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Showing posts from May, 2011

Culture of Corruption Impedes Progress

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Rampant corruption is believed to be a major factor impeding economic development in Pakistan and many other developing nations.

Is this corruption and lawlessness rooted in the absence of adequate law enforcement, or the lack of independent judges? Or is it a national culture of corruption that ranks such nations among the most corrupt in the world on Transparency International surveys?



A paper titled "Cultures of Corruption: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets" by Ray Fisman of Columbia University and Edward Miguel of University of California, Berkeley attempts to answer the above question by using parking violations data on international diplomats living in New York City during 1997-2005.

Since all foreign diplomats have immunity from prosecution in the host country, they do not have to pay fines for any parking violations in New York City. The authors argue that the way the diplomats from different nations behave in such a situation is entirely based on the cultural…

NADRA Shows Pakistan's Edge in IT Services

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All the hype about Indian IT sector makes it hard to believe that it is Pakistan, not India, which has widely deployed biometric identification technology to issue multi-purpose national ID cards and e-passports to its citizens. Is this just another case of the proverbial shoemaker's children going barefoot?



In fact, Pakistan is among the first few countries of the world to issue biometric national ID cards to 83 million citizens. Pakistan has also issued over 7 million e-passports to its citizens since October, 2004. These Multi-Biometric Electronic Passports, containing an RFID chip, facial and fingerprint images of the passport holder, PKI and other security features are compliant with ICAO standards.



Established in the year 2000, NADRA, the National Database and Registration Authority, is Pakistan's state-owned IT services company that specializes in implementing multi-biometric national identity cards and e-passports, as well as secure access verification and control syste…

Poverty in India and Pakistan

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In spite of recent poverty declines with its rapid economic expansion, India still has higher poverty rates than Pakistan, according to a 2011 World Bank report titled "Perspectives on poverty in India : stylized facts from survey data" released in 2011.



Overall, the latest World Bank data shows that India's poverty rate of 27.5%, based on India's current poverty line of $1.03 per person per day, is more than 10 percentage points higher than Pakistan's 17.2%. Assam (urban), Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are the only three Indian states with lower poverty rates than Pakistan's.



Although consumption poverty has steadily declined in India, the number of people who actually consume calories above the minimum level associated with the poverty line—2,400 and 2,100 kilocalories per day in rural and urban areas, respectively—has not risen. As of 2004–05, as many as 80 percent of rural households were estimated to be “calorie poor.”

India’s middle-class lives barely or no…

Pakistani Elites Must Pay Fair Share of Taxes For National Independence

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As Pakistan's ruling elite and its ghairat brigade, led by PML's Sharif brothers, engage in loud empty rhetoric about infringement of their national sovereignty by the United States, here is something to ponder:
Pakistan runs chronic budget deficits of around 5% of its GDP, and its government collects less than 10% of GDP in tax revenue which is among the lowest in the world. A big share of these deficits is funded by foreign aid and loans, making Pakistanis beholden to the interests and whims of major foreign donors and lenders.
Pakistan's tax policies are among the most regressive in the world. Direct taxes make up less than 3.5 percent of GDP, with wide ranging exemptions to powerful segments of society coupled with governance issues at Federal Board of Revenue, according to former finance minister Shaukat Tarin. The bulk of the tax receipts are collected in the form of sales tax, placing the heaviest burden on the lower-income people who spend almost all of their income…

Shale Gas Reserves in Pakistan

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Reports of new gas reserves of 40 trillion cubic feet (upped to 105 TCF in 2013 by US EIA) are specially welcome at this moment in Pakistan when it is facing a very serious and growing energy crisis. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) puts the estimates even higher at 51 trillion cubic feet. Even if the demand doubles from the current one trillion cubic feet a year to two trillion cubic feet a year, the estimated current gas reserves can last as long as 30 years or more.



Pakistan is particularly heavily dependent on natural gas for its energy needs. Demand for natural gas in Pakistan has increased by almost 10 percent annually from 2000-01 to 2007-08, reaching around 3,200m cubic feet per day (MMCFD) last year, against the total production of 3,774 MMCFD, according to Pakistani official sources. But, during 2008-2009, the demand for natural gas exceeded the available supply, with production of 4,528 MMCFD gas against demand for 4,731 MMCFD, indicating a shortfall of 203 M…

Abbottabad Twitter Revolution in Pakistan?

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Live tweets of the Abbottabad raid have brought instant fame to Pakistani blogger Sohaib Athar, and shined new light on the role of Facebook, Twitter and other social media in the country.

Dramatic expansion of the nation's middle class in the last decade has spawned telecom and media revolutions in Pakistan. Number of radio stations, television channels, mobile phone subscribers and Internet users have all experienced unprecedented growth since the turn of the century.



The level of Internet penetration is Pakistan is still low. In a population of 177 million, only 18.5 million (10.4 percent) are connected to the Internet, though government officials quote a slightly higher figure of 20 million. Although it's twice that of India's Internet penetration of about 5%, Pakistan's penetration percentage is less than those in Tunisia (33.4 percent) and Egypt (21.1 percent). However, Internet use in Pakistan is growing at a rapid rate, particularly in urban centers where 40% of…

Pakistan Rolling Out 50 Mbps Broadband Service

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Pakistan is working on a major roll-out of bonded VDSL2 to deliver 50 Mbps, five times the top speed of the nation's highest level of service today, at a construction cost of just $200-300 per home passed.



Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), the nation’s state-controlled phone company, is deploying VDSL2 Bonding technology to provide existing digital subscriber line (DSL) customers with speeds up to 50 Mbps. The project leverages Alcatel-Lucent’s VDSL2 Bonding expertise and will be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2011, according to a report in Daily Times.

VDSL2 technology is a good cost-effective option for Pakistan to upgrade existing DSL because it could serve as a platform to deliver broadband, video, and phone service, much like AT&T’s U-verse known as triple-play. VDSL2 Bonding takes two copper-based VDSL2 lines per subscriber and aggregates them—almost doubling the bandwidths available to existing customers, or expanding high-speed broadband a…