Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Review: Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and United States

How did Pakistan's political landscape change in 2018? Have the Sharif family and the PMLN been marginalized? How was the security situation after continuing decline of terror fatalities since 2013? How has PTI done so far? Will NAB-led accountability of politicians continue or intensify in 2019? How will Imran Khan's government deal with the fact that the Zardari-led PPP rules Sind? Will President Arif Alvi impose governor's rule under the Constitution's article 234 or financial emergency under the Constitution's article 235 in Sindh province? Why is financial emergency more likely? How will PPP leadership react to such a move?

President Trump has reportedly already decided to remove US troops from Afghanistan after a similar decision on American troops pull-out from Syria. Will Trump actually pull bulk of US troops from Afghanistan? How will it affect the situation there? Can Afghan government survive without the presence of US troops? Who will rule Afghanistan when the Kabul government collapses? Taliban? Will Taliban be able to pacify Afghanistan? If the Taliban take control of Afghanistan, how will this affect the neighborhood? Will instability in Afghanistan continue? Will it hurt Pakistan?

How did President Trump's administration do in 2018? What message has the loss of the House to Democrats sent to President Trump and the Republican Party? Will the chaos continue into 2019? What problems has Trump's foreign and trade policy created for the United States and its allies? How will it affect Asia and the Middle East, particularly Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia?

Terrorism Deaths in Pakistan. Source: satp.org

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Sabahat Ashraf (iFaqeer) and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)


https://youtu.be/jiXFvRVzCZ4





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

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India-Pakistan Conventional Military Balance

Pakistan Elections 2018: PTI Prevails Over Corrupt Dynastic Political Elite

America's "We're the Good Guys" Narrative

Can PTI Help Fix Pakistan's Financial Capital Karachi's Problems?

US and China Vying For Influence in Pakistan

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MQM-RAW Link

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Pakistan Among Top 10 Countries With Fastest Growing Ultra-Rich Population

Pakistan is among the countries with top 10 fastest growing population of ultra-high net-worth  (UHNW) individuals over the last 5 years. Bangladesh with 17.3% UHNW growth tops the list followed by China (13.4%), Vietnam (12.7%), Kenya (11.7%), India (10.7%), Hong Kong (9.3%), Ireland (9.1%), Israel (8.6%), Pakistan (8.4%) and United States (8.1%), according to World Ultra Wealth Report 2018.

Ultra-Rich Wealth Growth in 5 Years. Source: Wealth-X

Ultra-Rich Definition: 

The report compiled by Wealth-X defines ultra-high net-worth (UHNW) as an exclusive group of wealthy individuals located across the globe, each with a net worth of $30m or more. Only the top 1.1% of the world's 22.25 million millionaires qualify for inclusion in UHNW group.

Here's an excerpt of the Wealth-X report:

"According to Wealth-X estimates of global private wealth, the number of individuals with net assets of more than $1million totaled 22.3 million in 2017, with a combined net worth of $91.7 trillion. A breakdown by tier shows not only the considerable share of wealth held by the small cohort of UHNW individuals, but also that the ultra wealthy experienced faster growth in net worth than each of the three lower tiers. Almost 90% of all millionaires had a net worth of between $1m and $5m, with this group of 19.6 million individuals holding a 40% share of global millionaire wealth. Exclusivity rises significantly above the $5m threshold, as does average net worth. For example, those individuals with net assets of between $10m and $30m – the closest to attaining UHNW status – held 14% of global millionaire wealth, while accounting for a 3.6% share of the population. Rising higher still, the global ultra wealthy population accounted for just 1.2% of the world’s millionaires but held 34% of the collective wealth. Whereas population growth rates across the different wealth tiers were very similar in 2017, an increase of 16.3% in total UHNW wealth significantly outpaced the average rise of around 12.7% in each of the other three tiers."

Global Wealth Tiers. Source: Wealth-X
Credit Suisse Wealth Report:

Wealth-X report ranks Pakistan 9th in terms of ultra-rich individuals' growth while Bangladesh is ranked first and India ranked 5th. The relatively slower growth of ultra-rich in Pakistan is supported by other wealth reports as well. For example, data released by Credit Suisse with its Global Wealth Report 2017 shows that Pakistan is the most egalitarian nation in South Asia. It also confirms that the median wealth of Pakistani households is three times higher than that of households in India.

Wealth Inequality:

Inequality is measured in terms of Gini index. It ranges from 0% for perfect equality (when everyone has the same wealth)  to 100% for total inequality (when all of the wealth is owned by one person).  On this scale, Pakistan’s Gini index is 52.6%, Bangladesh’s 57.9%, Sri Lanka’s 66.5%, Nepal’s 67.3%, China’s 78.9% and India's 83%.

Data Source: Credit Suisse Graph: Counterview


Household Wealth:

Here is per capita wealth data for India and Pakistan as of mid-2017, according to Credit Suisse Wealth Report 2017 released recently.

Pakistan average wealth per adult: $5,174 vs India $5,976
Pakistan median wealth per adult: $3,338 vs India $1,295

Average household wealth in Pakistan is $15,522 (3 adults) vs India $14,940 (2.5 adults)
Median household wealth in Pakistan is $10,014  (3 adults) vs India $3,237 (2.5 adults)

Pakistan Gini Index 52.6% vs India 83%

Ownership of Appliances and Vehicles: 

Growing household wealth in developing nations like India and Pakistan is reflected in  ownership of consumer durables like computers, home appliances and vehicles. This data is sourced from periodic household surveys like NSS (National Sampling Survey) in India and PSLM (Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement) in Pakistan.

Durables Ownership in India and Pakistan. Source: KSBL


India-Pakistan Comparison:

Dr. Jawaid Abdul Ghani, a professor at Karachi School of Business Leadership, has recently analyzed household surveys in India and Pakistan to discover the following:

1.  As of 2015, car ownership in both India and Pakistan is about the same at 6% of households owning a car. However, 41% of Pakistani household own motorcycles, several points higher than India's 32%.

2. 12% of Pakistani households own a computer, slightly higher than 11% in India.

3. Higher percentage of Pakistani households own appliances such as refrigerators (Pakistan 47%, India 33%), washing machines (Pakistan 48%, India 15%) and fans (Pakistan 91%, India 83%).

4. 71% of Indian households own televisions versus 62% in Pakistan.

Durables Ownership Growth in Pakistan. Source: KSBL
Growth over Time:

Dr. Abdul Ghani has also analyzed household data to show that the percentage of Pakistani households owning washing machines has doubled while car and refrigerator ownership has tripled and motorcycle ownership jumped 6-fold from 2001 to 2014.

Income/Consumption Growth in Pakistan. Source: KSBL

Rapid Income Growth:

Rising ownership of durables in Pakistan has been driven by significant reduction in poverty and growth of household incomes, according to Dr. Abdul Ghani's research. Percentage of households with per capita income of under $2 per day per person has plummeted from 57% in 2001 to 7% in 2014. At the same time, the percentage of households earning $2 to $10 per day per person has soared from 42% of households in 2001 to 87% of households in 2014.  The percentage of those earning over $10 per day per person has jumped 7-fold from 1% of households in 2001 to 7% of households in 2014.

Summary:

Pakistan is among the countries with top 10 fastest growing population of ultra-high net-worth  (UHNW) individuals over the last 5 years. Bangladesh with 17.3% UHNW growth tops the list followed by China (13.4%), Vietnam (12.7%), Kenya (11.7%), India (10.7%), Hong Kong (9.3%), Ireland (9.1%), Israel (8.6%), Pakistan (8.4%) and United States (8.1%), according to World Ultra Wealth Report 2018. Credit Suisse wealth data for 2017 shows that Pakistan has the lowest wealth inequality in its region as measured by Gini index. Lower inequality can be seen in terms of rising percentage of households that can afford to buy durables like appliances and vehicles as reported by Dr. Abdul Ghani of Karachi School of Business and Leadership (KSBL).

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan Wealth Inequality Lowest in South Asia

2018 Year-end Review of Science and Technology in Pakistan

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Pakistan's Middle Class Larger and Richer Than India's

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Rising Motorcycle Sales in Pakistan

Depth of Deprivation in India

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China Pakistan Economic Corridor

Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 Year-end Review of Science and Technology in Pakistan

Pakistan saw its technology exports grow by double digits to surge past $1 billion mark in 2018. Nature magazine reported the country ranked first in the world in research output growth in year 2018. Pakistan mobile broadband subscriptions grew by 1-2 million a month to pass 60 million. Google's Singapore-based Asia business lead Lars Anthonisen wrote that "Pakistan is quickly becoming a digital-first country". Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and its digital payments platform Alipay entered Pakistan market by acquiring Daraz.pk and Telenor EasyPaisa.  Dr. Ata ur Rahman Khan, former chairman of higher education commission, asserted in an op ed that "Pakistan churns out about 22,000 computer-science graduates each year". Pakistan set an ambitious goal for its first human space flight in 2022.  It was an exciting year for science and technology in the South Asian nation of over 200 million people.

Pakistan Technology Exports:

Pakistan's information technology exports have bucked the nation's declining exports trend with double digit growth to reach $1,065 million in fiscal year 2018, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.  It is generally believed that Pakistan's central bank underestimates technology exports. Some have argued that the actual IT exports were closer to $5 billion in fiscal 2018. Some of the differences can be attributed to the fact that the State Bank IT exports data does not include various non-IT sectors such as financial services, automobiles, and health care.

Source: State Bank of Pakistan

Pakistan IT exports surged 13.4% to $1.06 billion in fiscal year 2018 from $939 million in fiscal year 2017. The growth was even more robust in the prior year with IT exports rising 19.1% from $789 million in fiscal 2016 to reach $939 million in fiscal year 2017.

Source: State Bank of Pakistan

About $320 million of IT exports revenue in fiscal 2018 came from software exports while the rest was made up of services such as consulting, telecom and call centers.

Scientific Research Output:

Pakistan is one of the world's top two countries where the research output rose the fastest in 2018, according to Nature Magazine. The publication reports that the "global production of scientific papers hit an all-time high this year...with emerging economies rising fastest".

Countries With Biggest Rises in Research Output. Source: Nature


Pakistan ranked first or second depending  on whether one accepts the text or the graphic (above) published by Nature.  The text says Egypt had 21% growth while the graph shows Pakistan with 21% growth. Here's an excerpt of the text: "Emerging economies showed some of the largest increases in research output in 2018, according to estimates from the publishing-services company Clarivate Analytics. Egypt and Pakistan topped the list in percentage terms, with rises of 21% and 15.9%, respectively. ...China’s publications rose by about 15%, and India, Brazil, Mexico and Iran all saw their output grow by more than 8% compared with 2017".

Pakistan's quality-adjusted scientific output (Weighted Functional Count) as reported in Nature Index has doubled from 18.03 in 2013 to 37.28 in 2017. Pakistan's global ranking has improved from 53 in 2013 to 40 in 2017. In the same period, India's WFC has increased from 850.97 in 2013 to 935.44 in 2017. India's global ranking has improved from 13 in 2013 to 11 in 2017.

Pakistan Telecom Indicators. Source: PTA

Digital Growth:

Mobile broadband subscriptions (3G and 4G) grew at a rate of 1-2 million per month to pass 60 million in 2018, according to data from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).  Rising digital infrastructure is enabling a whole range of applications from e-commerce to digital payments and greater financial inclusion. It prompted Google's Singapore-based Asia business lead to write that "Pakistan is quickly becoming a digital-first country"

Alipay, a subsidiary of Hangzhou-based Ant Financial, has received approval by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) to acquire a 45 percent stake in Pakistan's Telenor Microfinance Bank for $184 million.  Alipay's entry is expected to expedite widespread adoption of digital payments in the country. Several domestic mobile payment services offered by telecom operators are currently operating in Pakistan. The lack of international reach has kept the penetration rate of the payment portals relatively low. Entry of Alipay, the world's largest mobile payment platform, will intensify digital payments competition,  improve the quality of service, energize the industry and enhance financial inclusion in a country where less than 20% of the population has bank accounts.

E-Commerce Growth:

At the World Economic Forum in 2017, Ebay’s chief executive Devin Wenig highlighted Pakistan as one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the world.  It might have prompted Alibaba to acquire Daraz.pk, Pakistan’s largest e-commerce platform, in May 2018.

Online sales in Pakistan's $152 billion retail market are doubling every year,  according to Adam Dawood of Yayvo online portal.  The country's retail market is the fastest growing in the world, according to Euromonitor.  Expanding middle class, particularly millennials with rising disposable incomes, is demanding branded and packaged consumer goods ranging from personal and baby care items to food and beverage products. Strong demand for fast moving consumer goods is drawing large new investments of hundreds of millions of dollars.  Rapid growth in sales of consumer products and services is driving other sectors, including retail, e-commerce, paper and packaging, advertising, media, sports and entertainment. Potential downsides of soaring consumption include increased amount of  solid waste and decline in domestic savings and investment rates.

Summary:

Pakistan saw its technology exports grow by double digits to surge pass $1 billion mark in 2018. Nature magazine reported the country ranked first in the world in research output growth in year 2018. Pakistan mobile broadband subscriptions grew by 1-2 million a month to pass 60 million. Google's Singapore-based Asia business lead wrote that "Pakistan is quickly becoming a digital-first country". Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and its digital payments platform Alipay entered Pakistan market by acquiring Daraz.pk and Telenor EasyPaisa.  Dr. Ata ur Rahman Khan, former chairman of higher education commission, asserted in an op ed that "Pakistan churns out about 22,000 computer-science graduates each year". Pakistan set an ambitious goal for its first human space flight in 2022.  It was an exciting year for science and technology in the South Asian nation of over 200 million people.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan's Research Output Growth Fastest in the World

Alibaba Enters Pakistan Market

Alipay Enters Pakistan Market

AI Research at NED University Funded By Silicon Valley NEDians

Pakistan Hi-Tech Exports Exceed A Billion US Dollars in 2018 

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Pakistani Scientists at CERN

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Pakistani-American Scientist Irfan Siddiqi is Top Expert in Quantum Computing

Karachi-born Pakistani-American Dr. Irfan Siddiqi is the head of Lawrence Livermore Quantum Computing Lab at the University of California at Berkeley.  He's also one of the architects of the United States Quantum Initiative backed by industry, academia and the federal government.

Silicon Valley Diversity:

Dr. Siddiqi was recently featured on Silicon Valley-based NBC Press Here TV hosted by Scott McGrew. Others who made an appearance in the same show were Krishna Motukuri and Kevin Guo. Motukori is Indian-American founder of Zippin which is pushing automated checkout technology that will obviate the need for buyers to stand in line to pay. Amazon is already using this technology at Amazon Go stores. Kevin Guo is Chinese-American founder of AI startup Hive. This show was a good representation of Silicon Valley's diversity with many immigrant techies at its center. In fact, minorities are now majority is Silicon Valley.

Dr. Siddiqi's Background:

Dr. Siddiqi was born in Karachi, Pakistan. He came to the United States in his teen years with his family and graduated from the Bronx High School of Science, Bronx, NY. Then he got his bachelor's degree from Harvard and Ph.D. at Yale where he worked on superconducting qubits, also written as q-bits. Dr. Siddiqi has been teaching at UC Berkeley since 2006.

Dr. Irfan Siddiqi
Quantum Computing:

In quantum computing, a qubit or quantum bit is the basic unit of quantum information—the quantum version of the classical binary bit physically realized with a two-state device. Here's how Dr. Siddiqui explained quantum computing in an interview with Design News:

"For me, any quantum technology, including quantum computing, is something that takes advantage of entanglement. And entanglement is the idea that if you have different pieces of matter and you put them together, they behave as a single unit. So, for example, each of the bits in a classical computer are independent of each other. If you flip one, it doesn't affect the one next to it. In a quantum computers all of these bits have correlation with each other so they're all tied together like one big mass. In fact, the number of states that they can occupy is exponentially larger because of these linkages between neighboring elements. Quantum computing is the science of manipulating this entangled set of bits for some particular problem of interest in either fundamental science and computation or to do a simulation of the natural world."

Quantum Computing Applications:

Top American tech companies are racing to build a new generation of powerful quantum computers backed by $1.3 billion commitment from US Congress to help them compete with the Chinese. Advanced quantum computing power will likely have many defense and intelligence applications like decrypting computer coded messages. Potential civilian applications include new drug discovery and artificial intelligence.

Summary:

Dr. Irfan Siddiqui is a Karachi-born Pakistani-American scientist engaged in leading edge research in quantum computing. He's part of the increasingly diverse technology workforce of Silicon Valley, California where immigrants  from  many emerging economies such as India, Pakistan and China are helping define the future.

Here's a video of Dr. Irfan Siddiqi speaking on quantum computing:

https://youtu.be/4dfoCf-noHE





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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Pakistan's Research Output Growth Among the World's Fastest in 2018

Pakistan is one of the world's top two countries where the research output rose the fastest in 2018, according to Nature Magazine. The publication reports that the "global production of scientific papers hit an all-time high this year...with emerging economies rising fastest".

Countries With Biggest Rises in Research Output. Source: Nature

Research Output:

Pakistan ranked first or second depending  on whether one accepts the text or the graphic (above) published by Nature.  The text says Egypt had 21% growth while the graph shows Pakistan with 21% growth. Here's an excerpt of the text: "Emerging economies showed some of the largest increases in research output in 2018, according to estimates from the publishing-services company Clarivate Analytics. Egypt and Pakistan topped the list in percentage terms, with rises of 21% and 15.9%, respectively. ...China’s publications rose by about 15%, and India, Brazil, Mexico and Iran all saw their output grow by more than 8% compared with 2017".

Scientific Output:

Pakistan's quality-adjusted scientific output (Weighted Functional Count) as reported in Nature Index has doubled from 18.03 in 2013 to 37.28 in 2017. Pakistan's global ranking has improved from 53 in 2013 to 40 in 2017. In the same period, India's WFC has increased from 850.97 in 2013 to 935.44 in 2017. India's global ranking has improved from 13 in 2013 to 11 in 2017.

Top 10 Pakistan Institutions in Scientific Output. Source: Nature Index
Pakistan's Global Ranking:

Pakistan ranks 40 among 161 countries for quality adjusted scientific output for year 2017 as reported by Nature Index 2018.  Pakistan ranks 40 with quality-adjusted scientific output of 37.28. India ranks 11 with 935. Malaysia ranks 61 with 6.73 and Indonesia ranks 63 with 6.41. Bangladesh ranks 100 with 0.81. Sri Lanka ranks 84 with 1.36. US leads with almost 15,800, followed by China's 7,500, Germany 3,800, UK 3,100 and Japan 2,700.

Nature Index:

The Nature Index is a database of author affiliation information collated from research articles published in an independently selected group of 82 high-quality science journals. The database is compiled by Nature Research. The Nature Index provides a close to real-time proxy of high-quality research output and collaboration at the institutional, national and regional level.

The Nature Index includes primary research articles published in a group of high-quality science journals. The journals included in the Nature Index are selected by a panel of active scientists, independently of Nature Research. The selection process reflects researchers’ perceptions of journal quality, rather than using quantitative measures such as Impact Factor. It is intended that the list of journals amounts to a reasonably consensual upper echelon of journals in the natural sciences and includes both multidisciplinary journals and some of the most highly selective journals within the main disciplines of the natural sciences. The journals included in the Nature Index represent less than 1% of the journals covering natural sciences in the Web of Science (Clarivate Analytics) but account for close to 30% of total citations to natural science journals.

Pakistan vs BRICS:

In a report titled "Pakistan: Another BRIC in the Wall", author Lulian Herciu says that Pakistan’s scientific productivity has quadrupled, from approximately 2,000 articles per year in 2006 to more than 9,000 articles in 2015. During this time, the number of Highly Cited Papers featuring Pakistan-based authors increased tenfold, from 9 articles in 2006 to 98 in 2015.

Top Asian Universities:

British ranking agency Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) has recently ranked 23 Pakistani universities among the top 500 Asian universities for 2019, up from 16 in 2018.  Other South Asian universities figuring in the QS top universities report are 75 from India, 6 from Bangladesh and 4 from Sri Lanka.

In terms of the number of universities ranking in Asia's top 500, Pakistan with its 23 universities ranks second in South Asia and 7th among 17 Asian nations topped by China with 112, Japan 89, India 75, South Korea 57, Taiwan 36, Malaysia 26, Pakistan 23, Indonesia 22, Thailand 19, Philippines 8, Hong Kong 7, Vietnam 7, Bangladesh 6, Sri Lanka 4, Singapore 3, Macao 2 and Brunei 2.

Summary:

Pakistan is among the world's top two countries where the research output rose the fastest in 2018. Pakistan's quality-adjusted scientific output (WFC) as reported in Nature Index has doubled from 18.03 in 2013 to 37.28 in 2017. Pakistan's global ranking has improved from 53 in 2013 to 40 in 2017.  Pakistan ranks 40 with quality-adjusted scientific output of 37.28. India ranks 11 with 935. Malaysia ranks 61 with 6.73 and Indonesia ranks 63 with 6.41. Bangladesh ranks 100 with 0.81. Sri Lanka ranks 84 with 1.36.  In a report titled "Pakistan: Another BRIC in the Wall", author Lulian Herciu says that Pakistan’s scientific productivity has quadrupled, from approximately 2,000 articles per year in 2006 to more than 9,000 articles in 2015. During this time, the number of Highly Cited Papers featuring Pakistan-based authors increased tenfold, from 9 articles in 2006 to 98 in 2015.   British ranking agency Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) has recently ranked 23 Pakistani universities among the top 500 Asian universities for 2019, up from 16 in 2018.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

AI Research at NED University Funded By Silicon Valley NEDians

Pakistan Hi-Tech Exports Exceed A Billion US Dollars in 2018 

Pakistan Becomes CERN Member

Pakistani Scientists at CERN

Rising College Enrollment in Pakistan

Pakistani Universities Listed Among Asia's Top 500 Jump From 16 to 23 in One Year

Genomics and Biotech Research in Pakistan

Human Capital Growth in Pakistan

Educational Attainment in Pakistan

Pakistan Human Development in Musharraf Years

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Pakistani-American Attorney Javed Ellahie Sworn in as Monte Sereno City Councilman in Silicon Valley

Pakistani-American attorney Javed Ellahie, a long-time resident of Silicon Valley elected as councilman in the city of Monte Sereno, California, was sworn in on Tuesday December 18, 2018. It was a standing-room only event. It celebrated a new diverse city council which saw a Muslim immigrant, a woman and white man replace three white men. Liza Lawler and Shawn Leuthold were also sworn in along with Javed.



Javed Ellahie is among 5 American Muslims elected to local office in the San Francisco Bay Area in this year's elections. It's a sign American voters are ready for diverse leadership despite troubling increases in hate crimes nationwide, according to the Council on American Islamic Relations. Across America, there are 55 American Muslim candidates who won election to public offices, 11 of them in California, according to CAIR. Two Muslim American women, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, were elected to the United States Congress this year.


Pakistani-Americans are the largest foreign-born Muslim group in San Francisco Bay Area that includes Silicon Valley, according to a 2013 study. The study was commissioned by the One Nation Bay Area Project, a civic engagement program supported by Silicon Valley Community Foundation, The San Francisco Foundation, Marin Community Foundation and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.



Overall, US-born Muslims make up the largest percentage at 34% of all Muslims in the Bay Area, followed by 14% born in Pakistan, 11% in Afghanistan, 10% in India, 3% in Egypt and 2% each in Iran, Jordan, Palestine and Yemen.

There are 35,000 Pakistani-born Muslims in San Francisco Bay Area,  or 14% of the 250,000 Muslims who call the Bay Area home, according to the 2013 study. Bay Area Muslim community constitutes 3.5 percent of the area’s total population and is one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in the country.

As of 2013, South Asian Muslims, including Pakistanis, have the highest income levels, with nearly half (49%) of them having a household income above $100,000. In comparison, those groups with the lowest proportion of household incomes above $100,000 were Hispanic Muslims (15%), Afghans (10%), and African American Muslims (10%).

Javed Ellahie spoke briefly after being seated on the city council. He talked about his Pakistani Muslim roots and his early years as a teenager in America when he experienced the warm hospitality of a "gracious" American family he stayed with. He recited a few lines from Pakistani poet Allama Iqbal's famous poem "Lab pe aati hai dua ban kay tamana meri Zindagi sham’a key surat ho Khudaya meri". These lines, he said, not only remind him of his childhood in Pakistan but also rekindle his desire to serve his community.  Javed concluded by thanking his supporters and reiterated his commitment to help solve the problems faced by his city.



Monte Sereno is a very prosperous small town located between the cities of Loa Gatos and Saratoga.  With a population of less than 5000 in a bedroom community, it is nestled in the foothills of Santa Cruz Mountains. Many municipal services are provided under contract by the neighboring city of Los Gatos.

Monte Sereno city council meeting on Tuesday December 18, 2018 evening was a study in how most local city and town governments operate in America. It started with the pledge of allegiance followed by a city resident JoAnn Peth raising the issue of hazards from drivers to pedestrians and cyclists along highway 9 that runs through the city. Then two youngsters from the city's youth commission presented reports of their charitable activities. The proceedings reminded me of Alexis De Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" in which the French author talks of the “spirit of the New England township,” where locals join together to deliberate on matters of common concern.

Here's a video of Javed Ellahie's speech at the Monte Sereno City Council Meeting:

https://youtu.be/72zI1iy9YYw




Related Links:

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

AI Research Funded By Silicon Valley NEDians at Their Alma Mater in Karachi

Koshish Foundation, an organization funded primarily by NED University Alumni in Silicon Valley, helped fund Koshish Foundation Research Lab (KFRL) in Karachi back in 2014. It has since received additional funding from numerous national and international organizations including DAAD,  German Academic Exchange Service. The lab has been renamed RCAI- Research Center For Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Applications
In a letter addressed to NEDians Suhail Muhammad and Raghib Husain,  the RCAI director Dr. Muhammad Khurram said, "I would really like to thank you (and Koshish Foundation) who helped me in making things happen in the start. Still, a lot needs to be done."

Dr. Ata ur Rahman Khan, former chairman of Pakistan Higher Education Commission (HEC), believes there is significant potential to grow artificial intelligence technology and products. In a recent Op Ed in The News, Dr. Khan wrote as follows:

"Pakistan churns out about 22,000 computer-science graduates each year. With additional high-quality training, a significant portion of these graduates could be transformed into a small army of highly-skilled professionals who could develop a range of AI products and earn billions of dollars in exports."

It's notable that Pakistan's tech exports are growing by double digits and surged past $1 billion in fiscal 2018, according to State Bank of Pakistan.

Dutch publication innovationorigins.com recently featured a young Pakistani Tufail Shahzad from Dajal village in Rajanpur District in southern Punjab. Tufail has studied artificial intelligence at universities in China and Belgium.  He's currently working in Eindhoven on artificial intelligence (AI) projects as naval architect and innovation manager at MasterShip Netherlands.

There is at least one Pakistani AI-based startup called Afiniti, founded by serial Pakistani-American entrepreneur Zia Chishti. Afiniti has recently raised series D round of $130 million at $1.6 billion valuation, according to Inventiva. Bulk of the Afiniti development team is located in Thokar Niaz Baig, Lahore. In addition, the company has development team members in Islamabad and Karachi.

Afiniti uses artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to enable real-time, optimized pairing of individual call center agents with individual customers in large enterprises for best results. When a customer contacts a call center, Afiniti matches his or her phone number with any information related to it from up to 100 databases, according to VentureBeat. These databases carry purchase history, income, credit history, social media profiles and other demographic information. Based on this information, Afiniti routes the call directly to an agent who has been determined, based on their own history, to be most effective in closing deals with customers who have similar characteristics.

This latest series D round includes former Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg; Fred Ryan, the CEO and publisher of the Washington Post; and investors Global Asset Management, The Resource Group (which Chishti helped found), Zeke Capital, as well as unnamed Australian investors. Investors in Afiniti's C series round included GAM; McKinsey and Co; the Resource Group (TRG); G3 investments (run by Richard Gephardt); Elisabeth Murdoch; Sylvain Héfès; John Browne, former CEO of BP; Ivan Seidenfeld; and Larry Babbio, a former president of Verizon. The company has now raised more than $100 million, including the money previously raised, according to VentureBeat's sources.

Drone is an example of artificial intelligence application. It now a household word in Pakistan. Drones outrage many Pakistanis when used by Americans to hunt militants and launch missiles in FATA. At the same time, drones inspire a young generation of students to study artificial intelligence at 60 engineering colleges and universities in Pakistan. It has given rise to robotics competitions at engineering universities like National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and my alma mater NED Engineering University. Continuing reports of new civilian uses of drone technology are adding to the growing interest of Pakistanis in robotics.

Dr. Ata ur Rehman Khan rightly argues in his Op Ed that AI should be an area of focus for research and development in Pakistan. He says that "the advantage of investing in areas such as artificial intelligence is that no major investments are needed in terms of infrastructure or heavy machinery and the results can become visible within a few years".  "Artificial intelligence will find applications in almost every sphere of activity, ranging from industrial automation to defense, from surgical robots to stock-market assessment, and from driverless cars to agricultural sensors controlling fertilizers and pesticide inputs", Dr. Khan adds.


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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Pakistan is the World's Biggest Importer of Used Clothes

Back in the winter of 1977 when I made preparations to travel to the United States to attend graduate school, my late mother took me to Karachi's "Landa Bazar" to help me pick out imported extra warm second hand clothing. The purchased item appeared to be brand new, especially after dry-cleaning. I would not have survived my first months in New York without the winter coats and jackets and accessories like caps, gloves and boots bought in Karachi, Pakistan. A recent look at the Statista stats portal's 2017 data revealed that Pakistan imported $240 million worth of used clothing making it the world's largest importer in this category.

Landa Bazars in Pakistan:

A Pakistani newspaper headline last week screamed "Sale Of Second Hand Warm Clothes Picks Up In Landa Bazars Hyderabad". Landa Bazars is the name of "flea markets" that specialize in selling used clothes and they do brisk business at the start of each winter. These markets are found in all major cities and cater to middle-class and poor customers looking for moderately priced warm clothing for a couple of weeks of cold weather. Pakistan has a huge domestic textile industry that meets the needs of the people with relatively cotton clothing for the rest of the year. Pakistan is also a big exporter of ready made garments.

Top Importers of Secondhand Clothing. Source: Statista

The second hand clothing that I used in my first few months in the United States in the winter of 1977-78 was purchased at Karachi's Landa Bazar. The purchased item appeared to be brand new, especially after dry-cleaning.  In the next winter season when a new batch of Indian and Pakistani students came to the campus, I passed these on to those who came unprepared my heavy winter coat and jacket.

Landa Bazar (Flea Market) in Pakistan


Second Hand Clothing Trade:

Used clothing exports added up to $3.67 billion in 2016, according to MIT's Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC).

The top exporters of Used Clothing included the United States ($648M), Germany ($371M), the United Kingdom ($348M), China ($219M) and South Korea ($214M). The top importers in 2016 were Pakistan ($206M), Ukraine ($166M), Kenya ($131M), Malaysia ($129M) and Ghana ($126M).

Second Hand Clothing in United States:

Americans donate used clothes, including slightly used clothes hanging in their closets, to charities such as Goodwill and Salvation Army. These donations pick up during holidays when people clear out their closets to make room for new purchases. American tax law encourages such charitable donation which are tax-deductible. Some of these used clothes are sold by charities at stores like Goodwill stores and Salvation Army thrift stores and the rest are exported.

America's secondhand clothing business has been export-oriented since the introduction of mass-produced gar­ments. And by one estimate, used clothing is now the United States’ number one export by volume, according to Slate.com.

Summary:

Global trade of secondhand clothing is near $4 billion a year. United States is the biggest exporter and Pakistan is the biggest importer of used clothing.  The second hand clothing that I used in my first few months in the United States in the winter of 1977-78 was purchased at Karachi's Landa Bazar. The purchased item appeared to be brand new, especially after dry-cleaning.  In the next winter season when a new batch of Indian and Pakistani students came to the campus, I passed these on to those who came unprepared my heavy winter coat and jacket.  Landa Bazars is the name of "flea markets" that specialize in selling used clothes and they do brisk business at the start of each winter. These markets are found in all major cities and cater to middle-class and poor customers looking for moderately priced warm clothing for a couple of weeks of cold weather. Pakistan has a huge domestic textile industry that meets the needs of the people with relatively cotton clothing for the rest of the year.

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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Pakistan Media Crisis: Facts and Myths

Why are Pakistan media groups laying off employees and shutting down TV channels? Is it caused by Pakistan government cutbacks in advertising? Is it part of the PTI government's alleged efforts to censor media? Or part of the long overdue industry shake-out after almost two decades long un-interrupted media business expansion?

Pakistan Ad Spending. Source: Aurora/Dawn


How much was the Nawaz Sharif led PMLN government spending on advertising? Did Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi increase media advertising budgets to buy favorable coverage at taxpayers' expense?

Are Pakistan government and national security establishment unique in wanting to manage media coverage? Do Western government manage media as well? If so, how? How do their media management techniques differ?

Global Advertising Growth 2016. Source: Magna

What is the future of media in Pakistan as the Internet penetration grows dramatically with 1-2 million more people coming online each month? Will greater spending on digital ads change journalism in Pakistan? Will more journalists take to social media and other online platforms as business?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Sabahat Ashraf and Riaz Haq.


https://youtu.be/Nz1axuB5j-Q





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Remittances From Pakistani Diaspora Soared 21X Since Year 2000

Remittance inflows from Pakistani diaspora have jumped 21-fold from about $1 billion in year 2000 to $21 billion in 2018, according to the World Bank. In terms of GDP, these inflows have soared nearly 7X from about 1% in year 2000 to 6.9% of GDP in 2018.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's exports have declined from 13.5% of GDP in year 2000 to 8.24% of GDP in 2017.  At the same time, the country's import bill has increased from 14.69% in year 2000 to 17.55% of GDP in 2017.  This growing trade imbalance has forced Pakistan to seek IMF bailouts four times since the year 2000.  It is further complicated by external debt service cost of over $6 billion (about 2% of GDP) in 2017. Foreign investment in the country has declined from a peak of $5.59 billion (about 4% of GDP) in 2007 to a mere $2.82 billion (less than 1% of GDP) in 2017. While the current account imbalance situation is bad, it would be far worse if Pakistani diaspora did not come to the rescue.

Diaspora Remittances:

Estimated inflows of $20.9 billion make Pakistan the world's 7th largest recipient of remittances for 2018, according data released by the World Bank in its latest "Migration and Remittances" report of December 2018.  In South Asia region, Pakistan is the second largest recipient of remittances of $20.9 billion after top-ranked India's $79.5 billion.

Pakistan Remittances in Millions of US Dollars. Source: World Bank

Remittances from Pakistani diaspora have grown nearly 21-fold since the year 2000.  Pakistanis sent home remittances adding up to 6.9% of the country's GDP in 2018, up from 1% back in year 2000.

Pakistan's Trade:

In 2017, Pakistan exported goods and services worth $22 billion while it imports amounted to $57 billion, a trade deficit of $35 billion for the year. This is a dramatic deterioration from about $2 billion trade deficit (2% of GDP) in year 2000 to $35 billion trade deficit (about 12 % of GDP) in year 2017.

Pakistan Trade Deficit in Billions of US$. Source: World Bank


Pakistan's exports have declined from 13.5% of GDP in year 2000 to 8.24% of GDP in 2017.  At the same time, the country's import bill has increased from 14.69% in year 2000 to 17.55% of GDP in 2017.

Pakistan FDI. Source: The Global Economy

Foreign Direct Investment:

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan was a mere $2.82 billion (less than 1% of GDP) in 2017, down from a peak of $5.59 billion (4% of GDP) in 2007.  The lack of foreign investment has contributed to the country's dwindling reserves and balance of payments difficulties requiring it to seek yet another IMF bailout.

Pakistan's External Debt. Source: State Bank of Pakistan via Dr. Ishrat Husain

Pakistan's Debt:

Significant growth in remittances from Pakistani diaspora has clearly helped but the external accounts gap is too big for it. This has forced Pakistan to borrow heavily in recent years. It has raised debt service costs and put pressure on Pakistan's reserves.

Summary:

Remittances from Pakistani diaspora have jumped 21-fold from about $1 billion in year 2000 to $21 billion in 2018, according to the World Bank. In terms of GDP, these inflows have soared nearly 7X from about 1% in year 2000 to 6.9% of GDP in 2018.  Meanwhile, Pakistan's exports have declined from 13.5% of GDP in year 2000 to 8.24% of GDP in 2017.  Foreign investment in the country has declined from a peak of $5.59 billion (about 4% of GDP) in 2007 to a mere $2.82 billion (less than 1% of GDP) in 2017. At the same time, the country's import bill has increased from 14.69% in year 2000 to 17.55% of GDP in 2017. This growing trade imbalance has forced Pakistan to seek IMF bailouts four times since the year 2000.  It is further complicated by external debt service cost of over $6 billion (about 2% of GDP) in 2017. While the current account imbalance situation is bad, it would be far worse if Pakistani diaspora did not come to the rescue.

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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Pakistan Media Industry Shakeout Underway

Pakistan's 88 billion rupee media industry is in the midst of a major shakeout after a long period of rapid double-digit growth since the turn of the century. Hundreds of journalists and other staff have lost their jobs. At least one TV channel, Waqt News, has closed while several others are downsizing. While such consolidation was long overdue after nearly two-decade long period of explosive growth, the PTI government's decision to reduce advertising budget, which constitutes nearly a quarter of all ad spending in the country, appears to be the main trigger. Those affected by consolidation are accusing the government of exercising press censorship by cutting its ad spending.

Pakistan Ad Spending. Source: Aurora/Dawn

Rapid Growth:

Rising buying power of rapidly expanding middle class in Pakistan drove the nation's media advertising revenue up 14% to a record Rs. 76.2 billion 2016 and another 12% to Rs. 88 billion in 2017, making the country's media market among the world's fastest growing media markets.

Global Advertising Growth 2016. Source: Magna

Industry Shakeout:

Massive commercial media growth in Pakistan has been most apparent in terms of private TV channels growing from just one in Year 2000 to over 100 today after President Musharraf's deregulation of electronic and other media.

Explosive growth with many new entrants is the fundamental business reason for the recent wave of consolidation and shakeout. Shakeout is a business term used to describe the consolidation of an industry or sector after it has experienced a period of rapid growth in demand followed by oversupply.

At least one TV channel, Waqt News owned by Nawai-Waqt Media Group, has closed while several others are downsizing.  “We are trying to compile exact figures of the affected media persons. So far, we can say that around 1,000-1,500 workers have lost their jobs or faced cuts in salaries in the past few weeks,” Muhammad Afzal Butt, president of one the main factions of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) told  The News Sunday (TNS) this week.

Government Spending:

About a quarter of Rs. 80 billion ad revenue comes from federal and provincial government ads in the media. Some of the TV channels receive as much as 50% of their revenue from the government.

"The government has cut its media spend by more than 70% and companies by almost 50%", according to a leading advertising agency owner who spoke to Dawn.

"The (federal) government used to spend some Rs. 10 billion on advertisements annually, which was increased up to Rs35 billion in the last years of the (Nawaz Sharif's PMLN) government," Fawad Chaudhry,  federal minister of information,  told The News Sunday (TNS).  This tax-payers’ money, says the minister, was used by the previous government to bribe the media for favorable coverage.

Digital Adverstising:

Growing slice of the media ad spend is being claimed by online advertising with accelerating broadband penetration in Pakistan. Most recent data from Pakistan Telecommunications Authority shows that 62 million Pakistanis now subscribe to mobile broadband and this number is increasing by one to two million new subscribers each month.

Digital media spending rose 27% in 2015-16 over prior year, the fastest of all the media platforms. It was followed by 20% increase in radio, 13% in television, 12% in print and 6% in outdoor advertising, according to data published by Aurora media market research.

Summary:

Significant reduction in government spending on advertising has triggered a long-overdue shakeout after almost two decades of rapid media growth in Pakistan. About a quarter of Rs. 80 billion ad revenue comes from federal and provincial government ads in the media. Some of the TV channels receive as much as 50% of their revenue from the government.  Hundreds of journalists and other staff have lost their jobs. At least one TV channel, Waqt, has closed while several others are downsizing. Those affected by consolidation are accusing the government of exercising press censorship by cutting its ad spending.


Here's a video discussion on Pakistani media business with Misbah Azam, Sabahat Ashraf and Riaz Haq.


https://youtu.be/Nz1axuB5j-Q





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Mobile Broadband Speed in Pakistan