Stories published in April, 2020

How will Covid-19 impact global value chains?

Despite the numerous supply-chain disruptions experienced due to environmental catastrophes in the last decade — including the eruption of a volcano in Iceland, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami etc. — most well established companies were still caught off guard by Covid-19 and unprepared to adapt accordingly. But coronavirus is not the first, nor will it be the last, major disruptor of global value chains. Organisations around the world have fabricated a global value chain that runs on outsourcing and thin margins (mostly in China), and the coronavirus has exposed just how fragile this process is. As Covid-19 jolts the world economy, it is quite possible ...

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How to implement vocational training reforms in Pakistan

Pakistan’s population is estimated to reach almost 340 million by the year 2050, and will hit nearly 400 million at the end of this century. Unfortunately, based on the current systems, it appears that most of these people will struggle to get even a basic school level education, let alone attend universities. Most of Pakistan’s ever-increasing population comprises of working-class people who need hands on skills and blue-collar vocational training in order to survive and compete in a rapidly changing world. Anyone who lives in the country will know very well that often one is hard pressed to find good technicians, electricians, builders, ...

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The dilemma facing overseas citizens stranded in Pakistan

I’m a British resident stranded in Pakistan – should I stay put or be repatriated on a special charter flight?  The answer is as complicated as the question itself. Thousands of British travellers stranded in Pakistan are set to return to the United Kingdom (UK) on a string of special government charter flights operating from Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. The official UK foreign travel advisory urges all British nationals willing to go home to register for these flights by May 1st since there is no guarantee that there will be any further flights. Could this potentially be one of my last chances to get ...

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The words of Maulana Tariq Jamil

Renowned religious scholar, Maulana Tariq Jamil, is currently in the news due to his  controversial remarks about “immodest” women. In a telethon, organised by Prime Minister Imran Khan for raising funds to combat Covid-19, Maulana Tariq Jamil remarked that the pandemic was God’s punishment for society’s sins, such as lying, deceit and obscenity. If he had stopped here, perhaps such a controversy would not have arisen, but instead he went on to explain what he meant by obscenity. With his voice breaking down, he put the blame squarely on women and their immodesty. “When Muslim daughters practice immodesty and the youth ...

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The ugly truth about Pakistan’s hospitals

There was a sudden bombardment of messages in the Whatsapp group chat consisting of my batch from medical college, with more than 200 messages flooding it in over half an hour. They must be discussing some new developments in Covid-19 vaccines or treatment protocols, I assumed. But that was not the case for the sudden upsurge in messages. It all began when one of our batch mates in Canada told us that she, along with other members of the civil society, is volunteering to prepare face masks from home for a local hospital. This started a discussion among my batch mates, working ...

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Assessing the Covid-19 economic fallout in Pakistan

As the global economy comes to a standstill, one question dominating headlines in Pakistan is whether or not the country’s economy can afford a lockdown. While analysts weigh the cost and benefits of such a move, it is imperative to first understand the economic ramifications of the current situation before one attempts to present a solution. GDP growth While reviewing the economic situation of Pakistan for 2019-20, it is heartening to note that despite Covid-19’s adverse economic impact, the agriculture sector will still experience modest growth. This is crucial since the sector accounts for roughly 20% of Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP). ...

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The impending corona catastrophe and the clerics who will pray at home

The clerics insist on keeping the mosques open during Ramazan, and we say “fine”. This is resignation in its darkest, most hostile form. The full sentiment is “Fine, let them die”, because we don’t have the patience anymore to face the clout of the all-powerful Pakistani mullah. No amount of science-based advice from federal health experts or desperate pleas by prominent Pakistani doctors will seemingly get in the way of mass-infection and the resulting socioeconomic chaos. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, never quite known for maintaining a firm stance against religious hardliners, has said “fine” in full knowledge of the ...

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Lessons for a ‘smarter’ lockdown

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, at the time of writing, has infected over 2.9 million and killed more than 200,000 people around the globe. However, surprisingly, Australia and New Zealand are two countries that have domestically set political differences aside and are effectively working towards “flattening the curve” of daily new cases of Covid-19 infections. As of April 26, 2020, the total Covid-19 cases in Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan stand at 6,703, 1,121, and 12,723 respectively. Even though the number of cases in both Australia and New Zealand is still on the lower side, when compared to other “western” states, their ...

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The dangers of being a journalist in Kashmir

Earlier this week, Kashmiri journalist Gowhar Geelani was charged by the police in Jammu and Kashmir for allegedly “indulging in unlawful activities through his posts and writings on social media”. This was just the latest in a slew of attacks unleashed against press freedom in Kashmir; reporter Peerzada Ashiq and photojournalist Masrat Zahra are also facing charges for their “factually incorrect” news story and “anti-national” social media posts respectively. Evidently, the facts mentioned in Ashiq’s story clearly did not go down well with the authorities since he highlighted a critical issue of one region reaping undue benefits at the cost of a marginalised region. Hence, the ...

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How will falling oil prices impact Pakistan?

The command that oil holds over the global economy was evident in 1973, when oil producing Arab nations restricted oil sales during the Yom Kippur war, thus resulting in oil prices quadrupling. Thus, the recent oil market crash leading to a 70% decline in oil prices from $70 per barrel to $20 per barrel is a cause for concern for a few while others, like Pakistan, breathe a sigh of relief. But in order to understand the ramifications of falling oil prices it is imperative that one grasps exactly how the oil market has been functioning for the past few years. America has long wanted to reduce ...

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