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Showing posts from 2021

Can SEZ Industrial Parks Help Pakistan Become an Export Powerhouse?

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Asian Tigers built their strong economies by becoming export powerhouses. China has done so in more recent decades.  How can Pakistan do the same? An answer to this question came this week from Karen Chen of China's Challenge Apparel. Here's what she said as reported by  Dawn News : “Chinese want to shift their business to a place where they can set up their operations in 3-6 months. You know when you go overseas to invest even in Africa they have industrial parks ready. You just go there and enjoy the ‘plug-and-play’ facility. No firm wants to waste two years in acquiring land and another couple of years in securing utilities to start operations. By the time you get utilities the opportunity is gone and you are already out of business. This is the biggest problem in Pakistan.” Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation Building in Karachi Pakistan was the original " Asian Tiger " back in the 1960s when other developing Asian economies sought to emulate Pakistan. It

Imran Khan Government's Midterm Review: Economy and Foreign Policy

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Imran Khan's government has completed about half of its 5-year term it won in 2018. What are its accomplishments? Where has it failed in terms of economy and foreign policy.  Economy: Imran Khan inherited a serious  balance of payments  crisis cased by flat exports and record high imports in 2013-2018 period under Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) government. while the PTI government was still dealing with it, the country and the world were hit by  COVID19 pandemic  that devastated the global economy.  Pakistan's Trade July2020-Jan2021. Source: Arif Habib The 2019 International Monetary Fund's bailout required the PTI government to significantly devalue the Pakistani rupee to make exports competitive, and to raise interest rates to slow down imports. These actions triggered inflation, particularly  food inflation , as energy and fertilizer prices rose.  The global COVID19 pandemic hit Pakistan and the world while the PTI government was still trying to stabilize the economy. Th

Development Boom in Thar Brings Hope For Pakistan's Least Developed Region

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New roads, an airport and a water reservoir in Tharparkar are opening up Pakistan's  least developed region . Jobs are being created, drought-resistant nutritious trees and crops being planted and fish farms being established for the benefit of the the people of Thar. New water pond is attracting migratory birds that feed on fish.  Tharparkar Peacock Underground Water:   Fortunately for the people of Thar, Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company has discovered significant amount of underground water, the most precious commodity in drought-hit  Tharparkar region  of Pakistan.  Syed Abul Fazal Rizvi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SECMC and Thar Foundation was quoted by  Business Recorder  as saying, “While carrying out hydrogeological studies for Thar coal project, we found out abundant water reserves of groundwater at the depth of 450 plus feet in the whole of the desert region." The available water in Thar has the potential to irrigate thousands of acres of land by applying modern

Pakistani-American Doctor Fired For Giving Away Expiring COVID19 Vaccine

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Dr. Hasan Gokal, Pakistani-American medical director of Harris County COVID Response Team, has been charged with stealing COVID19 Moderna vaccine and fired from his job, according to media reports.  Dr. Gokal's "crime" is to give away unused coronavirus vaccine doses that would have expired and lost if not used within hours. A Texas judge has dismissed charges against him.  Dr. Hasan Gokal Each vial of Moderna vaccine has 10 doses. Once it is punctured, the vaccine expires within 6 hours. After administering COVID19 vaccine to all the front-line healthcare workers who showed up for their appointment, Gokal gave the remaining expiring doses of the vaccine to acquaintances and strangers, including a bed-bound woman in her 90s, a woman in her 80s with dementia, several men and women in their 60s and 70s with health issues, and a mother with a child on a ventilator, according to  New York Times . After midnight and just minutes before the vial would expire, the final person c

The White Tiger: An Incisive Social Commentary on Religion, Caste, Class and Democracy in India

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Few  films about India  offer the kind of incisive social commentary that the recently released "The White Tiger" does. Based on a novel of the same name by Aravind Adiga, it tells  the story of a poor but ambitious young man from a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The film touches on religion, caste, class and democracy in India. It is directed by Iranian-American director Ramin Bahrani and now available on Netflix.  The White Tiger: Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra and Rajkummar Rao The movie opens with a scene showing Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav) looking back at his life. It follows up with a series of long flashbacks to tell his story. Along the way, Balram sarcastically compares  India's democracy  with China's sanitation system. “If I were in charge of India, I’d get the sewage pipes first, then the democracy.” Numerous scenes in the film illustrate  poor sanitation  in India by showing Balram and others squatting and  defecating in the open .  Raise

Rich Pakistanis Among World's Top Nationalities Migrating Abroad

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Rich Pakistanis ranked third in the world for making inquiries to  migrate abroad  last year, according to a report by  Henley and Partners . High net worth individuals (HNWIs) from India topped the list of those seeking to migrate, followed by Americans and Pakistanis. Pakistan is among nations that experienced "significant wealth outflows" in 2019, according to  Afrasia Bank .  There has been a 25% increase in the number of HNWIs enquiring about citizenship-by-investment as opposed to residence-by-investment programs since the coronavirus was first reported nearly a year ago, indicating that wealthy international investors are considering a more permanent change.     Pakistan Among Countries With Significant Wealth Outflow. Source: Afrasia Bank In 2019, the UAE initiated a new system for investment-based long-term residence visa called Iqama. It enables foreigners to live, work and study in the UAE without the need of a national sponsor and with 100% ownership of their busi

Modi's Popularity: 69% of Hindu Americans Support Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister

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The 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey (IAAS) results confirm the anecdotal evidence of India's Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi's massive popularity among Hindu Americans. The findings of a survey sponsored by Washington-based think tank Carnegie Endowment For International Peace reveal that 69% of Hindu Americans approve of Mr. Modi's performance. 70% of Hindu Americans agree or strongly agree that white supremacy is a threat to minorities in the United States, compared to 79% of non-Hindu Indian American. Regarding Hindu majoritarianism in India, however, the data point to a much sharper divide: only 40% of Hindus agree that Hindu majoritarianism is a threat to minorities, compared to 67% of non-Hindus, according to the 2020 IAAS Survey.  69% of Hindu Americans Support Modi. Source: Indian American Attitudes Survey 2020 The 7 in 10 approval rating of Mr. Modi by Hindu Indian Americans stands in sharp contrast to that of barely one in five Muslim Indian

Geopolitically Important Pakistan Brings China, Russia, US Together For 45-Nation Exercises Hosted by Pak Navy

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Pakistan is hosting navies from 45 nations, including the United States, China and Russia, for a joint military exercise named "AMAN 2021" in the North Arabian Sea later this month. This is the first time in a decade that Russian naval ships will attend drills with multiple NATO members.  The news prompted Indian defense analyst Pravin Sawhney to tweet : "Pakistan Navy Aman 21 exercise brings US, China & Russian navies together - what more needs to be said of Pak’s geopolitical importance in times of change!" Tweet by Indian Defense Analyst Pravin Sawhney United Kingdom, Turkey, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and several countries from the African Union are also among participants of "AMAN 2021" The last time the Russian navy conducted joint military drills with NATO members was in the "Bold Monarch" exercise in 2011, which took place off the coast of Spain, according to Voice of America .  US-China Compete For Influence in Pakist

India Farm Protests: Social Media Expose the Ugly Face of Violent Hindu Extremism

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"It’s time to talk about violent Hindu extremism”, said a  twee t today from Meena Harris, the niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris. Referring to a headline about "violent Christian extremism", Harris said " it's all connected ". Hindu trolls have launched hateful misogynistic campaign against Harris and other western female celebrities who have recently tweeted in support of farm protesters.  In response to a  Hindu troll  accusing Meena Harris of "Hinduphobia", she  tweeted : "I'm a Hindu. Stop using religion as a cover for fascism".   Rihanna, Greta Thunberg and Meena Harris It started when singer Rihanna, who has more than 100 million Twitter followers, tweeted “why aren’t we talking about this?!”, with a link to a news story about an internet blackout at the protest camps where tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting for over two months. Teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg also tweeted a story about the

Harvard Scientist Debunks Hindu Nationalists "Racial Purity" Myth

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Male ancestors of the vast majority of present-day South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis) came from West Eurasia, Central Asia and Iran, according to the latest DNA research led by Harvard geneticist Dr. David Reich. Reich's team came to this conclusion after studying the Y-chromosomes of present-day Indians. Some Hindu Indian scientists have used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) samples, extracted from the bones of recently discovered ancient skeletal remains of a couple in Rakigarhi in Haryana, to claim the local indigenous origins of all Hindus. Y-chromosomes are passed from father to son while mitochondrial DNA is passed from mother to children. The Harvard team's findings thoroughly debunk Hindu Nationalists' "racial purity" myth similar to that promoted by  White Supremacist racists  in the West.  Reich writes: "The Hindutva ideology that there was no major contribution to Indian culture from migrants from outside South Asia is undermined by the fact

PEACE Cable: Pakistan's Highest Bandwidth Undersea Internet Connection to Africa and Europe

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Pakistan and East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) is  96 Tbps (terabits per second), 15,000 km long, privately owned submarine cable that will originate in Karachi, Pakistan and run underwater all the way to Marseilles, France via multiple points in the continent of Africa.  It is being built as part of Digital  Silk Road  sponsored by  China . Cybernet and Jazz are the local landing and global connectivity partners of PEACE Cable System in Pakistan. It will enable high-speed access to a variety of content, cloud computing, gaming and video streaming platforms.   PEACE Undersea Cable Route. Source: Submarine Cable Networks The laying of PEACE undersea cable in Pakistan's territorial waters will begin in March, following government approval this month for Cybernet, a local internet service provider, to construct an Arabian Sea landing station in Karachi, according to  Nikkei Asia . The Mediterranean section of the cable is already being laid, and runs from Egypt to France. The 15,0

Pakistani Universities Promoting Moringa to Fight Malnutrition

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Aga Khan University and Sindh Agriculture University are jointly promoting Moringa tree planting in Pakistan's Thar desert to fight malnutrition, according to multiple media reports. Moringa has gained popularity as superfood in the West in recent years. People of  drought-stricken Tharparkar  have been suffering from malnutrition and disease in the middle of a long-running drought in the region. Sindh Agriculture University, Tando Jam, and the Aga Khan University will plant 40,000 moringa tree seedlings in Matiari, a rural district in central Sindh, in an effort to improve the health of malnourished mothers, children and adolescents in the area. The moringa tree plantation campaign has been funded by the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the Environment, a $10 million fund dedicated to practical solutions to environmental problems.   Moringa Flowers There is high incidence of  stunting and wasting  among children in Tharparkar district and elsewhere in rural Sindh due mainly to t