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Showing posts from August, 2014

Political Rulers Bring Neither Democracy Nor Development to Pakistan

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“Na Khuda hi mila, na visaal-e-sanam/Na udhar kay rahay, na idhar kay rahe (I found neither faith, nor union with my lover/And now I belong neither there nor here).”
Pakistan's quest for democracy under civilian rule has produced neither democracy nor development in the Islamic country of over 180 million people. Currently, Pakistan is experiencing 6th consecutive year of  stagnant economy and human development under an elected but highly corrupt "democratic" government run by the Sharif family and their cronies for their own benefit.

Is it a Democracy?

Can one call it a rule-of-law or democracy when the Sharifs illegally order the Lahore police to attack the home of Allama Tahir ul Qadri, kill over a dozen unarmed civilians including women, and then refuse to file a report  (FIR) of the incident at the local police station?  Can you call it constitutional rule when the ruling politicians openly defy the Supreme Court orders to hold local government elections under Artic…

Media Drones Over Islamabad

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Since tens of thousands of supporters of Imran Khan and Allama Tahir ul Qadri marched into Islamabad a few days ago, there have been continuous live aerial images and spectacular videos of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf's and Pakistan Awami Tehrik's massive but peaceful sit-in protests broadcast directly from Islamabad by several Pakistani TV channels. This breathtaking live drone camera coverage of  a major media event has made drone journalism history in the South Asian country of over 180 million people.



There are few examples of such mainstream media coverage using drones. One example is when Australia's Nine Networks 60 Minutes program used  an unmanned aerial vehicle to broadcast images of  a vast immigration detention camp set up by the Australian government away from the eyes of the media. Paparazzi, too, use drones but such activity is often illegal and frowned upon by the mainstream media.


The Punjab government banned the use of media drones in Lahore where the PTI and …

Student Math and Reading Skills in India and Pakistan

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Recent World Bank report on student learning in South Asia is depressing. Sri Lanka is the sole exception to the overall low levels of achievement for primary and secondary school kids in the region.  The report documents with ample data from various assessments to conclude that "learning outcomes and the average level of skill acquisition in the region are low in both absolute and relative terms". The report covers education from primary through upper secondary schools.


Buried inside the bad news is a glimmer of what could be considered hope for Pakistan's grade 5 and 8 students outperforming their counterparts in India. While 72% of Pakistan's 8th graders can do simple division, the comparable figure for Indian 8th graders is just 57%. Among 5th graders, 63% of Pakistanis and 73% of Indians CAN NOT divide a 3 digit number by a single digit number, according to the World Bank report titled "Student Learning in South Asia: Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy P…

Innovation in Pakistan

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Culture of innovation has enabled huge productivity increases and major improvements in peoples' living standards since the advent of the Industrial Revolution in Europe in the 18th century. It has resulted in a monumental power shift from the East to the West and led to the European colonization of the rest of the world.

Countries in the East have finally begun to understand the value of innovation since achieving independence which came after a couple of centuries of subjugation by European powers.


Efforts to promote innovation in Pakistan are being spearheaded by several different groups including DICE Foundation and Pakistan Innovation Foundation.  Both DICE and PIF focus almost entirely on higher education institutions.

Before assessing the situation and making recommendations on promoting innovation in Pakistan, it's important to understand the history of innovation by studying the examples of major innovations since the industrial revolution.

James Watt:

James Watt (17…

Consumer Confidence Boosts Pakistan Eid Sales

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Eid and Ramzan sales, making up over 40% of annual revenue of retailers in Pakistan, are estimated to have jumped 10-15% this year, according to early data reported in the news media.

Nielsen, a global provider of data on consumers, reports that Pakistan consumer confidence has held steady at 99 for two consecutive quarters. This compares favorably with consumer confidence figures which declined over the previous quarter in the overall Middle East/Africa region. Among the region, UAE led the way for Middle East/Africa consumer confidence with an index of 109, a decline of five points from first-quarter 2014. Egypt (81) reported a drop of six points compared to the first quarter. South Africa posted the only regional confidence increase, climbing three points to 85, and confidence held steady in Saudi Arabia (102).



More than half (56%) of Middle East/ Africa respondents in Nielsen consumer surveys viewed their personal finances in a positive light which held steady from the first quart…