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Showing posts from May, 2013

Upwardly Mobile Pakistani Slum Girl Goes to Harvard

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Anum Fatima, a resident of Ibrahim Goth slum located near Karachi's Steel Town, is making history; she is going to Harvard  Business School this summer as part of a student exchange program.

Anum's father is employed as a driver and her mother works as a maid. The slum school she attended is run by The Citizen's Foundation (TCF), a private foundation. From 5 schools in Karachi in 1995, TCF has expanded to 910 purpose-built schools with 126,000 students in 97 towns and cities across Pakistan.



After graduating from the TCF school located near her slum, Fatima has completed her BBA in Human Resource. She is currently attending College of Business Management (CBM) of  the Institute of Business Management (IoBM), a private Business School in Karachi.


Anum is breaking many stereotypes about Pakistani women, particularly poor women, by studying business management at top business schools in Pakistan and the United States. She told a news reporter that when she broke the news to h…

Pakistan Must Renegotiate IPP Contracts to Solve Electricity Crisis

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Pakistan's installed generating capacity is about 20,000 MW. It exceeds current demand of 17,000 MW and actual supply of just 10,000 MW. The capacity utilization is only 50% mainly because the producers do not buy sufficient fuel and choose to operate at only 50% of capacity and still enjoy soaring profits. A third of the installed generating capacity is owned by the independent power producers (IPPs). The current IPP contracts guarantee payments and profits with no requirement for fuel efficiency.



Most private investors have built oil-powered inefficient plants because of their low construction costs and short lead times, and the oil price has skyrocketed since these plants were built in 1990s. The result is 18-20 hours of load shedding across most of Pakistan in the scorching summer heat in spite of the fact the taxpayers have shelled out billions of dollars in subsidies to the power sector since 2008.

According to an AP report, the Pakistan's government has assumed $3.6 bil…

Strategic China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

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China's new Prime Minister Mr. Li KeQiang has just ended a two-day visit to Pakistan. Speaking to the Senate, Li declared that "the development of China cannot be separated from the friendship with Pakistan". To make it more concrete, the Chinese Premier brought with him a 5-points proposal which emphasizes "strategic and long-term planning", "connectivity and maritime sectors" and "China-Pakistan economic corridor project".




Here's a recent report by  China's State-owned Xinhua News Agency that can help put the Chinese premier's speech in context:

“As a global economic power, China has a tremendous number of economic sea lanes to protect. China is justified to develop its military capabilities to safeguard its sovereignty and protect its vast interests around the world."

The Xinhua report has for the first time shed light on China's growing concerns with US pivot to Asia which could threaten China's international tra…

Economic Impact of 30 Years of Military Rule in Indonesia and Pakistan

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General Suharto stepped down 15 years ago tomorrow. Here's an excerpt of today's New York Times story on the Indonesian strongman's legacy:

"Mr. Suharto’s spirit continues to loom over modern-day Indonesia. He brought the country back from the brink of political, social and economic calamity in the mid-1960s, dramatically reduced poverty and by the early 1990s had turned Indonesia into one of the Asian tiger economies. But he also governed with an iron fist, sending his jackbooted military into separatist-minded regions, jailing and exiling political enemies, quashing democratic institutions and the news media, and presiding over what some claim is one of the most corrupt governments in modern history.....Tuesday is the 15th anniversary of Mr. Suharto’s resignation as president.  .... Since then, Indonesia has undergone a dramatic transformation toward democracy and now has open elections and the world’s 16th-largest economy. Yet corruption remains endemic, crime is h…

Racism in India

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43.5% of Indians, the highest percentage in the world, say they do not want to have a neighbor of a different race, according to a Washington Post report based on World's Values Survey.

About Pakistan, the report says that  "although the country has a number of factors that coincide with racial intolerance – sectarian violence, its location in the least-tolerant region of the world, low economic and human development indices – only 6.5 percent of Pakistanis objected to a neighbor of a different race. This would appear to suggest Pakistanis are more racially tolerant than even the Germans or the Dutch".

Housing Discrimination: 

It appears that there is a small but militant minority in Pakistan that is highly intolerant, but the vast majority of people are tolerant. My own experience as a  former Karachi-ite  is that there is little or no race or religion based housing segregation, the kind that is rampant in India where Muslims are not welcome in most Hindu-dominated neigh…

Activist Judge Torpedoes Tax Collection Project in Pakistan

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In yet another egregious example of  increasing judicial activism, Islamabad High Court's Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, the judge who also ordered Musharraf's arrest, has suspended Pakistan's top tax collector Arshad Hakeem. Hakeem was working on an ambitious technology-based project to go after powerful tax dodgers in the country.

In a country where the rich and the powerful pay little or no tax, Ali Arshad Hakeem became "a hated man" in just seven months after his appointment as FBR chairman, according to a report in the UK's Telegraph newspaper.  Coming from IT and business management background  Hakeem put in place a database designed to monitor the spending habits of millions of people, and calculate how much tax they owed. At the click of a mouse, he could look up details of the elite's holiday habits, electricity bills and bank accounts, complete with photos, addresses and vehicle details, said the newspaper.

By linking government databases on car…

Pak Media Profit From Political Campaign Spending

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Fear of violence has reduced the number of traditional mass rallies this year, particularly in  Balochistan, KP and Sindh provinces of Pakistan. Instead, the political parties and candidates are increasingly relying on electronic and social media to reach out to voters in preparation for May 11 general elections in the country.

Top channels are charging as much as $2,200 a minute for prime time, a source in the advertising business told AFP, adding that up to $300,000 is being spent every day by three major parties: cricket hero Imran Khan's PTI,  former Prime Minister Bhutto's PPP and  former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's PML (N). 

Insiders say that politicians are using  money to buy support of media owners and journalists. A TV journalist told AFP that his bosses were favoring Imran Khan by ordering staff to cover all of his public meetings and rallies, because PTI had paid so much more money for ads.  "Special teams and the best equipment has been deployed for this …