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Showing posts from January, 2021

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

Lina Khan: Pakistani-American Lawyer Fighting Big Tech Monopolies

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Pakistani-American Lina Khan is seen as the front-runner for appointment to the US Federal Trade  Commission (FTC) as a commissioner in the  Biden administration.  She is a Columbia University Law professor who specializes in anti-trust law.   Lina's 2017 seminal paper entitled "Amazon's Anti-trust Paradox" broke new ground in the application of anti-trust law against powerful technology monopolies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter. Traditionally, the US anti-trust actions have been focused on keeping consumer prices low. This narrow focus has helped big technology companies companies like Amazon, with its low prices, or Google and Facebook with their “free” services, to avoid anti-trust scrutiny.    Lina was born in London in 1989 to Pakistani parents who migrated to the  United States  when she was 11. She graduated from Williams College with a BA degree and then studied law at Yale University. She is now an associate professor at Columbia Law School

India Republic Day: Modi's Hindutva Threatens Secular Constitution and National Unity

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India's secular constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950, a day that is celebrated as Republic Day. Today, the national integrity and the secular foundations of the Republic of India are under threat from its current Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi whose leader Madhav Golwalkar wrote: “The non-Hindu peoples in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion” or “may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less preferential treatment—not even citizen’s rights.” Recently enacted laws like Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Registration of Citizens (NRC), beef ban and Love Jihad are translating Golwalkar's vision of Hindu Rashtra into reality.  War on Indian Muslims:  In a prescient remark back in 1940s, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the framer of India's constitution, warned that “…if war comes in this country and if that war has a

Pakistan Tech Exports Continue to Soar: Up 40% in last 6 Months Amid COVID19 Pandemic

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Pakistan's technology exports are continuing to soar amid the Covid19 pandemic. Tech exports jumped 43% in December, 2020 and 40% in July-December 2020 period over the same period in 2019. This is a rapid acceleration from 21% increase in all of Fiscal Year 2020 (July-June 2020) over FY 2019. Tech exports (up 40%) far outpaced overall exports (up 5.1%) in this period.  The modest 5.1% increase in Pakistan's overall exports is still commendable in the midst of the global economic devastation caused by  COVID19 pandemic . What is even more commendable is the 19% jump in exports in December 2020 over the same month in 2019, indicating a strong upward trend.  Pakistan Tech Exports Soared in First Half of FY 2020-21. Source: Commerce Department Total monthly ICT exports hit a record $194 million in December 2020, up 43% from $135 million in December 2019. For the entire 6 month period from July-December 2020, the ICT exports reached $958 million, up 40% from the same period a year e

Raast Aims to Create Pakistan's Unified Digital Payments Infrastructure

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Pakistan's central bankers have taken the plunge into the world of digital payments with their own offering: Raast. It aims to create an instant low-cost payment system that can seamlessly and securely connect government entities, a variety of banks and State Bank authorized private payment processors like 1Link and NIFT which may choose to take advantage of it.  Currency and coins in circulation account for about 43% of Pakistan's total money supply. The introduction of Raast is part of the government's effort to modernize and document the nation's cash-based informal economy. Undocumented economy poses a serious threat to the country because it creates opportunities for criminal activities and tax evasion. It will also promote  e-commerce  in Pakistan.  Raast Digital Payment System. Source: State Bank of Pakistan Raast Digital Payments: Raast is a system of  digital payment infrastructure . It is essentially a pipe that is intended to connect government and financial

Pulwama Attack: Did Modi Order False Flag Operation in Kashmir?

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On 14 February 2019, a terrorist attack near Pulwama in Kashmir killed 40 Indian soldiers. It has now come to light that Indian TV anchor Arnab Goswami had prior knowledge of it. He wrote in a WhatApp message to BARC TV rating company head Pratho Dasgupta on that day that his channel was “20 min ahead on the biggest terrorist attack of the year in Kashmir”. "This attack we have won like crazy", he added. Arnab Goswami has close ties to the nation's Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr. Modi's government implicated Pakistan and ordered air strikes in Balakot.  These recent disclosures are raising serious questions about Pulwama and its aftermath. Was this a false flag operation carried out by Indian intelligence agencies to create a pretext for an attack on Pakistan? Was the killing of Indian soldiers in Pulwama orchestrated by the Modi government to win India's general elections that soon followed in April-May 2019? Could this reckless act by India&#

British Forensic Audit: Nawaz Sharif Family Owns Assets Worth $820.8 Million

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Forensic audit of Nawaz Sharif family's assets has put its value at $820.8 Million, according to Broadsheet Award ordered by arbitrator Sir Anthony Evans. It was disclosed in documents released by Broadsheet LLC and Pakistan government. The forensic audit was conducted by Stroz Friedberg audit firm based in the  United Kingdom . It was hired by Facebook to conduct forensic audit of Cambridge Analytica, the analytics firm used by US President Donald Trump during the 2016 election. Broadsheet Arbitration Award  Broadsheet LLC, incorporated in the Isle of Mann, was hired by Pakistan National Accountability Bureau (Bureau) in Year 2000 to uncover overseas assets hidden by over 200 Pakistanis including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family. Pakistan was forced to go into arbitration for breach of contract with the firm.  Here are the key excerpts of the final award dated December 17, 2018: "Stroz Friedberg was instructed to carry out a ‘forensic audit’ (or ‘inventory’)

Will the New Silk Road Help Revive the Islamic Golden Age?

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National Geographic's Paul Salopek recently came upon a site in Pakistan's Salt Range where Muslim scientist Abu-Raihan Al-Biruni accurately measured the size of the earth in the 11th century. In it, Salopek sees the revival of the  Islamic Golden Age . He characterizes the ancient Silk Road of as "dynamic but collapsed experiment in multilateralism". He thinks the revival of the Islamic Golden Age is linked to "China's 21st century version of  the Silk Road ". Salopek believes that President Donald Trump's four years in the White House and the COVID19 pandemic have accelerated America's decline and China's rise. Here's how he describes it in a recent opinion piece in the  New York Times  entitled "Shadows on the Silk Road: Finding omens of American decline on a long walk across Asia":  "The most memorable archaeological ruins from the Silk Road’s glory years rot atop a hill about 60 miles southeast of Islamabad (the Capita

Overseas Pakistanis Rescuing Pakistan Economy Yet Again

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Pakistani diaspora sent home $14.2 billion in remittances in July-December 2020 , up 25% from the same period in 2019. Pakistanis settled in the United Kingdom and the United States increased their remittances by 52% and 47% respectively in this period, helping Pakistan achieve a record $1.8 billion current account surplus in the first 6 months of the ongoing fiscal year 2020-21.  Remittances From Pakistani Diaspora. Source: Arif Habib While Pakistan's exports increased a modest 5.1%, the remittances from overseas Pakistanis jumped a hefty 25% in response to an appeal by Prime Minister Imran Khan who remains very popular among them. He drew nearly 30,000 Pakistani-Americans to a rally during his Washington D.C. visit in 2019.  Pakistan Trade 1H of FY 2020-21. Source: Arif Habib Pakistan's imports increased 5.5%, more than the 5.1% increase in exports, during the first half of the current fiscal year 2020-21. This resulted in $12.4 billion trade deficit, a 5.9% increase. Withou

Oxford Disinfo Report: India, Pakistan Among Top Nations With "High Cyber Capacity"

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Oxford University's report on global disinformation ranks India and Pakistan among top 17 "high cyber troop capacity" countries. The report defines "cyber troop capacity" in terms of numbers of people and the size of budget allocated to psychological operations or information warfare. "Cyber troop activity" as defined by the report includes social media manipulation by governments and political parties, and the various private companies and other organizations they work with to spread disinformation. Oxford report shows that India's cyber troops are "centralized" while those in Pakistan, US and UK are "decentralized". EU Disinfo Lab, an NGO that specializes in disinformation campaigns, has found that India is carrying out a massive 15-year-long disinformation campaign to hurt Pakistan.  High Cyber Capacity Countries. Source: Oxford University Disinfo Report 2020 High Cyber Capacity:    Countries ranked among "high cyber tro

US Needs to Promote Democracy At Home!

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About a week before the world witnessed the storming of the US Capitol by an angry mob on January 6, 2020, the US Congress allocated $15 million for "democracy programs" in Pakistan as part of its latest Coronavirus Relief Bill. Should charity start at home? Should America prioritize democracy at home? With  64% of Republicans  supporting Trump's false claim of "stolen election", has pro-Trump extremism gone mainstream in GOP? How to deal with the fervent believers in QAnon conspiracy theories while promoting a fact-based democratic discourse? How can deep divisions in American society be healed? These questions are beginning to be raised after recent shocking events in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, the US government-funded think tanks such National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are very active in many developing countries, including Pakistan.   Cato institute  says that what NED does "would otherwise be possible only through a CIA covert operation".  NED