Saturday, November 5, 2011

Imran Khan's Social Media Campaign

Prior to his recent successful rally in Lahore that drew at least 100,000 people, Imran Khan’s energized young supporters employed social media to spread his message, and the participants and observers offered play-by-play accounts of the rally on Twitter. This is a first in Pakistan's political history for a serious contender for high office.

With near 265,000 Facebook fans, Imran Khan is only surpassed by former President Pervez Musharraf's 433,000 fans. None of the other politicians come close.

Half the population of Pakistan is below 20 years and 60 per cent is below 30 years. With this youthful population and rapidly expanding Internet access, the use of social media is growing in the country. Over 5,000,000 people in Pakistan use Facebook. Although this only targets about 3% of the population, this translates into more than a quarter of the Internet users in Pakistan having a Facebook account. Half of them are between the ages of 18-24, and an additional quarter are between ages 25-34.

It appears that Pakistan's political campaigns are entering a new and exciting phase. The youth no longer feel stifled by the heavily censored state electronic media which dominated the national landscape for most of Pakistan's existence, nor are they intimidated by the old and powerful politicians. In fact, the new talent does not rely even on the corporate-owned commercial media that have emerged and become powerful during the last decade of President Musharraf's rule. With the growth of Internet in Pakistan, the rapidly expanding online population is feeling more empowered than ever to engage in free expression as part of their growing political and social activism.

With expanding educational opportunities, rising middle class and growing access and use of the modern social media by the nation's youth, Pakistan is now in the midst of a dramatic social and political transformation that is likely to change the face of politics in the coming decades. The arrival of this new era has the potential to eventually end the old feudal style politics of patronage, and replace it with a truly participatory democracy and vastly improved governance.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Twitter Revolution in Pakistan

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

Pakistan Protest Music

Comparing Ralph Nader and Imran Khan

Imran Khan to Obama: Leave Afghanistan

Pakistan Launches 100 MBPS FTTH Broadband

Obama Campaign's Success on Social Networks

Pakistani Social Network

Imran Khan's Facebook Page

Pervez Musharraf's Facebook Page


Shams said...

If Imran Khan was able to only get 100,000, it was a failure, which the military is trying to portray as a success, since the ISI is trying to build pressure on both PPP and PML-N to release its pressure on the army. PML-N recently rejected the DHA bill in the national assembly, and so did some other parties. Imran Khan may also get support from ANP, which could give him an entry into Karachi.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a Guardian story on Imran Khan:

..."As I stood there, watching them, I knew the moment had come," Khan, who is the leader of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insafr party, said. "Now nothing can stop us. This is a revolution, a tsunami. We will not just win the next elections – we will sweep them."
Over 100,000 people crammed into a historic Lahore park. Many were middle-class Pakistanis – young, urban, educated – drawn by Khan's rhetoric and their anger at conventional politics.

"This is the emergence of a new force. The cry for change is resonating across Pakistan," said Ayaz Amir, a parliamentarian from rival Nawaz Sharif's party, who was there. "Young, old, professionals, women – I've never seen such people at a public meeting in Pakistan before."

The sight, Amir added, had "scared the living daylights" out of his own party.

But others are sceptical that Khan represents real change. "We've heard this rhetoric many times before," said Badar Alam, editor of Herald magazine. "I'm cautious about it. I don't know what agenda he is really promoting."

Khan is visibly buoyant. For years he has campaigned on a platform of what some call "anti-politics" – virulent criticism of the graft and patronage that infect Pakistani politics. Now, he says, he has been proved right.
His plan for the economy is to "inspire" Pakistanis to pay tax – currently only 2% do so. "We just need to have some austerity and collect taxes. If we do that, we can balance our budgets," he said.

In power, Khan said, he would cut off American aid. "I want to be a friend of the Americans, not their lackey. Aid is a curse for a poor country; it stops you making the required reforms and props up crooks."
"Anyone who thinks this country will be taken over by Taliban are fools. There's no concept of a theocracy anywhere in the Muslim world for the past 1,400 years. If I came to power, I could end this conflict in 90 days – guaranteed."
Yet Khan is defiantly proud that his newfound success is vindication against what he calls the "liberal, westernised elite" – wealthy, English-speaking Pakistanis who, he claims, are out of touch with the realities of their own country. "I call them coconuts: brown on the outside, white on the inside, looking at Pakistan through a westernised lens," he says.

His political views are firmly rooted in a particular view of Islam. He does not favour changes to the notorious blasphemy law – a virulent debate that led to the assassination of his friend Salmaan Taseer last January. "The time is not right. There would be bloodshed. We need to worry about other things," he says.
But the main opposition challenger, Nawaz Sharif, has failed to capitalize on this misfortune. His N-league party, which controls the Punjab government, has grown unpopular for failing to contain an outbreak of dengue fever in recent months. Sharif is also estranged from the powerful military, which launched him into politics in the 1980s, due to his long-standing rivalry with Pervez Musharraf, the general who ousted Sharif from power in 1999.

The turmoil has emboldened challengers. One is Musharraf, who currently lives in exile in London, and has vowed to return to Pakistan next March. But the general faces numerous obstacles, including court prosecutions, security threats and opposition from the army leadership. The other is Khan, until recently viewed as a fringe player in national politics, seen most often on chatshows and protests against drone strikes........

Anonymous said...

Imran says will end conflict in 90 days i am ready to give him 90 weeks but if nothing happens then we'll back the old parties. I am going to vote for change just this one time.

Suhail said...


Population density is high in the Bhati Gate and lower Mall area where PML-N held their the nmbers in PML rally could be just because of that. But Minar-e-Pakistan has big open spaces, wide roads all around and separated from the Walled City by big spaces of Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque, so difficult to fill up. Imran's rally was certainly strong in terms of public participation.

I was in Islamabad last week and every single person I talked to has become an Imran follower. Same is the case with every Lahori I've talked to; previously the same or similar Lahoris were all for PML-N. It seems that the sheep phenomenon has set in Central and Northern Punjab, and the public (sheep) of these areas are all for Imran now. Pakhtoon areas of KP are reputed to be already supportive of Imran much ahead of his show in Punjab. So in the next elections, Imran's party (TI) will probably win a lot of seats in KP, Central and Northern Punjab. The main losers will be PML-N, PML-Q and ANP who presently claim a lot of public support in these areas. PPP may try to separate Southern Punjab into the new Seraiki province where it may still get to a position of strength through traditional landlord politicians. MQM remains unaffected; its rally in Karachi was certainly very impressive and demonstrates that Mohajir public (sheep) are still with MQM.

The Sindh/ Karachi situation may experience a greater polarization with PPP becoming more Sindhi nationalist, ANP focusing even more on Karachi Pakhtoons if they lose out to TI in KP, and MQM getting limited to Mohajirs rather than expanding out to other groups as they've been trying to do.

If Army/ISI do play a role, then TI and MQM would likely be on the same side after the elections.

Riaz Haq said...

Suhail:"But Minar-e-Pakistan has big open spaces, wide roads all around and separated from the Walled City by big spaces of Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque, so difficult to fill up. Imran's rally was certainly strong in terms of public participation."

Imran's rally did not appear to be a rent-a-crowd brought together by paying public money looted from the govt treasury by the local party bosses and landowners....a technique used by the PPP and the PML. It was made up of mostly urban middle class youth tired of the PML and PPP incompetence and corruption.

Shams said...

Regardless of how you put it, if Imran is as popular as Suhail claims he is, a crowd of 100,000 in Lahore is still less than what would get together if one were to climb up an electrical pole and starting banging it with a stick.

I am not convinced Imran is a threat to PML-N, unless ISI funds him or if he is funded by a third country.

Umar Ahmed said...

Imran Khan alone cannot do anything. There are people in the TEI who take bribes as well given to them by military businesses. The military will decide who wins in the end.

Anonymous said...

Imran has lots of plans for the people of Pakistan but will have to stand trial before the other parties and media before the elections for his casanova past.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report on "Social media playing major role in reshaping society":

KARACHI: Advisor to Sindh Chief Minister Sharmila Farooqi has said that the social media was emerging like a revolution, enabling to connect with the people around the world without any boundaries of language, caste, creed or distance.
This she said while speaking as a chief guest at a three-day workshop on social media for media professionals at Arabian Sea Country Club Karachi on Saturday, organised by the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF).
Fourteen media professionals, working in the conflict-zone of the country, participated in the workshop. Farooqi said that social media had brought the world closer and also increased individual to individual contacts, which helped in disseminating the information within seconds.
She said that in the present era of technology, the social media had become so important and an easier way to become a source of information as well as connectivity to get maximum response from the people.
Farooqi appreciated the
PPF for organising such an informative workshop for the media professionals.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary General PPF Owais Aslam Ali said that journalists could get maximum benefits from the social media as they could bring their work before the world without any limitations of space and time.
He said that through this workshop, the journalists could get knowledge and learning through which they could build their credibility.
They said social media is the future of journalism as it gives journalists the maximum space and time for their news, views and opinions without any editing and restriction with maximum reach and connectivity.
On the occasion, journalists from Quetta, Landikotal, Bajaur Agency, FATA and Swat shared their experiences. ppi\10\09\story_9-10-2011_pg12_4

Suhail said...

Pakistanis have a sheep mentality. You offer them the best in the world and they'll not even listen to you. But if somehow you get to a position where you have the sheep following, then you give them crap and they'll happily take it.
To your comment on Lahore crowd: If you want to hold a public meeting, despite the big population, you'll not be able to get 100 people to listen to you for one hour unless you rent their time. This will hold true for both Lahore and Karachi. Imran's position was similar previously. Though he kept on selling the same ideas, he could not get to attract the sheep (crowds) and thus considered a non-serious contender. The Lahore rally has changed the perception and now the sheep phenomenon seems to have set in. In the coming days, his following will keep on fast increasing with more and more sheep joining him. The last sheep following was for Bhutto in the 60s and then on a limited scale for Altaf Husain in the 80s. Nawaz has always conducted his politics by dispensation of money, renting people's support. He never had the sheep following though still has the obsession of being a big public leader. Don't forget that he got into the politics business with big money most likely given to him by Osama in early 90s.
A point to note is that Imran's core following is of the educated upper middle classes. PPP's bulk following is the poor and uneducated rural populace of Sindh while MQM's core followers are the half-educated Mohajir lower middle classes. The well educated Mohajir upper middle classes have had little to do with MQM and are not welcomed to MQM either.

Riaz Haq said...


What you call "sheep following" is called "momentum" in America.

It is "momentum" that helps attract funds to the campaign of a candidate who is seen as a winning horse by people and corporations betting with with their money to help their own agendas.

Umar Ahmed said...

Riazbhai, how do you see Imran dealing with the threats to Pakistan. Pakistanii Taliban, USA, and India. He has stayed quiiet on those issues. Will he do what the military wants regarding foreign policy or will he chart a new path?

Riaz Haq said...

Umar: "Will he do what the military wants regarding foreign policy or will he chart a new path?"

From what little I know about the man, I think Imran Khan is no one's puppet. He's his own man and will do what he thinks is right, whether you or I or anyone else agrees with him or not.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from the MQM website:

Founder and Leader of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) Mr Altaf Hussain has congratulated Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan and other leaders and workers of his party on their successful public meeting in Lahore. Mr Hussain said that the PTI public meeting was the breath of fresh air in the political atmosphere of Pakistan. He said this while talking on telephone to the office-bearers and workers of the MQM in the Punjab House. The MQM workers requested Mr Hussain to hold a public meeting in Lahore. Mr Hussain said that a date for the public meeting would be announced after discussing the suggestion with the Co-ordination Committee.

Umar Ahmed said...

Riazbhai, you have probably mentioned this before but politicians are a "SPOILED" bunch. Imran is a fresh apple among a large basket of rotten ones and ultimately he will become rotten too.

Too many times Pakistanis have been promised the world only to have their hopes dashed later.

I like the guy but isn't it too early to tell??

Suhail said...

Another point of note is Shams's reference to ISI support. Army/ISI are bigger stakeholders in Pakistan than the political parties so usually play a role in the elections; 2008 elections were an exception and we've seen the disastrous results. They are thoroughly disgusted with the way the country is being managed and has been managed in the past by Nawaz Sharif and Benazir/Zardari, so should be a natural supporter of Imran. A negative for Imran can be the US if they are in opposition to Imran and decide to pressurize Army/ISI to keep Imran out and let Zardari continue. Given the highly irrational decision making of the US that we've seen over the years, this possibility remains.

Riaz Haq said...

Suhail: "They are thoroughly disgusted with the way the country is being managed and has been managed in the past by Nawaz Sharif and Benazir/Zardari, so should be a natural supporter of Imran."

The Army and the ISI know that sound economic policy is an essential part of sound national security policy.

Suhail said...


You're not allowing more than 100,000 heads of sheep in Imran's rally, though the estimate in the map below indicates it can be 400,000 plus. I think you should not be discriminatory against Imran and allow for a figure far greater than 100,000. Comparison with MQM sheepheads is immaterial because the two are different flocks, Punjabi and Mohajir sheep. Even if it sweeps Karachi MQM will only land up with 25 seats in NA, but if Imran is successful in Punjab, he'll end up with 100+ seats and in a position to form a government.

Mayraj said...
PTI to form anti-corruption cell, expose 'assets' of Sharifs, Zardari

Najam said...

Opinions about Imran Khan are divided.I also do not like him much,particularly his arrogant manners and day dreaming ,and also the type of people joining his party.What sort of revolution he will bring through notorious people like Masood Sharif,Our Adamjee class fellow Jahangir Tareen ,from people who were with coward Musharraf and leftovers of PPP and Q league, is difficult to comprehend.

Are the people of Pakistan going to fall in another trap by establishment man,whose recent statements about Kashmir,about Islamic forces and about USA should alarm people of days ahead?

Haseeb said...

Najam: "I also do not like him much,particularly his arrogant manners and day dreaming ,and also the type of people joining his party."

The biggest problem Pakistanis have is their expectations of “Perfection” from some leaders. If they are not perfect then Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Altaf Hussain or even the Devil will be okay.

Imran Khan is one of the few leaders who can provide some hope of better governance for Pakistan in the near future. If he gets elected with majority he will be much better than what we have today. At least he is NOT corrupt or a shoe-licker of USA.

Unless you can suggest some other good (not perfect) leader to be elected please support the only fair chance Pakistan has for the next election and stop undermining him by looking for perfection.

Riaz Haq said...

Haseeb: "The biggest problem Pakistanis have is their expectations of “Perfection” from some leaders."

Our neighbor India also has a lot of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats but they are still better off politically because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is Mr. Clean. I see Imran Khan as Mr. Clean for Pakistan, and his presence at the top will help improve the situation in Pakistan.

Moin said...

I agree with Riaz's assessment. At this time it is a rarity for some one to be "clean" specially in Pakistan.

Lets look at it this way, if IK's party loses, conditions in Pakistan may become worse but not better. If it wins there is some hope that things may change for the better.

I say we are due for a change and want to see a new party in power with a new agenda. Lets give it a shot.

Salman said...

I agree and so do my children who see a ray of hope at the end of tunnel......salman

Siraj said...

Imran Khan was arrogant when he put Pakistan Cricket on winning streak and won the world cup and he was arrogant when he built the Shaukat Khanam.

He has been arrogant all along. He is still arrogant – this is clear from the way he addresses his political opponents. This is not a quality one would be proud of ! But an arrogant is better than a plunderer, a money sucker parasite and a dacoit.

Arrogant he is and womanizer he was but he is not corrupt (or let us say not so corrupt) – he has not given up against strong odds and he is a determined soul, He has a knack of delivering results. He may not be the best choice but he is the only choice. The people of Pakistan have started seeing him as their only hope. The success at Meenar e Pakistan was a manifestation of people desire for a change. Even his strongest adversaries have started realizing that he is now a force to reckon with.

The people are with him now, the young, the old, men and women – I had seen it with my eyes when I went to attend his gathering at neti -geti bridge.

I like to take morning walks. Last week while walking on the lawn of Askari - IV parks, I met with an acquaintance who said, “In the last election I supported MQM and my wife was with JI. This time over my wife has announced that she would vote for IK and I have decided that I will do the same.” The good thing is that he is not alone – a large number of friends, relatives and people from power industry that I come across are telling me the same thing. This change is the result of unprecedented loot and plunder and injustice brought upon by the present rulers.

Until now it was said that IK was a one man show. Now that people have started joining him the critics say that all those joining him are corrupt. Is it really the case or we have suddenly raised our standards too high ---

He has to induct comparatively honest, less corrupt and influential people in his ranks, he is after all out to win the election which is the target to achieve the goal. Let us remember that there is no crop of angels waiting to be picked up

Riaz Haq said...

Imran Khan attends blog awards in Karachi, talks about revolution:

To the audience’s delight, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan made a surprise entrance at the second Pakistan Blog Awards that kicked off Friday evening at the Regent Plaza hotel.

Acknowledging bloggers in Pakistan, Imran said that a silent revolution is building up in Pakistan and that the bloggers are a vital part of the revolution.

“Political class is in a state of shock due to this revolution,” the PTI chief said. Stand-up comedian Sami Shah had his reservations about Imran’s presence, saying, “It turned political all of a sudden”. However, Shah said that the event was a positive step.

The awards were attended by prominent, as well as the not-so-prominent faces of the Pakistani blogosphere and cyberspace. The popular opinion remained that the blogosphere has shown an exponential growth.

“This year around, it is great,” blogger Sana Saleem said. “You can gauge the importance of media from the fact that almost every news organisation’s website has a blog now,” she added.

Applause roared across the hall, which housed around 300 people, as Rabia Gharib, the host for the event started to announce the winners.

“Each nomination represents a different hue of Pakistan,” Gharib said.

“The environment is electric,” remarked CEO P@sha Jehan Ara. “Blogs are definitely going to go a long way.”

Jehan Ara, who began blogging a few years back, said that there were about 25 blog nominations in every category.

However, prominent talk-show host Faisal Qureshi said, “Pakistani blogs have quantity, but don’t have quality. We are a nation of complainers, not advocacy. We should be more responsible about our content,” he added.

“Internet usage is converging in Pakistan, which is helping new and social media,” said Badar Khushnood, the Google Pakistan’s country consultant. “There is always a certain level of noise and hype, but in my belief, blogs have done a lot of good to citizen journalism.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP report Imran Khan's Karachi rally on Dec 25, 2011:

More than 100,000 people rallied in support of Pakistani cricket legend and opposition politician Imran Khan in the southern city of Karachi on Sunday, further cementing his status as a rising force in politics.

His message of cracking down on corruption and standing up to the U.S. has found new resonance at a time when Pakistanis are fed up with the country’s chronic insecurity and economic malaise.
Khan has been especially popular with the country’s urban middle class youth, and many of the people at the rally were young Pakistanis wearing Western clothes.

Two prominent politicians who have joined Khan’s party in recent months include former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who had a falling out with the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, and Javed Hashmi, who was a key member of the main opposition party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

Khan’s rising popularity could be a concern for the U.S., given his harsh criticism of the Pakistani government’s cooperation with Washington in the fight against Islamist militants.

He has been especially critical of U.S. drone strikes targeting militants in Pakistan and has argued that the country’s alliance with Washington is the main reason Pakistan is facing a homegrown Taliban insurgency.

Despite Khan’s rising popularity, it’s unclear how much he can shake up the political scene in the next national elections in 2013. Both the PPP and the PML-N have strongly entrenched bases of support that will be difficult to challenge.

It’s also unclear exactly what Khan would do if he did win significant political power. He has yet to offer many specifics about how he would fix problems like corruption.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts of Imran Khan's interview with PressTV:

"People are sick and tired of these old political families who pretend that they are protecting democracy. People are sick of them plundering the country. Their wealth is lying outside. Their interests are outside. Their properties are outside. They don't pay any taxes. And then it's family parties. So, the father's already preparing their sons to take over.

This sort of politics has become redundant in Pakistan because Asif Zardari co-opted all the political parties in this broad coalition, and he gave them a piece of the cake. While they were all enjoying the perks and privileges of power, a wild caption was going through the roof. Never have people suffered in Pakistan as now. "

"Let me get the record right. All the parties, all political parties supported Musharraf against Nawaz Sharif because Nawaz Sharif was going to bring in the 15th amendment where he would have become the Amir-al-Muminim - he would have become the commander of the faithful.

Using a Shria law, he would have just assumed dictatorship powers. So, we all stood up against him.

When Musharraf came in and he announced that he had ended sham democracy and was going to bring in general democracy, all of us supported him. "

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a blog post titled "A Pakistani Spring?" by Huma Yusuf in NY Times:

KARACHI – While I was living in Washington on a research fellowship last year, Pakistanis often urged me to use the opportunity to promote Pakistan’s “positive aspects” to Americans. With the country steeped in ethnic and sectarian violence and regressing along the Human Development Index, this seemed like a challenge, and I’d struggle to muster compelling examples.

No longer. An exciting shift is now underway in Pakistan: the young are becoming politically engaged. In coffee shops, beauty salons and workplaces, instead of gossiping or deconstructing the latest televised drama, youngsters are arguing about the merits of various politicians. As a journalist, I can’t walk into a social gathering without getting grilled by my peers and their younger siblings about this policy or that. Older Pakistanis who have long bemoaned the apathy of the country’s educated, middle-class youth are sighing in relief at this newfound activism. As one elderly family friend put it, “Your lot has finally woken up.”

Unlike their counterparts in the Arab world, young Pakistanis are less inspired by revolutionary rhetoric than in producing results through the existing system. They are demanding issue-based politics and sound government policies to reduce corruption, create jobs and recalibrate U.S.-Pakistani relations. Blogging in the Express Tribune, Muhammad Bilal Lakhani describes the evolution, “A visible and growing number of young, educated professionals in Pakistan are channeling their energies to incrementally improve the system by engaging with the current set up.”

Pakistani youngsters’ desire for change and a greater stake in their country’s future has fueled the unexpected success of the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. He boasts more than 150,000 followers on Twitter and more than 330,000 Facebook likes. The student wing of his Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (P.T.I.) party counts over 4,000 members in Karachi. A P.T.I. rally in Lahore in October attracted more than 7,000 students and thousands of young voters; with so many fresh faces in the crowd, the line between political gathering and rock concert seemed blurred.

And this energy goes beyond P.T.I. supporters. Several social media sites have hosted online voter-registration drives for the 2013 general elections. Many of these are not affiliated with any political party; they are simply seeking to boost youth participation at the polls. Pakistan’s mainstream political parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party (P.P.P.) and the Pakistan Muslim League-N (P.M.L.N.), are launching youth-oriented campaigns and showcasing a new generation of politicians. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, of the P.P.P., is encouraging private media outlets to emphasize youth-oriented programming. The opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, who heads the P.M.L.N., recently drafted a new strategy to revamp his party’s Facebook presence and, in a bid to entice young voters, promised to distribute 300,000 laptops to students if he is elected.

The heightened political engagement of Pakistan’s youth is especially significant these days as judicial activism and military interference in the political arena threaten the country’s democratic foundations. Now that’s a positive aspect of Pakistan I’m happy to highlight to Americans or anyone around the world.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on Pakistanis on Facebook:

According to latests statistics, over six million Pakistanis use Facebook, putting the country on number 26 in the list of countries where Facebook users are based.

The figure, which social media researchers put at 6.08 million people, includes 4.14 million men and 1.94 million women.

Although that sounds like a lot of people, the figure is significantly less than half of the Pakistan population that has access to the internet. According Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, more than 20 million Pakistanis are online, which means that the number using Facebook is only 32.86% of the total online population.

While this is a significant indication of the potential that Facebook can still exploit in Pakistan, what is an even more important fact that comes out of the research is that the number of new users who signed in for a Facebook account increased by one million in the six months between August 2011 and January 2012.

The research shows that 5.19 million Pakistani Facebook users are over the age of 18 years. The appeal continues to be more for men, as 3.57 million of these users are men while 1.59 million are women.

The research shows that the greatest number of Facebook users (55.4%) is between the age of 18 and 24 years. The number of people in this age group who use the website is 3.03 million. The lowest number of users is, not surprisingly, in the age group of above 65 years which constitutes barely 1% of the total internet population.

Out of the users whose relationship status is single, 617,900 are women and 87,600 are men. More than 12,000 men are in a relationship compared to 71,680 women. The number for women is once again the highest, with over 95,720 married as compared to 15,120 men.

Among the users, 2.02 million people are college graduates, 1.46 million of whom are men while half a million are women.

Facebook, which was launched in 2004 but opened its doors to the public in 2006, has over 800 million active users worldwide.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts of a NY Times blog post on voting rights for overseas Pakistanis:

.....the diaspora found much cause for celebration in last week’s announcement by the Election Commission of Pakistan (E.C.P.) that 3.7 million Pakistani expatriates will be allowed to vote in the next general elections, scheduled for spring 2013.

A leading Pakistani-American has hailed the decision as an opportunity to strengthen the “solidarity and integrity of our motherland.” Suniya Qureshi, the executive director of the British Pakistan Foundation, a charity that aims to mobilize the diaspora in Britain, told me on Tuesday that the decision is the “right way for the Pakistan government to chart out a relationship with the overseas community and create ownership among the diaspora.”

But back in Pakistan, the E.C.P.’s announcement has sparked the latest round of political mudslinging. The idea of granting Pakistani expats voting rights only gained traction when the political upstart Khan petitioned for it in the Supreme Court. His political opponents claim that Khan stands to gain most from the change since his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (P.T.I.) party enjoys widespread support in the diaspora. Some analysts and pro-government activists also say it undermines President Zardari’s ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, which has recently clashed with the court over corruption cases against the president, leading to contempt-of-court charges against the prime minister.

It is unlikely that any nefarious politics motivated the ECP’s announcement. For once, the matter boils down to simple economics. Remittances from expatriate Pakistanis are the backbone of Pakistan’s economy. The inflows ease the country’s current account deficit and boost its foreign exchange reserves. In 2010, remittances accounted for more than 5 percent of the country’s G.D.P. Between July and December last year, overseas Pakistanis sent back $6.3 billion, almost 20 percent more over the same period the year before. The World Bank ranks Pakistan among the top ten recipients of remittances.

Engaging the diaspora by allowing expats to vote is a way of keeping the money flowing. As Qureshi puts it, “British-Pakistanis are hugely passionate about the country, and there’s a growing appetite to influence things and improve governance.”

In the long run, though, these new voting rights may also prove to be a test of allegiance. The E.C.P. has ruled that Pakistanis holding dual citizenship are not eligible to vote. Will Pakistani expats put off applying for a second nationality in order to retain their right to vote back home?

My butcher, who became British in the late 1990s, says he wouldn’t trade his red passport for a ballot: “It’s easier to complain about the politicians back home than try to do something about their shenanigans.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a David Brooks' NY Times column on why political participation is important for idealistic youth:

Often they are bursting with enthusiasm for some social entrepreneurship project: making a cheap water-purification system, starting a company that will empower Rwandan women by selling their crafts in boutiques around the world.

These people are refreshingly uncynical. Their hip service ethos is setting the moral tone for the age. Idealistic and uplifting, their worldview is spread by enlightened advertising campaigns, from Bennetton years ago to everything Apple has ever done.

It’s hard not to feel inspired by all these idealists, but their service religion does have some shortcomings. In the first place, many of these social entrepreneurs think they can evade politics. They have little faith in the political process and believe that real change happens on the ground beneath it.

That’s a delusion. You can cram all the nongovernmental organizations you want into a country, but if there is no rule of law and if the ruling class is predatory then your achievements won’t add up to much.

Furthermore, important issues always spark disagreement. Unless there is a healthy political process to resolve disputes, the ensuing hatred and conflict will destroy everything the altruists are trying to build.

There’s little social progress without political progress. Unfortunately, many of today’s young activists are really good at thinking locally and globally, but not as good at thinking nationally and regionally.

Second, the prevailing service religion underestimates the problem of disorder. Many of the activists talk as if the world can be healed if we could only insert more care, compassion and resources into it.

History is not kind to this assumption. Most poverty and suffering — whether in a country, a family or a person — flows from disorganization. A stable social order is an artificial accomplishment, the result of an accumulation of habits, hectoring, moral stricture and physical coercion. Once order is dissolved, it takes hard measures to restore it.

Yet one rarely hears social entrepreneurs talk about professional policing, honest courts or strict standards of behavior; it’s more uplifting to talk about microloans and sustainable agriculture.

In short, there’s only so much good you can do unless you are willing to confront corruption, venality and disorder head-on. So if I could, presumptuously, recommend a reading list to help these activists fill in the gaps in the prevailing service ethos, I’d start with the novels of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, or at least the movies based on them.

The noir heroes like Sam Spade in “The Maltese Falcon” served as models for a generation of Americans, and they put the focus squarely on venality, corruption and disorder and how you should behave in the face of it.

A noir hero is a moral realist. He assumes that everybody is dappled with virtue and vice, especially himself. He makes no social-class distinction and only provisional moral distinctions between the private eyes like himself and the criminals he pursues. The assumption in a Hammett book is that the good guy has a spotty past, does spotty things and that the private eye and the criminal are two sides to the same personality.

He (or she — the women in these stories follow the same code) adopts a layered personality. He hardens himself on the outside in order to protect whatever is left of the finer self within.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Al-Arabiya report on Bannu Jail inmates with cell phones & Internet access to Facebook & blogosphere:

A high profile Pakistani prisoner, who escaped on Sunday along with 383 other inmates, was reportedly contributing to several social networking sites including Facebook and blog sites while he was in prison, a report revealed late Monday.

Adnan Rashid was on death row at Bannu Central Prison in northwestern Pakistan for his alleged attempt to assassinate former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2003.

But despite the high profile charges against him, Rashid enjoyed the use of cell phones inside the death cell he was held in, allowing him to keep in touch with several journalists through text messaging, the Pakistan-based Dawn news website reported.

Rashid, a former junior technician of the Pakistan Air Force, was among some 384 prisoners who escaped early Sunday from the jail after an attack by insurgents armed with guns, grenades and rockets, officials said.

The attack, claimed by Pakistan’s Taliban movement, started at around 1:00 a.m. (2000 GMT) and continued for two hours, with militants in cars and pick-up trucks shooting and lobbing grenades to force their way into the prison, a senior security official told AFP news agency.

“We have freed hundreds of our comrades in Bannu in this attack. Several of our people have reached their destinations, others are on their way,” a Taliban spokesman said on Sunday.

Rashid was arrested in early 2004 on charges of the alleged assassination attempt, but had continued to plead his innocence while in prison, claiming “that his only crime was that he had voted ‘No’ in the referendum held by the then military president Gen. Musharraf,” the Dawn reported.

As a prisoner, he was questioned by the media in interviews uploaded on to social networking site Facebook, in which he argued against flaws in laws concerning the Pakistani army, air force and navy, while urging the Supreme Court to intervene in his case and those of others who had been detained with him.

In one letter to the Chief Justice, Rashid claimed that at the time of the assassination attempt, he was on duty in Quetta and was picked up by intelligence personnel.

He had recently sent a text message to a group of recipients, who were not identified by the newspaper, which states: “There are millions of cases pending before high courts and Supreme Court, 99.9 percent of these are actually appeals against verdicts of lower courts. Billions of rupees are being spent on higher civil courts so why not this judicial system is replaced by military courts; these are swift, require no judge, no special courtrooms or bars, and most interesting court martial are unchallengeable so no more need of high and supreme courts. It saves time and money of nation. What do you think? From a court martial convict.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP story on TTP threatening to assassinate PTI chief Imran Khan:

The Taliban have threatened to kill a Pakistani cricket star turned politician if he holds a planned march to their tribal stronghold along the Afghan border to protest U.S. drone attacks.

Although the Pakistani Taliban also oppose the strikes, which have killed many of their fighters, spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said they would target Imran Khan because he calls himself a ‘‘liberal’’ — a term they associate with a lack of religious belief. He also warned they would attack anyone who participates in upcoming elections.

‘‘If he comes, our suicide bombers will target him,’’ Ahsan told The Associated Press in an interview Monday in the militant group’s stronghold of South Waziristan. ‘‘We will kill him.’’

The threat could come as a surprise to many in Pakistan who have criticized Khan for not being tough enough on the Pakistani Taliban and instead focusing most of his criticism on the government’s alliance with the U.S.

Some of his critics have nicknamed him ‘‘Taliban Khan’’ because of his views and his cozy ties with conservative Islamists who could help him attract right-wing voters in national elections likely to be held later this year or early next year.

Khan, who is the founder of the Pakistan Movement for Justice party, has gained momentum over the last year after more than a decade in politics. He is perhaps the most famous person in Pakistan because he led the country’s cricket team to victory in the 1992 World Cup.

Khan was once known for his playboy lifestyle and marriage to British socialite Jemima Khan. But they divorced several years ago, and he has since become much more conservative and religious. Khan has described himself as a liberal in various TV interviews, but he has also made clear that he is a practicing Muslim.

Ahsan, the Taliban spokesman, seemed to ignore that distinction and said the militants didn’t want Khan’s help in opposing drone attacks. Khan has said he is planning to lead thousands of people in a march to Waziristan in September to demonstrate against the strikes.

‘‘We will not accept help or sympathy from any infidel,’’ said Ahsan, referring to Khan. ‘‘We can fight on our own with the help of God,’’ he said, as drones buzzed overhead.

The spokesman for Khan’s party could not be immediately reached for comment.

Ahsan said the Taliban consider anyone who participates in elections, even Islamist parties, as infidels and will target them.

‘‘The election process is part of a secular system,’’ said Ahsan. ‘‘We want an Islamic system and will create hurdles to secularism.’’

An AP reporter interviewed Ahsan at a remote compound on a forested mountainside in South Waziristan. He was taken there from a compound in the Shawal area that housed several dozen Taliban fighters armed with AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and anti-aircraft guns. Artillery fired by the Pakistani army regularly pounded the ground near the compound.

The military launched a major offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan in 2009 and has claimed to have largely cleared the area. But the militants regularly launch attacks, and the interview held with the AP indicated they move relatively freely.

Ahsan arrived for the interview in a pick-up truck with two other Taliban commanders. He was wearing a white shalwar kameez — the loose-fitting shirt and pants common in Pakistan and Afghanistan — and a woolen Chitrali cap. He spoke with an assault rifle laid across his lap, and he and the other commanders fired into the air in celebration at the end of the interview.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times piece on Imran Khan written by Indian journalist Pankaj Mishra:

On a cool evening in March, Imran Khan, followed by his dogs, walked around the extensive lawns of his estate, sniffling with an incipient cold. “My ex-wife, Jemima, designed the house — it is really paradise for me,” Khan said of the villa, which sprawls on a ridge overlooking Himalayan foothills and Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. “My greatest regret is that she is not here to enjoy it,” he added, unexpectedly poignantly. We walked through the living room and then sat in his dimly lighted bedroom, the voices of servants echoing in the empty house, the mournful azans drifting up from multiple mosques in the city below.
“Why can’t the West understand? When I first went to England, I was shocked to see the depiction of Christianity in Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian.’ This is their way. But for us Muslims, the holy Koran and the prophet, peace be upon him, are sacred. Why can’t the West accept that we have different ways of looking at our religions?

“Anyway,” Khan said in a calmer voice, “I am called an Islamic fundamentalist by Rushdie. My critics in Pakistan say I am a Zionist agent. I must be doing something right.”

Those adept at playing Pakistan’s never-ending game of political musical chairs have begun to take note of Khan. His party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice, or P.T.I., as it is called), has never won more than a single seat in Pakistan’s 342-member National Assembly. But a recent Pew opinion poll reveals Khan to be the country’s most popular politician by a large margin, and his growing appeal has drawn together two rivals from the establishment parties — the suavely patrician figure of Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister from 2008 to 2011, and Javed Hashmi, an older street-fighting politician from Punjab, Pakistan’s politically dominant province — who are now, in Khan’s hastily improvised hierarchy, vice chairman and president of the P.T.I. respectively.

Khan’s campaign strategy is simple: he has promised to uproot corruption within 90 days, end the country’s involvement in America’s war on terror and institute an Islamic welfare state. ....
I had already read Khan’s speech, peering over his shoulder in the car; it was not much different from what he said in previous rallies. Like many in the audience, I left before 5 p.m., late in Abbottabad’s valley, where darkness sets in early. On the way back to Islamabad, I stopped at a grocery store to buy some water. The owner, watching wrestling on his small television set, was a bit reluctant when I asked him to switch over to Khan’s rally. “Has Imran come?” he asked. “Is he speaking now? People have been waiting since noon.”

I told him the crowd was starting to disperse. “Of course they will,” he retorted. “They have to travel long distances in the hills.” He snorted when I said that the lateness of Khan’s speech was due to the media’s schedule. After some channel-hopping, I caught a brief clip of Khan at the rally repeating his gibe about Bilawal Bhutto’s lack of Urdu. The depleted crowd, it seemed clear, was not going to make history for Imran Khan, or supersede Abbottabad’s reputation as the town where a semiretired terrorist found marital bliss. But he seemed more relaxed than he was in Sialkot and Mianwali. The TV channels had clearly not betrayed him. And for once his groupies, spellbound by the cameramen, had not abandoned Khan onstage.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on Indian govt blocking or censoring social media following panic exodus on NE migrants from Bangalore:

Indian authorities have cracked down on social networking sites following unrest and an exodus of migrant workers fearing revenge attacks.

The government threatened legal action against the websites if they did not remove "inflammatory" content.

Facebook and Google have removed some material, but only in cases where it broke rules on hate speech and inciting violence.

The government said Twitter's response had been "extremely poor".

However, it acknowledged this "may be in part because they don't have an office in India".

Twitter could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Doctored videos

Authorities claim that threatening messages and pictures - which they allege have mostly originated in Pakistan - have been sent over the web to migrant workers following clashes between tribes in the north-east Indian state of Assam last month.

Fearing more violence against ethnic minorities, thousands of people have fled the cities of Bangalore and Pune in recent days.

The government has said social networking sites were used for scaremongering.
It is an unwelcome distraction as India tries to position itself as a developing hub for hi-tech business and commerce in Asia.

Google has said that between July and December 2011 there was a 49% jump in requests from India for content to be removed from its services, compared with the previous six months.

In 2011, the government sought greater access to the tight security system used on Blackberry smartphones.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on Facebook and Linked-in user population in Pakistan:

Users of social networking website Facebook in Pakistan have crossed the eight million mark, revealed statistics provided by Social Bakers. The number of Pakistani Facebook users stands at 8,008,720.

The steady increase in users has put Pakistan at 28th place in the ranking of countries that use Facebook.

The highest number of Facebook users (more than 160 million) is in the United States, followed by Brazil with more than 63 million and India with more than 62 million users.

According to the statistics, the total number of Facebook users in Pakistan grew by more than 1,383,900 in the last six months.

The statistics revealed that the age group with the highest number of Facebook users in Pakistan (3,990,800) lies in the age bracket of 18-24 and the second largest group in the age of 25-35.

According to the data, more men use Facebook in Pakistan than women.

Around 70% Facebook users are male, while 30% are female.


The number of LinkedIn users in Pakistan has reached 1,472,143 (more than one million), as revealed by Social Bakers.

Pakistan stands at rank 10 among all countries that use LinkedIn.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from various articles about Obama re-election campaign's chief scientist Rayid Ghani:

Mother Jones:

A political novice, Ghani came to the campaign from Chicago-based R&D firm Accenture Technology Labs, where he specialized in building algorithms from various data sets—like consumer shopping habits—to help businesses improve their bottom lines. In one of his more recent projects, Ghani developed a model to estimate, with 96 percent accuracy, the end price of an eBay auction—information that could then be used to sell price insurance to queasy users worried about coming up short. At OFA, his skills have been put to use on Project Dreamcatcher, which uses text analytics to gauge voter sentiment.


“What I really did there was explore and figure out what I wanted to do, which ended up being a research career in some form of artificial intelligence and machine learning,” Ghani said. “I was motivated by two goals: One was to study and understand how we (humans) learn and two: I wanted to solve large practical problems by making computers smarter though the use of data.”

That eventually led him to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for graduate school where he studied Machine Learning and Data Mining.

It was during this period that he started working at Accenture Technology labs as chief scientist, before joining Obama For America.

At Accenture, Ghani mined mountains of private data of given corporations to find statistical patterns that could forecast consumer behavior.

“We were a small group of people who were kind of looking at the next generation of tools that would be beneficial for businesses,” he said. “We were trying to find new approaches to analysing data and see how we could apply it to businesses.”

In today’s data-centric world, the one-size-fits-all model is no longer an efficient use of a company’s resources. More and more, corporations are looking for increasingly targeted approaches to attract consumers.


During a recent interview, Obama for America Chief Scientist Rayid Ghani compared his team’s social media approach in 2012 to the shift in web content from reposted print material to material designed for the web. For many organizations, he said, the prevailing strategy is “‘I used to use email, and now I’m just going to put the same information on a Facebook page.’” However, the president’s campaign used an abundance of online and offline data in order to hyper-personalize messages and get the most bang for its buck in terms of outreach.

Essentially, Ghani explained, the campaign was able to match up supporters’ friends against voting lists and determine how it should approach supporters to reach their friends. If someone was going to spread a message to 20 people, the campaign wanted to ensure they reached 20 people most likely to take action in some way. Because Ghani’s team had done so much work integrating its myriad data sets into a single view, it was better able to decide who could be most easily persuaded to vote for the first time, to donate money, to get active knocking on doors or perhaps even to switch sides.

That it was coming from friends rather than the campaign was critical to the strategy’s success, too. “The more local the contact is,” Ghani said, “the more likely [people] are to take action.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on free tweeting in Pakistan:

Whenever a country that has a history of internet censorship gains better access to one of the internet’s most important tools, it’s big news.

And that’s exactly what has happened today. Starting today, Pakistan’s largest provider of cellular services has announced that its prepaid customers can tweet away – for free.

“Data charges for accessing Twitter have been made ZERO for all Mobilink prepaid subscribers. Subscribers don’t require to subscribe to this offer since it is available for all prepaid subscribers by default,” says Mobilink.

That means that users can tweet and retweet all they want without incurring any data charges. This removes one of the impediments from Pakistani Twitter users, who have faced state censorship of Twitter in the past.

Back in May of 2012, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority shut off Twitter access for the entire country for approximately 8 hours following the circulation of content deemed blasphemous on the network. Some speculated that the move had less to do with the specific content and more to do with a simple test as to whether a state-wide blockage was feasible.

As far as the rest of the internet goes, the Pakistani government has a history of censorship in the areas of so-called blasphemy and pornography. Recently, that censorship has moved to content that falls in the realm of political speech. In a country with this track record, free access to Twitter is a significant opportunity for its people – considering access remains open.

There are some caveats to the deal. Mainly, tweets must be sent via – not Twitter’s native apps.


“[G]oing on external links will result in data charging. Whenever a subscriber clicks on an external link, he will be shown a notification indicating that standard data charges apply to view the link. External link will be opened after subscriber’s consent only.”

But for the purposes of simply communicating (being that all-important amateur reporter), this is a great thing for Pakistani tweeters.

Riaz Haq said...

Growth of #Internet & #SocialMedia Spawning Many Tweeting politicians in #Pakistan

Twitter has been in existence since 2006; users can sign up for accounts in their real names or anonymously, and post short messages of 140 characters. In 10 short years, it has become the place for much political movement, first grass-roots actions like communication and organisation, as well as information dissemination. The Atlantic states: “Twitter has grown into a force that has bolstered grass-roots conversations, disrupted the top-down nature of political leadership and thought, and has given voice to groups long hidden on the political periphery.”


In Pakistan, Twitter was slow to catch on at first, and still remains a tool of the somewhat elite and educated, the first people to gain access to the internet. But with the boom in cheap smartphones (13.5 million subscriptions to mobile broadband in 2015) and the advent of 3G in the country, 17.2m Facebook accounts and 280m connections to Twitter a day, Pakistani officials and political parties knew they had to join the trend or risk irrelevance.

As the site ProPakistani writes, the last three or so years has seen a proliferation of government officials and agencies take to Twitter and Facebook in order to announce their activities, solicit public feedback, and deliver pro-social messages to the Pakistani public. The Pakistan Army’s ISPR uses Twitter to make announcements about security situations and progress in national emergencies. Diplomats and bureaucrats are not up to speed yet with Twitter or Facebook, and while most Pakistani embassies around the world have official Twitter accounts, they aren’t very active.

On the other hand, Pakistani politicians have taken to Twitter like gasoline on a fire. Some of the most popular Twitter accounts belong to leaders like Imran Khan, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Maryam Nawaz Sharif, who spend much of their time tweeting allegations at each other. Mavericks like Sheikh Rasheed and stalwarts like Dr Arif Alvi lend their personalities to their Twitter accounts, using Urdu and English to raise chuckles and deliver sober accountability respectively. It’s a lively arena with ordinary Pakistanis forming breathless fan clubs and fighting with each other in the hopes that their favourite politician-cum-celebrity will favour them with a ‘retweet’ or a ‘like’.

But our politicians and government representatives must bear in mind the weight of their office and their responsibility to the people when composing a tweet. Take the example of Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who on Dec 23, 2016, reminded Israel of Pakistan’s nuclear ability in a tweet. He reacted to fake news that suggested Pakistan would send ground troops to Syria, with Israel purportedly threatening to retaliate with nuclear weapons if this happened. This tweet made it to the pages of international newspapers and turned Pakistan into a laughing stock.

The inventor of Twitter probably didn’t envision a nuclear incident resulting from an ill-thought-out tweet, but if anyone could make such a Stanley Kubrick-esque scenario a reality, it would be a Pakistani politician. With great Twitter power comes great Twitter responsibility; our leaders need to restrain themselves from abusing it to the detriment of the people they claim to serve

Riaz Haq said...

While all, or may be the most, attention is still focused on Twitter, TikTok has silently become a new platfrom for political narrative warfare in Pakistan. In this longform story, I looked at the platform to see how it has turned into a battleground for

narrative warfare. Talk about the presence of political parties on the platfrom, only two --PTI and PML-N-- have an official account on the platform. Like every other platfrom, PTI is a juggernaut on the platfrom. It has three million followers

compared to just 43.4K of PML-N. The average engagment shows how big, and orgnanised, PTI is on the platfrom. Till April, PTI on avg posted 29 videos per day, had over 67K avg like, 685 comments and 750 shares. In comparision, PML-N posted 1.2 videso daily on avg,

with 1,192 likes, 48 comments and 22 likes. NOWHERE NEAR PTI.
As is the story on other platfroms, PTI is miles ahead in terms of how it uses TikTok to annihilate its rivals' messaging. Take the example of May 9. IK was arrested, violent protests broke out and the govt has

shut Twitter. The governemnt would have thought it managed to blunt PTI's most potent weapon. But, they left one flank unguarded; TikTok. What PTI does? It takes its entire messaging game to TikTok. It went full throttle on the platfrom, putting out on avg

41 videos per day between May 9 to 12. In comparision, it only posted 14 videos per day on avg from May 1 to May 8. During the time of IK's arrests, the engagement on PTI's TikTok account rose to insane levels. Check the graphs for comparision from a week ago.

Over 618K avg views, over 378K avg likes, over 1,100 comments and 1,500 shares -- all numbers doubled compared to last week. So did PTI lose anything while Twitter was down? They, by all means, outsmarted the government's move.

The story looks at this and compared several other activities on PTI's and PML-N's official TikTok accounts. How they post videos, how they use hashtag, what is the narrative, etc. It shows the PTI works on the TikTok like a well oiled machine, somethin PML-N clearly lacks.

For this story, I talked to
. Their comments and input was invaluable. Also, this months-long work wouldn't have been possible without the generous support from
and his team