South Asia Investor Review is focused on reporting, analyzing and discussing the economy and the financial markets of countries in South Asia, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. For investors looking to invest in emerging markets beyond BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), this blog is designed to help international investors looking to learn about investing in South Asia with focus on Pakistan. Riaz has another blog called Haq's Musings at http://www.riazhaq.com
Social media newsfeeds are driven by users' profiles to reinforce their preferences and prejudices. Newsfeeds are customized for each user. Any posts that don't fit these profiles don't get displayed. The result is increasing tribalism in the world. American and British intelligence agencies claim that Russian intelligence has used social media to promote divisions and manipulate public opinion in the West. Like the US and the UK, Pakistan also has ethnic, sectarian and regional fault-lines that make it vulnerable to similar social media manipulation. It is very likely that intelligence agencies of countries hostile to Pakistan are exploiting these divisions for their own ends. Various pronouncements by India's current and former intelligence and security officials reinforce this suspicion.
All human are born with tribal instincts. People embrace group identities based on birthplace, language, region, sect, religion, nation, school, sports team, etc to def…
Pakistani movie "Cake" is a Sindhi family drama set in Karachi and rural Sindh. I had the chance to see it on a Silicon Valley theater screen in California.
Cake is nothing like the usual Bollywood fare featuring an "item song" included in a series of song-and-dance sequences. It tells a story accompanied with a great soundtrack showcasing the classic Sindhi poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and Shaikh Ayaz, some of it sung by Allan Fakir in his mournful voice.
Directed by Asim Abbasi, the movie has an interesting plot and it tells a good story. What makes its plot especially relevant to the Pakistani diaspora is that it involves a theme familiar to them: Ailing elderly parents (Jamalis ably played by Mohammad Ahmed and Beo Raana Zafar) in Pakistan with two of their three children living overseas. It also defies the stereotypical depiction of patriarchal Sindhi men as cruel landlords oppressing their women and peasants.
Pakistan's per capita daal (pulse) consumption has sharply declined to about 7 kg/person from about 15 Kg/person in 2000, according to data released by Food and Agriculture Organization and reported in Pakistani media. Meat has replaced it as the main source of protein with per capita meat consumption rising 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 in the Korean Journal of Food Science of Animal Resources.
FAO report titled "State of Food and Agriculture in Asia and the Pacific Region" said rising incomes in developing nations are causing a shift from plant proteins — such as those found in pulses (daal) and beans — to more expensive animal proteins such as those found in meat and dairy.
Some have called London the "Money Laundering Capital of the World" where corrupt leaders from developing nations use looted wealth from their people to buy expensive real estate and other assets. Private individuals and businesses from poor nations also park money in the west and other off-shore tax havens to hide their incomes and assets from the tax authorities in their countries of residence.
The multi-trillion dollar massive net outflow of money from the poor to the rich countries has been documented by the US-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI). This flow of capital has been described as "aid in reverse". It has made big headlines in Pakistan and elsewhere since the release of the Panama Papers and the Paradise Leaks which revealed true owners of offshore assets held by anonymous shell companies. Bloomberg has reported that Pakistanis alone own as much as $150 billion worth of undeclared assets offshore.
Philanthropic contributions of major international private foundations in Pakistan totaled $267 million out of the $42 billion global contribution in 2013-2015. This compares with $1.6 billion in top-ranked India and $498 billion in second-ranked China. US-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) contributed nearly half of the $42 billion in global charity by private foundations.
Private foundations are filling the huge gaps in public funding of health and education sectors in developing nations. . They contributed $11 billion for the health sector alone in the three year period, ranking third behind the United States and a global fund for fighting disease.
Media reports suggest global e-commerce behemoth Amazon.com could purchase substantial stake in Pakistan's e-commerce site Clicky.pk. This comes on the heels of a Bloomberg story that quoted anonymous sources indicating Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is in serious negotiations to acquire Daraz.pk. Online sales in Pakistan's $152 billion retail market are doubling every year, according to Adam Dawood of Yayvo online portal. He expects them to pass $1 billion in the current fiscal year (2017-18), two years earlier than the previous forecast.
Amazon's Presence in Pakistan:
Amazon already owns about 33% stake in Clicky.pk through its acquisition in 2017 of Dubai-based online retailer Souq. Souq acquired this stake in the Pakistani company in late 2016.
In March this year, Bloomberg cited sources saying that Alibaba and Daraz.pk are negotiating a a price for the acquisition. It said that the "deliberations are an early state and no decisions have been made".
Construction on the recently completed 893 kilometer long Gwadar-Ratodero motorway, also known as M8, was started by a Chinese contractor back in early 2004 on former President Pervez Musharraf's watch. The work was soon abandoned when three Chinese engineers were killed by a car bomb during the first week of May, 2004. In 2003, a year before this incident, Indian intelligence agency RAW had recruited Kulbhushan Jadhav as an undercover agent. He was issued a passport under an assumed name of Hussein Mubarak Patel and sent to Chabahar in Iran to orchestrate insurgent attacks next door in Balochistan.
After the Chinese left the project, another contractor who was awarded the project could not continue M8 construction. Eventually, Pakistan Army's Frontier Works Organization (FWO) completed the project 13 years later in 2017. This success has come at great cost in terms of time, money and human lives. FWO has lost dozens of military and civilian employees and many more have been …
What is behind the domestic and international aviation boom in India and Pakistan? Why is Pakistan doing better than India in terms of international passenger growth while badly lagging in domestic air travel?
What has happened to the global airline industry since the passage of the US Deregulation Act of 1978? Why did many big airlines of yesteryears die in spite of huge growth of air travel? How did so many upstart low-cost carriers succeed while state-owned airlines failed?
Why are the domestic air fares in Pakistan three times higher than those in India for similar distances? Why does state-owned PIA control two-thirds of Pakistan's domestic market? Why isn't there more competition on domestic routes in Pakistan?
Why are state-owned airlines, including PIA and Air India, losing a lot of money, requiring massive taxpayer subsidies and still performing poorly? Why aren't these airlines run more efficiently? Are PIA jobs used for political patronage? Why does PIA fly so m…
Aviation market in South Asia is among the fastest growing in the world. It is soaring in terms of both domestic and international travel. Last year, the Indian commercial aviation market grew to 176 million passengers and Pakistan's reached 22 million. A total of 22 million passengers (7.2 million domestic, 14.6 million international) flew commercial airlines in Pakistan in 2016-17, up 5.11% from 20.7 million (6.95 million domestic, 13.76 million international) in 2015-16, according to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). While Pakistan's international aviation market as a percentage of its population is bigger than India's, the Indian domestic market is far outpacing Pakistan's mainly due to greater competition and significantly lower airfares.
Nearly 15 million international passengers flew in and out of Pakistan in fiscal year 2016-17. This number is about a quarter of the 59 million international passengers who flew to and from India in roughly t…
About 100 million Pakistani adults lacked access to formal and regulated financial services as of 2016, according to a World Bank report on financial inclusion. Only 2.9% of adults in Pakistan had a debit card, and only 1% of adults used them to make payments. Just 1.4% of adults used an account to receive wages and 1.8% of adults used it to receive government transfers in 2014. Since then, Pakistan has been leading the way in South Asia in digital finance and branchless banking.
According to the latest State Bank statistics on branchless banking (BB) sector, mobile wallets reached a high of 33 million as of September 2017, up 21% over the prior quarter. About 22 percent of these accounts – 7.4 million – are owned by women, up 29% in July-September 2017 over previous quarter. A McKinsey and Co analysis shows that adoption of financial technology (fintech) can help dramatically increase financial inclusion in Pakistan.
Karandaaz Pakistan , a non-profit organization, set up jointly by …