Pakistan Economy "Not in a Good Place"? Atif Mian's Gloom Justified?

Pakistani-American economist Atif Mian has recently analyzed Pakistan's economy in a series of tweets. He has said "Pakistan's economy is not in a good place", adding that the nation's "per capita income has not risen in 3 years (in fact down slightly)". He has particularly mentioned the country's "exaggerated external demand driven by its rentier economy", "flawed energy policy" and "a broken economic decision system" among the main causes for poor economic performance.  Is Atif Mian's diagnosis correct? Is the official reported data Atif Mian using accurate? What is the current PTI government doing or not doing to correct the problems identified by Mr. Mian? Let's try and assess the situation. 

Economist Atif Mian's Tweet on Pakistan Economy

Per Capita Income:

Pakistan's officially reported GDP and per capita incomes are grossly understated. These are based on the last economic census that was done from April 2003 to December 2003 and published in 2005. The last agriculture census was in 2010, and livestock census in 2006, according to Dr. Ishrat Husain, former governor of The State Bank of Pakistan. The country's economy has changed significantly since then, adding several new economic activities while others have become less important.  For example, the Quantum Index of Large Scale Manufacturing (QIM) with 2005-06 base year gives a weight to textiles of 20.9% (Yarn 13.7 and cloth 7.2). But the textile industry has moved up to higher value added products as reflected in its exports. The value added textiles (non-yarn and non-cloth) now make almost 80% of the total textile exports. These changes are not reflected in current GDP calculations. 

In its 2014 annual report, the State Bank of Pakistan talked about a number of new sectors that are either under-reported or not covered at all: "In terms of LSM growth, a number of sectors that are showing strong performance; (for example, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector; plastic products; buses and trucks; and even textiles), are either under reported, or not even covered. The omission of such important sectors from official data coverage, probably explains the apparent disconnect between overall economic activity in the country and the hard numbers in LSM."

Bangladesh just rebased its GDP in 2020-21 to 2015-16. This has boosted its per capita income by double digits for every year since 2015-16.  Bangladesh's per capita income for the 2015-16 fiscal year has now gone up to $1,737 from $1,465 in the old calculation. For the 2019-2020 fiscal, the per capita income has gone up to $2,335 from $2,024.  The new GDP estimate covers 21 sectors, up from 15 sectors previously.  India last rebased its GDP in 2015, a change that bumped up its per capita GDP by double digits. Nigeria's last rebasing in 2012 increased the size of its economy (GDP) by nearly 90%. Pakistan's current base year is 2005-6. Rebasing which is now long overdue will almost certainly increase Pakistan's per capita income by double digits. 

In this age of big data, it is important for Pakistan to ensure that its bureaucracy at Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) keeps the national economic data as current as possible. PBS should release the results of the Census of Manufacturing Industries CMI 2015-16 and the finance ministry should rebase Pakistan's economy to year 2015-16 to better reflect the current economic realities. This data is extremely important for businesses, investors, lenders and policymakers. 

Energy Mix:

It is true that Pakistan has relied on imported fossil fuels to generate electricity. The cost of these expensive imported fuels like furnace oil mainly used by independent power producers (IPPs) has been and continues to be a major contributor to the "exaggerated external demand driven by its rentier economy" referred to by Atif Mian. However, Pakistan has recently been adding hydronuclear and indigenous coal-fired power plants. 
Pakistan Power Generation Fuel Mix. Source: Third Pole

Construction of a 1,100 MW nuclear power reactor K2 unit in Karachi has been completed by China National Nuclear Corporation, according to media reports. A similar reactor unit K3 will add another 1,100 MW of nuclear power to the grid, bringing the total nuclear power installed capacity of Pakistan to 3,630 MW (12% of total power) by the end of 2022.  Hualong One reactors being installed in Pakistan are based on improved Westinghouse AP1000 design which is far safer than Chernobyl and Fukushima plants.  In addition, Pakistan is also generating  9,389  MW (about 28% of total power) of low-carbon hydroelectric power in response to rising concerns about climate change. 

Hydroelectric dams contributed 37,689 GWH of electricity or 27.6% of the total power generated, making hydropower the biggest contributor to power generated in the country. It is followed by coal (20%), LNG (19%) and nuclear (11.4%). 

Cost Per Unit of Electricity in Pakistan. Source: Arif Habib

Nuclear offers the lowest cost of fuel for electricity (one rupee per KWH) while furnace oil is the most expensive (Rs. 22.2 per KWH). 

Pakistan Exports Trend 2011-21. Courtesy of Ali Khizer

External Accounts Balance:
Pakistan is the world's sixth largest labor exporter with nearly 10 million Pakistanis working overseas. These workers sent home $31 billion in remittances calendar year 2021 (CY2021), up 19% from CY2020. In addition, Pakistan merchandise exports hit a new record of $28.3 billion in CY2021. Together, Pakistan's merchandise exports and overseas worker remittances added up to nearly $60 billion in 2021. 
Pakistan Textile Exports Trend 2011-21. Courtesy of Ali Khizer

Exports of textiles that make up the bulk of Pakistani exports jumped 32% from $13.1 billion in CY2020 to $17.3 billion in CY2021. The country's technology exports soared 40% to $2.5 billion in CY2021.  “So far, (the) country’s exports of non-traditional products, including information technology, have grown by 60 percent in the last four months," says Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood. 
Pakistan's Higher Value Added Exports. Source: Dr. Ishrat Husain
Pakistan's textile manufacturing and exports are moving from yarn and fabric toward higher value added products like readymade garments. The value added textiles (non-yarn and non-cloth) now make almost 80% of the total textile exports, according to Dr. Ishrat Husain. 
Pakistan's Current Account Balance vs International Oil Prices. Sou...

Recent history shows that Pakistan's current account deficits vary with international oil prices.  Pakistan's trade deficits balloon with rising imported energy prices. One of the keys to managing external account balances lies in reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil and gas. 

Professor Atif Mian's criticism of Pakistan's economy is partially valid but his pessimism is unwarranted. He is working with flawed data based on an economic census conducted more than 15 years ago.  This data does not truly reflect current economic activities, per capita incomes and productivity. Pakistani bureaucracy needs to ensure that the underlying data for GDP and productivity is regularly updated to inform businessmen, investors, lenders and policymakers. Pakistan is also significantly boosting its foreign exchange earnings through exports and remittances from overseas workers. The issue of reliance on expensive fossil fuel imports is also being addressed by building more hydro, nuclear and renewable energy. At the same time, indigenous coal-fired power plants are also being added. Unlike Atif Mian, I do see light at the end of the tunnel. 

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Comment by Riaz Haq on January 19, 2022 at 7:57am

#Pakistan president calls for National #Blockchain Strategy. Dr. Alvi discusses problems Pakistan faces with #data silos across gov't functions, & supports formation of a National Blockchain Strategy for his country, starting with universities. - CoinGeek

Leading the delegation is Founding President of BSV blockchain’s association, Jimmy Nguyen, who will spend a week in Pakistan with the delegation as part of a series of meetings in Islamabad and Karachi with senior government ministers and leaders from private business.

“This week, our Association has had the privilege of bringing a delegation of blockchain experts to Pakistan to learn how BSV can help the country harness the power of the blockchain – for its government agencies, enterprises, start-up ventures and developers,” Nguyen told CoinGeek. “Having attended sit-down meetings with the President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi and the Minister of Science and Technology Mr. Shilbi Faraz on Monday, today’s Pakistan Blockchain Summit is a great chance to meet and hear from the dedicated and highly engaged blockchain community in the country.”

The meeting was broadcast in a news report on Pakistan Television Network PTV, and the president’s official Twitter account also posted a picture of the participants in a series of tweets about the issues discussed.

Dr. Alvi mentioned concerns he has with a lack of data-sharing between government departments, and discussed how blockchain could be used for digital identity and ID management. It could also make these functions more transparent and reduce corruption in both government and business, he said. The president also noted that Pakistani technology talent was driving some of the world’s largest companies, and hoped that local IT startups would continue to attract investment.

Nguyen spoke about how blockchain, and particularly BSV, could be used in various functions across the Pakistani economy, including: banking and payments, fintech, digital advertising, big data management, customs, voting, health care, as well as environmental and governance issues. He also mentioned the work BSV industry representatives are doing with other governments around the world to improve services.

Dr. Alvi stressed that a “systematic and inclusive approach” was required to transition his country’s data management to the blockchain, which included building awareness of what the technology could do and how business and government could use it to their benefit.

He also called for more training and development in other “fourth industrial revolution” technologies such as artificial intelligence and cyber security. Nguyen said his organization was willing to assist in training employees at all levels of government and the public service.

BSV blockchain’s associaiton has led a drive into South Asia, the Middle-East and Africa, meeting with several government and business representatives across the wide and populous regions. Reflecting the potential for growth in this part of the world, the association has launched a BSV Hub in Dubai led by Muhammad Salman Anjum of InvoiceMate to educate and form partnerships with business and other institutions that could benefit from BSV blockchain technology. There is also an ongoing pilot program with the government of Tuvalu that could see several government and banking functions go completely digital.

With its unbounded capacity for processing and storing massive amounts of data securely, BSV would be the most logical blockchain to choose for any organization looking to incorporate blockchain technology. BSV, using Bitcoin’s original technology and permanent protocol rules, is capable of replicating the functions of today’s internet, but in a way that timestamps and logs all information as it changes, as well as allowing users to “own” and control levels of access to their data.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 19, 2022 at 6:44pm

Pakistan's central bank chief believes the country has the capacity and financial cushion to ride out rising external account pressures being driven by a surge in global commodity prices.

The pressure should ease soon as central banks around the world tighten monetary policy, which is likely to curb rebounding global demand, he said.

"What we have to ensure is that we have the capacity to sustain ourselves through it...I believe we do," said State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Dr Reza Baqir in an interview with Reuters on Monday.

He said the surge in global commodity prices over the past few months was being driven by a sharp recovery in demand as economies bounced back from a COVID-induced slump.

"But as central banks begin to turn hawkish, it is going to moderate global demand growth; that in turn is what is going to bring down international commodity prices," said Baqir, who previously worked at the International Monetary Fund.

"We (Pakistan) just have to get through it until this commodity supercycle ceases," he said, adding that two thirds of the rise in the trade deficit over the past few months had been driven by surging global commodity prices. "One third of our typical (import) payments on any given day are oil payments...and you have seen how much oil prices have risen."

The price of Brent crude rose 50% in 2021 and has rallied further in 2022. read more

Pakistan's imports grew 65% year-on-year to over $40 billion in the first half of this financial year, while exports rose 25% to $15.1 billion. Over the same period, the trade deficit has more than doubled to $25.4 billion from $12.3 billion.

The current account balance meanwhile turned to a deficit in the current financial year, standing at $7.1 billion in the first five months compared to a $1.9 billion surplus over the same period last year.

The rapid rise in the country's import bill has put a strain on its foreign exchange reserves. But Baqir said these were high enough to ride out the storm, while Pakistan's adoption of a flexible exchange rate in 2019 provided an additional buffer.

Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves stand at $24 billion, up sharply from $7.2 billion in 2018-19. Out of the $24 billion, $17.6 billion is currently held at the central bank.

"Our flexible exchange rate system is one of the institutional reforms that has happened in Pakistan that, in turn, will help to ensure the sustainability of our balance of payments," Baqir said.

Pakistan's central bank has lifted rates by 275 basis points to 9.75% since September to tackle a falling Pakistani rupee, high inflation and a current account deficit. The bank signalled in December that it was likely close to done with hiking rates in the near-term. The rupee has depreciated about 10% over the past six months against the dollar. read more

Pakistan's consumer price index rose 12.28% in December from a year earlier, above the central bank's upwardly revised 9%-11% target for this financial year.

"We are confident that they (inflation worries) will be suitably addressed by the measures that we have taken," Baqir said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 20, 2022 at 7:29am

Pakistan’s GDP size expands increased by 11.3%t o $346.76 billion in FY21 showing growth of 5.37%

The National Accounts Committee (NAC) Thursday approved the revised figures of Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 5.37% against the provisional numbers of 3.9% for the fiscal year 2020-21 (FY21).

According to the final numbers approved by the committee, the per capita increased to Rs 266,614 or US$ 1,666 in 2020-21 while the size of the economy reached to US$ 346.76 billion.

The Committee also accorded approval to the change of base of National Accounts from 2005-06 to 2015-16.
The 104th meeting of the NAC was held here under the Chairmanship of Secretary ministry of Planning, Development & Special Initiatives Abdul Aziz Uqaili.

Due to improved coverage and better estimation of input output structure of industries, the gross value addition has increased by Rs. 3.1 trillion in the base year 2015-16 from Rs. 27.4 to Rs. 30.5 trillion, showing an increase of 11.3% in the Gross Value Added (GVA) for the base year 2015-16.

This shows that in the previous base of 2005-06 economy was under estimated by 11.3%. Agriculture showed an increase of 8.3% from Rs. 6.7 to 7.3 trillion, industry grew by 11.9% from Rs. 5.3 to 5.9 trillion and services enhanced by 12.5% from Rs. 15.3 to 17.3 trillion.

With rebasing and level shift of economy from Rs. 29.1 trillion to Rs. 32.7 trillion in 2015-16, the GDP at market prices increased to 55.5 trillion in 2021, and Gross National Income increased to Rs. 59.3 trillion.

The per capita income increased to Rs 266,614 or US$ 1,666 in 2020-21. The size of the economy reached to US$ 346.76 billion.

According to a press release issued by the ministry of Planning, the Ministry and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) have decided to devise a mechanism to rebase National Accounts as well as price statistics after every five years in line with the best practice adopted by the most of the countries of the world, as both go in tandem to capture more areas and activities, which have taken place in the last couple of years.

The PBS being a National Statistical Organization has to comply with the international standards while compiling national indicators of economy.

The methodology adopted in the re-basing is in line with the 2008 System of National Accounts (SNA). During 2014-15 to 2016-17, the PBS has conducted about 45 census, surveys, and studies to properly capture the economic activities in the country.

The results of these census, surveys, and studies have already been reviewed by internal and World Bank experts.
Efforts have been made to include new economic activities. Dedicated surveys and studies have been
conducted to capture the share of economic activities in the economy. Input output ratios of various
industries have been updated, which has resulted in better reflection of their contribution in the

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 20, 2022 at 7:43am

Country registered 14-year high GDP growth in 2021 despite COVID-19: Asad Umar

Last fiscal year, country’s economic growth rate recorded an all-time high in 14 years at 5.7%, minister says.
Says major industries also succeed in maintaining the growth rate at 15% which is more than average.
In last two weeks, Opposition came up with two failed narratives, PTI leader says.

FAISALABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar claimed on Thursday that despite being hit by COVID-19, Pakistan’s economy witnessed record development under the leadership of Imran Khan, Geo News reported.

Coronavirus had badly affected the world’s economy, but last year, Pakistan’s economic growth shot up as compared to the last 14 years, he said.

Talking to journalists in Faisalabad, the PTI leader shed light on the economy and said that during the last fiscal year, the country’s economic growth rate was forecast at 3.4% but it recorded an all-time high in 14 years at 5.7%.

Coronavirus has battered the world’s economy, but under the leadership of Imran Khan Pakistan’s economy is progressing toward development, he added.

The federal minister further said that the last year, the growth of industries recorded a 15-year high, while major industries also succeed in maintaining the growth rate at 15% which is more than average.

Historic increases in the production of wheat were recorded while potato, tomato, onion, and natural gas and crude oil production also shot up.

Umar also lashed out at the Opposition, saying that in the last two weeks, it came up with two failed narratives.

"I pity for them (the Opposition) as the government vanquished them in National Assembly after passing bills with a majority," he said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 20, 2022 at 9:43am

Pakistan Quantum Index of Manufacturing (QIM) rebased

ISLAMABAD: The government has rebased Quantum Index of Large Scale Manufacturing Industries (LSMI) from 2005-06 to 2015-16 with increasing the total 112 items with cumulative weight of 70.3 percent for computation to 123 items having total weight of 78.4 percent, where, the Ministry of Industries and Production weight has been decreased from 49.556 percent in the QIM 2005-06 to 40.54 percent in QIM 2015-16.

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has released a report on the rebasing of Quantum Index of Large Scale Manufacturing Industries (QIM) from 2005-06 to 2015-16, which stated that the weights presently used for the QIM were derived from the Census of Manufacturing Industries (CMI) 2005-2006. Total 112 items with cumulative weight of 70.3 percent are being used for computation of QIM.

The production data is collected from Oil Companies Advisory Council (OCAC), Ministry of Industries and Production (MOIP) and Provincial Bureaus of Statistics (BOS).

Moreover, to keep QIM more reliable, update and to overcome the challenges, the current QIM is rebased on the basis of results of CMI 2015-16. The rebased QIM has been computed with 123 items having total weight of 78.4 percent derived from the CMI 2015-16 with all existing data sources with addition of the PBS internal data source.

It further stated that new weights have been derived at two stages, the weight at industry level have been derived on the basis of gross value added (GVA) of Large Scale Manufacturing Industries (LSMI) at the basic prices.

The total GVA for the LSMI is taken as 100 and percentage contribution of each industry has been considered as the weight of that industry.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 20, 2022 at 10:29am

Arif Habib Limited
The NAC, in its 104th meeting, reviewed the change of base of National Accounts from FY06 to FY16. With this revision, the final estimates of GDPg of FY21 came out to be 5.57%.

Full report

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 20, 2022 at 11:16am

Pakistan's Energy Security

By Farrukh Saleem

Pakistan’s current energy mix is 35 percent indigenous gas, 31 percent oil, 12 percent coal, 8.7 percent LNG, 7.7 percent hydroelectricity, 2.7 percent nuclear, 1.1 percent renewables and a small fraction from imported electricity. We import more than one-third of our energy needs and this dependence on imported fuels means energy insecurity. Lo and behold, in the next four years local gas production is projected to fall from 4 billion cubic feet per day to 2 billion cubic feet per day. Lo and behold, that would translate into even greater energy insecurity.

We import over $20 billion worth of petroleum products, petroleum crude, liquified natural gas and liquified petroleum gas. We import coal worth $2.5 billion a year. More than 85 percent of the oil consumed is imported and 54 percent of coal is imported. We end up spending more than 80 percent of our export earnings on importing fuel. Our fuel-related imports result in a multi-billion dollar current account deficit which we fill by borrowing from wherever we can-multilateral $60 billion; bilateral $36 billion; commercial $16 billion and bonds/sukuks $11 billion.

The consequence of fuel-related import dependence is a high degree of energy insecurity. We need to move towards ‘energy sufficiency’ and then to ‘energy security’. According to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), “Pakistan may have over 9 billion barrels of petroleum oil…” That is 50 years worth of consumption. According to the EIA, “Pakistan holds sizable shale gas reserves of 105 trillion cubic feet (Tcf).” That is 73 years worth of consumption.

If India has found 3.6 billion barrels of reserves just across the Pak-India border, why can’t we do the same? Here are the four things we need to do: First, an independent, professional upstream regulator. Second, a new Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy. Third, Open Acreage Licensing. Fourth, removing regulatory uncertainty caused by the 18th Amendment (these recommendations as per the EIA).

We need to do two things: Reduce the share of imported fuels and reduce the cost of energy (in order to enhance our energy security). Imagine; we currently lose more than “55 percent of the primary energy used for electricity during generation.” Imagine: generation losses in our thermal power plants range from 40 percent to 60 percent. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has five recommendations: increase the share of alternative energy sources. Residential rooftop solar solutions. Indigenous coal mining. Invest in infrastructure to reduce energy losses and theft. Better building and insulation standards.

Our import-driven energy policy is not sustainable. Our import-driven energy policy is making us more and more energy insecure. We have a Rs3 trillion circular debt because we have an import-driven energy policy. We are going to have a $40 billion trade deficit because we have an import-driven energy policy. We are going to have a $15 billion current account deficit because we have an import-driven energy policy. Our rupee is falling because we have an import-driven energy policy. We must urgently capture the real nature of this threat to our national security – and then work on mitigation

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 23, 2022 at 7:00am

Muzzammil Aslam
پاکستان کی تاریخ کی بلند ترین مشینری میں سرمایہ کاری 2021 . مسلم لیگ ن کے پہلے تین سال اور پی ٹی آئ کی پہلے تین سال سرمایہ کاری میں واضع فرق۰ الحمد اللہ!
Translated from Urdu by
Investment in the highest machinery in the history of Pakistan 2021. There is a clear difference between the first three years of PML-N and the first three years of PTI. Praise be to Allah!

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 23, 2022 at 7:56am

Riaz Haq
Replying to
is right! #Pakistan must grow its #exports to deal with its current account imbalances. Meanwhile, please note that Pakistan #textile exports are rapidly changing from yarn and cloth to higher value-added #garments. Also growing #tech #exports by double digits.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 23, 2022 at 1:13pm

Riaz Haq
#Pakistan PM #imrankhanPTI says #poverty has been reduced & #farmers #income are up 73%, while Pak #GDP rose by 5.37%. High global #energy & #food prices have fueled #inflation & bumped up Pak current account deficit to $20 billion. #economy #COVID19

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) - Addressing the country during the Aap Ka Wazir-e-Azam - Ap Kay Saath programme on Sunday, the Prime Minister (PM) of Pakistan Imran Khan said that if he leaves the government, he will be more dangerous. If he come to the streets, his opponents will not find a way to escape. He added that it is said daily that a deal has been struck. The opposition say that they want to save the people. People of the country will not come out at their request. The government will complete its term and the next turn also belongs to it.
he does not consider President Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) Shehbaz Sharif as leader of the opposition but as a national criminal.

He added that the inflation is a problem not only of Pakistan but of the whole world. Those who are asking for National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) make noise in Parliament, they do not let me speak. So I try to hold the sessions and interact with people of the country every month.

Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan said that we have nothing to do with the robbers; I wanted to answer in front of people every month. In principle, questions should be answered in Parliament, but the opposition members make noise and do not allow me to speak. The Islamic welfare state is our manifesto. When it came to power, the country was on the verge of default.

PM Imran Khan said that the poverty has been reduced in during Pakistan Tehreek -e-Insaaf s (PTI) tenure. Farmers income increased by 73%, while the GDP increased by 5.37%.

Addressing the question on the culminating inflation, the premier said that inflation is not just a problem of Pakistan. Corona has hit the world economy hard. Unfortunately, we have a current account deficit of 20 billion.

With the depreciation of the Rupee, the things that are imported become more expensive. The country spent Rs 8 Billion on the people during Corona.

When the country s problems were solved, Corona came, which affected the salaried class the most. The world is in crisis because of Corona.

He further added that we will get rid of the problem of inflation very soon. I will collect Rs 8,000 Billion in taxes in Pakistan. Palm oil has become expensive all over the world.

PM Imran Khan said that the salaried class is in trouble, he will call the industrialists and ask them to increase the salaries of the salaried class, people have been given Rs 40 Billion to build houses. The government has removed the obstacles in the construction sector, 3 Million houses are being built. A record production of cotton, sugarcane, maize, rice and wheat has been done.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Imran Khan started receiving direct phone calls from general public during a programme "Aap Ka Wazir-e-Azam - Aap Kay Saath".

According to details, the Prime Minister was listening to the complaints and opinions of people and inform them about different initiatives taken by government.

People could contact with Prime Minister on telephone number 051-9224900.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has so far held four public sessions in which he responded to 86 questions asked by the public.

Out of the total 86 queries, 74 questions were asked through phone calls, while 12 queries were received on social media.

Public participation in the Aap Ka Wazir-e-Azam - Aap Kay Saath programme was categorized as Punjab 47 percent, Islamabad 15 percent, overseas 11 percent, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa seven percent each, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan 2.4 percent each and Balochistan 2.8 percent.


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