Showing posts from August, 2023

Pakistan's Improvised Cable Cars: Example of Rural Ingenuity

Global media coverage of a recent cable car rescue in northern Pakistan has brought to light the widespread use of the improvised aerial transportation systems across mountain communities in the country. The improvised cable car system and the recent zip-line rescue are both testaments to local rural ingenuity. These systems serve as a lifeline for villagers living on sparsely populated hilltops in places like Mansehra, Swat and Azad Kashmir. They allow them to access clinics, jobs, markets and schools on a daily basis. Building the alternative road infrastructure for these mountainous terrains would be much more expensive and time-consuming. A better example of a fast, safe and relatively less expensive public transportation system for such areas can be found in a modern cable car system built in La Paz,  Bolivia. Pakistan should explore a public-private partnership to use the local talent to build a safe, fast and cheap cable car system to meet their residents' needs. Disabled P

Modi Co-opting Chandrayaan-3 Success For Hindutva Propaganda?

Well before India's Chandrayaan-3 landed on the moon on August 23, India's "Godi Media" started showing split screens with the landing craft’s animated image (no pictures or live video) alongside a photo of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was clearly meant to give him exclusive credit for ISRO scientists' major accomplishment after their decades-long hard work. This Hindutva propaganda has echoes of Adolf Hitler’s use of the 1936 Berlin Olympics to promote his Nazi ideology.  It is boosting the morale of the hateful  Hindu supremacist  trolls unleashed by the BJP “IT cell” on social media. It is easy to conclude that the Chandrayaan is now essentially a prestige project for the Hindu Nationalist government in New Delhi. Funding such projects is easier for politicians than implementing social sector programs to uplift hundreds of millions of poor and hungry Indians who are deprived of the most basic necessities.  Chadrayaan3-Modi Split Screen Godi Media Pro

Pakistan's Political Crisis: Did Washington Cause "Regime Change" in Islamabad?

Did the U.S. make it clear to Pakistan in 2022 that Imran Khan was not acceptable as the prime minister of the South Asian country? Did the Pakistani military then use the Opposition parties led by Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari to remove Imran Khan from power through a successful No-Confidence vote in the parliament? The answer to both of these questions appears to be a resounding "yes" based on the leaked contents of a secret diplomatic cable, the actions of the Opposition politicians and the attempts to dismantle the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the jailing of Imran Khan on trumped-up charges. These events have created significant political instability in the country and prompted former US National Security Advisor John Bolton  to urge the Biden administration to take a clear position before the “terrorists, China and Russia take advantage” of the situation. Former Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) and General Asim Munir Diplomatic Cable: A leaked diplomatic cable fro

Independence Day: Growing Share of Working Age Population in Pakistan

Dependency ratio, defined as the percentage of children and retirees to the working age population, is rapidly declining in  Pakistan  ( current dependency ratio is 69.03% ) and the rest of the developing nations of Asia and Africa. This demographic shift means that the world's richest and most powerful nations with the largest share of working populations will no longer be in Europe and North America by 2050. Among South Asian nations, Bangladesh has already joined the list of top 10 nations in terms of the largest share of the working age population. India and Pakistan are expected to join it by 2050. Increasingly  better educated  working age population is expected to significantly enhance their productivity and increase their incomes.  Shift in Share of Working Age Populations. Source: NY Times The total dependency ratio reported for Pakistan in 2022 is 69.03%, much higher than Bangladesh's 47.09% and India's 47.5%, according to the  World Bank .  Dependency ratio for 

USDA Forecasts Bumper Harvest of Major Crops in Pakistan For 2023/24

The United States Department of Agriculture ( USDA ) is forecasting bumper harvest of all major crops in Pakistan for 2023/24. Major crops in the country include wheat, rice, sugarcane, corn and cotton. These offer welcome relief for Pakistani farmers who suffered devastating losses in the epic  floods of 2022 .    Major Crops Produced in Pakistan. Source: USDA Pakistan is projected to produce 28 million tons of  wheat ,  10.5 million tons of corn (maize), 9 million tons of rice, 6.5 million bales of  cotton , 7.8 million tons of  sugar  and 540,000 tons of rapeseed (canola) in 2023/24. Each of these production figures is significantly higher than last year's, and higher than the last 5-year average (2018-22) for the country. Potato production jumped 50% to 7.74 million tons in 2022, according to PotatoBusiness .   Sugar Production in India and Pakistan. Source: Ragus Pakistan will still need to import wheat but a lower amount than last year, according to a Global Agricultural Info

OpenAI ChatGPT: Generative AI Buzz in Pakistan

A Singapore-based cybersecurity firm Group-IB discovered in June that over 100,000 ChatGPT user accounts were compromised and their credentials found on the Dark Web. Among the accounts reported compromised, India topped with 12,632, followed by Pakistan with 9,217 and Brazil with 6,531. Bangladesh witnessed the fewest instances with 2,463. This report gave a glimpse of the high interest level of Indians and Pakistanis in generative AI.  Another  report  attributed to Similarweb, which tracks popularity of websites by number of visitors, ranked  ChatGPT  in Pakistan at number 7, ahead of Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. Globally ChatGPT website is ranked 17th. Prior to this, there was a series of news reports about the launch of Presidential Initiative for Artificial Intelligence and Computing (PIAIC) by President Arif Alvi, and then came the government's policy to train one million AI experts in the country by 2027. Pakistanis published 2,600 AI-related research papers from 2016 to