Tuesday, February 21, 2017

US Tourist Puts Pakistan Among Top 10 Favorites After Visiting 196 Countries

Cassie De Pecol, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for traveling to all 196 countries of the world in shortest time, has put Pakistan at number 5 among the top 10 "must visit" countries.

Other countries on De Pecol's top 10 list are: Mongolia, Bhutan, Maldives, Vanuatu, Oman, Tunisia, Peru, Costa Rica and USA.

Lahore Fort Source: Telegraph

De Pecol said people must visit Pakistan “to get a true sense of raw, authentic Asian culture, and for the food.”  Earlier, in an Instagram message at the start of her Pakistan visit she wrote: “My time here in Pakistan has just begun and has been one of the many wonderfully educational and culturally enriching experiences…. Don’t judge by its color or a country by the media", according to media reports.

De Pecol, a Connecticut native, left the United States on July 14, 2015, and just completed her 196-country tour Feb 2, 2017 — beating the current Guinness record of three years and three months, according to Today.com.

De Pecol needed money to finance her expedition. She found her first nonprofit endorsement through the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism, and after that, she decided to reach out to big and small companies and independent investors to contribute to her mission. “A lot of people think it’s so easy to find a sponsor to travel,” she today Today. “One of the most difficult aspects of this expedition was trying to find funding through sponsorship.”

Here's a documentary about Pakistan by Cynthia Ritchie:

https://youtu.be/G8bzv3G9vjY



Here's a Pakistan Pictorial:

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

9 comments:

Ahmed F. said...

Amazing but not surprising. Pakistan has some of the most incredible sceneries, cuisines and people.

By the way, people keep sharing their photographs of the northern areas as if that is all there is in Pakistan. But there is no shortage of beauty even in the middle of the country. I lived in Hyderabad and Sukkur for my first 12 years and toured the interior of Sindh and Quetta with my Dad. He would often take me along on his tours of the power grid. Sometimes my mother and sister would also come along. My brother was 12 years older and was already in college so we traveled without him.

We took the trains and drove by car. Absolutely stunning images from those days are embedded in my mind. I wish I could go there again but, alas, I know that is not going to happen.

Riaz Haq said...

Beyond the headlines of #terrorism, #Pakistan’s #economy is on the rise - The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/02/21/beyond-the-headlines-of-terrorism-pakistans-economy-is-on-the-rise/?utm_term=.7d38ea777fe2

Afshin Molavi is co-director of the emerge85 Lab and a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Shortly after Egypt’s 2011 uprising ended with the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, prominent Egyptian investor Ahmed Heikal said: “If we get things right, we could be Turkey in 10 years. If we get them wrong, we could be Pakistan in 18 months.”

Everyone understood the subtext: Turkey was the model; Pakistan was the train wreck. After all, at that time Turkey had come off a decade of high growth, doubled its gross domestic product over the previous decade, tripled its per capita income and was still seen as an emerging-market darling. It even lent its first initial to the latest and newest acronym by Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill (he of BRICS fame) — Turkey was the “T” in MINT: Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey.

As for Pakistan, well, it was Pakistan, known mostly for terrorist attacks like the one perpetrated last week by an Islamic State suicide bomber that left at least 80 people dead and incited a furious government crackdown on militants. Headlines of terrorism, coups and instability, plus years of underdevelopment and poverty meant that no one was going to add Pakistan to a catchy acronym.

But not so fast. Look beyond the headlines and see Pakistan today. It boasted the best stock market in Asia in 2016. The high-flying Karachi Stock Exchange Index is up more than 52 percent over the past year — and rising. The exchange broke through the vaunted 50,000 mark last month — a first in history. What’s more, Pakistan is winning plaudits from the International Monetary Fund, and its economy is forecast for a healthy 5.2 percent growth rate in 2017, according to the World Bank.

As Pakistan turns a corner, Trump administration policymakers fixated on the terrorism threat just might miss this extraordinary opportunity in a country that has long been a terror bane. Three key factors are driving Pakistan’s economic awakening: an improved security climate even despite the most recent attack, relative political stability and a growing middle class. These three interlocking pieces are fueling Pakistan’s growth story — a vital story given the size and geopolitical weight of the nuclear-armed South Asian nation of nearly 200 million people.

In mid-May, the world’s largest research-based provider of index funds, MSCI, will officially “graduate” Pakistan from its frontier-market category to the more prestigious — and well-capitalized — “emerging market” index. It will join 23 other countries on the index that represents 10 percent of world capitalization.

Turkey is also on that index, but its fortunes are diverging rapidly. It is no longer the emerging-market economy on the rise, as it slows under the weight of political uncertainty, a deteriorating security situation, questions over its relations with the European Union and an intensified Kurdish militant insurgency in the southeast.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the generals may finally have gotten a reasonable handle on the deteriorating security climate — although attacks such as the suicide bombing at the Sufi shrine last week are likely to persist. And in 2013, when Sharif was elected, it marked the first democratic transition of power in the coup-prone country. Sharif entered office as the great global transformation taking place worldwide — of technological connectivity, rapid urbanization and rising middle class consumption — continued to churn. And Pakistan has not missed that train.

Anonymous said...

Faseeh Mangi
‏@FaseehMangi
Coca Cola's business grew 19% in Pakistan last year, better than Middle East, Turkey and Central Asia. This is in terms of sales volumes

Riaz Haq said...

#CPEC is world's most significant geopolitical & geo-economic project. #Aman17 #China #Pakistan http://www.afr.com/news/world/asia/pakistan-and-china-find-a-common-interest-linked-by-economics-and-the-military-20170220-gugxnr … via @FinancialReview

The Pakistan port of Karachi has just played host to a multi-national naval exercise, involving military ships from 36 countries including from the Royal Australian Navy. The exercises was focused on defending sea trade routes; the all-important Indian Ocean lies to the south of the Arabian Sea.

AMAN-17 (aman means 'peace' in Urdu) was a chance for the nuclear-armed and fast-growing Pakistan Navy to show off its latest acquisitions, which include two new Chinese built warships.

The objective in bringing together vessels from the UK, US, Indonesia and China, among others, was to build a coalition on maritime issues and develop tactics against non-traditional threats such as smuggling.

India was conspicuous by its absence — not surprisingly given 70 years of war tension on both sides over Kashmir, nuclearisation and state-sponsored terrorism.

Apart from the normalised security threat, it was the opportunity for discussion of the massive economic and geopolitical challenges which informed much of the talk, especially with a view to China.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an audacious project funded by more than US$56 billion in loans from Beijing to give China trade access to a new mega-port called Gwadar in Pakistan.

The project involves railways, roads and power stations leading from the south of Pakistan through some of the most rugged and unstable parts of the country to the border with China in the north. It is, in the words of Pakistan's defence minister, Khawja Muhammad Asif, a 'game-changer'.

The land link, and the transformation of Gwadar into a large and secure hub, would shave two weeks off the travel time of shipping from China's east coast to the Middle East and beyond.

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A maritime conference being held in tandem with the AMAN 17 exercises pointed to the CPEC project as a key to the overdue economic development not just of Pakistan but also the western Indian Ocean region.


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Dennis Rumley, professor of Indian Ocean Studies at Curtin University in Perth, says if the sums add up CPEC could be one of the world's most significant geopolitical and geo-economic projects.

"Of course the Chinese want access to the Indian Ocean and why not? The problem with that access is it's going to take billions of dollars, it's going to the construction of railway that'll take at least five years in the best-case scenario and it's going to run through a region which is highly insecure," he said.

"You have to solve all those problems first and of course the money is not a grant it's a loan and there's a real possibility that given the economic situation in Pakistan they may be unable to repay the loan. So the long-term issues are rather fragile."

But Sydney-based funds manager Jack Lowenstein of Morphic Asset Management, who is a keen investor and visitor to Pakistan, has a more bullish take on the project.

He predicts the country's economic growth will pick up from 3-4 per cent to 5 per cent within a few years and CPEC will bring much-needed investment particularly to correct the nation's chronic power shortage.

"We believe the Chinese have far too much 'face' at stake to pull out and we see no evidence of the Pakistanis doing anything other than rolling out a very large red carpet," he said.

Almost 40 per cent of the world's trade passes through the Indian Ocean including most of Australia's fuel and food and the RAN has been active in the region and the Gulf since 1990.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's private airline #ShaheenAir adds another Airbus A319, increasing its fleet size to 25 aircrafts

http://www.dawn.com/news/1316336

Shaheen Air International (SAI) announced on Wednesday that the airline has inducted another Airbus A319 into its fleet.

The airline is also slated to receive five more aircraft of the similar model. Earlier, there was only one A319 Airbus in the fleet of the airline.

"With 24 planes under its auspices, Shaheen Air is brimming with excitement upon receiving their 25th aircraft," said a statement.

The new aircraft comes wrapped in a new livery that builds on the revamped brand identity and philosophy of Shaheen, said the release.

The Airbus A319 has been custom-fitted with thin and linear seats and it can accommodate around 150 passengers in its all-economy segment.

Last month, the company had re-branded itself by launching a new logo.

Riaz Haq said...

10-country #ecosummit in "isolated" #Pakistan ends on call for closer ties - ABC News. #Islamabad - http://abcn.ws/2mD5cKE via @ABC

A regional economic summit in Pakistan on Wednesday concluded with participants pledging to collectively fight the "challenge of terrorism" and push for greater collaboration in areas of trade, energy and infrastructure development.

Islamabad hosted the day-long 10-nation Economic Cooperation Organization summit that finalized a "Vision 2025" plan for expanding trade and prosperity among member nations.

"There has never been a more opportune time to realize our dreams of connectivity for regional prosperity," said Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was elected new chairman of the organization. "We can and should achieve even more by pooling together our individual efforts for greater synergy."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are among the heads of states who attended the summit.

Turkey, Iran and Pakistan founded ECO in 1985. Afghanistan's ambassador to Pakistan, Omar Zakhilwal, who represented Kabul, said that peace and stability in the region will play a greater role in achieving mutual economic goals.

"We can meet the challenges of poverty by implementing a joint strategy," Zakhiwal said.

Sharif, in televised remarks at the end of the summit, expressed the member nations' resolve to fight terrorism and extremism collectively.

"We are determined to collectively face challenges such as extremism, terrorism and drug trafficking in order to realize our vision of making the region a zone of peace and prosperity," he said. "We have committed ourselves to working together for bringing progressive change to the lives of the people in our region, transforming it into a bastion of peace, progress and prosperity."

The participants also adopted an "Islamabad Declaration" on improving trade. Earlier, heads of member states "underscored the need for expansion of cooperation in various fields under the framework of ECO," according to a foreign ministry statement.

The statement said the participants reached an understanding to "transform the ECO region into a zone of peace and collective prosperity."

The conference took place under tight security after a wave of recent suicide bombings by various militant groups killed more than 125 people across Pakistan. Pakistan's decades-long war with local Taliban, al-Qaida-linked militants and other Islamic extremists has killed tens of thousands of people.

All roads leading to the venue in Islamabad were blocked and all offices, schools and most businesses in the capital were closed on Wednesday.

Islamabad also used the summit as a chance to show its potential as one of Asia's emerging markets. "Our economic indicators are up," Sharif told the meeting.

Government officials have also described the summit as an opportunity to show that Pakistan cannot be isolated from the international scene. Last year, a key regional cooperation conference was cancelled after neighboring India and Afghanistan refused to attend; both nations blame Pakistani-based militants for carrying out attacks in their countries, and tensions with India have been high over cross-border violence in the disputed Kashmir region.

The heads of member states left Islamabad after the summit.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has emerged as 20th most powerful country in the world in a new global ranking of “Best Countries” and the nation was also ranked 74th in overall top countries category.

The ranking from US News & World Report, the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and global brand consultants BAV Consulting, also saw United States falling from 4th position to 7th this year in overall best countries category. Switzerland has been ranked the No.1 country in the world.

Pakistan’s arch rival India is ranked 16th most powerful country while in overall best countries category, the South Asian country grabbed 25th position. In terms of being an influential country in the world, Pakistan is ranked at 40th while in education category, the country is last among 80 evaluated countries.

The 2017 Best Countries rankings are based on a survey, conducted after the US presidential election, that asks 21,000 business leaders, informed elites and general citizens what their views are of certain aspects of different countries. The rankings are designed in a similar way to other US News's rankings of colleges, hospitals and cars.

In the category of most powerful nations, United States has been ranked No1 followed by Russia, China, the United Kingdom and Germany. Pakistan was ranked 61 among movers and upcoming economies, 59th in entrepreneurship category, 63rd in study abroad, 66th in Starting a business, 67th in heritage, 68th in open for business, 69th in green living, 70th in cultural influence 70th in women, 75th in headquarter a corporation, 76th in citizenship, 76th in transparency, 77th in quality of life, 78th in adventure, 78th in forward looking, 79th in raising children and 79th in travel alone category.

Nearly 90 percent of global survey respondents outside the US said that they paid attention to the US election. Hillary Clinton would have won the global election, with nearly 60 percent of the global vote. Support for Donald Trump was 83 percent in Russia.

According to the rankings, perceptions of the United States in a number of areas have dropped over the past year. The United States dropped in rankings for business, citizenship, adventure tourism, education, transparency and headquartering a corporation. Nearly 75 percent of survey respondents said they had lost some respect for US leadership after the 2016 presidential election.

The rankings evaluate 80 top countries across a range of criteria, from power and economic influence to citizenship and quality of life, to capture how nations are perceived on a global scale.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/190964-Pakistan-gains-20th-place-in-world-ranking-of-Best-Countries

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/power-full-list

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan’s #economy has potential to grow by 7%, says Standard Chartered group CEO https://www.geo.tv/latest/134526-Pakistans-economy-has-potential-to-grow-by-7-says-Standard-Chartered-group-CEO …
Standard Chartered Group Chief Executive Bill Winters said on Thursday that Pakistan has become an ideal choice for foreign investors because of developments in the last three years.

In a meeting with journalists, Winters said that the country has seen notable development in the energy sector and that the security situation has also significantly improved.

He also that foreign investors’ interest in the country will increase on the successful holding of elections in Pakistan. While most international finance institutions expect Pakistan’s economy to grow by 5% going forward, Winters think it has the potential to grow by 7%.

Standard Chartered CEO Shazad Dada also expressed optimism about the country’s economic environment, saying that democracy gaining ground in the country is a positive sign. He said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has brought hope to the country. Dada said that a uniform economic agenda is important to attract further foreign investment.

Riaz Haq said...

#Irish tourist raped, strangled and murdered in #India, police allege. #rape #mysogyny #gender http://www.9news.com.au/world/2017/03/18/13/20/irish-tourist-raped-strangled-and-murdered-in-india-police-allege

An Irish woman whose body was found in India's western beach resort state of Goa had been raped and strangled, local police allege.

The body of Danielle McLaughlin, 28, was found near the beach resorts of Canacona on Tuesday.

“The medical reports confirm she was raped before the murder," senior police officer Sammy Tavares said.

"The autopsy found the cause of death was compression of neck and cerebral damage after she was hit on the head by a beer bottle".

The suspect, identified as Vikas Bhagat, a local with a criminal background, has been arrested, and will face rape as well as murder charges, Mr Tavares said.


Read more at http://www.9news.com.au/world/2017/03/18/13/20/irish-tourist-raped-strangled-and-murdered-in-india-police-allege#JHvKC42i36x5hFBY.99