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Showing posts from 2019

Pakistan's Year 2019 in Review: Economic and Security Challenges

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Pakistan started the year 2019 in the midst of a very serious economic crisis with very high twin deficits and extremely low foreign exchange reserves. While Pakistan's internal security challenges subsided, the external security concerns grew with India's attack on Balakot in 2019. Tough actions by PTI government have started to pay off at the end of year 2019.  Toward the end of the year, Pakistan's twin deficits declined substantially and credit rating agency Moody's upgraded Pakistan's outlook from negative to stable. Mass migration continued both within and outside Pakistan. About 600,000 Pakistanis went to work overseas in 2019. And at least 4 times more Pakistanis moved from rural to urban areas.  Pakistan had high profile visits of the royal families from the UK and the Netherlands as well as the visit of the Sri Lankan cricket team, the first foreign team to play test series in Pakistan in a decade. Conde Nast Travel picked Pakistan as the top tourism dest…

Nearly 600,000 Pakistanis Migrated Overseas in 2019

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Nearly 600,000 Pakistanis have gone overseas for work in the first 11 months of this year, according to figures recently released by Pakistan Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment. This phenomenon has helped reduce unemployment in a country where about 2 million young people are entering the job market each year. It has also helped remittances soar nearly 21X since the year 2000.




Migration Overseas:

Over 11 million Pakistanis have left home for employment in Europe, America, Middle East and elsewhere since 1971, according to Pakistan Bureau of Emigration. The pace has particularly picked up over the last 10 years with over half a million Pakistanis migrating abroad each year.  This phenomenon has helped reduce unemployment in a country where about 2 million young people are entering the job market each year.



More Pakistanis have migrated overseas in the last 9 years (2011-2019) than in previous 30 years (1971-2010).  The average figure has been about 500,000 each year since 2011…

Is Pakistan Ready For Clean Energy Revolution?

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Rising worries about climate change have recently made me join the Clean Energy Revolution by installing rooftop solar and leasing an electric car. What is the Clean Energy Revolution? It is the growing use of solar panels, battery storage and electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions. Is Pakistan ready to join the Clean Energy Revolution?


Tesla Electric Cars:

Silicon Valley is at the forefront of this clean energy revolution led by Tesla. Tesla is more than an electric car company; the company also supplies solar panels and batteries. Other automakers are also taking their cues from Tesla.  China's BYD Auto has only recently been surpassed by Tesla in production volumes. Auto giants General Motors and BMW are both building electric cars and planning to build "gigafactories" like Tesla's to manufacture battery packs for vehicles and homes. Pakistan is building up renewable power generation capacity. The country has also recently announced its National Electric Vehi…

Ex Supreme Court Judge Mr. Katju: "Dark Clouds Over India"

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Justice Markandey Katju, retired judge of Supreme Court of India, talked of "dark clouds over India" in a speech to about 200 people of all faiths at an interfaith event in Silicon Valley.  He said "Muslims making up only 15% of the population are on the receiving end" but the rest of India is also paying the price. India's economy is in serious trouble. There is rampant poverty and high rates of malnutrition in the country. There are heavy job losses across the entire labor market.  The event was organized by Ibadatkhana Foundation led by Tasawar Jalali. Other organizers included Javed Ellahie, Naren Singh, Santosh Addagulla and Prabakar Karuppiah .



"Indian Supreme Court has surrendered, Indian media have surrendered" to the "dark forces" of Modi's "Hindutva", he said. He said "there was no communalism in India before 1857", the year Delhi fell to the British colonizers. The colonial rulers from Britain then proceede…

AdAsia 2019: Asia's Biggest Advertising Industry Conference in Lahore, Pakistan

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On December 2, 3, 4 and 5, 2019,  Pakistan played host to AdAsia 2019 after a gap of 30 years. It is the largest and most prestigious advertising industry conference in Asia – organized bi-annually by the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations (AFAA). It drew attendees from all over the world to Lahore, Pakistan.  This conference has taken place at a time when 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. The only advertising segment still hot and growing at double digit rates is digital.



Pakistan President Arif Alavi delivered the closing keynote address. Other speakers included Sir Martin Sorrell, Founder, WPP; Philip Thomas, CEO, Cannes Lions; Randi Zuckerberg, CEO, Zuckerberg Media and former Director Market Development, Facebook; Kaveri Khullar, Marketing Director, Mastercard Southeast Asia; Fernando Machado, Global CMO, Burger King; Asad J. Malik, an artist …

Pakistan to Become World's 6th Largest Cement Producer By 2030

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Pakistan's rank as world's leading cement producer will rise from 12th in 2018 to 6th by 2030. It will replace Japan among the world's top 10 cement producing nations in 2030, according to World Cement Association forecast. Cement consumption is an important indicator of development activity and economic growth. Pakistan's domestic cement sales are continuing to grow, up 9.2% in October, 2019 from the same month last year. Total sales (local and export) in 4-month period between July and October 2019 stood at 16.117 million tons, 4.5 per cent higher than 15.419 million tons during the same period last year.


Last year, Pakistan produced 41.14 million tons of cement, according to International Cement Review. The country's cement industry has already built capacity to produce 59.5 million tons in anticipation of future demand for housing and infrastructure.  World Cement Association expects Pakistan to produce 85 million tons, 2% of the world's cement production i…

Pakistani F1 Student Enrollment in US Rising at Slowest Rate in 5 Years

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Enrollment of Pakistani students on US F1 visa rose just 5.6% to 7,957 in 2018/19, the slowest rate in 5 years. It's in sharp contrast to 27% jump in Pakistani student enrollment to 28,000 in China this year.


Rate of increase in Pakistani students on F-1 visas declined to 5.6%, down from 8.5% in 2014/15 and 14.7% in 2015/16. However, the total number of Pakistani students on F1 visa in the United States has climbed from 5,354 to 7,957. Enrollment of international students from Pakistan on F1 visa declined from a peak of nearly 9,000 in 2001/02 to a low of 4,600 in 2011/12.


Total number of foreign students studying in the United States is nearly 1.1 million, the largest in the world. China hosts nearly 492,000 foreign students. New international student enrollment is declining in the US while it is rapidly climbing in China.

Pakistan (7,957) now ranks 22nd among nations sending students to study in the United States.  China (369,548), India (202,014), South Korea (52.250), Saudi Ar…

Brief Overview of Pakistan's Electric Vehicle Policy

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Pakistan has a low level of motorization with just 9% of the households owning a car. Nearly half of all households own a motorcycle. Motorization rates in the country have tripled over the last decade and a half, resulting in nearly 40% of all emissions coming from vehicles. Concerns about climate change and environmental pollution have forced the government to to take a number of actions ranging from adoption of Euro6 emission standards for new vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE) since 2015 and announcement of a national electric vehicle (EV) policy this year.


EV Policy:

Pakistan electric vehicle policy 2019 sets EV adoption targets and includes incentives for buyers and manufacturers. It also focuses on development of nationwide charging infrastructure to ease adoption of electric vehicles. Here are some of the salient points of the policy:

Policy Targets: 

1. Goal for cars: 30% of new sales by 2030 and 90% of new sales by 2040

2. Goal for 2 and 3 wheelers: 50% of new sal…

Pakistan's Longest Motorway M5 to Boost Road Transport Sector

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Recent opening of M5, Pakistan's longest access-controlled motorway, is a boost for the nation's fast-growing road transport sector. The 6-lane 392 kilometers long M5 motorway is longer than than the 375 kilometers long 6-lane M2 motorway. After M5 opening, the only missing section in planned 1,694 kilometer long 6-lane Peshawar-Karachi motorway is 296-kilometer Sukkur-Hyderabad M6 motorway. Growing network of high-speed motorways is opening up less developed parts of the country for investment, business and tourism. It is aiding agriculture, trade and commerce by moving freight and people faster.



Here's a brief overview of Pakistan's road transport sector as summarized by Karandaz research:

1. The Transport, Logistics and Communications (TLC) sector is estimated to have contributed 13.3% of GDP in 2016-17. Of this, more than 62% was contributed by the road transport sector. In 2014-15 the sector employed 3.1 million people.

2. Most traffic intensive routes are a) Kara…

Two of 265 India-Linked Anti-Pakistan Fake News Sites Located in Pakistan

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Researchers at Europe's Disinfo Lab have uncovered a network of 265 online news sites in 65 countries, including Pakistan, using the names and brands of defunct newspapers from the 20th century to push anti-Pakistan media coverage inside the regular news cycle. Two of these sites are located in Pakistani cities of Karachi and Lahore, according to Disinfo Lab's report. They are linked to social media accounts.  These two sites were spewing disinformation on Pakistan using the names of the long defunct Socialist Weekly (Karachi) and Khalsa Akhbar (Lahore), according to Pakistani researchers.  The real Karachi-based Urdu language Socialist Weekly and Lahore-based Punjabi language Khalsa Akhbar ceased publishing decades ago, long before the advent of online publishing.



The fake news sites were aimed at reinforcing the legitimacy of anti-Pakistan NGOs by providing linkable press materials to reinforce an anti-Pakistan agenda. Two of these anti-Pakistan NGOs named by Disinfo Lab are…