Thursday, February 23, 2012

Harvard Architect Plans Green City in Pakistan

Work started today to build a 21st Century eco-friendly model city about 50 km north east of downtown Karachi, Pakistan.

Named DHA City Karachi or DCK, the project has been planned by Doxiadis and Osmani Associates along with Professor Spiro Pollalis as its chief planner on an 11,640 acre rural site. Constantine Doxiadis (1914-1975) was a Greek architect and urban planner who planned Pakistan's capital Islamabad and several Karachi communities, including Korangi, Landhi and New Karachi, in 1960s. Pollalis, also of Greek ancestry, is a professor of design, technology and management at the Harvard Design School in Cambridge, Mass.



The DCK masterplan envisions a self-contained sustainable city with 50,000 residential and commercial lots, healthcare and education facilities, theme parks, a convention center, informal and formal sports and recreational facilities and resorts, retail and restaurants, along with all necessary community facilities such as theaters and civic centers.

At the heart of the new city lies the City Gateway and Downtown district that house the Central Business, Culture & Arts, Education, Central Market and Mixed-use Sub Districts. Careful consideration has been given to the distribution of land uses within this area in order to provide a vital economic and cultural heart that will support the city as it grows.

The downtown district will be defined by an automobile-free pedestrian zone with tree-lined walking paths, landscaping, water features, and piazza’s. The idea is to encourage pedestrian movement to improve the quality of life for the downtown employees, visitors and residents. An efficient public transportation system will help support this.

Based on the latest research done under Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, sustainable design principles have been implemented across the entire community. A strategy has been used to maintain the ecological integrity of the site through the preservation and incorporation of prominent natural features that are integrated as creeks, green fingers and wind corridors, according to e-architect.com.

There's great emphasis on energy, waste and water management throughout the plan. There will be passive cooling and shades to reduce the need for air-conditioning in summers, extensive use of renewable energy from wind, solar and biomass, and energy-efficient LED lighting. There will be storm water collection through natural drains into lakes, and the community bylaws will require waste recycling as well as the use of grey water to irrigate drought-resistant native plants and shrubs.

DCK is an ambitious but necessary effort to promote eco-friendly and sustainable urban development as Pakistan undergoes rapid urbanization. But the past experience has shown that the actual implementation of such a plan will be quite challenging without the cooperation of its residents.

An even bigger challenge is the uncontrolled expansion of big cities like Karachi which are drawing more and more rural migrants every day without building appropriate new low-cost legal housing and infrastructure for them. The result is the mushroom growth of illegal settlements created by unscrupulous land-grabbing politicians and their cronies who profit from it. In the absence of official urban planning to settle migrant laborers, a burgeoning informal industry has emerged to fill the vacuum to build what are described as "Self-service Levittowns" by an American journalist Steve Inskeep in his 2011 book about Karachi titled "Instant City". With the active connivance of corrupt local police and other government officials and protected by politicians, the so-called "land mafias" grab and sell large swathes of vacant government land, subdivide it into plots, build shoddy roads and pilfered service connections for gas, water and electricity.

Here's how Inskeep describes one such illegal settlement in areas opened up and made accessible by a new expressway called "Northern Bypass":

"My driver steered the car to a section known as Tasier Town, which stood within a couple of miles of the new highway. It was in the farther northeastern reaches of the city, a bit farther than Doxoiadis's "ruined" old suburb in North Karachi. We stopped in a settled area to ask directions, and were pointed down a two-lane road. A market appeared to the right. A wide expanse of land stretched off to the left. Someone had posted a little sign on a little roadside building there, 2007 order from the High Court of Sindh directing that nothing should be built on that property. Behind it, on the vacant land, we saw homes under construction.....The local Home Depot was called a thalla, and Wahab, the boss of it, was thallawala. Like his workers-a so many newcomers to Karachi-he was a Pashtun from Pakistan's war-torn far northwest. On his lot, he sold most of the basic materials to make a simple house. Concrete blocks and roofing materials were cheap. Human beings were even cheaper. Wahab's laborers lived under a thatched roof near the concrete mixer.

Wahab said that there were certain expenses. Police sometimes came by and declared themselves to be shocked-shocked-that illegal construction was underway. The cops could not possibly overlook such an obvious violation unless they were paid.......I said goodbye to Wahab and went back into the illegal development, along narrow and straight dirt lane. Little ridges of dirt marked out the future home lots on either side. I chatted with several men who were laying PVC pipe in a trench, building a sewer line that would dump into the seasonal stream....Who was paying the men to dig the sewers? "A rich man", was all one said."


While Defense Housing Association (DHA) is known for developing upscale communities in major cities, Pakistani military governments have also taken low-cost initiatives to house the poor beginning with the urban planning and development of Landhi, Korangi and New Karachi in 1960s. Unfortunately, there has been little interest on a similar scale by the civilian governments to follow through on their promises of roti, kapra aur makan (food, clothing and shelter) for the poor.

Even though boosting legal housing construction in planned communities offers tremendous potential to stimulate and grow the formal economy, it is not being taken seriously today. It's much more lucrative for the politicians and bureaucrats to continue the current system of illegal settlements.



While critics jump at every opportunity to lambaste the Pakistani military for its various business enterprises, they pay no attention to the fact that Pakistan's economy has also been managed significantly better under military rule. It's not just the venality of the politicians, but also their gross incompetence that gets in the way. One need only look at the differences between Cantonments and civilian communities in South Asia to get a sense of who provides more competent governance.

Prof Anatol Lieven in his book "Pakistan: A Hard Country", describes Pakistan Army as follows:

"For the military, the image of paradise is the cantonment, with its clean, swept, neatly signposted streets dotted with antique, gleaming artillery pieces, and shaded trees....In the poorer parts of Pakistan, the contrast with civilian institutions-including those of government-is that between developed and the barely developed worlds....In the military headquarters, every staff officer has a computer. In the government offices, most ministers do not (and in many cases would not know how to use it if they did). "

British legacy of competence lives on in the Indian military as well. Here's a similar excerpt from a piece by Indian journalist Vir Sanghvi describing Indian military:

".... the (Indian) army sometimes appears to live in a state within a state. Visit a cantonment and you will be struck by the contrast with the civilian part of the town or city where it is located. The roads will be broad and well-maintained, the buildings will be freshly painted, the surroundings will be clean, and an air of good manners and civility will prevail. Visit an army town (Wellington, for instance) and the contrast will be even more striking. The order and cleanliness of the cantonments serves as a contrast to the chaos and filth of modern India."

I welcome the DCK plan with the hope that the green city will serve as a model for the 21st century and inspire private-sector developers to build similar project in the future.

Here's a video describing the project:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Housing Construction & Economy in Pakistan

Emaar Crescent Bay Project in Karachi

Pakistan Military Starts Manufacturing Tablet PCs

Military's Role in Pakistan's Industrialization

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

Pakistan's Defense Industry Goes High-Tech

Pakistan Launches UAV Production Line at Kamra

DHA City Karachi Report

Incompetence Worse Than Corruption

Food, Clothing & Shelter for All

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pakistan's Troubled Public Education Sector & State-owned Enterprises

"...under 1.5% of GDP [is] going to public schools that are on the front line of Pakistan's education emergency, or less than the subsidy for PIA, Pakistan Steel, and Pepco." Pakistan Education Task Force Report 2011

Pakistan has ordered 5 Boeing 777s and 75 train engines for its state-owned companies in a bid to catch up with rising passenger and cargo service demands, according to media reports.

Boeing, the American aerospace giant, has announced the $1.5 billion deal with Pakistan International Airline (PIA) which includes a firm order of five 777-300ER (extended range) jets as well as the purchase rights for an additional five, according to Fox News.

Separately, The News is reporting that Pakistan Railway is purchasing 75 Chinese-made train engines for $105 million.



Highways have now become the most important segment of transport sector in the country, according to the Economic Survey of Pakistan. At the time of Pakistan's independence in 1947, transportation by roads accounted for only 8% of all traffic. Today, it accounts for 92% of national passenger traffic and 96% of freight.



The last decade has seen major competition coming from first-class private bus services now operated on modern motorways in all parts of Pakistan. The best known of these is Daewoo bus service with its comfortable luxury coaches and stewardesses offering meal services. With the construction and expansion of national highways and motorways, the trucking industry has also grown by leaps and bounds in the last few decades.



In mid-90s, Pakistan Railway had 10.45% share of passenger traffic and 5.17% of freight traffic, which has declined to 9.95% and 4.72% respectively by the year 2006-07, according to Economic Survey of Pakistan.

Pakistan Railway has been weighed down by heavy expenses of payroll and rising corruption and incompetence. As a result, a large number of engines are no longer operational and there have been big cuts in service.

After gaining domestic and international traffic market share for several decades after independence, Pakistan International airline has been losing it in recent decades because of serious problems of corruption and mismanagement by the cronies of the ruling politicians. PIA is now losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year while being hit by lean and mean domestic private airlines and international competition from rising Gulf giants like Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

Today, PIA's employee to aircraft ratio of 450 is more than twice as much as some of its competitors. "Politically motivated inductions have been the major cause of the significant increase in human resource burden in this organization," the State Bank of Pakistan said recently.

Pakistani taxpayers are heavily subsidizing the national airline at the expense of much more crucial public sectors like education. 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.

The latest example of the use of public funds to buy support for the government is Rs 366 million given in "discretionary development funds" as reward to senators for passing the 20th Constitutional Amendment with more than two-third majority, according to Pakistani media reports.

The crux of the issue for the bloated public sector units like PIA, Pakistan Steel Mills and Pakistan Railways is the reprehensible system of political patronage which puts the wrong people in charge of them. The sooner PIA, PR and other PSUs become privatized, the easier it will be to revive them for better service and improved profitability. It will turn them into a source of much needed revenue for the public treasury, just as the denationalization of banks did in the last decade.

From an after-tax loss of Rs. 9.77 billion in 2001 (when MCB, Habib, UBL and Allied were government owned) the earnings of these privatized banks rose to a profit after-tax of Rs. 73.115 billion in 2007. Higher earnings meant increased tax contribution by these banks to the government from Rs 10.8 billion in 2001 to Rs. 33.8 billion in 2007, according to data provided by former State Bank governor Mr. Shahid Kardar.

Even if privatization of the heavily subsidized public sector units does not yield higher tax revenue from them, it will at least free up public funds for more pressing needs like education, health care, energy, water and public infrastructure development.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Infrastructure

British Aid for Pakistani Schools

Pakistan's Twin Energy Shortages

Cycles of Floods & Droughts

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers

Political Patronage Trumps Public Policy in Pakistan

Pakistan's Tax Evasion Fosters Aid Dependence

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin Resigns

Musharraf's Legacy

US Fears Aid Will Feed Graft in Pakistan

Pakistan Swallows IMF's Bitter Medicine

Shaukat Aziz's Economic Legacy

Power and Patronage in Pakistan

Pakistan's Energy Crisis

Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performance

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Microfinance Raising Financial Inclusion in Pakistan

Pakistan ranks first in Asia and third in the world in Economist Intelligence Unit's overall microfinance business environment rankings for 2011. Among other Asian nations, only the Philippines at #6 made the top ten list.



On a scale of 0-100, Pakistan scores 62.8, just behind top-ranked Peru's 67.8 and second-ranked Bolivia's 64.7 in overall global rankings of 55 countries. Among nations in South Asia region, India ranks 27 with a score of 43.1 and Bangladesh ranks 43 with a score of 30.9. Sri Lanka is at #48 with a score of 27.4 followed by Nepal at 51 scoring 26.1.

Among various categories, Pakistan ranks #1 in regulatory framework and practices and #5 in supporting institutional framework.

Here's an excerpt on Asia from the EIU report titled "Global microscope on the microfinance business environment":

"Pakistan and the Philippines again top the regional rankings for East and South Asia. These countries both finished in the top ten globally, signifying strong environments for microfinance. Indeed, Pakistan and the Philippines came first and second globally, respectively, in the Regulatory Framework and Practices category, suggesting strong regulatory regimes and good prospects for MFIs to enter the sector and perform effectively. The Philippines, for example, has had a strong enabling environment for microfinance for more than a decade. Cambodia is third best in Asia and makes it into the top 25% globally. India comes next, but fell precipitously after the crisis that struck the sector last year. Mongolia finished fourth in Asia, but was the region’s most-improved performer."

Recently, Pakistan's central bank governor Haris Anwar said that large segments the nation's population have no bank accounts and many do not understand why it puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to their personal financial management. According to Pakistan Access to Finance Survey (A2FS), only 12 percent of the population has access to formal financial services. Of the remaining 88 percent, only 32 percent are informally served and 56 percent are completely excluded, Anwar said, adding that according to the A2FS analysis, about 40 percent of the financially excluded population reported lack of understanding of financial products as the main reason for financial exclusion.

It has long been recognized by poverty alleviation experts that pursuing policies for increasing financial inclusion, such as encouraging microfinance, are absolutely essential to lift tens of millions of people out of poverty in Pakistan, where 50% of the workforce is made up of low-end self-employed. Other efforts toward bringing financial services to the poor and lower middle class in Pakistan include financial literacy initiatives and growth of branchless mobile banking in city slums and rural areas of the country.

Pakistan’s first-ever National Financial Literacy Program was launched earlier this year with the support and collaboration of Asian Development Bank (ADB), Pakistan Banks’ Association (PBA), Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN), Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and BearingPoint consultants.

The growth of branchless banking in Pakistan is now being held up a success story at international fora. Within a span of just two years, there are now almost 18,000 branchless banking outlets surpassing the 10,000 conventional bank branches, according to Governor Anwar. UBL Omni’s branchless banking service launched in April 2010 by United Bank has won several contracts to disburse payments for nongovernment organizations and government schemes to help those affected by floods. UBL reports that at the end of June it had 5,000 agents disbursing payments to 2 million recipients under these programs. UBL Omni has also started accepting loan repayments for microfinance institutions (MFIs) and providing cash management facilities for businesses.

According to a recent World Bank report titled "More and Better Jobs in South Asia" which shows that 63% of Pakistan's workforce is self-employed, including 13% high-end self-employed. Salaried and daily wage earners make up only 37% of the workforce. Access to money is necessary for many of these entrepreneurs to succeed in realizing their dreams.



The history of microfinance in Pakistan started with the launch of Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) in Kutchi Abadies (shanty towns) of Karachi in early 1980’s, according to a paper published by Abdul Qayyum and Munir Ahmed. In the late 1960s, prior to OPP, a few NGOs in the rural areas of Pakistan began to experiment with microcredit by offering subsidized loans. However, they mostly failed to reach the poor due to abuse and corruption. Now there are dozens of Micro Finance Institutions working in Pakistan. The MFIs in Pakistan can be divided into different groups based on their uniqueness that separates them from other financial institutions and makes them similar in terms of the way they function.

The first group consists of financial institutions with microfinance as a separate product line. The share of microfinance related activities of these institutions is up to 10 percent. This group includes Orix Leasing and the Bank of Khyber –both are profit making organizations and consider microfinance as a separate product line.

The second group refers to the specialized MFI’s, which includes two microfinance banks - The Khushhali Bank and First Microfinance Bank Limited (FMBL) - and two NGOs - KASHF Foundation and Asasah. All these institutions completely focus on provision of financial services and also have commercial focus as well.

Third category MFIs related to activities of the Rural Support Programs which deals with integrated Rural Development Programs with microfinance as one of its activities. These organizations are National Rural Support Programs (NRSP), Punjab Rural Support Programs (PRSP) and Sarhad Rural Support Programs (SRSP). The last group consists of private NGOs. These NGOs are basically integrated development organizations with microfinance as one of their activities. These include Orangi Pilot Project, Sungi Foundation, Taraqee Foundation, Development Action for Mobilization and Emancipation (TRDP), Sindh Agricultural & Forestry Workers Coordinating Organization (SAFWCO) and Development Action for Mobilization and Emancipation (DAMEN), among others.

Khushhali Bank was established in August 2000 as part of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan's Poverty Reduction Strategy. The Pakistan Microfinance Sector Development Program (MSDP) was developed with the technical assistance and funding of the Asian Development Bank, which provided a US$150 million loan to the government of Pakistan, US$70 million being used for micro-loans provided by KB. Headquartered in Islamabad, KB operates under the central bank's supervision (State Bank of Pakistan) with several commercial banks operating as its primary shareholders.

To broaden access, there are now efforts underway to offer Shariah-compliant microfinance products to those who are reluctant to participate in interest-based banking. Farz Foundation is among the first to do so. It is engaged in Islamic micro-financing for livestock and agriculture among the rural poor.

Pakistan has a long way to go to achieve financial inclusion for the majority of its population. The current efforts on increasing access to money for the poor are a good start on a long journey that may take decades to complete. My readers who are interested in helping the poor in Pakistan by offering small loans of $25 or more have a choice of many websites to do so, including kiva.org which I have been using. The loans to Pakistani recipients are administered through Asasah, a Kiva partner in the country.


Related Link:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Financial Services Sector

Fighting Poverty Through Microfinance

IBA on Entrepreneurship in Pakistan

Floods Dampen Enthusiasm on Pakistan Independence Day

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

High Living at Very Low Cost in Karachi & Mumbai

A worldwide cost of living survey of 131 major cities has found that big South Asian cities of Dhaka, Delhi, Karachi and Mumbai are among the ten least expensive in the world. In other words, foreign visitors, expatriate businessmen and overseas investors can live better for less in South Asia, particularly in Karachi which is the cheapest on the list, just one rank below Mumbai, India.



The survey conducted by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) compared more than 400 individual prices across 160 products, including food, clothing, transport, rents and private schools.

India and Pakistan’s cheap labor and land costs are making the area “attractive to those bargain-hungry visitors or investors willing to brave some of the security risks that accompany such low prices,” the survey said, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The Swiss city of Zurich remained the world’s most expensive, Tokyo was the runner up, with Singapore now listed as the world’s 9th most expensive city. Singapore was listed as the 6th most expensive last year, but remarkably was ranked 97th in 2001.

Here's how EIU describes the world cost of living survey methodology:

"More than 50,000 individual prices are collected in each survey, conducted each March and September and published in June and December. EIU researchers survey a range of stores: supermarkets, midpriced stores and higher priced specialty outlets. Prices reflect costs for more than 160 items in each city. These are not recommended retail prices or manufacturers’ costs; they are what the paying customer is charged. Prices gathered are then converted into a central currency (US dollars) using a prevailing exchange rate and weighted in order to achieve comparative indices. The cost-of-living index uses an identical set of weights that is internationally based and not geared toward the spending pattern of any specific nationality. Items are individually weighted across a range of categories and a comparative index is product using the relative difference by weighted item."

The cheapest cities on the EIU list are dominated by Asian and Middle Eastern cities. The latter of these is due, in part, to the use of price controls and the pegging of currencies to the US dollar. The former seems to have a more structural basis, with cheap labor and land costs making India and Pakistan incredibly attractive to those bargain hungry visitors or investors.

Currently, there are over 300 foreign multinational companies, including American and European companies, with operations in Pakistan. And more are coming every year in spite of ongoing security concerns and current economic slowdown. Almost all big international brand name American and European companies operate in Pakistan.



Here's an excerpt from a US government website on America's commercial presence in Karachi, Pakistan:

"U.S. firms have a strong presence in Pakistan. More than 70 wholly-owned U.S. subsidiaries are registered with the American Business Council (ABC) and American Business Forum (ABF) in Pakistan. There are also hundreds of local firms representing U.S. firms in the market. Leading U.S. businesses in Pakistan include Citibank, Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, NCR, Teradata, Pfizer, Abbot, Eli Lilly, Wyeth, DuPont, Oracle, Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, Chevron, 3M, IBM, Apple, Monsanto, McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominoes Pizza, and Caterpillar.

Despite security challenges and common emerging market concerns about intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, contract enforcement, and governance issues, the Pakistan market offers many attractive trade and investment opportunities in a broad range of sectors: among others, energy (power generation); transportation (aerospace and railways); information and communications technology; architecture, construction, and engineering; health; environmental technology; agricultural technology; safety and security; franchising; and services."


Jon Copestake, the editor of the EIU cost survey report, explained that these cheap cities “have been cheap for a long time.” “Even though local inflation is high, it’s coming from a very low base, so it’s only a slight rise in the cost-of-living index,” he said.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Karachi 4th Cheapest for Expats

WEF Study Finds India's Air Most Toxic in the World

Karachi's High Development Index

Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performance

Eleven Days in Karachi

Citymayors website

Karachi Demographic Trends Worry MQM

Pakistan Most Urbanized in South Asia

Karachi: The Urban Frontier

Do Asia's Urban Slums Offer Hope?

Orangi is Not Dharavi

Climate Change Could Flood Karachi Coastline

Karachi Fourth Cheapest For Expats

Karachi City Government

Karachi Dreams Big

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mobile Computer Manufacturing Comes to Pakistan

Military-run Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) at Kamra has launched manufacturing of Android tablets, Android eBook readers and Windows/Linux notebook computers.



All three products are being offered by Commercial Products Manufacturing Cell (CPMC), a join venture of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra (PAC) and Hong Kong-based INNAVTEK. Initial prices range from Rs. 8,000 for PAC eBook reader tablet, to Rs. 15,000 for PAC PAD 1 tablet computer and Rs. 23,500 for PAC nBook notebook.

PAC PAD is the first to be manufactured in Pakistan, but not the first tablet offered for sale in Pakistan. Last year, PTCL also launched an Android based thin 7 inch tablet computer with EVO 3G and WiFi connectivity built-in. 3G EVO Tab is a 7 inch touch screen tablet with built-in EVO service to offer wireless broadband internet on the go in more than 100 cities and towns across Pakistan. Powered by Google Android Froyo 2.2 Operating system, 3G EVO Tab offers support for both 3G and Wi-Fi for an un-interrupted on-the-go connectivity. With a 5 MegaPixel Camera, a variety of built-in applications, 3G EVO Tab lets users browse, snap, share, communicate, navigate, play games and do a lot more on-the go, thereby making it an ideal connectivity solution for users looking for high speed on-the-go 3G connectivity on an Android platform. PTCL 3G EVO Tab offers convenience and speed with three diverse economy packages to suit individual needs and pockets. Its 12-month bundle offer has been very successful with majority sales in this bracket.Customers can get EVO Tab for as low as Rs 7,999 plus 12-month unlimited EVO service, all at Rs 31,999. In addition to the 12-month contract, EVO Tab offers bundled packages based on 3 and 6 month contracts at Rs 27,999 and Rs 29,999, respectively with 3 and 6 month of unlimited EVO service.



PAC's PAD is being built at Kamra complex that has set up advanced electronics manufacturing facilities used for building avionics for Pakistan's JF-17 fighter. A PAC press release issued at the launch of the project said that “for the joint production of JF-17, PAF [Pakistan Air Force] had established sufficient facilities which are appropriate for the production of both defence and commercial products.” CPMC website explains that “Innavtek jointly developed two products with (PAC's) Avionics Production Factory which are successfully flying on fleet of our JF-17 aircraft and three more products are under co development phase.”



History tells us that the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has played a huge role in China's phenomenal industrial progress and its emergence as the factory of the world in the last few decades. Even in the free-market capitalist system of the United States, great inventions like semiconductor chips, computers the Internet have their origins in the defense establishment. The US military has played a key role in funding research, development and manufacturing industries to support America's military-industrial complex and its space program. In spite of some of the well-deserved criticisms of the the world's biggest military-industrial and space complex in America, no one can deny that a lot of innovation, jobs growth and economic expansion has flowed from it to benefit the American society at large.

The latest PAC-Kamra venture is a good example of how military projects can help spawn commercial industries in Pakistan, essentially replicating the American and the Chinese industrial experience.

With experience and economies of scale, PAC computer products are likely to follow the traditional cost curve of electronics products and become more powerful and affordable for larger numbers of Pakistani customers. Growing domestic market for computers should also attract private investment in the sector and stimulate the national economy by creating more skilled jobs, and help boost human development and productivity.

PAC computer products have the potential to enable huge opportunities for education, communication, business and entertainment. Take distance learning as an example. The quickest and the most cost-effective way to broaden access to education at all levels is through online schools, colleges and universities. Sitting at home in Pakistan, self-motivated learners can watch classroom lectures at world's top universities including UC Berkeley, MIT and Stanford. More Pakistanis can pursue advanced degrees by enrolling and attending the country's Virtual University that offers instructions to thousands of enrolled students via its website, video streaming and Youtube and television channels.

PAC products can be expected to contribute to the ongoing information revolution in Pakistan by making information and education more accessible to a larger cross-section of Pakistani society. Such a revolution is essential for Pakistan to rapidly move into the 21st century, and reap full demographic dividend of its youthful population which is naturally attracted to modern gadgetry of computing and communications.

I applaud Pakistan's military for taking a page from the Chinese PLA playbook. As the only robust and well-functioning institution of Pakistani state, the military should do whatever is necessary to strengthen the nation's industry, economy, human capital and national security, regardless of any critics, including Ayesha Siddiqa Agha and her myriad fans. This is the best way forward to a well-educated, industrialized, prosperous and democratic Pakistan in the future.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Military's Role in Pakistan's Industrialization

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

Pakistan's Defense Industry Goes High-Tech

Pakistan Launches UAV Production Line at Kamra

Pakistan Going Mainstream in IT Products

Pakistan Launches 100 Mbps FTTH Access

Pakistan's $2.8 Billion IT Industry

Pakistan's Software Prodigy