Riaz Haq writes this data-driven blog to provide information, express his opinions and make comments on many topics. Subjects include personal activities, education, South Asia, South Asian community, regional and international affairs and US politics to financial markets. For investors interested in South Asia, Riaz has another blog called South Asia Investor at http://www.southasiainvestor.com and a YouTube video channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkrIDyFbC9N9evXYb9cA_gQ
Pakistan is dealing with a new health emergency with the HIV/AIDS outbreak. Nearly 700 people, most of them children, have so far tested HIV positive in Ratodero, Sindh, according to Pakistan's health officials. Authorities allege that this HIV outbreak started when local doctor Muzaffar Ghangharo, who has AIDS, infected patients in early April.
"Initial investigations reveal that used syringes are being repacked, which may not only grow significantly the number of HIV cases but also other diseases," said Federal Health Minister Zafar Mirza.
A joint 11-member rapid response team of health experts from the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have just arrived in Pakistan to support the emergency response to the nation's “biggest” outbreak of HIV infections in a southern district where more than 700 people, mostly children, have been diagnosed over the past month, according to Voice of America.
Minister Mirza believes that reported cases of HIV/AIDS in Pakistan are only the tip of the iceberg. He says that official estimates put the number of HIV/AIDS carriers in the country at around 163,000.
“But only 25,000 of them are registered with our national and provincial HIV/AIDS treatment centers, and out of them, merely 16,000 visit the programs routinely to receive their medicine,” the minister was reported as saying.
With questionable medical practices in private as well as public hospitals, Pakistan's health system is inadequate for dealing with serious health crises like the HIV/AIDS outbreak. However, the US CDC and WHO have had a lot of experience in fighting HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa where it continues to be the biggest contributor to disease burdens and premature deaths.
Pakistan needs to work with WHO and US CDC and use the opportunity to learn from their experience in terms of prevention and antiretroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS. Such learning could also help improve the overall health care practices and outcomes in the country. Right now, time is of the essence in identifying all current cases for quickly controlling further spread of the disease.
It was in early 1980s when I was driving through Yuba City with a couple of friends. It was lunch time and we were looking for a halal restaurant when we spotted Rasul's. At the restaurant we met a man who introduced himself as Mohammad Ali Rasul. He spoke in Mexican accented English but he told us his father came from the Punjab region now in Pakistan and his mother was of Mexican ancestry. There were 400 such marriages between Punjabi men and Mexican women by 1940, according to Professor Karen Leonard of UC Irvine. Rasul gave us a warm welcome when we told him him we are also originally from Pakistan. He offered us his "Roti Quesadilla" special without charge as a gift. The fusion dish is a variation on Queso Quesadilla made with Indian "nan"(flat bread) topped with traditional rich, melting cheese which originated in Mexico and Texas. I had forgotten all about it until memory was refreshed by a story titled "California’s Lost (and Found) Punjabi-Mexican Cuisine" by Sonia Chopra I read in Eater.com.
Early South Asians:
Currently, there are nearly 5 million people from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and other South Asian nations in the United States. The earliest record of South Asians arriving in California is in the San Francisco Chronicle of April 6, 1899. It carried a story of the arrival of four Sikh men who were allowed to enter the United States in San Francisco, according to UC Davis Digital Archives.
Karen Leonard, a professor of anthropology at the University of California at Irvine and author of "Making Ethnic Choices: California’s Punjabi Mexican Americans", says that there were almost 2,000 Punjabi men living in California in the early 1900s, and approximately one-third of them married (or re-married) after settling in the state. Over 80% of the men were Sikh and most of the rest were Muslim. Almost all of them were from Central Punjab and came to California by ships from the then British Hong Kong via Vancouver in British Columbia in Canada. They had a choice between going to canal colonies of Lyallpur (now Faisalabad, Pakistan) and emigrating to North America. Most moved to canal colonies while the rest chose to go to the United States.
While some Punjabis worked on building the transcontinental railroad along with Chinese immigrants, the vast majority of them chose farm work. While Punjabi men lived and worked on the farms with their Mexican spouses in several western states including Arizona and Texas, it was California that reminded them of their home in the Punjab, the land of five rivers. One of them described the similarity in the following words as narrated by Professor Karen Leonard:
"In my story of the Land of Five Rivers was Sacramento Valley. The river Sutlej was Feather River. The rest of the four rivers--American, Bear, Yuba, and Sacramento. My Bhaskhra (Dam), the Oroville Dam. Mu Govind Sagar, the Oroville Lake. The city of Anandpur Sahib, the nearby town of Paradise. The Shivaliks, the Sierra Foothills. There was Naina Devi, our Mount Shasta. And yes, the Ja- walamukhi, the Lassen Volcanic Park. Obviously, I was carried away by my imagination. Yet, the reality was not far behind. The water, like the water in the Punjab, had the same urge to run downward. The distant hills had the same charm. The fire in Ja- walamukhi and in the Lassen Volcano has the same way to burn."
South Asians, like their fellow Asians among the Chinese and the Japanese, faced widespread discrimination in the United States culminating in the Immigration Act of 1917. It was the second act, also known as the Literacy Act or the Asiatic Barred Zone Act after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, aimed squarely at restricting immigration. An even stricter version of the US immigration law was passed in 1924 which was praised by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf, according to Daniel Okrent, author of The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians and Other European Immigrants Out of America.
Bhagat Singh Thind, a US Army veteran and a naturalized US citizen, was stripped of his citizenship under the Immigration Act of 1917. He sued to get his status restored. In a landmark case United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, Thind argued that as a descendent of Indian Aryans he was racially "white". The US Supreme Court unanimously rejected Thind's argument and ruled that he was not white "in accordance with the understanding of the common man".
Thind ruling was followed by a tragedy when Vaishno Das Bagai from Peshawar committed suicide in 1928 after being denaturalized as a US citizen in Los Angeles.
The population of South Asians in America remained very low due to severe immigration restrictions from non-European countries until the US Immigration Act of 1965, also known as the Hart-Celler Act. This act opened up immigration from Asia, Africa and Latin America and significantly changed the US demographics in the last half century.
Most of the nearly 5 million South Asians in the United States today owe their presence in this country to the passage of this 1965 law passed by Democrats. A large number of South Asians are engineers and technologists and many live in Silicon Valley. Over 500,000 Pakistani immigrants and their children live in the United States as of 2013, according to a report compiled by Migration Policy Institute. Of these, 273,000 were born in Pakistan and the remaining 180,000 are US-born. Pakistani-American population has more than doubled in the last decade due to increased immigration, according to US 2010 Census data. Pakistani-Americans (pop: 450,000) are the seventh largest community among Asian-Americans, behind Chinese (3.8 million), Filipinos (3.4 million), Indians (3.2 million), Vietnamese (1.74 million), Koreans (1.7 million) and Japanese (1.3 million), according to Asian-American Center For Advancing Justice . They are still a minuscule fraction of the overall US population.
Trump's Anti-Immigration Policy:
The demographic changes since 1965 have angered many Republican white Americans who support immigration restrictions and voted for President Donald J. Trump in 2016 general election. Trump has called Mexicans "criminals and rapists", complained about letting in people from "shit-hole" countries and imposed ban on entry of Muslims from several countries. His efforts to further restrict overall immigration have met with significant resistance from Congressional Democrats.
Here's a brief video clip of the documentary Roots in the Sand on Punjabi Mexicans:
The Mayet Family from Karachi, Pakistan has won AI Family Challenge World Championship held in Silicon Valley, California on May 20, 2019. The family's entry called "Cavity Crusher" uses artificial intelligence algorithm to monitor a child's brush time and determine their oral health habits to notify parents accordingly. It was organized by Iridescent, a global technology education nonprofit organization that empowers underrepresented young people to become self-motivated learners, inventors, and leaders.
The AI Family Challenge partners with lifelong learning advocates and leading experts in AI, including those from Google.org, NVIDIA, Intel, and the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.
The event was hosted at Intel's Santa Clara campus. It was the culmination of Iridescent's AI Family Challenge in which 7,500 people from 13 countries participated in a 15-week program that brings together families, schools, communities and industry mentors to create AI projects that solve local problems.
The family's journey to the AI Championship began in Karachi where Pakistan Science Club, in partnership with Iridescent brought this learning opportunity to Pakistan at two different sites. More than 40 families from Karachi participated in an 18-week long program. Through the AI Family Challenge program, the Mayet family learned about AI as it guided them through the identification of a problem in their community and applied what they learned to develop a solution for it using AI.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.”
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.
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?
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)
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?
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)
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.)"
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?
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)
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)