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Showing posts from 2019

Young Tech Entrepreneurs From Pakistan Visit Silicon Valley

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The Organization of Pakistani-American Entrepreneurs (OPEN) hosted a dinner on Wednesday Feb 20, 2019, for young tech entrepreneurs from Pakistan who came this year to Silicon Valley to attend StartUp Grind Global Conference. About 50 people, including 20 from Pakistan, attended the event.


StartUp Grind:

StartUp Grind describes itself as a "global community of entrepreneurs connecting 1.5 million entrepreneurs in over 500 chapters". It has chapters in all major Pakistani cities. StartUp Grind organizes a global conference every year in Silicon Valley.


Pakistani participation in this conference is growing with 40 delegates this year, up from 24 last year. Arzish Azam, founder of Ejad Lab, organizes this annual pilgrimage of Pakistani techies to Silicon Valley every year under the banner of Pak-US Technology Exchange. Participants pay their own expenses.  In addition to attending the  two-day StartUp Global conference, Pakistani delegates visit several Silicon Valley technology…

Rahmans' Winter Vacation in Pakistan's Naltar Valley

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This winter, Monis Rahman, a senior technology executive in Lahore, and his family decided to forgo their skiing spot of choice in the Alps to explore Pakistan’s Naltar Valley and its skiing facilities. Monis, an experienced techie from Silicon Valley, is an entrepreneur behind ROZEE.PK jobs site, SimSim mobile payments wallet and EasyTickets online ticketing platform in Pakistan. Read on to discover the how and why of this fun-filled trip to a winter wonderland. Here's Monis' interview with Asma Chishty of popular Pakistani travel site Destinations.com.pk:

Asma Chishty: Was this your first trip to Naltar Valley? How would you describe the place to potential visitors?

Monis Rahman: Yes, this was our first trip to Naltar and the first to Gilgit and Hunza as well for that matter. Naltar Valley has incredible raw beauty with picturesque mountains, flowing rivers and unpaved roads. Reaching it is a bit of an adventure, but that just adds to its charm. It is located between Gilgit …

Pakistan's Blue Economy: Vast Offshore Resources in Exclusive Economic Zone

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Pakistan has a 1,000 kilometers long coastline on the Arabian Sea with maritime sovereignty over 200 nautical miles deep Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and 150 nautical miles of Continental Shelf. This adds 290,000 square kilometers of sea or about 36% of the country's land area open for tapping vast resources in it.

Pakistan's "Blue Economy" in this extended economic zone includes seafood and energy resources as well as international trade connectivity with the rest of the world. It offers opportunities for water sports, recreation and tourism in the coastal areas of Pakistan. One sign of the recognition of Pakistan's blue economy is the ongoing three-day International Maritime Conference organized on the theme of ‘Global Geopolitics in Transition: Rethinking Maritime Dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region’ under the auspices of National Institute of Maritime Affairs.

Offshore Energy Resources:

A Pakistan Basin Study conducted in 2009 found that the country has six…

Pakistani-American VC Asad Jamal Invested Early in China's Baidu

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Pakistani-American venture capitalist Asad Jamal hit it big with Baidu, China's search giant worth over $90 billion in market capitalization today. Jamal founded ePlanet Capital in Silicon Valley in 1999 and became an early investor in Baidu at its founding in 2000.

In addition to its search business, Baidu also runs an e-commerce platform with an online payment tool, develops and markets web application software, and provides human resource related services.

Here's is how Jamal has described his experience of working with Baidu's founder Robin Lee:

"I first experienced this Chinese tech dynamism when, inspired by the late-1990s Internet start-up culture, I moved to Silicon Valley and founded ePlanet Capital, a venture capital firm. I was new to the field and unsure what to expect. In 2000, I met Robin Li, a Chinese entrepreneur in his twenties who was seeking funding for his new company, Baidu. Based on conventional investment criteria, Baidu’s chances of success see…

US Prosecutors Investigating Trump's Pakistani-American Donor

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Imaad Zuberi, a Pakistani-American venture capitalist from California who gave $900,000 to President Trump’s inauguration committee in 2016, has been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors in New York's Southern District.

Zuberi's donation paid for a breakfast event, which featured Trump’s first National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, among its 60 or so guests. It also included representatives from several countries around the world, according to media reports. Prosecutors suspect Zuberi funneled money from foreign donors which is a violation of the US Elections Laws, according to media reports.

Imaad Zuberi is vice chairman of private equity and venture capital firm Avenue Ventures. He has “closed over $15 billion in transactions” at the firm,  according to his Linked-in profile. His firm's clients include start-ups, major corporations and sovereign wealth funds.

Prior to donating to the Trump campaign, Zuberi is known to have also donated to Democratic Party candidates incl…

Fitch: Pakistan Construction Industry to Grow 8.9% Yearly Over Next 5 Years

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Fitch Solutions, a global company focused on credit, economic, and political research, says in its latest report that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will drive Pakistan's construction industry in the next decade, as the risks associated with CPEC projects recede. Fitch forecasts that the real annual growth rate of Pakistan's construction industry will average 8.9% over the next 5 years. "We will adjust our forecasts to account for possible positive ripple effects across the economy, including the construction industry, in the event an IMF bailout is secured", the report adds.





Fitch Solutions' report titled "Industry Trend Analysis - CPEC to Remain a Primary Driver of Pakistan's Construction Industry" says: "We expect debt concerns surrounding CPEC projects to ease after financial details are released. In addition, we believe political risks associated with CPEC projects have diminished since the 2018 Pakistani general election. The…

India-Pakistan Nuclear Standoff: What Does the West Have at Stake in South Asia?

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The West, particularly the United States and Canada, are geographically far removed from South Asia. This distance makes many think that any nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan would not have a significant impact on life in America and Europe. Dr. Owen Brian Toon and Professor Alan Robock dispute this thinking. They believe the nuclear winter following an India-Pakistan nuclear exchange will kill crops as far as the United States and cause a global famine. Another study by Nobel Peace Prize- winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and Physicians for Social Responsibility reached the same conclusion.

Professors Robock and Toon have calculated that the smoke from just 100-200 Hiroshima sized atomic bombs exploding in South Asia would cover the entire globe within two weeks. This smoke would hang 30-50 miles above the surface of the earth where it never rains. This thick layer of smoke would block the sun causing farmers to lose their crops for years to…

Moody's Expects Pakistan's New Mini Budget to Foster Exports and Import Substitution

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Pakistan's new government led by Prime Minster Imran Khan has inherited large twin deficits. The new "mini budget" announced by Finance Minister Asad Umar "will support Pakistan’s manufacturing sector, fostering exports and import substitution, and help narrow the current-account deficit",  says a January 31, 2019 report by Moody's investor service.  The report adds that the tax incentives given to manufacturing and exports-oriented industries "will keep Pakistan’s budget deficits wider for longer, potentially eroding the credibility of government efforts to achieve fiscal consolidation."



Here's an excerpt of Moody's report on the immediate downsides of the measures announced by Umar on January 23, 2019: “We expect the deficit to widen to 6% of GDP in fiscal 2019 because revenue growth is likely to be below government projections, given slower economic growth and the new revenue-based incentives, before gradually narrowing to 5% of GDP by …

Part 2: History of Top Leadership Blunders in Pakistan

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What are the key sources of the current crises faced by Pakistan? Can any of these be traced to blunders committed years ago by Pakistani leaders? Here's part 2 of the discussion started earlier.

Was it a blunder for General Zia to join the United States and Saudi Arabia in support of the Afghan Jihad against the Soviet Union in 1980s?  Did it help achieve Pakistan's objective of weakening the Pashtun Nationalists led by Abdul Ghaffar Khan's son Abdul Wali Khan who opposed the creation of Pakistan?  What if Pakistan had not supported the Afghan Resistance in 1980s? Did it promote militarization of religious fanatics in Pakistan? Was it a mistake for Benazir Bhutto to give birth to the Taliban?

Was General Musharraf's seizure of Kargil heights in 1999 in Kashmir a blunder? How was it different from India's seizure of Siachen Glacier from Pakistan in 1984? If these were similar actions, why was India's and the world's reaction so different?  Coming soon after…

History of Top Leadership Blunders in Pakistan Part 1

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What are the key sources of the current crises faced by Pakistan? Can any of these be traced to blunders committed years ago by Pakistani leaders?


Was it a blunder for Pakistan's founders to align with the United States early on? What was the alternative for a nascent cash-strapped state that faced imminent economic collapse? Who other than the United States had the deep pockets to help Pakistan in 1947 when the Soviet Union, Europe and Japan lay in ruins at the end of WW II? Would the construction of big dams and irrigation system in Pakistan have happened without the US help? Would the Green Revolution have come about if the US did not help?

Was the passage of the Objectives Resolution in 1949 among the blunders of Pakistan's early leaders? Did it distract from framing an inclusive and unifying constitution of the nation-state? Did it promote religious discrimination and extremism in the country? Was the 2nd amendment to the 1973 Constitution declaring Ahmedis non-Muslims a …

Is Pakistan Garment Industry Becoming More Cost Competitive With Bangladesh's?

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Low wages and trade deals with Western nations have helped Bangladesh build a $30 billion ready-made garments (RMG) industry that accounts for 80% of country's exports. Bangladesh is the world's second largest RMG exporter after China. With its designation as LDC (Least Developed Country), garments made in Bangladesh get preferential duty-free access to Europe and America. Rising monthly wages of Bangladesh garment worker in terms of US dollars are now catching up with the minimum wage in Pakistan, especially after recent Pakistani rupee devaluation. Minimum monthly wage in Pakistan has declined from $136 last year to $107 now while Bangladesh has seen it increase from $64 last year to $95 today.  Western garment buyers, known for their relentless pursuit of the lowest labor costs, will likely diversify their sources by directing new investments to Pakistan and other nations. Competing on low cost alone may prove to be a poor long term exports strategy for both countries.  Gre…