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Google Chairman Eric Schmidt's Impressions of Pakistan Visit

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt recently visited Pakistan and wrote the following post on GooglePlus after his return:

Pakistan, a Muslim country, has spent about half of its independent life under military governments. Today, Pakistani leadership celebrates the ruling coalitions success in almost finishing the first five year term in history (previous leaders indicted by the courts, assassinated by extremists or brushed aside by the generals.) In meetings last week with the senior General, Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, they made the case for a new and updated image of Pakistan: one of the largest democracies in the world, with a vibrant and open press, an upcoming demographic dividend of hardworking young people, and a highly educated elite leadership of the country. Islamabad and Lahore, where we visited, were relatively safe and certainly safer than Afghanistan. It was clear to us that Pakistan has an image problem.

Pakistan also has a power problem, as in electric power. Power is now off two hours out of three all day and all night. Estimates are that the country has enough generation capacity (hydro and oil based) to handle all the load, but corruption, power stealing, poor payment rates and the classic mistake of underpricing power compared to its real generation cost means that industrial production is threatened. Everyone of means has a UPS, and the air-conditioning seldom works on a 45 Celcius day. Our meetings often were literally in the dark, a common enough occurrence that people did not even remark about it.

Pakistanis are on their way to full mobile penetration with more than 110 million users, and all effective political communication programs now rely on SMS. 3G licenses are underway and the start of a real software industry can be seen.

Against this backdrop, another side of Pakistan emerges. The consensus is that the military drives the foreign policy of the country with unforeseen consequences. Alleged use of extremist groups to fight in Kashmir enables a criminal element to flourish, and the hosting of the Taliban in the autonomous regions (called FATA) to the north and west in the mountains turned an ungoverned area into a very dangerous area. The Army Generals explained the difference between fundamentalism (which they support) and extremism (which they fight), and the political leadership explained that the extremism now comes from “seminaries” where youth are indoctrinated, housed and fed in the rural areas where there are no opportunities at all.

Until recently a strong US ally, Pakistan is now on very good terms with China, and has improving relations with India (with whom they have had three wars.) The development of a nuclear stalemate between India and Pakistan seems to have forced them to pursue accommodation and trade is now increasing rapidly. The press are generally hyper-critical of the United States policies in the region and take the view that the India-US relationship is driving much of our countries behavior. The drone strikes are universally condemned as a violation of sovereignty and their constitution and are subject to much negotiation between the two countries. The bin Laden raid is viewed with strikingly different perspectives in the two countries.

The son of the chief of the Supreme Court is under investigation for corruption, and the media in turmoil after the appearance of staged interviews. In return, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Prime Minister is unable to govern after he was sentenced to a 30 second (yes, that’s right) detention for failing to investigate a corruption case against the President. The Prime Minister, so proud of the stability of the political system in his comments a week ago, is now the former-Prime Minister. The lack of trust within the society weakens both the real and perceived effectiveness of the government on security, corruption and good government matters.

We met a number of impressive Pakistanis, none more so than Masarrat Misbah of Smile Again. Every year, hundreds of young rural women have acid thrown on their faces by men as punishment for some dishonor, including being raped by the men who pour acid on her. This horrific crime, which often leads to death or blindness, requires painful rehabilitation and rebuilding of the woman’s life. Masarrat Misbah’s home in Lahore provides a temporary safe house. The perpetrators, most often direct family members, are seldom prosecuted and almost never convicted of anything. I will never forget the faces of these shy, young women so grievously injured in such an evil way.

Much of what people say and think about Pakistan is absolutely true for most of the FATA provinces (autonomous areas) and for Baluchistan. Pakistan's image problem results from the fact that people outside the country believe the realities of North and South Waziristan and Quetta are reflective of what the larger country looks like. Islamabad and Lahore are certainly safer than people realize, unless you are a politician (many prominent politicians still suffer assassination attempts and threats inside these cities).

Pakistan's major security challenge comes from having two many fronts. FATA represents a Haqqani network and Taliban problem, threatening the establishment in Islamabad. Baluchistan is a persistent separatist movement. Afghanistan is a threat because Pashtuns are allowed to go back and forth undocumented. All of this, including India, is simply too much for a government like Pakistan to take on right now.

We ultimately see three Pakistans: 1) The places where the security issues are true (FATA, Baluchistan, parts of SWAT Valley, and Kashmir); 2) the rest of Pakistan for the average citizen, much larger than the first and which is reasonably misunderstood and relatively safe; 3) The politician's and military's Pakistan, which whether in FATA or Islamabad, is turbulent, unsafe, and complex.

There is a good case for optimism about Pakistan, simply because of the large emergent middle class (#2). The country, vast, tribal and complicated, can follow the more successful model of India. Connectivity changes the rural experience completely.. illiteracy at 43% can be overcome relatively quickly, and providing information alternatives can dissuade young males from a life of terrorism. The well educated elite can decide to further reform the countries institutions to increase confidence in the government. The war in Afghanistan, destabilizing to Pakistan in many ways, winds down after 2014 and buys time for Pakistan to address its real and continuing internal terrorism threat (more than 30,000 civilian terror deaths in the decade.)

Technology can help in other ways as well. The power problem is mostly a tracking problem (tracing corruption and mis-distribution). The problem of extreme crimes (like acid, or stoning) in poorly policed regions can be mitigated with videos and exposes that shame authorities into prosecution. The corruption problem can be tracked and traced using mobile money and transparent government finances. We met with clever Pakistani entrepreneurs who will build large, new businesses in Pakistan in the next few years and global multinational will locate sales and eventually manufacturing in the country.

The emergent middle class of Pakistan won’t settle for a corrupt system with constant terrorism and will push for reforms in a burgeoning democracy. Here’s to the new civil society of Pakistan, who will use connectivity, information and the Internet, to drive a peaceful revolution that brings Pakistan up to its true potential.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/104233435224873922474/posts/4UcNomnhipX

Views: 539

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 22, 2012 at 9:14am

Pakistanis are making a significant voluntary contribution to Google offerings like Google Maps. It makes perfect sense for Google, a global giant, to be interested in Pakistan because of its young demographics which Schmidt described as a “great asset” in an interview published in Pakistani newspapers.
http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/11/online-digital-maps-petaluma-to.html

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 22, 2012 at 9:15am

Here's an ET story on Google chairman Mike Schmitt's visit to Pakistan:

Schmidt said that the demographic composition of the Pakistani population was a great national asset and the Pakistani youth was talented and eager enough to get acquainted with information technology, often on their own.

He assured the Prime Minister that his company was willing to help Pakistan to spread information technology throughout the country. He said that improved connectivity facilitated the youth in getting themselves gainfully engaged, which in turn was critical to combat extremist tendencies in society.

Partnering with Google

The Prime Minister said that he recently announced a Venture Capital Fund of US $10 million and would like Google Inc. to also contribute to it besides its Social Innovation Fund.

“I have, recently, directed the establishment of Universal Service Centers at Union Council level across Pakistan. The aim of these centers is to provide Government to Citizen and Government to Business services acting as an IT hub in rural areas. I would also like your support to make these centers successful,” the Prime Minister added.

Schmidt said that it was also important to formulate an economic development strategy.

Google has faced action from Pakistan, including threats of being blocked if it failed to cooperate in restricting access to objectionable content available on Google and its various services including video sharing social network YouTube, which was blocked in 2010. Pakistan has also sought cooperation from Google to clamp down on accounts operated for and by terrorists.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/394128/gilani-seeks-googles-help-in-tra...

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 10, 2012 at 2:54pm

In addition to adding $500 million to Google's revenue, young Pakistanis are making significant voluntary contributions to Google offerings like Google Maps. This has attracted the attention of Google bosses like Eric Schmidt who recently visited Pakistan and described Pakistan's young demographics as a great asset.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/11/online-digital-maps-petaluma-to.html

Here's an ET report on Google in Pakistan:

Google earns an estimated $500 million in revenues from its users in Pakistan, about 1.3% of the firm’s global total, according executives at Google Pakistan, who held their first ever public event in the country to highlight the technology giant’s interest in the country.

“Pakistan is Google’s next big market in the region,” Google’s head of Emerging Market Development, Southeast Asia, Jana Levene told a gathering of IT experts, bloggers, businessmen and selected journalists at Pearl Continental hotel in Karachi on Monday.

The gathering comes after Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt visited Pakistan in June to meet with the country’s politicians and businessmen. “It was just a regular visit. He wanted to find out how important the use of technology for the country’s leadership and businessmen is,” said Badar Khushnood, Google’s consultant in Pakistan.

Moreover, Google has intensified its operations by getting involved in a lot of projects – especially with the Punjab government – in the country recently. “Innovation Punjab” is one example where Google has partnered with Punjab Information Technology Board. It has launched a social innovation fund – in collaboration with Pakistan Software Houses association, also their partner for the event – to support young entrepreneurs struggling to get their ideas public.

Google’s increased interest in the country, Schmidt’s visit of Pakistan and now this event sends very strong signals to the country – the giant may consider opening an office in Pakistan. Khusnood denied if Google was opening its first office in the country anytime soon but added it couldn’t be ruled out. Google’s representatives attributed Pakistan’s growing importance to multiple factors.

“To enter a market, the first thing we look at is its demographics – number of internet users in that country,” Jana Levene said, explaining why Google is interested in Pakistan. “Twenty-two million internet users is a huge number. It’s more than Australia’s whole population. That’s why we are here,” she said.

The second thing Google is interested in, Levene said, is the size of the market. “Pakistan is a $400 to $500 million market for Google,” she said. Currently, four of the top 10 most popular websites in Pakistan are Google’s sites.
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But the key takeaway from the event was not the information, but the fact that it was addressed by six senior Google executives, a strong indication that the technology giant wants to expand further in the Pakistani market.

“We are calling you to help us bring more Pakistanis online,” Jana Levene said addressing country’s leadership as well as the technology sector. “Tell the world Pakistan is economically viable. It’s a safe place to do business,” Levene said.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/434461/up-and-coming-google-pakistan-ea...

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 6, 2013 at 8:31pm

Top four online outsourcing sites Elance.com, oDesk.com, freelancer.com, and Guru.com report that Pakistan ranks number 3, after US (#1)and India (#2), in terms of freelancers doing outsourced IT work on contract. Bangladesh ranks fourth.

It also shows US, Australia and the UK as the top hiring countries.

All of the above-mentioned websites work in a similar fashion: companies post job requirements on these sites. Next, freelancers or IT-companies offer their skills and price for the project listed on the website. Finally, the company chooses the best type of bid for its job requirements.

http://swproposal.com/Blog/Topic/How_to_work_with_Elance_oDesk_Free...

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 27, 2014 at 8:35pm

Assange believes #Google is an extension US govt and instrument of US Policy. http://www.newsweek.com/assange-google-not-what-it-seems-279447

From Newsweek by Julian Assange of Wikileaks:

It was at this point that I realized Eric Schmidt might not have been an emissary of Google alone. Whether officially or not, he had been keeping some company that placed him very close to Washington, D.C., including a well-documented relationship with President Obama. Not only had Hillary Clinton’s people known that Eric Schmidt’s partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel.

While WikiLeaks had been deeply involved in publishing the inner archive of the U.S. State Department, the U.S. State Department had, in effect, snuck into the WikiLeaks command center and hit me up for a free lunch. Two years later, in the wake of his early 2013 visits to China, North Korea and Burma, it would come to be appreciated that the chairman of Google might be conducting, in one way or another, “back-channel diplomacy” for Washington. But at the time it was a novel thought.

I put it aside until February 2012, when WikiLeaks—along with over thirty of our international media partners—began publishing the Global Intelligence Files: the internal email spool from the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor. One of our stronger investigative partners—the Beirut-based newspaper Al Akhbar— scoured the emails for intelligence on Jared Cohen.

The people at Stratfor, who liked to think of themselves as a sort of corporate CIA, were acutely conscious of other ventures that they perceived as making inroads into their sector. Google had turned up on their radar. In a series of colorful emails they discussed a pattern of activity conducted by Cohen under the Google Ideas aegis, suggesting what the “do” in “think/do tank” actually means.

Cohen’s directorate appeared to cross over from public relations and “corporate responsibility” work into active corporate intervention in foreign affairs at a level that is normally reserved for states. Jared Cohen could be wryly named Google’s “director of regime change.”

According to the emails, he was trying to plant his fingerprints on some of the major historical events in the contemporary Middle East. He could be placed in Egypt during the revolution, meeting with Wael Ghonim, the Google employee whose arrest and imprisonment hours later would make him a PR-friendly symbol of the uprising in the Western press. Meetings had been planned in Palestine and Turkey, both of which—claimed Stratfor emails—were killed by the senior Google leadership as too risky.
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Looking for something more concrete, I began to search in WikiLeaks’ archive for information on Cohen. State Department cables released as part of Cablegate reveal that Cohen had been in Afghanistan in 2009, trying to convince the four major Afghan mobile phone companies to move their antennas onto U.S. military bases. In Lebanon, he quietly worked to establish an intellectual and clerical rival to Hezbollah, the “Higher Shia League.” And in London he offered Bollywood movie executives funds to insert anti-extremist content into their films, and promised to connect them to related networks in Hollywood.

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If the future of the Internet is to be Google, that should be of serious concern to people all over the world—in Latin America, East and Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, the former Soviet Union and even in Europe—for whom the Internet embodies the promise of an alternative to U.S. cultural, economic, and strategic hegemony.

A “don’t be evil” empire is still an empire.

Extracted from When Google Met Wikileaks by Julian Assange published by OR Books. Newsweek readers can obtain a 20 percent discount on the cover price when ordering from the OR Books website and including the offer code word NEWSWEEK.

http://www.newsweek.com/assange-google-not-what-it-seems-279447

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 25, 2015 at 7:36am

New Delhi, April 24: The Home Ministry's decision to place the Ford Foundation under watch reminds us of a very interesting account by Author Frances Stonor Saunders of how the CIA roped in NGOs as fronts and also participants in the spy game. The account is excellently narrated in the book, Who Paid the Piper? CIA and the Cultural Cold War. The Narendra Modi led NDA government is extremely serious about the issue of NGOs and their funding. The Intelligence Bureau in a very detailed dossier had listed out the names of several NGOs which were bringing in the funds to India only with the intention of spreading a false propaganda and in simple terms, "make India look bad."

Greenpeace was the first NGO to come under the hammer and the Ministry of Home Affairs had suspended its licence with an option to show cause how it was bringing in the funds and also why it had not filed its statement of accounts. Yesterday the Ford Foundation was placed under watch.

A US Congressional investigation that was conducted in the year 1976 revealed nearly 50% of the 700 grants in the field of international activities by the principal foundations were funded by the CIA. It was also observed that the CIA found the Ford Foundation to be one of the best funding cover. It was further discovered that the Ford Foundation link to the CIA was a deliberate one and the effort that was being made was to strengthen the US cultural scene while undermining left wing cultural and political influence. The Ford Foundation according to various investigations conducted was considered to be an extension of the government and it was only carrying out the international cultural propaganda. Another observation was that the Ford Foundation had contributed 7 million US dollars to a CIA organized Congress for Cultural Freedom in the year 1960. Frances Stonor Saunders writes that the CIA had roped in NGOs not only as fronts but as willing participants in the spy game. She writes that the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation were conscious instruments of covert US policy, with directors and officers who were closely connected to, or even members of American intelligence. At times, it seemed as if the Ford Foundation was simply an extension of government in the area of international cultural propaganda. The foundation had a record of close involvement in covert actions in Europe, working closely with Marshall Plan and CIA officials on specific projects, Saunders also writes in her book.

Read more at: http://www.oneindia.com/india/paid-ngo-of-india-ford-foundation-inv...

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