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Pakistani Students Win Silver in International Genetic Engineering Competition

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A team of undergraduate students representing Peshawar has won a silver medal in a genetic engineering competition organized recently by the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation in Boston, Massachusetts.



iGEM Team:

The team was made up of students from several cities and towns across Pakistan including Lahore, Attock, Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad, Khyber Agency, Nowshera, Charsadda, Peshawar, Swabi and Mardan.

The team was hosted by Institute of Integrative Biosciences of CECOS University of IT and Emerging Sciences Peshawar. It was sponsored by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP)’s Directorate of Science and Technology, according to media reports.

The team's silver-medal-winning 2017 entry is a genetically engineered fish called "Reporter Fish" that can detect five different heavy metals and change color to indicate the presence of metal contamination in the water. It used an Arduino electronic circuit board with bacterial-human interface device that enabl…

Is US Playing the "India Card" Against China With "Indo-Pacific Quad"?

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Has Asia-Pacific become Indo-Pacific? Is George W. Bush's Quad back again? Is this Trump's version of Obama's Pivot to Asia? Let's examine what happened during President Donald Trump's recent Asia Trip.

Obama's Pivot to Asia:

President Barack Obama's Pivot to Asia initiative and his efforts to create Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) seemed to have been all but abandoned by President Donald Trump after his inauguration in January 2017. This is part of a pattern of Mr. Trump's campaign to erase the Obama legacy and put his own stamp on all things American. However, it now appears that the Obama legacy is being repackaged by the Trump administration under new names such as "Quad" in "Indo-Pacific" region. Its aim remains the same: To check China's rise.

Trump's Quad in Indo-Pacific:

In a speech to business leaders during his visit to Vietnam, President Trump repeatedly called for a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” describing a region …

Thick Smog in Delhi and Lahore: Is India Crop Burning to Blame?

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Thick smog enveloping Pakistan's Punjab province has seriously disrupted road and air traffic and created significant health emergency for the people, according to Pakistani media reports. Indian cities, including the nation's capital New Delhi, are also suffering from it.

Is India Responsible?

Pakistani officials have blamed "the incursion of smoke and particle matter from the burning of crop stubble in the Indian Punjab." Particulate matter of 2.5 microns or larger as measured in micrograms per cubic meter is up to 80 times higher than the upper limit of 10 micrograms per cubic meter considered safe by the World Health Organization.

Is the Pakistani claim supported by data? Let's try and answer this question with satellite images of the area released by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).


NASA Satellite Images:

Here's how NASA's Earth Observatory described the situation last year:

"In early October 2016, Eart…

Pakistan's Large Scale Manufacturing Soars By Double Digits

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Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) in Pakistan shot up 11.3% in the first two months of fiscal year 2017-18, according to the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS). It represents a big surge from 5.7% LSM growth seen in Fiscal 2016-17.


The broad-based LSM growth was led by 50% jump in iron and steel production and 31% in auto manufacturing sector. Cement production grew nearly 20%, engineering products 19% and Pharmaceuticals 11% in the July-August 2017.

Although production was driven mostly by strong domestic demand, the exports in July-Sept 2018 also increased nearly 11% over the same period last year.

Among the notable sub-sectors driving strong LSM growth in July-August 2017 are: Tractors 115%,  motorcycles 28.3%, deep freezers 16.2%, air-conditioners 26.8%, electric-fans 22.4%, electric motors 17.3% and electric meters 18.3%, and switchgear 20.8%.

Significant improvement in the country's security situation is helping restore confidence of investors, businesses and consumers who are…

Social Media: Blessing or Curse for Pakistan?

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Is the rapid growth of social media helping or hurting Pakistani state and society?

What are the consequences of the proliferation and abuse of the new media?

What about terrorist groups like ISIS using viral images and videos to radicalize young people?  Or the state-run intelligence agencies and their agents and bots using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread disinformation to manipulate and divide people in countries and societies seen as hostile to their interests?

Is Pakistan being targeted by India's RAW and other hostile foreign intelligence agencies using social media to divide and manipulate Pakistanis by spreading fake news and doctored videos and images? Are they following the blueprint of the Russian intelligencetroll farms that were used against America before, during and after the 2016 US presidential elections?

Should there be any codes of conduct or rules and regulations for social media users? Or should it be free-for-all?

ALKS host Faraz Darvesh discusses the…

Pakistan's Fintech Revolution to Promote Financial Inclusion

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Pakistan is ranked 16th among 26 nations ranked by Brookings Institution with an overall score of 69% in "The State of Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report" for 2017.  As the world observes the "World Financial Inclusion Week" this week (October 30-November 3, 2017), the Internet revolution is enabling rapid growth of financial technology (fintech) for increasing financial inclusion in Pakistan. The purpose of the observance of the week is to "hold conversations focused on how new products and partnerships are advancing financial inclusion, not just access", according to the Center for Financial Inclusion. It is important for Pakistan where about 100 million adults lack access to formal and regulated financial services.


Importance of Financial Inclusion:

Access to regulated financial services for all is essential in today's economy. It allows people to save, borrow and invest. Those who lack access to regulated banking services are often forc…

Will Gwadar Grow to Become a Major Metropolis Like Shenzhen?

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"We believe Gwadar is following in the footsteps of Shenzhen which represented a historic population rise, from a population of 30,000 in 1980 to 11 million people in 2017. Gwadar is poised to see massive population growth due to incoming industries, and we expect this to be one of the most strategic cities in South Asia." Hao-Yeh Chang,  China Pak Investments Corporation

Gwadar: The Next Shenzhen?

Gwadar is booming. It's being called the next Shenzhen by some and the next Hong Kong by others as an emerging new port city in the region to rival Dubai. Land prices in Gwadar are skyrocketing, according to media reports. Gwadar Airport air traffic growth of 73% was the fastest of all airports in Pakistan where overall air traffic grew by 23% last year, according to Anna Aero publication.  A new international airport is now being built in Gwadar to handle soaring passenger and cargo traffic.


Gwadar Property Boom:

The volume of Gwadar property searches surged 14-fold on Pakistan…