Monday, June 19, 2017

PSL's Role in Pakistan's Meteoric Rise to ICC Championship 2017

Pakistan's national cricket team scored a historic win in Champions Trophy 2017 final against defending champions India on June 18th by the highest-ever margin of 180 runs in any ICC international tournament final. New players emerging from Pakistan Super League and the return of players like Mohammad Amir significantly strengthened the bottom-ranked Pakistan side to beat much higher-ranked teams, including India.

Pakistan Team Celebrating Champions Trophy 2017 Victory


Pakistan Team's Defiance:

The Pakistan team that barely made the cut to play in Champions Trophy as the 8th ranked team lost its very first match against arch-rival India by 124 runs in group B on June 4, 2017. Subsequently,  the team to went on to defeat top ranked South Africa, 4th ranked England and 7th ranked Sri Lanka to reach the trophy's final match against India.

Often described as "predictably unpredictable",  Pakistan XI bounced back strongly after being written off by most commentators and pundits. They demonstrated the resilience that also characterizes the people and the state of Pakistan both of which are often given the "failed" tag by Indian and western media.

Success Factors: 

There are many factors that are believed to have contributed to Pakistan's spectacular rise to the world champion status in international cricket. The team captain Sarfaraz Ahmad is not only a good leader but also a very good batsman-wicket keeper who keeps his cool under pressure. The return of aggressive paceman Mohammad Amir to the team after a long suspension for match-fixing has bolstered Pakistan's bowling attack. But, most of all, I believe it is the discovery and grooming of new talent in Pakistan Super League.

Pakistan Super League:

Pakistan Super League (PSL) is a T20 cricket league with 6 franchise teams-- one each in the cities of Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Multan. Multan franchise was just recently sold by PSL to the Schon Group for $41.6 million over 8 years. PSL generates millions of dollars in PCB income that helps promote cricket in the country. It also exposes new talent that would otherwise remain hidden.

Several youngsters in Pakistan side who shined in the recent Champions Trophy matches were selected after they played and performed well in PSL 2, the league's second season earlier this year. For example Fakhar Zaman (Lahore Qalandars), Hassan Ali (Peshawar Zalmi), Shadab Khan (Islamabad United),  Rumman Raees (Islamabad United).

Opener Fakhar Zaman gave Pakistan the rapid start it needed with the runs that built the foundation for other batsmen down the line to capitalize on; Mohammad Amir struck early with quick top order wickets and then Hassan Ali and Shadab Khan kept up the pressure with their aggressive bowling. These youngsters also energized the rest of the team, particularly the more senior low-performing players, to do better.

Credit to Najam Sethi:

PSL chairman Najam Sethi has played a crucial role in setting up the PSL that is giving young talent an opportunity to play with the best of international players and be discovered.  It's a platform that highlights Pakistan's young talent that can simply not be ignored by the Pakistan national team selectors.

Sethi can also be credited with bringing Mohammad Amir back into Pakistan team in the face of significant opposition by senior players, both former and current.

Summary:

New players emerging from PSL and the return of players like Mohammad Amir have significantly strengthened Pakistan side as witnessed by their historic win against higher-ranked teams, including India, in Champions Trophy 2017 held in the United Kingdom. PSL is also generating the needed revenue to promote cricket at the grassroots level. PSL, if used properly, can help Pakistan become a more powerful professional side using the best available talent in the country.

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Dozen British Pakistanis Elected to UK Parliament in Elections 2017

Twelve British Pakistanis, including 5 women, have been elected members of parliament (MPs) in recent elections held in the United Kingdom, according to media reports.  Seven of them are members of the Labor Party and three belong to the Conservative Party. This sets a new record with the increase of two MPs from the May 2012 elections that resulted in the election of 10 MPs of Pakistani origin. British Pakistanis make up 1.8% of the British population, about the same as their representation in the House of Commons.

Six of the Twelve British-Pakistani MPs
British Pakistani MPs and Peers:

In addition to the 12 British Pakistanis in the House of Commons, there are 8 members of the House of Lords, the upper house of the British Parliament, bringing the total strength of British Pakistanis in the UK parliament to 20. Most of them are from very humble backgrounds in rural Pakistan. Majority of Pakistanis in the UK are from Mirpur and its surrounding villages in Azad Kashmir. They or their parents migrated to Britain when they were given compensation by Pakistani government for their land to make way for the building of the massive Mangla Dam after the signing of the Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan in 1960. Five of the twelve British Pakistani MPs in the new parliament are from Azad Kashmir.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan:

Last year saw the election of Sadiq Khan as mayor of London, making him the first Muslim mayor of a major western capital city. Mayor Sadiq Khan is also of Pakistani-origin. Khan's father migrated to Britain in 1960s and worked as a London bus driver. Khan comes from a family of two generations of immigrants: His grandparents migrated from what is now India to the newly created state of Pakistan in 1947 and his parents migrated from Karachi to London in 1969. Sadiq Khan was born in London in 1970.

British Pakistanis' Struggles:

While the British Pakistanis have made some headway in the public sector in their new home, they continue to face discrimination, particularly in the private sector.  A 2016 study by the government’s Social Mobility Commission found that the "children of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin in Britain have outperformed other ethnic groups to achieve rapid improvements at every level of education, but are significantly less likely to be employed in managerial or professional jobs than their white counterparts".

The study said that the "minority ethnic pupils (including Pakistanis) are outperforming white working class children in English tests throughout school, with white British teenagers coming bottom of the pile in the subject at GCSE level".



British Pakistani Doctors: 

Pakistan is the second largest source of doctors of foreign origin serving in the United Kingdom, according to OECD. Indians make up 34% of the foreign doctors in Britain, followed by 11% from Pakistan.

Summary:

British Pakistanis have achieved significant success in spite of their humble origins and discrimination they face in their adopted home. 12 of them serve as members of the House of Commons and 8 in the House of Lords. Mayor Sadiq Khan of London, the first Muslim leader of a major western capital, is the son of a London bus driver who migrated from Pakistan. British Pakistani children are outperforming their white working class peers in schools. British Pakistani doctors are the second largest population of doctors of foreign origin in the United Kingdom.  The British Pakistanis are among the best of the Pakistani diaspora, or any diaspora, in the world.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani Diaspora

British Pakistanis

London Mayor Sadiq Khan

British Pakistani Singer Zayn

Pakistan 3rd Largest Source of Foreign Doctors in America

Pakistanis Make Up Largest Foreign-Born Muslim Group in Silicon Valley

Pakistanis in Silicon Valley

Massive Show of Support for Silicon Valley Muslims After Trump Ban

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Trump's Paris Accord Pullout; India's Slowing Economy; Kabul Blast; Panama JIT

Why did President Trump pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Deal? How will this impact the United States and the world? Can US still lead on matters related to energy? Will China and Europe pick up the mantle of world leadership on climate change and clean energy? Will US growing isolation cost American jobs?

Why has India's GDP growth slowed to 6.1% in Jan-March 2017 from 7.1% earlier? Is it the result of demonetization? Why has bank credit growth declined to just 5%, the slowest in 60 years? Is the growth in non-performing loans taking a toll on new lending by ailing public sector banks? How will it affect job growth in India?

Who is responsible for the massive Kabul blast that caused tragic loss of 100 lives? Did the Haqqanis do it? Why is the Afghan intelligence blaming it on Pakistan? How will the United States deal with the deteriorating situation after 16 years of war in Afghanistan? Will the Taliban accept talking with the Afghan and US representatives?

Does PMLN Senator Nihal Hashmi's scathing attack on judiciary and bureaucracy reflect the inner thinking within the Sharif family and the PMLN leadership? Is it an attempt to intimidate the judges and the bureaucrats involved investigating corruption allegations against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members? Are they having a hard time dealing with accountability as never seen before by a ruling party in Pakistan?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/jMkseal7jgg





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Trump's Policies

Pakistan's Response to Climate Change

Is Modi Fudging Indian GDP Figures? 

India's Demonetization Disaster

Gen Petraeus on Pakistan's Support of Haqqanis

Panama Leaks Corruption Scandal

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Ramzan; Pakistan Economic Survey; Indian IT Job Losses; Trump's Foreign Tour

What is Ramadan all about? Is it only about abstaining from food and drink in the daylight hours? What is the key message for this Ramzan? Isn't respecting Huqooq-ul-Ibad (human rights of others) as important as observing Huqooq-ul-Allah (Duties to Allah such as prayer and fasting) for each Muslim? What must Muslims do this Ramzan to fulfill all of their obligations to Allah and His creation?

What does the Economic Survey of Pakistan say about Pakistan's GDP, per capita income, infrastructure development, education and other important indicators? What must Pakistani leaders do to ensure greater focus on and investment in education and not just in infrastructure? What is the size of and the key priorities in Pakistan's budget for 2017-18? Should some of the $20 billion (out of the $50 billion budget) for infrastructure be allocated to education to boost Pakistan's stagnant literacy and school enrollment rates?



Why is India losing IT jobs at a rate of 200,000 jobs a year, according to McKinsey? Is it all because of Trump's H1B visa tightening? Or does it have more to do with the need for new skills to deal with new technologies such as cloud computing and digital services?

What was the objective of Trump's tour of the Middle East and Europe? Has he achieved any of the objectives? Was Nawaz Sharif's low-key presence at the Riyadh summit appropriate? Are Nawaz Sharif's critics right? Should he have had a more prominent role at the US-Arab-Islamic summit? How would that impact Iran-Pakistan ties?


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

https://youtu.be/ojEvEICkimA




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Riaz Haq's Ramadan Sermon

Pakistan's Lagging Literacy and School Enrollment Rates

Impact of Trump's H1B Visa Crackdown

Impact of Trump's Appointments on US Policy

Iran-Saudi Conflict

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel



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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Afiniti and Careem: Tech Unicorns Made in Pakistan

Afiniti and Careem are two technology unicorns engineered in Pakistan by Pakistanis. AI (artificial intelligence) startup Afiniti software has largely been engineered in Lahore while taxi hailing service Careem's technology has mostly been developed in Karachi. Here's more about these unicorns:

Careem:

Careem is a taxi hailing app that is giving its American competitor Uber a run for its money in a region stretching from Pakistan to the Middle East and North Africa. The company cofounded by Mudassir Sheika, a Pakistani national, is headquartered in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Careem's last round  was valued at over a billion dollars when it raised $350 million from Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) at the end of 2016, according to Tech Crunch.

Careem's software has been developed by its technology partner VentureDive based in Karachi, Pakistan.  VentureDive was started by serial Pakistani entrepreneur Atif Azim who sold his earlier startup Perfigo to network equipment giant Cisco for $74 million in 2004, according to a report in Tech in Asia.

Atif launched VentureDive in 2011 and  took a small equity stake in Careem in exchange for building its entire tech stack – including the app, the website, and other digital platforms. That small stake has now grown to $50 million.

In 2016, Careem acquired VentureDive's engineering team working on its technology to give the engineers more ownership of the product – now they are getting equity stake in Careem and larger bonuses.

Afiniti Development Team in Lahore, Pakistan. Source: Afiniti.com


Afiniti:

Washington D.C. based AI technology firm Afiniti, founded by serial Pakistani-American entrepreneur Zia Chishti, has filed for initial public offering (IPO) at $1.6 billion valuation, according to VentureBeat. The company has grown out of the technology used in the Pakistan-based call center business of The Resource Group (TRG) also founded by Zia Chishti.

Bulk of the Afiniti development team is located in Thokar Niaz Baig, Lahore. In addition, the company has development team members in Islamabad and Karachi.

Chishti founded his first company Align Technology in 1997 in Silicon Valley. It creates clear plastic braces for straightening teeth by using advanced 3-D computer imaging. The technology now trademarked as Invisalign has helped millions of people straighten their teeth for a beautiful smile without enduring the pain and unsightly looks of the traditional steel brackets and wires used in orthodontics. Align Technology is now valued at $10 billion.

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

Summary:

Pakistan is an emerging center of technology with at least two unicorns, Afiniti and Careem, engineered by Pakistanis in Pakistan.  With growing numbers of young homegrown Pakistani technologists, a highly skilled diaspora and an evolving startup ecosystem with incubators, accelerators and investors, the country is beginning to demonstrate its vast potential as a vibrant technology hub of the future. Provincial governments, particularly those in Punjab and KP, are showing leadership in encouraging this trend. The main ingredients are all coming together to make things happen in Pakistan.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

OPEN Silicon Valley Forum 2017: Pakistani Entrepreneurs Conference

Pakistani-American's Tech Unicorn Files For IPO at $1.6 Billion Valuation

Pakistani-American Cofounders Sell Startup to Cisco for $610 million

Pakistani Brothers Spawned $20 Billion Security Software Industry

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Pakistani-American Pioneered 3D Technology in Orthodontics

Pakistani-Americans Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

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

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 



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Monday, May 22, 2017

Campaign of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) About CPEC

An unrelenting campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been unleashed in the media in recent weeks. This strategy harkens back to the aggressive marketing techniques used by the American computer giant IBM in the 1970s to fight competition.

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD):

A definition of FUD that captures its essence is offered by Roger Irwin as follows: "Unable to respond with hard facts, scare-mongering is used via 'gossip channels' to cast a shadow of doubt over the competitors offerings and make people think twice before using it".

A number of articles in western and Indian media have attempted to use FUD against China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Some Pakistani journalists and commentators, some unwittingly, have also joined in the campaign.   As expected, these detractors ignore volumes of data and evidence that clearly contradict their claims.

Part of the motivation of those engaged in FUD against CPEC appears to be to check China's rise and Pakistan's rise with its friend and neighbor to the north. Their aim is to preserve and protect the current world order created by the Western Powers led by the United States at the end of the second world war.

Growing Infrastructure Gap:

Development of infrastructure is essential for economic and social development of a country such as Pakistan. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor financing needs to be seen in the context of the large and growing infrastructure gap in Asia that threatens social and economic progress.

 Rich countries generally raise funds for infrastructure projects by selling bonds while most developing countries rely on loans from international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to finance infrastructure projects.

The infrastructure financing needs of the developing countries far exceed the capacity of the World Bank and the regional development banks such as ADB to fund such projects. A recent report by the Asian Development Bank warned that there is currently $1.7 trillion infrastructure gap that threatens growth in Asia. The 45 countries surveyed in the ADB report, which covers 2016-2030, are forecast to need investment of $26 trillion over 15 years to maintain growth, cut poverty and deal with climate change.



Chinese CPEC Loans to Pakistan:

About 80% of the $55 billion of the Chinese money for CPEC is private investment while the rest is composed of soft loans to the government, according to Shanghai Business Review.

The Chinese soft loans for CPEC infrastructure projects carry an interest rate of just 1.6%, far lower than similar loans offered by the World Bank at rates of 3.8% or higher.

Chinese companies investing in Pakistan are getting loans from China's ExIm Bank at concessional rates and from China Development Bank at commercial rates. These loans will be repaid by the Chinese companies from their income from these investments, not by Pakistani taxpayers.

Rising Confidence in Pakistan:

Pakistani economy is already beginning to reap the benefits of the current and expected investments as seen in the 5.2% GDP growth in the current fiscal year, the highest in 9 years.

The World Bank's Pakistan Development Update of May 2017 says that "Pakistan’s economy continues to grow strongly, emerging as one of the top performers in South Asia".

Rapidly expanding middle class and rising demand for consumer durables like vehicles and home appliances attest to the positive impact of CPEC. Consumer confidence in Pakistan has reached its highest level since 2008, according to Nielsen.

US-based consulting firm Deloitte and Touche estimates that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects will create some 700,000 direct jobs during the period 2015–2030 and raise its GDP growth rate to 7.5%,  adding 2.5 percentage points to the country's current GDP growth rate of 5%.

Countering FUD:

Pakistani government should respond to the FUD campaign against CPEC by countering it with facts and data and increasing transparency in how CPEC projects are being financed, contracted and managed. It is particularly important in a low-trust society like Pakistan's where people can be easily persuaded to believe the worst about their leaders and institutions. 

Summary:

An unrelenting campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been unleashed in the media in recent weeks. This strategy harkens back to the aggressive marketing techniques used by the American computer giant IBM in the 1970s to fight competition. Part of the motivation of those engaged in FUD against CPEC appears to be to check China's rise and Pakistan's rise with its friend and neighbor to the north. Their aim is to preserve and protect the current world order created by the Western Powers led by the United States at the end of the second world war.   Pakistani government should respond to the FUD campaign against CPEC by countering it with facts and data and increasing transparency in how CPEC projects are being financed, contracted and managed. 

Related Links:










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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Pakistan Consumer Boom Driving Media Advertising Revenue

Rising buying power of rapidly expanding middle class in Pakistan drove the nation's media advertising revenue up 14% to a record Rs. 76.2 billion ($727 million), making the country's media market among the world's fastest growing for FY 2015-16. Half of this ad spending (Rs. 38 billion or $362 million) went to television channels while the rest was divided among print, outdoor, radio and digital media.

Media Ad Revenue by platform. Source: Aurora











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

HUM TV channel had the highest revenue at Rs. 3.84 billion, followed by ARY Digital's Rs. 3.802 billion, PTV Sports Rs. 3 billion, Geo Entertainment Rs. 2.93 billion, Geo News Rs. 2.6 billion, Urdu1 2.5 billion, PTV Home Rs. 2.5 billion, Samaa Rs. 1.9 billion, and Dunya News, ARY News and Express News Rs. 1.8 billion each.

The television channels with the highest revenue increases in 2015-16 were: Samaa (88%), Geo News (82%), Geo Entertainment (81%) and ARY News (76%).

Global Advertising Growth 2016. Source: Magna



The current media boom in Pakistan started in early 2000s when Pakistan had just one television channel, according to the UK's Prospect Magazine. Today it has over 100. Together they have begun to open up a country long shrouded by political, moral and religious censorship—taking on the government, breaking social taboos and, most recently, pushing a new national consensus against the Taliban. The birth of privately owned commercial media has been enabled by the Musharraf-era deregulation, and funded by the tremendous growth in revenue from advertising targeted at the burgeoning urban middle class consumers.

Pakistan has managed to significantly reduce poverty and rapidly grow its middle class since 2001 in spite of major political, security and economic challenges. The foundation for the rise of the middle class and the electronic media boom was laid on President Musharraf's watch by his government's decisions to invest in education and infrastructure projects and deregulate the media that led to the expansion of both human and financial capital. My hope is that the continued improvement in security situation and implementation of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related projects will bring in higher long-term investments and accelerate Pakistan's progress toward prosperity for all of its citizens.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Credit Suisse Wealth Report 2016

Pakistan: A Majority Middle Class Country

Pakistan Mass Media Boom

State Bank: Pakistan's Actual GDP Higher Than Officially Reported

College Enrollment in Pakistan

Musharraf Accelerated Development of Pakistan's Human and Financial Capital

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

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