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Showing posts from December, 2009

Thorium Nuclear Energy For South Asia

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In addition to green energy from water, wind and sun, is there a source of clean, renewable and plentiful energy that can satisfy the growing needs of the humankind without destroying the planet earth? The answer is a qualified yes. Many scientists believe that the answer lies in developing and exploiting the abundant but mildly-radioactive element thorium in a redesigned nuclear fuel cycle. Large deposits of thorium oxide are found in many countries of the world, including United States, China, India and Pakistan. There are significant concentrations of thorium oxide in Kerala, India and Mardan, Pakistan. Research conducted by Dr. Muhammad Haleem Khan at Punjab University's Institute of Chemistry found thorium oxide concentrations of 6.5% in Badar near Mardan in Pakistan, and 5.9% in Kerala, India. (Reference: Dr. M.H. Khan, 1992, Chapter 4, Page 114).


Rising concerns about climate change caused by carbon emissions are forcing a second look at nuclear energy. But the uranium-based…

Pakistani-American Demographics

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Pakistani-American has been elected mayor of a town in Washington state by a landslide. The 54-year-old Mayor-elect Haroon Saleem admits that running the Timberline Bar and Cafe, with beer ads plastered everywhere, is not exactly a pious following of Islam, which forbids alcohol consumption.

The big win for a Muslim Pakistani-American is all the more surprising because Granite Falls is a small mining town of 800 mostly blue-collar whites, a result that residents say would have been inconceivable not long ago.

After 911 attacks in New York and Washington, Saleem told the Associated Press that community members reached out, letting him know he was one of them. No one seems to notice that his wife, Bushra, attends social events wearing a traditional shalwar-kamiz.

While Saleem is only the second American mayor of Pakistani origin after Dr. M. Ali Chaudry of New Jersey town of Basking Ridge elected in 2001, others have been elected to public offices in different parts of the country. Masroo…

Assessing Pakistan's Decade 1999-2009

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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 soci…

Tea Stimulus For Pakistan's Economy

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Pakistanis' great hospitality to strangers and strong addiction to tea has given birth to many proverbs. The best known of these is the one about the "three cups of tea" which goes like this: On the first cup, you're a stranger, and on the second, a guest. By the third cup, you're family.

Pakistan is the world’s third-largest importer of tea with nearly 175 million kg of annual consumption, costing an estimated $500 million, and increasing at about 4% a year. It imports tea from 21 countries, with the lion's share of black tea imports coming from Kenya, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The country's green tea requirements are met by imports from five countries led by Indonesia and Vietnam. Only a small fraction of Pakistan's tea imports come from neighboring India.

Tea prices, which hit record highs in 2009 due to droughts in India, Sri Lanka and Kenya, should stabilize in 2010 as weather has returned to normal in the main producing regions in Asia and Afric…

Mind Over Matter Generates Wealth of Nations

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In modern economies, land and manufacturing continue to be significant sources of wealth of nations. However, the developed world, with icons like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, is in the midst of a major transformation to accumulation of wealth in the form of intellectual property. In this evolving new economy, there is much greater emphasis on intangible knowledge assets than on physical or tangible assets. The value of the intellectual assets determines the clout and competitiveness of the nations. Wealth generation through creation, production, distribution and consumption of knowledge and knowledge based products are the key characteristics of knowledge economy. The major growth industries such as computer software, micro-electronics, nanotechnology, renewable energy, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and telecommunications industries derive their strength from the power of the human intellect. These knowledge based industries stimulate other industries in turn …

Top International Fund Manager Finds Pakistan Attractive

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Mark Mobius, a legend among emerging-market investors, is "overweight compared with everyone else" in Pakistani stocks, according to an interview published in the "2010 investment guide" issue of Businessweek magazine.

The 73-year-old fund manager, who oversees $33 billion spread across 35 Franklin Templeton funds, has been scouting for investment opportunities in unlikely places, including Pakistan, for over 30 years.

Mobius explains that for "our (Franklin Templeton's) Asia growth funds, we have been buying Pakistan Telecom, MCB Bank, and Indus Motor, which is a Toyota (TM) assembler and distributor". All three of these companies are listed on Karachi Stock Exchange.

There is considerable interest by individual US investors looking for opportunities to invest in Pakistan stocks. Unfortunately, there are no pure-play mutual funds investing exclusively in Pakistan. However, in addition to Franklin Templeton Funds, there are at least two other companies…

Pakistan's Modern Infrastructure

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As Pakistan struggles to bring a sense of stability and security amidst daily carnage, it is important to recognize that there is more to Pakistan than meets the eyes of a casual consumer of the images and reports by the world's media. For example, Pakistan is a developing country with functional bureaucracy, well-organized police force, democratic institutions and a powerful army. And Pakistan has more advanced infrastructure than its neighbors, including India. Among the modern infrastructure pieces in place in Pakistan are its motorway system, extensive road network, mobile telecommunications systems, airports, high-speed Internet system, extensive railroad network, gas pipeline etc. A British writer William Dalrymple who visited and compared India and Pakistan on their 60th anniversary described Pakistan as follows:

"On the ground, of course, the reality is different and first-time visitors to Pakistan are almost always surprised by the country's visible prosperity. …