Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pakistan Per Capita Cement Consumption Hit New High of 170 Kg in 2016

Pakistan's domestic cement consumption reached 35 million tons in 2016, up from 30 million tons in 2015, according to a report published by Global Cement.  Using the latest census population of 207 million, it works out to about 170 Kg per person consumption. The increase is driven by a combination of CPEC-related infrastructure projects as well as commercial and housing construction.


Pakistan Cement Sales. Source: Global Cement

While domestic demand for cement is continuing its upward trend, the exports have suffered a major decline. In 2009, the exports hit a high of over 11 million tons, constituting 34% of all cement dispatches at the time. Since then, they have fallen to below 6 million tons or 14% of all sales.

Pakistan cement industry is booming. There is some disagreement about where the biggest demand is coming from.  The CEO of Thatta Cement says it is 60% infrastructure and 40% housing but others say it is 70% housing and 30% infrastructure.

Pakistan's 11 cement manufacturers are investing a combined $2.25 billion to add new production capacity of 30 million tons a year by 2019, according to a media report attributed to the State Bank of Pakistan.

The year 2017 is also proving to be yet another boom year for cement industry. Cement sales have soared by 15% year-on-year to 10.3 million tons in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017-18 that ended in September 2017, up from 9 million tons in the same period in 2016.

Pakistan is among the world’s fastest-growing construction markets. A BMI report published earlier in 2017 forecasts an average 12 percent growth annually for the next five years.  Cement capacity utilization increased to 88 percent in the 10 months through April, the highest in 11 years, according to Bloomberg.

Beyond the construction industry boom, Pakistan's large scale manufacturing (LSM) sector is also soaring by double digits. Both of these sectors are important drivers for job growth in the country.

Although production was driven mostly by strong domestic demand, the exports in July-Sept 2018 also increased nearly 11% over the same period last year.

Among the notable sub-sectors driving strong LSM growth in July-August 2017 are: Tractors 115%,  motorcycles 28.3%, deep freezers 16.2%, air-conditioners 26.8%, electric-fans 22.4%, electric motors 17.3% and electric meters 18.3%, and switchgear 20.8%.

Significant improvement in the country's security situation is helping restore confidence of investors, businesses and consumers who are pushing economic growth in Pakistan to new highs. The fast pace of execution of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related projects is at least partly responsible for it.

Related Links:








Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pakistani Students Win Silver in International Genetic Engineering Competition

A team of undergraduate students representing Peshawar has won a silver medal in a genetic engineering competition organized recently by the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation in Boston, Massachusetts.

Source: iGEM Peshawar Facebook Page


iGEM Team:

The team was made up of students from several cities and towns across Pakistan including Lahore, Attock, Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad, Khyber Agency, Nowshera, Charsadda, Peshawar, Swabi and Mardan.

The team was hosted by Institute of Integrative Biosciences of CECOS University of IT and Emerging Sciences Peshawar. It was sponsored by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP)’s Directorate of Science and Technology, according to media reports.

The team's silver-medal-winning 2017 entry is a genetically engineered fish called "Reporter Fish" that can detect five different heavy metals and change color to indicate the presence of metal contamination in the water. It used an Arduino electronic circuit board with bacterial-human interface device that enables bacteria to detect and report contamination.

The Peshawar team also participated in iGEM 2016 competition and won a Bronze medal. The 12-member team last year was made of 5 female and 7 male students.

Stanford Challenge:

Earlier this year, a 3-person team of Pakistani students, including a female student from Islamabad's National University of Science and Technology (NUST), won first place in a contest organized by Stanford Center of Longevity. The team's entry is a device they designed and prototyped that enables tremor patients to perform daily routine tasks.

Higher Education in Pakistan:

Wins such as the iGEM silver medal and the first place in Stanford Challenge are the result of improvements in higher education in Pakistan since the year 2000.

There are over 3 million students enrolled in grades 13 through 16 in Pakistan's 1,086 degree colleges and 161 universities, according to Pakistan Higher Education Commission report for 2013-14.  The 3 million enrollment is 15% of the 20 million Pakistanis in the eligible age group of 18-24 years.  In addition, there are over 255,000 Pakistanis enrolled in vocational training schools, according to Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA).

Graduation Day at NED Engineering University For 1300 Graduates in 2013
Pakistani universities have been producing over half a million graduates, including over 10,000 IT graduates, every year since 2010, according to HEC data. The number of university graduates in Pakistan increased from 380,773 in 2005-6 to 493,993 in 2008-09. This figure is growing with rising enrollment and contributing to Pakistan's growing human capital.

Source: UNESCO's Global Education Digest 2009






Higher education in Pakistan has come a long way since its independence in 1947 when there was only one university, the University of Punjab. By 1997, the number of universities had risen to 35, of which 3 were federally administered and 22 were under the provincial governments, with a combined enrollment of 71,819 students. A big spending boost by President Pervez Musharraf helped establish 51 new universities and awarding institutions during 2002-2008. This helped triple university enrollment from 135,000 in 2003 to about 400,000 in 2008, according to Dr. Ata ur Rehman who led the charge for expanding higher education during Musharraf years. There are 161 universities with 1.5 million students enrolled in Pakistan as of 2014.

R&D Investment: 

Rise of research and publications at Pakistani universities began during Musharraf years when the annual budget for higher education increased from only Rs 500 million in 2000 to Rs 28 billion in 2008, to lay the foundations of the development of a strong knowledge economy, according to former education minister Dr. Ata ur Rehman. Student enrollment in universities increased from 270,000 to 900,000 and the number of universities and degree awarding institutions increased from 57 in 2000 to 137 by 2008. Government R&D spending jumped seven-fold as percentage of GDP from 0.1% of GDP in 1999 to 0.7% of GDP in 2007. It has since declined as percentage of GDP.

Summary:

Pakistani students, scientists and researchers are continuing to produce highly recognized and cited research in spite of serious economic and security challenges. Enrollment in higher education is rising and giving a boost to innovation. With better policy focus and more investment in higher education, Pakistan  can make an even greater impact with its young demographics.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Beats BRICS in Highly Cited Research

Pakistan Becomes CERN Member

Pakistani Scientists at CERN

Rising College Enrollment in Pakistan

10 Pakistani Universities Among Asia's Top 300

Genomics and Biotech Research in Pakistan

Human Capital Growth in Pakistan

Educational Attainment in Pakistan

Pakistan Human Development in Musharraf Years

Robotics Growth in Pakistan 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Is US Playing the "India Card" Against China With "Indo-Pacific Quad"?

Has Asia-Pacific become Indo-Pacific? Is George W. Bush's Quad back again? Is this Trump's version of Obama's Pivot to Asia? Let's examine what happened during President Donald Trump's recent Asia Trip.

Obama's Pivot to Asia:

President Barack Obama's Pivot to Asia initiative and his efforts to create Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) seemed to have been all but abandoned by President Donald Trump after his inauguration in January 2017. This is part of a pattern of Mr. Trump's campaign to erase the Obama legacy and put his own stamp on all things American. However, it now appears that the Obama legacy is being repackaged by the Trump administration under new names such as "Quad" in "Indo-Pacific" region. Its aim remains the same: To check China's rise.

Trump's Quad in Indo-Pacific:

In a speech to business leaders during his visit to Vietnam, President Trump repeatedly called for a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” describing a region where independent nations could “thrive in freedom and peace” and all states “play by the rules.” Without naming China as the target, Trump also used the phrase repeatedly at the start of a meeting Monday in the Philippines with President Rodrigo Duterte, according to Bloomberg.    Trump also met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Manila and called him a friend and a “great gentleman.”

Trump's Asia trip also saw the revival of a decade-old but short-lived partnership of four maritime nations (Australia, India, Japan and the United States) worried about China’s rising influence in the region now being described as "Indo-Pacific" rather than its usual moniker of Asia-Pacific.  Senior officials from the four countries met in Manila for the first such meeting since the George W. Bush administration, focused on regional issues including North Korea but topped with China-related concerns.

US-India Anti-China Military Alliance?

To some observers, the "Quad" appears to be a throwback to the Cold War era in which the United States wants to use Narendra Modi as a willing ally to check China's rise. They cite lack of confidence in the current American leadership under Trump to follow through on any international or bilateral commitments.

While the US seeks to use India against China, the Indians remain obsessed with Pakistan. They talk about the lack of American concern for India's interests in South Asia and the Middle East. Writing for The Wire, Indian analyst Manoj Joshi complains that "there is no reciprocal US commitment to issues of Indian concern relating to Pakistan and the dangers arising out of the highly volatile environment in the Persian Gulf area which the US has helped create".

India's Pakistan Obsession:

It seems to me that the US policymakers don't fully appreciate the Kautilya doctrine that says "your neighbor is your enemy and your neighbor's neighbor is your friend".

The foreign policy doctrine enunciated by Kautilya, the ancient Indian Machiavelli, continues to guide India's foreign policy vis-a-vis its neighbors, particularly Pakistan. Kautilya's Rajamdala (Circle of States) theory can be seen in action today in India's use of Afghanistan against Pakistan. Unfortunately, the Pakistan phobia in India is so deeply ingrained that the Indian policy vis-a-vis Pakistan is not likely to change in the foreseeable future.

Summary:

President Donald Trump has repeatedly talked about the "Indo-Pacific" region in an obvious attempt to sign up Delhi to counter Beijing in Asia.  However, the Indians remain obsessed with enlisting the Americans to hurt Pakistan. The Trump administration is willing to engage in anti-Pakistan rhetoric but it is not going to act against Pakistan as long as Afghanistan remains important to the US interests. This is where their interest diverge now and likely to remain so at least in the foreseeable future.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Why is India Sponsoring Terrorism in Pakistan?

Ex-Indian Spy Documents RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Post Cold War Line-up: Pakistan-Russia-China vs India-Japan-US

Ex RAW Chief AS Dulat Blames Advani For Agra Summit Failure

Pakistan ISI: Afghanistan's Bogeyman

Trump's Anti-Pakistan Rhetoric

Counter-insurgencyOperation ZarbeAzb

India's Abiding Hostility Toward Pakistan 

India's Israel Envy: Will Modi Attack Pakistan?

India's Pakistan Phobia

Saturday, November 11, 2017

India-Pakistan Smog; Saudi Purge; MQM-PSP Tie

Why is there such thick smog enveloping Delhi and Lahore? What is the source of such high levels of particulate matter hitting PM2.5 of 500-800 micrograms per cubic meter? Is it the crop burning by the farmers in Indian Punjab? Are there other round-the-year sources that keep the PM2.5 concentration at around 100 micrograms per cubic meter, about 10X the safe levels? What can be done to bring it down? Do India and Pakistan need to act together to protect their citizens' health and well-being?

Satellite Image of Fires in South Asia. Source: NASA


What prompted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to carry out a major purge of top princes in Saudi Arabia? And why did Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri announce his resignation from the Saudi soil? What are its domestic and international implications? Will it lead to a serious internal instability? Will the young Crown Prince intensify the regional proxy war against Iran?

Saudi Royal Purge. Source: Al Jazeera

What is going on with the on-again off-again alliance between MQM and PSP in Karachi? Is this a shot-gun marriage arranged by the GHQ in Rawalpindi? Is there an anti-PPP alliance with MQM, PSP and Functional League being cobbled together to oust Zardari and his cronies from power in Sindh? Is this an attempt to end crime, corruption and violence in Karachi?

Why did Pakistan Army Chief Gen Bajwa visit Iran to meet its top leadership? Is there an Iran-Pakistan alliance in the offing? How will it affect the situation in the region vis-a-vis Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia?

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

https://youtu.be/0icxVnqKQ6E




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Smog in India and Pakistan

Will Saudi Arabia Change Peacefully?

Iran-Saudi Proxy War

Gangs of Karachi

MQM-RAW Link

Iran and Pakistan: Friends or Foes?

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Thick Smog in Delhi and Lahore: Is India Crop Burning to Blame?

Thick smog enveloping Pakistan's Punjab province has seriously disrupted road and air traffic and created significant health emergency for the people, according to Pakistani media reports. Indian cities, including the nation's capital New Delhi, are also suffering from it.

Is India Responsible?

Pakistani officials have blamed "the incursion of smoke and particle matter from the burning of crop stubble in the Indian Punjab." Particulate matter of 2.5 microns or larger as measured in micrograms per cubic meter is up to 80 times higher than the upper limit of 10 micrograms per cubic meter considered safe by the World Health Organization.

Is the Pakistani claim supported by data? Let's try and answer this question with satellite images of the area released by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Crop Burning Incidents Seen from space. Source: NASA Earth Observatory

NASA Satellite Images:

Here's how NASA's Earth Observatory described the situation last year:

"In early October 2016, Earth-observing satellites began to detect small fires in Punjab, and the number of fires increased rapidly in the following weeks. By November, thousands of fires burned across the state, and a thick pall of smoke hovered over India. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured a natural color image on November 2, 2016. The map (second image) shows the locations of the fires VIIRS also detected."

This year, 2,620 incidents of crop fire were spotted via satellite in Indian Punjab. In Pakistan, the number was limited to just 27, according to Indian media reports.  Indian reports confirm that Pakistan has done a good job of cracking down on incidents of crop burning to dramatically reduce them.

Low wind speeds of less than 2 meters per second and reversal of wind direction from east to west are causing crop burning smoke to drift from Indian Punjab toward Pakistan, according to an Indian Meteorological Department official as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

Satellite Images of Smoke Over India and Pakistan. Source: NASA

South Asia's Vulnerability:

South Asia is particularly susceptible to pollutants that hang in the air for extended periods of time. The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite images show dull gray haze hovering over northern India and Pakistan, and parts of Bangladesh. It is believed that emissions from solid fuel burning, industrial pollutants and farm clearing fires get trapped along the southern edge of the Himalayas. NASA Earth Observatory explains this phenomenon as follows:

"The haze visible in this image likely results from a combination of agricultural fires, urban and industrial pollution, and a regional temperature inversion. Most of the time, air higher in the atmosphere is cooler than air near the planet’s surface, and this configuration allows warm air to rise from the ground and disperse pollutants. In the wintertime, however, cold air frequently settles over northern India, trapping warmer air underneath. The temperature inversion traps pollutants along with warm air at the surface, contributing to the buildup of haze."

Trapped Smog. Source: Al Jazeera 

Urgent Actions Needed: 

South Asian governments need to act to deal with rapidly rising particulate pollution jointly. Some of the steps they need to take are as follows:

1. Crack down on crop burning to clear fields.

2. Reduce the use of solid fuels such as cow dungwood and coal to limit particulate matter released into the atmosphere.

3. Impose higher emission standards on industries and vehicles through regulations.

4. Increase forest cover by planting more trees.

5. Encourage the use of more renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, etc.

The cost of acting now may seem high but it will turn out out to be a lot more expensive to deal with extraordinary disease burdens resulting from rising air pollution.

Summary:

Movement of pollutants does not recognize national borders. It has severe consequences for both India and Pakistan.  The only way to deal with it is for the two nations to cooperate to minimize this problem.

South Asia accounts for more than a third of all PM2.5 pollution related deaths in the world. The sources of particulate pollution range from solid fuel burning to crop clearing fires and use of dirty fuels in vehicles and industries. Recognition of the growing problem is urgent. Failure to act could be very costly in terms of human health.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Response to Climate Change

Diwali Pollution Warnings in India

Cow Dung Sales in India

India's Air Most Toxic

State of Air 2017

Environmental Pollution in India

Diwali in Silicon Valley

India Leads the World in Open Defecation

Heavy Disease Burdens in South Asia

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Pakistan's Large Scale Manufacturing Soars By Double Digits

Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) in Pakistan shot up 11.3% in the first two months of fiscal year 2017-18, according to the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS). It represents a big surge from 5.7% LSM growth seen in Fiscal 2016-17.

Courtesy: Dawn Newspaper

The broad-based LSM growth was led by 50% jump in iron and steel production and 31% in auto manufacturing sector. Cement production grew nearly 20%, engineering products 19% and Pharmaceuticals 11% in the July-August 2017.

Although production was driven mostly by strong domestic demand, the exports in July-Sept 2018 also increased nearly 11% over the same period last year.

Among the notable sub-sectors driving strong LSM growth in July-August 2017 are: Tractors 115%,  motorcycles 28.3%, deep freezers 16.2%, air-conditioners 26.8%, electric-fans 22.4%, electric motors 17.3% and electric meters 18.3%, and switchgear 20.8%.

Significant improvement in the country's security situation is helping restore confidence of investors, businesses and consumers who are pushing economic growth in Pakistan to new highs. The fast pace of execution of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related projects is at least partly responsible for it. 

Related Links:









Saturday, November 4, 2017

Social Media: Blessing or Curse for Pakistan?

Is the rapid growth of social media helping or hurting Pakistani state and society?

What are the consequences of the proliferation and abuse of the new media?

What about terrorist groups like ISIS using viral images and videos to radicalize young people?  Or the state-run intelligence agencies and their agents and bots using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread disinformation to manipulate and divide people in countries and societies seen as hostile to their interests?

Is Pakistan being targeted by India's RAW and other hostile foreign intelligence agencies using social media to divide and manipulate Pakistanis by spreading fake news and doctored videos and images? Are they following the blueprint of the Russian intelligence troll farms that were used against America before, during and after the 2016 US presidential elections?

Should there be any codes of conduct or rules and regulations for social media users? Or should it be free-for-all?

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


https://youtu.be/zuPMy65O6-s




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Indian BJP's Social Media Troll Farms

Social Media in Pakistan

CIA and ISIS

Is India Sponsoring Terror in Pakistan?

Tarek Fatah vs Riaz Haq

Husain Haqqani vs Riaz Haq

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

Friday, November 3, 2017

Terror in New York; Bin Laden Files; Trump-Russia Probe; Cricket in Pakistan

How is ISIS-inspired terror spreading in the West? What can be done to stop self-radicalization of lone wolves through social media? Was Trump's reaction to the NY terror report appropriate? Why is there such a difference in media coverage and leaders' reaction between terrorism incidents and frequent and more numerous shooting deaths in America? How does the domestic politics affect it?

What do the Bin Laden's Abbottabad files released by the CIA say about Al Qaeda leaders' ties with Iran and Pakistan? Is Iran really assisting Al Qaeda with arms, money and training of Al Qaeda operatives? Is there any evidence of Pakistan's help in hiding Bin Laden in Abbottabad? Why are the Afghan commanders in Loghar province talking about moving to Iran?

What are the charges filed by Independent Counsel Robert Mueller against Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos? Who's next to be charged in Trump Russia collusion probe? Jerrod Kushner? Is the special prosecutor working his way to the Trump inner circle? Will there be a repeat of the 1974 Saturday Night Massacre if Trump decides to fire Mueller?

How did Pakistan attract Sri Lanka team to play an international T20 match in Lahore? And at the same rise in rankings to the number 1 spot for T20 cricket? Is it a vote of increasing confidence in Pakistan?

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


https://drive.google.com/file/d/1l_lXAgFW6z9-9He-fFbqYntt6lRPQXVX/view?usp=sharing

https://youtu.be/R7BP2sxPkTY





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

ISIS Terrorism: Did CIA Enable ISIS?

Are Russia and Iran Supporting Afghan Taliban?

Islamophobia, Mass Shootings and Terrorism

Seeing Bin Laden Killing in Broader Perspective

Independent Counsel For Trump Campaign's Russia Collusion

Cricket in Pakistan

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Pakistan's Fintech Revolution to Promote Financial Inclusion

Pakistan is ranked 16th among 26 nations ranked by Brookings Institution with an overall score of 69% in "The State of Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report" for 2017.  As the world observes the "World Financial Inclusion Week" this week (October 30-November 3, 2017), the Internet revolution is enabling rapid growth of financial technology (fintech) for increasing financial inclusion in Pakistan. The purpose of the observance of the week is to "hold conversations focused on how new products and partnerships are advancing financial inclusion, not just access", according to the Center for Financial Inclusion. It is important for Pakistan where about 100 million adults lack access to formal and regulated financial services.

Source: Brookings' Digital and Financial Inclusion Report 2017

Importance of Financial Inclusion:

Access to regulated financial services for all is essential in today's economy. It allows people to save, borrow and invest. Those who lack access to regulated banking services are often forced to resort to work with unscrupulous lenders who trap them in debt at unaffordable rates. Such loans in extreme cases leads to debt bondage in developing countries. Financial inclusion is good for the individuals as well as the national economies. It spurs economic growth and helps document more of the economy.

Easypaisa:

Fintech (financial technology) is bringing financial services to the unbanked population through non-bank institutions licensed by the State Bank of Pakistan, the top bank regulator in the country. One example of a non-bank is Telenor Pakistan, a leading mobile phone service operator, offering financial services via a large network of agents, currently over 70,000, far exceeding the total number of branches of all the banks in the country.

Easypaisa, a service operated by Telenor Pakistan, offers basic financial services like open a bank account, deposit or withdraw money, transfer funds, make mobile payments and pay utility bills. 

Karandaaz:

Another important player promoting financial inclusion is Karandaaz Pakistan , a non-profit organization, set up by UK’s Department for International Development and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  It is providing grants to a number of local initiatives to develop and promote financial technology solutions in Pakistan.


Karandaaz Pakistan is promoting Fintech startups in  5 areas of focus:

1) Access to Financial services

Credit Scoring Models, Formalize savings through need based products, Digital lending services, and Insurance

2) Payments

Retail payments solutions through QR code,  Supply / Value Chain Digitization,  Ideas around digitization of online payments and merchant payments

3) E-Commerce

Smoothening of on-boarding process, Enabling Escrow Accounts for a retail merchant, Alternate payment modes other than COD

4) Interoperability

Innovative ideas to address the lack of interoperability among m-wallets

5) Early stage ideas related to:

 M-Wallet Use cases, Education of Financial Services through technology, Customer Engagement / Experience, Micro Credit, Digital Savings

Finja's SimSim Mobile Payment:

Finja is a Pakistani fintech startup that recently introduced SimSim app for mobile payments. It's the first such application that has received approval of the State Bank of Pakistan. Finja has raised $1.5 million in venture funds so far. SimSim uses NADRA, a biometric citizen identity card that the Pakistan government has issued to almost its entire adult population, comprising around 60 percent of the total population of 207 million.

Private Credit Bureaus:

Credit data and scoring are essential to facilitate risk assessment and lending by financial institutions.
Under the Credit Bureaus Act, 2015, privately-run credit bureaus can collect and disseminate the credit data from both financial and non-financial institutions including retailers, insurance companies, utility providers and landlords, as notified by the federal government, according to Muhammad Akmal, Director of Banking Conduct and Consumer Protection Department at the State Bank of Pakistan. The bureaus can do credit scoring, consolidate credit data for analysis and research purposes.

Progress To Date:

According to the latest State Bank statistics on branchless banking (BB) sector, m-wallets grew by 87% , reaching 27.3 million by the end of June 2017. It has a lot of room for growth in a county where about 100 million adults lack access to regulated financial services.

Pakistan is ranked 16th among 26 nations ranked by Brookings Institution with an overall score of 69% in "The State of Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report" for 2017.

Summary:

Pakistan is ranked 16th among 26 nations ranked by Brookings Institution with an overall score of 69% in "The State of Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report" for 2017.  Access to regulated financial services for all is essential in today's economy. It allows people to save, borrow and invest. Those who lack access to regulated banking services are often forced to resort to work with unscrupulous lenders who trap them in debt at unaffordable rates. Such debt in extreme cases leads to bondage in developing countries. Financial inclusion is good for the individuals as well as the national economies.  It spurs economic growth and helps document more of the economy.  The rapid growth of mobile phones and Internet access in Pakistan offers a unique opportunity to increase financial inclusion in the country. A number of players are working on financial technology to make its application a reality in Pakistan. Among these players are non-bank banks like Telenor and non-profits like Karandaaz.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Financial Services Sector in Pakistan

Pakistan Ranked Among Top 5 For Financial Inclusion Efforts

Pakistani Banks Post Strong Growth

Branchless Banking in Pakistan

Pakistan Ranks High in Microfinance

World's Largest Democracy Tops Slavery Charts

NADRA's Biometric Database

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Tillerson in South Asia; Ghamidi in Silicon Valley; Dysfunction in Washington

What were the objectives of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's recent tour of the Middle East and South Asia? Specifically, what did he intend to achieve in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan? Does US have a broader strategy other than just squeezing Pakistan to end the war in Afghanistan? What about the role of Iran, India and Russia in Afghanistan? How does China see US threats to Pakistan? Does China really see Pakistan as its Israel as US analyst Andrew Small has said in his book "China-Pakistan Axis: Asia's New Geopolitics"?

Photos of Bagram Base Meeting Released By Afghans (Left, no digital clock)) and Americans (Right, Military clock)

What is Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's mission? What are his positions on the role of Islamic state in implementing Shariah? What does he think of the 2nd amendment of the Pakistan constitution that declares Ahmadis as non-Muslim? What are his views on blasphemy laws in Pakistan? What does he say about Hadiths? Do these positions rank him among the most progressive Islamic scholars in the world today? Is he out of step with the vast majority of mainstream Islamic scholars? How much following does he have? Does he have any chance to succeed in changing the minds of the majority of Muslims who are tired of violence in the name of Islam?

Talk4Pak Team With Ghamidi Sahib in Silicon Valley

Why is there so much dysfunction in Washington? Is President Donald Trump responsible for this chaos in the US capital? Is it impacting the effectiveness of both the executive and the legislative branches of the US government? Does Trump have a coherent foreign policy? How is it affecting America's ability to solve major foreign and domestic issues?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/SZtJpkKsG9Q




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Gwadar: The Next Shenzhen? 

Ghamidi in Silicon Valley

Pakistan's Cards in Negotiating With Trump Administration

Malaysia's Ex-PM Mahathir Stirs up Hadith Controversy

Riaz Haq's Sermon on Interfaith Relations

Misaq e Madina Inspired Quaid e Azam's Vision of Pluralist Pakistan

Riaz Haq's Ramadan Sermon

Alam vs Hoodbhoy: Clash of Ideas in Islam

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Kashmiris Observe Black Day While India Promotes Half Truths on UNSC Resolutions

The people of Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) observed Black Day on the 70th anniversary of India's brutal Army occupation, yesterday, the 27th of October 2017. This comes amid continuing attempts by India and its supporters, including Professor Christine Fair, to justify Indian occupation with half truths about UN Security Council Resolutions calling on India to let the Kashmiris decide their future through a plebiscite.

Indians allege that Pakistan violated the UNSC Resolution 47 (1948) calling for a plebiscite by refusing to withdraw its military from the territory of the state. What they don't acknowledge is that it was superseded by UNSC Resolution 80 (1950) that called for progressive demilitarization on both sides of the ceasefire line to limit the deployment of the number of Indian and Pakistani troops as determined by the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan.

Here's an excerpt of UNSC Resolution 80 passed in March, 1950:

"Calls upon the Governments of India and Pakistan to make immediate arrangements, without prejudice to their rights or claims and with due regard to the requirements of law and order, to prepare and execute within a period of five months from the date of this resolution a programme of demilitarisation on the basis of the principles of paragraph 2 of General McNaughton proposal or of such modifications of those principles as may be mutually agreed"

Here's the text of paragraph 2 of General McNaughton's proposal to UNSC:

"There should be an agreed programme of progressive demilitarisation, the basic principle of which should be the reduction of armed forces on either side of the Cease-Fire Line by withdrawal, disbandment and disarmament in such stages as not to cause fear at any point of time to the people on either side of the Cease-Fire Line. The aim should be to reduce the armed personnel in the State of Jammu and Kashmir on both side of the Cease-Fire Line to the minimum compatible with the maintenance of security and of local law and order, and to a level sufficiently low and with the forces so disposed that they will not constitute a restriction on the free expression of opinion for the purposes of the plebiscite."

On the "Northern Areas" through which China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passes, the Norton proposal referred to by UNSC Resolution 80 gives Pakistani authorities the right to administer it until there is a plebiscite under UN supervision. It ays as follows:

"The "Northern Area" (including Gilgit-Baltistan region through which CPEC asses) should also be included in the above programme of demilitarisation, and its administration should, subject to United Nations supervision, be continued by the existing local authorities (Pakistani authorities)."

In a book titled "United Nations Security Council and War: The Evolution of Thought and Practice since 1945", authors Vaughan Lowe, Adam Roberts, Jennifer Welsh and Dominik Zaum explain it as follows:

"(After passing UNSC Resolution 80 of March 14, 1950, calling for progressive demilitarization based on reduction of forces on either side of the CFL) UN Representative Frank P. Graham proposed a twelve point demilitarization plan on 4 September 1952. However, there was disagreement over the specific number of forces to remain on each side of CFL (Ceasefire Line) at the end of the period of demilitarization--between 3,000 and 6,000 on the Pakistan side and 12,000-18,000 on the Indian side. The subsequent proposals on demilitarization by Swedish diplomat Gunnar Jarring also came to naught. At the same time, India began to harden its position on the UN-supervised plebiscite which it had committed to following the withdrawal of Pakistani forces from the Pakistani side of the CFL "

It's clear from the details described above of what transpired after UNSC Resolution 80 that "India began to harden its position on the UN-supervised plebiscite which it had committed to following the withdrawal of Pakistani forces from the Pakistani side of the CFL (Ceasefire Line)".

India's brutal military occupation of Kashmir today is not only illegal but also immoral. It violates multiple UNSC resolutions on Kashmir and makes a mockery of the pledge made by one of India's founding fathers and first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to the people of Kashmir and to the world.

Here's Indian Jawaharlal University telling students in Delhi that Jammu and Kashmir are legally not part of India:

https://youtu.be/KWp1E8xrY5E

"Everyone knows that India is illegally occupying Kashmir. It is said the world over. Everybody accepts (it)....The map of India in foreign publications like Time and Newsweek show a different map of Kashmir. These copies of the magazines always create a lot of controversies and are censored and destroyed. When the whole world is talking about India's illegal occupation of Kashmir, then we should think the pro-azaadi (pro freedom) slogans in the valley are justified"





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Christine Fair: Unfair? Unhinged?

700,000 Indian Soldiers vs 10 Million Kashmiris

What if Modi Attacks Pakistan?

1965 India-Pakistan War

2016 Kashmir Uprising

Kashmir in Context

Arundhati Roy on Indian Military Occupation of Kashmir

JNU Anti-Modi Protests

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Will Gwadar Grow to Become a Major Metropolis Like Shenzhen?

"We believe Gwadar is following in the footsteps of Shenzhen which represented a historic population rise, from a population of 30,000 in 1980 to 11 million people in 2017. Gwadar is poised to see massive population growth due to incoming industries, and we expect this to be one of the most strategic cities in South Asia." Hao-Yeh Chang,  China Pak Investments Corporation

Gwadar: The Next Shenzhen?

Gwadar is booming. It's being called the next Shenzhen by some and the next Hong Kong by others as an emerging new port city in the region to rival Dubai. Land prices in Gwadar are skyrocketing, according to media reports. Gwadar Airport air traffic growth of 73% was the fastest of all airports in Pakistan where overall air traffic grew by 23% last year, according to Anna Aero publication.  A new international airport is now being built in Gwadar to handle soaring passenger and cargo traffic.

Recent Aerial View of Gwadar Hammerhead Growth

Gwadar Property Boom:

The volume of Gwadar property searches surged 14-fold on Pakistan’s largest real estate database, Zameen.com, between 2014 and 2016, up from a prior rate of a few hundred a month. “It’s like a gold rush,” said Chief Executive Zeeshan Ali Khan to an Express Tribune newspaper reporter. “Anyone who is interested in real estate, be it an investor or a developer, is eyeing Gwadar.”

Chinese private investment company China Pak Investment Corporation has recently announced it is acquiring 3.6 million square foot International Port City project in Gwadar. It plans to develop a $150 million gated community to handle the influx of 500,000 Chinese professionals expected in Gwadar by 2022.

China Pak Investment Announcement:

On October 20, 2017, Pakistan's Geo TV news reported that China Pak Investment Company plans to increase its commitment to  invest $500 million in Gwadar in the first phase of a project aimed at building homes for around 500,000 incoming Chinese professionals expected in Gwadar by 2023. An earlier September 29, 2017 press release by China Pak Investment Corporation said as follows:

"The final master plan for China Pak Hills is currently being refined in Hong Kong, and will feature a range of state-of-the-art amenities including an open-air shopping boulevard; indoor shopping mall; restaurants and eateries; an international school and nursery; six community parks; indoor and outdoor sports facilities including tennis courts and a resident's gymnasium; a water desalination plant and recycling centre. China Pak Hills will also be home to the Gwadar Financial District, catering to the growing financial sector and adding much needed A Grade office space to Gwadar's growing market."

Gwadar Port Development:

Gwadar port's planned capacity when it is completed will be 300 to 400 million tons of cargo annually.  It is comparable to the capacity of all of India's ports combined annual capacity of 500 million tons of cargo today.   It is far larger than the 10-12 million tons cargo handling capacity planned for Chabahar.

To put Gwadar's scale in perspective, let's compare it with the largest US port of Long Beach which handles 80 million tons of cargo, about a quarter of what Gwadar will handle upon completion of the project. Gawadar port will be capable of handling the world's largest container ships and massive oil tankers.

Gawadar port is being built in Pakistan by the Chinese as part of the ambitious $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that will eventually serve as Hong Kong West for  growing Chinese trade with the Middle East and Europe.  CPEC will also enable Pakistan to bypass Afghanistan to trade with Central Asia through China across China's borders with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

India's Strong Opposition: 

Pakistan suspects that India's real objective in Afghanistan and Iran is to locate its intelligence agents under the cover of Chabahar port construction workers to sabotage China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and support Baloch insurgency to destabilize Pakistan. These suspicions were strengthened when Indian spy Kulbhushan Yadav, operating under the fake name Husain Mubarak Patel, was arrested in Balochistan in March, 2016. Yadav confessed he was operating as an undercover RAW agent from his base in Chabahar, Iran. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made no secret of his strong opposition to CPEC and his support for Baloch insurgents.

Chinese Commitment to Pakistan: 

Unlike US-Pakistan ties that have been essentially of a transactional nature, Pakistan-China relationship appears to truly strategic.  A recent book "The China Pakistan Axis: Asia's New Geopolitics" by American policy analyst Andrew Small quotes a top Chinese official as saying to his American counterparts that "Pakistan is China's Israel". Earlier, in 2011, some news reports quoted Chinese officials as warning that "any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China".  Growing Chinese investment commitments in Pakistan now exceed $100 billion, a further indication of the importance China attaches to Pakistan as one of its closest allies.

Summary:

China-Pakistan ties appear to be truly strategic.  The strength of Chinese commitment to Pakistan is increasing with growing investments in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor related projects. It is now highly visible in terms of the influx of the Chinese money and citizens into Pakistan. China's actions on the ground reinforce the credibility of Chinese officials' reported quotes describing Pakistan as "China's Israel" and warnings to the United States that "any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China".

Related Links:












Monday, October 23, 2017

Islamic Scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi in Silicon Valley

Pakistan's pre-eminent Islamic scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi sahib recently visited San Francisco Bay Area as part of his tour of the United States in October, 2017. Viewpoint From Overseas host Ali Hasan Cemendtaur had a conversation with him at his hotel to ask some questions. Here are some of the key points that emerged from this interview:

Riaz Haq (R) with Ghamidi sahib (L)
1. Islamic state:

How can a state be Islamic state? The states we have today are nation-states that are defined by territorial boundaries, not by religion or color or ethnicity.  All of the inhabitants of a nation-state are its citizens with equal rights. Pakistan is a nation-state. Nation-states are governed by the majority of their citizens with their will expressed through a political and electoral process.

2. Ahmadiyya:

The state has no business deciding who is a Muslim and who is not.

3. Blasphemy:

There is nothing Islamic about blasphemy laws. You can not force people to respect your religion or your prophet at gun-point.

Viewpoint From Overseas Team with Ghamidi sahib

4. Weapons of Mass Destruction:

Weapons of mass destruction are immoral. Islam prohibits attacking non-combatants in war. Use of weapons that destroy civilians, schools and hospitals is a war crime.

5. Sectarianism:

Sectarianism is rooted in ignorance. Dividing people along sectarian lines is wrong.

6. Interfaith Marriages:

There are no restrictions on interfaith marriages as long both the man and the woman reject "shirk" (polytheism).

7. Istikhara:

Istikhara is merely a prayer to ask Allah for guidance in making important life decisions.

8. Hadith:

After the formal recorded interview concluded, I asked Ghamidi sahib about the authenticity of the Hadiths. He said Hadiths are a historical record, and like any history it is subject to constant investigation to establish its authenticity.

Summary:

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi sabib is among the most progressive scholars of Islam in the world today.

If religious reform ever comes to Pakistan, it’ll be because of people like Ghamidi sahib, not from “secular liberals” who attack Islam and Pakistan on a daily basis.

 I know from personal knowledge that Ghamidi sahib's message resonates with a lot of ordinary people in Pakistan who are tired of the violence committed by a small minority in the name of Islam.

Ghamidi sahib has a lot of following in Pakistan and it’s growing by the day through both mainstream and social media. His being away from Pakistan for most of the year to do his job does not seem to have hurt his efforts at bringing about reform.

Here's the recorded video interview:

https://youtu.be/2Nsiqtr4JVA




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Malaysia's Ex-PM Mahathir Stirs up Hadith Controversy

Riaz Haq's Sermon on Interfaith Relations

Misaq e Madina Inspired Quaid e Azam's Vision of Pluralist Pakistan

Riaz Haq's Ramadan Sermon

Alam vs Hoodbhoy: Clash of Ideas in Islam

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Pakistani Academia's Growing Interest in Decolonizing Minds

There is increasing recognition in Pakistan and other nations colonized in the past by the West of the need to "decolonize knowledge" and to deal with the entrenched "injustices inherited" from colonial masters. Language is being recognized as a "library of ideas" essential for creation and transmission of knowledge in former colonies.

Habib University Conference:

Habib University, Pakistan's leading liberal arts institution of higher learning, is leading the way forward with "Postcolonial Higher Education Conference (PHEC)", an annual conference held each year at the university's Karachi campus since 2014. The conference attracts scholars from around the world.



This year’s PHEC's theme was “Inheritance of Injustice” to highlight the results of historical injustices seen today in many facets across the world, from economic and ecological to geo-political, according to a report in Newsline Magazine.  The conference featured top global academics from South Asia, Africa, the US and the UK.

The keynote at this year's conference was delivered by Dr. Mwangi wa Githinji professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Dr. Githinji discussed how “inherited economic, social, language and ecological structures have transmitted colonial injustice into the present.”

He suggested that “development still is understood in a deficit model based on dualities with the aim to move countries to be more like the ‘modern’ and ‘industrialized’ world” and called for education systems to also break out of their post-colonial inheritance to indigenizing systems in which “language is a library of ideas and telling a story allows us to create our own histories.”

Answering questions at the conference Professor Githinji said “liberal arts and sciences education allows us to become knowledge creators rather than just consumers. Part of this process requires a rethinking of our history, even before colonialization. Telling of a story is the creation of a memory.”

South African scholar Dr. Suren Pillay of the University of the Western Cape who also attended the conference said that the “intellectuals must struggle to decolonize knowledge, by not taking progress and civilization at face value, but by telling more multiple and messy stories that co-constitute the story of the modern state.”

Education to Colonize Minds:

Dr. Edward Said (1935-2003), Palestine-born Columbia University professor and the author of "Orientalism",  described it as the ethnocentric study of non-Europeans by Europeans.  Dr. Said wrote that the Orientalists see the people of Asia, Africa and the Middle East as “gullible” and “devoid of energy and initiative.” European colonization led to the decline and destruction of the prosperity of every nation they ruled. India is a prime example of it. India was the world's largest economy producing over a quarter of the world's GDP when the British arrived. At the end of the British Raj, India's contribution was reduced to less than 2% of the world GDP.

In his "Prison Notebooks", Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist theorist and politician, says that a class can exercise its power not merely by the use of force but by an institutionalized system of moral and intellectual leadership that promotes certain ideas and beliefs favorable to it.  For Gramsci "cultural hegemony" is maintained through the consent of the dominated class which assures the intellectual and material supremacy of the dominant class.

In "Masks of Conquest", author Gauri Viswanathan says that the British curriculum was introduced in India to "mask" the economic exploitation of the colonized. Its main purpose was to colonize the minds of the natives to sustain colonial rule.

Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o in his book "Decolonizing the Mind" talks about the "culture of apemanship and parrotry" among the natives trained by their colonial masters to maintain control of their former colonies in Africa. He argues that "the freedom for western finance capital and for the vast transnational monopolies under its umbrella to continue stealing from the countries and people of Latin America, Africa, Asia and Polynesia is today protected by conventional and nuclear weapons".

Cambridge Curriculum in Pakistan:

The colonial discourse of the superiority of English language and western education continues with a system of elite schools that uses Cambridge curriculum in Pakistan.

Over 270,000 Pakistani students from elite schools participated in Cambridge O-level and A-level International (CIE) exams in 2016, an increase of seven per cent over the prior year.

Cambridge IGCSE exams is also growing in popularity in Pakistan, with enrollment increasing by 16% from 10,364 in 2014-15 to 12,019 in 2015-16. Globally there has been 10% growth in entries across all Cambridge qualifications in 2016, including 11% growth in entries for Cambridge International A Levels and 8 per cent for Cambridge IGCSE, according to Express Tribune newspaper.

The United Kingdom remains the top source of international education for Pakistanis.  46,640 students, the largest number of Pakistani students receiving international education anywhere, are doing so at Pakistani universities in joint degree programs established with British universities, according to UK Council for International Student Affairs.

At the higher education level, the number of students enrolled in British-Pakistani joint degree programs in Pakistan (46,640) makes it the fourth largest effort behind Malaysia (78,850), China (64,560) and Singapore (49,970).

Teach Critical Thinking:

Pakistani educators and policy makers need to see the western colonial influences and their detrimental effects on the minds of youngsters. They need to promote liberal arts education and to do serious research to create knowledge. They need to improve learning by helping students learn to think for themselves critically. Such reforms will require students to ask more questions and to find answers for themselves through their own research rather than taking the words of their textbook authors and teachers as the ultimate truth.

Summary: 

There is increasing recognition in Pakistan and other nations colonized in the past by the West of the need to "decolonize knowledge" and to deal with the entrenched "injustices inherited" from the colonial masters.  Part of this post-colonial conversation is to stop being uncritical consumers of knowledge and narratives produced by the West and to encourage creation of local knowledge in the former colonies. This is a positive welcome trend toward real decolonization in Asia and Africa that I hope gathers serious momentum with more liberal arts centers of learning like the Karachi-based Habib University in the near future.

Here's an interesting discussion of the legacy of the British Raj in India as seen by writer-diplomat Shashi Tharoor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN2Owcwq6_M




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Day: Freeing the Colonized Minds

Alam vs Hoodbhoy

Inquiry Based Learning

Dr. Ata ur Rehman Defends Higher Education Reform

Pakistan's Rising College Enrollment Rates

Pakistan Beat BRICs in Highly Cited Research Papers

Launch of "Eating Grass: Pakistan's Nuclear Program"

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Impact of Industrial Revolution

Hindutva: Legacy of British Raj