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Showing posts from December, 2018

2018 Review: Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and United States

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How did Pakistan's political landscape change in 2018? Have the Sharif family and the PMLN been marginalized? How was the security situation after continuing decline of terror fatalities since 2013? How has PTI done so far? Will NAB-led accountability of politicians continue or intensify in 2019? How will Imran Khan's government deal with the fact that the Zardari-led PPP rules Sind? Will President Arif Alvi impose governor's rule under the Constitution's article 234 or financial emergency under the Constitution's article 235 in Sindh province? Why is financial emergency more likely? How will PPP leadership react to such a move?

President Trump has reportedly already decided to remove US troops from Afghanistan after a similar decision on American troops pull-out from Syria. Will Trump actually pull bulk of US troops from Afghanistan? How will it affect the situation there? Can Afghan government survive without the presence of US troops? Who will rule Afghanistan w…

Pakistan Among Top 10 Countries With Fastest Growth of Ultra-Rich Population

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Pakistan is among the countries with top 10 fastest growing population of ultra-high net-worth  (UHNW) individuals over the last 5 years. Bangladesh with 17.3% UHNW growth tops the list followed by China (13.4%), Vietnam (12.7%), Kenya (11.7%), India (10.7%), Hong Kong (9.3%), Ireland (9.1%), Israel (8.6%), Pakistan (8.4%) and United States (8.1%), according to World Ultra Wealth Report 2018.


Ultra-Rich Definition: 

The report compiled by Wealth-X defines ultra-high net-worth (UHNW) as an exclusive group of wealthy individuals located across the globe, each with a net worth of $30m or more. Only the top 1.1% of the world's 22.25 million millionaires qualify for inclusion in UHNW group.

Here's an excerpt of the Wealth-X report:

"According to Wealth-X estimates of global private wealth, the number of individuals with net assets of more than $1million totaled 22.3 million in 2017, with a combined net worth of $91.7 trillion. A breakdown by tier shows not only the considerable…

2018 Year-end Review of Science and Technology in Pakistan

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Pakistan saw its technology exports grow by double digits to surge past $1 billion mark in 2018. Nature magazine reported the country ranked first in the world in research output growth in year 2018. Pakistan mobile broadband subscriptions grew by 1-2 million a month to pass 60 million. Google's Singapore-based Asia business lead Lars Anthonisen wrote that "Pakistan is quickly becoming a digital-first country". Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and its digital payments platform Alipay entered Pakistan market by acquiring Daraz.pk and Telenor EasyPaisa.  Dr. Ata ur Rahman Khan, former chairman of higher education commission, asserted in an op ed that "Pakistan churns out about 22,000 computer-science graduates each year". Pakistan set an ambitious goal for its first human space flight in 2022.  It was an exciting year for science and technology in the South Asian nation of over 200 million people.

Pakistan Technology Exports:

Pakistan's information technology …

Pakistani-American Scientist Irfan Siddiqi is Top Expert in Quantum Computing

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Karachi-born Pakistani-American Dr. Irfan Siddiqi is the head of Lawrence Livermore Quantum Computing Lab at the University of California at Berkeley.  He's also one of the architects of the United States Quantum Initiative backed by industry, academia and the federal government.

Silicon Valley Diversity:

Dr. Siddiqi was recently featured on Silicon Valley-based NBC Press Here TV hosted by Scott McGrew. Others who made an appearance in the same show were Krishna Motukuri and Kevin Guo. Motukori is Indian-American founder of Zippin which is pushing automated checkout technology that will obviate the need for buyers to stand in line to pay. Amazon is already using this technology at Amazon Go stores. Kevin Guo is Chinese-American founder of AI startup Hive. This show was a good representation of Silicon Valley's diversity with many immigrant techies at its center. In fact, minorities are now majority is Silicon Valley.

Dr. Siddiqi's Background:

Dr. Siddiqi was born in Karachi,…

Pakistan's Research Output Growth Among the World's Fastest in 2018

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Pakistan is one of the world's top two countries where the research output rose the fastest in 2018, according to Nature Magazine. The publication reports that the "global production of scientific papers hit an all-time high this year...with emerging economies rising fastest".


Research Output:

Pakistan ranked first or second depending on whether one accepts the text or the graphic (above) published by Nature.  The text says Egypt had 21% growth while the graph shows Pakistan with 21% growth. Here's an excerpt of the text: "Emerging economies showed some of the largest increases in research output in 2018, according to estimates from the publishing-services company Clarivate Analytics. Egypt and Pakistan topped the list in percentage terms, with rises of 21% and 15.9%, respectively. ...China’s publications rose by about 15%, and India, Brazil, Mexico and Iran all saw their output grow by more than 8% compared with 2017".

Scientific Output:

Pakistan's quali…

AI Research Lab Funded By Silicon Valley NEDians at Their Alma Mater in Karachi

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Koshish Foundation, an organization funded primarily by NED University Alumni in Silicon Valley, helped fund Koshish Foundation Research Lab (KFRL) in Karachi back in 2014. It has since received additional funding from numerous national and international organizations including DAAD,  German Academic Exchange Service. The lab has been renamed RCAI- Research Center For Artificial Intelligence.

In a letter addressed to NEDians Suhail Muhammad and Raghib Husain,  the RCAI director Dr. Muhammad Khurram said, "I would really like to thank you (and Koshish Foundation) who helped me in making things happen in the start. Still, a lot needs to be done."

Dr. Ata ur Rahman Khan, former chairman of Pakistan Higher Education Commission (HEC), believes there is significant potential to grow artificial intelligence technology and products. In a recent Op Ed in The News, Dr. Khan wrote as follows:

"Pakistan churns out about 22,000 computer-science graduates each year. With additional h…

Pakistan is the World's Biggest Importer of Secondhand Clothing

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Back in the winter of 1977 when I made preparations to travel to the United States to attend graduate school, my late mother took me to Karachi's "Landa Bazar" to help me pick out imported extra warm second hand clothing. The purchased item appeared to be brand new, especially after dry-cleaning. I would not have survived my first months in New York without the winter coats and jackets and accessories like caps, gloves and boots bought in Karachi, Pakistan. A recent look at the Statista stats portal's 2017 data revealed that Pakistan imported $240 million worth of used clothing making it the world's largest importer in this category.

Landa Bazars in Pakistan:

A Pakistani newspaper headline last week screamed "Sale Of Second Hand Warm Clothes Picks Up In Landa Bazars Hyderabad". Landa Bazars is the name of "flea markets" that specialize in selling used clothes and they do brisk business at the start of each winter. These markets are found in all…

Pakistan Media Crisis: Facts and Myths

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Why are Pakistan media groups laying off employees and shutting down TV channels? Is it caused by Pakistan government cutbacks in advertising? Is it part of the PTI government's alleged efforts to censor media? Or part of the long overdue industry shake-out after almost two decades long un-interrupted media business expansion?



How much was the Nawaz Sharif led PMLN government spending on advertising? Did Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi increase media advertising budgets to buy favorable coverage at taxpayers' expense?

Are Pakistan government and national security establishment unique in wanting to manage media coverage? Do Western government manage media as well? If so, how? How do their media management techniques differ?

What is the future of media in Pakistan as the Internet penetration grows dramatically with 1-2 million more people coming online each month? Will greater spending on digital ads change journalism in Pakistan? Will more journalists take to social media…

Diaspora Remittances to Pakistan Soar 21X Since Year 2000

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Remittance inflows from Pakistani diaspora have jumped 21-fold from about $1 billion in year 2000 to $21 billion in 2018, according to the World Bank. In terms of GDP, these inflows have soared nearly 7X from about 1% in year 2000 to 6.9% of GDP in 2018.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's exports have declined from 13.5% of GDP in year 2000 to 8.24% of GDP in 2017.  At the same time, the country's import bill has increased from 14.69% in year 2000 to 17.55% of GDP in 2017.  This growing trade imbalance has forced Pakistan to seek IMF bailouts four times since the year 2000.  It is further complicated by external debt service cost of over $6 billion (about 2% of GDP) in 2017. Foreign investment in the country has declined from a peak of $5.59 billion (about 4% of GDP) in 2007 to a mere $2.82 billion (less than 1% of GDP) in 2017. While the current account imbalance situation is bad, it would be far worse if Pakistani diaspora did not come to the rescue.

Diaspora Remittances:

Estimated inflow…

Pakistan Government Ad Spend Cuts Trigger Media Business Shakeout

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Pakistan's 88 billion rupee media industry is in the midst of a major shakeout after a long period of rapid double-digit growth since the turn of the century. Hundreds of journalists and other staff have lost their jobs. At least one TV channel, Waqt News, has closed while several others are downsizing. While such consolidation was long overdue after nearly two-decade long period of explosive growth, the PTI government's decision to reduce advertising budget, which constitutes nearly a quarter of all ad spending in the country, appears to be the main trigger. Those affected by consolidation are accusing the government of exercising press censorship by cutting its ad spending.


Rapid Growth:

Rising buying power of rapidly expanding middle class in Pakistan drove the nation's media advertising revenue up 14% to a record Rs. 76.2 billion 2016 and another 12% to Rs. 88 billion in 2017, making the country's media market among the world's fastest growing media markets.


Indu…