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Eight things about Pakistan that may surprise you

We know that Pakistan is one of the world’s largest producers of cotton and wheat, and that it is also one of the world’s biggest arms importers. However, there may be other rankings that surprise us. Here are some examples.

1. Where are the women managers?

Pakistan ranked last on an International Labour Organisation (ILO) survey on “Women’s Percentage Share of All Managers”. The Survey is from 2012 and Pakistan came in at 108 on a survey sample of 108 countries, at a mere 3%.


2. Lack of internet access

We are told every year – usually through statistics released by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) or by the Annual Economic Survey – that internet access is rapidly growing in Pakistan. However, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency tasked with focusing on issues related to information and communication technologies, as of 2013, a mere 10.8% of Pakistanis access the internet. A 2014 Global Attitudes survey by the US-based Pew Centre for Research revealed that only 8 of Pakistanis surveyed said that they use the internet. The figure for neighbouring India was 20%. Pakistan clearly has a long way to go as far as its citizens having access to the internet is concerned. Of course, this may change with the increasing use of smartphones, but that change is yet to materialise and measured.


3. Cheapest city in the world

Karachi may have been called the ‘Most dangerous city in the world’ — and to a certain extent this may be accurate – but the city consistently ranks as the cheapest in the world to live in. According to a September 2014 survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Karachi was the cheapest of over 20 mega-cities ranked according to their cost of living.


4. Pakistan no Big Brother – at least not on Twitter

Contrary to what many of us think about the Government of Pakistan and PTA playing Big Brother and censoring the internet, the actual picture – at least as far as Twitter is concerned – is quite different. According to Twitter’s most recent transparency report, over half of the 796 requests by a government to Twitter to delete a tweet during the July-December 2014 period came from Turkey. Pakistan ranked among the lowest in this, making only four such requests (none of which were complied with by Twitter). By contrast, India made 15 such requests (and Twitter acted only on one of them). Throughout 2014, Pakistan made 15 such requests, far lower than most of the other countries surveyed.


5. Plastic waste

We know that Pakistan is not very good at having a clean environment, or controlling the amount of pollution that its factories and industries release into the water supply. According to a recent report in the magazine Science, Pakistan outdid even industrial behemoth America in a ranking of the amount of plastic waste released into the world’s oceans in 2010. China ranked first with close to 5 billion pounds but Pakistan – for the size of its economy – was not too far behind, releasing around 250 million pounds of plastic waste into its oceans, and coming ahead of America and even Brazil.


6. Elite flag club

Pakistan is one of only eight countries in the world whose flag does not have either red or blue in it.


7. Smartphones — but just the beginning

While most of our friends and family may have a snazzy smartphone, this gadget is far from ubiquitous for most Pakistanis. In fact, according to a worldwide survey conducted in 2014 by the Pew Research Centre, a mere 4% of Pakistanis have a smartphone – that still means around 7.5 million smartphones. However, that also means that the market has immense potential for growth, especially with the recent introduction of 3G and 4G technologies.


8. Optimism

Despite the daily bombings, stories of government corruption and being constantly bombarded by what they themselves describe as “negative news”, Pakistanis tend to be an optimistic bunch. In a 2014 global survey, over 40% of Pakistanis described their day as a “particularly good day”. This was significantly higher than those living in countries like Italy, Spain, Germany and Japan.



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