force of Pakistan.

These 3.3 million small- and medium-sized establishments are highly labour-intensive in comparison with the large-scale manufacturing sector, and around 95 per cent employ less than five workers. The backbone of Pakistan’s economy is its informal, small-scale sector, for which policy is seldom designed.

A second myth repeated ad nauseam is that Pakistan is predominantly rural and is an ‘agricultural country’. Research by Reza Ali showed as long ago as 1998 when the last census was held, that Pakistan was almost half urban and half rural, using more productive and useful definitions of ‘urban’, and not the moribund definitions proposed by the Census Organisation.

Fifteen years later, although research awaits the next census, it is not possible to call Pakistan a ‘rural’ country by any stretch of the imagination. If anything, probably 60 or 70 per cent of the people in Pakistan reside in areas one should call urban.

Furthermore, with integrated communication services and linkages, the idea of a ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ divide is increasingly redundant, and one ought to consider settlements and habitation on a continuum.

Since Pakistan is primarily urban, it is also no longer agricultural in terms of the contribution to the economy to which agriculture contributes only one-fifth. However, agriculture is still the main form of employment for Pakistani labour — around 45 per cent of the workforce.

Nevertheless, in areas which are designated by the government as ‘rural’, the non-agricultural sector generates nearly 60 per cent of the total income. Hence, even in ‘rural’ areas, economic activity other than agriculture provides a greater share of income than does agricultural activity.

One might just add in passing that Pakistan — its economy, its agriculture and its relations of production — is not feudal, no matter how often one repeats the claim that it is. At least on this one count, many social scientists are grudgingly coming around, although since many Western journalists only meet such ‘feudals’, they still write mainly about ‘feudal’ Pakistan.

Many liberal members of the Pakistani elite argue for a reduction in the military budget, believing that this will lead to a resultant rise in social-sector spending. One look at the data will show that both have fallen over the last decade.

Yet another particularly pervasive and persistent myth amongst Pakistan’s elite is that US aid to Pakistan is ‘good for the country’, when academic research has shown consistently that nothing could be farther from the truth.

There are numerous other such false hopes which Pakistan’s elite invests in, some of which are translated into government policy. Nevertheless, perception matters perhaps more than reality. If people believe something, they act on the basis of that false knowledge and understanding. Many explanations as to why Pakistan is in such dire straits rest at the doorstep of
Pakistan’s literate, though highly uneducated, elite.


http://dawn.com/2012/09/03/economic-myths-our-elite/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BMI's Q3/2012 report on rising food consumption in Pakistan:

Our near-term domestic demand outlook for Pakistan is looking brighter than before. Declining costs of credit and disinflationary pressures should prove supportive of domestic demand. However, we acknowledge a near-term risk to our domestic demand outlook, which is the impact of deteriorating macroeconomic conditions on remittance inflows. Should a slowdown in global demand weigh on remittance growth, this could dampen domestic consumption in the near term. Longer term, the business environment challenges of a destabilising insurgency, chronic lack of electricity generation capacity and an unskilled labour force will continue to hold back the consumer sector from realising its full potential. We therefore expect the liberalisation of the Pakistani consumer sector to occur at a glacial pace going forward.

Headline Industry Data

2012 food consumption growth = +12.1%, compound annual growth rate (CAGR) forecast to 2016 = +9.3%

2012 alcoholic drinks value sales growth = +19.0%, CAGR forecast to 2016 = +10.4%

2012 soft drinks value sales growth = +15.2%, CAGR forecast to 2016 = +8.8%

2012 mass grocery retail sales growth = +20.9%, CAGR forecast to 2016 = +12.2% Key Company Trends Pakistan A Fledgling But Growing Force On Global Halal Scene: Pakistan has not been able to gain much from its US$2trn halal brand market, and has a small share in the global halal industry. The country’s exports have improved from zero-level during the past two years; however, it is still insignificant. However, with the Pakistani government now putting its weight behind the development of the domestic halal industry, there is certainly a cause for optimism in the sector’s future prospects.

The Sindh Board of Investment has entered an agreement with the Halal Department of Malaysia to provide training of certification to its staff. The government also announced that it will be engaging in a project to ensure the credibility of the country’s halal certifications in a bid to tap into the global halal market, which is valued at over US$1trn.

BMI Bullish Coca-Cola’s Prospects In Pakistan: US soft drinks giant The Coca-Cola Company is planning to invest another US$280mn by 2013 in Pakistan. According to Coca-Cola, it plans to channel the bulk of its capital expenditures towards increasing the production of its existing brands as well as expanding its overall beverages portfolio. Coca-Cola plans to introduce more juices and mineral water in the Pakistani market over the coming years. This strategy could diversify Coca- Cola’s presence beyond the carbonates sector and help it secure early footholds in the higher-value bottled water and fruit juice segments, which boast tremendous long-term promise.


http://www.marketresearch.com/Business-Monitor-International-v304/Pakistan-Food-Drink-Q3-7011717/

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 are some interesting recommendations made by a working group of leading Pakistani development professionals and outside experts at the Global Economic Symposium (GES) and detailed by Seth Kaplan in his blog:

Recommended projects given a $100 million budget


1) Think tank
/Independent
Monitoring
Organization

$10m

Endow two
existing
or new
institutions

Instead of just funding
projects, invest $5m to
endow two institutions
so they will have
independence and
capacity to build for
the long term


Recommend focus on
one think tank for the
energy sector and one
IMO focused on tracking
and evaluating the
quality of public services
(latter higher priority)

2) Education

$60m

Create an
education
innovation
fund

Experiment with new
management models,
curriculum, teacher
programs, incentives,
etc.; scale up those
that work


Strengthen
grade
11-14
colleges

These are for 17-20 year
olds before university;
aid going to technical/
vocational schools now,
but none going to this
sector; these youth
susceptible to extremism

3) Judiciary

$30m

Expand
arbitration
courts
to new cities


Now just in Karachi
and Lahore only
(IFC funded)


Strengthen
judiciary
training
institutions

Expand coverage of
these to lower
level officials


http://www.globaldashboard.org/2012/09/05/can-foreign-aid-improve-pakistan-political-economy/

http://www.global-economic-symposium.org/symposium-2012/press-releases/new-priorities-for-aid-to-pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting Washington Post story on pink salt spa in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD — You are going to have to take Pakistan’s newest health fad with a grain of salt. Actually, several tons of it.

A newly opened spa in the capital touts amazing curative powers for a mineral better known as a table seasoning. In fact, the spa’s chief executive, Sabkahat Qadeer Butt, is so convinced of its medicinal magic that he’s created the entire facility from salt.

And not just any salt, but pink salt mined from the foothills of the Himalayas.

Nearly everything in the cave-like space is carved from the rose-hued crystal -- from the bricks in the walls to the tiles of the steam bath, it is all hewn from slabs of salt. Patrons leave their shoes at the door. Even the pink pebbles of the floor are all rock salt, which is absorbed through the skin.

Pakistan is the number one producer of pink rock salt in the world, according to the government’s Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources. Butt, the Pakistani businessman who is CEO of the Khaas Health Care and Cure Club in Islamabad, says he used 1,400 tons of the substance to create the spa in the city’s Diplomatic Enclave.
---------
Butt, 48, said salt baths originated as an old Greek method of treatment. Alexander the Great took loads of the stuff back home after conquering parts of modern-day Pakistan, he said. Salt became known as white gold and was even used as currency: “The Greeks would pay their armies in salt. It was the major component of the barter system.”

Some of the historical uses of salt are widely known. It is a natural antiseptic, proponents say, and a natural preservative. Salt has been used to preserve everything from meat and fish to sensitive documents.

But new-age spas like the one in Islamabad tout salt therapy as a veritable cure-all. Pink rock salt contains 84 minerals and can help skin ailments, upper and lower respiratory functions and, when combined with heat, can be used for pain management, Butt said.

In Hollywood, salt wraps and baths are used for quick weight loss when stars need to slim down for roles or to walk the red carpet. “It is also good for high blood pressure,” Butt claimed.

And low blood pressure? Yes, that too. In fact, Butt declared, salt can treat 125 disorders and diseases.

Qutbuddin Kakar, an Islamabad-based doctor who specializes in tropical diseases and is associated with the World Health Organization, said he has heard of people taking salt baths as a cure for skin maladies. But otherwise, he said, “There has been no scientific evidence which shows or proves that pink salt is a cure for so many or all diseases.”

While blanket curative claims are dubious, that hasn’t kept some fad followers from developing an appetite for the blush-tinted condiment. Ordinary table salt costs about 3 cents an ounce in U.S. grocery stores, whereas the pink stuff can fetch $1 an ounce.

There is one catch: Salt disintegrates when exposed to water and steam. So what happens when the spa melts? Not a problem, said Butt. He also owns a salt mine. “If the walls dissolve, I can replace them.”


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-pakistan-a-pink-salt-spa/2012/09/18/75ea6d0c-ff7a-11e1-b153-218509a954e1_story.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from Seattle Post-Intelligencer on mountain peaks in Pakistan:

Experienced climbers say the Karakoram puts the rest of the world's mountain ranges to shame. Neighboring Nepal has Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, but Pakistan has four of the world's 14 peaks that soar to more than 8,000 meters (26,246 feet) above sea level, including the second highest mountain on earth, K-2.

Lama and Ortner said climbing the legendary Pakistan mountains was an amazing experience.

"Here there are so many mountains, and so many difficult mountains, and mountains that haven't been climbed," said Lama. "That's probably why the Karakoram is known as paradise for us."

This year has been particularly successful for Pakistan's climbing industry, which plummeted in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the U.S.

In addition to hosting the renowned Lama for the first time, Nazir Sabir, Pakistan's elder statesman of climbing who was the country's first person to scale Everest, said 30 climbers summited K-2 in 2012, the first summits from the Pakistani side of the mountain since 11 people died trying in 2008.

And the drone footage obtained during Lama and Ortner's climb will expose even more viewers to the legendary Karakoram mountain range.

Drones also increasingly are being used in other adventure sports to push conventional photography boundaries. Cameras on drones have been used to capture video of surfers on Hawaii's North Shore and to chase mountain bikers speeding down mountain trails.



http://www.seattlepi.com/sports/article/Drones-capture-mountain-scenery-in-Pakistan-3885296.php

Riaz Haq said...

Couple of stories from Daily Times:

1. Mobile Phones:

KARACHI: Pakistan is a land of opportunities and the credit for this goes to the huge youth population and the rich pool of talent available in the country. These sentiments were expressed by All India Management Association Senior Vice President and Nokia IMEA VP D Shiva Kumar during his recent visit to Pakistan. He was one of the key speakers from India at the two-day management conference between the two countries in Lahore.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\09\27\story_27-9-2012_pg10_5

2. Agri:

ISLAMABAD: Sixty-four specialists from the ministries of agriculture from Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Sindh, and Balochistan have completed a 10-day course on modern farm business and irrigation methods sponsored by the US. The participants will help farmers increase their profits by approaching farming as a business: farmers will be able to identify higher-value crops and access new markets and customers. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) organised this training session to help increase profits through better product quality and water management.

At the completion of the training course in Islamabad, USAID Country Director Jonathan Conly said, “By using modern techniques, Pakistani farmers can capture new customers and increase their profits. The United States is committed to helping Pakistan modernise its agriculture sector so that farmers can improve their livelihoods.” After the workshop, an agricultural specialist from AJK Amina Rafi added “Farming in mountain areas has always been a challenge. I am glad that this training has provided me with skills to help farmers in AJK improve their businesses.”


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\09\27\story_27-9-2012_pg5_4

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Washington Post story on working women driving retail boom in Pakistan:

LAHORE, Pakistan — A perfectly coiffed model, draped in diamonds, shoots a sultry gaze from the cover of a glossy in-room magazine at a luxury hotel chain in downtown Lahore. The cover line on the ad-packed issue screams: “Wow! World of Women.”

And with good reason. Economists say that, in recent years, Pakistani women have fueled a retail boom in name-brand shopping as they move from a traditional homebound life into the working world.

“You can go into any shopping mall or any cafe, and you will see young girls sitting, having lunch, chatting away,” said Rashid Amjad, vice chancellor at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics in Islamabad. “Despite all this conservatism that has been growing at the same time, you have a change.”

In many urban centers, the days when girls were forced to abandon education and eschew employment in favor of remaining within the walls of their homes seem to be mostly a memory.

Traditionally, men here bear the burden of sustaining the household, so for many middle-class women, their paychecks are entirely their own to spend — a boon for the newly booming retail industry.

“I can afford to spend whatever I like,” said Rabiya Bajwa, 37, a lawyer. “My income is roughly 20 percent more than what it was five years ago.” Bajwa does contribute to the household budget, but her two-income family enjoys a comfortable “cushion,” and she splurges on expensive designer clothes.

But this good fortune is not evenly distributed, said Hafiz Pasha, a noted economist at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore. Pakistan, he said, is still far behind other countries in terms of women’s economic contribution.

“This growth is witnessed in urban centers where middle-class working women are found,” Pasha said. “In rural areas, although the participation of women in the economy is more than the urban centers, they are not well-paid, and their share in the economy is much less.”

Although women have long been underpaid and subject to discrimination in the Pakistani workforce, they are coming into their own at a surprising rate. Since about 2002, Amjad said, participation by women, traditionally low, has been rising.

Many men left agriculture jobs, so work was being generated and women readily moved in, Amjad noted. Now, somewhere between 28 percent and 36 percent of women work in Pakistan, he said, but many work in home-based businesses, so their numbers are not easily ascertained.

In schools and colleges, young women study side by side with their male counterparts. “They seem to be very easy together, they talk very easily, and they discuss issues quite comfortably,”Amjad said, “so in a way higher education has increased female confidence to work with men, and that has helped.”

Three retail store owners surveyed in Lahore said most of their customers are working women, and they credited them with increasing their business.

“We started from a small store, but now we have five outlets in various parts of the city,” said Hasan Ali, manager of Bareeze, a leading brand of women’s clothing. “We have been in the market for the last 10 years, and roughly the business has expanded 40 percent in that period. . . . There are those out there who don’t even ask the price, and pay.”

Rukhsana Anjum, 47, a senior instructor at the Government College of Technology in Lahore, said she earns about 100,000 rupees, or $1,054, a month. “Gradually in the last five years I have become brand-conscious,” she said. “Today, definitely I spend more on my clothes and jewelry.”


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistani-women-drive-retail-boom/2012/09/30/b6e38eea-0a3f-11e2-afff-d6c7f20a83bf_story.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story of informal evening schooling for children of Islamabad:

ISLAMABAD, 9 October 2012 (IRIN) - As evening approaches in the centre of Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, children gather at a small playground, chatting and laughing. It is a scene played out in countless parks across the country, but the children are not here to play after school - they are here to attend one.

For three hours every evening, free classes run here for anyone who wants to attend, with the idea being that some of the many children who live on Islamabad’s streets, or work in its markets and houses, might benefit.

Mohammad Ayub, who runs the unofficial school, began teaching children whose parents could not afford to send them to school in 1988.

Despite the fact that state-run primary schools do not charge fees and many provide free textbooks, other expenses (such as stationery, uniforms and transportation) mean that for many poor families, schools are unaffordable.

“It became quite popular and many parents who couldn’t afford a meal - forget education - would send their children to my little school in the evenings,” Ayub said.

The school, which relies on volunteers and donations, is one of dozens of informal institutions in the capital which are helping to educate children.

Pakistan has made limited progress in improving the quality and reach of its education system, and millions of children are missing out on schooling altogether in what the governments of Pakistan and the UK have termed an “education emergency”.

Despite making education a fundamental constitutional right in 2010, Pakistan has no chance of fulfilling its Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal education by 2015.
---------------

Many of those who have finished Ayub’s informal school in Islamabad have gone on to complete high school and college, and today have jobs they could never have dreamed of. Ayub estimates that 20 percent of the students finish grade 10, with around 10 percent going on to complete degrees at colleges.

Many, like Yasmin Nawaz, a 30-year-old mother of three who graduated from the school in 1994, became teachers themselves.

“I finished middle school, grade 8. My parents couldn’t afford to send me to high school, but Master Ayub said I must,” Nawaz said. “He paid for my textbooks and my exam registration fee, and in return, I taught here at the school. I then taught elsewhere as well.”

Despite the clear return on this investment and Pakistan’s pledge to spend at least 4 percent of its GDP on education, that figure has been decreasing. Education spending today stands at less than 1.5 percent of Pakistan’s GDP, according PETF (Page 67).
-------------
There is the issue of governance, there are no accountability mechanisms. For example, even if you do have sufficient teachers - which we don’t - if they are not in school, it is not possible to achieve anything.”

The LEAPS (Learning and Educational Achievement in Pakistan Schools) project and PETF estimate that teachers in government schools, despite being paid more than their private sector counterparts and having greater job security, are not present one-fifth of the time. Government school teachers often use political connections and union action to protect themselves.

“Even if a senior officer reports a teacher that is not performing or not even attending school, it is very difficult to take action because they will involve the unions or go to an MNA [member of the National Assembly],” said Zafar.

“Even if you get that [teacher accountability], the quality of education, of textbooks, is an issue. So all of this needs to be considered, not just what is spent on education, but how.”


http://www.irinnews.org/Report/96497/PAKISTAN-Quality-education-still-a-long-way-off

Riaz Haq said...

Here's link to an interesting thread on Made in Pakistan products:

http://www.defence.pk/forums/military-photos-multimedia/156408-made-pakistan.html

LCD TV by TCL Nobel Flat Screens

http://www.tclnobel.com/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an LA Times story on plans for Zulfikarabad:

SHAH BANDAR, Pakistan — In his dreams, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari sees a spectacular metropolis rising up from the vast stretches of mangrove swamp and sea-salted wasteland along the mighty Indus River Delta.

High-speed rail zips people from place to place. Vacationers soak up the South Asian sun at seaside resorts. Universities, factories and a new seaport pump vitality into the region. Miles of bike lanes crisscross the city, whose population would eventually reach 10 million.

Zardari wants to call his jewel Zulfikarabad, after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the founder of the country's ruling party, a prime minister and president, and the father of Zardari's slain wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto.

That's a lot of dreaming for a country struggling with a dizzying array of afflictions: Millions of Pakistanis are dirt poor, struggling to find clean water, contending with unreliable electricity and living in fear of violent extremists. In addition, the president has continued jousting with Pakistan's Supreme Court over long-standing graft allegations lodged years ago by Swiss authorities.

Such realities have put Zardari's popularity in a tailspin.

Many observers suspect that the president's enthusiasm for Zulfikarabad may be rooted in a burning desire to leave a legacy for this country of 180 million people. He's seeking an enduring achievement, they say, by an administration widely viewed as rife with failure.

Government officials won't place a price tag on the president's lofty vision, which is bound to cost tens of millions of dollars. They say only that the government's share would be limited to the construction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure, with the rest shouldered by investors.

Officials also say they consider the proposed city a desperately needed engine for jobs and economic growth.

Karachi, the country's largest city with a population of 18 million, is bloated with overcrowding and traffic jams, and needs a nearby city that can serve as a relief valve, they say.

"Karachi is getting choked," said Iftikhar Hussain Shah, managing director of the Zulfikarabad Development Authority. "It's going to suffer paralysis because there's no more room. So the people who are trying to look for setting up industries, they are looking for space.
----------
On a recent afternoon in Shah Bandar, a fishing village not far from where ground was broken this summer for a $39-million Zulfikarabad bridge, a group of sweat-soaked fishermen thumbed through a brochure promoting the city. They weren't too ruffled because they remembered a similar idea laid out by Bhutto's administration years ago to turn a nearby fishing hamlet, Keti Bandar, into a major sea port.

"Bhutto said it would happen," said Wali Mohammed, a 30-year-old Shah Bandar fisherman, "but years passed and nothing was built."


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pakistan-new-city-20121104,0,2503129.story

Haider Aliwala said...

We have more upward mobility in Pakistan than they have in India because we do not have their horrifically oppressive caste-system.

Here is a new research paper on the caste system and its effect on upward mobility:

http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/alahiri/AEJ_published.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Financial Times Op Ed on Pakistan:


Pity the people of Pakistan, trapped between self-serving, complacent elites who preside over a crumbling state, and a rich array of violent extremists who seem determined to tear the same state apart....

The military, the country’s most meritocratic and efficient institution, is widely regarded as the only force that can break this grim cycle. Yet there are other, largely hidden forces at work in Pakistan that hold it together and offer it a better future:

adaptability and resilience, entrepreneurship and shared coping.

These forces can be found in the very new – widespread mobile banking services – and the very old – Islam’s traditions of charity, justice and learning. When government and donors work creatively with these forces, amazing things can happen.

Pakistan has one of the best regulatory environments in the world for microfinance and one of the fastest-growing microfinance sectors, with 3m borrowers. It is also one of the most innovative places in the world for mobile banking services, partly due to the State Bank of Pakistan’s moves to encourage the market. About 1.5m customers make about 30m transactions a quarter through their mobiles, using a network of 20,000 agents, mainly local shops, to collect their cash.

A wave of charitable giving by individuals has helped to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by floods in 2010 are not still living in tents. A guerrilla army of more than 100,000 Lady Health Workers, funded by government, has helped to reduce markedly the number of women and babies who die in child birth, according to studies by the World Bank.

Too many children are still out of school and many government schools are woeful. Yet Pakistani parents go to enormous lengths to give their children, girls and boys, a chance at an education.

Low-cost private sector schools, charging perhaps $2 a week, are booming in slums and villages. Wherever girls receive a secondary level education, small private schools run in the homes of their owners start popping up, as they put their education to use to improve their standing in society. Even the government’s conservative figures suggest that a third of children in Pakistan and half in Karachi, many of them from poor households, attend such schools.

Indeed, Pakistan has a record in picking up new approaches to learning. The Allama Iqbal university in Islamabad, the first open university outside the UK, is the second largest in the world with 1.8m students. Start-ups such as Tele Taleem, tucked away on a dusty industrial estate on the outskirts of Islamabad, are pioneering ways to take learning to schools in the remoter regions, through satellite links and cheap tablet computers.

Donors are playing a vital role in promoting social innovation. The UK’s Department for International Development has pioneered a new road map for school improvement in Punjab, which Sir Michael Barber, the education reform expert, says is delivering one of the world’s fastest improvements in school performance. In Karachi, tens of thousands of poorer families will next year receive vouchers to send their children to low-cost private schools.

In agriculture, social venture capitalists such as Indus Basin Holdings are leading efforts to link groups of small-scale rice farmers to multinational companies.

Pakistan’s institutions may seem frozen, its elites worried that taking on the extremists will provoke even more violence in the run-up to next year’s elections. Yet, at the grassroots, Pakistan is in perpetual motion, with ceaseless creativity as people find affordable solutions to their basic needs. These largely hidden forces of resilience offer the best hope for the country’s future. In Pakistan, the state may be fragile but society is far stronger than many think.


http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/986153d4-2804-11e2-afd2-00144feabdc0.html

Riaz Haq said...

Talking about household disposable incomes in South Asia, there were 1.8 million Pakistani households (7.55% of all households) and 7.9 million Indian households (3.61% of all households) in 2009 with disposable incomes of $10,001 or more, according to Euromonitor.

This translates into 282% increase (vs 232% in India) from 1995-2009 in households with disposable incomes of $10,001 or more.

http://www.just-style.com/store/samples/2011_Euromonitor_WCIEP_Sample.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Bloomberg on outsize returns of KSE-100:

The KSE 100 Index, the benchmark for Pakistan’s $43 billion equity market, rose 7.3 percent in the past three years when adjusted for price swings, the top gain among 72 markets worldwide, according to the BLOOMBERG RISKLESS RETURN RANKING. Pakistan had lower stock volatility than 82 percent of the nations including the U.S. (SPX) Over five years, Pakistan’s risk- adjusted returns ranked eighth.

The country’s 190 million people are boosting purchases three times faster than Asian peers as higher rural incomes and record remittances outweigh fighting on the Afghan border, violence in Karachi that led to at least 2,100 deaths this year and power outages that sparked rioting. The region’s fastest earnings growth may increase economic stability, according to Karachi-based Atlas Asset Management Ltd. Foreign investors added to holdings for five straight months, lured by Asia’s lowest valuations and biggest dividend yields.

“Stocks are very cheap and there are some very good businesses in Pakistan,” said Andrew Brudenell, whose HSBC Frontier Markets Fund has returned 18 percent this year, beating 92 percent of peers tracked by Bloomberg, and holds more shares in the country than are represented in benchmark indexes. “We still think there’s some positive growth to come from the markets.”

Earnings in the KSE 100 index advanced 45 percent during the past year, the largest gain among 17 Asian equity indexes, and this month hit the highest level since Bloomberg began tracking the data in 2005.

Consumer spending in Pakistan has increased at a 26 percent average pace the past three years, compared with 7.7 percent for Asia, according to data compiled by Euromonitor International, a consumer research firm. While the growth in Pakistan may slow to 6.6 percent in 2012, it will still exceed the 5.3 percent pace in Asia, according to Euromonitor estimates.

Engro Foods Ltd. (EFOODS), a Karachi-based seller of dairy products, reported a 214 percent jump in net income for the third quarter, while Unilever Pakistan Ltd. (ULEVER), a unit of the world’s second- biggest consumer-goods company, had a 36 percent gain, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Dividends in Pakistan have also climbed at the fastest pace in the region. Payouts increased 49 percent in the past 12 months, giving the KSE 100 index a dividend yield of 6.6 percent, double the 3.3 percent average in Asia, Bloomberg data show.
-----------
Foreign investors have purchased a net $153 million of Pakistan shares since the beginning of July, according to data from the Karachi Stock Exchange. Overseas holdings amount to about 20 percent of the bourse’s free float, or shares available for trading, according to Adnan Katchi, the head of international equity sales at Arif Habib Ltd.

Bond investors are also growing more confident. Pakistan’s international debt, rated Caa1 at Moody’s Investors Service, or seven levels below investment grade, has returned 32 percent this year, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Next Generation Markets Index. Yields hit a two-year low of 8.5 percent on Oct. 26.

----

The country is luring more of the world’s biggest consumer brands as spending increases. Debenhams Plc (DEB), the U.K.’s second- largest department-store chain, and Nine West Group Inc., a seller of women’s shoes and handbags owned by New York-based Jones Group Inc. (JNY), opened their first Pakistan outlets this year.....


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-20/pakistan-stocks-best-as-violence-ignored-riskless-return.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's PakObserver on growing number of people with doctorate degrees i Pakistan:

Saturday, November 24, 2012 - Islamabad—The Pakistani universities are now able to produce more PhDs in the next 3 years as compared to last 10 years. The total number of PhDs in Pakistan has reached the figure of 8,142. According to the available statistics, the number of PhDs has increased from 348 (1947 to 2002) to 679 in 2012 in agriculture and veterinary sciences, from 586 to 1,096 in biological sciences, from 14 to 123 in business education, from merely 21 to 262 in engineering and technology and from 709 to 1,071 in physical sciences, Technology Times Reported.

In social sciences, the number increased to 887 from 108 during last ten years. The figures also indicate that during the last decade, special emphasis has been paid to the disciplines of agriculture and veterinary science, biological, physical and social sciences, business education, engineering and technology. “HEC has so far introduced various indigenous scholarship schemes to create a critical mass of highly qualified human resources in all fields of studies who conduct research on issues of importance to Pakistan.


http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=183938

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece in The Atlantic Cities on economic mobility in US and comparing it with Pakistan:

A 2007 study by the organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development combined a number of previous estimates and found income heritability to be greater in the United States than in Denmark, Australia, Norway, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Germany, Spain, and France. The United Kingdom, which had been far less mobile than the United States during the late nineteenth century, brought up the rear, but this time it was just a bit less mobile than the United States. Thanks to a 2012 recalculation by Miles Corak, an economist at the University of Ottawa, we can now add Switzerland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and Pakistan to the list of societies that are more mobile than the United States.

http://m.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2012/05/what-matters-economic-mobility/2089/

http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/magazine/100516/inequality-mobility-economy-america-recession-divergence#

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg story titled "Pakistan, Land of Entrepreneurs":

On a warm Sunday morning in November, Arif Habib leaves his posh home near the seafront in southern Karachi and drives across town in a silver Toyota Prado SUV. About half an hour later, he arrives to check up on his latest project: a 2,100-acre residential development at the northern tip of this city of 20 million. He hops out, shakes hands with young company call-center workers who are dressed for a cricket match, and joins them at the edge of the playing field for a traditional Pakistani breakfast of curried chickpeas and semolina pudding. After a quick tour of the construction site, he straps on his leg pads, grabs his bat, and heads onto the field. “The principles of cricket are very effective in business,” says Habib, 59. “The goal is to stay at the wicket, hit the right balls, leave the balls that don’t quite work, and keep an eye on the scoreboard. I feel that my childhood association with cricket has contributed to my success.”

Habib, who started as a stockbroker more than four decades ago, has expanded his Arif Habib Group into a 13-company business that has invested $2 billion in financial services, cement, fertilizer, and steel factories since 2004. His group and a clutch of others have become conglomerates of a kind that went out of fashion in the West but seem suited to the often chaotic conditions in Pakistan. Engro (ENGRO), a maker of fertilizer, has moved into packaged foods and coal mining. Billionaire Mian Muhammad Mansha, one of Pakistan’s richest men, is importing 2,500 milk cows from Australia to start a dairy business after running MCB Bank, Nishat Mills, and D.G. Khan Cement.

These companies have prospered in a country that, since joining the U.S. in the war on terror after Sept. 11, has lost more than 40,000 people to retaliatory bombings by the Taliban. Political violence in Karachi has killed 2,000 Pakistanis this year, and an energy crisis—power outages last as long as 18 hours a day—has led to social unrest. Foreign direct investment declined 24 percent to $244 million in the four months ended Oct. 31, according to the central bank.

At the same time, some 70 million Pakistanis—40 percent of the population—have become middle-class, says Sakib Sherani, chief executive of Macro Economic Insights, a research firm in Islamabad. A boom in agriculture and residential property, as well as jobs in hot sectors such as telecom and media, have helped Pakistanis prosper. “Just go to the malls and see the number of customers who are actually buying in upscale stores and that shows you how robust the demand is,” says Azfer Naseem, head of research for Elixir Securities in Karachi. “Despite the energy crisis, we have growth of 3 percent.”

Sherani of Macro Economic Insights estimates the middle class doubled in size between 2002 and 2012. “Those who understand the difference between the perception of Pakistan and the reality have made a killing,” Habib says. “Foreigners don’t come here, so the field is wide open.” The KSE100, the benchmark index of the Karachi Exchange, has risen elevenfold since mid-2001. Shares in the index are up 43 percent this year alone. Over the past decade, stocks have been buoyed by corporate earnings, which were bolstered in turn by rising consumer spending.
---------
Today, Habib has 11,000 employees and annual revenue of 100 billion rupees. He plans to expand into commodities trading and warehousing. “I’ve created all my wealth in Pakistan and reinvested all of it here,” says Habib, who drives himself to his cricket matches and is never accompanied by security guards. In 1998, when Pakistan’s share index fell to a record low after the government tested nuclear weapons, Habib bought shares even though “people thought I was mad.”...


http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-29/pakistan-land-of-entrepreneurs

Riaz Haq said...

In a recent piece tiled "Pakistan Staring into the Abyss", Pakistani journalist Najam Sethi captures the highly pessimistic mood of the press coverage and books about Pakistan.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/the-pakistani-state-is-staring-at-a-dark-abyss/1/185216.html

Historically, purveyors of books and magazines predicting doom and gloom have mostly been wrong but sold lots of copies.

Matt Ridley, the author of "The Rational Optimist", says that the prophets of doom and gloom from Robert Malthus to Paul Ehrlich(both predicted catastrophe of mass starvation) have always found great acceptance as "sages" in their time but proved to be completely wrong because they discount human resilience and ingenuity.

http://books.google.com/books?id=YoVpW0zJIgYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=rational+optimist+sage&hl=en&sa=X&ei=B6a6UKb4BebgigLV84DoAQ&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAA#v=snippet&q=ehrlich&f=false

The reasons for wide acceptance of pessimists have to do with how the human brain has evolved through the millennia.

It's been established that once the amygdala starts hunting for bad news, it'll mostly find bad news.

Peter Diamandis explains this phenomenon well in his book "Abundance-Why Future is Better Than You Think".

Here's a excerpt from Diamandis's book:

"These are turbulent times. A quick glance at the headlines is enough to set anybody on edge-with endless media stream that has lately become our lives-it's hard to get away from those headlines. Worse, evolution shaped human brain to be acutely aware of all potential dangers...this dire combination has a profound impact on human perception: It literally shuts off our ability to take in good news."

http://books.google.com/books?id=lCifxlN8ZIoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=abundance&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Iqe6UNqeM4zmiwKs5YDYAg&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=bad%20news&f=false

In Pakistan's case, the good news continues to be the emergence of a large and growing middle class population and a vibrant mass media and civil society which underpin the country's extraordinary resilience.

Pakistan needs such resilience to complete its difficult ongoing transition to democracy which, the history tells us, has never been easy for any nation.

I believe Pakistan is making good progress toward becoming a prosperous urban middle class democracy.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News Op Ed by Dr. Javaid Laghari of Pakistan's Higher Education Commission:

Universities in Pakistan have rapidly morphed into their new role as producers of knowledge and research that lead to innovation and entrepreneurship, create employment, and be prime builders of a knowledge economy.
----

As per the Education Policy 2008, the HEC targets to increase accessibility to higher education from the current 8 percent to 15 percent by 2020, which translates into an increase in university enrolment from 1m to 2.3m. This is a major challenge tied to the funding situation. However, to achieve the best results effectively, in addition to establishing new campuses, the HEC is focusing on the use of educational technologies and through the recently established directorates of distance education.


---

Faculty development programmes are the mainstay of the HEC. With over 7500 scholars currently pursuing their PhD degrees both within and outside the country, and an additional 2,200 having graduated and placed at universities and other organisations, it is estimated that with the projected growth in universities, at least 16,000 ‘additional’ PhD faculty will be required by 2020.



This will raise the percentage of the PhD faculty from the current 22 percent to 40 percent. Simultaneously, the standards for faculty appointment will become stringent. Starting in 2014, all lecturer appointments will require a MPhil/MS degree, and from 2016, all assistant professors and above will require a PhD degree.



------


There has been a significant growth in the number and quality of the PhDs awarded. The number of PhDs awarded per year has increased to over 850 in 2011, with significantly higher standards. It is estimated that over 2400 PhDs will be awarded in 2020, which will give Pakistan the same competitive advantage in research and innovation as is available to China, India, Turkey and Malaysia.



The number of research publications out of Pakistan has gone up by 50 percent in the last two years alone. Scimago, an independent database, has projected that Pakistan will have the second-highest growth in the Asiatic region, moving up 16 notches from the current worldwide ranking of 43 to 27.



Offices of innovation, research and commercialisation, centres of advanced study and research in energy, food security, and water resource, incubators and technology parks are being established to link research and innovation with industry.

----

This is already beginning to pay off, as today more than six Pakistani universities are ranked among the top 300 universities of the world, while there were none a few years ago. By 2015, we expect at least 10 universities to be in the top 300, with one in the top 100.



All HEC reforms are becoming the envy of other countries in the region. While Turkey already has a similar commission, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are in the process of replicating the HEC model, and India is going a step further and establishing a supra-HEC with far-reaching consequences to position itself as a regional leader.



The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report indicators on higher education and training, technology readiness and innovation are showing a consistent improvement over the last three years for Pakistan, much more than many other countries, which is clear proof that higher education reforms are paying off.



---

Pakistan has achieved critical mass and reached a point of take-off. For this phenomenal growth to continue, it is important for the government and other stakeholders to support and further strengthen the HEC as a national institution and protect its autonomy. If this momentum continues for another 10 years, Pakistan is certain to become a global player through a flourishing knowledge economy and a highly literate population.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-147565-HEC-the-next-10-years

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a recent Khatmandu speech by Pak social scientist Arif Hasan:

.. ...In my city, Karachi, anyone my age will similarly tell you how wonderful Karachi used to be...the calm that we enjoyed was really like the peace of the dead. It was a kind of peace made possible by the feudal system.
------------
I asked an elder from the taluka whom I had met in 1983, now much older, “Sahib, did you have honour killings before?”

He said, “Yes, we used to have one in perhaps ten years. It was a rare occurrence, and we would discuss one for ten years until another happened.”

“Then why it is happening now with such regularity?”

He said, “Now, everyone has become shameless, without honour, so honour killings are taking place.”

I asked, “Why is there no honour today?”

He responded, “The young people, they’ve gone to the city, and they’ve done all the wrong things. The girls have learned how to read and write, they’ve gone to school, some of them have gone to university as well. They have no morals left, so this is bound to happen.”

“You mean this is going to continue like this forever?”

“No, no, it will stop!”

“How and when will it stop?”

His reply was educative: “The honour killings will stop when everyone becomes shameless, then it will end.” Then he added, “But I hope that I die before that day.”

He was a man of the old, feudal rural culture, with its own pattern of behaviour and way of thinking. He was part of it, and it was dying, so he wished to die with it.

In 1992, the applications for court marriages in Karachi amounted to about 10 or 15, mainly applications from couples who were seeking the protection of the court for wedlock without familial consent. By 2006, we were seeing more than 250 applications for court marriages per day in Karachi. Significantly, more than half of the couples seeking court recognition of their betrothal came from rural areas of Sindh. This is yet another indication of how the entire feudal system and its values are in rapid collapse.

This collapse is also heralded by the advances in women’s education. According to 2006 figures, fully 72 percent of the University of Karachi student body is today female. Among medical students, 87 percent are women, and the figure for architecture and planning is as high as 92 percent. In fact, our vice chancellor was so concerned that he suggested a quota for men. I used to teach a class with one boy and 15 girls. That has changed a little now as we have tried to even it out. But the reason is simply that women do better on the entrance tests. There’s no other reason for it.

In 1971, I started working in low-income settlements in Karachi, and a decade later I joined the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP). The settlements that we worked in at that time were primarily working-class, and when we went over we were met by older men who were mostly illiterate. They spoke to us in very formal, feudal language – janaab, huzoor, sahib, miyan, “We are all your children and need your protection,” and all that. At that time, in the 1980s, the women hardly worked. Things are entirely different when you go to the OPP today; it’s not what you would call a shanty settlement. It’s mostly the younger generation who will meet you, and they will address you as ‘uncle’ rather than ‘sahib’. The people you meet are bank managers, school teachers, professionals working in the service sector of Karachi.
-----------
... The recent shooting of Malala Yusufzhai has shown what Pakistani society really feels and how it thinks on issues. For the first time the Pakistani establishment – the army as well as the three major political parties – have all condemned the Taliban for the shooting. The people have spoken in the huge rallies, in Karachi and elsewhere. ...


http://himalmag.com/component/content/article/5126-the-eclipse-of-feudalism-in-pakistan.html

Riaz Haq said...

The "peace of the dead" is ending with the "eclipse of feudalism" in Pakistan. What we are seeing now is an "unplanned revolution" in the words of a Pakistani sociologist, a revolution that is transforming Pakistan for the better in the long run.

http://books.google.com/books?id=EKHZAAAAMAAJ&q=feudalism#search_anchor

http://himalmag.com/component/content/article/5126-the-eclipse-of-feudalism-in-pakistan.html

http://himalmag.com/component/content/article/5126-the-eclipse-of-feudalism-in-pakistan.html

http://sai.columbia.edu/outreach_files/Social%20&%20Structural%20Transformations%20in%20Pakistan.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a FT story on Pakistan:


The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is not a place where visitors expect to see billboards advertising “Liposuction, Tummy Tuck, Breast Reshaping” for middle-class women, let alone brothels to entertain middle-class men in a red-light district near the main mosque. They are both there in the sprawling commercial city of Lahore.

Nor is Pakistan a country where foreigners wary of Islamic extremism would necessarily envisage a politically correct gender studies centre such as the one at Quaid-i-Azam University in the capital Islamabad – where students, male and female, discuss everything from honour killings to reproductive rights.


To say that Pakistan has an image problem in the west is an understatement. A new Global Terrorism Index published by the Institute for Economics and Peace shows that Pakistan comes second only to Iraq in terms of terrorist violence because of “significant and widespread” attacks, mostly bombings and shootings. (Pakistan’s neighbours, Afghanistan and India, come third and fourth.)

Yet Pakistan is more diverse than outsiders tend to think and the beliefs of its 180m people are more heterogeneous than in many other nations that profess themselves Islamic. Women hold positions of power in politics, business and academia; mystical Muslims worship at Sufi shrines that are anathema to puritan Sunnis in the Saudi mould; and those who might be categorised as Islamic extremists have never won more than 12 per cent of the vote in a general election.
-----------

Democracy in Pakistan – according to one western diplomat who draws comparisons not with South America but with the Middle East – is far from perfect but more developed than it is in Egypt. “At a time when democracy in other parts of the Muslim world is running into problems ... there is something consolidating here against all the odds,” the diplomat says. “Something quite significant is happening here.”

The mere fact of a government finishing its allotted term and facing new elections is important, says another Pakistan-based diplomat. “It’s very hard for the outside world to understand how important that’s going to be ... It changes intangibly the calculations of politicians and the military.”
----------

Few Pakistanis dispute that the weakness of the economy is a source of fragility, that drastic electricity shortages stoke public anger, or that corruption is worsening further as the election approaches. A few investors, foreign and Pakistani, look back to the decade long military rule of Pervez Musharraf, which ended in 2008, as a kind of golden age of growth and prudent decision-making.

But even Gen Musharraf will wear civilian clothes if – as he hopes – he is able to return from exile to join the political fray. And even business leaders appalled by the state of the economy now hesitate to recommend military intervention in modern Pakistan.


www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/fd6b21f2-494b-11e2-9225-00144feab49a.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's bloomberg on fast food craze in Pakistan:

...Local and overseas business groups are queuing up to buy franchise rights in Pakistan for an array of popular food sold from Los Angeles to Kuala Lumpur, driven by rising demand from a booming middle class in South Asia’s second-biggest economy after India. Pakistanis increasingly flock to American food outlets even as ties between the two nations are strained by U.S. drone missile strikes in the northwest of the country.

Johnny Rockets Group Inc., another American fast-food group based in Aliso Viejo, California, that operates or franchises 68 hamburger restaurants in 16 countries, Second Cup Ltd., a coffee shop chain based in Missisauga, Canada, with over 360 cafes and Malaysia’s MammaRoti and PappaRoti are set to open their first stores in Pakistan this year.

----

Fatburger joins Hardee’s Food Systems Inc., headquartered in St. Louis, Atlanta-based cinnamon roll maker Cinnabon International Inc., The Noodle House of the United Arab Emirates, and five foreign frozen yoghurt chains that opened their first outlets in the world’s sixth-most populous nation since 2011. Consumer spending in Pakistan has increased at a 26 percent average pace the past three years, compared with 7.7 percent for Asia, according to data compiled by Euromonitor International, a consumer research firm.

...Pakistan’s middle class has doubled to 70 million people in the past decade as booms in agriculture and residential property, as well as jobs in telecom and media have helped people prosper, according to Sakib Sherani, chief executive officer at Macroeconomic Insights in Islamabad.

---
Franchising is also booming as businesses battling Pakistan’s record energy outages seek alternatives to factories that can’t run without adequate power, said Samiullah Mohabbat, chief executive officer of Fatburger Pakistan and the country representative for the World Franchise Association. Mohabbat received over 100 queries this year from entrepreneurs wanting to buy franchise rights for international food chains.
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The number of foreign food franchises in Pakistan will “easily double” in the next two years as more coffee houses and casual dining outlets enter the country, Mohabbat said. About two dozen foreign food franchises operate in Pakistan since Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum! Brands Inc.’s Pizza Hut opened two decades ago, followed by the same company’s KFC in 1997 and Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant chain, the following year.

KFC plans to open 40 more stores in Pakistan over the next five years to expand its network of 64 outlets in 18 cities, said Rafiq Rangoonwala, chief executive officer of Cupola, the company with the franchise rights for KFC, the biggest fast-food chain by outlets in Pakistan.
--
Salt Lake City-based Mrs Field’s Original Cookies Inc., that opened an outlet in Lahore in 2011, plans to start 15 more this year, said Rashed Siddiqui, franchise owner.

---
Second Cup will open its first outlet in Islamabad within the next six months and Red Mango Inc., a Dallas-based frozen yoghurt retailer, will enter Pakistan this year, Mohabbat said.

Fullerton, California-based Tutti Frutti Frozen Yoghurt, that has 20 outlets in Pakistan since opening in late 2011, plans to start 100 more this year, said Naeem Niazi, director for international business development at Wellspring Industry Inc., owner of Tutti Frutti.

Pakistanis spend 90 billion rupees ($924 million) a year on eating out at the 20,000 restaurants nationwide because of a paucity of other entertainment facilities, said Nauman Mirza, founder and chief executive officer of Food Connection Pakistan, an online restaurant guide.


http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-07/pakistan-loving-fatburger-as-fast-food-boom-ignores-u-s-drones.html

Riaz Haq said...

New shopping mall to open in Islamabad, reports The Nation:



ISLAMABAD (PR) - The Centaurus Mall, Pakistan’s mega shopping and entertainment destination, is all-set to open its doors by the middle of next month, says a press release.

“We are all set to make a soft launch. Quite a few brands have confirmed their readiness by the date we have communicated to them, and others are working day in and day out to make sure they don’t miss out on this opportunity,” the release stated.

The Centaurus Mall, located at the heart of federal capital, is a multi-facility complex featuring a deluxe mega shopping mall (covering 400,000 sq. ft), 5-screen Cineplex, a state-of-the-art kids entertainment area, and food court offering a variety of cuisines.

“The word is out now, and we are mulling the date of 17th February to make this luxurious dream become a reality. Dozens of top-of-the-line brands are going to be there and the rest of the mall features like Cineplex, and kids play area, health club etc will be up and ready within 20 days of the launch, ShahbazRana, Head Business Development of The Centaurus confirmed.

The multi-billion project is a joint venture of Al-Tamimi Group of Saudi Arabia and Sardar Builders of Pakistan.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/18-Jan-2013/centaurus-mall-to-open-next-month

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from "The Proudest Day: India's Long Road to Independence" by Anthony Read:

The affair of the printing press highlighted the biggest problem being faced by Pakistan. India, which had finally been recognized by the British government as the successor state on 17 June after further pressure from Mountbatten, would simply take over a going concern with everything in place. Pakistan, on the other hand, would be starting from scratch without any established administration, without armed forces, without records, without equipment or military stores.

As early as 9 May, during his stay in Simla with Nehru, Mountbatten had admitted the problem. "What are we doing?" he had asked then. "Administratively, it's the difference between putting up a permanent building, a nissen hut, or a tent. As far as Pakistan is concerned, we are putting up a tent".


http://books.google.com/books?id=q9ebuSG64dkC&pg=PA468&lpg=PA468&dq=mountbatten+pakistan+tent+nissen&source=bl&ots=XyTeE-ehA0&sig=kleWlYGRLYziLqh3GejR_KQtm3Q&hl=en&sa=X&ei=9cgEUYq3IcTmiwKwq4DwDA&ved=0CEAQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=mountbatten%20pakistan%20tent%20nissen&f=false

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET Op Ed by LUMS' Professor Rasul Bukhsh Rais:

I have a serious problem with the cynic brigade that writes and comments on social, developmental and political issues along familiar lines. What is their familiar line? The Taliban are coming, extremism is on the rise, corruption is pervasive and life is miserable. This is a partial truth, not the whole truth. That nothing can change is a viewpoint that conflicts with history and the evolution of societies.

Cynicism in hard times like ours and in a climate of fear, insecurity and violence, sells and viewers and readers readily embrace the dark side of things rather than looking at what is bright and shining. The other issue is the habit of most of my colleagues and columnists to write from the comfort of their offices or homes. They tend to look at the big picture that gives a disturbing spectre rather than examining achievements at local levels, and by dedicated individuals and communities. If there is any meaningful and real change in Pakistan, it is taking place at these levels in every aspect of the social and economic life of this country. By missing details of development and positive change at the smaller scale, we may draw a big picture of a society and country that may not be in agreement with reality. This is what is unfortunately happening.

One of my social beliefs is that only by changing at the local level will Pakistan change for the better at the national level. The national in spatial terms is nothing but local. By often travelling through the villages, mostly in Punjab, I have seen thousands of positive contributions and developments that are neither documented nor narrated. Never has our regular cynic brigade opened its eyes and minds to what this change is and how it is becoming a catalyst for more and larger changes.

Let me share one man’s gigantic contribution at a government agricultural research farm in Bahawalpur. I had heard about Mushtaq Alvi for his collection of berries and date palm trees for some years. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit this fabulous farm, which may not be noticed from outside the walls. Mr Alvi, as a young man with his first job, started the plantation in 1985. He went to every place in Pakistan to collect the best local species of date palms, berries, mangoes, guavas and pomegranates. Today, he has 35 species of date palms, 20 of berries, 20 of mangoes and five of pomegranates, and almost every of guavas. Never has his search for new findings ended.

While the collection continues to expand, the farm has supported thousands of farmers and households that would like to have various species of these trees. Every season, thousands of berry plants and hundreds of date palms are distributed. Then there are private collectors of these trees that have developed their own farms and would like to sell plants to new farmers. Each new tree becomes a source for saplings leading to further proliferation.

Scientists like Mr Alvi and many of his colleagues may move on to other research stations or retire but what they have done is something remarkable. This is just one example of ordinary Pakistanis making a difference to society. Unfortunately, our media, commentators and pseudo intellectuals cannot lift their eyes from what is wrong in society and shift their attention, even for a moment, to what is right and working.

Recognition and celebration of achievements by individuals and communities encourages positive change, positive attitudes and stimulates energies for innovation and more contribution. While grieving about the many things that are troubling us, let us not ignore the pleasing side of changing Pakistan. Go out and see it.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/509088/changing-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News blog post on GeoTV's program "Chal Parha" hosted by singer Shehzad Roy:

We’ve seen some scintillating performances by Shehzad Roy ranging from ’Laga rahay’ to ‘Uth Baandh Kamar kya Darta hai’. His proximity with the general public and the extent to which he seeks solutions for the myriad problems being faced by Pakistan, exhibit his patriotism. On the other hand, his non-governmental organization – ‘Zindagi Trust’
has burgeoned up since 2007 to contest the case of ‘education emergency’ in Pakistan.

------------

A pop-singer, Roy is both a motivation and a lesson for any young adult living in this country. Unlike many, he isn’t chasing projection in the neighbouring media outlets, allured by ‘piles of money’ or the lust for fame. If he continues with his efforts, there are good enough chances for him to introduce a new ‘genre’ in Pakistani music industry- something like ‘social responsibility’.


Similar to other institutional transitions budding in the Pakistani society, ‘music’ also requires a reorientation. The mass media (including ‘music’ as a means of communication) is also ploughing for a ‘fresh crop’ that wants to satisfy the need of ‘social uplift’.


Making the message of ‘positive change’ vocal, isn’t an easy task. However, ‘music’ seems to be the compatible format considering the level of ignorance and illiteracy in the Pakistani society. Any nation heading towards intellectual demise should be purported by arts, literature and music to engender the thirst for ‘knowledge’.



Chal Parha- a new program being aired on GEO TV during prime time slot is a success story for the local media. It is for the first time that the most urgent need of the country has seeped into the electronic media to grab the ‘time’ and ‘space’ of a television channel. The show is unique with regards to purpose and format. Above all, it has the privilege of ‘Shehzad Roy’ serving as a testimonial. As the renowned singer himself says: “In this show, I travel across 80 cities in Pakistan from Attabad Jheel and Gulmit to Gojal and Thar and film in more than 200 government schools. In each episode we highlight an issue from public schools for example, corporal punishment, medium of instruction, population, textbooks, curriculum, teachers etc”
----------
The promotional song (Chal Parha) of the program defines the digression of the society, in general, for not giving due attention to ’education’. In a light yet piercing manner, the lyrics serve as a stringer for the listeners. It is a rhythmic reminder to rescue the country from the darkness of illiteracy through the light of ’education’. Moreover, an allusion towards another dilemma of the society has also been made, that is, the non-acceptance or indifference shown to talented people. Roy selects a young girl hailing from Faisalabad as a co-vocalist for the song in order to encourage her exceptional singing abilities. She complains of the lack of projection given to talented individuals in Pakistan, the reason she hums melodiously: Pair ho par saya na ho, din ho par ujala na ho, aisaa mumkin nahi… (‘how can hope and darkness coexist?’). Shehzad aptly responds to this: Yai anhonee jo baat hai, mairay dais k saath hai (this strange thing is seen in ‘my’ country).


Chal Parha is another call to declare ‘education emergency’ in Pakistan – not just by adding Article 25-A in the Constitution, but to ensure its fair and proper implementation. It aims at revolutionizing the education system of the country for saving the lives of innumerable talented gems and to alter the fate of Pakistan.


http://blogs.thenews.com.pk/blogs/2013/02/roys-chal-parha-education-emergency/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on Marble Slab Creamery opening outlets in Pakistan:

Global Franchise Group LLC inked a franchise agreement with Western Brands PVT Ltd. to open the first Marble Slab Creamery locations in Pakistan.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deal calls for the development of 10 Marble Slab Creamery stores in Pakistan over a 10-year period, with the 5,000-square-foot flagship store opening up in Lahore.

“The new locations in Pakistan are an extension of Marble Slab Creamery’s existing presence in the Middle East and the South East Asian sub-continent,” said John Peddar, director of international development, Global Franchise Group. “In a nation of 176 million people, we expect that the brand product will be well-received and positioned for growth in this emerging market.”

Marble Slab Creamery is managed by GFG Management LLC, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Global Franchise Group.

Marble Slab Creamery operates in Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Guam, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Oman, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

Global Franchise Group’s other brands include Great American Cookies, MaggieMoo’s, Pretzelmaker and Pretzel Time


http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2013/03/19/marble-slab-creamery-expands-to-pakistan.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Gulf News report on new tech training center in FATA's Bajaur agency in Pakistan:

Islamabad: In keeping with the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to provide assistance to the people of Pakistan and to support technical and vocational educational there, the UAE Project to Assist Pakistan (UPAP) has announced completion of the project to build a technical college at Bajaur in Pakistan at a total cost of $3.4 million (Dh12.4 million). The project was delivered to the local government in Bajaur following completion.

The official inauguration of the college was attended by Chief of Pakistan Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, UAE Ambassador to Pakistan Eisa Abdullah Al Basha Al Nuaimi, Abdullah Khalifa Al Gafli, Director of the UPAP, and senior Pakistani officials.

The college is built on a 34,000 square foot area. It will provide diploma-level technical education for up to 450 students in various disciplines of engineering such as electrical, mechanical, civil and mining.


http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/government/emirati-charity-project-in-pakistan-completed-1.1172873

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' story about Jamshed Dasti's candidacy:


MUZAFFARGARH, Pakistan (Reuters) - With a flick of the reins, Jamshed Dasti launched his run for Pakistan's parliament from the back of a donkey cart, cantering through the rutted streets of his home town to file his nomination papers as supporters erupted into cheers.

With the opening act in his campaign unfolding exactly as planned, Dasti beamed the beatific smile of a man who might look like an underdog, but who is sure he has the momentum to humble his wealthy rivals at next month's general elections.

His choice of transport was no accident: Dasti wants to persuade poor voters that Muzaffargarh, a farming district in Punjab province long ruled by a Pajero-driving, land-owning aristocracy, is about to change forever.

For his biggest rivals are none other than the Khar dynasty, which has wielded huge influence in the district for decades, and whose most famous heiress, Hina Rabbani Khar, was foreign minister until last month.

"Because of me, people have realized they can have a better life," Dasti told Reuters. "Their poor neighbor is now running for elections against the lords of a vast kingdom. How can this not give them hope?"

The son of an illiterate laborer and part-time wrestler, Dasti is a rare example of how a man of modest means can mount a credible challenge to a patronage system prevalent in Punjab where the landed elite can perpetuate their grip on power by intimidating tenants or buying votes with bribes.

---
After years working as a community volunteer, he was elected to the local council before winning a seat in the National Assembly at the last elections in 2008 on a ticket for President Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party.

-------------
But the disillusionment with land owners in Muzaffargarh notwithstanding, Khar is herself admired in Pakistan for breaking the patriarchal mould of many landed families who would never contemplate allowing a daughter her advanced education or to play such a public role on the global stage.

LAWMAKER AND BUS DRIVER

With the majority of Pakistan's electorate living in the countryside, the outcome of the polls in Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province and its political heartland, will undoubtedly be shaped by big, land-owning families.

But Dasti's popularity suggests that the dynamic may be in flux as Pakistan becomes accustomed to holding regular elections and the military, which has interrupted politics in the past, remains in its barracks.

As a student, Dasti, who enjoys reciting poetry inspired by the Marxist philosophy of class struggle, published a weekly newsletter, garnishing its smudged pages with editorials against feudalism. He went door to door collecting donations and started Muzaffargarh's first free ambulance service. People nicknamed him "Mr 15" - after the police emergency telephone number.

Even when he won a National Assembly seat, he continued to work one 15-hour shift a week as an unpaid driver for a free bus service he started.

"He comes to the stop at six in the morning and sits down with the drivers for breakfast," said Mohammad Sharif, a barber. "Have you seen anything like this: a member of the National Assembly who drives a bus?"...


http://news.yahoo.com/pakistan-robin-hood-aims-wrest-election-rich-224500070.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Washington Post report on feudal power in Pak elections:

GUJJAR GARHI, Pakistan — Winning a grass-roots political campaign in Pakistan or anywhere else depends on having committed, hardworking volunteers. Iftikhar Ali Mashwani, an aspiring provincial lawmaker, has come to realize that his supporters are neither.

“When I go into the villages and the fields, I should see my flags on the roadsides and rooftops. I should see my posters. And I don’t,” Mashwani, a 35-year-old furniture salesman, chided followers gathered in his small lumberyard in northwestern Pakistan. “This campaign is not up to the mark!”

Mashwani, running on the Movement for Justice ticket headed by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, is learning tough lessons as he scrabbles for votes against well-established foes in this largely rural area. On May 11, Pakistanis will choose the next prime minister in an election hailed as a landmark of democratic progress for a country ruled by the military for nearly half its 65-year history. Yet decades of tradition dictate why democracy has remained more of a concept than a reality.

Even as Pakistan prepares to witness its first democratic transition of power, elite political families, powerful landholders and pervasive patronage and corruption undermine the prospects of a truly representational democracy, political analysts say. The dominant Pakistan People’s Party and its rival, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, have the money, experience and connections that Mashwani does not as a novice contender from an upstart party.

As in the United States, Pakistan has what amounts to an entrenched two-party system, but even less space exists here for reformers and newcomers from lower classes. For decades, critics say, the parties have been run like insular family businesses whose only goal is to perpetuate their power and plunder national resources.

The Pakistani military, by contrast, is well respected by the public and not afraid to muscle into politics. It has overthrown weak governments three times with general public support. During periods of civilian rule, the army also wields great influence behind the scenes, adding to evidence that Pakistan has never been more than a Potemkin democracy.

Over the years, U.S. officials have seen only diminishing returns in their democracy-promoting efforts. The upcoming election, while historic, will not necessarily solve anything. Pakistan remains under siege by insurgents and shot through with corruption — and it is still a beggar nation seemingly always on the brink of collapse.

Most analysts predict the election will result in a fractured Parliament dominated by a coalition of old-guard politicians, with Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-N and a two-time prime minister, likely to reclaim the job 14 years after he was ousted in a coup.

“I see elections not bringing change,” said Shamshad Ahmad, a former Pakistani foreign secretary under Sharif. “Without a change in the system there will be the same feudalized, elitist hierarchy that remains in power.

“Let’s hope a new culture is being born that civilians must take responsibility and take the reins in their hands,” said Ahmad, who remains a Sharif backer. “When our rulers show their ability to take good decisions, the army will stay in its space.”...


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-pakistan-novice-takes-on-entrenched-parties-in-election/2013/04/30/8786d7ee-b00a-11e2-9fb1-62de9581c946_story.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of Express Tribune report on LG Electronics investment in Pakistan:

“We have decided to expand our operations by enhancing production capacities to capture growing consumer demand in Pakistan,” said DY Kim, President of LG Electronics Gulf, while talking to The Express Tribune on Thursday.
“Currently, our production in Pakistan is only limited to televisions and LCDs, but in a couple of months we will start producing other household items like microwaves and washing machines,” he added.
LG Electronics is a global leader and technology innovator in consumer electronics, mobile communications and home appliances with 117 operations around the world.
LG achieved global sales of $49 billion in 2011. It is offering products in four segments – home entertainment, mobile communications, home appliances and air conditioning & energy solutions.
In Pakistan, LG is increasing investment to enhance production capacity, but Kim did not divulge exact figure and only said it would be in billions of rupees.
The company is looking to compete with Samsung, which has increased its market share in recent years.
“We want to give consumers with some other option and we are hopeful this will not take much time,” Kim said.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/550418/lg-to-invest-billions-to-capture-pakistan-market/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on education in Waziristan:

A quiet and peaceful revolution is taking place in South Waziristan. Girls, with the support and protection of the tribal elders and the community, are going to school. The Chaghmalai Government Girls High School is about to open its doors to welcome its first 269 students.
After staying several years in internally displaced persons’ camps or with host families elsewhere, locals are returning to South Waziristan. Due to extensive destruction during the conflict, starting again has been tough, especially for the poorest and the most vulnerable. Despite these hardships, a positive development has emerged — communities are passionate to educate their children, both boys and girls.
Since returning, the elders have held numerous jirgas with the army to discuss how to achieve lasting peace and a sustainable economic future. Perhaps, the exodus to other parts of Pakistan created a better understanding among the communities of the value of education and its role in achieving a better life. In a region where literacy rates for males is 29 per cent and for females just three per cent, this is a big step forward.
There are so many positive signs of change. During a visit in March, I attended the rehearsals for a Pakistan Day school concert in Spinkai Raghzai, one of the poorest villages. Like children all over the country, preparing for a national day celebration, the children in Spinkai Raghzai were just as excited, though a little nervous about performing in front of their peers and guests.
The theme was peace and education, developed around the quotes of the Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal. But what made this little pageant so special was the setting. This is a post-conflict environment where children and their families have suffered terror, tragedy and great loss. In the past, the Taliban ran suicide-training camps in Spinkai and it has been the scene of unimaginable horror. Even now, the children there suffer anxiety that the militants might return.
It was hard not to be emotional. Only hard-hearted cynics could fail to be touched by the sense of occasion, or how remarkable this was in a now-peaceful village with so dark a recent history, or to mock the children’s hopes and enthusiasm for a peaceful future. I was reminded of a quote from Arundhati Roy’s, The God of Small Things, “That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”...


http://tribune.com.pk/story/552396/a-peaceful-revolution-in-south-waziristan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on global consumer products' giant P&G's expansion plans in Pakistan:

KARACHI: Procter and Gamble (P&G) has identified Pakistan as one of its top 10 emerging markets – that include emerging economies like Brazil and India – and the country will be the focus of it attention for further investments, P&G Pakistan Communications Manager Omeir Dawoodji told a group of journalists during a visit to the company’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Port Qasim on Thursday.
Dawoodji was tight-lipped regarding the amount P&G plans to invest. He, however, confirmed that the Cincinnati, Ohio-based consumer goods giant wants to expand its manufacturing footprint in the country.

Dawoodji did not disclose the cost of setting up the Port Qasim plant, currently manufacturing the Ariel brand, but emphasised that P&G intends to make it a mega-manufacturing facility and utilise it for manufacturing other brands as well. The company markets over 300 brands globally, but its Pakistani subsidiary only deals in eight brands.
P&G Pakistan had acquired a huge piece of land for the manufacturing facility, which was inaugurated in 2010, but it utilised about 20% of the acquired land only, leaving enough space for further expansion.
It has been 185 years of growth for the now $85-billion company and further growth has to come through emerging markets, Dawoodji said, explaining why Pakistan is important for the company’s global parent.
The manufacturer of some of the leading brands like Pampers, Always and Safeguard has had tremendous growth during the past three years. P&G’s revenue for the year ended June 2012 was Rs22 billion, about 50% increase over the previous year.
The fiscal year 2012-13, too, will be a high growth year for P&G Pakistan, the company’s country head Faisal Sabzwari told The Express Tribune in a recent interview.
In a sign of its long-term commitment to the country, the Pakistani arm of the consumer goods giant has replicated its global strategy of incorporating the use of renewable energy sources for energy conservation, reducing water consumption and recycling the waste as demonstrated during the plant’s tour.
The facility at Port Qasim has been designed to use skylight during the day with a lot of windows built both in the office and the factory areas. They have been able to reduce their energy consumption by 12% during the last two years, the officials at the site told the media.
The reduction in water usage was about 46% as they have planted palm trees and used gravel instead of grass for the landscape to conserve water. “We put less than 2% of our waste to landfill,” an official said. About 97% of the waste generated is put to beneficial reuse, he said.
“The Port Qasim plant is our pride among the 75-plus plants P&G operates all over the world,” Dawoodji said while highlighting state-of-the-art features of the plant. “Goods manufactured at this facility can be exported to countries with rigorous quality standards.”


http://tribune.com.pk/story/566034/procter-and-gamble-lists-pakistan-among-top-10-emerging-markets/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation report on Pakistan's rising research publications in international journals:

Pakistan has witnessed, an impressive 50 per cent increase in the number of research publications during just the last two years, going up from 3939 to 6200 in the higher education sector of Pakistan.

This has been the second highest increase worldwide. Scimago, the world's leading research database, forecast that if this research trend from Pakistan continues, then by 2018, Pakistan will move ahead 26 notches in world ranking, from 43 to 27, and for the first time ever, will cross Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand in Asia. Today Pakistan is publishing more research papers per capita than India.
The number of PhD faculty at our public universities has also increased by almost 50%, from 4203 to 6067 in just the last 2 years alone. This is the result of the HEC PhD scholars that have started returning back and joining universities. These scholars are being selected for pursuing studies at leading universities of the academically advanced countries through a well-defined open, transparent and merit based mechanism.
About 10 to 15 scholars are completing their PhDs every week and are being placed by HEC at the universities under Interim Placement of Fresh PhDs Programme (IPFP). Other HEC incentives include a 0.5 million research grant to every returning scholar. Currently, there are hundreds of fresh foreign PhDs currently inducted into various universities across the country.
The number of PhD students enrolled at the universities has increased by over 40% in just the last one year, from 6937 to 9858 students, while over 28122 students are registered for MPhil/MS, up from 16960, an increase of 65% in just two years.
The increase in the number of PhDs awarded is again very similar, from 628 to 927 in the last 3 years, and will surge exponentially in the future as more PhD faculty and students join the universities.
Commenting on these developments, Dr. Javaid R. Laghari Chairperson HEC said that Universities are the single most important producers of knowledge and research that leads to innovation and entrepreneurship.
By introducing innovation, creativity and interdisciplinary research as a vital component of teaching, and with knowledge exchange programs, the university contributes more directly to the economy and the society than many other institutions in the country.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/islamabad/24-Jun-2013/pakistan-becomes-major-player-in-world-research

http://www.scimagojr.com/


http://www.scimagojr.com/countryrank.php?area=0&category=0&region=all&year=all&order=it&min=0&min_type=it

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Gulf News story about Anum Fatima:

Dubai: Anum Fatima, a first-year MBA student at the College of Business Management, Karachi, has been selected to attend a seven-week programme in English for Professional Purposes at the Harvard Business School Summer Exchange Programme on a fully funded scholarship. What’s more, Anum has already been offered a one-month internship at a Washington DC firm, Conversion. Clearly, Anum is looking forward to her eight-week stay. “I am absolutely thrilled and my entire family is excited,” says the 23-year old in a phone interview to Education. Anum, the eldest in a family of five, was able to realise her education dreams thanks to scholarships through grade 9 to undergraduate study in Business Administration and now for her MBA by The Citizen’s Foundation (TCF), a Pakistan-based non-profit organisation dedicated to the field of education that helps students from impoverished background achieve their dreams.
For Soheil and Nasreen Akhtar, Anum’s parents, the news of Anum’s Harvard stint came as boundless joy. Soheil, who works as a driver in a Karachi-based organisation, was able to complete just his matriculation while his wife never had formal education. The two therefore always dreamed of their daughter achieving milestones in education. With a meagre income, Anum’s father could barely manage the family’s basic needs. Paying for the schooling fees of his children was a stretch. But Anum’s performance at school came to her rescue.
“I was very keen to study and always stood first in class even in the private Urdu medium neighbourhood schools I studied in upto grade 9,” she says. “My parents were very supportive. I must thank TCF which has been my motivating force by supporting me with scholarships as well as logistical guidance at every step. They offered me a scholarship to complete my studies after grade 9, by giving me admission at the Yousuf Goth TCF school. I became the first girl in my family to complete matriculation,” she says.
TCF did not stop at that. They offered scholarships right through college and graduation and now post graduation. “When they asked me if they could nominate me for the Harvard Summer Exchange programme, I was only too happy to consent. I was selected from a group of three nominations based on my academic qualifications and answers to the questions I sent across,” says Anum.
Her father, she says, had no clue about what Harvard, or her acceptance to it, meant. “People at his office explained to him and he was overjoyed telling our friends and extended family about it,” says Anum. Once she is back from the US, she is determined to complete her Masters, find a job and help her siblings do even better than her. “I want to help my brothers and sisters and motivate them never to give up on studies. My youngest sister, Samreen Kauser, and brother Tayyib-Ur Rehman, are enrolled in first year college. Another sister, Tayibba Kauser, is studying in the second year and a brother older than Tayyiba, Haisham Soheil, is in third year at the Szabist University. I want them all to achieve their dreams and I will do everything I can to help them,” says Anum, who is already supporting her family by tutoring at least nine girls at home, during her free time.
.....


http://m.gulfnews.com/life/education/karachi-girl-anum-fatima-goes-to-harvard-1.1197501

Riaz Haq said...

From The News:

After finishing school, she received a scholarship to attend the Institute of Business Management (IoBM), first for her Bachelor’s and then her Master’s. And when she applied for a US State Department programme for women, she was selected for spending three months at the Harvard University.

“It was an advanced learning programme for English. There were 15 students from all over the world. I topped my class and received a certificate, and a book signed by the Dean,” she said.

The three-month long trip to the US opened new avenues for her. She met a classmate of Benazir Bhutto, she spoke at the state department and interned at a US-based think tank.

“People in the West think that girls in Pakistan are not allowed to study. In all of the presentations I made and all the people I talked to, I told them that parents wanted their girls to study, but it was the lack of resources and awareness that held them back.”

They were also interested about knowing the state of education in Pakistan. Fatima patiently explained to them the public-private divide, and how the civil society was sometimes able to bridge the gap. She attended a fundraiser for the TCF. “I met a lot of Pakistani Americans. They were very interested in where I come from. What problems my community faces. With one of them I am currently working on a micro-finance project for Ismail Goth.”


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-212619-From-Ismail-Goth-to-Harvard-and-back

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 News story on gated communities in Karachi:

KARACHI: Nestled between Safari Park and apartment complexes that define Gulistan-e-Jauhar; lies the KDA Overseas Housing Society. Getting inside the securely guarded compound means offers a glimpse into a lifestyle very different from the crime infested areas that surround the society.

Children are seen riding merrily on their bikes with no adult supervision, while families and individuals can enjoy a peaceful evening along tree covered lanes.

It’s a scene that is at odds with what goes on outside. In general, Jauhar – as it’s called – remains crime ridden and violence prone. Most residents wouldn’t dream of a walk on their own, let alone with families. Increasingly, those who can afford it are moving to safer locales – the overseas society amongst them.

It’s a trend that’s increasing across the city. Gated communities in Karachi have increased by at least 20 percent due to the volatile law and order situation.

The rising threats of kidnapping for ransom and extortion are also major reasons that citizens prefer to live in barred streets.

However, as supply remains limited, gated communities tend to be expensive. Aqeel Karim Dhedi, Chairman of AKD Group, said peole prefer Clifton and Defence due to stability in rental and sale prices.

Dhedi said gated communities have better security arrangements. No outsiders are allowed to enter without reference from residents. This enables residents to enjoy a peaceful environment with their families. Children can move around without any fear. He added that new gated communities are offering a variety of facilities including sports complex, parks, health club, and play grounds, super markets, mosques, schools, shopping arcades, health centers and much more.

Besides the luxuries, another reason to move into a gated community is that it reduces the maintenance cost for security, sanitation, and other general utilities as a fixed monthly charge. The same is much higher in case of a normal residence. For example the maintenance cost in Creek Vista apartment is Rs.10,500 with additional charges for generator and water.

But it’s the new upcoming projects - apartments and houses that redefine the elite urban living experience- that are gated communities in the real sense. Apartment complexes include high speed and personal elevators, servant quarters and backup power. All things required for everyday existence will be available within their barriers.

Mohammad Shafi Jakvani CEO CITI Associates deals with properties in Defence, Clifton, and Shara-e Faysal. He said that the demand for gated community has made their prices appear to be on fire.

This demand that has led to the development of schemes such as LuckyOne at Rahid Minhas Road, BT Icon in Clifton, Com3 Clifton and AKD’s ARKADIAN in Defence Phase VIII. A joint venture between DHA and AKD group, it’s expected to be launched just after Eid. The prices are expected to be in the range of Rs.40million to Rs.50 million, Mohammad Shafi Jakvani said.

Com3’s prices are in the range of Rs.20million to 40 million depending upon the size and location of the property. Three to four bed rooms apartments and duplex houses (two floor apartments) are being offered on 40 months installments, a Com3 Official told the News.

LuckyOne is the first project to offer high end residences for the upper middle income group in the down town area. There will eight towers 1232 apartments of three and four bedrooms, with all facilities available in any of the upcoming gated communities. The most important thing is that the project will generate power itself to avoid load shedding, said Nasir Aziz, technical director at Luckyone .


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-3-192729-Gated-communities-offer-security-to-beleaguered-Karachiites

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News Op Ed by Dr. Ata ur Rehman Khan on Musharraf's time in office:

In the agricultural sector a number of important irrigation projects were initiated. The Diamer Bhasha Dam was launched. The Mangla Dam was raised by 30 feet increasing 2.9 maf water storage capacity and 100MW electricity. A number of new dams and canals were built (Mirani Dam for Balochistan, Subukzai Dam for Balochistan and Gomal Zam Dam for KP; Kachi Canal from Taunsa to Dera Bugti and Jhal Magsi to irrigate 713,000 acres of barren cotton producing land, the Thal Canal for Punjab, Rainee Canal for Sindh).

Overall three million acres of barren land were brought under cultivation. The Right Bank Outfall Drain (RBOD) was constructed through Sindh, thereby saving Indus River and Manchar Lake (Sind) from pollution. The steps taken led to an increase in wheat production from 14 million tons to 22 million tons, and increase in cotton production from nine million bales to 13 million bales.

Price control was exercised on essential items. The prices of edible household items (flour, naan, milk, tea, sugar, meat, vegetable oil etc) have tripled or quadrupled in the last five years. A rotational loan system was introduced through banks for poor farmers and loan facility for farmers increased from Rs35 billion through ZTBL only, to Rs160 billion from all other private banks.

Overall 2900MW of electricity was added to national generation capacity. The new energy projects initiated included the Ghazi Barotha hydro electricity project (1600MW), the Chashma-II nuclear electricity plant (300MW). The Neelum-Jhelum hydroelectricity project was initiated (1800 MW), the Satpara Power project in Skardu, and the Naltar power project in Gilgit.

A true revolution was brought about in the telecommunications sector. The number of mobile phones increased from 600,000 in the year 2000 to over 7 crore in 2006. Tele-density was increased from 2.9 percent to over 70 percent, and millions of jobs were created in the telecom sector. The IT sector also saw a phenomenal growth with internet connectivity spreading rapidly, particularly during 2000-2003 from 40 cities to over 2000 towns of Pakistan.

Fibre optic connectivity increased from 30 cities to over 1500 towns of Pakistan in the same period. The bandwidth cost of two megabytes was reduced sharply from $86,000 to $3,000 per month. Pakistan’s first satellite PakSat 1 was placed in space. Industry prospered as never before and industrial growth was in double figures throughout the nine-year period.

A revolution was brought about in the higher education sector with the establishment of the Higher Education Commission. The annual allocation for higher education was increased from only Rs500 million in 2000 to Rs28 billion in 2008, thereby laying the foundations of the development of a strong knowledge economy. Student enrolment in universities increased from 270,000 to 900,000 and the number of universities and degree awarding institutes increased from 57 in 2000 to 137 by 2008.

This rapid transformation deeply worried India and a detailed presentation was given to the Indian prime minister on July 22 about the dramatic progress in Pakistan.

A number of steps were taken to strengthen democracy at the grassroots. A large number of new TV channels were allowed and the media given full freedom. The local government system was launched to empower the people through a third tier of government. Women were empowered politically through reserved seats at all tiers of government. Minorities were provided with the system of joint electorate. ....


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-222331-Lest-we-forget

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times Op Ed by Bina Shah on Karachi Literature Festival:

KARACHI, Pakistan — On the banks of the luminous China Creek, overlooking old mangrove swamps and the shipping cranes at the port, more than 50,000 people flocked to this year’s Karachi Literature Festival, held annually in February when the flowers bloom, the weather is temperate and the city feels alive with possibility.

The festival, featuring panel discussions, book promotions, debates, music and theatrical performances, has established itself as a safe space to discuss not just literature and the arts but also politics, history and society at a time when plurality of opinion is not always welcome in Pakistan.

A new Sindh Festival, also held in February, offered another approach to Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage. This extravaganza was a brainchild of the Pakistan Peoples Party’s patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari; it included a concert, art show, film festival, fashion show and horse-and-cattle show. Its aim was to showcase Pakistan’s “softer image,” in the distinctly political hope that by stimulating cultural pride, Pakistanis, especially the young, could be persuaded to reject militancy and religious extremism.

Two wars are being fought in Pakistan: a military one against the violence of religious extremists, and a psychological and emotional one to resist a more insidious change in society itself — the growth of intolerance, a drift toward the right and a decline in room for cultural, religious, ethnic or social diversity. This shrinkage of public space, or Talibanization, as the social scientist Ayesha Siddiqa puts it, is not violence itself, but creates support for “ideas which eventually feed violence.”

Talibanization has spread virally, thanks to right-wing talk shows, newspaper columns and social media. It silences debate about the role of religion, branding anyone who advocates secular democracy an atheist. For example, it whipped up a campaign against the autobiography of Malala Yousafzai, the teenage campaigner for education for girls who was severely wounded in an assassination attempt; earlier this year, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial government banned the book from private school curriculums. The proponents of Talibanization denigrate women’s rights activists as “NGO workers in tight jeans” and harass young men and women at universities who try to spend time together.
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Some 60,000 schoolchildren attended the Karachi Children’s Literature Festival last month. They listened to storytellers, participated in interactive art and music sessions, and attended debuts of graphic novels that captured the lives of “azeem” (great) Pakistanis: Begum Raa’na Liaqat Ali Khan, who championed women’s rights; Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a poet and activist; Hakeem Said, a scholar and philanthropist assassinated in 1998.

The battle for Pakistanis’ hearts and minds will be as tough as the one for sovereignty and territory. But the message will spread best when it’s free from political manipulation or overt assertions of national or civic pride. The children at the festival weren’t asked to choose between extremism and peace; they were left to enjoy themselves, to clap and cheer, to sing and dance. Experiences like these, organic and unforced, will win the cultural wars in Pakistan — if they are encouraged to flourish on the strength of unifying, not divisive, narratives and values that we all share.


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/19/opinion/shah-pakistans-culture-wars.html

Mohammad Hassan said...

Mr Haq do u think China's commitment to invest $32 billion and Nawaz Sharif's effort to bring in more Turkish investment will materialize as many people doubt that and that can be a game changer for Pakistani economy and nation?

Riaz Haq said...

Hassan: "Mr Haq do u think China's commitment to invest $32 billion and Nawaz Sharif's effort to bring in more Turkish investment will materialize as many people doubt that and that can be a game changer for Pakistani economy and nation? "

The money is there. Whether the projects materialize depends on Nawaz Sharif's govt to handle the execution and the security situation.

Riaz Haq said...

Though instability continues to plague Pakistan and many areas are dominated by social conservatism, some of the country's more affluent residents have worked to fashion a very different kind of lifestyle for themselves. Pictures of men and women taking part in all sorts of activities and professions - from being a pilates instructor, to a textile retail entrepreneur, to a member of a rock band - offer a different view of Pakistan to images of conflict that often make the news.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1118136

Riaz Haq said...

The school was run by a family who strongly believed in providing quality education for children from low-income backgrounds. Adil Soomro whose family set up the school tells me “Waris paid the fees for Fazal for a few months but after that when he could not afford to, we sponsored him.” Fazal was a keen learner and adapted easily to the school.

As the years passed, Fazal went to school in the mornings and helped his father at the fruit stall in the afternoons. He often bought his books along and would do his homework there. “My colleagues at school would see me at the fruit stall,” he says. “Some of them were accepting of me, others didn’t want to study with the son of a fruit vendor.” He says. “In fact, there came a time, when some of my father’s regular clients stopped coming to our stall and we heard that they were telling people that my father could afford to send me to school because the fruit he sold were so expensive.”

In the years that followed, Fazal’s younger brother also joined school and continued in his footsteps. When the O level results were announced, Fazal received a scholarship at the Lyceum School. His parents were overjoyed, Waris Khan could see the years of hard work paying off.

“Years ago my father’s cousin’s wife had taunted him and told him that he would never amount to anything and that his children would also remain uneducated labourers,” Fazal tells me. “That really hurt my father to the core. When I got into A levels he felt vindicated!”

Fazal fit into Lyceum, playing sports, participating in extra curricular activities. He slowly made a few friends. “Even though I wore the same uniform as them, somehow they knew I wasn’t like them,” he says. But many of his classmates accepted him with open arms and helped him settle in. When the time came to apply for college — ­­­ he didn’t even consider it an option given his financial constraints — until Adil and his mother who had been guiding him since his early school days encouraged him to.

And then a miracle happened … he got accepted with a partial scholarship to McGill University.

“I remember telling my father that I had been accepted at one of the best universities in Canada. I had gone to the his fruit stall to break the news to him, but I knew there was no way that I would be able to afford to go.” Fazal remembers that he had tears in his eyes and for the first time he felt helpless.
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Fazal has just finished his first year at McGill and his younger brother has also been admitted there!

Waris Khan is a proud father.

Why is Fazal’s story important for Pakistan today? Why is it important for me? It shows that in one generation, education can transform a family’s life; it shows that dreams do come true and that Pakistan may be hard and unapproachable from the outside but it is soft and caring on the inside.