Monday, August 13, 2012

Celebrating Pakistan's Growing Middle Class on 65th Independence Anniversary

Pakistan has continued to offer much greater upward economic and social mobility to its citizens than neighboring India over the last two decades. Since 1990, Pakistan's middle class had expanded by 36.5% and India's by only 12.8%, according to an ADB report titled "Asia's Emerging Middle Class: Past, Present And Future.

New York Times' Sabrina Tavernise described the rise of Pakistan's middle class in a story from Pakistani town of Muzaffargarh in the following words:

For years, feudal lords reigned supreme, serving as the police, the judge and the political leader. Plantations had jails, and political seats were practically owned by families.

Instead of midwifing democracy, these aristocrats obstructed it, ignoring the needs of rural Pakistanis, half of whom are still landless and desperately poor more than 60 years after Pakistan became a state.

But changes began to erode the aristocrats’ power.
Cities sprouted, with jobs in construction and industry. Large-scale farms eclipsed old-fashioned plantations. Vast hereditary lands splintered among generations of sons, and many aristocratic families left the country for cities, living beyond their means off sales of their remaining lands. Mobile labor has also reduced dependence on aristocratic families.

In Punjab, the country’s most populous province, and its most economically advanced, the number of national lawmakers from feudal families shrank to 25 percent in 2008 from 42 percent in 1970, according to a count conducted by Mubashir Hassan, a former finance minister, and The New York Times.

“Feudals are a dying breed,” said S. Akbar Zaidi, a Karachi-based fellow with the Carnegie Foundation. “They have no power outside the walls of their castles.”




GeoTV is illustrating  this welcome phenomenon of upward social mobility in Pakistan with a series of motivational "Zara  Sochiey" videos on young men and women who have risen from humble origins to achieve significant successes in recent years. Each individual portrayed in the series has overcome adversity and  focused on acquiring education as a ticket to improve his or her economic and social situation.

GeoTV videos feature a number of young men and women, including Saima Bilal, Kashif Faiq,  Qaisar Abbas and many others, to inspire and encourage other Pakistanis to pursue their dreams against all odds.

Contrary to the incessant talk of doom and gloom, the fact is that the level of educational attainment has been rising in recent decades.  In fact, Pakistan has been increasing enrollment of students in schools at a faster rate since 1990 than India, according to data compiled and reported by Harvard University researchers Robert Barro and Jhong-Wa Lee . In 1990, there were 66.2% of Pakistanis vs 51.6% of Indians in 15+ age group who had had no schooling. In 2000, there were 60.2% Pakistanis vs 43% Indians with no schooling. In 2010, Pakistan reduced it to 38% vs India's 32.7%.
 

As of 2010, there are 380 (vs 327 Indians) out of every 1000 Pakistanis age 15 and above who have never had any formal schooling. Of the remaining 620 (vs 673 Indians) who enrolled in school, 22 (vs 20 Indians) dropped out before finishing primary school, and the remaining 598 (vs 653 Indians) completed it. There are 401 (vs 465 Indians) out of every 1000 Pakistanis who made it to secondary school. 290 (vs 69 Indians) completed secondary school  while 111 (vs. 394 Indians) dropped out. Only 55 (vs 58 Indians)  made it to college out of which 39 (vs 31 Indians) graduated with a degree.



Education and development efforts  are beginning to bear fruit even in remote areas of Pakistan, including Federally Administered Tribal AreasThe Guardian newspaper recently reported that FATA's Bajaur agency alone has 616 school with over 60,000 boys and girls receiving take-home rations. Two new university campuses have been approved for FATA region and thousands of kilometers of new roads are being constructed. After a recent visit to FATA, Indian journalist Hindol Sengupta wrote in The Hindu newspaper that "even Bajaur has a higher road density than India"

 Prior to significant boost in public spending on education during Musharraf years, the number of private schools in Pakistan grew 10 fold from about 3000 in 1983 to over 30,000 in 2000. Primary school enrollment in 1983 has increased 937%, far greater than the 57% population increase in the last two decades.

Unfortunately, there has been a decline in public spending on education since 2008, even as not-for-profit private sector organizations, mostly NGOs, have stepped up  to try to fill the gap.  Last year, a Pakistani government commission on education found that public funding for education has been cut from 2.5% of GDP in 2007 to just 1.5% - less than the annual subsidy given to the various PSUs including PIA, the national airline that continues to sustain huge losses.


Clearly, this is not the time for Pakistan's political leadership to let up on the push for universal education. The momentum that developed in Musharraf years needs to be maintained, even accelerated to get to the goal of 100% literacy and 100% enrollment of all children in Pakistan. Nothing less will do if Pakistan is to achieve economic competitiveness on the global stage.

Here are some of  GeoTV's Zara Scohiye video clips:

 



 



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Educational Attainment in Pakistan

Foreign Visitors to Pakistan Pleasantly Surprised

Pakistan's Infrastructure and M2 Motorway

India Pakistan Comparison 2011

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers


FMCG Consumption Boom in Rural Pakistan

Pakistan Visits Open  Indian Eyes


15 Comments:

Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Businessweek story on Pakistan Lucky Cement reporting record profits:

Lucky Cement Ltd. (LUCK), Pakistan’s largest producer of the building material, said full-year profit surged 71 percent to a record as an increase in domestic sales offset a decline in exports.

Net income was 6.78 billion rupees ($71.8 million), or 20.97 rupees a share, in the 12 months ended June 30, compared with 3.97 billion rupees, or 12.28 rupees a share, a year earlier, the Karachi-based company said in a filing to the stock exchange today. Analysts forecast profit of 6.81 billion rupees, according to the average of 11 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Local sales rose 7 percent, while overseas shipments slipped 4.7 percent to 2.25 million tons, the company said in the statement. Lucky derived 62 percent of its revenue for the year from domestic sales and 38 percent came from exports, it said. The company expected sales at home to boost earnings for the year ended June, Chief Financial Officer Abid Muhammad Ganatra said in an interview in March.

Domestic consumption of cement “is expected to increase during the next financial year,” the company said in the statement, citing “spending on public development projects by the government in the view of upcoming national elections.”

Revenue gained 23 percent to 39.1 billion rupees, topping the average analyst estimate of 33.4 billion rupees. Sales volumes were 3 percent higher at 5.97 million tons, the company said.

Lucky shares fell 0.9 percent to 129 rupees at the close of trade in Karachi. The stock has rallied 71 percent this year, compared with a 34 percent gain in the benchmark Karachi Stock Exchange 100 Index.


http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-08-15/pakistan-s-lucky-cement-posts-record-profit

August 15, 2012 at 8:16 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Flightglobal story on Pakistan's AirBlue airline doubling its fleet:

Pakistani carrier Airblue has plans to double its fleet to 12 aircraft within the next two years.

The carrier wants to add four 70-seater turboprops to its fleet by early 2013, says Airblue's general manager for commercial, Raheel Ahmed.

It is considering the ATR 72 and the Bombardier Q400, though the airline has not decided whether the aircraft will be bought or leased.

Airblue is scheduled to take delivery of two Airbus A340-300s in early September. These aircraft are on a five-year lease from International Lease Finance Corporation.

Ahmed says that the A340s will have 342 seats in a single class configuration. The aircraft will be deployed on a direct Islamabad-Manchester service, replacing the existing Islamabad-Istanbul-Manchester route.

In August, the airline took delivery of one Airbus A320, which will be used to up frequencies on its domestic routes.

As part of its network expansion plans, Airblue may launch new destinations in Europe, Middle East and China. A timeline has not been specified for these plans. Ahmed adds that the carrier aims to be a major player on services to Europe.

According to the Flightglobal Ascend online database, Airblue operates four A319 and two A320 aircraft in its fleet.


http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/pakistans-airblue-to-double-fleet-within-two-years-375504/

August 15, 2012 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Pakistanis believe in the value of hard work, reports Express Tribune:

No matter what the prophets of doom say in nightly news shows on TV day in day out, an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis still believes that hard work is duly rewarded in the country and leads to material success, according to a recent poll by Pew Research Center — a nonpartisan “fact tank” in Washington DC.

In fact, of all the 21 countries where the survey was conducted, Pakistan came on top with 81% of respondents saying people succeed if they work hard as opposed to 15% who believe hard work is no guarantee of success.

The United States followed Pakistan with 77% of respondents saying hard work assured success. India, China and Japan were more sceptical with only 67%, 45% and 40% of the respondents recognising a close link between hard work and success, respectively.

“Fundamentally, the survey reveals that Pakistanis haven’t lost faith in the country. The Pakistani youth believes that current problems are short-term and can be resolved,” said Asad Umar, who joined politics in April after resigning from Engro Corporation, Pakistan’s largest conglomerate, as its CEO. “That’s why Pakistanis believe in hard work — and its direct relationship with material success – more than the people of the United States, Germany or Japan.”

The survey was conducted between March 28 and April 13 in all provinces face-to-face with 1,206 people of the age of 18 years or more.

While a majority of Pakistanis tend to have faith in the existing economic system to reward them with success if they work hard, less than half of Pakistanis approve of the free-market economy, reveals the survey. About 48% of the respondents think people are better off in a free-market economy, down from 65% three years ago.

“I’m not surprised that the percentage of people having faith in the free-market economy has dropped significantly in recent years. We don’t have a free-market economy. The sham system that’s in place is actually reflective of a rent-seeking economy, where self-interest is pursued shamelessly at the highest level of the government,” Umar said.

Talking to The Express Tribune, first-generation entrepreneur Shakir Husain, who is involved in several national and international ventures, said most Pakistanis don’t even understand the basics of the free-market economy.

“I’ve found that even educated Pakistanis are least versed in economics and the working of the free market. TV channels have added to the problem, where they tend to politicise structural issues that confuses people further,” he said.

The Pew survey also revealed that about 76% Pakistanis think that the economy will either worsen or stay the same in the next 12 months. The corresponding figures for India and China are 49% and 11%, respectively.

When asked if their standard of living is better than the standard of living of their parents when they were of their age said they are worse off.

Among those who think the economy is doing poorly, roughly one-third of the respondents in Pakistan held the United States responsible for bad economic conditions. Another one-third said that people are themselves to be blamed for the bad economy. On the other hand, almost two-thirds of the respondents in India blamed themselves for the bad economy.

“It’s easier for the average Pakistani to simply blame the entire ‘system’ without understanding the root of the problem. Also, our politicians and bureaucrats are not honest about their own shortcomings. Hence, the blame is put on ridiculous things,” Husain said.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/415086/pakistanis-more-optimistic-than-us-india-about-hard-work-survey/

http://www.pewglobal.org/2012/07/12/chapter-4-the-casualties-faith-in-hard-work-and-capitalism/

August 19, 2012 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Demand for Food Science graduates rising in Pakistan, reports Express Tribune:

As the food processing sector in Pakistan expands, the job opportunities – and starting salaries – for graduates in food science, nutrition and dietetics are increasing substantially.

The University of Agriculture Faisalabad reports that its graduates are finding jobs faster, with higher starting salaries and rapid career progression for many of its graduates. According to Tahir Zahoor, a professor in the food science department, the top graduates of the university’s food science programmes command salaries of Rs45,000 or higher, and get employed by such brand name employers as Nestle Pakistan, Engro Foods and Unilever Pakistan.

These starting salaries are comparable to those earned by graduates of the country’s leading business schools when they join the largest banks on Karachi’s McLeod Road. And it is not just the starting salaries that are high. Many graduates report earning more than Rs100,000 per month within five years of graduation, though admittedly these are some of the best performing students.

Not all graduates get these packages, of course. But according to the university’s professors, no graduate has gotten a job offer with a starting salary of less than Rs25,000 per month, with Rs30,000 per month being the median salary package. The middle-tier of students typically go to some of the smaller names in food production, such as Dawn Foods (a leading bread manufacturer), Shan Foods (a spice manufacturer), etc.

Revenues and profits at food production firms have been soaring. Between 2005 and 2010 (the latest year for which figures are available), revenues at food companies listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange have grown by an average of more than 18.2% per year. Profits have expanded even faster, by more than 21.2% per year.

This blowout growth has caused many to invest heavily into expanding production capacity. Both Engro Foods and Nestle Pakistan invest upwards of Rs8 billion every year in increasing their production facilities. Engro Foods – started only in 2006 – has been particularly aggressive in broadening its product line-up.

These two companies, however, are not alone. K&N Foods has become the nation’s largest supplier of processed chicken, tempting other food companies to enter into the fray. Dawn Foods, long a manufacturer of just bread and baked products, is now entering meat products. Quetta Textile Mills is setting up a processed chicken facility. And Shan Foods is trying to expand its presence overseas by acquiring a brand in the United Kingdom.

This expansion in the food sector is pushed by a change in the underlying consumer behaviour when it comes to buying food. Consumer spending on processed food appears to be expanding. The average Pakistani household spent almost Rs500 per month on processed food in 2011, over two and half times more than a decade ago, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, representing a rate of increase faster than inflation....

http://tribune.com.pk/story/424995/as-consumer-sector-booms-demand-for-food-science-graduates-soars/


August 23, 2012 at 10:21 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters story of an entrepreneurs helping enhance cow milk yield in Pakistan:

Pakistani Shahzad Iqbal abandoned the jet-set lifestyle of a corporate executive because he wanted to do something worthwhile for his country. So he invested his life savings in world-class bull semen.

He imports the sperm from potent bulls in the West, with names like Socrates, Air Raid and Liberator, and sells it at affordable prices to farmers so they can breed cows that produce higher volumes of quality milk.

Iqbal is one of a band of trailblazers - from small-town entrepreneurs to managers in multi-national companies - who want to transform Pakistan's ramshackle dairy industry into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

"It's going to take a revolution to turn it around," said Iqbal, as his farm workers moved metal cylinders filled with liquefied nitrogen gas that store the semen at -196 Celsius (-321 Fahrenheit).

If Iqbal and his comrades can succeed in their mission to overturn centuries-old practices and introduce modern techniques, they could open the door to a revolution in the livelihoods of millions of impoverished farmers.

The dismal state of the dairy industry is a striking example of Pakistan's habit of missing opportunities throughout a 65-year history tainted by military coups, political infighting and a form of crony capitalism that has stifled entrepreneurship.

With 63 million cows and buffaloes, Pakistan has one of the world's biggest herds, but it cannot export milk because the animals' yields are so low.

Preoccupied by power struggles and tension with the army, successive governments have failed to realize the potential of the sector, which engages about 35 million people, or 20 percent of the population, in direct or related work
------------
DREAMS

After 15 years of making good money as an executive for Western beverage and tobacco companies overseas, Iqbal decided he wanted to do something for Pakistan.

To Iqbal, there was no more glaring example of the gap between Pakistan's potential and its performance than the dairy industry.

Rather than despair, he saw an opportunity, pouring his savings of $1 million into creating a breed improvement project called Jassar Farms.

He dreams of the day when the average Pakistani cow, which yields about 1,600 liters (420 U.S. gallons) of milk after it calves, can compete with the top of the line Israeli Holstein that churns out 12,500 liters (3,300 gallons).

Iqbal acknowledges the odds are stacked against entrepreneurs in Pakistan because of red tape, corruption, poor governance, chronic power cuts and a Taliban insurgency that keeps many investors away.

"I'm not saying I'm mad, but certainly I'm not absolutely normal either, because it takes a lot of persistence to undertake this kind of challenge," said Iqbal, wearing a pink polo shirt and jeans.

BIG MONEY

Iqbal can take comfort from the fact that he is not alone in his quest for reform. Some international companies are also working for change.

Nestle has installed 3,200 industrial-size milk refrigerators at collection points across the country to lay the foundations for the kind of cold storage chain essential for a modern dairy industry, and give farmers a steady market for their milk.

At a training centre with manicured lawns and spotless dormitories for farmers in Punjab, Nestle holds workshops to drive home a simple message - properly managed cows produce more milk.

Instructors show farmers how to treat their animals - the Nestle cattle lounge around on soft sand under powerful fans, chewing nutritious fodder. They have constant access to water - essential practices of which most farmers are ignorant....


http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/26/us-pakistan-milk-idUSBRE87P0D220120826

August 26, 2012 at 4:44 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn newspaper Op Ed by S. Akbar Zaidi, a Pakistani political economist, about economic myths in Pakistan:

...absence of scholarly engagement results in numerous myths about Pakistan’s economy which become part of the general conversation, and then of conventional wisdom. One can list any number of such misperceptions, but perhaps a handful will emphasise the point.

It is not the fast-moving consumer goods, the Engros and the Habib Banks, or Pepsi or Unilever or ICI, which drive Pakistan’s industry, as so many of the elite who work for them falsely believe. Instead, Pakistan’s industrial force and its economy are based on the dynamic and creative small-scale or informal sector.

Research at LUMS has shown that this sector constitutes as much as 90 per cent of economic establishments, 30 per cent of GDP and 25 per cent of export earnings, and employs 78 per cent of the non-agricultural labour force of Pakistan.

These 3.3 million small- and medium-sized establishments are highly labour-intensive in comparison with the large-scale manufacturing sector, and around 95 per cent employ less than five workers. The backbone of Pakistan’s economy is its informal, small-scale sector, for which policy is seldom designed.

A second myth repeated ad nauseam is that Pakistan is predominantly rural and is an ‘agricultural country’. Research by Reza Ali showed as long ago as 1998 when the last census was held, that Pakistan was almost half urban and half rural, using more productive and useful definitions of ‘urban’, and not the moribund definitions proposed by the Census Organisation.

Fifteen years later, although research awaits the next census, it is not possible to call Pakistan a ‘rural’ country by any stretch of the imagination. If anything, probably 60 or 70 per cent of the people in Pakistan reside in areas one should call urban.

Furthermore, with integrated communication services and linkages, the idea of a ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ divide is increasingly redundant, and one ought to consider settlements and habitation on a continuum.

Since Pakistan is primarily urban, it is also no longer agricultural in terms of the contribution to the economy to which agriculture contributes only one-fifth. However, agriculture is still the main form of employment for Pakistani labour — around 45 per cent of the workforce.

Nevertheless, in areas which are designated by the government as ‘rural’, the non-agricultural sector generates nearly 60 per cent of the total income. Hence, even in ‘rural’ areas, economic activity other than agriculture provides a greater share of income than does agricultural activity.

One might just add in passing that Pakistan — its economy, its agriculture and its relations of production — is not feudal, no matter how often one repeats the claim that it is. At least on this one count, many social scientists are grudgingly coming around, although since many Western journalists only meet such ‘feudals’, they still write mainly about ‘feudal’ Pakistan.

Many liberal members of the Pakistani elite argue for a reduction in the military budget, believing that this will lead to a resultant rise in social-sector spending. One look at the data will show that both have fallen over the last decade.

Yet another particularly pervasive and persistent myth amongst Pakistan’s elite is that US aid to Pakistan is ‘good for the country’, when academic research has shown consistently that nothing could be farther from the truth.

There are numerous other such false hopes which Pakistan’s elite invests in, some of which are translated into government policy. Nevertheless, perception matters perhaps more than reality. If people believe something, they act on the basis of that false knowledge and understanding. Many explanations as to why Pakistan is in such dire straits rest at the doorstep of
Pakistan’s literate, though highly uneducated, elite.


http://dawn.com/2012/09/03/economic-myths-our-elite/

September 4, 2012 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR piece on Colgate Palmolive Pakistan:

Colgate Palmolive Pakistan, one of the leading manufacturers of personal care and consumer products in the country, began its operations back in 1985 when the US granted the firm license to manufacture and market Colgate Palmolive products in Pakistan.

Currently, the firm is engaged in the production and marketing of some of the leading international brands of oral and personal care products, bringing a few of the world's most trusted household names such as Colgate Toothpaste and Palmolive Naturals to the Pakistani market.

Working under the umbrella of the Lakson Group, the company boasts of 450 distributors across the country and has been a KSE top performer, being listed amongst the Top 25 best performing companies for seven years straight as of 2012.

Financial highlights The company's accounts ended 30th June saw its Net Profits go through the roof, managing a 38.7 percent increase to top off Rs 1.6 billion versus Rs 1.17 billion recorded last year on account of a hefty top-line growth that saw sales climb by 28.6 percent year on year.

The steady growth in revenue, which amounted to Rs 18.71 billion- up from Rs 14.15 billion in the last year-came mainly off the back of the firm's well spent money devoted to advertisement and distribution as well as through effective in-store promotions which allowed the relevant brands to achieve steady volume growth thorough out the year.

The company managed to retain profitability as a result of their ongoing cost-saving initiatives which enabled to offset the exorbitant input prices hindering most other manufacturers. Consequently, the firm also made small price adjustments across various products to pass on the rising costs of packaging and raw material to the consumers, thereby ensuring that the Gross profit margin only saw a small decline, going down to 28.92 percent as compared to 29.40 percent.

However, despite the fact that the rising input prices dampened the firm's stellar top line growth somewhat, Colgate continued to steadily increase its overall spending on sales promotion which has been mainly responsible for the propagation of the company's sales volumes. Overall, the media and promotional spending increased by 43 percent, going up to Rs 1.6 billion as compared to Rs 1.1 billion spent during the same period last year.

The year-end also saw Colgate's financial position improve as the firm's cash and cash equivalents increased by 35.3 percent, signing off at Rs 840 million, up from Rs 620 million recorded during last year.

Key operational highlights In the previous quarter, Colgate Palmolive Pakistan had launched "Brite Anti Bacterial Detergent" powder, which was the first such product in the Pakistani market. Marketed as a detergent with a unique germ-busting formula, this latest innovation was hailed positively by the consumers. The product continued to strengthen Colgate's equity during the last leg of FY12, and was a major driver of sales volume growth.

In the dishwashing category, Colgate saw increasing competition from a number of local and imported brands, however, the firm arranged a brand re-launch for the entire Lemon Max range. This make-over saw one of the pioneer dishwashing products on the market undergo an overhaul and acquiring a new look. Formulated with real lemon juice, the re-launched Lemon Max boasted greater grease cutting powers in heavily circulating adverts, which allowed increased brand equity and sales growth......


http://www.brecorder.com/brief-recordings/0/1238003/

September 17, 2012 at 5:34 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story of real estate boom in Faisalabad, Pakistan:

Yet unlike stories of most other business shutdowns, Crescent Sugar Mills’ decline came not because of economic slowdown, but rather the economic success of the city – and especially the neighbourhood – it is located in. The factory is 100-acre complex in Nishatabad, a neighbourhood in Faisalabad that used to be on the outskirts of the city, but has increasingly become host to residences that house the city’s growing affluent middle class.

In the 1960s, Nishatabad was on the outskirts of the city, which allowed farmers to bring their sugar cane to the factory easily, using large trailers and trucks. As the decades wore on and Faisalabad’s middle class grew, however, many of the outer areas of the city began going through gentrification, and became residential neighbourhoods.

With the advent of more residences, the city government began placing restrictions on the movement of trucks and trailers that brought in the sugarcane to the factory. Many of the roads that had been used by the trucks were blocked off altogether for heavy traffic. As a result, the company’s logistics cost increased significantly, making it difficult for the mill to compete in the highly commoditised sugar market.

“With every passing crushing season, our mill’s financial health was going from bad to worse. We had no choice but to close down the unit permanently,” said Naveed Gulzar, a director at Crescent Sugar Mills.

But the higher transportation cost appears to be only one reason for the mill’s closure. Another, more compelling reason, appears to be the gentrification of the neighbourhood itself. The Crescent Group owns 150 acres in Nishatabad, with the sugar mill taking up 100 acres and a paper board mill (shut down about a decade ago) taking up the remaining land.

While both of these businesses were going through squeezed margins, the value of the real estate on which they were sitting was skyrocketing. At a certain point, it no longer made sense to manufacture low-margin commodities on prime residential real estate less than 10 minutes drive from the Faisalabad city centre.

And so the group has decided to shut down the factory, sell off the machinery, bulldoze the factory buildings and instead construct a residential colony, with all sorts of amenities, including a shopping mall, a hospital, schools, and colleges, said Gulzar.

The Crescent Group is not looking to exit the manufacturing business altogether but will no longer be in the sugar business. Instead, the board of directors has decided to open up a cotton spinning mill – that manufactures cotton yarn – for export. The factory, however, will be in a rural area, for which the group has already bought land.

“This land is too expensive to set up a factory here,” said Gulzar. “It is prime Faisalabad real estate.”


http://tribune.com.pk/story/434474/shifting-trends-economic-boom-shuts-down-faisalabads-oldest-sugar-mill/

September 19, 2012 at 11:07 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Couple of stories from Daily Times:

1. Mobile Phones:

KARACHI: Pakistan is a land of opportunities and the credit for this goes to the huge youth population and the rich pool of talent available in the country. These sentiments were expressed by All India Management Association Senior Vice President and Nokia IMEA VP D Shiva Kumar during his recent visit to Pakistan. He was one of the key speakers from India at the two-day management conference between the two countries in Lahore.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\09\27\story_27-9-2012_pg10_5

2. Agri:

ISLAMABAD: Sixty-four specialists from the ministries of agriculture from Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Sindh, and Balochistan have completed a 10-day course on modern farm business and irrigation methods sponsored by the US. The participants will help farmers increase their profits by approaching farming as a business: farmers will be able to identify higher-value crops and access new markets and customers. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) organised this training session to help increase profits through better product quality and water management.

At the completion of the training course in Islamabad, USAID Country Director Jonathan Conly said, “By using modern techniques, Pakistani farmers can capture new customers and increase their profits. The United States is committed to helping Pakistan modernise its agriculture sector so that farmers can improve their livelihoods.” After the workshop, an agricultural specialist from AJK Amina Rafi added “Farming in mountain areas has always been a challenge. I am glad that this training has provided me with skills to help farmers in AJK improve their businesses.”


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\09\27\story_27-9-2012_pg5_4

September 26, 2012 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Financial Times Op Ed on Pakistan:


Pity the people of Pakistan, trapped between self-serving, complacent elites who preside over a crumbling state, and a rich array of violent extremists who seem determined to tear the same state apart....

The military, the country’s most meritocratic and efficient institution, is widely regarded as the only force that can break this grim cycle. Yet there are other, largely hidden forces at work in Pakistan that hold it together and offer it a better future:

adaptability and resilience, entrepreneurship and shared coping.

These forces can be found in the very new – widespread mobile banking services – and the very old – Islam’s traditions of charity, justice and learning. When government and donors work creatively with these forces, amazing things can happen.

Pakistan has one of the best regulatory environments in the world for microfinance and one of the fastest-growing microfinance sectors, with 3m borrowers. It is also one of the most innovative places in the world for mobile banking services, partly due to the State Bank of Pakistan’s moves to encourage the market. About 1.5m customers make about 30m transactions a quarter through their mobiles, using a network of 20,000 agents, mainly local shops, to collect their cash.

A wave of charitable giving by individuals has helped to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by floods in 2010 are not still living in tents. A guerrilla army of more than 100,000 Lady Health Workers, funded by government, has helped to reduce markedly the number of women and babies who die in child birth, according to studies by the World Bank.

Too many children are still out of school and many government schools are woeful. Yet Pakistani parents go to enormous lengths to give their children, girls and boys, a chance at an education.

Low-cost private sector schools, charging perhaps $2 a week, are booming in slums and villages. Wherever girls receive a secondary level education, small private schools run in the homes of their owners start popping up, as they put their education to use to improve their standing in society. Even the government’s conservative figures suggest that a third of children in Pakistan and half in Karachi, many of them from poor households, attend such schools.

Indeed, Pakistan has a record in picking up new approaches to learning. The Allama Iqbal university in Islamabad, the first open university outside the UK, is the second largest in the world with 1.8m students. Start-ups such as Tele Taleem, tucked away on a dusty industrial estate on the outskirts of Islamabad, are pioneering ways to take learning to schools in the remoter regions, through satellite links and cheap tablet computers.

Donors are playing a vital role in promoting social innovation. The UK’s Department for International Development has pioneered a new road map for school improvement in Punjab, which Sir Michael Barber, the education reform expert, says is delivering one of the world’s fastest improvements in school performance. In Karachi, tens of thousands of poorer families will next year receive vouchers to send their children to low-cost private schools.

In agriculture, social venture capitalists such as Indus Basin Holdings are leading efforts to link groups of small-scale rice farmers to multinational companies.

Pakistan’s institutions may seem frozen, its elites worried that taking on the extremists will provoke even more violence in the run-up to next year’s elections. Yet, at the grassroots, Pakistan is in perpetual motion, with ceaseless creativity as people find affordable solutions to their basic needs. These largely hidden forces of resilience offer the best hope for the country’s future. In Pakistan, the state may be fragile but society is far stronger than many think.


http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/986153d4-2804-11e2-afd2-00144feabdc0.html

November 7, 2012 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy and Mather, used to say "The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife." Here's an ET story on marketing FMCG to women:

KARACHI:

With more women participating in the country’s work force, fast moving consumer goods companies (FMCGs) seem to have found a new market for products that they once considered ‘a small category’.

Take for example feminine hygiene products – referred to as ‘quiet products’ in the advertising world. According to industry sources, it used to be a very small category – however, this does not seem to be the case anymore especially when one looks at ongoing ad campaigns marketing such products.

These products are portrayed more openly in television ads today than a few years ago – one can also notice gigantic billboards on main thoroughfares of city displaying these products.

The increase in ad campaigns of ‘quiet products’ has helped FMCGs increase their revenues manifold in the respective category; according to Saad Hashmi, Senior Accounts Manager, Client Services and Business Development at Orient Advertising.

Some ten years ago, Hashmi said, women from elite and upper-income classes were the main customers of feminine hygiene products but now, even urban middle class women are buying it.

Explaining, Hashmi said, over the past few years the participation of the middle-class women in education and labour rose significantly thus increasing their awareness and income respectively. They are more adaptive to such products for they have that additional income to do so; he said.

Hashmi, who has worked with FMCGs on advertising such products, further said that heavy marketing of these products created awareness about brands, which increased demand of branded products. Some ten years ago, he said, there was no concept of branded products due to lack of awareness; women mostly used standard napkins or plain old cotton for personal hygiene. Giving an example of a famous brand that is currently advertising its product on TV, he said, the company carried out an awareness campaign on the sidelines of their ad campaign.
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The source, however, acknowledged that their sales for feminine hygiene products have increased, linking it to various factors.

Today’s consumers, the source said, have developed more sophisticated shopping habits because they have got more money. Raw fabric or cotton, the alternate option, has little to no cost while branded products have a cost; the source said – an indication that these women are willing to spend on quality. These products, the source said, are a convenience for working women and even come in small sachets that are affordable by the low income sectors.

The source, however, did not rule out the media’s role as far as awareness is concerned. Media has helped increase awareness about feminine hygiene products, he said. It, therefore, amplified demand for such products.

Unlike both FMCGs and advertising agencies, the working women, The Express Tribune spoke to, disagreed if their choices were affected by ad campaigns. According to these women – one of whom does not even have a TV at home – they are not bothered about ads as long as their trusted brand does not compromise on quality. These women, however, agreed that it is their own or family’s income, which made it easy for them to choose between cheap raw fabric and costly feminine hygiene products.

“In the past, I would spend on necessities only,” said one woman, adding, “but now I have to maintain my personality because I work so I spend on luxuries as well. I have become more brand-conscious.”


http://tribune.com.pk/story/464105/the-holy-grail-fmcgs-have-discovered-ways-to-communicate-with-women/

November 11, 2012 at 11:38 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News Op Ed by Dr. Javaid Laghari of Pakistan's Higher Education Commission:

Universities in Pakistan have rapidly morphed into their new role as producers of knowledge and research that lead to innovation and entrepreneurship, create employment, and be prime builders of a knowledge economy.
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As per the Education Policy 2008, the HEC targets to increase accessibility to higher education from the current 8 percent to 15 percent by 2020, which translates into an increase in university enrolment from 1m to 2.3m. This is a major challenge tied to the funding situation. However, to achieve the best results effectively, in addition to establishing new campuses, the HEC is focusing on the use of educational technologies and through the recently established directorates of distance education.


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Faculty development programmes are the mainstay of the HEC. With over 7500 scholars currently pursuing their PhD degrees both within and outside the country, and an additional 2,200 having graduated and placed at universities and other organisations, it is estimated that with the projected growth in universities, at least 16,000 ‘additional’ PhD faculty will be required by 2020.



This will raise the percentage of the PhD faculty from the current 22 percent to 40 percent. Simultaneously, the standards for faculty appointment will become stringent. Starting in 2014, all lecturer appointments will require a MPhil/MS degree, and from 2016, all assistant professors and above will require a PhD degree.



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There has been a significant growth in the number and quality of the PhDs awarded. The number of PhDs awarded per year has increased to over 850 in 2011, with significantly higher standards. It is estimated that over 2400 PhDs will be awarded in 2020, which will give Pakistan the same competitive advantage in research and innovation as is available to China, India, Turkey and Malaysia.



The number of research publications out of Pakistan has gone up by 50 percent in the last two years alone. Scimago, an independent database, has projected that Pakistan will have the second-highest growth in the Asiatic region, moving up 16 notches from the current worldwide ranking of 43 to 27.



Offices of innovation, research and commercialisation, centres of advanced study and research in energy, food security, and water resource, incubators and technology parks are being established to link research and innovation with industry.

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This is already beginning to pay off, as today more than six Pakistani universities are ranked among the top 300 universities of the world, while there were none a few years ago. By 2015, we expect at least 10 universities to be in the top 300, with one in the top 100.



All HEC reforms are becoming the envy of other countries in the region. While Turkey already has a similar commission, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are in the process of replicating the HEC model, and India is going a step further and establishing a supra-HEC with far-reaching consequences to position itself as a regional leader.



The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report indicators on higher education and training, technology readiness and innovation are showing a consistent improvement over the last three years for Pakistan, much more than many other countries, which is clear proof that higher education reforms are paying off.



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Pakistan has achieved critical mass and reached a point of take-off. For this phenomenal growth to continue, it is important for the government and other stakeholders to support and further strengthen the HEC as a national institution and protect its autonomy. If this momentum continues for another 10 years, Pakistan is certain to become a global player through a flourishing knowledge economy and a highly literate population.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-147565-HEC-the-next-10-years

December 11, 2012 at 10:35 PM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Washington Post report on feudal power in Pak elections:

GUJJAR GARHI, Pakistan — Winning a grass-roots political campaign in Pakistan or anywhere else depends on having committed, hardworking volunteers. Iftikhar Ali Mashwani, an aspiring provincial lawmaker, has come to realize that his supporters are neither.

“When I go into the villages and the fields, I should see my flags on the roadsides and rooftops. I should see my posters. And I don’t,” Mashwani, a 35-year-old furniture salesman, chided followers gathered in his small lumberyard in northwestern Pakistan. “This campaign is not up to the mark!”

Mashwani, running on the Movement for Justice ticket headed by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, is learning tough lessons as he scrabbles for votes against well-established foes in this largely rural area. On May 11, Pakistanis will choose the next prime minister in an election hailed as a landmark of democratic progress for a country ruled by the military for nearly half its 65-year history. Yet decades of tradition dictate why democracy has remained more of a concept than a reality.

Even as Pakistan prepares to witness its first democratic transition of power, elite political families, powerful landholders and pervasive patronage and corruption undermine the prospects of a truly representational democracy, political analysts say. The dominant Pakistan People’s Party and its rival, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, have the money, experience and connections that Mashwani does not as a novice contender from an upstart party.

As in the United States, Pakistan has what amounts to an entrenched two-party system, but even less space exists here for reformers and newcomers from lower classes. For decades, critics say, the parties have been run like insular family businesses whose only goal is to perpetuate their power and plunder national resources.

The Pakistani military, by contrast, is well respected by the public and not afraid to muscle into politics. It has overthrown weak governments three times with general public support. During periods of civilian rule, the army also wields great influence behind the scenes, adding to evidence that Pakistan has never been more than a Potemkin democracy.

Over the years, U.S. officials have seen only diminishing returns in their democracy-promoting efforts. The upcoming election, while historic, will not necessarily solve anything. Pakistan remains under siege by insurgents and shot through with corruption — and it is still a beggar nation seemingly always on the brink of collapse.

Most analysts predict the election will result in a fractured Parliament dominated by a coalition of old-guard politicians, with Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-N and a two-time prime minister, likely to reclaim the job 14 years after he was ousted in a coup.

“I see elections not bringing change,” said Shamshad Ahmad, a former Pakistani foreign secretary under Sharif. “Without a change in the system there will be the same feudalized, elitist hierarchy that remains in power.

“Let’s hope a new culture is being born that civilians must take responsibility and take the reins in their hands,” said Ahmad, who remains a Sharif backer. “When our rulers show their ability to take good decisions, the army will stay in its space.”...


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-pakistan-novice-takes-on-entrenched-parties-in-election/2013/04/30/8786d7ee-b00a-11e2-9fb1-62de9581c946_story.html

April 30, 2013 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of Express Tribune report on LG Electronics investment in Pakistan:

“We have decided to expand our operations by enhancing production capacities to capture growing consumer demand in Pakistan,” said DY Kim, President of LG Electronics Gulf, while talking to The Express Tribune on Thursday.
“Currently, our production in Pakistan is only limited to televisions and LCDs, but in a couple of months we will start producing other household items like microwaves and washing machines,” he added.
LG Electronics is a global leader and technology innovator in consumer electronics, mobile communications and home appliances with 117 operations around the world.
LG achieved global sales of $49 billion in 2011. It is offering products in four segments – home entertainment, mobile communications, home appliances and air conditioning & energy solutions.
In Pakistan, LG is increasing investment to enhance production capacity, but Kim did not divulge exact figure and only said it would be in billions of rupees.
The company is looking to compete with Samsung, which has increased its market share in recent years.
“We want to give consumers with some other option and we are hopeful this will not take much time,” Kim said.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/550418/lg-to-invest-billions-to-capture-pakistan-market/

May 17, 2013 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan: #Education rekindles hope in minds of displaced #FATA children. #Waziristan #Taliban http://reliefweb.int/report/pakistan/pakistan-education-rekindles-hope-minds-displaced-fata-children?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=shared&utm_source=twitter.com … via @reliefweb


Schools are being established across Fata, encouraging conflict stricken children to continue learning

By FARID SHINWARI

As the sun sets behind the mountains, young boys ranging from nine to 16 sit on the floor of an empty classroom in Bara tehsil, some of them adorning a scarf and hat to keep warm.

“My mind does not grasp what is being taught in class,” says Asif Khan a student and resident of Bara Khyber Agency, expressing his disappointment at the time spent out of school.

Although he is not shy about reading aloud in front of his classmates, Asif says at times the pace of the lecture feels as if it’s in “slow motion.”

“The golden time for learning has almost passed,” he says, referring to the years long interval in his studies due to the conflict in his hometown.

Several children have recently enrolled in Alternative Learning Schools (ALS). The project is part of the ‘Literacy for All’ campaign under the Annual Development Program (ADP) which has been initiated to bring education to militancy-hit Fata.

Among them is 13-year-old Khalid Khan. A resident of Bara, Khalid is sitting at a Hujra (council of elders) now turned into a school. Much like other official buildings and gatherings in the community, the Hujra designates a minimum of two rooms which can be used as makeshift classrooms.

Before enrolling at his school, Khalid and many other children relocated to safer ground due to a rise in militancy and subsequent security operation. He now attends classes at a school a few meters away from what was previously a militant base.

“I had left my home due to their [Lashkar-e-Islam's] influence. During the military operation mortar shells were fired by unknown miscreants causing a lot of displacement,” he recounted. From 2009 to 2014 Khalid and his family took refuge in Zakha Khel in Landi Kotal.

After returning home, Khalid enrolled in an ALS school, established by the Fata Education Foundation (FEF) aiming to enhance enrollment of children who were displaced during military operations.

Despite being a progressive initiative, Asif feels that the school lacks facilities. “We need a bathroom, dustbin, furniture, big black board and other facilities so as to continue learning,” he says.

Laying the groundwork

Javed Iqbal, Manager Planning and Development of FEF, says arrangements have been made for the provision of desks and stationary. He claims they will “arrive over the next couple of months.” Iqbal also adds that checks will be conducted on each school via the Village Education Committees (VEC) before and during their operating hours of 2pm to 6pm..

According to FEF more than 76 schools for boys and 61 for girls have been established across tribal regions.

December 28, 2016 at 8:35 AM  

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