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
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Jinnah's Pakistan Booms Amidst Doom and Gloom
Media reports from Pakistan often portray a picture of doom and gloom, with the IMF bailout of the economy, terrorist training camps, Islamic radicals, horrible governance, and corrupt and inept politicians making the headlines around the world. The adjective of "failed state" is often used to describe Pakistan. Is there more to the story than the big headlines? Is there hope for Pakistanis amidst the doom and gloom? On Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah's 132nd birthday today, I think there is. The telecommunication, information technology, higher education, media and the middle class progress started during Musharraf-Aziz years continues to have its impact on the country founded by the Quaid-e-Azam more the 61 years ago. Here are a few things I found posted by a fellow blogger on Tech Lahore blog:
1. Pakistan is the most connected country in South Asia, with the highest teledensity. The Internet penetration in Pakistan is at 10% versus 5% in India, according to ITU.
2. Pakistan’s communications costs are lower than any other country in the region.
3. Pakistan has the world’s largest biometric database (NADRA); this system (not the data) is now being provided to allied countries.
4. Pakistan has the world’s largest WiMAX network.
5. Pakistan has one of the world’s most aggressive Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) rollouts.
6. Pakistan has one of the highest rates of cellular connectivity growth in the world (According to PTA 2007’s report the rate of growth in Pakistan’s mobile sector is fourth highest in the world).
7. Pakistan was the winner of the 2007 GSM industry association award.
8. The US is importing UAVs designed and built in Pakistan to protect America’s borders.
9. With WLL (CDMA), WiMAX, GSM and FTTH, Pakistan is pretty much leading the pack in terms of diversity and breadth of connectivity.
10. According to Gartner, Pakistan is a “first category” offshoring location; this ranking has grown by leaps and bounds.
11. Pakistani companies won several awards at Asia’s APICTA startup/innovation conference and were considered the most “interesting” and cutting edge in Asia.
12. The world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional is a Pakistani and so is the world’s youngest Cisco CCNA professional.
13. Pakistani students excelled in MIT’s global software talent competition.
14. Citations of Pakistani scientific publications are rising sharply.
15. Over two dozen Pakistani scientists are working on the Large Hadron Collider; the grandest experiment in the history of Physics.
16. In 2007, analysts at Standard Chartered bank estimated that Pakistan has a middle class of 30 million which earns an average of about $10,000 per year. And adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), Pakistan's per capita GDP is approaching $3,000 per head.
The Wall Street Journal did a story in September 2007 on Pakistan's start-up boom that said, "Scores of new businesses once unseen in Pakistan, from fitness studios to chic coffee shops to hair-transplant centers, are springing up in the wake of a dramatic economic expansion. As a result, new wealth and unprecedented consumer choice have become part of Pakistan's volatile social mix."
In the absence of any visionary and pro-active political leadership in the nation, Pakistan will likely continue to be heavily influenced by external factors and events in the foreseeable future. The change in Washington and potential change in Delhi in 2009 will likely have a far greater impact on Pakistan than anything Pakistani leaders say or do.
I am hopeful that people of Pakistan, especially the young entrepreneurial and the professional classes, will continue to do their best to help extend the positive legacies of Musharraf-Aziz years. I believe it can be safely said that the communications revolution (accompanied by dramatic growth in urbanization and the vociferous electronic and new media) as well as a significant enlargement of the middle class in Pakistan helped sow the seeds of the end of arbitrary actions by President Musharraf. In other words, Musharraf pulled a Gorbachev (a la perestroika that unleashed uncontrolled energies) by enabling powerful resistance to his arbitrary rule. Some of these changes that Musharraf brought are durable and I hope will make our rulers more accountable. There will still be abuse of power but the media spotlight will hopefully shine brightly on it to the detriment of the abusers. Eventually there will be real participatory democracy to serve all Pakistanis with appropriate checks and balances imposed by a much larger and more powerful and aware middle class essential for true democratic governance in Pakistan, or anywhere else.
Here's a video titled "I Am Pakistan":
Here are two video clips of Pakistan's progress in the last few years:
Pakistan's Foreign Visitors Pleasantly Surprised
Start-ups Drive a Boom in Pakistan
Infrastructure and Real Estate Development in Pakistan
Pakistan Conducting Research in Antarctica
Pakistan's Telecom Boom
ITU Internet Data
NEDUET Progress Report 2008
Pakistani Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley
Musharraf's Economic Legacy
Should Pakistanis be Proud of Their Country?
Labels: Doom, Gloom, high technology, Hope, infrastructure, Pakistan, Science
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Pakistan has the largest number of terrorists than in any other nation....
the people are more bounded by hatred then by love.....they need to hate India inorder to stay together.....I pity on pakistan and i hate jinnah because of a leader like him we sindhis were made to leave our motherland.
You have no right to fight for kashmiris as yo have taken away sindhis right to self determination.....Its high time u realise the value of tolerance and mutual respect as soon the rays of hope will diminish upon you. Look at India it is the second fastest growing Economy in the world and look at pakistan begging in front of IMF????
We Indians love and respect each other and every day is a new day and a new innovation.....go and check the forbes list you will find Indian millionares and Indian MNCs........Can you figure and pakistani out there???? world over banks collapsed not in Indian....so don mess with us. remember we are nieghbours we have to stay together but if you carry out mumbai we will be force to hate you.
Learn from history Enflish and french have a gore past and have four hundred years hating each other and finally are progressing due to EU (European Union). work together or alone you will perish.
All the above mentioned things have been achieved in Pervez Musharraf/Shaukat Aziz era, If these are the results of the puppet PM, I want another puppet PM. If Pervez Musharraf was a dictator, I want to have another dictator in Pakistan. I want to see my country progressing in this hard living world.
All this have been achieved due to better Education Policy, Better say Higher Education Policy. Pakistan was sending 50 students fro PhD Program from Abroad through HEC. What happened after Pervez Musharraf?
After the (FORCED) resignation of Dr Atta ur Rehman, the performance of HEC is declining and the culture of work is changing in HEC. The process of corruption has been started. Here is one of the highlight.
Now HEC don't publish the list of selected candidates for scholarship. It changed its web site layout and ask the individual to provide his/her national id to know about its interview call, whereas before this a complete list was provided along with marks. So one can easily contact if his/her name was not added in the list and he/she has the minimum criteria marks. Now why HEC started hiding data all of sudden, Obviously HEC management is interested in corruption and don't believe over merit any more.
all Indians proudly claiming Pakistan to be failed state must be having heart attack!
12. The world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional is a Pakistani and so is the world’s youngest Cisco CCNA professional.
So are the world's youngest bride and the world's youngest suicide bomber.
Update: Now the youngest kid to get through the microsoft exams is an Indian now and her age is 9 years......please corect your stats asap....
also 5% of Indian population is greatr of 10% of pakistani population....???? so the mobile penetration is also less....why boost of incorrect facts??? realise the actual issues and take an oath to resolve them....there is nothing wrong to be behind in the race until you are motivated to win it......but for that you canno close your eyes and run as by closing the eyes one does not become first but one becomes first by running harder and starving harder......pakistani ideology has been to use unfair mean to win the race....why not run harder and exert oneself like no one ever has....can pakistan do That??????
Riaz - Your technology to spot and attract indian bigots, indian terrorists/extremists, indian pseudo-liberals, appears to be working...
This is the first time i am ever commenting.. I am an indian and i feel happy for the way pakistan is progressing. I am also feeling bad for you because if you people would have had a greater heart and more love then it would have progressed even further. You are scaring the people all over the world, this may isolate you. I consider all pakistanis as my brothers and sisters.. they may not. Share your love and friendship with your neighbours you will progress more. I know you may not be involved in any terririst activities but you should know pumping terrirists into india is bad. Dawood ibrahim is a bad guy and the whole world knows it i reside in his city i know he is bad but if pakistan supports him that is wrong, A few days back in mumbai we said they are from pakistan if nobody is ready to believe how will it work. If today they refuse you to be a pakistani how will you prove you are a pakistani. you are not allowed to enter pakistan how will you prove. we should love each other fighting will take us no where we should be friends...cooperate with us and we will put an end to all these terrorists.
At Indian Sindhi:
The whole world knows how much indians love and respect each other. The country where South Indian hates North Indian and peoples from West Bengal. Country where extremist such as Bal Thakrey and Parties like Shiv Sena grows. Country where 100s of Rebel Movements are going on against their own system. I can write throusand words here. Forget it. If i do som I will divert from the topic just like you.
Better work together to defeat the terrorists. We are neighbors and will remains so.
@ Faheemuddin Farooqui
I'm south indian, and I dont have problem with north indians. There are problems over languages sometimes which gets quite annoying when you cant talk hindi in tamil nadu but we dont cut each other up over that. As a federation, our leaders had the foresight to have linguistic states and realized the importance of lingusitc indentities.
Parties like the Shiv Sena contrary to what you may think, are getting less popular in my country. In fact, I expect the BJP to lose badly in the parliamentary elections this time.
What are the 100s of rebel groups. Try as hard as i might, I can think of half a dozen. Most of them are not even major.
Received via email:
Some of the advancements you have mentioned for Pakistan are surprising, but correct I believe, for you have usually done your homework for your blogs. Now that we are talking about Pakistan's achievements, my personal observation is that there is a tremendous amount of talent in poetry, story writing, drama, acting, music composition and such artistic endeavors. And this talent is found in all age groups and all languages including Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto and Saraeki.
First things first. You need a war to keep American aid flowing and to get off the hook from fighting 'taliban'. Yuo need foreign aid because you will not survive w/o that. You are the largest suppliers of terror all across the world. Probably, you can nationalize terrorism. Facts being facts pakistan is the hotbed of terrorism. Eliminate TERRORISM or get eliminated by 2012 as a US report has said.
In India north hates the south and visa-versa.......says pakistan but the entire world recognizes that pakistan today is at the brink of disintegration.
We have BJP and Shiv Sena atleast they brought FDI..... and pakistan has taliban who brings along terrorism and poverty and and of the day your country is begging infront of IMF.
India is the second fastest growing economy in the world and may be the third largest in 2020 inspite of all our problems but pakistan will it be be there together in 2020 is the question the world is thinking about.....
and pakistan has no right to stand up for kashmiris as you threw the Sindhis from their land....in the name of religion you kill others and take their land but do not worry as sindhis in India and the world are making progress.....
In mumbai which is the most expansive city in Asia Sindhis own the major educational institutions.....
look at yourself remove your gliches and then show the mirror to India as among the uglies around pakistan is the most ugliest. like it or not no one wants to tour pakistan.
so get up and get your government to do development work rather than they supporting terrorist and calling them no sate actors.....shame that you even do not own your citizens. ask your army to go to villages and teach people and educate them rather than giving them hatred and guns and then disowning them. your country is going bad to worse due to lack of literacy and due to seeing the world through pakistani generated information. get global or you will be alienated.
Islam is great and i have a sister who is Muslim but she says that islam does not say to take life whereas your country is ready to take like in the name of religion. understand true islam which tells us to die for truth but do not kill the innocent. what Ajmal kasab the pakistani did was incorrect pakistan should own him and express sorrow and regret on his acts.....
when jinnah made pakistan and today he would rgret it seeing the sate of affairs of pakistan. already his daughter disowned his pakistan and is living in India its high time the pakistanis realsie the truth and do something. you owe and apology to all Sindhis
Shiv Sena is a product of immigration politics.Its feeds of fears of jobs losses of natives in the metro.So its confined to just Mumbai for all practical purposes. We have a stable polity encompassing all those differences and successfully running for 60 years. You have lost Bangladesh to ethnic biases and same goes for resentment in Baluchistan. You may be aware that you just lost swat to Taliban.Good luck with that.
Please keep your rants off this blog. This blog is about something totally disconnected from your issues in Mumbai. In terms of hatred, please look within. Pakistanis are by far more generous and hospitable than Indians. Your comments about pitying Pakistan and hating Jinnah show your Indian mentality of never accepting Pakistan and moving on with this reality. We don't question your nationhood and you should not either. As far as telling us about the MNCs and Indian millionaires, all I have to say is that your country is the greatest example of haves and have nots. Right outside of Banglore where you pimp India's wealth lay wide swathes of impoverished localities who have no share of India's millions and billions. Then you tell us to "not mess with us?" Well buddy you better check yourself before you wreck yourself. Your country is falling apart at the seams despite your wealth. You can blame Pakistan and if Pakistan was not there then you would blame China or BD. Its about time that you put a check on your arrogance. The fact that Americans have been lighting sunshine up India's ass does not mean that everyone in the world buys that.
It would do you just as well to learn history and look at the outcome of all the powers that tried to create their hegemony over others. So what goes up comes down...you guys are no exception. So control the arrogance and learn to live with humility instead of showing off your millions that are shared by a few thousand in your country of over a billion people.
Here's a recent report from India:
New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) Governments have limitations in restraining “non-state actors”, Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan said Saturday in the context of the Mumbai terrorist attacks.”Yet another practical constraint that has been brought to the fore with the Mumbai attacks has been the question of holding governments responsible for the actions of non-state actors,” sad Balakrishnan, addressing a conference on terrorism and human rights.
“While one can say that there is a moral duty on all governments to prevent and restrain the activities of militant groups on their soil, the same is easier said than done,” added the chief justice.
The chief justice addressed the conference shortly before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his inaugural address urged “governments and authorities in our region” to act firmly and quickly” against terrorists.
While India has maintained the 10 terrorists who struck Mumbai had come from Pakistan, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has termed them as non-state actors.
Balakrishnan argued: “Several terrorist groups are able to organise financial support and procure weapons even in Western nations where it is perceived that policing and criminal justice systems are relatively stronger than the subcontinent.”
The chief justice made the observations while dealing with various possible legal responses to the “doctrinal and practical challenges” posed to the international legal community by the phenomena of terrorism.
The chief justice censured TV news channels for round-the-clock, unfettered coverage of the terrorist attack and the ensuing hostage crisis saying it might provoke desire for retribution amongst common masses against a particular community.
“I must state that the symbolic impact of terrorist attacks on the minds of ordinary citizens has also been considerably amplified by the role of pervasive media coverage,” he said, adding: “One of the ill-effects of unrestrained coverage is that of provoking anger amongst the masses.
“While it is fair for the media to prompt public criticism of inadequacies in the security and law-enforcement apparatus, there is also a possibility of such resentment turning into an irrational desire for retribution,” said the chief justice.
A website called Democracy Arsenal asks the following about this post:
Fine, Pakistan is, in some sense, technologically advanced. None of Tech Lahore's indicators, though, discuss what I would call underlying structural factors. In other words, these are primarily dependent rather than independent variables, meaning that it is unlikely that the feedback loops are going to run from technology to politics or culture, whereas politics will obviously be an engine of reform in non-political sectors.
Here's what I think:
Without going into the specific accomplishments in Pakistan during Musharraf-Aziz regime, I believe it can be safely said that the communications revolution (accompanied by dramatic growth in vociferous electronic and new media) as well as a significant enlargement of the middle class in Pakistan helped sow the seeds of the end of arbitrary actions by President Musharraf. In other words, Musharraf pulled a Gorbachev ( a la perestroika that unleashed uncontrolled energies) by enabling powerful resistance to arbitrary rule. Some of these changes are durable and I hope will make our rulers more accountable. There will still be abuse of power but the sunlight will shine brightly on it to the detriment of the abusers. Eventually there will be real participatory democracy with appropriate checks and balance imposed by a much larger and more powerful and aware middle class essential for true democratic governance in Pakistan.
A pity a pakistani who searches everywhere on the internet any voice that supports what they think perhaps they are trying to ignore the world view and looking for the people who are thinking alike them....
let me tell you that the sun sets when it sets and it does not become night if you close your eyes.....
open yours eyes your country is in despair and needs emergency to be applied. let all your citizens come together and deal with terrorism or the country will not be left......pakistan needs a future now you decide whether you look for one or close your eyes even to that possiblity
:-) Haq sab is trying to raise the red rag and u r falling for it.So do I. Welcome to the party!
This sounds exactly like the drum roll Times of India has about India.
But the reality is that South Asia is mostly poor and the people lack basic needs because our governments spend most of its money on crap.
Following comment received via email:
Re. Riaz's FIRST point on teledensity Pakistan is at 10% versus 5% in India, see below (source: CIA World Facts Book)
Pakistan India Ratio PK/IN
Population 172,800,048 1,147,995,904 15%
Telephone mail lines 4,546,000 38,760,000 12%
Mobile Phones 88,020,000 296,080,000 30%
Radio AM 31, FM 68, shortwave N/A AM 153, FM 91, shortwave 68
TV 20 562 4%
Internet Hosts 197,264 2,707,000 7%
Internet Users 17,500,000 80,000,000 22%
Airports 146 346 42%
Re. his SECOND point
Re. Riaz's THIRD point (Pakistan has the world's largest biometric database (NADRA); this system (not the data) is now being provided to allied countries.)
Since when is the DAWN newspaper is a real authentic source, which assumes that the US, the Russians, the Euros and the Japs were all caught holding their dicks in their hands while Pakistan developed the so-called world's largest biometric database. The US has in its biometric database not only the US immigrants, visitors, criminals, Afghans, Iraqis, Pakistanis and many others, totalling over 200 million entries, while on its last count (Oct 2007), Nadra had issued its 60 millionth CNIC.
Re. FOURTH point (Pakistan has the world's largest WiMAX network.)
Claims and more claims. India's TATA is claiming it has the world's largest WiMax. The truth is in the definition. WiMax is for places which have no or limited wired connectivity, so it is natural for both India and Pakistan to take the lead.
Re. TENTH point (the other ones are frosting)(Offshoring in Pakistan)
The Karachi IT center has been shot down by Pakistani ISI for its partnership with an Indian business. The result is that the IT Tower location is now only a 50-foot hole in the ground instead of a 47-story building.
However, TPS in Karachi is certainly a good looking future and NADRA is a great outfit. IT and telecom are certainly way ahead of the rest of the country. It is just that the tall claims are taller than the truth.
As far as the Internet penetration is concerned, the data comes from ITU at http://www.internetworldstats.com/asia.htm
The Wimax claim comes from http://4g-wirelessevolution.tmcnet.com/topics/4g-wirelessevolution/articles/47185-wimax-will-america-catch-up.htm
On the size of Pakistan's biometric database, it's plausible that it is the largest in the world because the entire population of Pakistan is required to have a national ID card with biometric info. There is no such requirement in India, China or the United States.
The most common form of ID in US is driver's license which has no biometric data.
Bravo Haq! I love to see these Indians go green with envy! Wat a bunch of bigots and extremists. They just can't see someone outperform them can they. rather than try to beat us through hard work they want to bring us down any way possible. wat wud the indians do without pakistan? who wud they blame for their own problems. they need us now more than ever to cover up their own failings at every level. we built it all through tough times, indians got it on a platter as they were the cheapest of the cheap labor available in the region.
for the pakistan bashing blind brigade: if u really thot india was great u wud stop comparing urselves with pakistan at every point and start looking at absolute statistics. the fact that despite having forbes billionaires ur country is steeped in poverty is not a cause of pride but utter shame at the pathetic state of affairs in ur house. we pakistanis have our own problem but we will tackle it ourselves rather than just blame india for them and sit on our bums waiting for things to change.
Biometric database is required to identify terrorist and it is quiet of obvious pakistan has the larger number.
Market value of pakistan was $70.26 billion in 2007 and current value, i expect you provide us.
Probably this will give a good reference to you on the big brother collection of data.
You suggest, "Biometric database is required to identify terrorist and it is quiet of obvious pakistan has the larger number."
I am not surprised that you choose to dismiss this capability (or any other accomplishments) by attributing it to terror. It says a lot more about your hideous agenda against Pakistan than anything else. The venom in your words is so obvious.
You add," Market value of pakistan was $70.26 billion in 2007 and current value, i expect you provide us."
Even at $70 billion, the KSE market cap represented less than 50% of Pakistan's GDP which is quite reasonable and sane. It certainly made a lot more sense than Mumbai market cap which exceeded 200% of India's GDP at its peak in 2008, a speculative bubble that eventually burst last year.
Here is the latest teledensity data from ITU:
Both Pakistan (50/100) and Bhutan (37/100) are ahead of India (29/100) in mobile. India might soon be overtaken by Afghanistan (29/100) and even Bangladesh (28/100).
Of course, the fact that Afghanistan is ahead of Bangladesh in mobile penetration should cause all sorts of palpitations in government offices in Dhaka.
Bangladesh was one of the earliest in South Asia to adopt mobile and is the most densely populated country in the world. How they were overtaken by Afghanistan, a war-torn country with difficult terrain, should cause serious re-examination of policies such as the BDT 800 SIM tax. The fact that Afghanistan’s CAGR for 2003-08 is 109%, higher than Bangladesh’s 2003-08 CAGR of 101%, suggests that the gap between the two countries is more likely to increase than decrease.
Here's an interesting report by Reuters in Pakistan:
By Alistair Scrutton
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - If you want a slice of peace and stability in a country with a reputation for violence and chaos, try Pakistan's M2 motorway.
At times foreign reporters need to a give a nation a rest from their instinctive cynicism. I feel like that with Pakistan each time I whizz along the M2 between Islamabad and Lahore, the only motorway I know that inspires me to write.
Now, if the M2 conjures images of bland, spotless tarmac interspersed with gas stations and fast food outlets, you would be right. But this is South Asia, land of potholes, reckless driving and the occasional invasion of livestock.
And this is Pakistan, for many a "failed state." Here, blandness can inspire almost heady optimism.
Built in the 1990s at a cost of around $1 billion, the 228-mile (367-km) motorway -- which continues to Peshawar as the M1 -- is like a six-lane highway to paradise in a country that usually makes headlines for suicide bombers, army offensives and political mayhem.
Indeed, for sheer spotlessness, efficiency and emptiness there is nothing like the M2 in the rest of South Asia.
It puts paid to what's on offer in Pakistan's traditional foe and emerging economic giant India, where village culture stubbornly refuses to cede to even the most modern motorways, making them battlegrounds of rickshaws, lorries and cows.
There are many things in Pakistan that don't get into the news. Daily life, for one. Pakistani hospitality to strangers, foreigners like myself included, is another. The M2 is another sign that all is not what it appears in Pakistan, that much lies hidden behind the bad news.
On a recent M2 trip, my driver whizzed along but kept his speedometer firmly placed on the speed limit. Here in this South Asian Alice's Wonderland, the special highway police are considered incorruptible. The motorway is so empty one wonders if it really cuts through one of the region's most populated regions.
"130, OK, but 131 is a fine," said the driver, Noshad Khan. "The police have cameras," he added, almost proudly. His hand waved around in the car, clenched in the form of a gun.
On one of my first trips to Pakistan. I arrived at the border having just negotiated a one-lane country road in India with cows, rickshaws and donkey-driven carts.
I toted my luggage over to the Pakistan side, and within a short time my Pakistani taxi purred along the tarmac. The driver proudly showed off his English and played U.S. rock on FM radio. The announcer even had an American accent. Pakistan, for a moment, receded, and my M2 trip began.
Built in the 1990s by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, it was part of his dream of a motorway that would unite Pakistan with Afghanistan and central Asia.
For supporters it shows the potential of Pakistan. Its detractors say it was a waste of money, a white elephant that was a grandiose plaything for Sharif.
But while his dreams for the motorway foundered along with many of Pakistan, somehow the Islamabad-Lahore stretch has survived assassinations, coups and bombs.
A relatively expensive toll means it is a motorway for the privileged. Poorer Pakistanis use the older trunk road nearby tracing an ancient route that once ran thousands of miles to eastern India. The road is shorter, busier and takes nearly an hour longer.
On my latest trip, I passed the lonely occasional worker in an orange suit sweeping the edge of the motorway in a seemingly Sisyphean task.
Here's an interesting except from analysis of Pakistan, calling it the Next BRIC, by theglobalguru.com:
...much like Russia, Pakistan also has been one of the top-performing stock markets over the past decade. Had you been able to invest in the Karachi Stock Exchange at the turn of the millennium, you'd be sitting on a much bigger pile of profits than, say, if you had invested in the “China miracle.” Pakistan offers yet another lesson in how gleaming skyscrapers offer little guidance in predicting future stock market performance.
Investing in Pakistan: Surprisingly Big
Teeming with 169 million souls, Pakistan is the world's sixth-largest country by population. That makes it smaller than Brazil , but larger that Russia, as well as the “Next BRIC” candidates, Turkey, Mexico, South Korea and Egypt. Bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the West, India in the East and China in the far Northeast, Pakistan is just about the size of France and the United Kingdom combined.
Pakistan's real per capita GDP of about $1,250 makes your average Pakistani slightly poorer than his counterpart in India -- and far behind the average in booming China. One third of Pakistan's population lives in poverty, and only half of the population is literate. Yet, Standard Chartered bank estimates that Pakistan has a middle class of 30 million that now earns an average of about $10,000 per year. And adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), Pakistan's per capita GDP approaches $3,000 per head. But take away that bit of economic affirmative action, and Pakistan's economy drops from the size of New Jersey's down to that of Alabama.
Investing in Pakistan: Edgy Relations with Uncle Sam
In the bad old days of the Soviet Union, Pakistan was a major U.S. ally. That relationship soured after the United States imposed sanctions on Pakistan after it refused to abandon its nuclear program. The “War on Terror” changed all that. After Pakistan ended its support of the Taliban regime in Kabul, American economic and military aid to Pakistan soared to more than $4 billion within three years of the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, American aid has played no small part in helping Pakistan's economy flourish over the past decade or so.
But as with most forms of handouts, gratitude is the least heartfelt of emotions. Anti-Americanism in Pakistan’s free media is just about as virulent as neighboring Iran. The Wall Street Journal’s Pakistan correspondent was ejected from the country after being charged with spying for the United States and Israel. The U.S. State Department advises U.S. citizens not to visit the country and has forbidden the families of its diplomats in Pakistan to visit since 2002.
Investing in Pakistan: A Solid Start to the Millennium
Economically, the first decade of the 21st century has been good to Pakistan. Thanks to economic reforms introduced in 2000 by the former Musharraf government, Pakistan has privatized $5-billion worth of assets, simplified its tax system and attracted large amounts of foreign direct investment (FDI) compared to its GDP. By mid-2005, the Pakistani economy was growing by 8.6%, and the World Bank named Pakistan as the top reformer in its region and among the top 10 reformers globally.
That changed abruptly with the onset of the “Great Recession.” Pakistan's ensuing balance-of-payments crisis and runaway inflation forced the IMF to step in, and offer a $7.6-billion emergency financing package in late 2008. To its credit, the Pakistani government kept its side of the bargain, maintaining its foreign exchange reserves above target and its fiscal deficit below. The Pakistani economic crisis has eased substantially, and in 2010, the economy is expected to grow at least 4%.
... The stock market index in Karachi has risen by more than 1,000% since 1999. And in 2002, Pakistan was the top-performing stock market in the world.
Huma Yusuf blogs for Pakistan's Dawn.com site in Karachi and is a close watcher of new media in Pakistan. She says that in her country, new media has spawned a pithy brand of citizen journalism. The reason: “unlike Indians, we feel like we’re in a state of war”.
She says that during the Pakistan Emergency of 2006-7, Pakistan’s online population grew from 2.5 million to 18 million.
Click here for an MIT media labs paper she published on activism by Pakistan's online population.
There is deep cynicism today, particularly among the secular liberals in Pakistan, about the two-nation theory and the whole idea of partition in 1947.
To put the reality of life in Punjab prior to partition, let me share with you some data that clearly shows how the "tangible benefits" were shared between Hindu-Sikh minority and Muslim majority:
From "PARTITION OF PUNJAB" by Dr. Kirpal Singh (1988)
1. Landholdings 65% non-Muslims the remaining by Muslims
2. Electrical Connections: Muslims 74,790 and non-Muslims 81,525
3. Tax paid for urban immobile property:
Rs. 924, 358 by non-Muslims &
Rs. 396,189 by Muslims
4. Sales Tax :
Rs. 519, 203 by non-Muslims &
Rs. 66,323 by Muslims
5. Out of the 97 banking branches only 7 were run by Muslims.
6. Of the Rs. 100 crore bank deposits only 1 crore belonged to Muslims
7. Out of 215 factories in Lahore 167 were owned by non-Muslims
8. Total investments Rs. 6.05 crores Rs. 4.88 crores by non-Muslims
9. OUT OF 16 COLLEGES ONLY 3 WERE RUN BY MUSLIMS
10. Out of the 40 High Schools only 13 were run by Muslims
11. Candidates appearing for University examinations only 28.51% were by Muslims.
12. Several Public libraries and hospitals established in the Lahore were by non-Muslims
13. Of the 5332 shops in Greater Lahore 3501 were owned by non-Muslims
14. Of the 80 Insurance offices, only 2 were owned by Muslims
15. Of the 12 Arts & Science colleges in Lahore only 1 was run by Muslims
16. Of the 15 professional colleges, excluding 3 run by the Govt, all were run by non-Muslims
17. Of the 12 hospitals NOT EVEN ONE WAS RUN BY MUSLIMS.
18. Rationing enumeration: Muslims (53.9%), Hindus (34%), Sikhs (10%) & others (2%).
Muslims in undivided Punjab had very low standards of living relative to Hindus and Sikhs, they were poor and backward, and there was no Muslim professional or business class as there is now.
Although I haven't seen any data on it yet, I bet similar situation prevailed in Bengal and Sindh as well. And I can bet development never touched the lives of the Muslim provinces of NWFP and Baluchistan either.
Here are a few excerpts from a piece by Prof William Easterly published in Foreign Policy Magazine:
"We found that there was a remarkably strong association between countries with the most advanced technology in 1500 and countries with the highest per capita income today. Europe already had steel, printed books, and oceangoing ships then, while large parts of Africa did not yet have writing or the wheel. Britain had all 24 of our sample technologies in 1500. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga had none of them. But technology also travels. North America, Australia, and New Zealand had among the world's most backward technology in 1500; today, they are among the wealthiest regions on Earth, reflecting the principle that it's the people who matter, not the places. As migration has transformed parts of the world that were nearly empty in the Middle Ages, technology has migrated with them. "
"OF COURSE, IN SOCIAL SCIENCE, no generalization is universal. The most important counterexample is China, which in 1500 had plow cultivation, printing, paper, books, firearms, the compass, iron, and steel, and yet failed to emulate Europe's Industrial Revolution in the centuries that followed. Scholars have argued that autocratic Chinese emperors killed off technological progress for domestic political reasons. For example, one Ming emperor banned long-distance oceanic exploration for fear of foreign influence threatening his power, after Chinese ships had already reached East Africa in 1422."
"This gives us a hint as to how political formation affects development: Fragmented Europe did not have any one autocrat who could kill off technological innovation, and the constant threats of living in a hostile neighborhood spurred the advancement of military technology. And because borders were relatively open around 1500, the reality that citizens could leave for more advanced places -- the forerunner of today's "brain drain" -- kept alive the spirit of innovation. "
"Most importantly, what the history of technology tells us is that the blank-slate theory is a myth. Top-down development programs simply don't work. In fact, the principal beneficiaries of Western largesse today -- African autocrats and dysfunctional regimes -- are themselves the main obstacles to development. If there's anything that "must be done" to spur future development, it's to create the conditions necessary to empower the ordinary individuals who will create new and unforeseen technologies out of old ones. There's a Thomas Edison born every minute. We just have to help them turn the lights on."
Here is a recent Dawn report of international recognition of Pakistani woman scientist:
KARACHI: Pakistani Scholar Dr. Hina Siddiqui won the best “Oral Presentation Award” in the 11th Eurasia conference on Chemical Sciences. The international conference was held in Jordon from Oct.6 to Oct.10, 2010.
Dr. Siddiqui’s presentation was declared as one of the top three oral presentations in the conference, where a panel of experts decided upon the top three finalists. Another scholar from Peshawar also got prize in the event, where over 200 scientists delivered their presentations from 69 countries.
Eurasia Chemical Sciences conference was launched by three chemists in 1988 to foster network and knowledge sharing among the researchers of North and South.
Dr. Siddiqui is a PhD in organic chemistry and currently working as research officer at International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) at Karachi University.
When she was in school, she read an inspiring interview of Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman from Hussain Ebrahim Jamal (HEJ) Research Institute of Chemistry, University of Karachi, published in a well-known Urdu science magazine named Amali Science.
In that Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman said institutions are not made up from bricks and stones rather they are made up of people who have dreams and vision.
The sentence changed Siddiqui’s vision and she devoted herself to exploring the unknown. In 2005, she joined HEJ and started her Ph. D under supervision of Prof. Dr. Mohammad Iqbal Choudhary, during her Ph.D Studies she worked on the anti-oxidant properties of various chemical constituents, also she got UBF (Umear Basha Foundation) scholarship and went to University of Kansas for one year to excel in Organic synthesis research.
In the Eurasia conference, a shield and certificate was presented to Siddiqui and the organisers also waived the registration fee of upcoming 12 Eurasia Conference on Chemical Sciences which will be held in Greece in 2012.
Siddiqui told Dawn.com that it is not her prize but it is HEJ award because in HEJ every student gets a world class education and training to excel anywhere in the world.
Siddiqui said that HEJ is a great place to shine, because it is an equal opportunity institute where merit is the only criteria rather than gender discrimination. She urged the females to consider research as their career and vows to continue research and development in the future.
Here's a Dawn story on trendy restaurants Ramadan menu choices in Karachi:
Who would have ever imagined that one day chicken schezwan and prawn on toast would be considered as food items to break the fast with? Not just that, these days there are restaurants in Karachi that serve juicy cheese burgers with fried chips as Iftar deals.
Those who believe only technology has taken giant steps to help the world progress by leaps and bounds, they should know that traditional food has given way to newer cuisines with a great degree of success too.
Traditionally things that one gets to eat at Iftar is a plate of fruit chaat, a bowl of chick pea and potato mix, dates, pakoras and a pitcher of sherbet. This is very much the case even now.
But for those who like to eat out, and Karachi now brims with food lovers who love to step out of their houses to eat, their taste buds for Iftar yearn for something ‘different’. The myriad of restaurants in the city provide them with just that: something different.
Nowadays among the many eateries that (fasting or not fasting) Karachiites turn to minutes before Iftar include a seafood restaurant (of all the places), a burger joint and a pizza parlour.
Seafood, for some odd reason, is making its presence felt. There are people who love to indulge in prawn-chomping at dusk. This has even surprised those who work at the restaurant.
“We have special Iftar deals in boxes. These boxes contain all kinds of food, including seafood. And foodies like that. If you ask about the number of people who visit us, I can tell you that each year the number increases. While we serve food at Iftar, we also deliver our stuff at people’s doorsteps,” said Talha, an order-taker at a seafood restaurant.
This may all sound mouth-watering, but when it comes to the rates at which these deals are sold, not everyone can afford them. A pack of a dozen chicken wonton costs no less than Rs300. But then only those who have enough money generally eat out. And there is no dearth of such people in Karachi.
Add to all of this a new trend. Chinese food is in with a certain section of the fasting public. In this case, they order food for home delivery as not many Chinese restaurants offer dine-in facilities at Iftar. “People order all kinds of dishes. It may be hard to believe, but there are some who call us to home-deliver sushi to them. Chicken manchurian and chicken schezwan are also regular items. Perhaps the one dish that never loses its charm is chicken chowmein,” said Imran who works at a known Chinese takeaway restaurant.
There is a different side to this scenario as well. The mushrooming of restaurants, especially in upscale localities, has dented the business of established eateries. A case in point is a restaurant at Khayaban-i-Tauheed. Anil, who works here, said: “This year we are getting 40 to 50 customers on a daily basis. Last year, and the years before that, the situation was different. We used to have a much bigger crowd. A few reasons could be given for it, for example inflation has skyrocketed. Perhaps the more convincing reason is that each year countless new eating places and coffee shops open up. This affects the business of the ones already in the market. As far as what food people prefer at Iftar, well, it’s the normal stuff (pakoras and dates), but for the main course they like to have all kinds of cuisines ranging from Italian to continental to desi.”
The eating-out trend has its pluses and minuses. If, on the one hand, it refreshes traditional values with a dash of contemporariness, on the other, it also points to a certain kind of commercialism that has crept into every aspect of our lives.
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