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Showing posts from October, 2011

Pakistan Poised to Reap Huge Demographic Dividend

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Pakistan has the world’s sixth largest population, seventh largest diaspora and the ninth largest labor force. With rapidly declining fertility and aging populations in the industrialized world, Pakistan's growing talent pool is likely to play a much bigger role to satisfy global demand for workers in the 21st century and contribute to the well-being of Pakistan as well as other parts of the world.






With half the population below 20 years and 60 per cent below 30 years, Pakistan is well-positioned to reap what is often described as "demographic dividend", with its workforce growing at a faster rate than total population. This trend is estimated to accelerate over several decades. Contrary to the oft-repeated talk of doom and gloom, average Pakistanis are now taking education more seriously than ever. Youth literacy is about 70% and growing, and young people are spending more time in schools and colleges to graduate at higher rates than their Indian counterparts in 15+ age…

Pakistan Ranks Among Fastest Growing Broadband Markets

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High-speed broadband expansion led by PTCL has propelled Pakistan to become the fourth fastest growing broadband market in the world and the second fastest in Asia, according to a recent industry report. Serbia leads all countries surveyed with a 68% annual growth rate from Q1 2010 to Q1 2011. Thailand (67%), Belarus (50%), Pakistan (46%), and Jordan (44%) follow Serbia. India is in 14th place worldwide with a 35% annual growth rate.





Leading the charge is PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunications Ltd.), Pakistan's state-owned telecommunications company, which recently launched 100 Mbps fiber to the home broadband service using Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology. Earlier this year PTCL rolled out bonded VDSL2 technology to deliver 50 Mbps to its existing DSL customers, five times the top speed of the nation's highest level of service at the time, at a construction cost of just $200-300 per home passed.

Nearly 200,000 new subscribers signed up for broadband from the end of…

Pakistan's Growing Education Market

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Although the growth in the total number Pakistanis studying abroad has slowed since the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001 in the United States, the world's sixth most populous nation continues to be among the leading sources of foreign students in America, Europe, Australia and new emerging higher education destinations in Asia.

As the number of Pakistani students in the United States has declined from a peak of 8,644 students (ranked 13th) in 2001-02 to 5,222 in 2009-10 (ranked 23rd), English-speaking OECD nations of the United Kingdom and Australia have become the biggest beneficiaries getting increasing market share of the Pakistan education market. Both nations have benefited in spite of the fact that the UK and Australian visa rejection rates for Pakistanis are higher than for students from other nations.



A recent British Council report says that 9,815 Pakistani students (Source: HESA) put Pakistan among one of the top six countries which account for 54 percent of the UK’s (…

Pakistani Punjab's Rejection of US Aid Hurts the Poor

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The Punjab government led by PML's Shahbaz Sharif spurned 20 billion rupees ($232.55 million) in US aid slated for welfare projects in Pakistan's most populous province in the next three years, according to a report in Dawn newspaper. The popular move was motivated by politics to capitalize on a wave of anti-American anger following the US raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan.



While the amount of aid rejected is relatively small, the decision's outsized impact on the poor is now coming to light. Here are some of the projects most impacted:

1. U.S. aid could have transformed Punjab Government's Lady Willingdon Hospital in Lahore, where rats run through the halls, patients sleep three to a bed, women who require C-sections aren't getting them because only one operating room is functioning, and premature babies risk death because of a shortage of incubators, according to the Associated Press.

The hospital struggles to provide even basic care. Built…

America's Cyber War Against Pakistan?

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After a reportedly successful US-Israeli stux-net cyber attack on Iranian nuclear installations last year, there is now a report in the New York Times that the Obama administration has considered deploying cyber warfare against Pakistan as well.

The New York Times quotes unnamed US officials as acknowledging that the US "military planners suggested a far narrower computer-network attack to prevent Pakistani radars from spotting helicopters carrying Navy Seal commandos on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2." It says the idea of cyber attack on Pakistani air defense system was dropped, and radar-evading Black Hawk helicopters and stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel surveillance drone were instead used to for the raid in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad. The CIA spied on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan by video transmitted from a new bat-winged stealth drone, the RQ-170 Sentinel, which hovered high above Abbottabad for weeks before the raid. There are speculations that th…

Hunger Worsening in Pakistan in 2011

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World hunger data collected from 2006 to 2009 shows that Pakistan's hunger index score has worsened this year to 20.7 (based on 2009 data and reported in 2011) after three prior consecutive years of improvement. International Food Research Institute's GHI (Global Hunger Index) score for Pakistan improved from 21.7 in 2008 to 21.0 in 2009 to 19.1 in 2010, and its world ranking has dropped to 59 in 2011 from 52 in 2010. It was ranked 61 in 2008 and 58 in 2009 on a list of 81+ nations.

Global Hunger Index Scores and Rankings For Selected Countries


Among other South Asian nations, India's GHI score improved to 23.7 in 2011 to where it was in three years earlier in 2008 after worsening from 23.7 (2008) to 23.9 (2009) to 24.1 (2010). India's ranking remained at 67 in 2011, the same as it was in 2010 but worse than 66 in 2008 and 65 in 2009.

Year..2008(2006).....2009(2007).....2010(2008)......2011(2009)

Pakistan GHI...21.7...............21.0.................19.1...............…

Pakistan's Electricity Sector in Financial Crisis

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In spite of the injection of government's subsidies of $7.4 billion since 2008, the power crisis in Pakistan continues to worsen, according to credible reports attributed to Pakistan's Ministry of Finance.

The poster child of the waste, fraud and abuse is the Turkish Karkey rental power ship deal which sinks Rs. 780 million or nearly $9 million per month of public funds for providing very little power because of lack of sufficient fuel supply, according to The News.

There were credible reports in 2009 that the ruling PPP politicians, particularly President Zardari and his inner circle, ignored former Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin's key recommendations to address the acute power shortages in the country. Zardari's insistence on pushing rental power projects, rather than fix the huge circular debt problem in the energy sector first, specially frustrated the nation's former finance chief, and he eventually quit last year.



What is becoming increasingly clear is that the…

Are Goldman Sachs Critics Anti-Semitic?

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Goldman Sachs is often used as the poster child for some of the most egregious practices on Wall Street that are believed to have set off the current economic crisis now sweeping much of America and Europe. This sentiment was summarized in an article Matt Taibi wrote for Rolling Stone Magazine as follows: "The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."



Taibi's criticism of Goldman Sachs immediately drew charges of antisemitism from some American Jewish leaders. And as the "Occupy Wall Street" movement gathers momentum, similar charges are now flying against the protesters who are joining this movement. Some of the Jewish media outlets, like Yeshiva World News, are using video footage of individual protesters to editorialize the claim that “many Jews” are feeling a bit uncomfortable with the growing protests.

“The reasons for t…

Review of Musharraf's Era on 12th Anniversary of 1999 Coup

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Musharraf's policies helped create 13 million new jobs, cut poverty in half and halved the country's total debt burden in the period from 2000 to 2007.

Musharraf Government's Accomplishments:

Thanks to the dynamic economy under President Musharraf's rule, Pakistan created more jobs, graduated more people from schools and colleges, built a larger middle class and lifted more people out of poverty as percentage of its population than India in the last decade. And Pakistan has done so in spite of the huge challenges posed by the war in Afghanistan and a very violent insurgency at home.

The above summary is based on volumes of recently released reports and data on job creation, education, middle class size, public hygiene, poverty and hunger over the last decade that offer new surprising insights into the lives of ordinary people in two South Asian countries. It adds to my previous post on this blog titled "India and Pakistan Contrasted in 2010".



The current PPP gove…

India and Pakistan Contrasted in 2011

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Pakistan has created more jobs, graduated more people from schools and colleges, built a larger middle class and lifted more people out of poverty as percentage of its population than India in the last decade. And Pakistan has done so in spite of the huge challenges posed by the war in Afghanistan and a very violent insurgency at home.

The above summary is based on volumes of recently released reports and data on job creation, education, middle class size, public hygiene, poverty and hunger over the last decade that offer new surprising insights into the lives of ordinary people in two South Asian countries. It adds to my previous post on this blog titled "India and Pakistan Contrasted in 2010".

Pakistan Created More Jobs:

Pakistan's employment growth has been the highest in South Asia region since 2000, followed by Nepal, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka in that order, according to a recent World Bank report titled "More and Better Jobs in South Asia".



Total emp…

India Public Hygiene Worst in the World

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India's rivers have been turned into open sewers by 638 million Indians without access to toilets, according to rural development minister Jairam Ramesh. He was reacting a UNICEF report that says Indians make up 58% of the world population which still practices open defection, and the sense of public hygiene in India is the worst in South Asia and the world.



India(638m) is followed by Indonesia (58m), China (50m), Ethiopia (49m), Pakistan (48m), Nigeria (33m) and Sudan (17m). In terms of percentage of each country's population resorting to the unhygienic practice, Ethiopia tops the list with 60%, followed by India 54%, Nepal 50%, Pakistan 28%, Indonesia 26%, and China 4%.

18 percent of urban India still defecates in open while the percentage of rural India is as high as 69 percent of the population. It is the key reason why India carries among the highest infectious disease burdens in the world.

The number of open defecators in rural India alone is more than twice those in the…

Consumer Boom in Pakistani Villages

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Away from the violence and the troubles of the big cities, the economy of rural Pakistan is booming. Flush with cash from bumper crops at record commodity prices, the farmers are spending on tractors, cars, motorcycles, mobile phones, personal grooming items, packaged foods and beverages and other consumer products like never before.



Higher crop prices have increased farmers’ incomes in Pakistan by Rs. 342 billion in the 12 months through June, according to a government economic survey. That was higher than the gain of Rs. 329 billion in the preceding eight years, according to a report by Bloomberg News. Companies like Millat tractors, Honda Atlas Motorcycles, Pak Suzuki Motors, Engro Foods, Telnor, Nestle, Colgate-Palmolive, Proctor and Gamble and Unilever have been big beneficiaries of the current rural consumption boom.

Nestle Pakistan's chief Ian Donald has summed up the rising demand for his company's products as follows: “It’s a common perception that China and India ar…