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Showing posts from August, 2011

Nexus of Crime and Politics Hurting Pakistan Economy

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Former Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza's dramatic August 28 press conference with a copy of the Holy Quran in his hand has become the center of news media attention in recent days.



Following this highly emotion-charged press conference which was carried live by almost all of the mainstream TV channels, Mirza has been hailed as a hero by some of the most popular TV talking heads for railing against MQM's top leadership, and for singling out Pakistan Peoples Party leader and Federal Home Minister Rehman Malik for his harshest accusations.

To assess the extent of Mirza's credibility, it is important to understand the following:

1. What triggered the latest of Mirza's outbursts? Was it Malik's decision to send the Rangers in to the Lyari neighborhood of Karachi?

2. When Mirza used a copy of the Holy Quran in the month of Ramadan to convey his sincerity, did he really tell the whole truth? or did he leave out the ugly truths about the horrific crimes committed by …

More Pakistanis Complete Education Than Indians

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Pakistanis spend more time in schools and colleges and graduate at a higher rate than their Indian counterparts in 15+ age group, according to a report on educational achievement by Harvard University researchers Robert Barro and Jong-Wha Lee.

In a recent Op Ed titled "Preparing the Population for a Modern Economy" published by Pakistan's Express Tribune, Pakistani economist Shahid Burki wrote as follows:

"Pakistan does well in one critical area — the drop-out rate in tertiary education. Those who complete tertiary education in Pakistan account for a larger proportion of persons who enter school at this level. The proportion is much higher for girls, another surprising finding for Pakistan."



Upon closer examination of Barro-Lee data on "Educational Attainment for Total Population, 1950-2010", it is clear that Pakistani students stay in schools and colleges longer to graduate at higher rates than Indian students at all levels--primary, secondary and te…

India and Pakistan 2010-11 Incomes Roughly Equal at $3,100 Per Capita

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Nominal per capita incomes in both India and Pakistan stand at just over $1200 a year, according to figures released in May and June of 2011 by the two governments. This translates to about $3100 per capita in terms of PPP (purchasing power parity). Using a more generous PPP correction factor of 2.9 for India as claimed by Economic Survey of India 2011 rather than the 2.5 estimated by IMF for both neighbors, the PPP GDP per capita for Indian and Pakistan work out to $3532 and $3135 respectively.

Nominal per capita income of Indians grew by 17.9 per cent to Rs 54,835, or $1218, in 2010-11 from Rs 46,492 in the year-ago period, according to the revised data released by the government in May, 2011 as reported by Indian media.

In June 2011, Economic Survey of Pakistan reported that the nominal per capita income of Pakistanis rose 16.9 percent to $1,254 in 2010-11, up from $1,073 in 2009-2010.



Neither of these figures are adjusted for inflation which has been running in high single digi…

How is 64-Year-Old Pakistan Doing?

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“You tend to hear the worst 5% of the Pakistan story 95% of the time.”

The above is a quote attributed to Pakistani Entrepreneur Monis Rahman in Aug 8, 2011 Forbes Magazine story titled “Want to Start a Company in the World's Sixth-Most Populous Country? Time to Move to Pakistan”.

On Pakistan's 64th birthday today, there is a lot of coverage by the traditional media focused on "the worst 5% of the Pakistan story". To help my readers piece together the full story of Pakistan this August 14, 2011, I am writing today to present some of the key parts of the rest of the 95% of the Pakistan story that gets little or no coverage.

Let's start with some of the key indicators of progress Pakistan has made since independence in 1947.

1. Health & Wealth:

The health and wealth of a nation depend on availability of good nutrition and access to health care and education, which in turn rely on economic growth to support needed public and private social spending.

The most basic …

Pakistan Auto Industry Posts Huge Sales Gains

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Auto sales in Pakistan jumped 61% in July, 2011 to 17,563 units from 10,942 units in the same month of last year. Pak Suzuki Motor Company led the auto sales up with 116 percent rise to 11,997 units from 4,503 seen in the same period last year. This is in sharp contrast to a Reuters report of 16% decline in auto sales in July across the border in India.



Earlier, Economic Survey of Pakistan 2010-2011 reported that the first 9 months of fiscal 2010-2011 saw production of television sets jump 28.6% and automobile production increase by 14.6%. From July 2010 to March 2011, production of cars, light commercial vehicles and two and three wheelers grew by 16.4%, 20.5% and 12.6% respectively. These figures confirm the return of Pakistanis' appetite for consumer durables after a significant drop from 2007-2008 to 2008-2009.

In a separate news story carried by Bloomberg, Swiss food giant Nestle's Pakistan subsidiary said its sales of consumer packaged goods rose 25% year-over-year. E…

Pakistani Jazz Music Tops Western Charts

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Pakistan's Sachal Studios Orchestra, named after Sindhi Sufi Saint Sachal Sarmast (1739–1829), has topped iTunes jazz charts in America and Britain with its interpretation of Dave Brubeck's Take Five that blends classical violins with sitars, tablas and other South Asian instruments, according to British media reports.



It's the first time Jazz is being played in Pakistan in a big way since Jazz greats like Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington and other jazz legends performed in the country in the 1950s. Brubeck, 90, told reporters that it is "the most interesting" version of Take Five he's ever heard.

Sachal Orchestra's first album, “Sachal Jazz,” with interpretations of tracks like “The Girl from Ipanema” and “Misty,” and of course “Take Five” is available on iTunes. It's been produced, financed and directed by a wealthy British Pakistani Jazz enthusiast Izzat Majeed.

Inspired by the Abbey Road Studios in London, Majeed and his partner Mushtaq Soofi have…

Evolution and Growth of Oligarchy in India and Pakistan

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India is the world's third biggest and the fastest rising oligarchy with 17.2% of its GDP amassed by its 55 billionaires. India's system of governance has some of the worst of features of democracy and oligarchy in which the democratically elected politicians are bought off by the richest Indians, and both groups further enrich themselves at the expense of the vast majority of ordinary Indians. The biggest Indian oligarchs today are mainly industrialists like Ambanis, Adanis, Birlas, Mittals, Premjis and Tatas.



Like India, Pakistan is an oligarchy as well. But it is dominated by the feudal rather than the industrial elite. These oligarchs dominate Pakistan's legislature. Vast majority of them come from rural landowning and tribal backgrounds. Well-known names include the Bhuttos and Khuhros of Larkana, the Chaudhrys of Gujarat, Tiwanas of Sargodha, Daulatanas of Vehari, the Jatois and Qazi Fazlullah family of Sindh, the Gilanis, Qureshis and Gardezis of Multan, the Nawabs…

Consumers Sustaining Pakistan Economy

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First 9 months of fiscal 2010-2011 saw production of television sets jump 28.6% and automobile production increase by 14.6%, according to Economic Survey of Pakistan 2010-2011. From July 2010 to March 2011, production of cars, light commercial vehicles and two and three wheelers grew by 16.4%, 20.5% and 12.6% respectively. These figures confirm the return of Pakistanis' appetite for consumer durables after a significant drop from 2007-2008 to 2008-2009.

Automobile:

146,271 vehicles were produced in Pakistan in 8 months from July 2010 to February 2011, representing an increase of 9.2% y-o-y on the 133,918 units produced over the same period of FY09/10, according to figures from the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (PAMA). This consists of 85,924 units for passenger car production, 1,807 units truck production, 308 units bus production, 580 units jeep production, 12,000 units pick-up production and 45,652 units farm tractor production. Sales largely mirror production in…