Thursday, December 23, 2010

Business & Finance Review

Business & Finance Review

Water Matters

According to the Water Security Risk Index, released by Maplecroft, Pakistan has the least secure supplies of water and is in the extreme risk category.

The world’s sixth most and second most populous Muslim country; Pakistan’s population is projected to swell up to over 330 million in year 2050, as indicated by the population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat.

Today, as the country faces unprecedented security threats, dwindling economy, natural hazards and political instability; many analysts still believe that the country has promising market opportunities in future. The availability of water will become a much higher priority in business decisions and investment endeavours.

One of the country’s most urgent challenges is how to manage the nation’s precious water resources to meet growing human, economic, and environmental needs. The availability of clean water has dropped from 1950s: 5,000 cubic meters to less than 1,500 cubic meters per person today, primarily due to the rapid growth in population. And yet we remain dependent on only three hydrological units, two of which are rapidly silting from the Himalayas.

As the population increases the pressure on the existing water resources will intensify. The shift will have an adverse impact on employment, economic development, healthcare systems, food security, urban management, chronic diseases, biodiversity, communal and social harmony etc.

Pakistan has already been through two of the gravest natural hazards this year so far: the Attabad crisis and the recent floods. Causes: glacial melt and for the latter the debate is still among the monsoon patterns, heavy rainfall, climate change, dams and deforestation. Whichever case it is, as of now 20 million people are homeless and lives have been lost, as desperation and hunger persists.

It has been estimated by resource experts that continued growth in population will reduce per-capita freshwater availability by 70 per cent by 2070 and Pakistan will be a water scarce society. The increase in demand for water will adversely affect the groundwater resources, as over 70 per cent of it is allocated already to Pakistan’s irrigation and other agricultural needs; one million tube wells across the country are satisfying short-term needs but leading to unsustainable use of groundwater and declining water levels. This cannot continue.

The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) has recently recommended to the government to create water regulatory authority, which will consist of representatives from the federal and provincial governments. The purpose of the authority is to regulate optimum water use and balance in different basins under enabling legislation.

According to studies conducted on water management, Pakistan also loses almost two-thirds of its supply to leaks and poor transmission in its canal system due to poor infrastructure and inefficient water management.

Inter-provincial conflicts over water also complicate water management: the construction of large dams or other infrastructure is slow and costly and can take up to 10 years; many fear that new needed dams will not be built quickly enough to reduce water problems anytime soon.

In an online interview, President, Pacific Institute and Member US Academy of Sciences, Dr. Peter H. Gleick said that there is a need for building appropriate water-infrastructure in Pakistan, while also protecting downstream usage and rights on sharing. He says the relevant political institutions have a crucial role to play in effectively managing the possible internal conflicts arising out of water-sharing; but most of all, to eradicate the imbalance from within the society authorities will need to focus on providing people access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation.

According to the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon “As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. This is not an issue of rich or poor, north or south. All regions are experiencing the problem of water stress. There is still enough water for all of us – but only so long as we keep it clean, use it more wisely and share it fairly. Governments must engage and lead, and the private sector also has a role to play in this effort.”

In contrast to the technical approach, the government will need to bring a more focused media attention in addressing and covering matters related to attaining the required benchmark for water conservation and management. An effort that engages media, public-private sector, academia and the non-governmental organisations focused on raising awareness within Pakistani society of water’s value and the need to place a price on its usage. This platform along with a variety of interventions will build a national dialogue on water, enabling multiple stakeholders in effectively creating content, most relevant to the Pakistani society.

One of the country’s targets in achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015. However, it is believed that Pakistan is far from achieving this target. The members of the United Nations are meeting this month in New York to discuss the progress on MDGs at the 65th UN Summit

Pakistan leads in Entrepreneurship indicators |

Pakistan leads in Entrepreneurship indicators |

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pakistan leads in Entrepreneurship indicators

The Pakistan Fast Growth 25 companies have grown an average of 81% a year for the past three years and created 12,000 jobs since inception. They represent Leading Indicators of Pakistans economic potential.

AllWorld Network and JS Bank created “The Pakistan Fast Growth 25” offering the first snapshot of how Pakistan's rising non-listed companies are generating growth. JS Bank is the host organization and sponsor for the Pakistan 25, partnering with AllWorld Network of the United States. 

Mr. Malik Ahmad Jalal, Director Pakistan Fast Growth 25 shared the Data on Pakistan 25, which was also represented by Sarmad Awan and Nabeela Darugar from JS Bank. Amir Jahangir, CEO Mishal Pakistan and Alberto Rodriguez the Press Attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad also attended the media event. 

Notwithstanding the challenging political and economic context, Pakistan is home to growing private companies creating a significant number of competitive jobs.   Leading the Pakistan 25 growth rankings are companies in High-Tech and Telecommunications, and Agriculture and Mining. Many of these rising Pakistan 25 companies are not just serving local markets, but are competing globally.

As a group, the Pakistan 25 broke AllWorld records for entrepreneurial intensity.  From the August announcement of the application process by JS Bank for the Pakistan 25, AllWorld received the most number of qualified applications in the shortest amount of time.  The top performers who made the Pakistan 25 posted a blistering 81% annual growth rate between 2007 and 2009 with an average size of 350 employees per company, and since inception they created 12,000 jobs. The Pakistan Fast Growth Companies have been successful in local markets but also globally competitive, as average 35% of their revenues are derived from international markets.

Contrary to what many might assume, the Pakistan 25 have grown by investing in their employees providing a significant amount of on-the-job training, giving financial bonuses for performance to incentivize employees, and offering other benefits such as flexible work schedules.  The combination of application numbers, growth rates and job generated exceed those of the eight AllWorld country rankings in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.   These results demonstrate that Pakistan has many of the conditions of a leading entrepreneurial economy.

The Pakistan 25 report their major constraint to growth is finding qualified manager and employees.  This is the number one growth constraint experienced universally by growth companies, and there is an opportunity for job training programs and HR recruiting firms to serve the specific needs of these companies.  Perhaps reflecting the unique context of Pakistan, the second major constraint to growth is Government Red Tape, which is not a top constraint reported by the entrepreneurs from other AllWorld programs.      

Companies competed for a spot on the Pakistan 25 based on strenuous international standards including completing a detailed survey of business strategy and operations and providing audited statements or an audit letter to verify revenues. The Pakistan 25 is divided into 24 Ranked Companies and 6 Companies to Watch. The 24 Ranked Companies are at least three years old and meet AllWorld’s international criteria of size, age and performance, and are ranked based on their sales growth between 2007 and 2009. There are 6 Companies-to-Watch – companies that show all the characteristics of a fast growth company but are too small or too young. These are companies we believe will become future contenders. 

The winner of the Pakistan 25 will be revealed in early 2011.  The winners have been notified of their status, but do not know their place on the ranking.  The Pakistan 25 will be expanded in 2011 into an annual Pakistan 100.

-        The AW Approach: Our approach for creating jobs is to identify and vet growth entrepreneurs in developing countries and put them on the global radar screen. This way capital, talent and business opportunities come to them and they can grow to large scale.

-           Why SMEs? Our experience and research has shown that governments of developing countries could not create additional jobs and large corporate sector is shrinking too and cannot offer the growth potential. Therefore, any employment creation will have to come from small and growing enterprises in the developing countries.

-         One Global Standard: Since the companies are selected by the same criteria used for ranking the Inc. 500, the world knows that a Pakistan Fast Growth 25 winner is a global standard entrepreneur who would qualify for Inc. 500, if the company was based in the United States. This results in attracting investors and customer interest. 

-        “The Pakistan Fast Growth 25 companies, led by dynamic men and women, represent a new future of the country”, Anne Habiby and Deirdre Coyle, Founder of AllWorld Network

-       “Beyond growth percentages and rankings, Pakistan Fast Growth 25 will showcase country’s top entrepreneurs and provide an alternate narrative of the country as talented and entrepreneurially infused nation. The evidence of budding entrepreneurship will send out the message that in spite of all the challenges, Pakistan is open for business.” Malik Ahmad Jalal, Director of Pakistan Fast Growth 25

-       “These numbers despite all odds project the force and sheer passion of vibrant business leaders by which their companies have grown under a short-span of three years. AllWorld Network has done a commendable job in recognizing their efforts. At JS Bank, we have always supported entrepreneurs and have taken initiatives that create an environment friendlier for within the entrepreneurship space. We are pleased to see our partnership with Allworld bring to frontline such amazing success stories of these compelling entrepreneurs.” Kalim ur Rehman, President JS Bank

-       “The solution to Pakistan’s economic challenges lies not in foreign lands, but in the entrepreneurial talent of its own citizens. Pakistani entrepreneurs have flourished in spite of some of the most restricting economic and security environments in the world. The Pakistan Fast Growth 25 is recognition of the spirit of these dynamic men and women who are a great resource and the best bet for Pakistan’s future.” Malik Ahmad Jalal, Director of Pakistan Fast Growth 25

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mishal launches gender empowerment Fellowship program with LadiesFund

At the launch of the Ladiesfund and Mishal Fellowship Program:  (L to R) Sameera Raja - Canvas Art Gallery, Gordon James Brown Avari Hotels, Puruesh Chaudhary - Director Content Mishal Pakistan, Tara Uzra Dawood - CEO DCM Ltd./Manager of LadiesFund and Nilofer Saeed - Hobnob, Neecos, Copper Kettle

Mishal announced today that in partnership with LADIESFUND it will award the Rs. 100,000 Fellowship in March 2011.  This initiative marks the 7th anniversary of Mishal’s operations in the country, the organization aims at creating sustainable social value dividends in Pakistan.

“Pakistan has shown significant progress on the political empowerment of the women on the Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum, it is time that we also empower our women on economic opportunities, health and education” said Puruesh Chaudhary, Director Content, Mishal Pakistan.

LADIESFUND was launched with an aim to facilitating female financial security through investments and acts as a forum for women globally to network and promote entrepreneurship.  LADIESFUND was established in 2007 by Dawood Capital Management Limited as an advisory service and asset management division for women clients. 

On the launch of the LadiesFund Entrepreneurship Conference, Amir Jahangir, CEO Mishal (Pvt) Ltd. said that, “Mishal plans to expand this relationship with the LADIESFUND, through a progressive approach to create gender parity by creating a shift from an information economy to a knowledge-based economy; empowering the females through technological breakthroughs and innovation; and supporting an innovation ecosystem which fosters entrepreneurship by putting women empowerment at the center of the strategy.”

LADIESFUND announced its fellowship and scholarship programs, which aim to identify and tap in to the high potential of this unexplored segment at the grass root level by conducting nationwide searches. Addressing the participants and the section of the press, Tara Uzra Dawood, CEO Dawood Capital Management Limited, said “women from different backgrounds are choosing their own ways to contribute to the economy which is becoming more and more critical in closing the gender gaps within our society.” 

Mishal’s collaboration with LADIESFUND will help in identifying gaps in policies and would be suggesting solutions and set of policy guidelines for the stakeholders for gender parity on the principles of the Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum, Puruesh Chaudhary briefed the participants.

Globally gender gaps are being recognized as gaps of equity and gaps of efficiency.  Investing in women and reaping the returns are the fundamental cornerstones of economic growth. According to World Economic Forums' latest report on Global Competitiveness Index, Pakistan stands at 137 among 139 nations in female participation in labour force. Through this initiative, Mishal pledges to focus on economic participation and opportunity and educational attainment to promote gender parity.

Mishal, launched in 2003 by Amir Jahangir, who has been honoured as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, has been engaged with some of the most dynamic organizations in the region to develop their communication strategy and solutions for better understand and creating synergies between different entities.
Mishal, launched in 2003 by Amir Jahangir, who has been honoured as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, has been engaged with some of the most dynamic organizations in the region to develop their communication strategy and solutions for better understand and creating synergies between different entities.

Mishal has been at the forefront of communications solutions and is actively pursuing to improve the state of media and journalism in Pakistan.

The team behind Mishal has been developing, creating and managing media entities and content for the last 20 years at various platforms. Taking this initiative to the next level Mishal has been actively pursuing to build the capacity of the media in creating better understanding the issues in global perspective.

Mishal has undertaken the task to build a workforce which can be the building block of a knowledge-based economy. Mishal through various initiatives is creating the capacity of various segments of the society including female workforce, capacity of the Press Clubs and Associations in Pakistan by creating a knowledge-sharing learning platform for the media and journalists across Pakistan. The initiative will build the capacity through interactive workshops, conferences, collaborative thinking and media, journalism and gender awards for the professionals in the field of journalism and media.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

NUST to launch Innovation Arbitrage Council at the Innovation Leadership Summit 4 August 2010

Pakistan has shown slight improvements on the Global Information Technology Index. This has shown depths in the Pakistani ecosystems to have Innovation as a driver for economic growth. Pakistan has been ranked at 87th position from last year’s 98th on the Global Information Technology Report ranking for 2009-10 of the World Economic Forum.

Realizing the importance of Innovation and how Pakistan can be integrated into the global innovation ecosystem, National University for Science and Technology is organizing an Innovation Leaders’ Summit. The theme of the summit has been proposed Innovation and the trend-setting, which is the first of its kind. The summit will have special participation from the Directors and Senior Economists with the Global Competitiveness Network at the World Economic Forum.

“It is evident that technology is playing a leading role in accelerating economic growth and promoting development and Pakistan should capitalize on its human capital to make innovation as one of the key factors for creating a knowledge-based economy,” said Dr. Arshad Ali, Director General, School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Sciences, NUST.

Dr. Margareta Drzeniek Hanouz, Director and Senior Economist with the Global Competitiveness Network at the World Economic Forum, where she conducts research and writes on issues pertaining to national competitiveness will be joined at the summit with Dr. Irene Mia, Director and Senior Economist with the Global Competitiveness Network and the co-editor of World Economic Forum’s flagship report on Innovation the Global Information Technology Report series.

The speakers from the World Economic Forum will explore Pakistan's performance in general competitiveness, ICT and technology using the methodological framework on the Global Competitiveness Index and Networked Readiness Index respectively. That would allow the participants to have a better understanding to assess where the country’s potential stands in competitiveness and innovation. This will be followed up by a general discussion which will identify the strengths and weaknesses of Pakistan’s Economy based on the pillars of innovation and competitiveness.

According to Yalman Ansari, faculty member of the NUST Business School, this initiative will go a long way in preparing NUST business graduates for the challenging business world, with innovation being mainstream focus of every organization in today’s business Diaspora.

The summit is expected to be attended by the industry leaders and senior executives from both global and local companies operating in Pakistan.

The participants will also discuss about their business operations and the importance of innovation as the key to attaining sustainable competitive edge. The day-long summit will also include mentoring sessions with students by corporate executives who will share their experiences.

The summit will include a special group of media professionals and journalists representing the National Press Club, responsible for creating content related to ICT and Innovation Economy.

Amir Jahangir
The summit will announce the launching of an advisory council “Innovation Arbitrage Council” (IAC) that will have varied business executives on its panel including Mohsin Iqbal, a distinguished technology business executive who has represented companies like Intel and HP in Asia Pacific, and Amir Jahangir, CEO, Mishal, and Advisor to Stanford Center for Innovation and Communication, Stanford University, who has been honoured as the Young Global Leader 2010 by the World Economic Forum, both who played an instrumental role in crystallizing the idea to form the council on innovation.

Published for the ninth consecutive year with an extensive coverage of 133 economies worldwide, the Global Information Technology Report remains the world’s most comprehensive and authoritative international assessment of the impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on the development process and the competitiveness of nations.

In 2009-10, Sweden, Singapore and Denmark have secured the top three places for having the most comprehensive ICT base. The US slipped two places securing fifth position, while China stands at 37 and India at 43, showing an improvement of 9 and 11 places respectively. Pakistan scored well in the sub-indexes of Individual Readiness - mobile cellular tariffs taking 8th position — and residential telephone connection charges at 11th, while under the sub-index of Business Readiness, the country does good in business telephone connection charges and monthly telephone subscription.

A marked improvement has been seen in Pakistan’s capacity for innovation, which has gone up to 56 from 73 in 2008-09. There have been slight improvements in the quality of educational systems, where Pakistan ranks at 99 from 104 in 2008-09, internet access in schools improved by six places scoring 75 and company spending on R&D showed significant improvement taking its score to 80.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Asian Development Bank is due to approve a USD500 million budgetary support to Pakistan

The Asian Development Bank is due to approve a USD500 million budgetary support to Pakistan. According to The Express Tribune, the bank’s executive board will vote on Pakistan’s request Aug. 27.

The ADB funding forms part of the Accelerated Economic Transformation Program, approved in September 2008.

Pakistan's economy has been seriously affected by the skyrocketing international prices of oil and food. The severity of the exogenous shocks, aggravated by the uncertainties surrounding the recent political transition, has been felt on several fronts over the last fiscal year (June 2007-July 2008): the year-on-year overall domestic inflation reaching 24% from 7%; deterioration in the external accounts with current account deficit widening to 8.5% of GDP from 4.8%; depreciation of the Pakistani rupee (PRs) by 22%; foreign exchange reserves declining by more than 40% to $6 billion (about 1.5 months of imports); and unprecedented fuel, food and electricity subsidy needs, which rose four-fold to PRs408 billion ($6 billion) from their original budgeted level. Symptomatic of the declining investor confidence, the Karachi stock index dropped by more than 35% during April-July 2008, and the spreads on sovereign debt have surpassed 1,100 basis points at end-August 2008 from less than 200 basis points in early 2007. The outcome of all this has been a decline in real gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 5.8% from 7% during the previous year.

These challenges facing Pakistan have come despite steady real GDP growth of 7.3% on average per year during FY2004-FY2007. But they have also come in the context of, as well as due to, persistent fiscal, trade and investment imbalances and lack of any significant structural changes in the economy.

Pakistan now needs to transform itself in three directions:
First, it has to address the immediate distortions facing the economy, particularly in the agriculture and energy sectors. The pricing and procurement system for wheat needs to be restructured, and subsidies better targeted to benefit the poor and vulnerable. Untargeted wheat subsidies cost the Government PRs40 billion ($600 million) in fiscal year (FY) 2008. In the electricity sector, Pakistan doest not yet have an automatic tariff adjustment mechanism. The Government needs to reform the subsidy system in the sector, since it has not been able to settle the payments owed to distribution companies, which has resulted in a vicious circular debt problem and debt overhang. This needs to be addressed urgently to resolve the present energy crisis. Electricity subsidies are estimated to have cost PRs133 billion in FY2008 ($2 billion). In addition to these subsidy needs, an estimated $1.6 billion is required to partially protect the poor.

Second, Pakistan needs to strengthen financial intermediation to facilitate structural transformation. At the macro level, the Government has relied heavily on the central bank for its fiscal requirements, a practice that needs to be reversed. In parallel, the legal and regulatory framework should be strengthened to manage risks more effectively in the financial sector, promote consumer confidence, and deepen financial intermediation. 

Third, over the medium to long term, the production and trade structure of the economy needs to be transformed so Pakistan can compete more effectively in the global economy. A deeper industrial base is vital, along with a more productive agricultural sector, greater value creation in the service sector, and far greater export sophistication. To achieve this, the Government has to (i) address short-term policy and institutional distortions, (ii) identify industries where it might compete on a global scale, and (iii) attract private sector investments.
ADB has worked in the past with Pakistan alongside other development partners to support reforms and investments in all three directions. The challenges now facing the country are diverse and significant that immediate assistance is needed to address the short term constraints and to provide safety nets for the poor, while paving way for boosting Pakistan's competitiveness.
ADB was scheduled to approve the budgetary support in May 2010 but deferred the decision due to the Pakistani government’s failure to provide a comprehensive financing plan to rid the inter-corporate debt of state-run companies.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mishal and STEP to work together on overcoming post disaster disabilities through education and economic empowerment in Pakistan.

Muhammad Atif Sheikh, President Special talent Exchange Programme for the Disabled (STEP) and Amir Jahangir, Chief Executive Officer of Mishal Private Limited, at the MoU Signing Ceremony in Islamabad, Pakistan

The Special Talent Exchange Programme (STEP), the leading non-for-profit organization working on promoting disability issues in Pakistan has signed a Memorandum of Understanding today with Mishal Private Limited, the leading media capacity building institution in Pakistan. Both parties have agreed that they will jointly work for the empowerment and mainstreaming of disabled people in the society.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Amir Jahangir, Chief Executive Officer, Mishal said that it is extremely important that the media is sensitized on the issues of disabilities, especially when Pakistan is fighting its war on terror. Pakistan is increasing its numbers of disabled persons on a daily basis, as we get casualties due to the terrorism acts and it is extremely important that we bring these people into mainstream through education and economic empowerment.

Mishal has brought together the leading Press Clubs and Journalist’s Associations on a common platform to build the capacity of the media to report on different verticals.

Jahangir also shared that Mishal in collaboration with various institutions will create more awareness and will produce specialized programs on talented disabled youth in Pakistan.

Amir Jahangir said that Mishal Pakistan is working on creating initiatives on inspiring a new generation for developing global citizens of the 21st century. He said that the initiative will create better understanding on what does global citizenship mean, and how can individuals, particularly youth can become responsible global citizens? What the can do youth in the community and country as global citizens?

Jahangir also said that at any age, encouraging and supporting responsible global citizenship improves multiple sectors of our societies, both social and economic. However, the large youth population found in many countries draws particular attention to the challenge of giving these youth the skills, tools or systems they may need to successfully participate as citizens, he said.

Currently, there are approximately 1.77 billion youth in a world that’s more closely connected than ever before. Youth aged 10-24 represent 30% or more of the population of many developing countries, and people under 20 years of age make up about 25% of the US population as compared to 80% in Pakistan.

Mr. Muhammad Atif Sheikh, President of STEP appreciating the efforts of Mishal Pakistan said that “a disabled person becomes more disabled when the society denies him or her, the right to participate by not providing access to the community services and establishments, he also said that media can play a vital role in mainstreaming of persons with disabilities in society”.

The MoU envisages the skill development trainings of disabled persons to improve their livelihood opportunities. Mishal through its platform will engage media entities to produce documentaries, debate programs on post disaster disabilities and carry out more awareness initiatives through multiple platforms.

Both Mishal and STEP will also work on creating research opportunities on post disaster disability and media integration through education as well. Both the organizations will also be creating more awareness on understanding rights, increasing citizen’s participation and expanding accountability. This will include workshops on how do individuals in Pakistan view their rights, roles, and responsibilities as a citizen, what are the barriers citizens face to active participation and how the media views Pakistan’s political and civil engagement and what tools would increase citizen participation in Pakistan? Initiatives on the issues concerning, citizens’ need to support their goals and aspirations and what roles citizens can play in accountability of public funds will also be highlighted.

Mishal has also identified the 10 of the greatest challenges facing the world. Identified by the Global Pulse 2010 initiative of the United States Agency for International Development, which gives a clear outlook for the areas where media needs to concentrate.

Unfortunately the capacity of the media in Pakistan is limited by its exposure to international development initiatives and lack of trainings in the media sector to address the challenges in the right perspective. Mishal has also identified the 10 greatest challenges to be the basic outline for media capacity building and to identify the best journalists and media professionals in Pakistan, who not only understands the issues but also can inspire others in the industry to set benchmarks for creating more public focus on the issues.

Mishal Pakistan was launched in 2003, as the leading media research and capacity building organization. Mishal is working on building media’s capacity to report on issues impacting the society on economic opportunities and empowerment, health and survival, education and political awareness.

Honoured as the Young Global Leader for 2010 by the World Economic Forum for his work on initiatives to improve the state of media and to integrate it with the development issues concerning Pakistan, Amir Jahangir, joined Mishal Pakistan as the CEO in April this year. The Festival of Media, Valencia ranked him among the top 10 media personalities in the world for his work on making media companies more relevant to sustainability issues.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Holbrooke Promises More Transparency, Accountability in USAid to Pakistan

Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Photo by: U.S. Department of Agriculture / CC BY 2.0

U.S. assistance to Pakistan will be more transparent and accountable, the U.S. top envoy to Pakistan has asserted.*

Richard Holbrooke was responding to a letter by U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), where the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman expressed concern that the Pakistani government may not be capable enough to use the USD7.5 billion assistance properly.

In his letter dated June 14, Holbrooke informed Kerry that the government is leveraging U.S. assistance to support reforms that will encourage the Pakistani government to allocate more of its local funds for health, education and other key sectors.
The U.S. strategy for Pakistani aid allocation also includes support for structural reforms to boost investments in the country’s energy and education sectors, Holbrooke said. He added that his team is coordinating with the Asian Development Bank’s energy task force and the U.K.-Pakistan joint education task force on these initiatives.

The U.S. is slowly changing the way it does business in Pakistan in order to better integrate the priorities and plans of the Pakistani government, Holbrooke wrote in his letter. He noted that allocation of money and the identification of projects and partners have just began, and pledged to publish more information on U.S. aid to Pakistan on the websites of the U.S. embassy in the country and the U.S. Agency for International Development once plans become more concrete.

“We share your concerns of the risks for future funding should are assistance be diverted from its intended purpose,” Holbrooke wrote in response to several accountability concerns identified by Kerry.

Holbrooke confirmed that approximately 50 percent of U.S. funds in fiscal 2010 will be channeled through Pakistani federal and provincial agencies. In response to Kerry’s concern that such allocation opens up the potential for U.S. funding misuse, Holbrooke explained that the Obama administration has chosen institutions with track records of working with international organizations such as ADB and those with “strong accounting safeguards.”

On U.S. priorities in Pakistan for fiscal 2010 and beyond, Holbrooke said these would include better alignment of U.S. assistance with Pakistan’s priorities and push for internal reforms to improve Pakistan’s water supply and sanitation.

The special representative said on Kerry’s concern over U.S. development presence in Pakistan: “We share your concern that we strike the right balance between high visibility and overall impact for the Pakistani people.”

He went to describe plans to use some of U.S. funds for energy to partner with donors and the Pakistani government. The goal, according to Holbrooke, is a “larger, more significant and coordinate contribution to energy generation and distribution.”

article source: devex network

I our opinion, the best way to create transparency would be to empower media to play the role of the watch-dog on the development issues, including transactions, implementations and results to the grass root level. This will not only ensure good governance, but also a sense of ownership amongst the governments and the people in both the countries. Making the US and Pakistani citizens' truly know that the money is coming "From the American People" into the households of the People of Pakistan, helping them in education attainment, health and survival, economic opportunities and growth, democracy and political empowerment. Bridging the gap for energy requirements, understanding of the issues concerning water resources and Pakistan’s contribution in the war on terror with the US and allied forces for a better, prosperous and a stronger Pakistan for tomorrow on a more competitive global footing.

This can be achieved by building capacity of the media to report more accurately and with in-depth knowledge of the issues concerning Pakistan as a nation and a country and how it has been able to absorb the foreign assistance.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pakistan Development Issues - 4 June 2010

At least 70 people were killed following suicide attacks on two Pakistan mosques that belong to the Ahmadi community in Lahore. Gunmen armed with suicide vests, guns and grenades stormed the two mosques during prayer hour on May 28. The attacks prompted more than two hours of battles between the police and armed militants. At least 108 were wounded in the attacks and ensuing gun fight. The attacks were condemned by members of the international community, including Canada and the United Nations, whose human rights experts encouraged the government to take concrete steps to ensure the safety of Pakistan’s religious minorities. The official said there were early warning signs, including threats to the affected religious community, that were not properly heeded.

Meanwhile, at least 5 people were killed in a separate attack on a hospital in Lahore. Four gunmen stormed and opened fire on the Jinnah hospital.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The National Press Club and Mishal Pvt. Limited Sign MoU to Empower the Media for Responsible Reporting in Pakistan

The National Press Club (NPC), Islamabad and Mishal Pvt. Limited (MISHAL) have signed a memorandum of understanding on capacity building and training initiatives at the National Press Club. The MoU envisages of empowering the media by capacity building initiatives for the members of the NPC through interactive workshops, seminars and courses on specific sectors.

Both the parties will identify the gaps in the reporting structures and building the capacity of the journalists for creating opportunities according to the new tools of global communications.
Both NPC and Mishal will create a knowledge exchange platform; whereby media exchange programs will be developed to build synergies in the field of journalism and technical knowhow. Mishal will develop a framework on journalism/media recognition awards in consultation with NPC. The awards will be developed according to the areas of activities of NPC as well as on national level media and journalism initiatives. MISHAL in collaboration with NPC will also develop an annual report on the “State of Media in Pakistan”.

According to the details of the MoU initiatives for the empowerment and mainstreaming of media professionals will be undertaken by creating a hybrid pool of resources for knowledge sharing. Identifying the gaps in the reporting structures and building the capacity of the journalists for creating opportunities according to the new tools of global communications. MISHAL in collaboration with NPC will develop communication collateral on the achievements of the members of NPC. Mishal will also develop a special social media platform for the members of NPC to create a knowledge society, based on experience and information sharing.

Speaking on the occasion Mr. Afzal Butt, President National Press Club said, the National Press Club is the representative body of more than 2500 journalists based in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, it also caters for the journalists visiting Islamabad from other parts of the country as well as international journalists visiting Pakistan. Mr. Butt appreciated Mishal for taking this land mark initiative, which is for the first of its kind in the history of media development in the country that such an opportunity will be available for the media person to enhance their capacity and ability to report and discharge their professional duties. He further said that, NPC will facilitate MISHAL in identifying the areas/sectors for capacity building of its members. NPC will also share its knowledge-based resources in developing the annual report on the State of Media in Pakistan. NPC will also encourage its members to actively take part in the joint initiatives of NPC and MISHAL.
Mr. Amir Jahangir, CEO for Mishal Pvt. Limited appreciated NPC for reposing confidence in Mishal and becoming a partner for a wide-range of activities to empower the media professionals through media trainings, interactive workshops and sector-wise content development trainings for the journalists. He further said, MISHAL will finance technical consultancy for the development of social media platform to create the knowledge-based initiatives for the journalists. MISHAL will develop the media exchange program through a transparent selection process in consultation with NPC. MISHAL in collaboration with NPC will also identify the gaps in the curriculum of Mass Communication/Journalism and Media Studies and will provide a guideline to the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan for improvements in the curriculum to develop the capacity of the media industry. Mr. Jahangir has been recognized as the Young Global Leader for 2010 by the World Economic Forum for creating initiatives for sustainable development of the media sector in Pakistan. He is also the programme advisor to Stanford Research Center of Innovation and Communications on Global media and Journalism in Pakistan.

Mr. Zamir Haider, Chairman Capacity Building and Training Committee of the National Press Club said that, this is an important event for NPC, which will create great opportunities for the media persons in the Islamabad and Rawalpindi region. This will especially recognize the hard work and the professionalism of the NPC members.

The event was attended by the office bearers of NPC and visiting office bearers of other press clubs/media associations and journalists from other parts of the country including, WANA, Daradam Khel, various parts of interior Sindh and Baluchistan.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan Orakzai warns SAMAA TV

KALAYA: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Orakzai Agency chief Maulvi Said Khan Thursday criticised a private television channel SAMAA TV for airing an old video report to malign the image of Taliban among the public. He said the TV channel displayed a year-old clip, showing people being punished by Taliban and another video showing an alleged spy being shot dead in Daburi.

He said both the incidents in which he said the Taliban administered punishments to people in accordance with Islamic teachings had occurred several months ago. He said the television channel should stop “spoiling the Taliban image among the people.” Said Khan asked the TV channel to halt the propaganda against the Taliban and their Shariah Court.

He warned the print and electronic media to be careful and to stop propaganda against the Taliban; otherwise, he said action would be taken against the offending journalists.