Posts Tagged ‘statistics’

Mubashir Lucman Enters Competition For PTI Media Advisor

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Watch out Shahid Masood and Azeem Mian, Mubashir Luqman is up in the running for PTI Media Advisor. Last night, Dunya TV anchor Mubashir Luqman took the contest to a whole new level. Here is a part of the clip that was aired:

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Pairing up with Hassan Nisar, Mr. Luqman starts off his program by giving wrong statistics once again saying that more people in Karachi have died in the last three years than civil war in Bosnia or in the 1971 and 1965 India-Pakistan wars. Although the conditions in Karachi are extremely tragic and the violence is at its peak, the number of deaths in Karachi in the last three years is not more than the casualties of Bosnian civil war.

According to the ICRC data, 200,000 people were killed, 12,000 of them children, up to 50,000 women were raped, and 2.2 million were forced to flee their homes.

The situation in Karachi is terrible, but comparing to Bosnia is simply playing with the audiences’ emotions.

Same goes for comparing the violence in Karachi to the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistani wars.

In 1965 war Pakistan faced almost 3,900 casualties. According to different estimates in 1971 war Pakistan faced around 9,000 casualties.

By contrast, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan claims that 267 people were killed in 2008, 291 in 2009, and the number rose to 748 in 2010. Pakistan Media Watch unquestioningly condemns the violence in Karachi, and we also condemn giving false numbers and statistics. The numbers of deaths from target killings in Karachi are terrible enough. They should not be exploited for political purposes.

To discuss the situation of Karachi, Luqman invited Hassan Nisar and Imran Khan. Imran Khan was adamant he could solve the problems of Karachi by him bringing his own police officers starting from S.P/D.S.Ps to constables. Despite this being a most extraordinary suggestion, Mubashir Luqman did not question how Imran Khan planned on doing so. Rather he acted as if this was a perfectly normal suggestion.

Imran Khan took the opportunity of Luqman’s programme to make political speeches against the government during which Mubashir Luqman and Hassan Nisar continuously nodded their heads in agreement. Hassan Nisar mentioned how he had a discussion with Imran Khan at his house and says the entire awam is behind him. Mubashir Luqman then congratulated Imran Khan for a successful dharna and wishes that media should have covered it more.

Mubashir Luqman then made his move, telling Imran Khan that if he takes a stand against the current politicians and gives a deadline or a notice to them, Mubashir Luqman himself and Hassan Nisar will be in the front line helping him out. Imran Khan smiles and says ‘I thought I was inquilabi but you two have even surpassed me’. Mubashir Luqman then offers to take justice in his own hands and says “baba hum khood police ban sakty hain” and that everyone including the PTI should take it to the streets in Karachi and carry out justice on the street if the government cant provide peace and security to the people – a shockingly unprofessional and inappropriate statement that borders incitement of greater violence.

Ironically, this is the same Mubashir Luqman who during the floods last year reported that PTI was all a drama and show, and that their supposed relief camps were nothing but empty tents with PTI flags on them to fool people about their aid work.

Of course, this was before recent polls were published suggesting that Imran Khan’s popularity is rising and the competition for PTI Media Advisor had begun.

TV viewers look to news programmes for unbiased and transparent reporting on the issues. When the issues are as serious and complex as the security situation of Karachi, this becomes even more important. Unfortunately, viewers who tuned into Khari Baat Luqman Kay Saath were provided not only misinformed statistics, but the embarrassing display of another TV anchor so openly behaving as a politician’s chamcha.

Disaster Relief, Then and Now

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Ahmad Noorani, journalist or political operative?Ahmad Noorani writes for The News today a curious article about flood donations received from the international community. The thesis of Mr Noorani’s column appears to be that the present government is not as effective as the Musharraf regime in 2005. Despite the author’s intentions, though, his presentation of facts to back his claim are questionable at best. Often they are simply incorrect.

According to Noorani, “the total present pledges so far stand at only $777 million and the actual money received so far is only $82 million”. This is false.

According to data compiled by The Guardian, committed funding (funds that have been received) stood at $687,228,789 on 26 August. And additional $324,309,146 in uncommitted pledges (funds that have been promised, but not yet delivered) is outstanding. That means that the total present pledges can be no less than $1 Billion.

The largest donor is the United States, which has given $155,930,000 and pledged an additional $50,000,000. The next two largest donors are Saudi Arabia ($74,448,904) and United Kingdom ($64,765,001). In addition to monetary donations, many countries have provided “in kind” donations of foods and transportation, such as over 30 helicopters that are being provided by the US.

According to Noorani,

“A spokesman for the Economic Affairs Division confirmed to The News that by the weekend the total aid received in cash stood at $82 million while relief goods worth $60 million had also arrived, making the total foreign aid received at $142 million.”

It is not clear from Mr Noorani’s column what account the representative from EAD confirmed, but the claim that “the total foreign aid received” was not more than $142 million is not possibly correct.

It is also of concern that Mr Noorani compares international response to the 2005 earthquake to the response to the 2010 floods without considering the very different contexts of these two disasters. In fact, there are several important differences between the two events that analysts believe to be responsible for the difference in international aid.

The death toll in the 2005 earthquake was over 73,000. The latest reports put the number of deaths from flooding at around 1,600. While the number of deaths attributed to the floods is expected to grow, it is a slower killer than the earthquake, potentially making it seem less urgent to many international donors. According to one NGO, disasters that are more quickly destructive raise more relief money.

World Vision typically raises 10 to 15 times more from donors responding to a hurricane or earthquake as opposed to a flood, said Randy Strash, World Vision’s strategy director for emergency response.

There are other obvious reasons as well: The economy in 2005 was much stronger than the economy in 2007, making many donors feel that they can give more of their personal funds to help others. And, while the worst crisis in recent history, the flooding comes only a few months after the earthquakes in Haiti resulting in what many are calling “donor fatigue”.

None of these points are addressed in Mr Noorani’s column.

It is also curious that, when describing donations, Mr Noorani switches between currencies without providing any constant by which to compare. After some basic conversions using the website XE.com, it appears that some of Mr Noorani’s data points may be misleading.

For example, according to Mr Noorani, the total demands of provincial governments amount to over Rs.1 Trillion, or $11.8 Billions in US dollars. While no one suggests that the amounts currently raised for relief and reconstruction are anywhere near adequate, none of the recent crises saw such a large amount of donations.

The most recent crisis before the floods, the earthquake in Haiti, has received a pledge from the international community for $5.3 Billions over the next two years. This is less than the $7.5 Billion pledged by the USA alone last fall even before the floods devastated the country. Furthermore, the pledge did not come until April, four months after the disaster. While everyone will hopefully do more to help the flood victims, saying that fundraising is a failure if it does not achieve such levels as Mr Noorani suggests does not provide a realistic metric for evaluation.

Given the introduction and conclusion so the column, the author’s intent seems to be to suggest that the present government is not as effective as the Musharraf regime. What the author actually does, however, is make false comparisons and ignore important qualitative and quantitative data that explain differences in the response to the 2005 and 2010 disasters. While we hope that Mr Musharraf is able to raise some funds to help the country, it is important that media reports of donations be accurate and impartial so as to encourage everyone to give generously. Misleading reports such as the one filed by Mr Noorani do not help.

The Nation Tries Statistical Sleight of Hand

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Once again, The Nation has attempted to pull a statistical sleight of hand trick, making claims about the economy that are not supported by the underlying data. While mistakes are somtimes made, this seems to be an ongoing problem for The Nation, and the pattern suggests that the newspapers editors are either not properly reviewing reports before they are published, or are intentionally misleading their readers.

The present case refers to an article published on March 21, 2010 with no byline titled, “Inflation swings upward.” In this article, the author quotes several statistics from the Federal Bureau of Statistics’ Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) for the Week Ended March 18, 2010 which can be downloaded here.

All of the statistics quoted by The Nation are based on week-by-week changes. While these are certainly interesting numbers, they are too micro-focused to be able to correctly identify a trend. It is as if a batsman hit a six, and his team was declared winning even though they were behind 272 overall. Better is to look at statistics over a period of time to determine what the trends are.

Monthly, Quarterly,and Half-yearly SPI statistics are published on page 3 of the FBS report, but these statistics were not quoted by The Nation.

Looking at these statistics presents a much different picture than what The Nation tries to paint for its readers. While there has been some increase over recent months, SPI has actually been fairly stable.

Also, SPI is only one metric in measuring economic growth. The Nation appears to have latched onto this as a convenient way to attempt to paint the present government as insensitive to the most vulnerable citizens. However, financial reporting by respected business media paint a very different picture of the economy at present.

BusinessWeek reported on March 11 that “Pakistan Inflation Slows in February for First Time in 4 Months.”

Pakistan’s inflation slowed in February for the first time in four months, giving the central bank room to cut interest rates and support economic growth.

The Nation also does not mention that the statistics that it quotes are for the week ending March 18th. In the weeks prior to this, there was no Finance Minister at the helm of the economy. It was only then that Abdul Hafeez Shaikh was named Finance Minister.

Inflation in the economy is a difficult problem to solve even for nations that are not suffering near-daily attacks from terrorist militants. The media should be presenting good information to the people so that they can make informed decisions and help government leaders to create the conditions for a prosperous economy that benefits everyone. Playing games with numbers and presenting misleading statistics is not only bad journalism, it’s bad for the country.