Assessing Pakistan's Decade 1999-2009

This December 31, 2009, is not just the end of the year; it brings a momentous decade of achievements in Pakistan to a chaotic and bloody end. After a relatively peaceful but economically stagnant decade of the 1990s, the year 1999 brought a bloodless coup led by General Pervez Musharraf, ushering in an era of accelerated economic growth that led to more than doubling of the national GDP, and dramatic expansion in Pakistan's urban middle class.



The decade also cast a huge shadow of the US "war on terror" on Pakistan, eventually turning the nation into a frontline state in the increasingly deadly conflict that shows no signs of abating. Along with the blood and gore and chaos on the streets, there are hopeful signs that rule of law and accountability is beginning to prevail in the country with the restoration of representative democracy and independent judiciary, largely in response to an increasingly assertive urban middle class, vibrant mass media and growing civil society. Let's look at some of the highlights, low lights and then discuss the shape of things to come.

High-lights:

1. Pakistan's tax base and government revenue collection more than doubled from about Rs. 500b to over Rs. 1.2 trillion.

2. Pakistan's GDP more than doubled to $170 billion (nominal) since 1999. It has reached $440 billion in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP).


3. Pakistan attracted over $5 billion in foreign direct investment in the 2006-07 fiscal year, ten times the figure of 2000-01.




4. The country has experienced a mass media revolution. There are now multiple, competing television channels catering to almost every niche, whim and taste---from news, sports, comedy and talk shows to channels dedicated to cooking, fashion, fitness, music, business, religion, local languages and cultures etc. It seems that this media revolution has had a profound influence on how many young people talk, dress and behave, emulating the outspoken media personalities, actors, preachers, singers, sportsmen, celebrities and fashion models. In addition to a smorgasbord of TV channels born out of a surge in advertising spending, there are many newspapers and tabloids, and serious and glossy magazines, and many FM radio stations providing local news, sports, weather and traffic.

5. The strong consumer demand in Pakistan drove large investments in real estate, construction, communications, automobile manufacturing, banking and various consumer goods. Millions of new jobs were created. By all accounts, the ranks of the middle class swelled in Pakistan.

6. Pakistan's KSE-100 stock index surged 55% in 2009, a year that also saw the South Asian nation wracked by increased violence and its state institutions described by various media talking heads as being on the verge of collapse. Even more surprising is the whopping 825% increase in KSE-100 from 1999 to 2009, which makes it a significantly better performer than the BRIC nations. BRIC darling China has actually underperformed its peers, rising only 150 percent compared with energy-rich Brazil (520 percent) and Russia (326 percent) or well-regulated India (274 percent), which some investors see as a safer and more diverse bet compared with the Chinese equity market, which is dominated by bank stocks. According to Tariq Iqbal Khan, Chairman of Pakistan National Investment Trust(NIT), KSE-100 equities provided investors with average annual return of 21 percent during the decade 1999-2009 while the average inflation during this period was 7.2 percent.



7. The Wall Street Journal did a story in September 2007 on Pakistan's start-up boom that said, "Scores of new businesses once unseen in Pakistan, from fitness studios to chic coffee shops to hair-transplant centers, are springing up in the wake of a dramatic economic expansion. As a result, new wealth and unprecedented consumer choice have become part of Pakistan's volatile social mix."

8. The PPP leadership under former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan in 2007 following a US-sponsored amnesty signed by former President Musharraf. Unfortunately, Ms. Bhutto was assassinated before the elections in December 2007. However, the results of the free and fair elections held in 2008 were respected by former President Musharraf that allowed the PPP, led by Benazir Bhutto's widower Asif Ali Zardari, to assume control of the government. Later, Mr. Zardari forced President Musharraf out and succeeded him into the office of the president.

9. Persistent and powerful mass movement led by Pakistani lawyers forced the PPP government to restore Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and several other senior judges earlier this year. The NRO amnesty that facilitated the PPP leaders' return has since been annulled by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and all of the corruption and criminal cases against Mr. Zardari and many of his ministers have been re-opened. The chief justice appears determined to pursue accountability and rule of law against all odds.

10. Pakistan's information technology(IT) sector revenue grew from almost nothing to about $2.8 billion in 2008, with about half of it from exports.

11. Higher education reform initiated by Dr. Ata-ur Rehman Khan under President Musharraf resulted in over fivefold increase in public funding for universities, with a special emphasis on science, technology and engineering. The reform supported initiatives such as a free national digital library and high-speed Internet access for universities as well as new scholarships enabling more than 2,000 students to study abroad for PhDs — with incentives to return to Pakistan afterward. The years of reform have coincided with increases in the number of Pakistani authors publishing in research journals, especially in mathematics and engineering, as well as boosting the impact of their research outside Pakistan.

12. The telecom boom increased mobile phone penetration from near zero in 1999 to over 50% now, along with the expansion of Internet access to double digits.

13. Pakistan joined the ranks of the top destinations for business process and technology outsourcing. According to oDesk, Pakistan experienced 328% growth in its outsourcing business in 2007-8, second only to the Philippines (789%) on a list of seven top locations that include US (260%), Canada (121%), India (113%), the Ukraine (77%) and Russia (43%).

14. Over two dozen Pakistani scientists are doing research on large hadron collider at CERN in Switzerland. More scientists are engaged in research at Pakistan's Jinnah research station in Antarctica.

15. Urbanization is not just a side effect of economic growth; it is an integral part of the process, according to the World Bank. With the robust economic growth averaging 7 percent and availability of millions of new jobs created between 2000 and 2008, there has been increased rural to urban migration in Pakistan to fill the jobs in growing manufacturing and service sectors. The level of urbanization in Pakistan is now the highest in South Asia, and its urban population is likely to equal its rural population by 2030, according to a report titled ‘Life in the City: Pakistan in Focus’, released by the United Nations Population Fund. Pakistan ranks 163 and India at 174 on a list of over 200 countries compiled by Nationmaster. The urban population now contributes about three quarters of Pakistan's gross domestic product and almost all of the government revenue. The industrial sector contributes over 27% of the GDP, higher than the 19% contributed by agriculture, with services accounting for the rest of the GDP.

16. Along with increasing internal rural to urban migration, there has also been a wave overseas migration from urban areas in Pakistan to urban centers overseas, especially the Middle East. The Middle East, with its vast oil wealth, has provided many opportunities for overseas workers to work and earn a living building and maintaining infrastructure in various Arab states, especially in the Persian Gulf. In recent years, overseas Pakistanis have been contributing to Pakistan's economy with remittances exceeding $8 billion a year.

17. A new class of entrepreneurs has emerged in Pakistan during this decade who, in small but significant ways, have challenged the religious orthodoxy. They present a sharp contrast to the rising wave of Islamic radicalism that the U.S. and others in the West view as an existential threat to Pakistan. And with many well-traveled Pakistanis importing ideas from abroad, they are contributing to Pakistan's 21st-century search for itself.

18. Pakistan's arms industry came a long way from making small arms as a cottage industry in the last few decades. The US and Western arms embargoes imposed on Pakistan at critical moments in its history have proved to be a blessing in disguise. In particular, the problems Pakistan faced in the aftermath of Pressler Amendment in 1992 became an opportunity for the country to rely on indigenous development and production of defense equipment. Not only did the country become a significant arms exporter, the defense production went high tech this decade, with the growing private defense production sector.

19. The current PPP government hailed Pakistan's progress under President Musharraf in its 2008 MOU with the IMF as follows:

"Pakistan's economy witnessed a major economic transformation in the last decade. The country's real GDP increased from $60 billion to $170 billion, with per capita income rising from under $500 to over $1000 during 2000-07". It further acknowledged that "the volume of international trade increased from $20 billion to nearly $60 billion. The improved macroeconomic performance enabled Pakistan to re-enter the international capital markets in the mid-2000s. Large capital inflows financed the current account deficit and contributed to an increase in gross official reserves to $14.3 billion at end-June 2007. Buoyant output growth, low inflation, and the government's social policies contributed to a reduction in poverty and improvement in many social indicators". (see MEFP, November 20, 2008, Para 1).


Low-lights:

1. There appears to be a serious lack of leadership in the face of daily carnage unfolding in Pakistan's cities and towns. In the 51 weeks so far in 2009, Pakistan has suffered at least 44 attacks. The death toll from this steady stream of violence stands at more than 650. And if the past few days are any guide, that horrifying annual tally is not yet complete.

The past three months have been particularly bloody. More than half of Pakistan's terrorists attacks this year have occurred since the beginning of October, a few weeks after the Pakistan military launched an operation to drive the Pakistan Taliban out of its stronghold in South Waziristan.

The country has suffered at least 25 terrorist attacks in that brutal ten-week phase. The latest one was in Peshawar, killing at least 4.


2. In spite of the IMF bailout of Pakistan, the economy is practically in recession, barely keeping pace with the population growth. According to Economic Survey 2008-09, presented by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, Pakistan's economy grew by a mere 2.0 percent, barely keeping pace with population growth. The growth fell significantly short of the 4.5 percent target for the year, which was already very modest compared with an average of 7% economic growth witnessed from 2001-2008.

3. Long, recurring and daily power outages are severely impacting all business, economic and social activities in Pakistan. Adding further to the public pain are the multiple crises of sugar shortage, food price rises, and water scarcity, and deteriorating security situation making life extremely difficult for ordinary people.

4. In spite of the fact that Pakistan's Human Development Index (HDI) has risen by 1.30 percent per year from 0.402 to 0.572 during 1980-2007 period, and it has accelerated to 1.9% increase since 2000 when it was reported to be 0.499, its progress is not yet sufficient to improve the nation's ranking relative to other countries in regions like East Asia, which have been moving considerably faster. Pakistan's index grew by 1.75% in the 1980s but slipped to less than 1.3% during the lost decade of the 1990s.

5. Low levels of literacy continue to threaten Pakistan's future. Although literacy in Pakistan has grown by about 13% this decade to about 56%, it remains woefully low when compared to other South Asian nations. Ranked at 141 on a list of 177 countries, Pakistan's human development ranking remains very low. Particularly alarming is the low primary school enrollment for girls which stands at about 30% in rural areas, where the majority of Pakistanis live.

6. Lack of opportunity in rural areas is pushing more and more young people to cities and towns which is further straining the already overburdened infrastructure and municipal services in major cities. In a recent interview with Wall Street Journal, Pakistan's former finance minister Salman Shah explained that "Pakistan has to be part of globalization or you end up with Talibanization". "Until we put these young people into industrialization and services, and off-farm work, they will drift into this negative extremism; there is nothing worse than not having a job," Shah elaborated. But increasing urbanization in South Asia represents both a challenge and an opportunity for India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is a challenge because it imposes a rapidly growing burden on the already overcrowded megacities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Dhaka and Karachi. Such a massive challenge will require a tremendous focus on providing housing, transportation, schooling, healthcare, water, power, sanitation and other services at an accelerated pace.

7. There has been rising intolerance and violence against minorities in Pakistan. This year has been particularly traumatic for Pakistani christian community. In August, an angry and armed mob of radical Muslims attacked a Christian village in Gojra, Punjab, firing indiscriminately, throwing Molotov cocktails and looting houses. About 70 houses were burnt to the ground and at least seven Christians died in the flames. Sectarian violence has also increased against Shia and Ahmedi minority communities.

8. Violence against women and wide gender gap continue to hold Pakistan back. The status of women in Pakistan continues to vary considerably across different classes, regions, and the rural/urban divide due to uneven socioeconomic development and the impact of tribal, feudal, and urban social customs on women's lives. While some women are soaring in the skies as pilots of passenger jets and supersonic fighter planes, others are being buried alive for defying tribal traditions.

9. Pakistan's water crisis became more acute during this decade. According to the United Nations' World Water Development Report, the total actual renewable water resources in Pakistan decreased from 2,961 cubic meters per capita in 2000 to 1,420 cubic meters in 2005. A more recent study indicates an available supply of water of little more than 1,000 cubic meters per person, which puts Pakistan in the category of a high stress country.

10. Even after significant reduction in poverty, the number of poor people earning less than $1.25 a day remains high. Center for Poverty Reduction (CPRSPD), backed by the United Nations Development Program(UNDP), estimated that Pakistan's poverty at national level declined sharply from 22.3 percent in 2005-06 (versus India's poverty rate of 42%) to 17.2 percent in 2007-08. The poverty has most likely increased in 2008-09 with the disappearance of economic growth.

The Future:

While Pakistanis must accept responsibility for their own unwise actions in the past, there is no doubt that the US presence in the region has had a huge negative impact on Pakistanis. Some of the actions by Americans, starting with the use of the "Mujaheddin" during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, have clearly contributed to the problems Pakistan faces today. These problems have been further exacerbated by the use of heavy-handed US tactics in the region, American policy of targeted assassinations by the CIA, and the use of private contractors like Blackwater who view themselves as "Christian Crusaders tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe". There were few religious militants and no incidents of suicide bombings in Pakistan before the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. There was only a small presence of the Taliban or al Qaeda in Pakistan prior to the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States. But in recent years, thousands of Pakistani soldiers have died fighting, killing or capturing the militants who fled into Pakistan from Afghanistan. And the civilian death toll from terrorist attacks in Pakistan is continuing to increase on a daily basis.

Pakistan is in the midst of multiple crises of confidence ranging from lack of basic security and political stability to continuing economic stagnation, many of which are of their own making. More than anything else, what the nation needs now is sincere, strong and wise leadership to deal with both internal and external threats. Pakistan needs leaders who can not only respond to the urgent national security problems now, but those leaders who can also ensure a better future looking beyond the current "war on terror" and US demands on Pakistan to a time when the US will leave the region and Pakistanis will have to live with the consequences of their actions in support of the United States. Pakistanis should use force when necessary against the militants and murderers, but they must not shun other avenues of political dialog and necessary reforms to build a national consensus for peace, stability, social justice, and shared economic benefits.

Pakistan is just too big to fail. In spite of all of the serious problems it faces today, I remain optimistic that country will not only survive but thrive in the coming decades. With a fairly large educated urban middle class, vibrant media, active civil society, assertive judiciary, many philanthropic organizations, and a spirit of entrepreneurship, the nation has the necessary ingredients to overcome its current difficulties to build a democratic government accountable to its people.

Here is a slide show of some of the infrastructure development projects underway in Pakistan:



Here is British Writer William Dalrymple talking about India and Pakistan:



Related Links:

Pakistan Economic Update 2009 by World Bank

FDI in Pakistan

Video: Who Says Pakistan Is a Failed State?

Pakistan's LOI With IMF 2008

Pakistani Entrepreneurs Survive Downturn

Online Political Activism in Pakistan

Foreign Direct Investments in Pakistan 1999-2009

Urban Middle Class Clout in Pakistan

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

Daily Carnage in Pakistan

Musharraf's Economic Legacy

List of Companies in Pakistan

NRO Amnesty Annulled By Pakistan Supreme Court

EDC's Pakistan's Country Overview

Eleven Days in Karachi

Is Pakistan Too Big to Fail?

Urbanization in Pakistan Highest in South Asia

Pakistani Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley

Pakistan's Defense Production Goes High-Tech

Post-911 Economic Boom in Pakistan

Pakistan Economic Indicators 1999-2009

Karachi Stock Exchange Presentation

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Seeking Alpha webite is reporting that a Pakistan ETF is in the works.

Global X, the developer of several sector-specific China funds, has filed for several new country-specific funds, continuing its push to develop a line of innovative international funds. Among the most interesting of the batch are funds targeting Norway, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. While most details are still not available for these proposed funds, a look at the outline provided in the prospectus of the economies on which they will reportedly focus provides some insights into the risk and return profiles (it should be noted that not all funds for which a prospectus is filed are eventually launched, so it’s entirely possible these ETFs never make it to market).
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an interesting except from analysis of Pakistan, calling it the Next BRIC, by theglobalguru.com:

...much like Russia, Pakistan also has been one of the top-performing stock markets over the past decade. Had you been able to invest in the Karachi Stock Exchange at the turn of the millennium, you'd be sitting on a much bigger pile of profits than, say, if you had invested in the “China miracle.” Pakistan offers yet another lesson in how gleaming skyscrapers offer little guidance in predicting future stock market performance.

Investing in Pakistan: Surprisingly Big

Teeming with 169 million souls, Pakistan is the world's sixth-largest country by population. That makes it smaller than Brazil , but larger that Russia, as well as the “Next BRIC” candidates, Turkey, Mexico, South Korea and Egypt. Bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the West, India in the East and China in the far Northeast, Pakistan is just about the size of France and the United Kingdom combined.

Pakistan's real per capita GDP of about $1,250 makes your average Pakistani slightly poorer than his counterpart in India -- and far behind the average in booming China. One third of Pakistan's population lives in poverty, and only half of the population is literate. Yet, Standard Chartered bank estimates that Pakistan has a middle class of 30 million that now earns an average of about $10,000 per year. And adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), Pakistan's per capita GDP approaches $3,000 per head. But take away that bit of economic affirmative action, and Pakistan's economy drops from the size of New Jersey's down to that of Alabama.

Investing in Pakistan: Edgy Relations with Uncle Sam

In the bad old days of the Soviet Union, Pakistan was a major U.S. ally. That relationship soured after the United States imposed sanctions on Pakistan after it refused to abandon its nuclear program. The “War on Terror” changed all that. After Pakistan ended its support of the Taliban regime in Kabul, American economic and military aid to Pakistan soared to more than $4 billion within three years of the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, American aid has played no small part in helping Pakistan's economy flourish over the past decade or so.

But as with most forms of handouts, gratitude is the least heartfelt of emotions. Anti-Americanism in Pakistan’s free media is just about as virulent as neighboring Iran. The Wall Street Journal’s Pakistan correspondent was ejected from the country after being charged with spying for the United States and Israel. The U.S. State Department advises U.S. citizens not to visit the country and has forbidden the families of its diplomats in Pakistan to visit since 2002.

Investing in Pakistan: A Solid Start to the Millennium

Economically, the first decade of the 21st century has been good to Pakistan. Thanks to economic reforms introduced in 2000 by the former Musharraf government, Pakistan has privatized $5-billion worth of assets, simplified its tax system and attracted large amounts of foreign direct investment (FDI) compared to its GDP. By mid-2005, the Pakistani economy was growing by 8.6%, and the World Bank named Pakistan as the top reformer in its region and among the top 10 reformers globally.

That changed abruptly with the onset of the “Great Recession.” Pakistan's ensuing balance-of-payments crisis and runaway inflation forced the IMF to step in, and offer a $7.6-billion emergency financing package in late 2008. To its credit, the Pakistani government kept its side of the bargain, maintaining its foreign exchange reserves above target and its fiscal deficit below. The Pakistani economic crisis has eased substantially, and in 2010, the economy is expected to grow at least 4%.

... The stock market index in Karachi has risen by more than 1,000% since 1999. And in 2002, Pakistan was the top-performing stock market in the world.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a recent excerpt from a piece by Dawn columnist Irfan Husain about Pakistan's middle class influencing nation's politics:

While external debt increased from $39bn in 1999 to $50bn in 2009, poverty levels have fallen by over 10 per cent since 2001. Indeed, there are now around 30 million Pakistanis who are considered to be in the middle class with an average income of $10,000 annually, while some 17 million are now bracketed with the upper and upper-middle classes.

Even though this does not approach China’s and India’s spectacular progress in this period, it does represent a solid advance. If one factors in the political turmoil the country has gone through, together with its ongoing insurgencies in the tribal areas and Balochistan, Pakistan’s progress has been impressive by any standard.

How do these numbers translate into day-to-day life in Pakistan? To examine the social transformation the country is undergoing, Jason Burke uses the Suzuki Mehran as a yardstick to measure change. In his ‘Letter from Karachi’ published in the current issue of Prospect, the Guardian reporter writes:

“In Pakistan, the hierarchy on the roads reflects that of society. If you are poor, you use the overcrowded buses or a bicycle. Small shopkeepers, rural teachers and better-off farmers are likely to have a $1,500 Chinese or Japanese motorbike…. Then come the Mehran drivers. A rank above them, in air-conditioned Toyota Corolla saloons, are the small businessmen, smaller landlords, more senior army officers and bureaucrats. Finally, there are the luxury four-wheel drives of ‘feudal’ landlords, big businessmen, expats, drug dealers, generals, ministers and elite bureaucrats. The latter may be superior in status, power and wealth, but it is the Mehrans which, by dint of numbers, dominate the roads.”

This growing affluence has already caused a major power shift, with the urban population now having a bigger say after years of being ruled by feudal landowners. As urbanisation gathers pace, Pakistan’s traditional power elite will increasingly come from the cities, and not from the rural hinterland. This will have a profound impact not just on politics, but on society as a whole. As Burke observes in his Prospect article:

“Politically, the Bhutto dynasty’s Pakistan People’s Party, mostly based in rural constituencies and led by feudal landowners, will lose out to the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif with its industrial, commercial, urban constituency. Culturally, the traditional, folksy, tolerant practices in rural areas will decline in favour of more modernised, politicised Islamic strands and identities. And as power and influence shifts away from rural elites once co-opted by colonialism, the few elements of British influence to have survived will fade faster.”

Often, perceptive foreigners spot social trends that escape us because we are too close to them to see the changes going on around us. For instance, Burke identifies the shift away from English, and sees ‘Mehran man’ as urban, middle class and educated outside the elite English-medium system. He sees Muslims being under attack from the West, and genuinely believes that the 9/11 attacks were a part of a CIA/Zionist plot. Actually, my experience is that many highly educated and sophisticated people share this theory.

Burke continues his dissection of the rising Pakistani middle class: “Mehran man is deeply proud of his country. A new identification with the ummah, or the global community of Muslims, paradoxically reinforces rather than degrades his nationalism. For him, Pakistan was founded as an Islamic state, not a state for South Asian Muslims. Mehran man is an ‘Islamo-nationalist’. His country possesses a nuclear bomb….”
Riaz Haq said…
Huma Yusuf blogs for Pakistan's Dawn.com site in Karachi and is a close watcher of new media in Pakistan. She says that in her country, new media has spawned a pithy brand of citizen journalism. The reason: “unlike Indians, we feel like we’re in a state of war”.

She says that during the Pakistan Emergency of 2006-7, Pakistan’s online population grew from 2.5 million to 18 million.

Click here for an MIT media labs paper she published on activism by Pakistan's online population.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan is more urbanized with a larger middle class than India as percent of population. In 2007, Standard Chartered Bank analysts and SBP estimated there were 30 to 35 million Pakistanis earning more than $10,000 a year. Of these, about 17 million are in the upper and upper middle class, according to a recent report.

As to India's much hyped middle class, a new report by Nancy Birdsall of Center for Global Development says it is a myth. She has proposed a new definition of the middle class for developing countries in a forthcoming World Bank publication, Equity in a Globalizing World. Birdsall defines the middle class in the developing world to include people with an income above $10 day, but excluding the top 5% of that country. By this definition, India even urban India alone has no middle class; everyone at over $10 a day is in the top 5% of the country.

This is a combination both of the depth of India's poverty and its inequality. China had no middle class in 1990, but by 2005, had a small urban middle class (3% of the population). South Africa (7%), Russia (30%) and Brazil (19%) all had sizable middle classes in 2005.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report estimating Pakistan's ICT industry at $12 billion in Pakistan:

KARACHI (APP) - The overall size of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in Pakistan has crossed more than $ 12 billion, of which $ 1 billion is foreign direct investment (FDI).
This was stated by the Advisor to PM on Information Technology Sardar Latif Khan Khosa while speaking at the inauguration of 5th Information & Communications Technology Exhibition and Conference - CONNECT 2010 at Karachi Expo Centre here Saturday.
He said Pakistan has one of the fastest growing the tele-density in the world, accelerating at a rate of 63.5 percent, while the neighbouring India is just 37 percent.
Khosa said there are more than 95 million mobile connections in the country and are still growing in numbers. This is exponential growth as mobile telephone market has seen a 14-fold increase since the year 2000, he added.
He said this signifies the importance of ICT sector and the further potential it holds for country’s economy.
He said CONNECT brings to Pakistan a focused event in the dynamic fields of IT and telecom and provides a unique platform to the companies to showcase their products and services.
The Advisor called upon IT professional to reach out entire Pakistan and spread IT in every nook and corner so that the people can take benefit of this dynamic technology.
He also supported the idea for a greater cooperation and interaction between the government, industry and academia to get maximum benefits of information technology. The Advisor pointed out PPP provides a platform for the promotion of IT in the country under its manifesto which envisages support for right of information to the people. This is the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto for IT and other sectors, he added. Later, taking to media, Sardar Khosa said the government has again invited foreign IT companies to restart their business in Khyber-Pukhtunkhawa and Balochistan.
I have asked these companies to identify the quantum of damage to their infrastructure in Khyber-Pukhtunkhawa area due to on-going war on terror. They are also seeking a price differential for broad band expansion, but we have asked them to first start rehabilitation of their infrastructure and we have assured them to look into their demands.
Riaz Haq said…
Other than financial services, other key service sectors with explosive growth in last decade (1999-2009) in Pakistan include media and telecom.

With an increase of 38% over 2008, the television advertising revenue for 2009 in Pakistan was Rs 16.4 billion ((US $200m), accounting for about half of the total ad market during the year. The TV ad revenue is continuing to rise as a percentage of total ad revenue, mostly at the expense of the print media ads. The biggest spenders in 2009 were the telecom companies with Rs 8 billion, followed closely by fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector with Rs. 7 billion, as reported by Pakistan's GeoTV channel. FMCG products, as opposed to consumer durables such as home appliances, are generally low cost and replaced or fully used up over a short period of days, weeks, or months, and within one year. Other important sectors contributing to ad revenue are financial services and real estate, but these sectors have experienced significant slowdown with the current economic slump.

According to Daily Times, Chairman Mushtaq Malik of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has said that the cable television sector “is the fast growing segment among the electronic media ventures”. In the first 100 days of the current government, he has claimed that new licenses for 16 satellite TV channels, 10 FM radio stations, and 232 cable TV channels have been granted. It is anticipated that this would lead to additional investment worth Rs. 2.5 billion, generating 4000 additional jobs in this sector. The cable television sector alone is employing some 30,000 people in the country.

APP reported that overall size of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in Pakistan has crossed more than $ 12 billion, of which $ 1 billion is foreign direct investment (FDI).
This was stated by the Advisor to PM on Information Technology Sardar Latif Khan Khosa while speaking at the inauguration of 5th Information & Communications Technology Exhibition and Conference - CONNECT 2010 at Karachi Expo Centre here Saturday.
He said Pakistan has one of the fastest growing the tele-density in the world, accelerating at a rate of 63.5 percent, while the neighbouring India is just 37 percent.
Khosa said there are more than 95 million mobile connections in the country and are still growing in numbers. This is exponential growth as mobile telephone market has seen a 14-fold increase since the year 2000, he added.
Riaz Haq said…
UN Human Development Report 2010 shows that Pakistan ranks among the top 10 movers in HDI in the decade of 2000-2010.

See table 3 in Let's Talk Human Development.
Riaz Haq said…
The Times Higher Education Supplement for 2011 ranks 6 Pakistani universities among the top 100 Asia for Life sciences and Bio medicine.

NUST ranks 60, UET-Lahore 65, Karachi University 68, University of Lahore 73, Punjab University 91 and Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad at 94.

On THES IT and Engg rankings, there are 4 Pakistani universities: NUST is 47, Univ of Karachi 91, University of Lahore 89, UET Lahore 90.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report in The News on the PPP's unwillingness to face rising poverty in Pakistan:

The World Bank has said that poverty assessment is underway in Pakistan, which will provide the basis for an update on poverty trends, sources said on Saturday.

But the government is making efforts to drag its feet away from revealing any poverty figures in a bid to avoid controversy, they said. In its latest report on Country Partnership Strategy (CPS), the World Bank took conscious decision to sticking the poverty figures of 17.2 percent on the basis of survey done in 2007/08.

The figure of 17.2 percent was not endorsed by the PPP-led government, despite validation extended by the World Bank, they said. There is a sharp divide among the economists over this issue as some are favouring to concede poverty figures validated by the World Bank, but some close to the incumbent regime are raising doubts about the credibility of the data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS).

“There is a need to form high-powered committee with clear cut terms of reference to decide this matter once and for all,” the sources said, adding that the methodology of calculating poverty figures should also be analysed to update it in accordance with the ground realities. Now, the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) has once again accomplished Pakistan Social and Living Standard Measurement (PSLM) Survey 2010/11. But the Planning Commission has not yet done analysis to come up with the latest poverty figures, the sources said.

However, the World Bank’s country partnership strategy report said that as reported there are indications that Pakistan saw an impressive decline in poverty trends during most years of the last decade, with the poverty rate falling from 34.5 percent in 2001/02 to an estimated 17.2 percent in 2007/08.

Over the last two years, the WB said, there have been signs that poverty levels may be rising, due to the downturn in the economy, floods and inflation. The rapid post-floods recovery in parts of the agriculture sector (those not hit by back-to-back floods), market price for wheat, and a surprisingly strong growth in remittances would likely to have benefitted the poorest (mainly rural) income groups, according to the report.

While Pakistan’s overall level of inequality remains steady and relatively low as compared to other developing countries, some of the volatile border regions and some rural areas within other provinces have a higher than average level of poverty, it said. Increased migration to the cities has also strained their capacity to deliver the much-needed basic services.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=84002&Cat=3

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