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Showing posts from 2019

NYC Gay Pride Parade to Feature Pakistani-American Star of "Queer Eye"

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This weekend's Gay Pride Parade in New York City will mark the 50th anniversary of America's Gay Rights Movement. It will feature Tan France, a fashion designer of Pakistani origin who stars in award-winning Netflix series "Queer Eye". Born Tanveer Wasim Safdar in England, Tan France was raised in Doncaster, South Yorkshire in a very strict British Pakistani Muslim household. Tan's partner is Rob France, an illustrator from Salt Lake City, Utah. They have been together for 10 years.

After studying fashion design at Doncaster College, Tan France began working for Zara as a fashion designer. In late 2011, France created a women's clothing line, Kingdom and State, before moving to the United States in 2015. Tan has recently shot to fame as a star of  Emmy Award winning Netflix series "Queer Eye".

Page Six is reporting that  Netflix series "Queer Eye" cast, including Tan France,  Berk, Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness and Antoni Porowski will be…

Inspirational Story of University-Going Daughters of Karachi's Rickshaw Driver

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Three daughters of a Karachi rickshaw driver named Amjad Ali are attending top universities in Pakistan. All three graduated from The Citizens Foundation's K-12 schools located across Pakistan, including poor districts of Pakistan's megacity of nearly 20 million residents. Amina Amjad, the eldest is studying at Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) to become a medical doctor, the second daughter is enrolled in Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZBIST) to become an engineer and the third Muskan Amjad is going to the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi's top business school on a full scholarship.

Girls' Education: 

This would be unusual for a poor man's children attending top universities regardless of gender. What makes it particularly noteworthy is that these are daughters of a poor man in a country where girls' education is often ignored.  “People often mocked and criticized me, saying that girls are bound to ge…

Vehicles in Pakistan: Over Half of All Households Own Motorcycles in 2019

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Private vehicle ownership in Pakistan has risen sharply over the last 4 years. More than 9% of households now own cars, up from 6% in 2015. Motorcycle ownership has jumped from 41% of households in 2015 to 53% now, according to data released by Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) recently. There are 32.2 million households in Pakistan, according to 2017 Census.


Total number of vehicles registered in Pakistan increased 9.6% to 23,588,268 in 2018, up from 21,506,641 vehicles in 2017. Of all the vehicle categories, motorcycles saw the biggest increase of 11.5% reaching 17,465,880. Cars, jeeps and station wagons rose 5.3% reaching 3,043,593. Trucks surged to 277,416 and buses to 236,461, according to Pakistan Today.

Pakistan is now the 5th largest motorcycle market in the world after China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. With 7,500 new motorcycles being sold everyday, Pakistan is also the among the world's fastest growing two-wheeler markets. Passenger car and motorcycle sales in Pakist…

Trump's China Tariffs Helping Pakistani Garments Exports to America

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Pakistan's garments exports to the United States have jumped 12% in first quarter of 2019 from the same period a year ago, according to USITC Dataweb.  This double digit exports growth is being partly attributed to US President Donald's Trump ongoing trade war with China with the US government imposing 10% to 25% tariffs on certain Chinese goods. Pakistani rupee devaluation has also contributed to the nation's overall competitiveness.


American buyers are diversifying their supplier base away from China, the No. 1 exporter of these goods to the U.S. Already, Bangladesh is close to snatching the trousers-to-towel crown, according to Bloomberg News. Pakistan, at No. 6 last year, has grown its own shipments to the U.S. by almost 12% this year. It may overtake India, which has seen virtually no improvement.


Pakistani apparel exports are becoming more competitive in international markets because Pakistani rupee has declined by almost 25% recently. This has wiped out the currency…

Improved Security and New Infrastructure Boost Pakistan Tourism Industry

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Large numbers of Pakistanis headed north for respite from summer heat during Eid ul Fitr holidays last week. Tens of thousands went to Swat using the newly built Swat Expressway while others chose even cooler temperatures in the heights of the Karakoram mountain via the improved Karakoram Highway. Some of the preferred tourist destinations included Hunza, Astore, Fairy Meadows, Neelum Valley, Swat and Kumrat. In addition to using tents in camping areas, many tourists found accommodations in public rest houses ordered opened by Prime Minister Imran Khan.


Swat Expressway:

Over 60,000 vehicles used the expressway to enter Swat Valley over Eid holidays, according to local officials as reported by Pakistani media. It's a far cry from early 2009 when the Taliban appeared to be in control of Pakistan's Swat valley, and the US politicians and international media were deeply concerned about the insurgents closing in on Islamabad.

Then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned in 2009…

Is Pakistan's Social Sector Progress Hopeless?

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If you read Pakistan media headlines and donation-seeking NGOs and activists' reports these days, you'd conclude that the social sector situation is entirely hopeless. However, if you look at children's education and health trend lines based on data from credible international sources, you would feel a sense of optimism. This exercise gives new meaning to what former US President Bill Clinton has said: Follow the trend lines, not the headlines. Unlike the alarming headlines, the trend lines in Pakistan show rising school enrollment rates and declining infant mortality rates.

Key Social Indicators:
The quickest way to assess Pakistan's social sector progress is to look at two key indicators:  School enrollment rates and infant mortality. These basic social indicators capture the state of schooling, nutrition and health care. Pakistan is continuing to make slow but steady progress on both of these indicators. Anything that can be done to accelerate the pace will help Paki…

Drip Irrigation: Can Pakistan Make its Deserts Bloom?

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Large tracts of desert in Cholistan, Kharan and Thar land lay barren in Pakistan today. Can some parts of these deserts be made to bloom given the worsening water crisis in the country with per capita water availability approaching 900 cubic meters? How does Pakistan improve long term food security for its growing population? The answer to both lies in efficient water management through effective drip irrigation.


What is Drip Irrigation:

Drip irrigation is a micro-irrigation system using tubing that saves water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly into the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface. It puts water directly into the roots and minimizes evaporation.

Water mixed with fertilizer is carried out through tubes which release a small amounts of water per minute directly to the roots of each plant. Precision watering cuts evaporation, run off, and waste.

More Crop Per Drop:

Agriculture uses over 90% of all available fresh water in Pak…

The History of South Asians in America

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It was in early 1980s when I was driving through Yuba City with a couple of friends. It was lunch time and we were looking for a halal restaurant when we spotted Rasul's. At the restaurant we met a man who introduced himself as Mohammad Ali Rasul. He spoke in Mexican accented English but he told us his father came from the Punjab region now in Pakistan and his mother was of Mexican ancestry.  There were 400 such marriages between Punjabi men and Mexican women by 1940, according to Professor Karen Leonard of UC Irvine. Rasul gave us a warm welcome when we told him him we are also originally from Pakistan. He offered us his "Roti Quesadilla" special without charge as a gift. The fusion dish is a variation on Queso Quesadilla made with Indian "nan"(flat bread) topped with traditional rich, melting cheese which originated in Mexico and Texas. I had forgotten all about it until memory was refreshed by a story titled "California’s Lost (and Found) Punjabi-Mexica…

Pakistani Family Wins AI Championship in Silicon Valley

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The Mayet Family from Karachi, Pakistan has won AI Family Challenge World Championship held in Silicon Valley, California on May 20, 2019.  The family's entry called "Cavity Crusher" uses artificial intelligence algorithm to monitor a child's brush time and determine their oral health habits to notify parents accordingly. It was organized by Iridescent, a global technology education nonprofit organization that empowers underrepresented young people to become self-motivated learners, inventors, and leaders.


The AI Family Challenge partners with lifelong learning advocates and leading experts in AI, including those from Google.org, NVIDIA, Intel, and the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.

The event was hosted at Intel's Santa Clara campus. It was the culmination of Iridescent's AI Family Challenge in which 7,500 people from 13 countries participated in a 15-week program that brings together families, schools, communities and industry mentors to create AI projects …

Growing China-Pakistan Collaboration in Science and Technology

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With 6,000 Pakistanis working on their PhDs in China, the two countries are enjoying rapid growth in scientific and technological collaboration, according to Journal Nature. Pakistan's scientific output is now growing at the fastest rate in the world. With nearly 3,000 papers jointly authored and published by Chinese and Pakistani researcher, China has now emerged as Pakistan's top partner in scientific collaborations, surpassing Saudi Arabia (about 1,500 papers) and the United States (about 1,200 papers) in 2018, according to an analysis of co-authored papers from Elsevier’s Scopus database. China is co-sponsoring a range of research centers in Pakistan that are studying topics from rice agriculture to artificial intelligence and railway engineering.

Pakistan-China ties are rapidly growing well beyond the economy and the military with tens of thousands of Chinese and Pakistani citizens regularly traveling between the two countries. More Pakistanis than ever are learning the C…

Pakistan Ranks Among World's Top 3 Nations For New Hydroelectric Capacity Added in 2018

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Pakistan ranked third in the world by adding nearly 2,500 MW of hydropower in 2018, according to Hydropower Status Report 2019.  China added the most capacity with the installation of 8,540 megawatts, followed by Brazil (3,866 MW), Pakistan (2,487 MW), Turkey (1,085 MW), Angola (668 MW), Tajikistan (605 MW), Ecuador (556 MW), India (535 MW), Norway (419 MW) and Canada (401 MW).


Pakistan's Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) says commissioning of the 108-MW Golen Gol 2, 1,410-MW Tarbela 4th Extension and 969-MW Neelum Jhelum hydropower projects in 2018 boosted its hydroelectric generating capacity of 9,389 MW, an increase of 36% in just one year, according to Hydro Review. Hydropower now makes up about 28% of the total installed capacity of 33,836 MW as of February, 2019.   WAPDA reports contributing 25.63 billion units of hydroelectricity to the national grid during the year, “despite the fact that water flows in 2018 remained historically low.” This contribution “greatl…