Friday, May 17, 2019

Growing China-Pakistan Collaboration in Science and Technology

With 6,000 Pakistanis working on their PhDs in China, the two countries are enjoying rapid growth in scientific and technological collaboration, according to Journal Nature. Pakistan's scientific output is now growing at the fastest rate in the world. With nearly 3,000 papers jointly authored and published by Chinese and Pakistani researcher, China has now emerged as Pakistan's top partner in scientific collaborations, surpassing Saudi Arabia (about 1,500 papers) and the United States (about 1,200 papers) in 2018, according to an analysis of co-authored papers from Elsevier’s Scopus database. China is co-sponsoring a range of research centers in Pakistan that are studying topics from rice agriculture to artificial intelligence and railway engineering.

Pakistan-China ties are rapidly growing well beyond the economy and the military with tens of thousands of Chinese and Pakistani citizens regularly traveling between the two countries. More Pakistanis than ever are learning the Chinese language.  China with its world class educational institutions is emerging as one of the top destinations for Pakistanis studying abroad. Currently, 6,156 Pakistani students are studying in Ph.D., 3,600 in Masters, 11,100 in Bachelors and 3,000 in Short Term Exchange Programs across China. Pakistan ranks third in the number of international students currently studying in China with 28,023 Pakistani students, according to a statement issued by China’s Ministry of Education. It is becoming a truly multi-dimensional relationship which will help Pakistan rise with China on the world stage.

Pakistan's  Co-authored Research Papers. Source: Nature

Typical of the new Sinophile generation of Pakistani scientists is Dr. Iqbal Choudhary, director of the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences at the University of Karachi. Choudhary’s center is one of the oldest — it celebrated its 50th birthday just a few years ago — and largest institutes in Asia dedicated to the chemistry and biology of natural products.

China's Top Collaborators in Science and Technology Research. Source: Nature

Among the Belt Road Initiative member nations, Pakistan has emerged as the second strongest Chinese partner for science and technology collaboration in terms of Probabilistic Affinity Index (PAI), according to the Journal Nature. So far, China Academy of Sciences (CAS) has invested more than 1.8 billion yuan (almost US$268 million) in science and technology projects as part of the BRI.

CAS is supporting the Digital Belt and Road (Digital BRI), a platform for participating countries to share the data obtained as part of their collaborative projects with each other and with China. These data include satellite images as well as quantitative data on natural hazards, water resources and cultural heritage sites.

As part of Digital BRI/CPEC, an 820-kilometer long China-Pakistan fiber optic cable has already been laid between the city of Rawalpindi, Pakistan in the south and the Khunjerab Pass, China in the north  and operational since July, 2018.

By 2020, the 6,299 kilometers of underwater cables will extend to Djibouti from Gwadar and form the Digital Silk Route between Asia and Africa. At the same time, a space-based Silk Road will provide satellite navigation support to all BRI countries. The first Beidou base station of the Space Silk Road is already operational in Pakistan since 2017.  BeiDou is making rapid progress with 30 BRI countries already linked up.


Related Links:

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Pakistan's Research Output Growing Fastest in the World

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Digital BRI/CPEC in Pakistan

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Pakistan Among World's Top 3 Countries For New Hydroelectric Power

Pakistan ranked third in the world by adding nearly 2,500 MW of hydropower in 2018, according to Hydropower Status Report 2019.  China added the most capacity with the installation of 8,540 megawatts, followed by Brazil (3,866 MW), Pakistan (2,487 MW), Turkey (1,085 MW), Angola (668 MW), Tajikistan (605 MW), Ecuador (556 MW), India (535 MW), Norway (419 MW) and Canada (401 MW).

New Installed Hydroelectric Power Capacity in 2018. Source: Hydroworld.com

Pakistan's Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) says commissioning of the 108-MW Golen Gol 2, 1,410-MW Tarbela 4th Extension and 969-MW Neelum Jhelum hydropower projects in 2018 boosted its hydroelectric generating capacity of 9,389 MW, an increase of 36% in just one year, according to Hydro Review. Hydropower now makes up about 28% of the total installed capacity of 33,836 MW as of February, 2019.   WAPDA reports contributing 25.63 billion units of hydroelectricity to the national grid during the year, “despite the fact that water flows in 2018 remained historically low.” This contribution “greatly helped the country in meeting electricity needs and lowering the electricity tariff for the consumers.”

Top 20 Countries by Newly Installed Hydropower Capacity. Source: IHA

Pakistan has the potential to generate 59,000 MW of hydropower, according to studies conducted by the nation's Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA). Currently, it's generating only 9,389 MW of hydroelectric power, about 16% of the estimated potential. Media reports indicate that China is prepared to finance and build another 40,000MW capacity as part of the development of the Northern Indus Cascade region which begins in Skardu in Gilgit-Baltistan and runs through to Tarbela, the site of Pakistan’s biggest dam, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Pakistan has made only a small contribution to climate change through carbon emissions.  And yet, it counts among the dozen or so nations considered most vulnerable to its damaging effects. These include rising temperatures, recurring cycles of floods and droughts and resulting disruption in food production.

One of the ways Pakistan can help reduce carbon emissions is by realizing its full hydroelectric potential by building more dams. The development of the Northern Indus Cascade region to generate 40,000MW of hydropower is a significant part of this effort.

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Recurring Cycles of Drought and Floods in Pakistan

Pakistan's Response to Climate Change

Massive Oil and Gas Discovery in Pakistan: Hype vs Reality

Renewable Energy for Pakistan

Digital BRI: China and Pakistan Building Fiber, 5G Networks

LNG Imports in Pakistan

Growing Water Scarcity in Pakistan

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Ownership of Appliances and Vehicles in Pakistan

CPEC Transforming Pakistan

Pakistan's $20 Billion Tourism Industry Boom

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

PTI's New Economic Team Line-Up in Pakistan

Who are the members of Pakistan's top new economic leadership team? Who's Reza Baqir? Who's Shabbar Zaidi? Why were the changes necessary? Were the latest changes made to remove previous PMLN government's loyalists considered to be responsible for the current economic crisis? Did their policies and actions contribute to large twin deficits? Did the International Monetary Fund (IMF) force these changes as a condition for the country's bailout?

Pakistan's External Debt. Source: Wall Street Journal

Pakistan Current Account Deficit. Source: State Bank of Pakistan

As Pakistan awaits the news of the discovery of large offshore oil reserves, what lessons should Pakistan learn from the governance failures in Venezuela? Is Venezuela suffering because of its government's hostility toward the United States? Will large oil reserves be a panacea for Pakistan's economic problems?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Sabahat Ashraf (ifaqeer) and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/1UucUo_eU90




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan's Debt Crisis

Can Pakistan Avoid Recurring IMF Bailouts?

Expectation of Massive Offshore Oil Discovery in Pakistan

CPEC Financing: Is China Ripping Off Pakistan?

Information Tech Jobs Moving From India to Pakistan

Pakistan is 5th Largest Motorcycle Market

"Failed State" Pakistan Saw 22% Growth in Per Capita Income in Last 5 Years

CPEC Transforming Pakistan

Pakistan's $20 Billion Tourism Industry Boom

Home Appliance Ownership in Pakistani Households

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

Pakistan ISPR On Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM)

Who is Manzoor Pashteen? What is Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM)?  What is Pashtun Nationalism?  Why did Pakistan ISPR spokesman Gen Asif Ghafoor warn them in a recent press conference? What are PTM demands? Did the Pakistani military action in FATA help or hurt the vast majority of FATA residents? Who are the "missing person"? Why are they missing? What must be done to resolve this issue? Is PTM insincere in using this issue as cover to attack the military? How has RK Yadav, retired officer of Indian RAW,  documented India's support of Pashtun Nationalists and other secessionist movements in Pakistan? Is PTM supported by foreign intelligence agencies to re-ignite insurgency in FATA?

Terror Death in FATA. Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal


Terror Deaths Across Pakistan. Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal

Why was Masood Azhar declared a "terrorist" by the UNSC sanctions committee? Is this a win for India's Modi? Did China abandon Pakistan by letting it happen as UNSC Permanent Member? Or did China coordinate its action with Pakistan to have references to Kashmir and Pulwama removed from the declaration?

Azad Labon Kay Sath (ALKS) host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Sabahat Ashraf (ifaqeer) and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/rA68tYE4rV0




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

PTM: The Lowdown on Manzoor Pashteen

History of Pashtun Nationalism and Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations

Ex-RAW Officer RK Yadav's "Mission RAW"

Social Media: Blessing or Curse For Pakistan?

Planted Stories in Media

Indian BJP Troll Farm

Kulbhushan Jadhav Caught in Balochistan

The Story of Pakistan's M8 Motorway

What Can Pakistan Learn From Sri Lanka?

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Digital BRI: China and Pakistan Building CPEC Info Expressway With Fiber, 5G

‘Digital Silk Road’ project is one of 12 sub-themes agreed to at the recently concluded Belt Road Forum 2019 (BRF19) in Beijing. This state-of-the-art information superhighway will involve laying fiber optic cables in Pakistan which will connect with China in the north and link with Africa and the Arab World via undersea cable to be laid from Gwadar Deep Sea Port built as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The global project will include 5G wireless networks deployment in BRI (Belt Road Initiative) member nations.

China-Pakistan Fiber Optic Cable Route

Fiber Optic Cables:

A 820-kilometer long China-Pakistan fiber optic cable has already been laid between the city of Rawalpindi, Pakistan in the south and the Khunjerab Pass, China in the north  and operational since July, 2018.

By 2020, the 6,299 kilometers of underwater cables will extend to Djibouti from Gwadar and form the Digital Silk Route between Asia and Africa. At the same time, a space-based Silk Road will provide satellite navigation support to all BRI countries. The first Beidou base station of the Space Silk Road is already operational in Pakistan since 2017.  BeiDou is making rapid progress with 30 BRI countries already linked up.

When completed, the ambitious global initiative would use an exclusive satellite navigation system, BeiDou, fiber networks and 5G on land and submarine cables to create a multi-dimensional digital mega-project across land, sea and space.

5G Deployment:

Huawei is already pushing for 5G deployment in Pakistan where it has already established a strong market presence. Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) has already identified spectrum in 2.6 GHz, 3.5 GHz and millimeter wave band it plans to allocate for auction to 5G vendors. This will include both fixed and mobile 5G deployment.

PTA has set up its 5G Working Group with members from telecom operators, vendors, manufacturers, Academia, R and D organizations, regulator (Pakistan Telecom Authority - PTA), Pakistan Government ministries and Frequency Allocation Board (FAB).

Over 65 million Pakistanis now subscribe to 3G and 4G services launched 5 years ago. 5G uptake rate in Pakistan is expected to be rapid. "Attractive tariffs for 5G users will be the key to encouraging a large number of customers" Mohammad Suhail, head of the Karachi based Topline Securities Investors' Advisory told Nikkei.

US vs China:

The Trump Administration sees China's aggressive 5G lead as a threat to the West's technology dominance. US government has been warning its allies against use Huawei's 5G equipment in their networks based on its fears of Chinese government espionage operations.

Chinese 5G suppliers currently hold 36% of all 5G patents worldwide. In spite of US efforts, Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE are beating their western rivals to acquire access to huge markets around the world in Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East.

Summary:

China is aggressively pursuing its plans to build a global digital superhighway that runs through Pakistan. This "Digital Silk Road" involves laying fiber optic cables in Pakistan which connect with China to the north and link with Africa and the Arab World via undersea cable to be laid from Gwadar Deep Sea Port built as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). An 820 kilometer long China-Pakistan fiber optic cable has already been laid between Rawalpindi, Pakistan and the Khunjerab Pass, China.  The global project will include 5G wireless networks deployment in BRI (Belt Road Initiative) member nations. Meanwhile, the United States is continuing its campaign to have its allies boycott 5G equipment built by China's Huawei.

Related Links:

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State Bank Targets Fully Digital Economy in Pakistan

Campaign of Fear Against CPEC

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The Other 99% of the Pakistan Story

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Friday, May 3, 2019

Pew Research: Fewer Pray in Islamic Republic of Pakistan Than in India, Iran

Pew Religious Landscape Study has revealed that 67% of the people in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan pray daily. This figure of 67% in Pakistan is lower than neighboring India's 75%, Iran's 87% and Afghanistan's 97%. Other Muslim majority nations surveyed include Nigeria (95%), Indonesia (84%), Egypt (72%) and Turkey (60%). Oil-rich Arabian Gulf nations were not included in the survey. The Pew study found an inverse relationship between daily prayer levels and incomes. Countries such as the United States and Vietnam are outliers.

Daily Prayer Map: Source: Pew Research

The Pew survey shows that the level of daily prayer is the lowest in rich countries and highest in the poor nations. United States is an outlier rich nation with 55% of Americans saying they pray daily. The survey did not include wealthy Muslim nations in the Arabian Peninsula, such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which might be expected to have high levels of prayer.


Level of Daily Prayer Inversely Proportional to Income. Source: Pew Research

Here's what the report says about daily prayer rich nations:

"This May 2 is the National Day of Prayer in the United States, a day Congress set aside in 1952 for Americans to turn “to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups and as individuals.” But many Americans pray every day – not just on the Day of Prayer. Indeed, out of 102 countries examined for frequency of prayer by Pew Research Center, the U.S. is unique in that it has both a high level of wealth ($56,000 per-capita gross domestic product in 2015) and a high level of daily prayer among its population (55% according to the 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study). In every other wealthy country surveyed – that is, those with a per-capita GDP over $30,000 – fewer than 40% of adults say they pray every day. For example, in Japan, where per-capita GDP is about $38,000, roughly a third (33%) pray daily. In Norway, where per-capita GDP is about $68,000, fewer than one-in-five adults (18%) do. (It’s worth noting that the surveys did not include wealthy countries in the Arabian Peninsula, such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which might be expected to have high levels of prayer.)"

Here's an excerpt of the report on poor nations:

"At the other end of the economic spectrum, countries with less wealth tend to have higher rates of prayer. In fact, every country where at least 70% of adults say that they pray each day has a per-capita GDP under $20,000. For example, in Egypt, where 72% say they pray every day, per-capita GDP is about $11,000. And in Afghanistan, where 96% of adults say they pray every day, the per-capita GDP is about $2,000."

There as exceptions to the norm about higher daily prayer in poor countries, according to the report: "That said, not every country with low wealth has a high level of daily prayer. In Vietnam and Bulgaria – where per-capita GDPs are $6,000 and $19,000, respectively – the shares of adults who say they pray daily are 14% and 15%. (Among all 102 countries examined, the national average share of people who say they pray daily is 49%.)"


Related Links:

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Deeply Religious People Profoundly Ignorant About Religion?

Income and Wealth in India and Pakistan

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NRO Amnesty Order Overturned

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Massive Oil Discovery in Pakistan: Hype vs Reality

Prime Minister Imran Khan has recently raised Pakistanis' hopes of ExxonMobil and ENI being on the verge of a massive discovery of offshore oil and gas reserves in Pakistan. Is this real? Or mostly hype? What is the size of these reserves? Will it be more than sufficient to meet Pakistan's current needs of over 200 million barrels of oil per year? Will Pakistan become a net exporter of oil and gas like major OPEC nations?

Top 3 Offshore Drilling Sites in Asia-Pacific. Source: Bloomberg


Why is it taking so long to get confirmation from the companies involved? What are the technical issues in getting confirmation of these huge reserves? Why is there such a big concern about blow-out? Is it because the 1.5 billion barrels pre-drill estimate of Kekra-1 well in block G of the Indus basin off the Karachi coast? Could such a large reserve cause a major blow-out accident like the one British Petroleum had in Gulf of Mexico near Louisiana in the United States? How long will it take to fix the blow-out preventer (BOP) and complete drilling of the remaining 600-800 meters of the total depth of over 5,500 meters deep in the Arabian Sea?


Offshore Blowout Preventer Stack. Courtesy: British Petroleum

Azad Labon Kay Sath host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/02oKLNPmUdk





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

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Pakistan's Insatiable Appetite For Energy

US EIA Estimates of Oil and Gas in Pakistan

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Pakistan is the 3rd Fastest Growing Trillion Dollar Economy

CPEC Financing: Is China Ripping Off Pakistan?

Information Tech Jobs Moving From India to Pakistan

Methane Hydrate Release After Balochistan Quake

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Why Blackouts and Bailouts in Energy-Rich Pakistan?

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Easter Bombings in Sri Lanka; Belt Road Forum 2019 in Beijing

Who carried out the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka? Why? Is it a domestic group with outside help? What is India's role in it? Why did the attackers use India as their training base? Did ISIS inspire the attackers? With Muslims facing revenge attacks, what will happen to inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations in the island nation at the Southern tip of India? Will there be a renewed civil war? How will it affect South India and the South Asia region?

Tamil Population in India and Sri Lanka


What was the agenda of the Belt and Road Forum 2019 attended by 37 world leaders including Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing? What did President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Imran Khan and other world leaders say at this summit? How will this affect the next phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of BRI (Belt Road Initiative)? How will concerns ranging from debt sustainability and inclusive growth to environmental impact be addressed?

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at BRF 2019 in Beijing

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


https://youtu.be/O6pTJXIf7g0





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Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Blowout Concerns Delay Confirmation of Pakistan Offshore Oil Discovery

Blowout concerns have stopped offshore drilling in Pakistan yet again. It was underway to confirm discovery of oil and gas in at Kekra-1 well in G-bloc with pre-drill estimate of over 1.5 billion barrels of oil. It was scheduled to restart on April 20, 2019 after pause of 12 days, according to Pakistani media reports. Now it is delayed until the blowout preventer equipment is fixed and ready to use again.

Offshore Blowout Preventer Stack. Courtesy: British Petroleum

Blowout Preventer Problem: 

The drilling was stopped on April 8 at the depth of 4,810 meters for cementing and casing process which took almost 12 days to complete. Now there are concerns about the proper functioning of the blowout preventer (BOP). Once the BOP repair is completed, Mobile Exxon and ENI as joint operators at Kekra-1 well will resume drilling of the remaining 650-800 meters.

Time required to drill the remaining 650-800 meters will depend on the rate of penetration (RoP).  Pakistan petroleum ministry officials were quoted by The News as saying that they "don’t yet have precedents to form a reliable estimate for the RoP for offshore Indus-G, where Kekra-01 is being drilled. An RoP of 10 meters per hour (generally considered low) would mean that it would take 80 hours or a little more than three days to reach the target depth.’’

Top 3 Offshore Drilling Sites in Asia-Pacific. Source: Bloomberg

Exxon-Mobil's Entry in Pakistan:

American energy giant Exxon-Mobil has joined the offshore oil and gas exploration efforts started by Oil and Gas Development Corporation (OGDC), Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) and Italian energy giant ENI, according to media reports.

Each company will have 25% stake in the joint venture under an agreement signed at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat in May among ExxonMobil, Government Holdings Private Limited (GHPL), PPL, ENI and OGDC.

Exxon-Mobile's entry in Pakistan brings deep offshore drilling technology, its long experience and financial resources to the country. It is expected to accelerate exploration and more discoveries.

Pakistan Oil Basins:

A Pakistan Basin Study conducted in 2009 found that the country has six onshore and two offshore basins; offshore basins being the Indus basin and the Makran basin in the Arabian Sea.

The Indus offshore basin is a rift basin that geologists say developed after the separation of the Indian Plate from Africa in the late Jurassic period. It is believed to be the second largest submarine fan system in the world after the Bay of Bengal with high probability of hydrocarbon discoveries.

The Makran Offshore basin is separated from the Indus Offshore basin by Murray ridge, according to Syed Mustafa Amjad's report in Dawn. It is an oceanic and continental crust subduction zone with deepwater trenches and volcanic activity. The basin consists of oceanic crust and periodic emergence of temporary mud islands along the coast suggesting strong evidence of large hydrocarbon deposits.

Pakistan Hydrocarbon Potential:

The United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that Pakistan has 586 TCF (trillion cubic feet) of gas in Pakistan of which 105 TCF is technically recoverable.

In addition to gas deposits, US EIA estimates there are 227 billion barrels of oil in Pakistan with 9.1 billion barrels being technically recoverable.

Pakistan also has 185 billion tons of coal deposits in Thar desert which are just beginning to be extracted by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Corporation.

Oil and Gas exploration and production companies are currently planning to drill 90 wells in different parts of  the country. Under the plan, as many as 50 exploratory and 40 development wells would be drilled in a bid to make the country self-sufficient in the energy sector, according to media reports.

During the last five years, the sources said the exploration and production companies drilled 445 new wells, out of which 221 were exploratory, adding that the increased exploration activities resulted in 116 new oil and gas discoveries.

Current Account Deficits:

Energy imports make up a big chunk of Pakistan's total imports. Bulk of the annual 200 million barrels of oil demand has to be imported. Rising oil prices worsen the current account deficit and put pressure on Pakistan's reserves, forcing the country to seek periodic IMF bailouts.

Pakistan's trade deficit is nearly $40 billion a year and debt service costs are about $11 billion a year. How can Pakistan fund this balance of payments deficit of about $50 billion? Remittances of $21 billion in current FY2019 from Pakistani diaspora are expected to reduce it to $30 billion. PTI government has taken on billions of dollars in loans from Gulf Arabs and China. Given the low rates of foreign investments in the country, a big chunk of the remaining deficit will have to be met by borrowing even more funds which will further increase future debt service costs.

Pakistan's Current Account Deficit. Source: Trading Economics

As a result, Pakistan is now battling massive twin deficits, deteriorating foreign currency reserves, low exports, diminishing tax revenues, a weak currency, onerous external debt payments, and soaring sovereign debt. This crises has forced the country to seek IMF (International Monetary Fund) bailout, the 13th such request in Pakistan's 72 year history.

Summary:

Blowout concerns have stopped offshore drilling in Pakistan yet again. It was underway to confirm discovery of oil and gas in at Kekra-1 well in G-bloc with pre-drill estimate of over 1.5 billion barrels. Pakistan made 2 key oil and gas discoveries in 3rd quarter and another 3 discoveries in the 4th quarter of 2017. These discoveries appear to have prompted US-based Exxon-Mobil to join off-shore drilling efforts in Pakistan.  American energy giant's entry in Pakistan brings advanced ultra deep sea drilling technology, its long experience in offshore exploration and financial resources to the country. It is expected to accelerate exploration and lead to more discoveries.  US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that Pakistan has technically recoverable deposits of 105 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas and 9.1 billion barrels of oil. Reducing energy imports by increasing domestic production will likely ease Pakistan's current account deficits and reduce its need to seek repeated IMF bailouts.

Here's a discussion on the subject:

https://youtu.be/7o2MbUs2U38



Here's a video explaining offshore drilling for oil and gas:

https://youtu.be/anM9hZDA_cE





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

US EIA Estimates of Oil and Gas in Pakistan

Pakistan's Debt Crisis

Can Pakistan Avoid Recurring IMF Bailouts?

Pakistan is the 3rd Fastest Growing Trillion Dollar Economy

CPEC Financing: Is China Ripping Off Pakistan?

Information Tech Jobs Moving From India to Pakistan

Methane Hydrate Release After Balochistan Quake

Thar Coal Development

Why Blackouts and Bailouts in Energy-Rich Pakistan?

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

State of Pakistan's Relations With Iran and India

What does Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan hope to accomplish during his Iran visit? What are the key issues bedeviling Iran-Pakistan relations? Cross-border terrorism alleged by both? Pakistan's relations with the Gulf Arabs? CPEC? Afghanistan? Gwadar? Chabahar? Indian RAW's use of Iran to launch terror attacks in Pakistani Balochistan? Who calls the shots in Iran? President Rouhani or the hardline Iranian Revolutionary Guard leaders?



Why is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi continuing to threaten Pakistan with use of force, including use of nuclear weapons? Is this part of his election campaign to appeal to his base? Or will this intimidation go beyond elections if he wins a second term? Is Pakistan Prime Minister's hope of better ties with India under BJP just a mirage? Are analysts like Moeed Yusuf right about India waiting it out to achieve overwhelming superiority to eventually dictate term to Pakistan?

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

https://youtu.be/seNerO7_KsM




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Iran Nuclear Deal

1971 India-Pakistan War

Chabahar vs Gwadar Ports

Did America Contribute to the Rise of ISIS?

Monday, April 22, 2019

Asad Umar's Exit: Causes and Effects on Pakistan Economy

Who removed Pakistan Finance Minister Asad Umar and why? What was expected of him? Did he fail to deliver it? What are the qualifications of Dr. Hafeez Shaikh who has been picked to replace Asad Umar? Is he better suited to deliver a deal with IMF and other international financial institutions?

Pakistan's Current Account Deficit. Source: Trading Economics

What are Pakistan's biggest economic issues now? Budget deficits? Trade deficits? Current account imbalances? Lack of exports? Lack of domestic savings and investments? Low FDI? What must the new economic team do to address short term and long term problems with Pakistan's economy that are forcing the nation to seek 13th IMF bailout in last 40 years?

Pakistan's External Debt. Source: Wall Street Journal


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

https://youtu.be/Axo8V-HNuHA






Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan's Debt Crisis

Can Pakistan Avoid Recurring IMF Bailouts?

Pakistan is the 3rd Fastest Growing Trillion Dollar Economy

CPEC Financing: Is China Ripping Off Pakistan?

Information Tech Jobs Moving From India to Pakistan

Pakistan is 5th Largest Motorcycle Market

"Failed State" Pakistan Saw 22% Growth in Per Capita Income in Last 5 Years

CPEC Transforming Pakistan

Pakistan's $20 Billion Tourism Industry Boom

Home Appliance Ownership in Pakistani Households

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network


Sunday, April 21, 2019

OPEN Forum 2019: Pakistani Entrepreneurs Summit in Silicon Valley

OPEN Forum 2019 drew hundreds of Pakistanis and Pakistani-Americans to Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley on Saturday April 20, 2019.  This year's conference featured a keynote by Karachi-born Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder of Careem ride-hailing service. In addition, there were sessions on artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, financial technology and entrepreneurship.  Careem has recently been acquired by Uber for $3.1 billion.  The attendees included entrepreneurs, technologists, business executives, investors, lawyers, accountants and others who make up the tech startup ecosystem of Silicon Valley.

Careem Co-Founder's Keynote:

Mudassir Shiekha, born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, gave the morning keynote. He talked about his personal and entrepreneurial journey and the challenges he faced along the way. His first hand experience of riding roof-tops of buses in Karachi stayed with him and eventually led to the choice of starting up a ride-hailing service to ease public transit problems in the MENAP region that covers Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.

Mudassir Sheikha, Pakistani Co-Founder of Careem

The first challenge Mudassir Sheikha and his fellow co-founders Magnus Olsson and Abdulla Elyas faced was raising capital for their new venture. Although there is no dearth of capital in the Arabian Gulf, the risk capital in the region tends to flow to Silicon Valley and San Francisco startups like Uber rather than to local entrepreneurs in MEAP region. Initially the trio were turned down by all five Middle East investors they approached. Somehow, they were able to persuade one of them to relent and give them a term sheet that they accepted.

Audience at OPEN Forum 2019

The second challenge was lack of good maps that Careem drivers needed to provide efficient and reliable service to their customers. The approached Google but they were told the company is focused on markets in Europe and North America. MENAP region was not a priority for them. So Careem had to take it upon itself to develop more complete and reliable street level maps. "We not only had to build mapping infrastructure, we had to build our own places database because Google was not complete nor reliable," Sheikha told the audience.  As of February 2019, Careem has mapped 45,000 miles of roads in MENAP region.  In addition, Careem has also had build its payment system that accommodates cash payments.

Mudassir said that acquisition of Careem by Uber is not the end of his journey.  Instead, it's a new chapter in his and Careem's lives. He sees great potential for Careem to serve a region with 700 million people. Only 2% of them afford Careem's service today but he sees the rest of the 98% as hid target. He sees delivery business with the growth of e-commerce as another major opportunity for Careem.

Artificial Intelligence:

The panel discussion on the current state, the promise and the future impact of artificial intelligence (AI) featured 5 AI experts, including 3 Pakistani-Americans: Professor Ali Minai, Professor Irfan Essa and Batool Arhamna Haider. All three are from Karachi. Ali and Batool are both my fellow alumni of NED University of Engineering and Technology. Batool, the sole woman on the panel, works as a scientist at Amazon's AI group. Irfan Essa teaches Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia.  Abbas Rafii and Ahmad Abdelkader, both CTOs of the Silicon Valley companies they founded, were the remaining two panelists.

Panelists said the artificial intelligence (AI) software today serves as tools to aid people in getting basic things done.  Advances in sensor networks and availability vast amounts of data and neural networks will help advance machine learning as well as machine cognition and understanding.

The question going forward is whether AI will eventually be an entirely new autonomous species or serve to collaborate with humans in accomplishing higher level tasks in a variety of fields ranging from retail and manufacturing to education and health care. What eventually happens has huge implications for productivity and labor markets. Dr. Ali Minai used the example of Google translation of Urdu poet Ghalib's poetry to make the point that AI today lacks nuance.

Philz Coffee:

Philz (Faisal) Jaber sat for a fireside chat with Omar Siddiqui in the afternoon. Born in Ramallah in Palestine, Faisal has become a fixture in San Francisco over decades.  As an 8-year-old in Palestine he sold coffee beans door-to-door and spent afternoons at family gatherings where his grandma shared Turkish coffee.

Phil (Faisal) Jaber of Philz Coffee

Philz' is highly caffeinated coffee of choice in Silicon Valley. It is an expensive alternative to Starbucks and Pete's.  Philz fame shot up after he served coffee at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's surprise wedding with Priscilla Chan. Here's how Forbes reported it:

"Everyone who arrived that Saturday afternoon, including the couple's parents, was taken aback when they saw Chan in a lace gown and the Facebook chief in a navy-blue suit. Everyone, that is, except Phil and Jacob Jaber. As the purveyors of Philz Coffee, San Francisco's alternative answer to Starbucks, father and son were among the few entrusted with Silicon Valley's biggest secret. On the day of the event they served their signature drinks, which were such a hit that Zuckerberg invited them to the postnuptial brunch the next day."

Summary:

Hundreds of Pakistani entrepreneurs met for OPEN Forum 2019 held at Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley. The event featured a keynote by Karachi-born Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder of Careem ride-hailing service, which was recently acquired by Uber for $3.1 billion. In addition, there were session on artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, financial technology and entrepreneurship.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Afiniti and Careem: Tech Unicorns Made in Pakistan

AI Research Lab and Startup Incubator at NED University

NED University Ranked Among World's Top 200 For Impact

NED Alum Raghib Husain Sells Silicon Valley Company for $7.5 Billion

Pakistan's Research Output Growth Among World's Fastest

Pakistani Universities Ranked Among Asia's Top 500 Up from 16 to 23 in 2018

Pakistan's Tech Exports Surge Past $1 Billion in FY 2018

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Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Current Debt Crisis Threatens Pakistan's Future

Pakistan is battling massive twin deficits, deteriorating foreign currency reserves, low exports, diminishing tax revenues, a weak currency, unsustainable external debt payments, and soaring sovereign debt. This crisis has forced the country to seek IMF (International Monetary Fund) bailout, the 13th such request in Pakistan's 72 year history.

Pakistan Debt Service: Source SBP
Pakistan's debt repayment costs rose to $5.4 billion for first half of fiscal 2019 ( July 2018-Dec 2018), up from $7.5 billion for the entire fiscal 2018 (July 2017-June 2018), according to the State Bank of Pakistan. At this rate, the total debt service cost for current fiscal 2019 will exceed $11 billion, adding to the nation's debt crisis.

Pakistan's External Debt. Source: Wall Street Journal

This $11 billion debt service cost will add to the projected trade deficit of nearly $40 billion for the current fiscal year. How can Pakistan fund this balance of payments deficit of about $50 billion? Remittances of $21 billion in current FY2019 from Pakistani diaspora are expected to reduce it to $30 billion. PTI government has taken on billions of dollars in loans from Gulf Arabs and China. Given the low rates of foreign investments in the country, a big chunk of the remaining deficit will have to be met by borrowing even more funds which will further increase future debt service costs.

Pakistan's Current Account Deficit. Source: Trading Economics

As a result, Pakistan is now battling massive twin deficits, deteriorating foreign currency reserves, low exports, diminishing tax revenues, a weak currency, onerous external debt payments, and soaring sovereign debt. This crises has forced the country to seek IMF (International Monetary Fund) bailout, the 13th such request in Pakistan's 72 year history.

In the short term, PTI government's efforts are beginning to pay off. The current account deficit (CAD) in first 8 months of FY2019 (July-Feb 2018) declined to $8.844 billion, down 22.5%, from $11.421 billion in same period last year, according to SBP as reported by Dawn newspaper.

However, Pakistan's economic woes are far from over. The country's twin deficits are structural. Its exports and tax collections as percentage of its GDP are among the lowest in the world. British civil society organization Jubilee Debt Campaign conducted research in 2017 that showed that Pakistan has received IMF loans in 30 of the last 42 years, making this one of the most sustained periods of lending to any country.

History of Pakistan's IMF Bailouts

Pakistan needs to find a way to build up and manage significant dollar reserves to avoid recurring IMF bailouts. The best way to do it is to focus on increasing the country's exports that have remained essentially flat in absolute dollars and declined as percentage of GDP over the last 5 years. Pakistan's economic attaches posted at the nation's embassies need to focus on all export opportunities in international markets and help educate Pakistani businesses on the best way to take advantage of them. This needs to be concerted effort involving various government ministries and departments working closely with industry groups. At the same time, the new government needs to crack down on illicit outflow of dollars from the country.

Azad Labon Ke Sath host Faraz Darvesh discusses Imran Khan's challenges with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/CQ41Qt_2XQM




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Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Karachi's NED University Ranked Among World's Top 200 For Impact

N.E.D. University of Engineering and Technology (NEDUET) has been ranked among the world's top 200 universities for "impact" by Times Higher Education. The institution located in Pakistan's largest city of Karachi is ranked among 101-200 in the world. NEDUET also tops the rankings for impact among Pakistani universities included in THE 2019 rankings. The Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to provide "comprehensive and balanced comparisons across three broad areas: research, outreach, and stewardship".

Among other institutions of higher learning, the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF), Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK) Institute of Technology and University of Veterinary Sciences Lahore are ranked among 200-300 while COMSATS and Government College University Lahore are among 301+.



Of the 17 UN SDGs, THE has evaluated university performance on 11 of them in its first edition of the ranking: SDG 3 – Good health and well-being SDG 4 – Quality education SDG 5 – Gender equality SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth SDG 9 – Industry, innovation, and infrastructure SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production SDG 13 – Climate action SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals.

University Impact Rankings. Source: Times Higher Education

A university’s final score in the overall table is calculated by combining its score in SDG 17 with its top three scores out of the remaining 10 SDGs. SDG 17 accounts for 22 per cent of the overall score, while the other SDGs each carry a weighting of 26 per cent. This means that different universities are scored based on a different set of SDGs, depending on their focus.

There are three categories of metrics within each SDG:

1. Research metrics are derived from data supplied by Elsevier. For each SDG, a specific query has been created that narrows the scope of the metric to papers relevant to that SDG. As with the World University Rankings, we are using a five-year window between 2013 and 2017. The only exception is the metric on patents that cite research under SDG 9, which relates to the timeframe in which the patents were published rather than the timeframe of the research itself. The metrics chosen for the bibliometrics differ by SDG and there are always at least two bibliometric measures used.

2. Continuous metrics measure contributions to impact that vary continually across a range – for example, the number of graduates with a health-related degree. These are usually normalized to the size of the institution. When we ask about policies and initiatives – for example, the existence of mentoring programs – our metrics require universities to provide the evidence to support their claims. In these cases we give credit for the evidence, and for the evidence being public. These metrics are not usually size normalized. Evidence is evaluated against a set of criteria and decisions are cross validated where there is uncertainty. Evidence is not required to be exhaustive – we are looking for examples that demonstrate best practice at the institutions concerned.

3. Timeframe Unless otherwise stated, the data used refer to the closest academic year to January to December 2017.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

AI Research Lab and Startup Incubator at NED University

NED Alum Raghib Husain Sells Silicon Valley Company for $7.5 Billion

Pakistan's Research Output Growth Among World's Fastest

Pakistani Universities Ranked Among Asia's Top 500 Up from 16 to 23 in 2018

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OPEN Silicon Valley Forum 2017: Pakistani Entrepreneurs Conference

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Pakistani Brothers Spawned $20 Billion Security Software Industry

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Pakistani-American Pioneered 3D Technology in Orthodontics

Pakistani-Americans Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision