Inside ATP: Who Reads

Posted on July 5, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, About ATP
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Adil Najam

In the 1,120 days that we have run we have never had a dearth of topics to write about on Pakistan. Between our volatile politics, our effervescent society, our explosive geopolitics, our rich cultural heritage, our captivating literature and music, there is always something to say about Pakistan and Pakistaniat.

Today is no different.

But today, for no particular reason at all, I want to do something different. Based on many interesting discussions I have had with ATP-readers I have met, I want to share with you some interesting facts about this blog itself – I suspect that some of these factoids might surprise some of you.

#1. Who Reads

Many regular readers seem to believe that the majority of the readers of come from the United States and, conversely, relatively few read us in Pakistan itself. Except for possibly the first few weeks of its existence, this has never, in fact, been true. It is less true today than ever before. Indeed, we seem to be witnessing a sudden (and very welcome) rise in visitors from Pakistan itself. This probably has much to do with the increasing internet connectedness of Pakistan and Pakistanis, but as its result, there is a rather interesting demographic shift happening within our readership and within our comments pages.

We do take statistics and numbers seriously, but over the year we have tried hard not to obsess about them. In fact, while we do not shy away from controversial topics that we deem substantively important, we try hard not to use controversy or sensationalism as a tool to attract readers. Yet, we have been lucky enough to have seen a steady and continuing growth in readership throughout our three years. Let me focus here on where these readers come from. Google Analytics tells me that over the two years that we have used it we have been visited by readers from 218 different countries and terrotories. Of course, the bulk come from a few selected locations.

Until the end of last year, the proportion of readership share was fairly steady. A little more than a third (around 35%) of our visitors logged in from Pakistan, around a third (~33%) came from the US) and the remaining (just under a third) came from the rest of the world, but mostly from Western Europe, the Middle East and, depending on current events, from India.

As the figure shows, things have changed somewhat recently. Last month (June 2009) over 44% of our visitors logged in from Pakistan and a little over half as many (23%) from the United States. It is important to note that the number of visitors from USA has not gone down, it is only that the new growth in numbers is being driven mostly, but not entirely, by new readers from Pakistan (see line graph on Readership Growth in 2009). This is interesting because earlier the growth would generally be proportional across different regions.

The list of countries from where we get a large number of readers has remained largely constant over the years – for most part these are countries with significant populations of Pakistanis: United Kingdom, Canada, U.A.E. Saudi Arabia, Australia, Germany, etc. In the case of India, the reasons for the interest in Pakistan and things Pakistani is obvious. We have – and have had from the beginning – a reasonable (and generally supportive) following in India but the number of visitors from India varies wildly between weeks and months, mostly dependent on whether issues directly related to India-Pakistan relations are in the news. (As regular readers know, we try hard to keep a Pakistan-centric focus to our discussions and international affairs is not our main priority. Maybe, this is because in my professional life – as a professor of International Relations – that is what I do all the time!)

The regional distribution for June 2009 suggests that nearly half of our visitors came from our Southern Asia (including some in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Iran). Another 30% came from North America (USA and Canada), Western and North Europe contributed 12% of our readership and the Gulf and Middle East region another 5%. A not insignificant number (3.6%) came from East Asia and Oceania, including Australia, Malaysia, China, Singapore, Japan, etc. The 2.6% listed as ‘other’ includes some visitors from Africa and South America but a large number of IP addresses that could not be geographically classified.

Looking at the cities the people log in from is interesting, but also potentially misleading (depending on markets, the IPs can either be too consolidated in classification, or too dispersed). For what it is worth, the top three cities from which people logged into All Things Pakistan in June 2006 were Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. This was followed – not closely at all – by London, New York, Peshawar, Dubai and San Francisco.

#2. The Facebook Factor

As regular readers know – and largely on the behest of readers who asked us to do so – ATP is now on both Twitter and on Facebook. The purpose of going on both was the same: to give readers a way of being alerted on when new posts were put up on All Things Pakistan. For most part, most people who follow us on Twitter and on Facebook use it for that purpose. These are convenient ways for them to be updated on when ATP is updated. In addition, we have found these useful ways to sometimes share additional information on which we did not or could not do seperate posts (e.g., during T20 cricket, sometimes when bomb blasts have happened, and sometimes when the ATP main site was having trouble). From the feedback I have recieved, people who have signed up with ATP on Twitter and on Facebook have found these quite useful in this respect.

On  Facebook, however, something rather interesting has happened on the way. A whole new group of readers and commenters have emerged on Facebook who (from what we can tell) prefer to comment there rather than on the main site. Those who comment on the main ATP site do not do so at Facebook and those who comment at Facebook tend not to do so at the main site. On many recent posts, the number of comments recived on ATP at Facebook were more than at the main ATP site. More importantly, the nature of comments can be very different.  Facebook encourages short, intense, responses (often, but not always,  just to headlines) while the main site attracts comments that are more discurcive.

But what makes this most interesting is that people signing up (over 3,400 have registered to date) for ATP at Facebook are quite different from those who read us at the main ATP site. We know this because  Facebook actually gives some very good statistics on those who have signed up for ATP at Facebook.

In essence our Facebook readership is much younger and much more likely to be from Pakistan. This may well change because we have been on Facebook for only a little over three months, but as of now, 63% of our Facebook readership is under 24 years of age and 74% of them log in from Pakistan (only around 9% from USA, 3.6% from the UK, and 2.5% from U.A.E.). From whatever we can tell, this is a very different distribution from what is likely to be at the main ATP website.

Of course, we welcome all readers everywhere. Facebook readers are likely to be different because many may sign up but not actually interact and/or most use it simply as an alerting device to get to the main ATP site when new posts are posted. However, I find it interesting that because of the very different demographics the comments can be very very different at the two places – this was the case, for example, on the recent post about dividing Punjab into two provinces. My only hope is that over time there will be more co-mingling between these two sets of commenters. This would, I am sure, make discussions at both places far more interesting.

#3. The Power of Community

Probably the thing that surprises most readers the most is to find out that Owais Mughal and myself (between us we manage the day-to-day operation of this blog) have never actually met each other. In fact, of the four people in the editorial team (Owais Mughal, Adil Najam, Darwaish and Asma), no two have ever met each other. This will hopefully change later today – Owais Mughal is visiting Boston with his family and we are planning to meet up for dinner at my house tonight.

The point, however, is that for so long we have been able to collaborate intensely and intensively through times of political turbulence and divisive discourses. This is a testimony to Owais’s calm and collaborative demeanor as much as to the power of the internet as a tool of communication as well as community. In fact, there are scores of readers who have been loyal to ATP for years and who I would not recognize if I met them but whose deep passions I recognize with intense familiarity. Conceptually, this is a significant indicator of how technology is changing the very meaning of communication, of collaboration, and indeed of community.

P.S. The word map used at the beginning of this post and elsewhere on the site is a collage generated by analyzing all the words used in the last 500 posts at ATP and sized by importance and frequency of use.

40 Comments on “Inside ATP: Who Reads”

  1. ShahidnUSA says:
    July 5th, 2009 8:32 pm

    Bon appetit!

  2. Daanish says:
    July 5th, 2009 11:48 pm

    Well done !!

  3. ASAD says:
    July 6th, 2009 12:55 am

    Very interesting insights into ATP’s world. The global reach and spread is impressive.

    But also the type of detailed analysis that is what makes ATP such a great blog no matter what the topic.

  4. Qausain says:
    July 6th, 2009 1:24 am

    Bohat aala…!! ATP nay abhi bohat agey jana hay Insha’Allah!
    or Site per visit bohat speed say barh saktay hain ager ye Internet kay rates kuch kam ho jain … aap log is kay lia Please kuch karain is main aap ka or awam, dono ka faida hay :-P
    BTW ye Islamabad walon ko FB addiction ho gaya hay kia? 47% !! o_O

  5. Haroon says:
    July 6th, 2009 1:33 am

    Great post. ATP is certainly a global site and probably the best ambassador for Pakistan anywhere. Patriotic but honest.

    On the city numbers however (like FB users from Islamabad) I am not sure if they are correct because sometimes the IP in Pakistan may be Islamabad because head office is there but the user may be in Gujranwalla. So, I don’t think city IPs are as reliable for Pakistan as country IPs are.

  6. Haroon says:
    July 6th, 2009 1:35 am

    By the way, I am on ATPs FB page and it is very useful because by FB is mostly on and I can find out when you have something new here. But I have never commented on FB ATP because I think the discussion is always more intellectual and serious at But for photo posts the FB discussion can be very good like it was yesterday on the quiz picture.

  7. Wajiha says:
    July 6th, 2009 1:38 am

    Enjoyed this very much.

    Amazing that Owais Mughal and Adil Najam have never met and can still run this together.

  8. AishaFbi786 says:
    July 6th, 2009 1:43 am


    I have to tell you that when I first came upon ATP it was in its infancy yet I knew that there was something “special” about I kept coming around and quickly watched it begin to blossom and become not unlike an entity of its own right.

    What do we all hope to accomplish by partaking in this international blogging about Pakistan and things affecting Pakistan? Hopefully, we are a voice that stretches across the miles, that unites and ignites people’s desires to care about Pakistan yesterday and today and to be a real part in where Pakistan is going in the future.

    Oh yes, the power of communication today is phenominal. Like your management team, I too have created and manage an internet group for several years with someone who lives in the UK while I live here in the USA. We too have never met. Insha’allah, one day we too shall meet each other like you and Owais Mughal and what a joyous occassion it will be.

    Enjoy your dinner. I’m certain it will contain some lively never ending conversation.

    P.S. Great global stats Map!

  9. Gardezi says:
    July 6th, 2009 1:54 am

    Beautiful post. And very interesting to learn these things.

    Love the word art diagrams. They are beautiful but also demonstrate that this is really “ALL THINGS” Pakistan. If anyone wants proof that there is more to Pakistan than just bombs and suicides they should just look at this.

    Well done guys.

  10. July 6th, 2009 5:42 am

    You are doing amazing work here, Adil. And thanks for sharing all the interesting info.

    Best wishes,


  11. Goheer Sr says:
    July 6th, 2009 7:54 am

    Well done, keep it up, Shabash Pakistan. Duaeeeeennnnnnnnnnnnnn.

  12. charu says:
    July 6th, 2009 9:48 am

    it was article on swat bring me to ATP, now i am regular visitor. unlike other Pakistani blog you does not indulge in India bashing, that’s great.

  13. Roshan says:
    July 6th, 2009 10:35 am

    Bravo ATP.
    I am glad Adil and Owais, finally met after working together on ATP for about three years. Its because of you that we are having such a wonderful ATP community.
    Jeevay Pakistaniat !!!!!!

  14. Pakistani Blogger says:
    July 6th, 2009 10:44 am

    ATP is the gold standard for Pakistani blogs and this post shows why. I think by sharing all this information you are doing a service to other bloggers on how to build their own sites.

    I think the magic of ATP has always been the comments and the people who come here and the magic of Adil and Owais is to ‘set the table’ with things to talk about and giving everyone a fair chance to have their say and decently.

    Love the post and keep doing the good work, including on helping the IDPs.

  15. Narayan says:
    July 6th, 2009 11:38 am

    I’m a Professor in the US of Indian origin, and look for unbiased news and discussion about the South East Asian region. While BBC and the different local people that they get to provide views, gives you some insight….it is no way compared to Pakistaniat.

    I also like learning about all the different things about Pakistan that you would otherwise not know. I have lots of Pakistani friends and we discuss all issues with an impassioned outlook, and Pakistaniat reminds me of the same.

    They say that food and religion are the two most important things that you cannot change in a person, once their habits are established by the age of 25. Hopefully India and Pakistan bound by similar food habits can go beyond what the religious zealots on either side are preaching.

    My two cents is that life is way too short to hold grudges, act smart or belittle people. Back biting about people comes back to bite you in the ass. Peace to all whose lives, words and actions cross with ours.

  16. Farrukh says:
    July 6th, 2009 11:53 am

    Very nice and impressive. But I wonder why there are not more readers in the UAE. I would have expected far more.

  17. USMAN says:
    July 6th, 2009 12:20 pm

    Love the word map. Such a good symbol for All Things Pakistan.

  18. July 6th, 2009 1:31 pm

    Well done ATP, accept very well wishes from

  19. Mohsin Irshad says:
    July 6th, 2009 2:13 pm

    I have been a regular visitor of Pakistaniat for more than an year now. A video by Najam on youtube forced me to search about Najam on Google. And I found the link to this website. The first thing which attracted me was its name .

    It is just a coincidence that I was checking the statistics about the traffic on,two days ago. Stats were almost similar to what you have shown here!

    Its very interesting to know that Najam and Owais have never met each other. That shows the maturity of Characters of both of you.

    Keep up the good work

  20. wasiq says:
    July 6th, 2009 4:58 pm

    Bravo to all of you and congratulations on making ATP such a success. Its nice to know that most readers actually are in Pakistan. I am continually impressed with the calibre of writing, documentation, and the amazing topics chosen daily are unequalled in the galaxy of Pakistan related material. I’d be curious to know how Adil and Owais manage to hold down demanding jobs, take care of your families, while also generating all the world-class content we enjoy for free on ATP — if this were a daily newspaper, I’d already have a lifetime’s subscription.

  21. adeel says:
    July 6th, 2009 6:07 pm

    I agree, as someone said before, that the real magic of ATP is in the comments. However, I wouldn’t take anything away from Adil and Owais. They really know how to set the stage.

  22. sanwal says:
    July 6th, 2009 6:13 pm

    This is wonderful. I visit almost everyday. The topics are interesting and insightful to general public and less controvercial.
    Great work you guys…

  23. Imran Janjua says:
    July 6th, 2009 9:27 pm

    Good job guys,
    well Adil, how about I give you a call next time I come to Boston…dinner at your house?? :)

  24. ASAD says:
    July 6th, 2009 10:34 pm

    Have been staring at the word cloud. Is fascinating to do so. The words highlighted really represent this site and Pakistan. I wish the international or even Pakistani media were equally balanced in talking about all the aspects of Pakistan.

  25. Owais Mughal says:
    July 7th, 2009 1:00 am

    Thank you all for the most wonderful comments. mera dheron khoon barh gaya hai. !!

  26. July 7th, 2009 4:35 am

    Salam, This is Saurabh Shahi, a Journalist from India. I am a daily vistor to your site. It’s not only informative but inclusive and interesting at the same time. Also, unlike other sites based in South Asia, it is pragmatic, readable, unbiased and yes, grammatically correct and lucid. Congrats.

    As far as posts are concerned, my favourite ones include “Deewan-e-Transport”, “Ahmad Faraz” and many more. Keep up good work. What more, like Adil Bhai, I too, am related to the study of International Affairs. But I am not an academician but a journalist. But I cover west Asia. In Pakistan, my interest is more on human to human contact and study of contemporary Pak and its culture. Thanx for this site.

  27. ahsan says:
    July 7th, 2009 6:23 am

    I occasionaly do visit this site. Pakistaniat .com and its readers are as cut away from Pakistan as anything can be. The posts, the comments..everything about this site never has the local context. It always posts an outsiders view. When one is not really getting affcted by what is happening in Pakistan, its easy to comment the way visitors do here. You should also run a survey of how many readers of this site actually live in Pakistan.

  28. Raheel says:
    July 7th, 2009 8:02 am

    I received the link of ATP via an email containing link to “Deewan-e-Transport”. Had been an interesting experience since then; though I am a basically a reader (seldom comment).
    Your fellows have been doing a fantastic work. Big Thumb!

  29. July 7th, 2009 12:49 pm

    I vist the website almost daily……and with facebook it increased….

    I have no words to describe the joy i get after reading its diverse content….

    About the team, I was happy to know that though they bnever met but they filled gaps and voids at many places….

    Keep it up!

  30. Nawab says:
    July 7th, 2009 2:17 pm

    I must really congratulate you for the way the site has developed. I am following it for the last one year – irregularly I must say – but it is one of the better blogs on the net. I have gained many insights about your country here.

    But … is it enough to only quote the percentages prof. sahab? Numbers are more important than just the percentages. At least the total traffic numbers should be given …

  31. July 7th, 2009 11:21 pm

    Congratulations on the 3rd anniversary and for executing a good idea in an excellent way. I am always amazed by the energy and dedication of this team. Given the busy professional and personal lives of Adil, Owais and others, it is quite impressive that you carve out the time to keep us informed and entertained.

    Note: you need to create a small badge for ATP so that other bloggers can post it on their site. Something like: I’m an ATP fan!

  32. Hamza says:
    July 8th, 2009 11:34 pm

    Congrats on the 3 year anniversary. I’ve been following your blog from the first days of it’s existence and have remained an avid reader and occasional commenter to this day. As one of the reader’s mentioned above, ATP really is the Gold Standard of Pakistani blogging.

    Long may it continue.

  33. Kamran says:
    July 9th, 2009 10:59 am

    I recently signed up (became a fan) of your facebook page. It is nice way to follow what is happening here and when new posts come up. Also, I find the discussion there interesting, although very different from here because I think people are younger there and the format is more of cute one-liners than here where it is more detailed.

    Thank you for all the service you guys are doing.

  34. Toledo says:
    July 10th, 2009 5:36 am

    Excellent analysis Adil. One important channel that you’ve probably missed here is RSS feeds. I wouldn’t be surprised if it includes people in the 21-29 year old demographic who also follow you via the site, twitter or facebook but prefer the RSS to bring all their web-content to them in a single interface. Feeds are simple, easy and of course safe-for-work unlike facebook which is often blocked in many organizations.

  35. Schajee says:
    July 10th, 2009 10:12 pm


    Have you changed your publishing patterns based on these stats? As in what time you publish to hit the most viewers. My Facebook front page gets a makeover every few hours. To get more hits, you might possibly want to hold off for the morning rush or maybe just around the time when people get tired of work and decide to surf a little. All in case of FB and PST.

  36. Mahendra says:
    July 10th, 2009 11:47 pm

    I visit this website frequently but i couldn’t pass this opportunity to not speak. I am of Indian origin but i am honestly fascinated by the diversity of people and thier views. This is by far a very balanced website. Especially indians tend to believe pakistanis are way too religious to think rationally. I only had to visit this website to prove myself wrong.. As much as pakistanis hate Zardari, indians just love him. I am almost willing to say they are “obsessed” with him. good work guys …

  37. ATP Fan says:
    July 11th, 2009 9:58 am

    I recently signed up for your Facebook page and although I did not think it was a good idea now am very glad you have that. the people there are very different and younger and in Pakistan and they need to be exposed to these ideas. I sometime get frustrated by some of the comments there because the intellectual quality is so much lower than here. But now I realize that here we are all talking to the converted, at your Facebook page we have a unique opportunity to make a difference by actually trying to talk to and change the opinions of people who are young and will make a difference in the future. So, I am glad that you are continuing these discussions there and taking them to new audiences.

  38. From India with love says:
    July 11th, 2009 10:21 am

    This is by far the best Pakistani website/blog around. One of the BEST in entire south asia.

    i am a regular visitor here and am surprised by the DIVERSITY AND RICHNESS of the ideas exchanged here.

    i wish you guys all the success that this website truly deserves.

    Lots of love and hugs.

  39. Fawad says:
    July 13th, 2009 2:03 pm

    Adil and ATP team, thanks for a job well done. I have been a Pakistaniat fan pretty much since the site’s creation. Have also been fortunate to contribute a couple of pieces to this excellent resource. I have long been convinced that along with Pakistan’s private free media this site is actually helping articulate a new identity and definition of Pakistaniat that is based on a shared culture and experience instead of religion alone or opposition to India. Excellent work!

  40. Rohit says:
    November 18th, 2010 9:49 pm

    Im Indian, based in Sydney. Fan of Pakistaniat and friend of Pakistan.

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