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Showing posts from 2017

Diwali in Silicon Valley

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Brightly colored festival gift displays at major retail stores and poor air quality in Silicon Valley are reminding Indian-Americans this year of Diwali celebrations at home.

Big box retailers like Costco know their customers. Merchandizers working for them are stocking up their local Silicon Valley stores with products most in demand before Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, to cater to a sizable population of Indian-Americans in the Valley.  A variety of Indian mithais (sweets) and spicy snacks are on display at major mainstream retail stores that are competing with the traditional Indian supermarkets for business. Stores like Costco are now also carrying raw or prepared daals, rice, vegetables, flour, naans and chapatis.


Adding to the ambiance is the particulate matter from multiple major forest fires in the San Francisco Bay Area that are still not under control after several days of fire fighting.  Tragically, the fires have so far claimed 40 precious lives and many are still …

Pakistan Meat Industry Experiencing Strong Growth

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Pakistan per capita meat consumption has nearly tripled from 11.7 kg in 2000 to 32 kg in 2016. It is projected to rise to 47 kg by 2020.

Rising Incomes and Meat Consumption:

Pakistan's per capita meat consumption has nearly tripled from 11.7 kg in 2000 to 32 kg in 2016. It is projected to rise to 47 kg by 2020, according to a paper published by the United States National Library of Medicines at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Organization for Economic Development (OECD) explains that meat demand increases with higher incomes and a shift - often due to growing urbanization - to food preferences that favor increased proteins from animal sources in diets.



The NIH paper authors Mohammad Shoaib and Faraz Jamil point out that Pakistan's meat consumption of 32 Kg per person is only a third of the meat capita meat consumption in rich countries like Australia and the United States.

A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature magazine reports…

Pakistani Hindu Women Ride High On Thar Development Wave

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As the world celebrates the International Day of the Girl today, the Thar development boom is empowering Pakistani Hindu women with jobs in nontraditional occupations ranging from engineering to truck driving, according to multiple media reports. These pioneering women will hopefully be a source of inspiration for young girls.

Thar Development:

Thar, one of the least developed regions of Pakistan, is seeing unprecedented development activity in energy and infrastructure projects.  New roads, airports and buildings are being built along with coal mines and power plants as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). There are construction workers and machinery visible everywhere in the desert. Among the key beneficiaries of this boom are Thari Hindu women who are being employed by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) as part of the plan to employ locals. Highlighted in recent news reports are two Hindu women in particular: Kiran Sadhwani, an engineer and Gulaban, a truck driver.


T…

Khwaja Asif Defends Pakistan Policy at USIP in Washington D.C.

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Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif was a featured speaker at an event organized by Washington-based think tank USIP (United States Institute of Peace) where he was interviewed by Dr. Moeed Yusuf. The topics of discussion ranged from US-Pakistani relations and President Donald Trump's new Afghan policy to Pakistan's ties with Afghanistan and India.


Here are some of the key Points made by Mr. Asif at this event held in Washington D.C. on Oct 5, 2017:

1. US funded, armed and trained militants to fight the Soviets in 1980s as part of the Cold War, then walked away without helping to rehabilitate them and left it to Pakistan to deal with them.

2. Pakistan does want to deal with these militants who are a liability for the country. Pakistan is working on finding the best way to do it.

3. US domestic politics prevents action on gun violence but Washington expects Pakistan to demolish all militant groups overnight.

4. India has 66 banned armed groups engaged in insurg…

Saran on India-Pakistan Ties; Gen Mattis in India; Tourism in Pakistan

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What does former Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran say about ties with Pakistan in his recent book "How India Sees the World: Kautilya to the 21st Century"? Why have "low-hanging fruit" issues between India and Pakistan like Siachin and Sir Creek not been resolved? Whose fault is it? Who in India torpedoed solutions agreed with Pakistan at the last minute? Why does ancient Indian thinker Kautilya, regarded as the Indian Machiavelli, dominate foreign policy thinking in India with regard to Pakistan and Afghanistan?

Why did US Defense Secretary General James Mattis go to India? What was his agenda relative to India's role in Afghanistan and cementing US-India defense ties? Why does Indian security analyst Prof Bharat Karnad say that India "severing relations with TTP will mean India surrendering an active card in Pakistan and a role in Afghanistan as TTP additionally provides access to certain Afghan Taliban factions"? Did Mattis ask India to stop s…

Pakistan Among Fastest Growing LNG Markets in the World

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Pakistan joined the list of LNG importers last year and promptly became one of the world's fastest growing LNG markets, according to Shell 2017 LNG report.  The South Asian nation has suffered a crippling energy shortage as demand has risen sharply to over 6 billion cubic feet per day,  far outstripping the domestic production of about 4 billion cubic feet per day. Recent LNG imports are beginning to make a dent in Pakistan's ongoing energy crisis and helping to boost economic growth. Current global oversupply and low LNG prices are helping customers get better terms on contracts.


Global LNG Market:

Pakistan, Egypt and Jordan together imported 13.9 million tons of LNG, more than the combined increase of 11.9 million tons by the most populous nations of China and India.

The biggest increase in LNG exports in 2016 came from Australia, where exports increased by 15 MT to a total of 44.3 MT. It was also a significant year for the USA, after 2.9 MT of LNG was delivered from the Sabi…

How Has Bangladesh Left Pakistan Behind in Per Capita Income?

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A headline in the Economist magazine's recent issue screams: "Bangladesh's GDP per person is now higher than Pakistan's". Let's examine this development to understand its causes.

Per Capita GDP:

The Economist article explains its headline as follows: "Last month revealed a remarkable turnaround. Bangladesh’s GDP per person is now higher than Pakistan’s. Converted into dollars at market exchange rates, it was $1,538 in the past fiscal year (which ended on June 30th). Pakistan’s was about $1,470....Strange as it may sound, Bangladesh jumped ahead because of an advance in Pakistan. On August 25th Pakistan released the results of its census, updating earlier population estimates. They showed that the country has 207.8m people, more than 9m more than previously thought. It may now have the fifth biggest population in the world, surpassing Brazil’s. But the new count also lopped 4-5% off Pakistan’s GDP per person, the arithmetic consequence of revealing so many…

Pakistani-American to Fellow Overseas Pakistanis: Go Back and Visit

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Guest Post by Rashid Ahmad

You should go back and visit. You would be surprised!

Pakistan in your mind may be frozen in time, but real Pakistan has moved on. Everything has changed.


You will find both familiarity and alienness there. It would appear to you like a dream. Or perhaps like being on Star Trek Holodeck, where things are familiar but there are new actors on the deck, and you are bit of a stranger.

First thing that would hit you would be the increase in population. Too many people every where, compared to the time you left Pakistan. Some areas that were farms and free spaces when you were there would now be occupied by new housing developments.

The physical appearances would have changed. There would not be any complete transformation to prosperity, but new buildings replacing the old ones, and new motorways, would change the physical reality.

You would find distances have shrunk. The places that seemed far away because you walked to them or went on bicycle, would appear to b…

Does Pakistan Hold Any Cards in Dealing With Trump Administration?

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The U.S. relationship with Pakistan has always been essentially transactional since the early days of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. What would the quid pro quo look like between Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the Trump administration in the current differences over America's new Afghan policy? Let's try and answer this question.

Transactional History: 

Aid and cooperation has been forthcoming whenever successive American administrations needed something from Pakistan and then suddenly stopped and sanctions imposed on Pakistan when the US goals were accomplished. This happened in 1960s, 1990s and likely to happen yet again now under the Trump administration.

The history of the relationship is such that Pakistan has often been described variously as "the most allied ally" and "the most sanctioned ally" in the last few decades.

Trump's Tough Talk:

U.S. President Donald Trump, a real estate developer, sees all …

Pakistan Population Boom; Rohingya Ethnic Cleansing

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Is Pakistan's growing population a "disaster in the making"? Is it a bigger disaster than the population bust in Europe and East Asia with their aging societies and shrinking labor force? Where will the investment in education, health and job creation come from in Pakistan to meet the growing population? Is there a demographic dividend with Pakistan's labor force growing faster than the overall population? Will growth in labor force help increase domestic savings rate in Pakistan? What is the relationship between GDP growth and job creation? What is Pakistan's employment elasticity relative to other nations in South Asia?


Who are the Rohingya? Why are they being attacked, raped, killed and driven out of their homes in Rakhine state? Why is the Myanmar government and its allied Buddhist militias, including monks, burning Rohingya villages? Is it a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing" as described by the UN Human Rights chief? Why is Nobel Peace laureat…

Can Pakistan Economy Add 2 Million Jobs a Year?

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About 20 million Pakistanis are expected to enter the labor market over the next 10 years. Can Pakistani economy add jobs at a rate of 2 million a year for the next decade to absorb all new entrants to its work force? What is Pakistan's employment elasticity? How fast must it grow to create these jobs? How much investment is needed to achieve the required growth rate?

Pakistan Labor Market:
Pakistan's work force is about 68 million, according to the World Bank. Its labor force expansion is the 3rd biggest in the world after India's and Nigeria's, according to UN World Population Prospects 2017.  Pakistan's working age population in 15-64 years age bracket is expected to increase by 27.5 million people to 147.1 million in 10 years, according to Bloomberg News' analysis of data reported in UN World Population Prospects 2017.  Pakistan's increase of 27.5 million is the third largest after India's 115.9 million and Nigeria's 34.2 million increase in wor…

Apple iOS 11 Supports Nastaliq as Default Font for Urdu

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Apple today announced iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and a $1000 iPhone X today, the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone launch, at its new Spaceship-shaped headquarter in Silicon Valley.  iOS 11operating system is also being launched along with the new hardware to support many advanced new features for face identification, wireless charging and augmented reality (AR).  In addition, the OS 11 will include nastaleeq font that is popular with Urdu publishers in Pakistan, according to Silicon Valley based Urdu lover and Nastaliq campaigner Mudassir Azeemi.

History of Nastaliq on Apple:

Apple did include nastaliq font in iOS 9 Beta 1 after a persistent campaign by Mudassir Azeemi. Unfortunately, it was later dropped in the released version of iOS X.  But Mudassir continued his efforts which appear to have born fruit with iOS 11 being released this month. Apple will now drop naskh and support only nastaliq in native mode for rendering Arabic, Persian and Urdu languages.


Naskh vs Nastaliq:

Apple to…

Where's the Real Population "Disaster in the Making"? Pakistan or the West?

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Multiple western newspaper headlines are screaming of a "disaster in the making" in Pakistan after the latest population census in the country. These headlines beg the following questions:  Is Pakistan's total fertility rate of 2.62 children per woman a bigger disaster than the sub-replacement level of less than 2 children per woman in the West? Are the rapidly aging western societies and declining working population less of a disaster than Pakistan with its younger population and a growing percentage of it in the work force?  To answer these questions, let's consider the following quote:

“So where will the children of the future come from? Increasingly they will come from people who are at odds with the modern world. Such a trend, if sustained, could drive human culture off its current market-driven, individualistic, modernist course, gradually creating an anti-market culture dominated by fundamentalism - a new dark ages.” ― Philip Longman, The Empty Cradle: How Fal…