Tuesday, February 21, 2017

American Tourist Ranks Pakistan Among Top 10 Favorites After Visiting 196 Countries

Cassie De Pecol, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for traveling to all 196 countries of the world in shortest time, has put Pakistan at number 5 among the top 10 "must visit" countries.

Other countries on De Pecol's top 10 list are: Mongolia, Bhutan, Maldives, Vanuatu, Oman, Tunisia, Peru, Costa Rica and USA.

Lahore Fort Source: Telegraph

De Pecol said people must visit Pakistan “to get a true sense of raw, authentic Asian culture, and for the food.”  Earlier, in an Instagram message at the start of her Pakistan visit she wrote: “My time here in Pakistan has just begun and has been one of the many wonderfully educational and culturally enriching experiences…. Don’t judge by its color or a country by the media", according to media reports.

De Pecol, a Connecticut native, left the United States on July 14, 2015, and just completed her 196-country tour Feb 2, 2017 — beating the current Guinness record of three years and three months, according to Today.com.

De Pecol needed money to finance her expedition. She found her first nonprofit endorsement through the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism, and after that, she decided to reach out to big and small companies and independent investors to contribute to her mission. “A lot of people think it’s so easy to find a sponsor to travel,” she today Today. “One of the most difficult aspects of this expedition was trying to find funding through sponsorship.”

Here's a Pakistan Pictorial:

Find more photos like this on PakAlumni Worldwide: The Global Social Network

World's Most Polluted Countries: China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

The 2.5 micron particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution of air accounts for the world's highest number of pollution-related premature deaths in China and South Asia, according to a report titled "State of Global Air 2017".

Source: State of Global Air 2017

PM2.5 Pollution Deaths:

More than half of the 4.2 million deaths attributed to PM2.5 pollution occur in just two countries: India and China. The next two countries accounting for the highest pollution-related mortality are Russia with 136,900, Pakistan with 135,100 and Bangladesh with 122,400 deaths in 2015, according to the report.

India and Bangladesh experienced some of the largest increases in PM2.5- attributable mortality, on the order of 50% to 60%. India (1.09 million deaths) now approaches China (1.11 million deaths) in the number of deaths attributable to PM2.5.

Source: State of Global Air 2017
Nearly all (86%) of the most extreme concentrations (above 75 µg/m3 ) were experienced by populations in China, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Among the world’s 10 most populous countries and the EU, the biggest increase (14% to 25%) in seasonal average population-weighted concentrations of ozone over the last 25 years were experienced in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Brazil.

The report said decreases in exposure in Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, and Pakistan were offset by population growth and population aging, resulting in net increases in attributable mortality.

In the United States and the European Union, reductions in exposure over the past 25 years have offset the contributions of population growth and aging, resulting in net decreases in PM2.5-attributable mortality (by 17% and 22%, respectively).

A similar pattern contributed to a net decrease of 34% in PM2.5-attributable mortality in Nigeria, although the reductions in exposure were likely due to factors different from those in the United States and EU. Within the EU, this pattern held in all member countries except Italy, Greece, and Malta, where attributable mortality increased from 1990 to 2015, according to the report.

Haze Under Himalayas Source: NASA

South Asia's Vulnerability:

South Asia is particularly susceptible to pollutants that hang in the air for extended periods of time. The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has recently released images of dull gray haze hovering over northern India and Pakistan, and parts of Bangladesh. It is believed that emissions from solid fuel burning, industrial pollutants and farm clearing fires get trapped along the southern edge of the Himalayas. NASA Earth Observatory explains this phenomenon as follows:

"The haze visible in this image likely results from a combination of agricultural fires, urban and industrial pollution, and a regional temperature inversion. Most of the time, air higher in the atmosphere is cooler than air near the planet’s surface, and this configuration allows warm air to rise from the ground and disperse pollutants. In the wintertime, however, cold air frequently settles over northern India, trapping warmer air underneath. The temperature inversion traps pollutants along with warm air at the surface, contributing to the buildup of haze."

Urgent Actions Needed: 

South Asian governments need to act to deal with rapidly rising particulate pollution jointly. Some of the steps they need to take are as follows:

1. Reduce the use of solid fuels such as cow dungwood and coal to limit particulate matter released into the atmosphere.

2. Impose higher emission standards on industries and vehicles through regulations.

3. Increase forest cover by planting more trees.

4. Encourage the use of more renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, etc.

The cost of acting now may seem high but it will turn out out to be a lot more expensive to deal with extraordinary disease burdens resulting from rising air pollution.

Summary:

South Asia accounts for more than a third of all PM2.5 pollution related deaths in the world. The sources of particulate pollution range from solid fuel burning to crop clearing fires and use of dirty fuels in vehicles and industries. Recognition of the growing problem is urgent. Failure to act could be very costly in terms of human health.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Response to Climate Change

Diwali Pollution Warnings in India

Cow Dung Sales in India

India's Air Most Toxic

Pak Entrepreneur Recycles Trash into Energy and Fertilizer

Bhopal Disaster

Environmental Pollution in India

Rising Population, Depleting Resources

India Leads the World in Open Defecation

Heavy Disease Burdens in South Asia

Monday, February 6, 2017

Pakistan's Focus on Hardware (Infrastructure) Instead of Software (Education)

American theologian and author James Freeman Clarke (1810-1888) is reported to have explained the distinction between a politician and a statesman as follows: "A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation."

How does this apply to the current crop of Pakistani leaders in charge of running the country? Are they statesmen or mere politicians?

I think the answer to this question can be found in how they invest available national resources, particularly their longer term investments in education, training, nutrition and health care sectors which do not show results as quickly as building roads, metro bus, metro trains, ports and other physical infrastructure.

China Pakistan Economic Corridor:

Pakistani politicians, particularly PMLN and Nawaz Sharif, love to highlight China-Pakistan Economic Corridor  (CPEC) projects and their accomplishments in terms of motorways, metro bus, metro trains, ring roads and airports rather education and health care. And the reason they do it is because such projects can be completed before the next elections while the returns on investments in education and health take much longer to become visible.

Pakistan's M2 Motorway

In a recent piece titled "Pakistan's misguided obsession with infrastructure", The Economist magazine  said Chinese diplomat assigned to work with Pakistan on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor acknowledged this problem. Here's an excerpt from The Economist:

"Lijian Zhao, a Chinese diplomat, says China is all too aware that Pakistan needs more than just big-ticket infrastructure if it is to flourish. Disarmingly, he praises the efforts of Britain and other countries to improve Pakistan’s “software”, such as education and the rule of law. “But China’s expertise is hardware,” says Mr Zhao."

Education and Literacy Rates:

Pakistan's net primary enrollment rose from 42% in 2001-2002 to 57% in 2008-9 during Musharraf years. It has been essentially flat at 57% since 2009 under PPP and PML(N) governments.

Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16

Similarly, the literacy rate for Pakistan 10 years or older rose from 45% in 2001-2002 to 56% in 2007-2008 during Musharraf years. It has increased just 4% to 60% since 2009-2010 under PPP and PML(N) governments.

Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16

Pakistan's Human Development: 

Human development index reports on Pakistan released by UNDP confirm the ESP 2015 human development trends.Pakistan’s HDI value for 2013 is 0.537— which is in the low human development category—positioning the country at 146 out of 187 countries and territories. Between 1980 and 2013, Pakistan’s HDI value increased from 0.356 to 0.537, an increase of 50.7 percent or an average annual increase of about 1.25.

Pakistan HDI Components Trend 1980-2013 Source: Human Development Report 2014


Overall, Pakistan's human development score rose by 18.9% during Musharraf years and increased just 3.4% under elected leadership since 2008. The news on the human development front got even worse in the last three years, with HDI growth slowing down as low as 0.59% — a paltry average annual increase of under 0.20 per cent.

Going further back to the  decade of 1990s when the civilian leadership of the country alternated between PML (N) and PPP,  the increase in Pakistan's HDI was 9.3% from 1990 to 2000, less than half of the HDI gain of 18.9% on Musharraf's watch from 2000 to 2007.

Summary:

The history of the industrialized world tells us that democracy, peace and prosperity can not be sustained in the long run without a solid foundation of a healthy and well-educated society. Pakistani leaders must learn from history and pay more attention to accelerate human development along with building the necessary infrastructure such CPEC projects. They must allocate greater resources and maintain sharp focus to improve education and health of the people of Pakistan.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani Democracy's Disappointing Record on Human Development

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Pakistan's Infrastructure and M2 Motorway

Pakistan's Lost Decades

Saving Pakistan's Education, Airline and Railway

Asian Tigers Brought Prosperity; Democracy Followed

Pakistan Democracy: Neither Democracy Nor Development

Challenges of Indian Democracy

Pakistan's Economic History

Comparing Bangladesh with Pakistan

Economic and Human Development in Musharraf Years

India's Share of World;s Poor Up from 22% to 33%

Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Musharraf Era Higher Education Reforms in Pakistan

Comparing 30-Year Dictatorships in Indonesia and Pakistan



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Effect of Trump's Muslim Ban on Silicon Valley

Thousands of protesters and dozens of civil rights lawyers from ACLU and CAIR flocked to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to free Muslim travelers detained by the US Customs and Immigration Service after President Donald Trump's Muslim Ban executive order over the weekend.

Silicon Valley companies rely on technology talent from many Muslim nations around the world. They also do significant business in the Islamic world. It is in Silicon Valley's best self-interest for the United States to have friendly ties with world's 1.5 billion Muslims. Among the most famous sons of Muslim immigrants was the legendary Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Anti-Ban Protest at San Francisco International Airport 

While the scene with anti-ban protesters and civil rights lawyers was repeated at all major international airports across the United States, what was special about San Francisco was the presence of Silicon Valley tech elite,  including Google cofounder Sergey Brin and Y Combinator president Sam Altman,  among the protesters.  The Who's Who of America's technology world work with tens of thousands of Muslim technologists everyday. They have all spoken out against Trump's Muslim ban. Meanwhile, several Silicon Valley venture capitalists have committed to match donations to American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the biggest organization of civil rights lawyers in the United States. ACLU says it has already raised over $10 million so far to fight Trump's Muslim Ban in the US Court system.

Silicon Valley Muslims:

Silicon Valley companies rely on technology talent from many Muslim nations around the world. They also do significant business in the Islamic world. It is in Silicon Valley's best self-interest for the United States to have friendly ties with world's 1.5 billion Muslims. Among the most famous sons of Muslim immigrants was the legendary Apple founder Steve Jobs.

The US-born Muslims make up the largest percentage at 34% of all Muslims in San Francisco Bay Area, followed by 14% born in Pakistan, 11% in Afghanistan, 10% in India, 3% in Egypt and 2% each in Iran, Jordan, Palestine and Yemen.
Bay Area Muslims by Country of Birth 

There are 35,000 Pakistani-born Muslims in San Francisco Bay Area,  or 14% of the 250,000 Muslims who call the Bay Area home, according to the study. Bay Area Muslim community constitutes 3.5 percent of the area’s total population and is one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in the country.

As of 2013, South Asian Muslims, including Pakistanis, have the highest income levels, with nearly half (49%) of them having a household income above $100,000. In comparison, those groups with the lowest proportion of household incomes above $100,000 were Hispanic Muslims (15%), Afghans (10%), and African American Muslims (10%).

The Bay Area Muslim community is very diverse in terms of race and ethnicity:

South Asians (30%)

Arabs (23%)

Afghans (17%),

African Americans (9%)

Asian/Pacific Islanders (7%)

Whites (6%)

Iranians (2%)

Silicon Valley Tech Elite Protest:

While Sergey Brin (Google) and Sam Altman (Y Combinator) physically joined the protest at San Francisco International Airport, there are many more among the Who's Who of the tech world who have voiced their opposition to Trump's Muslim Ban: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla founder Elon Musk, Netflix founder Reed Hastings,  Apple CEO Tim Cook, PayPal cofounder Max Levchin, AirBnB founder Brian Chesky, DropBox founder Drew Houston, and many many more. They all know how critical the Muslim immigrant talent is to the success of their companies.

Many of the tech elite cite the fact that legendary Apple founder Steve Jobs was the son a Syrian Muslim immigrant father Abdul Fattah Jandali.

Summary:

Silicon Valley tech elite have joined the growing protests against Trump's Muslim Ban. Some have shown up at San Francisco International Airport while others have issued statements through social media to voice their opposition. Several venture capitalists have committed to match all individual contributions to  ACLU,  the civil rights lawyers' organization  that has already raised $10 million over the weekend to fight Trump's executive order banning Muslims. They all know how critical Muslim immigrant talent pool is for the continuing success of Silicon Valley technology industry.

Here's video clip of a discussion on Trump's Muslim Ban:

https://youtu.be/DYrc5BpjLiA





https://vimeo.com/201559485


Implications of Trump's Muslim Ban, Mexico Wall from Ikolachi on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Trump's Muslim Ban

Steve Jobs: the Son of Syrian Muslim Immigrant Father

The Trump Phenomenon

Islamophobia in America

Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans

Pakistani-American Leads Silicon Valley's Top Incubator

Silicon Valley Pakistanis Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Karachi-born Triple Oscar Winning Graphics Artist

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fire-eye Goes Public

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

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Trump Inauguration; WEF17 & Inequality in India

What tone did President Donald J. Trump set in his inauguration speech on Jan 20, 2017? Can Trump simultaneously take on the US establishment, friends and foes all at the same time? How will he browbeat US businesses to stop offshoring of manufacturing and jobs? How will he "eradicate radical Islamic terrorism" without the help of allies whose armies he says will not be "subsidized" by the United States? How's Trump's rise seen in Pakistan? Will he start trade wars with China and other countries running trade surpluses with the United States? Will he change Washington or will Washington change him?

Why is the World Economic Forum 2017 in Davos so concerned about growing economic inequality? Is globalization alone responsible for it? Why is India so unequal with 58.4% of the wealth owned by the top 1% of Indians? Why have the Brexit vote and Trump victory sent shockwaves through the ranks of the owners/investors of global businesses and industries? How will they respond to the powerful backlash against globalization? How is automation affecting the jobs situation? Is it equally responsible for loss of jobs?

Why was the new Laskar e Jhangvi chief Asif Chhotu, like his predecessor Malik Ishaq, killed in a police encounter in Punjab? Was this just another fake encounter? Will it help reduce sectarian carnage in Pakistan?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with leading Pakistani journalist Zahid Husain and regular panelists Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/PDANReBBSBo





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Trump Phenomenon

America and the Rise of ISIS

London Mayor Sadiq Khan's Election

Trump Policies

Economic Inequality in India, Pakistan

Economy and Security Situation in Pakistan